30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Order! It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 2 1 October 1977 of Charles Wilfred Russell, a member of the House of Representatives for the division of Maranoa in Queensland from 1949 until 1951.I invite honourable senators to stand in silence as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Mr Russell.
Honourable senators having stood in their places-
– I thank the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I am sure that while the Minister was visiting a prominent grazing property in Victoria over the weekend he took advantage of listening to the Prime Minister’s radio talk to the Prime Minister’s electorate. I ask the Minister Is he aware that in that talk the Prime Minister urged people to spend more money on consumer goods in an effort to boost production and the jobs market? Did the Prime Minister say that if people do not spend on the things they want Australian manufacturers and other producers pull back their production and this inevitably means that jobs are lost? Will the Minister agree that many sections of the community, including supporters of the Government who have left the Government in despair, have been and are critical of the Government for its own severe restrictions on public sector expenditure and for some time have been urging the Government itself to stimulate the level of economic activity in Australia and, by so doing, create more jobs? In view of the urging by the Prime Minister for people to spend, what action does the Government intend to take to set an example to the general public?
- Mr President, I rise to order. I do so only because the subject of questions seeking information has now become prostituted in defiance of the Standing Orders under which the Senate conducts itself. I shall read from the Standing Orders to illustrate the point or order I wish to sustain. The Opposition senator, in the conduct of the affairs of the Opposition, in the context of the question he has asked should address himself to Standing Order 99 which states that questions shall not contain:
I do not believe the question can be authenticated. The honourable gentleman produced arguments. He sustained inferences. He made imputations. He involved himself in epithets. He involved himself in ironical expressions. He raised hypothetical matters. Therefore, I believe that the question should be ruled out of order.
– I call Senator Withers.
-While agreeing to a large extent with the point of order raised by the honourable senator, I have been here long enough to know that Question Time is a blood sport. It has nothing to do with Standing Order 99. Apart from a few honourable senators who genuinely seek information, Question Time in this place is a straight political exercise. The Standing Orders are just a vehicle by which one may play politics.
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
-No. It is the practice. The honourable senator asked me whether I listened to a radio broadcast. Actually, I did not. I was too busy with my colleague, Senator Cotton discussing the -
– He had some nice cattle on it.
-Yes, he did. We were talking about the brilliant stand of phalaris. I have not seen such good looking phalaris in years. No wonder those simmentals look so well on it. We had a very long discussion about that. Of course, Senator Cotton is enormously jealous that he does not have cattle of the same breed and quality.
– That is not true.
-It is not true; I apologise to my honourable friend. As to the balance of the honourable senator’s question, what is it all about? I suppose he is saying that somehow or other the Prime Minister ought to be criticised for asking people to spend more so that more Australians may have jobs. Is that what he is saying? I thought the honourable senator would be delighted that the Prime Minister and all his Ministers are urging people to buy Australian so that more Australians may have employment. Most of the people in Australia who are out of work know that they are out of work for a number of reasons. One was the stupid 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cut brought in by the Whitlam Government which literally put thousands of people immediately out of work. People will have great difficulty in getting work in those industries again. That Government almost totally wrecked the textile industry in Australia. What did it do to the carpet makers in Tasmania? Senator Bishop, who is trying to interject, thinks this is all a joke. He does not care about all the textile workers in Geelong who lost their jobs and may never regain them. The honourable senator, who is still trying to interject, was one of the Whitlam Ministers who put up interest rates from 5lA per cent to nearly 1 2 per cent.
– I brought harmony into the Post Office.
– That is quite right. Senator Bishop is the man who put up the price of postage stamps from 7c to 18c. That is his great mark on Australian politics. That is known as a ‘Bishopism’. I am somewhat surprised that Senator Bishop says, with almost a boast, that he is the man who put postage out of the reach of the people. He is the man who almost killed the practice of sending Christmas cards. He tried to put a damper on the Christmas card industry. He is contented and he smiles about it. He was part of that ministry- so was Senator Douglas McClelland- which pushed interest rates from 5’/2 per cent to nearly 12 per cent. It wrecked small business. It put people out of employment. Now honourable senators come in here with their crocodile tears and ask what the present Government is going to do about it.
– What are you going to do about it?
-The honourable senator knows that we have done enough about it. We have done so well that it is annoying him. Honourable senators opposite are running scared. They are terrified. His parliamentary leader in the other place, the leader for this week -
– I raise the same point of order as Senator Sir Magnus Cormack raised. Surely, if Question Time is a blood sport it has reached a ridiculous extent in this answer. Not one atom of information has been given in the answer. I think this is holding you up to riducule Mr President.
– Order! Having heard the point of order raised by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, I decided to let the question go through to the Minister and allow him to reply in relation to those areas in which he felt that he had responsibility. I let the question go through in that spirit, bearing in mind the Standing Orders- I am very well aware of them- and the desire to have given the information that is sought. That was the reason. I will not uphold your point of order, Senator Cavanagh. But I will say again to honourable senators that it is vitally important that questions have relation to the areas of responsibility of Ministers, that they be put as clearly and as briefly as possible, and that the replies be in the same tenor.
-Mr President, on the basis that Senator Cavanagh, who shared the collective responsibility, together with Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Bishop, finds my answer too tough, I will not continue with it.
– I rise again to a point of order, Mr President.
– Order! The point of order has been determined.
– I am raising another point of order. Senator Douglas McClelland did not ask a question about me. Therefore I say that for the Minister to reply by talking about what I did is not for him to reply to the question, which sought information. If there has been any prostitution of the system of answering questions, it can be seen on this occasion.
– The point of order is not upheld.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of media reports that a group of Aborigines will build 50 humpies on tribal land at Llandilo, north of Penrith, to house the Aborigines of the western suburbs of Sydney? Is the Minister also aware of a statement by an Aboriginal spokesman, Mr Don Williams, that the humpies were being built in absolute desperation and his claim that the Federal Government was asked, in vain, for sums of $170,000 and of $50,000 to build motel-type accommodation for Aborigines? Has the Minister investigated these claims? If so, what does the Minister intend to do to alleviate this most desperate problem?
-I understand that the Minister recognises that there is a housing shortage for Aboriginals in the Penrith-St Marys area and that some matters have been raised with him along the lines of the question asked by Senator Bonner. I understand that no application has been received from a housing company or any other organisation to provide funds for housing on land at Llandilo, but that the Dharruk Housing Co. did apply on 29 March 1975 for $170,000 of the money available from the Aboriginal Aged Persons Homes Trust to build aged persons units on the block. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs proposes to hold a meeting in the next few weeks with the three trustees of that housing trust to decide who will be the recipients of the money concerned. It would seem appropriate that any public statement should await that meeting of the trustees to decide what matters will be considered to assist Aboriginals with housing in this area. I believe that further information could be given on this matter after it has been discussed with the New South Wales Minister.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory. It refers to the proposed town plan for the City of Darwin recently produced by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. Firstly, will certified copies of the plan be available to interested persons. If not, why not? Secondly, why is the plan being exhibited for one month only instead of the customary three months? Thirdly, why has the DRC declined to specify the statutory provisions associated with the plan?
-During the last two years the Darwin Reconstruction Commission has laid down a number of planning guidelines and has followed them in the preparation of the plan now before the people of Darwin. Those interested in planning have become aware of the guidelines over that period. The Commission is of the opinion that the time given for objections to be lodged to the plan is quite adequate. An extra week has been given, following requests from members of the Legislative Assembly. The timing of the plan was determined by the need to conform with the proposed new ordinance being prepared by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. In order that it might be adopted by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission prior to the end of its life on 3 1 December the plan could not have been advertised earlier. The Darwin Reconstruction Act of 1975 provides in section 8(1) that the plan shall be available for inspection by the public for a period of one month. The honourable senator might recall that the Labor Government introduced that Act.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Education. I ask whether he has seen or heard of reports in the Adelaide Advertiser that English courses for migrants in South Australia are being cut because of cuts in Federal Government finance for further education and that some courses are even being abandoned. What is the position regarding Federal funding and what are the respective Federal and State contributions in that area?
– It has become a popular pastime to suggest that cuts are being made in funding for migrant education in English. The facts are against that. I have given to the Senate the details of the figures for the past year. I also have indicated to the Senate that, rather than cuts having been made, there has been considerable expansion. For example, in the last year of the Whitlam Government there were 75,000 enrolments; in the first year of this Government there were 88,000 enrolments- an increase of 17 er cent. In regard to adult migrant education in South Australia, the actual expenditure in 1976-77 claimed as reimbursement by the Department of Further Education was $349,820. The allocation in the 1977-78 Budget is $423,000-an increase of $73,180, or 20.9 per cent. So, talk of a cut is nonsense. Honourable senators will recall that I have said here from time to time that a substantially increased demand for adult migrant education is emerging for a variety of reasons, including the nature of refugees, the nature of migrants, the emergence of women in the field and, to some degree, unemployment. I hope to be making a statement in this place either today or tomorrow indicating that, in recognition of this, the Government will make a further expansion in the field of adult migrant education.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Has any directive, instruction or advice been issued to the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission restricting its acquisition program in the State of Queensland or requiring that officers of the Queensland Government be present at or advised of discussions concerning proposed purchases in Queensland? Has the Queensland Government refused permission for departmental officers to visit reserve communities in order to compile community profiles? Has the Department of Aboriginal Affairs abandoned any pretence of operating effectively in Queensland because of political instructions not to pursue any controversial matters until after the State and Federal elections?
– I have no knowledge of the matters raised by the honourable senator. I will refer them to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to see what information he is able to provide on the points that were raised.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Minister seen in the 12 October edition of Education, the journal of the New South Wales Teachers Federation, an illustration of Idi Amin with the caption: ‘Idi Amin couldn’t make an atom bomb with our uranium if we left it in the ground ‘? Is there any possibility of Australia selling its uranium to Uganda?
-The honourable senator was good enough to show me the illustration as we were walking into the chamber. I should have thought that, if there were to be a uranium debate in Australia, especially in a magazine entitled Education at least it would have been put on a level that educated people could understand. The Government is not opposed to a proper and sensible debate on uranium because we believe that our case will stand up to anything anybody else can offer. I think it is a great pity that people indulge in this sort of operation.
– Where will they store the waste?
-Senator Walsh is yelling from the back perch. He ought to shift to alongside his feathered friend so that they can make a duo. I thought that over the weekend Senator Walsh, together with Senator Chaney, was attempting to have a sensible, sane debate on these issues before audiences in the Pilbara in Western Australia. It does little for the publishers of a magazine masquerading under that name to indulge in that sort of advertisement. The Australian Government has no intention of selling uranium to people like Idi Amin. But merely because Australia has no intention of selling uranium, that is not to say that he would not have the capacity to obtain it elsewhere. One of the great tragedies of the uranium debate is that people are simple enough to believe that if we leave our uranium in the ground and take no interest in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, then proliferation will not happen. I should think that those who, like us, are serious about stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, would see that if we are to have an influence we must be in there to have that influence. If we stay outside we will have none.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations refers to his answer to my question last Wednesday in which he said that the Government’s policy in relation to employment was the reactivation of the private sector. I ask: Given the fact that the September issue of the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication, Business Statistics, shows that private employment fell by 47,000 in the most recent year, are we to assume that the Government’s employment strategy has failed?
– The answer is no. If Senator Walsh wants to trade some statistics given by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, I have here an indication of a survey on private investment by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which shows that in the half year to December businessmen anticipate that they will spend on equipment and buildings 14 per cent more than they spent in the previous half year. This is the largest increase in capital spending since early 1973. The policies which the Government has been trying to pursue have been to encourage confidence in the private sector of the economy. I believe that that sort of figure indicates clearly that the Government’s policies are working and that there is a restoration of confidence in the private sector.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. Is the Minister suggesting that prophetic speculation is more reliable than the empirical evidence?
– I shall pass on to the next question.
-Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce aware that under a Customs interpretation Australian assemblers of completely knocked-down- that is CKD- imported vehicles are paying duty and sales tax on the packaging cases at the same rate as is charged on the contents of the package? Does the Minister agree that such packages have no commercial value and that they are destroyed after use, that therefore the action by Customs effectively raises -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. This question was asked on the last sitting day in almost the same terms.
– I shall hear the question.
-Therefore, that action effectively raises the duty payable on these imported CKD vehicles. Will the Minister review this anomaly on the levying of import duty?
-It is perfectly true that this matter has been raised before, but nonetheless it is a very important matter that could be raised, quite properly, two or three times. I undertook to take up the matter and to have it examined. I also observed, as a result of my past knowledge, that the reason for the destruction of the packing cases that came into Australia in this manner was to stop the infestation of native timbers by some overseas pests. That is the sum total of my knowledge at the moment. However, I will certainly pursue the matter as I said I would.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. The Minister will recall an estimate given by Professor Hogan that the rate of unemployment in the coming new year should be about 8 per cent. I also draw the attention of the Minister to a recent statement made by the Minister for Transport yesterday that he thought the unemployment figures were overstated. I ask the Minister. In view of the comments by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the National Bank that there is an abundant supply of labour, is he in a position to give any sort of figure or estimate of what the unemployment rate might reach in the first quarter of next year?
– As I do not have with me statistics of that kind I shall refer the question to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and see whether I can obtain an early answer from him.
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the Government who represents the Minister for National Resources in this place. Is it not a fact that the go ahead was given for uranium rnining by the Whitlam Labor Government? Is it not a fact that the Whitlam Labor Government actually invested Australian government money in uranium mining in this country? In view of the fact that demonstrators were so prominent on Sunday throughout Australia demonstrating against the export of uranium, can the Minister tell me whether public demonstrations were held against the Labor Government’s decision to give the go ahead on uranium mining and to invest in it? Is it a fact that some of the ministers of religion who now hypocritically state that they are not demonstrating for political purposes did issue a statement during the double dissolution election campaign asking people to vote for the Whitlam Labor Government.
– I have no information as to who issued statements in 1974 asking people to vote for the Whitlam Government. All I do know is that quite a large number of foolish people subscribed to these sorts of statements in 1972 and 1974 but did not in 1975 because by then they had woken up to themselves. As to the substance of the earlier parts of the honourable senator’s question, it is true that during the term of the Whitlam Labor Government encouragement was given to mining companies to mine and export uranium. There is nothing odd about that because, after all, as we all know, and as people who have some knowledge about this matter know, Australia has been mining and exporting uranium for over 20 years both from Rum Jungle and from the Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd. mine. As I understand it, some 15 to 20 years ago Australia was one of the major exporters of uranium in the world.
– Including South Australia.
-I do not know about South Australia. I know that considerable quantities of uranium were mined at Mary Kathleen and Rum Jungle and it was exported all over the world. As I understand the statistics they reveal that during that entire operation only one person was killed, and that person unfortunately was run over by a truck.
There were plans afoot during the term of the Whitlam Government to expand uranium mining in Australia. The Whitlam Government supported Mary Kathleen but more importantly it agreed in regard to Peko Wallsend Ltd, I think, to put up 70 per cent of the capital in return for 50 per cent of the profit. For a Government that was totally and bitterly opposed to the mining and exporting of uranium, what a strange decision to come to! I do not think it was strange; I think it was a sensible decision. Evidently the Government thought that it was so sensible, and I agree with it, that it entered into this most unusual mathematical equation- providing 70 per cent of the capital for 50 per cent of the profit. One normally would say that that is something the previous Government would do with one of its communist union friends but this was done with capitalist mining companies. However, it was a very sensible decision which that Government took. I must say that none of the Ministers who in those days lined the benches at the rear of me resigned in protest. Not one of them made the speeches which they are making now. As a result of a left wing decision made in Perth earlier this year, none of them resigned and said: As a matter of deep conscience I could not tolerate this’. I saw none of them walk out. Of course, they resigned over other things and Ministers of the previous Government were translated around their portfolios for a variety of reasons, some of which I have overlooked but which I will certainly dig up for use over the next few weeks.
– Why over the next few weeks?
-The Parliament has a long time to run so I thought that I would use them during Question Time over the balance of this year. I have a lot of question times in front of me yet. The honourable senator asked: Where were the demonstrators then? I have forgotten the dates when these announcements were made but we never saw a demonstrator with a placard saying: ‘Down with Whitlam because he has entered into partnerships with mining companies to mine and continue exporting uranium’. I do not think we ever saw any demonstrators when the previous Whitlam Government quite properly announced that it would honour contracts entered into for the mining and export of uranium prior to that announcement. They just were not there. Now suddenly, merely because this Government announces a continuation of the Whitlam Labor Government’s uranium policy- except that our policy provides better safeguards; except that we have Mr Justice Fox as Ambassador-at-Large to look after nonproliferation; except that generally it is a better policy- demonstrations are now occurring, demonstrations which have been whipped up by the Labor Party simply for mean political reasons.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and I refer to the Minister’s letter on small business financing which was published in today’s Australian Financial Review. Will the Minister agree that his letter, which outlines the potential sources of funds available for the Commonwealth Development Bank, begs the question as to the actual source of funds for the proposed extension of the Commonwealth Development
Bank’s lending activities? In view of the Minister’s obvious concern to clarify the Government’s policy in this area, will he now identify which, if any, of the fund sources he has outlined will be expanded to finance the Commonwealth Development Bank’s lending to small business?
-I would have thought that the original statement was quite clear and that the Australian Financial Review had the capacity to understand how the Commonwealth Development Bank has been financed in the past, how it has helped small business and how the term loan has been funded. I set out to carefully point out what has been the practice. As I said at the beginning and have said subsequently, the Government is at the moment studying carefully with the Bank and the Australian Industries Development Corporation the most preferred method of funding, and when in consultation with the banking people and with AIDC that has been decided, the decision will be announced.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is he aware that the South Australian Premier recently has been involved in rehearsing a song and dance act, the principal words of which have a most inflationary aspect? They are: We’re just a couple of swells’. Is the Minister also aware that it has been announced today that Mr Dunstan and Mr Hawke will be prominent actors in Australian Labor Party commercials to be made in the eastern States? Can he provide any form of assistance to these performers to enable them to have the greatest possible exposure before the general public so that we all can see and hear the foremost supporters of compulsory unionism within the Australian Labor Party?
-I must confess to the honourable senator that I do not follow the activities of the Premier of South Australia, who indulges in a variety of things. However, I am interested in something which I saw in a newspaper when I was travelling in an aeroplane over the weekend.
-Someone must have left it behind.
-Actually, that was the case. I picked it up. If.it is free, it is worth reading. I was fascinated to see that the spearhead of the Australian Labor Party campaign for an election, which evidently it does not want before Christmas, and the people it would promote the most would be Mr Hawke and Mr Dunstan. I would have thought that the Australian Labor Party, which is seeking to gain government in Australia, would promote Mr Whitlam and Mr Uren. It is an interesting commentary on the state of affairs in the Australian Labor Party that it is necessary to go outside the parliamentary party and promote people who not only are not in the Parliament but also have no intention of coming into the Parliament. I remember the great election campaign of 1963 which dealt with the 36 faceless men. What is the Labor Party being run by now? Is it two faceful men? Are the people to be asked to vote for ALP candidates for House of Representatives seats in the full knowledge that if they are foolish enough to elect sufficient of them the government will be run by Mr Dunstan and Mr Hawke, neither of whom will have a seat in this Parliament? It is a sad commentary upon, and a state of affairs for, a once great party that it is now saddled with a leadership that it is not game to promote in the community. I think that its members ought to be ashamed of themselves and that they all ought to resign.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Can the Minister explain the breaking of a promise given to a community delegation 12 months ago that we would receive a regular feedback on the track record of the Australian representatives at the United Nations on any initiative to solve the dispute in Cyprus? I ask the question being mindful of the large number of Cypriot and Greek Australian taxpayers.
-As the honourable senator would know, there are a number of issues concerning Cyprus about which all parties in Australia are anxious that there should be a proper peaceful solution. As honourable senators would know, all governments have made a contribution to the peacekeeping effort in Cyprus through police forces, et cetera. This is one matter on which I think the Parliament would be totally united: There ought to be a resolution of the problems within Cyprus.
On one aspect of the matter I have some information which may be of use to the honourable senator. That is concerning missing persons in Cyprus itself. I know that that is a matter which worries many of their relatives who live in Australiaand great citizens they are. I can inform the honourable senator that the issue of missing persons in Cyprus was last raised at the United Nations General Assembly’s Thirtieth Session in 1 975. The debate at that time resulted in resolution 3450 which was adopted. I am further informed that it is likely that the issue will be raised again in the Third Committee of the current United Nations General Assembly Session. I understand that the Government of Cyprus will introduce a draft resolution calling for the establishment of an international investigating committee to trace both Greek and Turkish Cypriot missing persons in Cyprus. Australia will give its fullest consideration to the representations we have received to support the position of the Cyprus Government. Our attitude towards any draft resolution on the question can be determined only when we have had the opportunity to study the specific terms of the resolution. I repeat that I am sure all honourable senators will join in any action which will bring about a solution of the terrible situation that exists at the moment.
– As a supplementary question on the latter part of the Minister s answer, I ask: Does he visualise Australia’s serving as a member nation of the investigating committee that he mentioned?
-I could not commit my colleague at this stage but the honourable senator would know, from the record of both the present and previous governments in relation to Cyprus, that Australia would doubtless be a willing, and most likely an anxious, participant in any action that would help resolve the Cyprus question.
-I ask the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs whether he assesses that any new stage of significance was reached at the Premiers Conference on Friday with regard to this Government’s program of federalism?
-I think it would be fair to say that virtually all of the Premiers acknowledged that Friday’s meeting was one of the most significant for the States, in terms of positive actions, that has ever occurred. The Conference dealt with a number of matters but especially with two main matters. It looked at seas and submerged lands legislation in the broadest federalist terms, in the knowledge that, as Senator Wright would know, the High Court had defined the powers as lying within the Commonwealth, and the conference made a number of decisions, which have now been made public, which were welcomed by the States, in terms of co-operative federalism.
In the field of federalism itself, the Commonwealth made a number of suggestions to the States, all of which were adopted. The result is that, in effect, the States won; that is that fiscal federalism itself has now been completed, in terms of policy decisions. The States agreed to accept a figure of 39.87 per cent as being the percentage that should be applied to personal income tax, based on the previous year of collection. That is the percentage that yields $4,336m this year, or 1 8 per cent extra.
The Premiers asked whether, in view of the quinquennial review of relativities, the Commonwealth might consider an extension beyond 1979-80 of the existing guarantee that the amounts would not fall below an amount equal to what was formerly yielded. That is under review and will be considered at the next Premiers Conference.
There were discussions relating to population estimates, and these are also under review. The Premiers Conference agreed to detail guidelines for the review of relativities and these will be incorporated in legislation to be brought before the Parliament in the very near future. A number of other matters were discussed but, in brief, the two main matters were those of fiscal federalism, which has now been finalised, and seas and submerged lands, in regard to which, as acknowledged by both Labor an non-Labor Premiers, more significant progress has been made than was made in the decades of the past.
-I refer the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the reply he gave on Thursday of last week to Senator Sibraa concerning the source of funds to be made available to the Commonwealth Development Bank for small business financing. The Minister’s immediate reply then was: ‘Why does the bank not ask the Government direct?’ Does this indicate a lack of consultation and, indeed, an element of tension between the Government and the Development Bank?
-Certainly not. It became quite clear from where these sorts of questions were emanating. Perhaps it might be useful if I were to detail the general basis of funding the Commonwealth Development Bank, so that the matter may be cleared up. The Commonwealth Savings Bank has been a substantial source of funds for the Commonwealth Development Bank, which plays a key role in providing finance for small business. In addition to borrowing from the Commonwealth Savings Bank, the Commonwealth Development Bank has obtained funds from retained earnings, contributions from the Commonwealth Government and public borrowings. The Commonwealth Development Bank has had recourse to the capital market in recent years and should continue to do so in future years. Through this mechanism small business is able to tap considerable sources of funds in the capital market.
Statutory reserve deposits with the Reserve Bank are the principal source of replenishment of the Term Loan Fund and Farm Development Loan Fund, which are important sources of finance for small business. Under existing arrangements, two-thirds of these funds come from SRD accounts. On 9 September 1977 $84m was contributed to funds from SRDs. The latest replenishment, when completed, will bring total Term Loan Fund resources to about $804m. These replenishments are made from time to time in accordance with overall monetary policy. Those details will make it clear where funds have come from in the past. Any assumption that the Government will not keep its word but will maintain the proposition set out in that statement is without foundation. The facts speak for themselves.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Mr John Uhrig, Managing Director of Simpson Pope, in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 October 1977 puts a case for enlarging the export side of Australia’s manufacturing industry. Can the Minister advise whether any of the Ministers he represents have under consideration any new proposals that would provide impetus to manufacturers to engage in a higher level of export trading, or would he be prepared to consider submissions on the matter from the various sections of industry that could be involved?
-The White Paper on manufacturing industry made it very clear that we saw the need for access to export markets for efficient Australian manufacturers. We saw a very important need for them to enlarge their scale of market. We said we were studying the whole matter of export incentives and we are. The matter is before the Industries Assistance Commission. We have received a lot of submissions, which have been very valuable. Any others which might come in would be extremely welcome. We have talked to industry associations about this again just recently and did so even today at lunch time. Mr Uhrig is a remarkably good Australian. Not only is he on the Austraiian Manufacturing Council as my nominee, but also he is on the Bureau of Industry Economics Advisory Council as my nominee. What he has to say has a great deal of merit. But anybody who has any view on how Australian manufacturers might be aided in becoming more involved in the export market would be very welcome indeed. The manufacturers are quite aware that their position in relation to an export market was largely destroyed by the Australian Labor Party’s economic policies.
-I ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce: In view of the daily worsening of the severe drought conditions which now prevail over a large part of Australia and the now urgent need for many farmers and graziers to seek underground water supplies for their livestock during the coming summer months, will the Minister ascertain and endeavour to rectify the reasons for water well drillers being unable to obtain a ready supply of Australian-made steel bore casing which is so essential for equipping bores and bringing them into production?
– I should be very concerned if people were unable to case bores which they are drilling at the present time. Like the honourable senator, I am concerned about the way drought is tending to move into various parts of Australia. If the honourable senator could give me afterwards the details of any specific case of deficiencies- a one-off case or even a general case- I shall take up the matter after question time.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade and relates to the content of an address given in Sydney yesterday by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Committee on Economic Development of Australia. In that address Mr Peacock referred to subsidies paid on the export of European Economic Community surpluses to third country markets. Has the Minister any statistics or information which indicates the extent to which these subsidies affect Australia’s trade with third country markets, particularly those in South East Asia? What representations are made by the Australian
Government to the EEC in relation to these subsidies and has any progress been made with those representations? Finally, what effect have these subsidies had on the Australian-Asian trade situation, particularly as far as Australia’s contribution to development co-operation or developmental assistance is concerned?
-I have read a report of what Mr Peacock said. It seemed to me to be a very sensible observation about the whole problem. I think we have stated on many occasions, not only here but elsewhere, that Australia has given remarkably good access to its market for goods of Asian and Association of South East Asian Nations countries. We pointed out that we are really a small market. We are not a bottomless pit for everybody’s surplus production. Within our capacity of a population of 14 million we have done a remarkably good job- better than many other countries. We are, of course, hampered a great deal in our ability to help other people by the limited access we have for many of our products. This is where Mr Peacock’s considerations about the European Economic Community were very important.
In order to check my own thinking and because I saw Mr Peacock’s comments I got from the Department of Overseas Trade this morning some notes that might be useful. The European Economic Community maintains a system of protection for agriculture which, in many cases, generates great surplus production. The surplus product is then disposed of in third markets at heavily subsidised prices, in many cases to Australia’s great disadvantage. An example of note is flour, where over a long period Australia’s markets have been eroded by this subsidised competition. Recent subsidy levels have been of the order of 70 per cent of the prices at which Australia offers flour on world markets. Such high levels of subsidy inevitably impair Australia’s ability to compete. The effect has been seen in the reduction of Australia’s share of world flour exports from about 20 per cent in the early 1960s to about 6 per cent in recent years. In the same period the European Economic Community has increased its share from 25 per cent to 65 per cent, mostly by dumping the product on the world market. We have experienced heavily subsidised competition equally for other major food exports. Beef in the Middle East is a case in point.
These particular subsidies and the protective agricultural policies which give rise to them have very great destabilising effects on world commodity markets. They interfere with our ability to trade in our own right, to maintain our outlets and, therefore, to help other people with outlets within this country. These practices have been the subject of vigorous representations for a long time by governments of our characteristics and, I am quite sure, by those of the Labor Party’s characteristics. We have complained to member States of the Commission and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In recent times they have been the subject of personal representation by a special Minister appointed for the purpose, Mr Howard. He is now negotiating and trying to bring home our point of view to those people. This brings out the point that as Australians we should resent the continuous comments made to us in our own country about how protectionist we are and how badly we treat other people. We should look at what happens to us in so many world markets.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is it a fact that the Government has rejected a proposal by the Commonwealth Bank supporting the creation of the Commonwealth Development Bank as a bank in its own right? Has the Government rejected the proposal because the Development Bank would no longer be a lender of last resort and would be in a position to make loans without customers being rejected first by the trading banks? If this is not the reason, what are the reasons for rejecting the Commonwealth Bank proposals?
-I know nothing of this. I have heard nothing of it. I have not read about it in the newspapers. It has never been discussed in the Cabinet. It has never come before me. As far as I am concerned it is a piece of imagination. If it has any basis in fact the honourable senator should bring it to me.
-Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport been drawn to a reply given in the South Australian House of Assembly on 25 October by Mr Virgo, the State Transport Minister, in answer to a question about the Stuart Highway? It is alleged that in the answer the Minister maintained that the Commonwealth is not providing sufficient funds for national highways in that State. Is it a fact that when referring to previous meetings to discuss this important road, Mr Virgo inferred that the annual meeting of the
Australian Roads Federation on Friday of this week was party political? He said:
It appears that this meeting may well be factioned along the same party political lines.
Is the Minister aware that the Australian Roads Federation is a non-party political organisation? This was clearly demonstrated by the invitation extended by the Australian Roads Federation on 26 April this year to Labor and Liberal senators and members of State and Northern Territory Assemblies to join the bus trip organised by the Federation to inspect the condition of the road at first hand and to address meetings en route to Alice Springs. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the current situation with respect to the financing and construction planning for the Stuart Highway and of the relative Commonwealth and State responsibilities for it? Is it within the Federal Government’s capacity to provide a special grant or subsidy to the State Government to enable this road to be surveyed and constructed as a matter of urgency?
– I have seen the media reports to which Senator Jessop has referred. I am aware of the statements attributed to Mr Virgo. If he did made those statements, they are wrongly based. The body to which Mr Virgo referred is, as Senator Jessop has indicated, a non-party political body that is aiming at very worthwhile goals. I think it is a pity that a State Minister should use that kind of criticism to cover up what are his own inadequacies in his own State. Mr Virgo has made a number of attacks upon the financing of the work on the Stuart Highway. The fact of the matter is, as I have said in this chamber before, that when he had the op- portunity to suggest, through the State Ministers b ody, to the federal Minister that there be some rearrangement of the funds provided so that there would be more funds for national highways he made no such suggestion.
The fact of the matter is that $15m has been provided to South Australia for national highway construction in the current year, compared with $ 1 7.3m last year. Of course, it must be taken into consideration that the substantial completion of the Eyre Highway leaves available very considerable amounts for the Stuart Highway. It is quite competent upon the State Government, if it so desires, to make moneys available itself for any of these matters. Nevertheless certain parts of the works cannot take place, particularly up to the Northern Territory border, until a decision is made on the route to be developed. That awaits the receipt of public comments on environmental aspects and on the new routes proposed by the CommonwealthState study. Mr Virgo knows that these are awaited. An alignment determination and other pre-construction activities are necessary before the physical construction can continue.
However, the sealing of a 50-kilometre gravel section between Bookaloo and Mount Gunsonthat is, in the Port Augusta section- does not require decision as to location, and that could occur now. Mr Nixon the Minister for Transport, has indicated to Mr Virgo his disappointment that work on this section was not included in South Australia’s 1977-78 Budget for the national highways program. He has indicated to Mr Virgo that he would like to see work under way in this section during 1978-79. He will be having further consultations with that Minister on this matter and the whole question of future highway development with regard to the question of funding. The allocation of funds for national highways must reflect the need to maintain momentum on national highway routes in all States within the total amount of funds available under the roads legislation. Ad hoc funding for the Stuart Highway would be contrary to this principle.
In brief, Mr Virgo knows precisely what are the facts. He knows precisely what is going on in terms of surveys, conservation studies and environment studies. He knows that he can, if he wants to do so, allocate within his budget amounts of money to get on with the job of sealing. The initiative was up to him. He refused to take it. Now he can make no alibis for others.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the continuation of disturbing reports from Uganda to the effect that the murder of political detainees is still routine- the lastest example being the apparent battering to death of a British-born businessman, Mr Robert Scanlen- will the Minister indicate whether the Government is currently aware of the whereabouts of any Australian citizens residing in Uganda and whether such persons are still at liberty and safe? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government regards the situation in Uganda as being serious enough to warrant advising any Australian citizen still in the country to leave in the very near future?
-I will have to seek that information from my colleague in another place, which I will do at the earliest opportunity.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Can he inform the Senate whether an appointment has yet been made to the position of first principal of the Australian Maritime College in Launceston?
– Today I will be issuing a statement announcing the appointment of Captain D. M. Waters as the first principal of the College. He will be appointed for a period of four years. Captain Waters will be known to some honourable senators. At present he is the acting head of the maritime crews and services branch of the Department of Transport, which is concerned with education, training and competency examinations for marine crews. He joined the Department of Transport in 1966 as a marine surveyor and later became principal examiner of masters and mates. His experience includes eight years lecturing in British polytechnics and universities and 13 years of sea service, during which he reached the rank of master.
In 1969, while an officer of the Department of Transport, he was awarded a Commonwealth post-graduate scholarship to undertake research at the University of Wales into the development of nautical education and training. He was awarded a Master of Science degree in nautical education for his work. He also has a Scottish teacher’s certificate and an extra master’s certificate. I think that Captain Waters comes well equipped for his new post. I remind the Senate that the Australian Maritime College, which is to be developed in Launceston in Tasmania, will train deck officers and engineer and radio officers, as well as maritime and fishing industry personnel. I believe that the appointment is a good one and augurs well for the great success of what is a significant institution.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. As a result of the bus trip from Port Augusta to Alice Springs reported by Senator Jessop, did Senator Jessop and Senator Messner appeal to the Commonwealth Minister for Transport for finance to enable progress to be made on the Stuart Highway and was the request rejected?
-None of the information requested is known at first hand to me. Therefore, I am unable to inform the honourable senator.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. What progress, if any, has been made by the Government in discussions with the Japanese authorities on the question of access for Australian beef to the Japanese domestic market?
-I understand that there has been some progress, although I cannot tell the honourable senator how much. The last report I had was about 10 days ago, and I would need to have talks with the Minister to see whether we can give any more information. I certainly shall seek to do that.
– Pursuant to section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report with a map by the distribution commissioners for New South Wales, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the commissioners.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, I present a copy of the report with a map by the distribution commissioners for Victoria, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, together with copies of the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the commissioners.
I anticipate that bulk supplies of the report will be available in time for them to be distributed to all members and senators tomorrowWednesday, 26 October 1977. In the meantime, copies of the report have been distributed to Victorian members and senators and further copies have been placed in the Parliamentary Library and in the Senate Records Office. However, I can say that the commissioners have made no substantive changes in their initial proposals. The one minor change is in relation to the mapping delineation of the Seymour subdivision, to make it clear that the town of Avenel is not split between the proposed divisions of Bendigo and Indi.
Ordered that the report and map be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 1 6 of the Pig Meat Promotion Act 1 975 I present the annual report of the Pig Meat Promotion Advisory Committee for the year ended 30 June 1976 together with the interim report of the committee for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 40 of the Australian National Airlines Act 1945 I present the annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 24 of the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957 I present the annual report of the National Capital Development Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Department of Productivity for 1976-77 entitled Productivity 1977.
-by leave- I move:
I seek permission to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on potatoes and processed potato products.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-I present the report from the Standing Committee on Social Welfare on its inquiry into the extent and nature of the inappropriate use of alcohol, tobacco, analgesics and cannabis, together with the official Hansard transcript of the evidence taken during the inquiry.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I have the honour to present to the Senate the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare entitled ‘Drug Problems in Australiaan intoxicated society?’ This report has taken 18 months to prepare and will make a significant contribution to one of the most important debates now taking place in Australia. This is the first national parliamentary report into the use and abuse of alcohol and tobacco in Australia and the first attempt to state a national strategy for coping with drug abuse. The report also adds significantly to those parts of the report in 1971 of the Senate Select Committee which dealt with cannabis and with analgesics.
Boswell noted 200 years ago Johnson’s comment that ‘a man is never happy for the present but when he is drunk’. This Committee report notes that Australians are compulsive and heavy drug users and have always been so. Drug use in Australian society is not new or recent and should not be so portrayed. National tradition has been towards intoxication rather than towards sobriety, a view expressed forcibly in the title of the report.
The solution of great public issues requires a rational and intelligent debate and the provision of adequate, dispassionate, factual information. It is to our regret that we report to the Senate that the drug debate in Australia today is characterised by a lack of knowledge, a lack of tolerance, a lack of intelligence and a lack of constructive proposals. On both sides the debate has been approached with a degree of hysteria, propaganda and invective which should be rejected by the Senate and by all Australians.
Too many Australians, when they talk about our national drug problem, confine their remarks to illicit drugs and to cannabis in particular. This is partly because people often refuse to discuss the drugs which they abuse- alcohol, tobacco and analgesics- and want to concentrate upon the drug use and abuse of others. Further, many people who use the legal drugs refuse to think of themselves as drug users- which they are. In the same way the producers, distributors, retailers and promoters of legal drugs do not regard themselves as drug pushers- which they also clearly are. The major problems, let me state again, are the use and abuse of alcohol and tobacco- major in terms of numbers of users and degree of damage to society.
This report, if it does nothing else, will establish in the community an appreciation that drug use and abuse is to be seen all around us and that alcohol and tobacco are the real menaces to the future health of the Australian community. These views do not derive from a wowser’ mentality on the part of the Committee. Members of the Committee are drinkers and smokers- of tobacco, I should add- and users of analgesics, too. Our views derive directly from the incontrovertible nature of the evidence presented to us. The evidence itself is a major contribution to the national debate and should be read with great care by anybody seeking a proper understanding of the drug use problem. Incidentally, our report is extensively referenced to the evidence and to the other sources on which we have drawn.
The use of all drugs should, in the opinion of the Committee, be reduced. There should be a reduction in the use of licit drugs, and the use of illicit drugs must be brought under control and be continually reduced. Again, I stress that in this regard we see it as an important national goal to reduce our levels of consumption of alcohol and tobacco, the drugs most seriously abused in Australia, and the ones which cause the greatest personal and social damage and the greatest economic cost.
In regard to opiates, prescription drugs and hallucinogens we found problems in the collection of hard data. We received little factual information on these and therefore have been unable at this stage to make a useful contribution concerning them. The information we did receive included some figures on incidence of narotic use sufficient to justify our statements about the relative importance in Australia of different forms of drug abuse. Some valuable, though limited, information on amphetamines and barbiturates was received and we have presented this briefly to give added perspective to our discussion of the total drug problem. We have sought in this report to place before the Senate, the Government and the people, without further delay, the facts and our conclusions and recommendations relating to alcohol, tobacco, analgesics and cannabis. The Committee’s terms of reference permit it to return later to consideration of the effects of the use of other drugs and we already have determined that this will be done.
This report to the Senate has 3 components. First there is a statement of a possible national strategy with some associated comment. Second, there is a discussion of several general matters including education and general policy issues. Finally, there is a discussion in four separate chapters on the use of four separate drugs of abuse. Education, often advanced as a necessary new and major avenue of intervention, poses many uncertainties and problems. Its aim in the drug area must, in the end, be to reduce drug use or to ameliorate its effects. There is little evidence that education achieves these aims; there is some evidence that it can increase drug use. The Committee seeks support for effective programs of education which encourage broad values for living as well as for any specific drug intervention programs which can be shown to work. The call for a national strategy or national program is what might be termed the keynote of the report. Without an agreed strategy there can be no successful outcome in Australia. What we offer is one suggestion and our proposal has seven elements. They are: long term commitment; agreed priorities; balanced efforts to reduce supply and demand; international co-operation in supply reduction and early intervention and rehabilitation in demand reduction; acceptance of drug abuse as a social/medical problem; coordination between programs and agencies; and, finally and most importantly, recognition by the Commonwealth of its leadership responsibilites and by the States of their role in the provision of services.
I wish to elaborate briefly on the last of these to emphasise the importance of the Commonwealth’s role in giving national leadership in coping with drug abuse. In the first place, the definite leadership which is necessary calls for primary responsibility for policy to be placed with one Commonwealth minister and one department. At present, responsibility is spread across a number of departments according to types of drugs or programs rather than on a basis designed to achieve a concerted overall approach. The present rather amphorous administrative arrangements ought to be strengthened by giving a charter specifically to the Minister for Health and to the Department of Health in order to ensure that relevant programs in the other Commonwealth departments concerned contribute to the national strategy. Paradoxically, the current absence of an overall national strategy may be both a cause and a consequence of ambivalent community attitudes towards drug use. The adoption of an appropriate national strategy should help to promote a sense of unitary purpose and reduce the present uncertainties. I should now like to discuss briefly each of the four specific chapters which deal with alcohol, tobacco, analgesics and cannabis.
The report details the ravages of alcohol, in terms of ill health, erosion of social well-being and economic cost to individuals and the community. Abuse of alcohol is the major drug problem in Australia. One and a quarter million Australians are affected personally or in their family situations by the abuse of alcohol, and more than a quarter of a million can be classified as alcoholics. In 1972-73 problems directly related to alcohol, including industrial accidents and absenteeism, cost the national economy more than $500m. As many as 10 per cent of school children between the ages of 12 and 17 get ‘very drunk’ at least once a month. These are just some of the awful facts which indicate that a national disaster is already here. It would be particularly irresponsible for governments or individuals to fail to acknowledge the danger, and the need for a national response to the challenge of alcohol abuse.
To date there have been no deliberate measures by Commonwealth governments to control rising consumption or to restrict expanding availability of alcohol. We are concerned at the recruitment of the very young to the use of alcohol: It is accelerating at a rate far greater than recruitment to the use of any other drug. This results in early establishment of life-long drinking patterns and contributes significantly and tragically to the road toll. We recommend the adoption of government revenue policies to maintain the real prices of alcoholic beverages, limitations on the promotion of alcohol, and the establishment of a sub-committee on drugs and driving with functions directed at the reduction of the toll resulting from the association of driving and drugs, especially alcohol. Finally, we call for a clear statement of intent by the Commonwealth Government to reduce the per capita consumption of alcohol in Australia and to produce a specific comprehensive national policy on alcohol and alcohol abuse.
I turn next to tobacco. Its use is now accepted by all responsible authorities as dangerous to health, and the dangers have been widely publicised. The community knows that smoking is a major health hazard. In fact, it is one of the main avoidable health hazards in modern society. Tobacco use, mainly cigarette smoking, contributes each year to the deaths of about 8,000 Australians from heart disease and about 3,500 from lung cancer, and is a known casual factor in many diseases. Yet there is little positive outcry or action by the community or by governments to change the situation. There is no declared national policy which identifies a national goal of diminished per capita use of tobacco. As a vital first step towards a national program, the Committee recommends that Commonwealth and State governments determine as national policy a commitment to a decrease in per capita consumption of tobacco.
In civil liberties terms, adults may choose to smoke if they do so without harming others; but our evidence has shown that smoking habits become established in adolescence. The Committee believes that there is an important difference between decisions made by adults possessed of the facts and the maturity to make decisions about their own life styles and health, and the decisions of young adolescents with neither the information nor the maturity to make such far-reaching decisions. We are deeply concerned about the real problems of recruitment of the very young to tobacco use, and recommend measures to counter the promotion of tobacco products similar to the anti-promotional measures recommended in respect of alcoholic beverages. We recommend that the advertising of both alcohol and tobacco be banned and we call upon the Government to take immediate action in this respect in those areas under its direct control.
Abuse of analgesics is the third specific drug problem discussed in detail in the report. In spite of publicity about the dangers of analgesic abuse and the withdrawal of phenacetin from all prescription drugs on the pharmaceutical benefits list, there has been no reduction during the last 6 years in the extent of illness resulting from excessive analgesic consumption. Compound analgesics cause 20 per cent of kidney failure, and most such analgesics are habituating. This Committee has received, and this report presents, the first data which explain why the incidence of kidney disease due to analgesic use is much higher in Queensland and New South Wales than in the rest of Australia. These are the States in which Bex and Vincent’s powders are most vigorously advertised and most used. The Committee supports the proposals adopted by the National Health and Medical Research Council in April 1977 that most compound analgesics be available only on a doctor’s prescription, and recommends that the proposals be implemented immediately by Commonwealth and State governments. We recommend also that all analgesics, whether sold with or without prescription, carry on the container an appropriate warning and also that all non-prescription analgesics in pack sizes containing more than 25 tablets or 12 powders be available only from pharmacies.
I come now to the question of cannabis use. The community is divided over this issue, and the genuine divergence of community opinion is reflected in our report. Thirty hours- almost onethird of the time spent deliberating on the report- - were devoted to the chapter on cannabis. The area of disagreement within the Committee is limited, however, and relates only to some aspects of the views of the majority on a proposed national strategy on cannabis and on proposed changes in the treatment of offenders under the law. The public debate on cannabis is a disgrace. Extremist literature produced on both sides contributes to the poor quality of the debate. The lack of rationality inhibits the development of effective methods of control of cannabis use and also of rational discussion and action in relation to the more serious problems of opiate use.
There is no agreement on the extent of cannabis use in Australia, and the prevailing situation is one of genuine confusion. However, the information available to the Committee suggests that as many as 400,000 Australians, or about 3 per cent of the total population, use cannabis at least once a month. This compares, for example, with an estimated 4 per cent of intermittent and regular users identified in the United States in 1972. We must recognise that cannabis is used in Australia as an intoxicant and that its use is widespread, extending across age, sex and socioeconomic lines. Cannabis and cars are a lethal mixture and cannabis is a potential hazard in the work place. The use of cannabis and alcohol in combination intensifies the dangers of both drugs. Despite claims to the contrary at both extremes of the debate, the long term health effects of constant, heavy cannabis use are not completely known and need further study.
The Committee believes that the use of cannabis in Australia should be positively discouraged and that our society should continue to express its disapproval of the use of this drug. As stated clearly in the report, the aim in respect of cannabis, as with other drugs, is significant reduction and, if possible, ultimate discontinuance of use. Existing measures, legal and otherwise, have demonstrably failed to prevent the increasing use of cannabis and trafficking in the drug. On the other hand, current legal practices have led to some unfortunate consequences, particularly diminished respect for the law by young people and deterioration of the relationship between young people and the police.
It has been argued that the proscription of cannabis is inconsistent with society’s acceptance of the excessive use of alcohol and tobacco. On balance, the Committee rejects this view. We acknowledge that the debate on cannabis has produced one important by-product: It has h ighlighted the failures of our present approaches to alcohol and tobacco, and has demonstrated the failure of previous strategies to achieve our desired goals. The strategy on cannabis recommended by the Committee is based on two premises: That there is a need to reduce the overall consumption of cannabis and that there is also a need to have deterrents and responses which are appropriate and effective in meeting this initial requirement.
Cannabis is not a narcotic. We therefore recommend, as did the Senate Select Committee in 1971, that, as a matter of urgency, action be initiated to have cannabis removed from Schedule One of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to an appropriate Schedule in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The Committee believes that cannabis should not be associated with opiate narcotics in any Australian laws and considers that separate legislation on cannabis should be enacted. The present laws on cannabis should be changed to help restore public respect for the law and law enforcement authorities, and to minimise the social damage done by the manner in which the law enforcement system operates. In 1971, the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse stated: too much reliance can be placed on the value of legislation to provide solutions to social problems after they have been allowed to generate.
That Committee recommended:
That in regard to the existing drug abuse situation in Australia the first consideration should be a humanitarian approach and that any legislative action contemplated should draw on the wide experience of other countries such as the United Kingdom and United States.
The majority of the present Standing Committee believes that the positive features of some recent laws relating to the use of cannabis in the United States offer guidelines for Australia. The majority therefore recommends that for possession of marihuana- that is, dried leaf, as distinct from other forms of cannabis- for personal use, as already defined in most States, the offence not be defined in law as a crime and that the penalty be solely pecuniary and be a fixed amount at approximately the same level now being imposed by the courts in most States- that is $100 to $150; that police should not photograph or fingerprint defendants; that no record of conviction kept by police or courts should be used in subsequent proceedings or in relation to any application by the offender for employment; and that consideration should be given to treating growing of small amounts of cannabis for personal use in the same way as simple possession. It should perhaps be noted that in this respect the majority of the Committee finds itself in line with the recommendations made by major drug inquiries in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and elsewhere. For trafficking in marihuana, the Committee recommends that penalties be raised to levels more appropriate to the quantities involved in seizures. Like the earlier Select Committee, the majority of the present Committee does not advocate an approach based solely on legal sanctions. Diversionary programs in the form of medical or psychological treatment or education are now being encouraged and we support fully the use of appropriate diversionary programs.
The presentation of the report comes at a time when the South Australian Royal Commission into the Non-medical Use of Drugs and the New South Wales Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking have already embarked on inquiries. The National Royal Commission into Drugs is about to begin. This report may be of assistance to the royal commissioners on matters relevant to their investigations. The findings of all three inquiries will be examined carefully in this Committee’s further consideration of drug problems under its continuing terms of reference.
I emphasise that, except for the limited areas of dissent indicated, this is a unanimously agreed report. The Committee hopes that it will promote a rational and objective debate on drug use in Australia and act as a catalyst for the development of the national policy on drug use which is so urgently needed. We trust that in specific areas the Commonwealth Government- and, where appropriate, the State governments and Territory administrations- will be able to respond to our recommendations in pursuit of the objective of bringing excessive drug use in the Australian community under effective control. Particularly, we look forward to hearing, in the Senate, a statement of the Government’s observations and intentions with respect to the Committee’s recommendations.
In conclusion, I wish to express my personal appreciation to my fellow Committee members for their contributions during the inquiry and their patience during the difficult deliberations which followed. I should also like to record the Committee’s gratitude for the co-operation and assistance received from State governments and many departments, organisations and individuals throughout the inquiry. Particularly valuable co-operation in expediting the printing of the report has been received from the Australian Government Publishing Service and the Acting Commonwealth Government Printer and his staff. Our thanks go also to the Committee’s staff, to our own personal staffs and to the various specialist staffs of the Parliament for their ready response to our many and varied needs during the inquiry. I commend the report to the Senate.
-In speaking to the report on the drug problem in Australia, I would like first to say how interesting I found working with my colleagues on it, representing as it does the Senate at its very best. We have attempted to come up with a report on the extent and nature of the inappropriate use of alcohol, tobacco, analgesics and cannabis. The Committee was in substantial agreement with what the Chairman has said on most aspects of these drugs. However, we were equally divided when it came to our recommendations on cannabis reflecting perhaps the division felt at this time in the community also. We were unanimously in agreement that alcohol and tobacco were Australia’s main drug problems. Alcohol is certainly the biggest problem. It is a health and a social problem of tremendous extent and one which exists only at great cost to the community.
Alcohol has been a major factor in the death of 30,000 Australians in the last 10 years. During that period, death from cirrhosis of the liver has risen by 75 per cent. The consumption of beer has increased by 27 per cent, of wine by 122 per cent and of spirits by 50 per cent during that decade. Over a quarter of a million Australians can be classified as alcoholics. Some 1,200,000 Australians are affected either personally or in their family situation by the abuse of alcohol. One in every five hospital beds is occupied by a person suffering from its adverse effects. Two in every five divorces result from problems associated with its consumption. Some 73 per cent of men who had committed violent crimes had drunk alcohol prior thereto. Indeed, alcohol is associated with half the serious crimes committed in this country.
Alcoholism among the young is increasing dramatically. As many as 10 per cent of school children between the ages of 12 and 17 become very drunk at least once a month, yet the Australian people say that alcohol is not a drug. We find that some parents are happy that their children are not taking drugs even if they do come home drunk each weekend. When we realise the tremendous carnage, the terrible crashes on our roads, and that some 50 per cent of all highway deaths are associated with the use of alcohol, it is time the community generally did something about it. It has become a socially acceptable drug and we have to make sure that it is no longer socially acceptable to abuse it.
The Committee does not claim in its report to have come up with the answer. I believe that the reason is that society apparently needs some sort of stimulation, so we come up with the conclusion: ‘Drug problems in Australia: An intoxicated society?’.
We have 38 recommendations in the chapter on alcohol, and I would like to read one or two of them. One is that the excise imposed on beer of a low alcoholic content, defined as not more than 2.5 per cent by weight, be 30 per cent less than that on other beer; that the Commonwealth Government ban the advertising of alcoholic beverages, whether corporate or by the exhibiting of brand names in a planned fashion on radio and television, in areas under direct Commonwealth control such as the Territories and airports; and that Commonwealth and State governments support research and development on mechanical devices to deter the drinking driver. Many such devices are being researched at present. They certainly bear close examination.
I do not think there is anyone now who would say that the scientists are not right in claiming that the use of tobacco is a definite hazard to one’s health. Some 8,000 people have died of heart complaints resulting from the smoking of tobacco. There have been 3,500 deaths from lung cancer for the same reason. People smoke 2,800 million cigarettes a month. It is accepted that smoking is a danger to health, yet 56 per cent of males and 35 per cent of females over the age of 25 continue to smoke. I should like to quote one or two of the recommendations on tobacco from the 16 that we have proposed. One is that the tar and nicotine content be stated on the cigarette package. Another is that the Commonwealth Department of Health establish upper limits for tar and nicotine content and progressively reduce the permitted levels until all cigarettes with a content in excess thereof are banned.
The use of analgesics, in terms of percentage of the population, is less of a problem, but we should face it before it too becomes a major concern. Far too many people are completely ignorant of the fact that the use of analgesics is habituating. We have had evidence of women admitting to the taking of more than 50 compound analgesics a day, and such people represent 20 per cent of those who suffer kidney failure. We have recommended that all nonprescription analgesics in packages containing more than 25 tablets or 12 powders should be available only from a pharmacy, and that the Health Department should monitor consumer usage and attitudes towards, proprietary medicines to measure the effect of various intervention strategies. We agree with the proposals for the restriction of sale announced by the National Health and Medical Reseach Council.
As Senator Baume has said, the use of cannabis was the area on which we were in disagreement. The further we went in the taking of evidence the more we realised how little was known of the effects of its long term use. We do know that those countries of the United Nations group where there has been long-term use of the drug are the ones that are most against its use being permitted. The Committee was equally divided on this issue, and it was only by the Chairman’s exercising his casting vote that the report was indeed filed as a majority report. The majority advocated decriminalisation of the taking or growing of marihuana for personal use. It is this really with which we are mainly in disagreement.
The report has used to strengthen its argument the case of eight American States and the alteration of the legislation in those States. However, seven of these States have just recently introduced this legislation- they have introduced it in only the past two years. In the minority report I strongly disagreed with Australia using the situation in America as an example in this regard, not only because the experience there has been too short from which to draw any results, but also because at least one of those eight States mentioned in the majority report has already repealed that legislation. I refer to the State of South Dakota. In a second State, the State of Maine, at the moment considerable pressure is being brought to bear for it to repeal its decriminalising legislation.
The excuse used for the recommendation to decriminalise cannabis is that existing legal sanctions have led to some unfortunate consequences. Among these are the growing suspicion of corruption in the process of law enforcement, diminished respect for the law and for enforcement authorities and a deterioration in the relationship between young people and the police. I believe these types of comments are totally unsubstantiated. I believe that they do immense harm by undermining the authority of law and order generally and cannot be attributed in any way to the present laws in relation to cannabis. The majority of committee members have recommended a reduction in the severity of the penalty for possession for personal use and for the growing of cannabis for personal use in that there would then no longer be any necessity for the offender to appear at court.
– What is the difference between this offence and being drunk?
-Senator Wright just asked what was the difference between this offence and being drunk. I shall come to that a little later because we did receive evidence concerning the difference between alcohol and cannabis. But in the meantime, evidence was brought before the Committee regarding the effect of using marihuana, particularly in association with the consumption of alcohol, on the ability to drive a motor car. We have had evidence that the effect of this is just so much worse than any effect already experienced in this community, which makes me believe that it would be totally irresponsible to do anything that would be likely to increase the use of marihuana. Many people, who are listed in the minority report, gave evidence to the effect that in their opinion there would be an increase in the use of marihuana if we were to reduce the penalties at all. I believe that if we are sincere in the first objective of our national strategy to reduce the national consumption of cannabis in respect of both recruitment and present personal use, which is outlined on page 163 of the report, we will do nothing that is likely to increase the use of this drug.
We have two main objections to the legalisation ofthe growing of cannabis for personal use. One is the difficulty of policing the number of plants which would be claimed to be for personal use. The second is that the cannabis plant not only produces marihuana but, as every honourable senator should know, also contains harmful derivatives, for example, hashish and hashish oil- two products the use of which the majority report states should be treated with great severity. Yet if people are allowed to plant cannabis in their backyard, as they might plant any other vegetable, with just a minor penalty imposed for doing so these people would have immediate access to hashish and hashish oil. I believe that no Australian would suggest that people should be allowed free access to either of those. We had evidence, as is reported also in the minority report, about the great variety of tetrahydrocannabinol in the numerous varieties of the cannabis plant. The dried cannabis plant, especialy the flowering tops from the female plant, might contain anything from nought to 14 per cent THC. So there is no way that it can be said that planting a couple of plants of cannabis in the backyard can be of little consequence.
It was put to us- Senator Wright raised this question also- that there is virtually no difference between marihuana and alcohol. We heard evidence from a marihuana user. When I asked him what he considered to be the difference between marihuana and alcohol he said: ‘There is a world of difference. With marihuana if you ask a friend to come and have a smoke you say “Come and get stoned”, whereas if you ask a friend to come and have a drink you do not necessarily mean that you want to come and get drunk’. One is a direct invitation to smoke marihuana to become intoxicated, whereas the other could be an invitation just to have a thirst quencher on a hot day. I believe that if we take these things into consideration; if we remember the road fatalities which already are experienced through the use of alcohol; if we remember that alcohol and marihuana are going to create far greater tragedies on the road, as evidence we have from America certainly does underline, it is seen that our minority report adopts a very responsible approach.
– I rise briefly to speak to this report in the hope that it might be debated further by the Senate at some time when honourable senators have had time to study it. It is a report of which we want the Government and the community to take special notice. We truly believe that Australian society is drunk at the moment; we believe that Australians are drowning in drugs. We believe that at the moment men might be the greater drunks, but they are addicted also to tobacco; that at the moment women might be in even greater danger with the use of analgesics and sedatives, but they are turning increasingly also to tobacco and alcohol; that our children are turning increasingly to alcohol and tobacco and we are afraid that they are now turning also to cannabis.
I dissent from this report in part because I believe the main report is weakened by a less than firm commitment to a policy which will pursue a drug free society. I believe that the law does have a part to play in bringing about a drug free society. I believe that the law, applied with firmness, fairness and relevance, is one form of control which society needs. I believe that up to this point of time the lack of firmness, fairness and relevance in applying the law from State to State has allowed an air of unreality to creep into the control of cannabis. I do not want any children or young people sent to gaol or severely handicapped because they have smoked one marihuana cigarette. By the same token, I do not want other people hiding behind those children. I do not believe that calling an act an offence and imposing a fine does anything but beg the question in this area.
I believe that the effects of cannabis intoxication are very real and would seem to be a very real hazard, especially when combined with alcohol. I believe that at the moment there is insufficient evidence of the effect cannabis has on people. We just do not know the extent of its effect. Until we do know this I believe we would be foolish to play around with something about which we do not know enough. I do not believe that we in this society need further drugs or further props. In our report we emphasised that drug use is derived from the basic mores of our society. It is not just a problem of deviance; it is a problem with which society must come to grips.
One of the frightening things in the report is that analgesics which until now have not been seen as a problem are affecting the health of a great number of women in the community who have no idea of the problem they are causing themselves. A cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down has become part of the folklore in Australia. In very many ways this is a formula for these women’s death and they do not know it.
We do not need any more acceptance of drugs. I should hate to think that before we knew it such things as cannabis had become as accepted in our society as some analgesic tablets and powders have become. Australia must stop before it is too late. This report gives the community some idea of the extent of the problem at the moment. To point up that problem I shall quote from a circular put out by the Working Women’s Centre which refers to a survey conducted by the New South Wales Department of Health in 1971. It states:
Alcohol: Approximately 84 per cent of males and 80 per cent of females drink alcohol. About 22 per cent of drinkers consume alcohol every day or most days of the week.
In Australia, where unemployment is growing, it seems to me that there is a fertile field for people in despair and depression to turn to some of these drugs. There does not seem to be anything else but terrible despair at the end of that road. A recent study of workers in Melbourne showed that the greatest group of workers under stress, dissatisfied with their jobs and life in general, were semi-skilled women workers. Therefore, that is a group which is at great risk from the increasing use of drugs in society. A study in Sydney recently showed that 14 per cent of the total of 1,857 housewives interviewed took analgesics daily. Most preferred powders. The reasons given for regular aspirin ingestion were related to age and social class, daily headaches, tension, habit and to cope with the family. These were the most common reasons, particularly from respondents in lower socio-economic groups. Again, these are people who are at great risk. It seems to me that society and, in this instance, governments, must take note and do something about the risk which these people are taking. Dr Gerald Milner, the Director of the Alcohol and Drug Dependence Persons Unit in Victoria, from whom the Committee took evidence, pointed out that our analgesic problem was between 20 and 80 times greater than the problem in the United States of America at the moment.
There is one problem with Senate Committee reports. Committee members spend long weeks hearing evidence and agonising over a report. Then what happens to it? In many instances- I venture to say in most instances- it finishes up in a pigeon hole and nobody ever reads it or hears of it again. We feel that this report has brought to light a real problem that needs immediate attention if we really care about the health of our community. We believe that the community can deal with this problem if it wants to do so. It is a problem that can be coped with if people want to cope with it and do something about it and do not want to bury their heads in the sand, or have another glass of whisky or another cigarette and think that they will deal with it tomorrow. To give the community an impetus to deal with the problem, governments must take a lead and make a stand. I hope that the Government will take great note of this report and will do something to put its recommendations into effect.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) It being two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, pursuant to Standing Order 127 the Orders of the Day will be called on.
Motion (by Senator Durack) agreed to:
That consideration of the Orders of the Day be postponed until after further consideration of the motion moved by Senator Baume to take note of the report of the Standing Committee on Social Welfare.
– I wish to speak briefly on one aspect of the report which has been tabled this afternoon by Senator Baume, that is the part of the report which relates to the use of cannabis. I do not wish to repeat the arguments which were used six years ago in this chamber when an earlier report of a Senate select committee was presented to the Senate but it is my opinion that the considerations which led me to produce a dissenting report on that occasion are still valid. I feel that there is a problem relating to the use of cannabis which, despite the valiant efforts of the Committee which has today presented its report, still remains unclarified and a problem to haunt society.
I do not think that one needs to be in any way sympathetic with the use of cannabis, or an advocate of its use, to be of the opinion that the continuation of the existing penal provisions against the use and dissemination of cannabis, in particular marihuana, is not satisfactory and that it is causing even greater problems than those who wish to see the possession and sale of marihuana made illegal are trying to do away with. That is no more the case than the opinion that because one may disapprove of the excessive use of alcohol and cigarettes made of tobacco, as indeed the Committee itself has shown, one is therefore, in favour of the reintroduction of prohibition of alcohol or the introduction of prohibition of tobacco. I think the experience of the period of prohibition in the United States between 1 92 1 and 1 933 showed clearly that if there is public demand for a drug, and if there is acceptance amongst a substantial group of citizens that it is acceptable to use that drug, any penal provisions are bound to end in failure. Not only will they fail to prevent that drug being used, they will also cause all sorts of other problems in the wake of the controversy and difficulties which will arise from the prohibition.
A few years ago a former United States Attorney for the northern district of California wrote a book entitled ‘Marihuana- The New Prohibition’. He dealt with this problem in some detail and produced a very convincing analysis of certain parallels between the prohibition of alcohol which existed in the 1920s and early 1930s and the present prohibition of the use of marihuana. One of the points he made which attracts me as having a certain logic is that one has to look beyond the mere proscription of the use of a certain drug to certain social prejudices which are involved in that prohibition. The point which he made with regard to the prohibition of alcohol was not so much that it was a campaign against the use of alcohol but that it was also a campaign by the white Protestant majority of Americans who, traditionally, having had a Calvinist or non-conformist background, were opposed to the use of alcohol. Indeed, there are still many areas in the United States- the socalled bible belt; large areas of the Mid-West and the South- where very little alcohol is consumed right up to the present day. In fact, those people were engaging in a campaign against the life- styles of the more recent immigrants- the southern Europeans, the eastern Europeans, the Irish Catholics, the Jews, the Latin Americans and various others- who had as part of their culture the use of alcohol.
It is interesting to note when looking back at that period that organisations like the Ku Klux Klan were among the strongest in support of prohibition. If one reads some of the campaign material that was distributed by the opponents of Alfred E. Smith when he stood as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 1928- the first Catholic candidate of a major party- particularly the material distributed through the South, which, for the first time since the Civil War was not carried by a Democratic candidate, one will see a strange mixture of accusations made against Governor Smith. It was alleged that he wanted to have black people eating in public dining rooms and generally engaging in the most heterodox sort of behaviour. Amongst the allegations that were levelled against Smith was the allegation that Smith, as a Catholic, was the sort of person who would favour the occasional drink and who would open the floodgates to alcohol in the United States.
The former United States Attorney, whose name was Kaplan, made a similar point with regard to the prohibition of marihuana in the 1960s, that is, that it was a campaign mainly by older, more settled and conservative people against a lifestyle, again to a certain extent that of ethnic minorities, particularly among the socalled Chicanoes- the immigrants from Mexico and other Latin countries, who have taken marihuana traditionally as part of their culture in the same way as people in other parts of the world were smoking tobacco- and also against the young people who had taken up marihuana in the 1950s and 1960s.
– Does marihuana damage the health?
– I will come to that later. I cannot talk about two things simultaneously. The question of whether it does is not the point that I am making at the present time. Alcohol damages the health. The point that the United States Attorney made was that the damage which was caused to the health was, if it were a motivation, not the primary motivation of those who favoured prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, in the same way as the question of whether marihuana is damaging to the health was not a primary motivation in the 1960s and 1970s among a number of those people who were in favour of heavy penalties or penalties for the use of marihuana. Many of the people who advocate banning the use of marihuana, as I think Senator Baume pointed out during the course of his speech when tendering the report, are well aware of the severe damage which is done to the health by the use of alcohol. Nonetheless they would not be in favour of the banning of alcohol. Here one has two drugs, both of which are dangerous in various degrees to one’s health, yet one is the subject of a campaign calling for its banning and the other is not. That was the point that the United State Attorney was making.
What we do have in Australia- it is a fairly new phenomenon that exists throughout many Western countries at the present time- is a large number of people who are using marihuana. To come back to Senator Wright’s point, there is dispute as to how much damage marihuana does to one ‘s health. I think it is beyond dispute that it does cause some damage. I think it is beyond dispute that the use of marihuana does have an effect upon the judgment of people in certain situations in which they ought to have their wits about them. I do not think there is any doubt about that. In fact, Dr Cheshire of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Sydney, who as been one of the most consistent advocates of a change in the laws relating to marihuana, has made the point much more clearly than any of the advocates of the banning of marihuana that the use of marihuana can seriously affect the judgment of the driver of a motor vehicle, possibly just as seriously as the abuse of alcohol.
– More so.
– I do not know whether it is more so but it certainly will have an effect. I think it is difficult to quantify these matters. I do not know how one compares the consumption of six double Scotches with the smoking of six joints. The fact of the matter is that it is conceded that both of them would have an effect on one’s facility to drive a motor vehicle. Therefore it would be perfectly reasonable for anybody to argue that penalties ought to be imposed on people who drive motor vehicles while under the influence of marihuana. I think that most of the relevant laws within the States- the various traffic Acts- make provision in this regard. Certainly in Western Australia- I think it is the same in the other States- the charge that is usually referred to as drunken driving is generally embraced within a section of the relevant Act that refers to being in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drink or drugs. No new legislation is needed to provide for such a situation because the existing law already covers it. If someone were driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of marihuana it would seem to me that any reasonable reading of the existing law, as I understand it, would cover such a person in any case without there being a separate series of laws relating to penalties for the possession of marihuana.
I think the major problem with regard to marihuana is that if free commercial distribution of marihuana were allowed we would find the same sort of advertising campaigns taking place for marihuana as take place at present in the cases of alcohol and cigarettes. I do not think that there could be any doubt that the consumption of both alcohol and tobacco would be significantly less than it is at present if it were not for the fact that people are being induced by all sorts of advertisements to partake of them. I do not think that the absence of advertising would stop their use altogether. I understand that in the Soviet Union there is no advertising of alcohol or tobacco, yet both are used fairly extensively. I think it obviously requires little argument to make the point that the advertising must add to the consumption. If this were not the case, clearly there would be no point in the manufacturers of these products advertising them. The very fact that they are advertised would seem to be evidence that the advertising does have some effect on the consumption.
Six years ago-in 1971- in a dissenting report that I presented to the Senate I suggested that the possession of marihuana should not be an offence. I would distinguish- if I may interrupt myself-between marihuana and hashish. Both of them are products from the cannabis satival plant, but marihuana, as Senator Baume so eruditely informed us earlier this afternoon, is the dried leaf of the cannabis plant, whereas hashish is made from the resin of the cannabis plant. Clearly the strength of hashish is considerably greater than that of marihuana. There are some considerations which apply to that which do not apply to marihuana. To return to my recommendation, it was to the effect that the possession of marihuana, unless the purpose of that possession was to engage in the sale of marihuana for commercial purposes, should not be an offence; that it should be an offence for any individual to engage in the sale and distribution of marihuana; that there should be no advertising of marihuana; that marihuana should be marketed by some appropriate State agency in premises specifically licensed for that purpose; and that the marihuana industry, if that is what it would become, should not be conducted on a profit-making basis and if there were profits to be made from it such profits should be used on research into the use and abuse of drugs, particularly marihuana itself.
I do not want to labour all of those points, but I do not think there can be any doubt that the prosecutions that have taken place of people in possession of marihuana have caused, among a number of people, a disrespect for the law. This is a situation in which a number of peoplemainly young; but, as it is now some years since marihuana came into vogue, I suppose that some of them would be youngish or early middleaged do believe that in this instance the law is an ass. We do not need to have too many people thinking that in one particular instance the law is an ass before many people start thinking that in a number of other instances the law must also be an ass. I think that the legal campaigns, the penal campaigns, that have been carried on against marihuana have been damaging to the much more worthwhile, desirable and necessary campaigns against hard drugs such as heroin. Yet one finds that the same people say that marihuana is a dangerous evil and that heroin is a dangerous evil. People try marihuana and find that not very much happens and they believe that if they were wrong about marihuana they are just as likely to be wrong about heroin. That brings into disrespect the whole official attitude of society to the use of drugs many of which- the so-called hard drugs- are clearly dangerous. I do not believe that any argument is necessary to establish that they are dangerous.
Another by-product of the illegality of marihuana is that the same sort of people are engaged in the trade in marihuana as are engaged in the trade in the hard drugs. As I understand it, if one is looking for marihuana or for heroin, it is very likely to be the same person to whom one would go to get either. If one continues to move in that milieu, if one continues to buy one form of illegal drug from a particular person, it is not to be wondered at if one moves on to another form of drug, a harder drug, because of the circumstances in which one is constantly moving and the persons with whom one is constantly coming into contact. Although there is no evidence in pharmacological or psychological terms that one drug leads to another- and that people who start on marihuana work their way up to heroin that was shown by the evidence presented to the Committee on which I served and I imagine that the same evidence was presented to this Committee, as it has been to other inquiries- I believe that in the present legal situation that is an argument which does have some validity. People do start off on marihuana and work their way up to heroin because of the circumstances in which they acquire their marihuana and because of the circumstances in which they smoke their marihuana.
– I beg the honourable senator’s pardon.
– I -
– If Senator Walters wants to interject she will have to be quicker than that. We like nice snappy interjections in the Senate. ‘Oh!’ is not good enough. The point I am making is that the very surroundings in which marihuana is purveyed are surroundings which encourage people to move on to harder drugs and into other forms of illegality.
To come to the positive recommendations made by the majority of the Committee, I do not think it is satisfactory to say that there will be a reduction in the penalties for the possession of marihuana for one’s own use if the same or, as the Committee has recommended, increased penalties remain for pedlars of marihuana. That seems to me to be a logical inconsistency. If we are to say that it is not too bad for somebody to have marihuana, then I do not see how it can be said that it is bad for somebody to provide marihuana to that person. Clearly, it would be nonsense, for example, to say that it is all right to drink alcohol and there is nothing particularly wrong with carrying around a bottle of beer or a flask of whisky for oneself but it is an offence to provide the person who likes the beer or whisky with his beer or whisky.
– That is inconsistent.
-What is inconsistent?
– We restrict the manufacture, do we not? You are being just as inconsistent.
-No, I do not think I am being inconsistent. I do not think that on the one hand we can allow a trade in marihuana to take place, which is what is implied by the very possession of marihuana- there has to be a trade for people to be in possession of marihuana- and at the same time say that we are trying to prevent that trade by continuing the penalties on those who provide the marihuana unless we provide an alternative source of marihuana. I may say in all modesty that, if we were carrying out the suggestion I made that there ought to be an ap- propriate governmental agency providing mari- h uana, then I think it is quite reasonable to say that anybody who outside that ambit does provide marihuana is committing an offence. It does seem to be illogical to say that the possession of marihuana is itself not an offence but the provision of marihuana to those people who are then in possession of it is an offence.
However, I think the Committee has made a major contribution in once again drawing attention to these problems, and particularly to the problems resulting from the existing laws relating to marihuana. I do not think there is any doubt that the tendency is in the direction of a more liberal and open attitude on this question. In the United States, which in many ways has been the pathfinder, both in the use of marihuana and the banning of marihuana and in turn in the relaxation of the laws with regard to marihuana, in a great many States already there has been considerable relaxation.
– South Dakota has just come back again.
– I am sorry to hear that. But whether South Dakota has just come back again or not, the fact remains that over the last 10 years there has been a tendency in the United States towards a relaxation of the laws relating to marihuana.
– It is a question of Senator Walter’s judgment and mine, and my information is that that is the tendency. I suggest that if she compared the laws in the United States now with those of 10 years ago in relation to the use of marihuana she would find them considerably more liberal now than they were 10 years ago, whatever may be the position in South Dakota, on which I am afraid I am not presently well advised.
– They are tightening up their bible belts.
-South Dakota is not in the bible belt, as it happens. It is a very fine State. It sent Senator McGovern to the Senate and is a State for which I have the greatest respect. I am sorry to hear that it has rejoined Senator Walters. The very fact that attention has been drawn to these matters by the Senate Committee is valuable, but I do not believe that we are going to overcome the problem, which is a very substantial social problem. We do have bigger social problems than this one, but it is still substantial.
To return to the point I was making earlier, I venture to suggest that one of the reasons why we are finding an increase in the use of hard drugs in Australia, why in a city such as Perth, from which I come, there is now a fairly significant heroin problem where only five or 10 years ago there was no heroin problem at all, is very largely the illegal ambience in which the present use and sale of marihuana are conducted. In order to eliminate this very small hazard- I admit that it is a hazard- from our national life we are contributing to the growth of another much more serious and much more dangerous hazard to our community. This is one of those occasions on which a liberal attitude, I believe, will have the effect of reducing the abuse of drugs rather than of increasing it. Although I commend the Committee’s report, I believe, as I have for many years since I first was obliged to study the subject, that we will have a very long way to go before we can establish a sensible attitude towards a question that is of importance to this country, as it is to most other Western countries of a similar civilisation to our own.
– I appreciate the Senate’s indulgence in granting me some time to add something to what has been said already by my fellow Committee members on this very important report. The Senate is indebted to Senator Wheeldon for his contribution. I understood him to say that he presented a report on this matter to the Senate in 1971. Before proceeding with what I want to say about the report itself, perhaps I should make a few brief comments on what Senator Wheeldon said. I think it is an oversimplification of the situation to say that, simply because the legalisation of alcohol in the United States got rid of the bootlegging problem and all that went with it, we ought to do the same thing in Australia with marihuana. I think that is a reasonable summary of the first point he made. Perhaps it is a little over-simplified but I think the gravamen of what he said came down to that.
In his second point he pointed out the association between driving motor cars, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. One of the things which influenced me in coming down against any lessening of penalties or of reducing the gravity of offences for the use of marihuana or its possession in small quantities was this very factor. Since 1971 there has been a tremendous increase not only in the use of motor cars on Australian roads but also in the number of deaths on Australian roads. It was said at the time of the Vietnam war and statistics proved that youths between the ages of 18 and 25 were more likely to survive in Vietnam than were their counterparts at home who drove motor cars on Australian roads, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. I think there are statistics available which indicate that.
The point I stress in this regard- it was made by Dr Milner to whom Senator Melzer has already referred- is that the cumulative effect of an intake of alcohol and marihuana is dramatic. I think Dr Milner equated this to a situation- the figures I use for the purpose of the illustration are not his- where if one took six glasses of beer one would reach a certain stage of intoxication, perhaps not over 0.05, but one would have some level, and then at some other time if one took ten reefers of marihuana and smoked them that would produce some effect on one’s driving. But if one took three glasses of beer with five reefers of marihuana- in other words, half the quantity- that would have more than double the effect on one’s ability to control a motor car. It is that sort of geometric progression, if that is the term, or multiplying factor which operates by the integration of these two intakes into the body.
Before I came to this place I was closely associated with the great problem of accidents on Australian roads and the need for remedies to reduce the appalling road toll. That factor weighed rather heavily on me in the very close deliberation I gave in making my decision to oppose any change in the laws in the Commonwealth which would lessen the gravity of the offence or reduce the penalty in relation to marihuana. The other point Senator Wheeldon made related to a rather novel theory about trafficking. I understood the honourable senator to say, in relation to trafficking, that he thought it would follow logically that if we legalised the use of small quantities of marihuana we ought either to lighten or abolish altogether the offence of trafficking. I say at once that the Committee was unanimous in its findings that there should be no lessening of penalties for trafficking.
– Why should there be a bonus in this industry for growing your own?
- Senator Wright, perhaps that is so. The other point Senator Wheeldon made- I say this quickly because I do not want to take too long- was that because we have the present laws in Australia relating to the use of marihuana or possession of small quantities, that leads to increasing use of heroin. There was no evidence of that at all before the Committee. Admittedly, we have not dealt with heroin in this report but there was a great deal of discussion and evidence on the effect of marihuana in relation to people graduating- if that is the word- to harder drugs such as heroin. As I remember the report and the evidence given, there was no evidence at all to support the theory which was advanced today by Senator Wheeldon that if we completely legalised marihuana we would have a dramatic reduction around Australia in the use of heroin
I proceed with the report. Drug problems in Australia cover a very wide section of the community. I think it is true to say that few house holds in Australia do not in some way or another have at some stage some sort of problem over the wide range of drugs which are covered by this report. The report deals in detail with the particular drugs of alcohol, tobacco, analgesics and cannabis. There are some comments on amphetamines and barbiturates. The report is designed to cover the extent and nature of the inappropriate use of the drugs mentioned. I acknowledge at the outset and confirm what the chairman of the Committee has said, namely, the great deal of work which was put in by the Parliamentary officers assisting the Committee, including the secretary, Mr Joske, and Mr
Thomson and their support staff. As has already been said by the chairman, the Committee was unanimous on all matters in the report except for two matters in the cannabis chapter, these being the national strategy on cannabis and the recommendations on the law relating to cannabis.
Before proceeding to deal with those matters, however, I say a few words about the alcohol situation which, in terms of cost to the nation, far outstrips any ofthe other drugs which have been the subject matter of this report. One thing which is referred to in detail in the report and which I think is worth mentioning today is that in Victoria in particular the evidence disclosed that there was a spirit of co-coperation between unions and management in industry to assist alcoholics engaged in industry in solving thenproblems. I think it is fair to say that the evidence showed that there have been some very encouraging, if not dramatic, results in this regard. I mention that matter because I think it will be important in the future that we have this sort of co-operation in industry to assist not only the unfortunate individual who is suffering from the disease of alcoholism but also to improve efficiency in industry by restoring people to health.
I say a few words about each of the dissenting recommendations to which I have been a party. The first, of course, is the national strategy in relation to which Senator Walters and I produced a joint dissent and in respect of which Senator Melzer has produced a dissent which deals with other matters. Whilst these two matters to which dissents were expressed represent only a small section of the report, they are matters which are very much before the public of Australia at the present time. I think the fact that the Committee is equally divided on the recommendation in regard to the law relating to cannabis, with the casting vote of the chairman providing a majority, is an indication of the divergence of opinion which exists in Australia today when we deal with the marihuana situation. I suppose that as far as the national strategy is concerned there is no shortage of arm chair critics in the Government and among other people who are interested in these problems. They want a say in what should be the national strategy in Australia to deal with this widespread problem ofthe use of cannabis.
I think it is important for people who have not made a study of this situation to observe the correct terminology. The term marihuana refers to the dried leaf of the cannabis plant. As has already been indicated by Senator Walters, our dissent to the recommendation for the reduction in penalties which was proposed by the majority for the growing of cannabis was motivated largely by the fact that the marihuana drug is just one small by-product of the cannabis plant. Things like hashish, hashish oil and tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, are other by-products. We took the view that the police would be confronted with an impossible task if they were to go onto a property and say to the owner: ‘Well, there is one plant for your own use but what are the 40 plants over there being used for?’ To suggest that one can place the growing of cannabis on the same footing as the possession of a small amount of cannabis is to completely ignore reality. For that reason we came down strongly on the side of the law being strengthened in the case of the growing of cannabis because there is some obscurity in the law in certain States in this regard. Of course, we can deal only with recommendations made in respect of the Commonwealth.
– What is the conception about growing your own? Suppose you invite your neighbour m to smoke it or do you give him a piece? What is the difference?
-Senator Wright, I think I have highlighted the problems. I would like to refer briefly to a couple of passages on page 190 of the report which relate to the national strategy on cannabis. There was a tendency on the part of the majority of members of the Committee to over-simplify the problem in the sense that because the law is said to be inefficient one discards the law or does something about the law. We took the view that it was quite unfair to blame any one factor for the present situation in Australia. In part, we said:
It is manifestly unfair, however, to put the blame for the increase of cannabis use exclusively on any one factor, such as existing legal sanctions or the failure of the police and law enforcement officers to charge people found offending. Notwithstanding that the present deterrents have failed to prevent the abuse of cannabis and trafficking in the drug, we believe that it would be irresponsible to discard them in the absence of proven, effective alternative methods of control.
I think that sums up our view in this regard. One does not discard existing sanctions until other sanctions are available which will work. Further, we went on to say:
It is manifestly inaccurate to lay solely at the door of the cannabis problem any supposed corruption or deterioration of the relationship between young people and the police, and there was no evidence before the Committee to support this suggestion.
It was said that in some way young people lost respect for the police because of the existing cannabis laws in Australia relating to possession of small quantities of marihuana. That is a theory to which we do not subscribe. I have dealt already with the question of the cumulative effect of the intake of alcohol and cannabis.
– It seems to me the majority report has been conceived in drink and executed in delirium.
– I want to turn now to a matter which has already been adverted to by Senator Walters. Apart from the matters I have mentioned, the major difference between ourselves and the view of the majority on the national strategy is that we disagree with the inferences drawn by the majority from recent United States experience. I refer particularly to the passage appearing at page 1 9 1 of our dissenting report, which I will not read. Our objection to the use of the American experience is twofold. The first objection is that we do not think it follows as a matter of course that what is good for the United States of America is good for Australia, whether in regard to lowering penalties and lessening the gravity of offences in relation to marihuana or the other wider and different fields of human experience. Our second objection is that one of the nine States, namely South Dakota- I mention this again because I think it is important- has legislated already to recriminalise possession of small quantities of marihuana, and the State of Maine, as mentioned in the report, has launched a similar campaign to recriminalise on grounds set out in the report.
– What do you mean by launched a campaign’? That just means that some people are opposed to the legislation.
-There is an indication in a report received only a fortnight ago which was, I think, dated March or April this year, that there is quite a concerted campaign in Maine to recriminalise. In any case, it indicates that people in the United States are having second thoughts.
Another matter we dealt with in our recommendations on the law which is not covered by the majority report is the suggestion that the courts be vested with a discretion to impose higher pecuniary penalties for a second or subsequent offence by the same person. I think I can sum up very quickly the broad division between the majority and the minority so far as the law is concerned. The majority felt, as Senator Wheeldon does, that the offences should be taken out of the criminal law and put into the category of minor statutory offences such as traffic offences, with no use of conviction, no imprisonment and no penalties for second or subsequent offences. In general the person found to be offending in this regard would be removed completely from the ambit of criminal law. Because of the uncertainty of the medical effects of cannabis and marihuana, carnage on the roads that can result from the combination of alcohol and marihuana, and a number of other reasons which are set out in the report, at this stage we could not recommend a change in the law as drastic as was proposed by the majority. That was largely the watershed on which we parted company.
I have already dealt with the situation in regard to growing cannabis. Perhaps for the purpose of clarity I should repeat our two major objections to the majority view in this regard. The first objection is the difficulty of policing the number of plants which could be claimed to be required for personal use. The second objection is that the cannabis plant not only produces marihuana but also contains harmful derivatives, for example, hashish and hashish oil, and the THC content varies considerably from variety to variety.
I have dealt in detail with the minority report. Having done so, I do not want to give the impression that there is not a very great amount of material in the general report which has the unanimous support and commendation of the Committee. As the Chairman of the Committee said, when we look at this subject in terms of the whole report we see that it covers a very narrow but very important and topical field in the Australian scene today. As I have pointed out, a legitimate difference of opinion has been expressed by members of the Committee on what should be done. I think that this difference reflects the difference of opinion in the Australian community today. I endorse the recommendations contained in the report and I have referred to the minority recommendations. I trust that the Government will, in co-operation with the State governments of Australia, examine the report with a view to initiating legislation and action in accordance with those recommendations.
-As one of those who signed the majority report, and ap- parently did soin a state of drunkenness and de- li rium, I hope that the rest of the community, the Parliament and the Press will take a serious look at what is a very serious report. I hope that they, unlike the honourable senator who interjected earlier, at least read the report before they make their judgments. I must admit that that is not the way the honourable senator usually makes his judgments.
– That was just a comment as the debate went along.
-I believe that the term the honourable senator used in his previous interjection can be better applied to him at the moment. This is an important report and the importance of it lies not only in the section -
– Order! Mention was made of a report, not a person. The honourable senator has just referred to Senator Wright. He said ‘the honourable senator who interjected’.
-Mr President, if you are asking me to withdraw I will certainly withdraw but I remind you that Senator Wright said that the report was conceived in a state of drunkenness and delirium. The report was conceived by individuals. I withdraw the remark merely to keep the debate flowing.
– I rise to order, Mr President. You have asked Senator Grimes to withdraw. However, Senator Wright said that the report was conceived in drink and executed in delirium. If it is unparliamentary to suggest that Senator Wright is in that condition, I suggest that it is equally unparliamentary for Senator Wright to describe the three members of the Committee who produced the majority report as being in that condition.
– He was talking about the report.
– He said that the report was conceived in drink. Conceivably the only people who could have been doing the drinking were the three members who wrote it.
– I have stayed here out of respect for the debate, but now I am leaving.
-Mr President, I have achieved my purpose. This is an important report, not only for the chapter on cannabis which for the last hour or so has received the most attention, but also for the chapters on alcohol, tobacco and compound analgesics which point out a very serious and difficult problem in this country, a problem which is not only medical but also social and in many cases psychiatric. What is also important is that the report draws to the attention of the community and the Parliament the need for a proper strategy and proper modes of control if we are to get a sensible reduction in the consumption of drugs in the community. A sad fact which came out in evidence given to this Committee and also to the previous Committee in 1971 and which was amplified recently before a Senate Estimates
Committee, is that too often we enter into programs aimed at reducing drug consumption, at reducing the importation of drugs and at reducing the production of drugs with no concept of what we are doing and without any attempt to evaluate what we are doing. No rational goals are set and no rational means of evaluation are established so that we simply do not know where we are going.
This is a serious problem and this attitude does not solve the difficulties we face but frequently results in a serious waste of public funds. We had police officers telling the Committee that they have an efficient drug squad which is doing a good job, while in the next answer admitting that they detect only 5 per cent of offenders. We have narcotics agents saying that they are doing a good and efficient job in intercepting drug imports and then in the next answer saying that they are intercepting only 10 per cent to 15 per cent of illicit drug imports. That is a concept of success which the Committee, and I do not think anyone in the community, could accept. Unless we look seriously at a proper strategy and to developing proper modes of control which are effective we will get nowhere, just as we have got nowhere in the past.
I am pleased that this report results from an inquiry, from debate, from an analysis of the findings of the inquiry, from a judgment on the evidence that was given and from further investigations outside the Committee hearings. It was arrived at in an atmosphere not of emotion and rhetoric which is so often experienced in general debate on this issue in the community. Too often people on either side of the debate shout and scream at each other and air their prejudices while the people in the middle who are trying to do something effective are not heard and cannot be heard over the screaming. Obviously the report, particularly in the section on marihuana will disappoint many people. It certainly will disappoint those who expected the Committee to suggest that we should hang, draw, quarter, flog, gaol, and do all the other things which so many people want us to do, those who abuse or peddle drugs. No one on the Committee took that line. It also will disappoint many people- perhaps even my colleague, Senator Wheeldon- who expected the report to say that we should completely legalise the use of marihuana or cannabis. The report of the total Committee, although there were small differences of opinion in the treatment of the marihuana section, is opposed to the complete legalisation and use of marihuana or cannabis. It is aimed at reducing the use of marihuana and other drugs.
Senator Wheeldon mentioned the difference between this part of the report and his minority report of 1971. He said nothing had changed in that time to make him change his view and I accept his view as honestly held, as are all his views. I suggest that there has developed a difference in attitudes between 1971 and 1977. In the previous drug report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare, that is, its report on cannabis in 197 1, the problem of driving under the influence of cannabis was glossed over very quickly. The only reference to it was that there was some evidence that intoxication with marihuana affected driving but that there seemed to be a lot of evidence that people under the influence of marihuana could overcome those highs when driving.
– Evidence was given to the Committee by Dr Cheshire about the dangers of driving.
– Cheshire was well aware of it
– And I was well aware of it then, too.
-The point I am making is that the Committee did not make a great issue of this at the time. In fact, it is fair to say that in the community at that time it was thought that there was a great difference between the effects of marihuana and alcohol on driving.
– You were saying that it was a reason for my changing my view. I was aware of it in 1971.
-I wonder whether the honourable senator was aware of it as he should be now because most of the detailed investigations have been done since then. I do not think he is aware of this very real problem which Senator Tehan mentioned, the problem of the synergistic effect of alcohol and marihuana where one plus one does not equal two but equals about five when we consider the combined effect of both those drugs.
– That is an argument for banning alcohol.
-We are coming to it. There is a third change since that earlier report. In 1971, and evidence certainly has shown this, marihuana in this country was primarily the drug of protest, the drug of the young, the drug of the alternative society, if we want to use that term. In those days people who used marihuana in general did not use alcohol. That has drastically changed. Unfortunately now people frequently combine the use of alcohol and marihuana with devastating effects on driving.
There is a fourth factor which influences me considerably. Unlike in the case of alcohol, we have no simple accessible portable method of detecting blood THC in a person who has been smoking cannabis or taking cannabis in any form and driving. We have no equivalent to the breathalyzer. We have no simple equivalent to the blood alcohol test. We have no means of carefully detecting and carefully assessing the condition of a person who is driving a motor vehicle under the influence of cannabis. This makes for a great difference between cannabis and alcohol. It certainly makes a difference to my concept on whether we should actually legalise the drug- completely legalise the whole thing in the sense to which Senator Wheeldon referredor take the line that the majority report in fact has taken.
The reason why certainly I, and I believe most of the other members who made the majority report, came down on the side of changing the law in this regard was not, as I believe Senator Walters and Senator Tehan suggested, to get the law right out of the area. It is plain from our recommendations that this has not happened. The simple fact of the matter is that m this country and in every other country the laws and penalties that exist just are not succeeding. They have not succeeded in reducing the incidence of marihuana use anywhere else; they have not succeeded in this country; and there is no evidence that they will succeed in the future. I remind the Senate of what some of these penalties have been. They have included not only fines but also gaol sentences varying from one year in one tate to life in Texas. They have been -
– Life in Texas?
– Life in gaol in Texas. I am sorry. Life in gaol in Texas is probably only slightly worse than life in Texas. In this country, we have fined people and we have gaoled people. In Queensland there is a great penchant for throwing people out of their jobs every time they are caught with a small amount of marihuana in their possession. In fact, that was done in my State of Tasmania until recently. If the people concerned are public servants, they frequently are transferred in their job and in all States they sometimes lose their jobs. These are severe penalties. I might add that they are not the penalties that are applied to someone who drives down the highway with a blood alcohol content of 2.0 and crashes into a telegraph pole and is charged with drunk driving. These penalties have been applied to people who have had in their possession minute amounts of marihuana. The penalties just have not succeeded. People have had contempt for the law. They do not believe in the law. Despite the severity of the penalties, people have been ignoring this law. The methods that the police have used sometimes have increased this contempt for the law.
The law has been applied selectively. Certainly, in many States one group of people will be charged and gaoled or fined and another group of people will be let off. The people who are charged with the possession of marihuana and gaoled for the possession of marihuana predominantly are young, unemployed or students or have long hair. Yet, I do not believe that anyone here believes that the proportions in which those people are charged and gaoled bear any relationship to the various proportions of use in the community. In fact, no one who gave evidence to the Committee suggested other than that there was a gross discriminatory use of the present penalties against those people who were the most obvious users of this drug.
We believed that the law simply was not succeeding in what it was aiming to do. None of us has suggested, as Senator Tehan I believe has pointed out our report states, that only the law has caused this increase in marihuana use. None of us has suggested that only the unequal application of the law has caused this increase in cannabis use. Of course, there are many other factors, just as there are many other factors in people’s attitudes towards this drug anyhow, as Senator Wheeldon demonstrated to us earlier in his usual clear manner. There are matters of social differences, age differences and racial differences. The penalties for drug use have varied, depending upon where a person lived in the United States of America or the sort of class to which a person belonged in this country. I found it interesting that there are two groups of people in this country which are adamant that we should hang, castrate and do all sorts of dreadful things to drug offenders. One group is the Queensland conservative politicians and the other group is usually composed of drunks in hotels who themselves are full of alcohol and are the great drug abusers in this country.
The reason why we suggested the sort of changes we suggested was that the law in fact was not working. Because the law was not working, the law was being held in contempt, as Senator Baume said. We need a new approach. This change was suggested in all honesty and was backed up by actual evidence in the United States of America. In Oregon, where the results of the decriminalisation legislation have been monitored carefully, there has been no increase in the use of cannabis since the decriminalisation legislation was introduced. I can assure the Senate that there is no intention of changing that law in Oregon. In all the States in which the socalled decriminalisation procedure was introduced there are small groups- the groups about which Senator Wheeldon talked and which exist in every community- which will campaign continuously against such decriminalisation. We do not believe that the problem is a simple one. We never did believe that it was a simple problem at any stage of the preparation of this report. We do not believe that the answers will ever be simple. But we do have international evidence on our side to refute the sorts of arguments that are thrown up repeatedly when any liberalisation of this law is suggested.
Of course, two things are always suggested. The first is that the use of marihuana leads inexorably to the use of hard drugs. The second is that there is always an association between the use of marihuana and crime. A third factor that is raised is the ill effects of long term use of marihuana. The Committee looked at many international reports. They are listed in our report. The reports go back as far as the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission report of 1 894. They include the New York Mayor’s Committee report in 1942, the Wootton Report in the United Kingdom, the Le Dain Report in Canada, the Shafer Report in the United States of America and various other studies. I think that those reports and the outcome of those reports are worth looking at. Every valid report on the use of marihuana since 1894 has consistently refuted this connection between the use of marihuana and crime- all sorts of crimes about which we hear frequently in the community.
– You said ‘all reports’. Is it the same with modern day reports up to this time?
– I was referring to all reputable reports. I was referring to all reports of commissions of the type to which I referred, and I hold to that statement. A second factor is that these reports, even back in the 1940s, when it was as absolute certainly in our society that marihuana was a drug of addiction, have stated consistently that marihuana did not lead to the use of heroin. Even the New York Mayor’s Committee report -
– The La Guardia Commission.
-Yes, the La Guardia report refuted it. It has been refuted as far back as 1944. It was refuted even in the report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission in 1894. That has been a consistent theme of investigation into this drug ever since that time. Yet we have this anecdota evidence: ‘He is a heroin addict. He has at some time used marihuana. Therefore, the use of marihuana led to the heroin addiction’. It is almost as inconsistent- not quite as inconsistentas saying that everyone who is a heroin addict has drunk milk; therefore, milk leads to heroin addiction. We have had this consistent theme since 1894. Despite the consistent reports, this anecdotal evidence has been used. The reports have been ignored all the time. Those reports are known and listed.
The medical reports are more difficult. There is no question that, particularly in Egypt and the Middle East where marihuana is used frequently the chronic abuse of large amounts of marihuana causes the same sort of effects as the chronic long term abuse of alcohol. The person who is permanently stoned, who does not eat properly and who gets cirrhosis and all sorts of psychoneurotic diseases is treated like an alcoholic in all those countries. But in all of those countries the social use of marihuana persists; the social use of marihuana has been consistent through the ages. It has, in fact, been the alcohol of that society. We have had anecdotal reports, and worse, in medical journals recently, all of which have been questioned, but nevertheless widely quoted in the newspapers. We had the sad situation of a gentleman from Boston who reported in the Press that the use of marihuana caused his pupils to stare at the sun, as a result of which their retinas were burnt, causing them to be blinded. When this report was exposed as untrue he said I was so concerned about the problem that I felt that I had to make up something to bring notice to it’.
A report appeared in certain English medical journals that two or three patients who had used marihuana had exhibited cerebral atrophy- that their brains had shrunk- a condition which is detectable by a procedure termed air encephalography. When the reports were examined further, it was found that the patients in question had a long psychiatric history and that the reports simply had no validity. We have also had reports which have just not been confirmed of chromosome breakage. This has been one of the problems with marihuana, as with many other drugs, that people with a vested interest and little scientific knowledge have gathered small facts, stuck them together and produced horrific reports. It is because of this crazy type of argument, and abuse of the facts, that we cannot get sensible, rational debate on the subject in this country at all.
I wish to make one reference to the Committee’s recommendation that the Government clarify the law on the growing of marihuana for personal use. It is clear from the report that we are uncertain as to whether this could be done. If it cannot be, it cannot be, but we believe it is worth investigating. There is no doubt that in the case Senator Tehan mentioned, where someone had 40 marihuana plants, there is no way in the world they could be considered as being for his personal use. He would be regarded under the procedures we recommend, as a grower or trafficker. Equally, there is no question that the manufacture of hashish oil or purified tetrahydrocannabinol from cannabis plants grown in the backyard would be illegal, just as would the private distilling of whiskey, brandy, or other liquor in the home. On the other hand, one can legally brew beer or make a little wine for one’s own use. This is not a new concept. It is not beyond our wit, I believe, to develop legal terminology that would cover the situation. The Committee did not pretend to be able to resolve the matter, it simply suggested that the Government consider it.
I just hope, as I said at the outset, that this report is not debated only in terms of the chapter on cannabis, on which there were divisions among the Committee- divisions which, I might add, were not on party lines but rather reflected the divisions in society and represent a healthy sign in the report of any committee. I hope that a serious look will be taken also at the chapters on strategy and on modes of control; also, the chapters on alcohol and compound analgesics. We are not the first committee to make such recommendations on compound analgesics; we are the first, I believe, to advocate a proper strategy for overall drug use control. I hope that any future debate will ge up to the standard, except for one small interlude, of that which has taken place this afternoon and that we will all be able to take part in it. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move:
This motion is occasioned by the fact that the funeral of Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy is to be held tomorrow at noon and it may be approximately 3 p.m. before Government leaders and the Leader of the Opposition will be able to return to Canberra. The matter has been discussed by the respective Whips.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.41 to 8 p.m.
– by leave-The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made this statement in another place. In reading it, where I use the first person personal pronoun it refers to the Prime Minister. On 21 August 1974 the previous Government established a Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security and appointed the Hon. Mr Justice Hope as the royal commissioner to inquire into and make recommendations on the intelligence and security services the nation should have available to it. The Government has now completed its consideration of the eight reports presented to it by the royal commissioner.
The Royal Commission’s Eight Reports
The first report outlines the procedures followed by the Royal Commission and requires no further comment. The second report makes findings and recommendations on security checking and a security appeals tribunal. The third report dealing with the machinery for ministerial and official control, direction and coordination of Australia’s intelligence and security services was the subject of the statement I made in the House on 5 May this year. At that time, I announced the appointment of a Ministerial Committee, supported by a Permanent Heads Committee, to provide a better system for co-ordinating the intelligence and security services.
I also announced our decision to establish the Office of National Assessments and legislation to establish that Office has subsequently been passed by Parliament. The fourth report specifically relates to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The fifth and sixth reports relate to particular specialist intelligence collection agencies. The seventh report, written by a consultant to the Commission, is an historical study of Australian intelligence and security services. The eighth concerns administrative arrangements for the storage and custody of the Royal Commission’s records. I will not be commenting further on these last two reports in this statement.
In accordance with undertakings previously given to the Parliament, I am tabling those parts of the Royal Commission’s reports which the royal commissioner considered can be made public without prejudice to national security and announcing the Government’s decisions on them. The third report was in an abridged form prepared by the royal commissioner and was tabled on 5 May. I now table the first report, the second report other than Appendices 2-A, 2-C and 2-F, and Volumes 1 and 2 of the fourth report. For the first time the Parliament and the people of Australia are being authoritively informed of fundamental considerations relating to Australia’s national security. For the first time Parliament and people can read the careful assessments of an independent judicial authority who has had full access to all the information and the time and resources to thoroughly analyse them.
The Royal Commission’s Basic Judgments
The Government has accepted the basic judgments of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security and has implemented a sweeping range of reforms to achieve them. In essence Mr Justice Hope’s basic findings are these:
Australia needs a highly professional system of intelligence and security services and this need is more apparent than ever before. Australia needs intelligence of quality, timeliness and relevance.
Such a professional system should include a security intelligence service to investigate and provide intelligence about threats to the internal security of the nation. Australia faces, and has faced or may face, threats to its internal security from various types of action to which I shall later refer. (Ill) CIVIL LIBERTY AND NATIONAL SECURITY
A balance must be struck between the need to respond decisively to this threat and the imperative of preserving Australia’s open processes of debate, discussion and commerce. Mr Justice Hope has recognised ‘that a balance between the rights of individual persons and the preservation of the security of Australia as a nation is no simple or easy thing to achieve’. (Fourth report, paragraph 10). He concludes quoting from the 1975 Rockefeller Report on the Central Intelligence Agency, ‘. . . in the final analysis, public safety and individual liberty sustain each other’. (Fourth report, paragraph 10).
Australia has classified information which the Australian Government has a duty to protect in the interests of the nation. These secrets are not limited to matters of national defence or foreign policy; they extend to matters relating to national resources and the national economy; their disclosure would prejudice Australia’s national security. Thus the security checking of public servants should continue to be undertaken subject to a series of basic reforms.
The actual activities, programs and priorities of the intelligence and security services should not be revealed, as to do so would be to jeopardise national security.
The intelligence and security services should always comply with Commonwealth and State laws.
The intelligence and security agencies should continue individually to be subject to ministerial responsibility, and in addition should be collectively subject to central oversight and coordination by senior committees of Ministers and permanent heads. Considerations of the nation’s interest should prevail over the full range of the agencies’ activities, and to this end the Government and the Opposition should develop a bipartisan approach to intelligence and security matters.
Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation
In his fourth report concerning ASIO Mr Justice Hope’s basic finding is ‘that Australia needs and should have a security intelligence service to investigate and provide intelligence about threats to the internal security of the nation’. (Fourth Report paragraph 657.) He stated:
On the basis of what has been submitted or provided to me, I find that Australia faces, and has faced or may face, threats to its internal security . . . and that ASIO should investigate . . .
Espionage, which is the covert collection of (generally secret) intelligence.
Active measures’ a general expression to cover a variety of activities by which a power can weaken another power or strengthen itself vis-a-vis that other power, including the establishment of ‘agents of influence’ the dissemination of ‘disinformation’ other forms of clandestine or deceptive action subversion, which is activity whose purpose is directly or ultimately, to overthrow constitutional government, and in the meantime to weaken or to undermine it.
Sabotage, which is the destruction, damaging or impairment of defence installations, et cetera, which would be useful to an enemy or a foreign power.
Mr Justice Hope continued:
Two further kinds of activity should be investigated by ASIO, although they may not always involve a direct attack on Australia.
Terrorism, which is politically motivated violence, or the threat of that violence.
The organisation in Australia of, or of assistance for, violent political activity in foreign countries’. (Fourth report paragraph 661.)
I will now briefly summarise the royal commissioner’s comments on two ofthe major areas of threat- espionage and subversion.
Mr Justice Hope rejected the views that some people had expressed to him that espionage was not a significant problem in Australia. The royal commissioner especially warned that ‘Australia must not be so naive as to think that it has some exemption from clandestine operations or that it need not take steps to protect itself against them ‘. (Fourth report, paragraph 41) The royal commissioner stated that this conclusion was substantiated ‘by a large amount of intelligence held by ASIO which cannot be made public’. (Fourth report, paragraph 41) However, in the royal commissioner’s words, there are, ‘some matters which can be stated publicly and which I ‘-that is the royal commissioner- ‘regard as supporting the conclusions I have come to.’ (Fourth report, paragraph 40).
The royal commissioner notes the considerable evidence of espionage against Australia during the Second World War and the Petrov commission’s findings that from 1943 until Petrov ‘s defection Union of Soviet Socialist Republics intelligence agents had been operating in Australia. He further says that independently of the Petrov commission’s findings he was, ‘completely satisfied that the USSR intelligence services were operating in Australia up to the time of Petrov ‘s defection and that a number of Australians, some consciously and unconsciously did reveal information about classified material to USSR intelligence officers or their agents’. (Fourth report, paragraph 40). He refers to the case of Mr I. F. Skripov. Mr Skripov re-opened the Soviet Embassy in 1959 and was expelled in February 1963 because of his clandestine intelligence activities.
The royal commissioner states that the numbers of intelligence officers now operating clandestinely in Australia ‘are much larger than in the 1940’s and 1950’s and are growing’. He goes on to quote: ‘For example, the proportion of USSR intelligence officers represented in that country’s diplomatic mission in Australia is consistent with overseas estimates of USSR representation in the USA and NATO countries ‘. (Fourth report, paragraph 40) In this connection, the Royal Commission quotes an estimate of Professor Leonard Shapiro, Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Conflict that . . around half of those (Soviets) accredited as diplomats to NATO countries are usually engaged in intelligence operations of one kind or another . . . (Fourth report, paragraph 40, footnote 4-18).
The royal commissioner states that:
The amount of domestic subversive activity in Australia has varied from time to time. The material before me does not establish that there is a very large amount at present. (Fourth report, paragraph 76).
As against this, the two main communist parties, the Communist Party of Australia and the Socialist Party of Australia, have strong influence in some unions.
They exercise a power greatly in excess of that which their numbers would justify, among other reasons because they often strongly support the interests of trade unionists and put their full force behind industrial issues.
At other times, they make use of industrial disputes for their own political purposes.
The Trotskyists and other left radical groups are active in academic and political areas and are succeeding in establishing themselves in many places of influence.
Right radical groups are still active and the basis for extreme right wing action is certainly not dormant. (Fourth report, paragraph 177).
ASIO -Functions and Performance
In considering threats such as these Mr Justice Hope also examined various ways of establishing a security intelligence service. He concludes that The essential conception of ASIO as an intelligence, and not an executive agency, is right for our national circumstances’. (Fourth Report, paragraph 660). He notes that ASIO ‘maintains liaison both here and abroad with the internal security services of several friendly nations’ and he concludes: ‘These relationships contribute significantly to ASIO’s overall efficiency’. (Fourth report, paragraph 707).
The royal commissioner is critical of some aspects of the past performance of ASIO. The Government is determined that ASIO’s performance should be beyond reproach. We have therefore accepted all Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations and we propose to amend the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act accordingly. The major effect of these amendments will be to ensure that ASIO’s activities will be expanded to enable it to report and investigate activities which threaten Australia’s internal security. ASIO will have a statutory responsibility to advise the Government about the following:
Domestic activity related to violence abroad and what the royal commissioner refers to as active measures .
Mr Justice Hope has updated ASIOs functions to enable it to respond to the reality of the 1970s. The relationship between the Director-General of Security and the Government will be defined in accordance with the royal commissioner’s recommendation based on his finding that under the existing ASIO Act there are legal doubts as to the extent to which the Minister can give lawful directions to the Director-General of Security. The Director-General of Security will be accountable to the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister.
The royal commissioner considers that the legal powers exercisable by ASIO regarding its collection of intelligence should be clarified and the responsibility for their supervision and control identified. Subject to the conditions specified by the Royal Commission ASIO may obtain warrants from the Attorney-General for purposes relevant to security to facilitate the acquisition of information about intelligence activities threatening Australia’s security. This is consistent with the pattern established in other countries with a Westminster system of government. Mr Justice Hope said:
The circumstances in which these powers might be exercised are not frequent. (Fourth Report, paragraph 1 39.)
For example, in regard to ASIO’s use of telephone taps the judge comments:
The number of warrants issued since the enactment of legislation (authorising them) has been quite modest. The intelligence yield has often been extremely valuable. ( Fourth report, paragraph 141.)
In the performance of its statutory responsibilities ASIO will carefully observe the principles delineated by the Royal Commission:
Honourable senators will notice that the royal commission has made a number of recommendations regarding the policies and practices to be followed by the Government and ASIO. The Government has accepted these: Significant features of them include: The Leader of the Opposition shall be kept informed about security matters and shall have access to the DirectorGeneral and his annual classified report. The Government will continue the practice of ‘no comment’ on allegations about ASIO’s activities. ASIO shall not provide security intelligence in any form, either directly or indirectly on an attributable basis or not, to the Press or other media. As the Commonwealth agency responsible for the defence and maintenance of Australia’s internal security ASIO is entitled to the confidence and respect of the nation.
I also refer to five recommendations taken from Volume III of the Fourth Report relating to ASIO’s future effectiveness. The DirectorGeneral of Security has advised that these five paragraphs can be made public without prejudice to national security. They are:
That the Director-General receive strong support and encouragement from the Government in his task of improving the effectiveness of ASIO.
That ASIO management be active in opening and maintaining communication with staff.
That the Government recognise that, in the future, quite large sums will be needed to improve ASIO’s capacity: that those giving consideration to ASIO’s budgetary bids take into account that past levels of expenditure should not be taken as a realistic benchmark.
That ASIO ensure that the Government is made aware of its needs for resources.
That ASIO should receive strong and sympathetic support from the Public Service Board in improving its personnel policies. ( Fourth report, Volume III, paragraph 818-822.)
I have been advised by the Director-General of Security, Mr Justice Woodward, that he has taken action to give effect to those recommendations of the Royal Commission that concern improvements in ASIO’s internal administration and management and generally to all other recommendations which do not call for policy decisions by the Government.
Mr President, I have outlined in broad terms the nature of our reforms. Further details of the action being undertaken by the Governmentwhich are in any event set out as recommendations in the fourth report which I have tabledwil be given by the Attorney-General (Senator Durack), when he introduces amendments to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act.
Security Checking and Security Appeals
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carries out security checks for Commonwealth departments primarily in relation to Commonwealth employees but also in a limited way for a range of special cases which the royal commission refers to as ‘immigration cases’. In the Second Report, the royal commissioner examines the need for and basis of this security checking process. Mr Justice Hope finds that Australia needs a system of security checks for two main reasons: The serious nature of the security threat to Australia- honourable senators may wish to refer to .the Second Report, paragraphs 12 to 13 and the Fourth Report, paragraphs 34 to 36- and the fact that, as the royal commissioner said:
Australia has secrets which the Australian Government has a duty to protect in the interests ofthe nation.
That quotation appears in paragraph 196 of the Second Report. The royal commissioner reported that the security checking system has not een formally reviewed since the early 1950s, and found that it contains a number of faults, including: The existing security checking categories are too wide. That is, they strain ASIO’s resources unnecessarily and are objectionable from a civil liberties viewpoint. There is some confusion about the nature of the security assessment ASIO provides. There has been some blurring of the demarcation between the responsibilities of ASIO and those of departments and instrumentalities. There have been deficiencies in the preparation and content of ASIO’s security assessments and the use of them by departments. In this regard, Mr Justice Hope observes that security checking is a complex and difficult task. He said:
ASIO’s information, even if accurate, will rarely, if ever, be complete. It can be led into error by the erroneous and incomplete nature of the material on which it makes its assessments. (Second Report, para. 10S).
That quotation is from paragraph 105 ofthe Second Report. He added
All investigations and judgments about persons and their actions can involve mistakes. ASIO and its officers are no exception. (Second Report, para. 1 1 5 ).
That quotation is from paragraph 1 1 5 of the Second Report.
The Government has decided to implement a number of reforms designed to overcome the deficiencies in existing arrangements. Principal amongst these reforms are the following: A Security Appeals Tribunal will be established. Steps will be taken to reduce to the minimum possible number the people to be security checked. ASIO’s security checking procedures will be revised and improved. From now on, persons who are the subject of adverse or qualified assessments, will be notified of that fact and of the general nature ofthe supporting information except to the extent that in the interests of national security they cannot be notified in certain special circumstances contemplated by the royal commission. In such special cases the Attorney-General, as Minister responsible for the ASIO Act- not the Prime Minister, as Mr Justice Hope proposes- will have to issue a certificate vetoing notification. Persons having been notified of an adverse or qualified assessment will be able to have the assessment impartially examined by the Security Appeals Tribunal.
Mr President, these reforms are designed to make security checking for Commonwealth employees more efficient and most importantly, to reduce as far as possible the intrusion into the private lives of Commonwealth employees. I shall now outline further details of some of these reforms, and also indicate those instances in which the Government has, after careful consideration, modified the royal commissioner’s recommendations.
The Security Appeals Tribunal
The royal commissioner has found that ‘Without adequate machinery for review of security assessments of persons . . . grave and permanent injustices can occur’. (Second Report, paragraph 200). He concluded that ‘ASIO’s security assessments should be subject to an appeals system’. (Second Report, paragraph 115). The Government agrees with this view. The Security Appeals Tribunal recommended by the royal commission will be established to review adverse or qualified security assessments and any supporting information provided by ASIO relating to such assessments.
The royal commission recommended that the Tribunal s review function should be made retrospective to the inception of ASIO in 1949. The Government has given careful consideration to this proposal but has decided that the matters subject to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction should be those occurring on or after the date on which the
Tribunal is established. We have been advised that there would be legal and substantial administrative problems associated with the royal commissioner’s recommendation. There is no Commonwealth statutory precedent for a restrospective grant of a right of appeal against an administrative decision. The comparable appeals system established under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 is expressly stated to apply to decisions given on or after the commencement of that Act. However, the Government has devised certain procedures to give effect to the spirit of the royal commissioner’s recommendation.
Firstly, ASIO has been instructed to undertake a review in the manner recommended by the royal commission of any existing adverse or qualified assessment of persons currently in the employ of the Commonwealth. If in the light of that review, the adverse or qualified assessment is maintained, the person concerned will be notified, and will be entitled to appeal to the Tribunal against the new assessment. Secondly, the legislation establishing the Tribunal will allow the Government to refer to the Tribunal particular cases of people no longer in the employ of the Commonwealth. The Government intends to exercise this discretion in any case in which it appears a wrong assessment may have been made in the past.
The Security Appeals Tribunal will be mainly concerned with Commonwealth employees, except for the ‘immigration cases’ about which I shall comment shortly. Thus all Commonwealth employees, as that term is broadly defined in paragraph 20 of the Second Report, will have appeal rights against adverse or qualified assessments. Legislation will be introduced to establish the Tribunal and although the Tribunal’s findings will generally be advisory, they will be binding in those cases the royal commissioner recommends. The Government has concluded that the Tribunal should have the composition and powers detailed in Part H of the Second Report, except for themodifications I have outlined. The procedures of the Tribunal envisaged by the royal commission will be given further consideration. In addition, the panel from which the Tribunal will be constituted will be enlarged to include more than one former public servant and more than one former mem ber of the defence force.
The security checking process will be substantially altered to make it more finely tuned to national security requirements. In contrast with existing practice not all public servants or applicants to the Public Service will be security checked. From now on, security checking of public servants will take place only when it can be reasonably expected that they will require access to classified security matters or areas. In accordance with Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations, ASIO’s security assessments will vary in accord with the level of access required. Far more extensive investigation will take place, for example, for persons requiring access to the highest classification than those requiring access to the lowest. All aspects of ASIO’s security assessments will be prepared in accordance with the royal commissioner’s recommendations. The royal commission recommended that positions in the Public Service for which security checking will be required should be publicly designated as such. However, the reports do not recommend how this could be implemented. The Government has the matter under consideration.
ASIO has provided security checks for the Commonwealth Government in certain immigration cases. The term ‘immigration cases’ refers to government activity relating to such matters as visas, entry permits, deportation, citizenship and passports. Mr Justice Hope has recommended that the reforms regarding security checking and security appeals for Commonwealth employees be applied to these ‘immigration cases with some minor modifications of detail as necessary. ASIO’s investigative work in this area will be directed to protecting the security of the nation and its assessments will be closely linked to judgments about any potential security threat involved. As in all other matters, ASIO’s role will be advisory. Australian citizens and persons whose continued presence in Australia is not subject to any limitation imposed by law will have full appeal rights to the Security Appeals Tribunal in respect of these ‘immigration cases’. The Government has accepted Mr Justice Hope’s recommendations regarding immigration cases and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) will provide further details regarding their implementation at a later stage.
The royal commissioner makes a number of observations about the possible payment of compensation in relation to wrong security assessment. He notes that a wrong security assessment may sometimes cause detriment to the subject of the assessment, although the detriment flows from the consequent action of the employer authority. The royal commissioner recommends that the Security Appeals Tribunal should have power to report about compensation matters. However, the Government, having adopted the recommendation ofthe royal commissioner that the Tribunal will be solely concerned with ASIO’s assessments, not executive decisions of Government, has decided that compensation matters will be for the Government to determine, not the Tribunal.
Australian Secret Intelligence Service
The Fifth Report is about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service- ASIS- an agency of the Australian Government the existence of which has not hitherto officially been acknowledged. The Government agrees with Mr Justice Hope’s recommendation that ASIS should be publicly acknowledged and on bis recommendation the Fifth Report will not be published as to do so would jeopardise national security. The report has been made available to the Leader of the Opposition as the royal commissioner recommended. The royal commissioner recommended ‘that the Government accept the continuing need for an Australian Secret Intelligence Service and that ASIS be retained to fulfil that role ‘. He reported that ASIS is a ‘singularly and well run and well managed agency . . right in concept for Australian circumstances’. The main function of ASIS is to obtain, by such means and subject to such conditions as are prescribed by the Government, foreign intelligence for the purpose of the protection or promotion of Australia or its interests.
The Government has accepted his recommendation that the Service continue and be responsible to and under the control ofthe Minister for Foreign Affairs. The funding of ASIS has in the past been secret but will in future be the subject of a one-line appropriation like ASIO. ASIS’s capacity to serve Australia’s national interest will continue to depend on its activities being fully protected by secrecy. The Government will therefore adhere strictly to the practice of refusing to provide details of ASIS’s activities; nor will it be prepared to enter into any discussion on the Service.
The Defence Signals Division
The Sixth Report is about the Defence Signals Division. On the recommendation of the Royal Commission this report will not be made public. The Defence Signals Division is an organisation concerned with radio, radar and other electronic emissions from the standpoint both of the information and the intelligence that they can provide and of the security of our own government communications and electronic emissions. It is an agency which serves wide national requirements in response to national priorities. The royal commissioner found that there were overriding advantages to Australia in co-operation with certain other countries in these matters.
In close conjunction with the Defence Force, DSD provides a capability which is just as much an integral and essential part of a modern defence posture as a capability in air or ground defence or maritime surveillance. That capability is a sophisticated one for which long periods of training and development are required. The royal commission said that ‘the preservation of secrecy as to the agency’s operations is vital’. This finding is accepted by the present Government. The royal commission recommended the retention of DSD, paid tribute to its work and pointed to ways in which the agency could be further developed. It stated:
DSD is a very capably managed agency and believed to be so by most of its staff and others who deal with it.
The Government will pay close attention to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In recognition ofthe enhanced status that the royal commission recommends should be accorded to the agency it will be restyled as the Defence Signals Directorate. In discussions of intelligence matters, this Government will not provide further information about DSD, nor confirm or deny speculation or assertion about it.
There are a number of matters, particularly those covered by the Fifth and Sixth Reports and part of the Fourth Report, which cannot be made public. As I mentioned earlier, the royal commissioner has made particular recommendations on publication. All of Mr Justice Hope’s reports have been made available to the Leader of the Opposition. In respect of ASIO, ASIS and DSD the Government will maintain its long standing practice, endorsed by the Royal Commission, of not providing information by way of comment, confirmation or denial on matters affecting security or intelligence.
These reforms, together with the establishment of the Office of National Assessments and the system of co-ordination and oversight of intelligence and security policy announced in my 5 May statement, are of fundamental significance to Australia. They are also of significance in a wider sphere. As Mr Justice Hope states in his Third Report:
Australia is, on balance, fortunate to have been able to develop close intelligence links with some of the major intelligence agencies in the western world . . . (Third Report, Abridged Findings and Recommendations, paragraph 39).
Mr Justice Hope’s reports underline the significance of Australia’s intelligence and security relationship with non-communist countries, and the importance to these countries of high quality Australian intelligence and security services. These reforms ensure that Australia’s contribution in this wider sphere will be even more effective.
I believe that honourable senators will be assured by Mr Justice Hope’s reports about the essential and fundamental need for further action by the Australian Government. He has brought to his task a perceptive realism with which he balances the requirements of national security on the one hand with the requirements of personal liberty on the other. He has maintained a standard of excellence in the performance of his Royal Commission and in the quality of the advice he has tendered the Government. His reports show a clarity of expression and probity of thought which I am sure all honourable senators will applaud. I commend my predecessor for the action he has taken in launching the Royal Commission and my Government extends its appreciation to the New South Wales Government for releasing Mr Justice Hope for this major task.”
I present the following paper:
Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security- Ministerial Statement, 25 October 1977.
I ask for leave to move a motion.
-ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– As one senator who testified before Mr Justice Hope, I can endorse the rating that this statement gives to his extreme objectivity. I also understand the dilemma presented by the submissions, but unfortunately some of the wrongs cannot be redressed. I am proud to say that in this matter a former government grasped the nettle. It is not easy in a democracy even to touch a sacred cow, but I do not quarrel with anybody about the question of national security. It is only its ambit and how far it may stray that concerns me. Even allowing for the rather moderate language in this report, I have no doubt that there were incidents which did not reflect credit upon the perpetrators.
I might say to the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) that, although he talks about future consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, I do not believe that that is necessarily the answer. I know of the trials and ordeals that the United States has gone through in this respect, and there it has been thought desirable to broaden the consultation to the majority and minority leaders in both Houses. I do not want to open up old sores, but I recall that at the time of the Petrov incident an illustrious former Attorney-General and Leader of the Opposition, Dr Evatt, had to attend a Fort Street High School end-of-term function and was not available to the then Prime Minister for consultation. I would hate to believe that on a future occasion if a matter of legitimate national security arose the Leader of the Opposition, whether of my party or the present Government party, would not be available for secondary consultation. I put that to the Senate very seriously.
The other point I want to make, in dealing with a few generalities before I turn to specific matters, is in relation to the composition of the Security Appeals Tribunal. I have done considerable research on this matter as related to Canada, where there are large ethnic communities. I know the Canadian Security Appeals Tribunal has a broad base with a panel of nine members, any three of which, I believe, constitute the tribunal. With due respect, I suggest that retired public servants and people who emanate from the defence forces are inclined to have confined attitudes. Today over 40 per cent of Australians are not of Anglo-Saxon stock. I am throwing a sop to the members of the legal profession when I say that. I believe members of the legal fraternity of European origin could aspire to membership of this the Security Appeals Tribunal. I feel also that there could be an intention to appoint somebody from the defence force or retired public servants, but as members of the old boy network they could be inclined to cover up some situation. We should look at the testimony which is given before the commission. I will not breach any confidences here, but I know of at least four cases where a wrong has been rectified, although it took 15 years for the people to have their injustices corrected. But these are generalities.
I look forward with a great deal of pleasure to the ultimate legislation which the AttorneyGeneral, Senator Durack, will introduce. I assume that the Minister for Social Security, Senator Guilfoyle, on behalf of Mr MacKellar, the Minister for Immigration, will also introduce legislation. Before I deal with two specific matters I point out that I think that the prose in one part of the report might have been tightened up.
I notice that in the statement of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick)- I was prompted by my colleague from Tasmania, Senator 0 “Byrne, to mention this- reference was made to people of the far left. When we get down to the last sentence in that section it states:
Right radical groups are still active and the basis for extreme right wing action is certainly not dormant.
Perhaps we should have put in the words ‘the bombers of the Adriatic travel agency’. We find that some of these people of the far right do not indulge in verbal fireworks; they use bombs. We have not had much trouble of that kind, but I am in a position to know about some of these things. In the early days I had contact with the special branch of the New South Wales Police when some right wing ratbags attempted as a sort of scare tactic to put a bomb in the town hall while Bob Heffron was Premier of New South Wales. I am going back some time to mention an experience of this sort. It was in the period when I was the assistant secretary of the Australian Labor Party. Terrorism and violence do not belong to any particular group. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack would know about a book, motivated by army security, from which I have quoted again and again. It is by Barlow and is entitled The Hour of Maximum Danger. It is about people in a spy ring in Britain. They were not leftists or rightists. One member was a girl who joined because she was not successful in her employment at the British Broadcasting Corporation. Somebody else had another reason for joining. So we cannot confine potential subversion to people who have strong political convictions, although that is sometimes the reason.
I say respectfully in relation to the incident which happened in Doncaster Avenue, Kensington, today, that I am pretty certain that the violence came from some of the wild men of the right. I have reason for saying that. But I do not want to dwell on that matter. I make two observations. I think the Minister for Education will appreciate that I did not have a chance to see these reports until about five minutes to eight tonight. I am not blaming anybody for that, but it has made my task a bit difficult. I refer to page 100, paragraphs 183 and 184, which deal with what are called private intelligence organisations. One of the by-products or spin-offs from the Petrov affair were some people of the far right. I name as one person Professor Bialoguski who went to London later on and dabbled in the philharmonic orchestra area. People like him unfortunately produced certain evidence which some of the immature Australian Security Intelligence Organisation people took as a sort of divine testimony. I am able to say that because I sat on the Townley committee with the present Attorney-General and others and have no doubt that the interpreting and translation of papers from the far right ethnic community was pretty laggard. I know that this aspect has been improved, but I make this point because obviously some of these people who gave evidence on that earlier occasion were informers. Regrettably they were used and their evidence was overrated.
The second aspect to which I refer relates to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation immigration posts and liaison offices. Let us be objective about this matter. Let us consider the situation in Spain prior to the present Government. If we received an assessment from Franco’s secret police, would we accept that or would we presume that it was leaning one way? If we went into Albania and got another report, what would our attitude be to that report? What good is it if the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation accepts reports like those from foreign countries? Let us look at the Washington scene and at the Central Intelligence Agency. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation has cribbed at times. I simply say in friendly criticism how damned difficult it is to get an effective evaluation from another country. However, some excellent reforms have been mooted.
I would like to believe that the Department of Immigration will go back through its records to the 1950s and pull out the files on everybody who has been denied citizenship and that it will write to those people in order to give them an opportunity for citizenship. I have had dealings on matters of this kind with three Ministers for Labour and I admit that I have a few matters on the stocks for the present Minister. I shall certainly come back to him in relation to those. But one or two matters of this kind flowed through from Mr Clyde Cameron to the present Minister and were fixed up. I know of a Dutch couple from the western part of NSW who are now in their late fifties. Their application for citizenship was rejected over something which was obviously a mistake. Their attitude is: ‘We have our pride. We are not going back a second time.’ Other people have gone back a second time and under various governments their grievances have been redressed. But there are a damn lot of people in this community who will not go to their local member of Parliament and tell mm about something over which they burn inwardly.
I would like to believe that the Department of Immigration, with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, will go through every file and pull out the files on people who have been refused citizenship, that then some of these people will be given an opportunity to confront their accusers. I brought cases of this kind before Mr Justice Hope. I shall not mention names, but some went back to the time of the Stalin-Tito schism. Some had left the Communist Party in New South Wales in the early 1950s and some I did not meet until the early 1960s. Some of them through the aid of the then Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Arthur Calwell, begrudingly were granted citizenship, but only after we had been to successive Liberal Ministers. But others, because of their background, were never granted citizenship.
A similar situation applied in Canada. We can read the history of the Communist Party in Canada in a paper back book which is just out on the newstands. I know that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack will certainly read it very shortly. The fact is that these papers prove the injustices. I have always had strong views on alliances and tags being used to someone’s detriment. Senator Knight with his foreign affairs background would know how damaging these tags can be. The British are much more sophisticated in this area than other countries, such as America. The British, in order to find out whether Tito would win the war, flew in eight Canadians whose origin was as Yugoslav communists. We would not get the Yanks doing that. Of course, when these people came back to Canada they were granted citizenship. But I shall not dwell on that. I hammer the point that stupid evaluations have been made on the basis of reports by some Baltic people who certainly, to say the least, were part of Hitler’s auxiliary. We forgave them and I do not argue about that, but it should be good enough for us to forgive also some of the people of the far left. I ask for leave to continue my remarks, confident that the Department of Immigration particularly will accelerate an investigation into some of these injustices which are on file and which are crying out for redress.
- Mr President, the motion that the Senate take note of the paper was moved by the Minister.
- Senator Cavanagh, will you ask for leave to speak?
- Mr President, I seek leave to ask a question.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The motion that the Senate take note of the paper was moved by the
Minister. Will this be Government business for the purpose of ensuring a debate during this session of Parliament or will the matter be relegated to the bottom of the Notice Paper so that there will be no debate? I think this is possibly the most important document which has come down since I have been in the Parliament. I think before this session is over and before any further legislation is introduced we should debate this matter. I am not satisfied that the Government’s proposal covers up all the loopholes and gives us the protection we need. I believe we should have the opportunity to reply adequately to the statement. I would be much appreciative if the Minister could assure me that this matter will be debated this session.
Senator CARRICK (New South WalesMinister for Education)- by leave- I do not have any instructions on this matter as to the Government ‘s programming. I would acknowledge, as a Minister, the importance of this document and I acknowledge the value of informed debate. I cannot give any undertaking at the moment. However, I can give the undertaking that I will take the honourable senator’s views back to the Government and if it is at all possible will see that they are carried out. Mr President, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave- I wish to inform honourable senators on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), and myself of the Government’s decision today to allocate an additional $2.3m for migrant education programs for the remainder of the 1977-78 financial year. During the past few months it has become evident that there has been a substantial increase in demand for migrant education services. In particular, some of the factors which have influenced today’s decision include the increasing number of refugees entering Australia, the Government’s desire to improve access to language classes for migrant women, a general increase in demand for English language classes for migrants, and the commendable way in which some employers are encouraging their employees to develop facility with the English language. We also recognise the possibility that migrants who currently do not have full-time employment may wish to take advantage of the opportunity to attend English language classes.
The additional funds will bring the total available for the Adult Migrant Education program in 1977-78 to $1 1.82m. The funds will be used to maintain the program generally in the face ofthe increased demand and to provide English language classes for refugees and further accommodation for classes at education centres in migrant hostels. The funds will also allow the development of a number of new projects and increased living allowances for migrants taking full-time English courses. This increase in living allowances is the second this year, as honourable senators will recall from statements I made following the Budget. The living allowances will be raised to the level of unemployment benefits. The Government trusts that this will remove any disincentive full-time students may have experienced previously. The new rates will be $49.30 a week for a single student and $82.20 a week for a student with a dependent spouse. They will come into effect from early next month.
New projects to benefit adult migrants will include full-time English language courses in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth during the Christmas holiday period. About 300 people will benefit from these courses which will take advantage of language laboratory and other facilities which would normally not be fully used at that time of the year. Closed-curcuit television will be used on a trial basis to help teach English language to migrants living in a suitable high-rise housing complex. I shall announce details of this project as soon as possible. The increased funds will also allow an increase in the number of English courses available to migrants in the manufacturing sector. This will be of particular importance for migrant women employees.
The Government looks forward to the participation of migrants in the detailed planning and management of the Christmas holiday courses and the establishment of committees in each State to help establish the courses in industry. I point out in passing that these proposals reflect some of the preliminary suggestions of the group reviewing the post-arrival programs and services to migrants under the chairmanship of Mr F. E. Galbally, C.B.E. and the Australian Ethnic Affairs Council. The Government will make further announcements soon detailing the consultative arrangements for both types of courses.
In each of the two years 1974-75 and 1975-76 the total national enrolments in adult migrant education were 75,000 persons. This was increased to 88,000, a gain of 17.3 per cent, in 1 976-77, the first year ofthe Fraser Government. The current decision demonstrates the Government’s recognition of the importance of English language instruction in the successful integration of non English-speaking migrants. I seek leave to move: ‘That the Senate take note of the statement’.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-As honourable senators will be aware, my colleague Senator Wriedt, who is the Australian Labor Party spokesman on educational matters, unfortunately is indisposed this week. Acting temporarily in his stead, I wish to make one or two remarks on the statement by the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) this evening on the subject of migrant education. I want to say at the outset that the Labor Party, by its record in government, proved itself beyond doubt to be very much concerned with and interested in the problems of migrant education in Australia and the problems of migrants in general. For instance, I well recall as Minister for the Media in the Whitlam Labor Government that I and officers of my department were responsible for the introduction of ethnic radio in Australia and that, of course, has proved itself to be an outstanding success.
The Minister says in his statement that in each of the two years 1974-75 and 1975-76 the total national enrolment in adult migrant education was 75,000 persons and that this was increased to 88,000 persons, a gain of 17.3 per cent, in 1976-77, the first year of the Fraser Government. I draw the attention of honourable senators to a table relating to education set out on pages 44 and 45 of Budget Statement No. 3 attached to the Budget Speech entitled ‘Estimates of Outlays, 1977-78’. I seek leave to incorporate this table in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank the Senate. It will be seen that under the heading of ‘Special Groups’ the actual expenditure for migrants in 1975-76, the last year of the Whitlam Labor Government, was $2 1.4m. In 1976-77, the year in which the Minister states there was a gain of 17.3 per cent in the total national enrolment in respect of adult migrant education, the amount of expenditure dropped to $ 10.3m. It is proposed in the Budget that $ 10.4m will be spent on migrants for educational purposes. Apparently the person who compiled the table could not make up his mind and instead of there being a plus or minus he used two dots. Whilst the Minister states that between 1975-76 and 1976-77 the number of people enrolled in adult migrant educational programs increased from 75,000 persons to 88,000 persons, it can be seen from the table that there was an expenditure of $2 1.4m in the 1975-76 Budget and an expenditure of $ 10.3m in the 1976-77 Budget.
Having made those remarks, I might say that the Opposition is pleased to note from the Minister’s statement that the Government has taken cognisance of the constant efforts of honourable senators to get a better deal from the Government for migrant education. It is interesting and pleasing to note that the Government has allocated an additional $2.3m this financial year for migrant education programs over and above the amount which was set out in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). This is another departure from the budgetary allocations which were introduced in this Parliament as recently as August last.
This matter has been raised previously by honourable senators and I recall that my colleague, Senator Sibraa, raised this matter on 6 October in the Senate. Referring to migrant education services in New South Wales he asked:
Is it a fact that to date the New South Wales Government has failed to obtain full funds for the adult education migrant service for which the Federal Government has been responsible since 1947? Is it also true that migrant education services are so overloaded in New SouthWales that they cannot be advertised and that the Federal Government has rejected a request for funds for teaching equipment for the services? Is it also true that the Federal Government has rejected a request from the New South Wales State Multicultural Centre for an immediate $2m for language programs for primary and secondary schools in New South Wales?
The Minister for Education replied:
The first question asked by Senator Sibraa draws the answer. No, it is not a fact. The fact is that the Commonwealth Government has provided funds for migrant adult services fully equal to those provided in the previous year. Indeed, the honourable senator should know if he has read his Budget Papers that we have also proposed to increase the living allowance for adult migrants as from November. So there has been an increase generally in the program. In more recent times, particularly in the last year, a number of refugees has come to this country from places such as Lebanon, South America, Vietnam, and Timor, to name four, and the demand for adult migrant education- English language education- has increased beyond the normal trend in previous years. That is now causing the Government to examine what can be done. The Commonwealth Government is very conscious that it has before it a newly emerging phenomenon. It is very conscious of the need for the English l anguage to be brought to such migrants, and I have the program under close review. As to the question on the multicultural approach, I am not aware of any such rejection. I will look at the matter and give the honourable senator a reply.
That question was asked and the Minister’s answer was given on 6 October. I also raised the matter in this Parliament on 11 October and again the Minister responded. Then Senator Sibraa again raised it on 12 October and the Minister said at that time that the matter was under review. He went on to say:
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 am pleased to note that following those questions in this Senate and the answers that were given by the Minister the Government has decided to provide, over and above the amount already allocated in this year’s Budget, an amount of $2.3m for migrant education programs for the remainder of the 1977-78 financial year. Nonetheless, as I mentioned when I sought leave to have a table incorporated in Hansard, the amount made available for this purpose under the last Budget of the Labor Government was $2 1.4m. The estimate of expenditure in 1977-78 for this purpose was $ 10.4m and to that can be added this $2.3m referred to in the Minister’s statement giving a total amount of $ 12.7m which is a little over half the amount that was provided by the Labor Government in 1975-76. I am pleased that the Minister has been able to extract some additional amount from the Treasurer, niggardly as it may be, for the provision of migrant education services. I can assure him, as he well knows, that this is a service that is sadly in need of remedial attention. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator CARRICK (New South WalesMinister for Education)- Before moving a motion for the resumption of the debate I seek leave to make a brief statement in explanation.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I do so because I have been misrepresented. Senator Douglas McClelland when quoting from the Budget
Papers made the error of combining the amounts for adult migrants and child migrants to get a total of the order of $22m. The simple fact is that those amounts looked at correctly reveal that adult migrant funds have in recent years steadily escalated. I just wanted to clarify that.
Debate resumed from 20 October on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I rise to speak at the first reading stage of this Bill to make some remarks about industrial relations. I wished to speak on this matter last Friday but because of the gag and the time allowed for debate I was unable to do so. Last Friday Senator Hall said in the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 3) that practically all honourable senators opposite owed their position in the Senate to some part of industrial l abour. I agree. I owe my position to industrial labour and I feel that industrial labour is entitled to know my feelings on the restrictive legislation that was passed here last Friday. This is the reason I take this opportunity to speak tonight. We did not have sufficient time to debate the Conciliation and Arbiration Amendment Bill last week. We were presented with 28 pages of amendments. It always seems that when we have a debate on industrial relations we are placed in this situation. It would seem that the Government wished to avoid a full debate on industrial relations.
From the speeches made last Friday one would think that the Government wished to achieve a complete confrontation with the trade union movement. By introducing the Bill on Friday when President Hawke of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Premier Hamer of Victoria were still trying to solve the Victorian power workers dispute, there was very great danger of aggravating the dispute in the Latrobe Valley and making Commissioner Mansini’s task just that much more difficult. However, that is what this Government seems to wantconfrontation which it believes will result in electoral victory. That is where the Government is wrong because even Premier Hamer realised that the men in the Latrobe Valley could not be replaced. There were no applicants who had the required skills ready to take their place and we were faced with a situation such as we had with the air traffic controllers. No one else could do the job. The Government could pass any legislation it wished but legislation will not solve the problem. Accordingly Premier Hamer of Victoria was extending the time at which the sackings were to take place from last Friday to Monday of this week, then to today and finally he has been saved from taking that action because the men have gone back to work, at least for the time being.
Statements were made last week by the employer’s spokesman, Mr Polites, when talking on industrial relations in which he accused the Government of making industrial relations a political plaything. He said that the new laws would not solve the Victorian power strike; and of course they did not. This leads to the question: Why does the Government want an election this year when already it has a huge majority in both Houses, a majority of 51 in the House of Representatives and a majority of at least eight in this chamber? I submit that this Government knows that unemployment will reach 8 per cent of the work force early in the new year and that if it goes to an election when unemployment is at 8 per cent it will be thrown out of office. There is a parallel to the legislation that was passed through the Senate last Friday. That is the Industrial Relations Act that was introduced in Great Britain in 1973 by the Heath Government. We all know what happened there. In Great Britain, people finished up working a three-day week; h undreds of thousands of people were put out of work; and finally the Heath Government was put out of office.
I know that honourable senators opposite will say that the public does not support strikes; but, when the people of Australia realise that this Government was prepared to risk complete economic dislocation of the whole community on this single issue, support for the Government will dissipate overnight. There does not seem to be any government in the Western world which realises more on union bashing as a tactic than this Government does. In West Germany, Japan, Canada or even the United States of America the unions are part of the decision making process. But when do we get time in the Senate to debate industrial legislation or to have a debate on any industrial matters which are to do with contructive issues such as worker participation, making it easier for the trade unions to amalgamate -
– You waste every Wednesday afternoon. Why not then?
- Senator Archer is one of those people who would oppose union amalgamation. He would be opposing worker participation.
– Who said I would? I make those decisions.
– What I am saying to Senator Archer is that, instead of the type of debate that we had in the Senate last Friday and that we had on a previous Friday, we should have a reasoned debate on how we can improve industrial relations in this country. We should not just bludge on the trade union movement in a debate that lasts three or four hours.
Last Friday we heard a lot of talk about industrial chaos. Yet the record shows that there has been a period of industrial peace. In fact, we have had a decrease in the number of man hours lost due to industrial stoppages in recent years. The Australian Financial Review stated recently in an editorial that there had been an impressive falling away of industrial activity in this country. I know that, in 1974, 42 per cent of all man hours lost in Australia due to industrial disputes occured in my State of New South Wales. In 1 975, that figure had dropped to 38 per cent. The latest statistics- those for the first three months of 1977- show that industrial disputes in New South Wales now account for only 12 per cent of man hours lost.
– What about goods in containers on the wharves?
- Senator Archer brings up the matter of containers on the wharf. This is very interesting. The other day we had spokesmen for the Government talking about militant unions, about how unions of the left were bringing down this country. Here we have a situation in which members of the Federated Clerks Union- I would hardly think that they would fall into the category of extreme militant unionistshave a legitimate case and are involved in an industrial dispute.
– And we rigged the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to keep their officials in office.
- Senator Cavanagh makes that remark, and I certainly would agree with it. If there is a concerted effort through legislation to smash the trade union movement in this country, what will happen is that the trade union movement will completely unite as a body to defeat that legislation in the same way as the trade union movement did in Great Britain in 1973.
Earlier this year the Age newspaper contained a very good article on the subject of industrial relations in Australia. I have quoted it once before, in a debate on conciliation and arbitration; but I wish to quote again the article which appeared in the Age newspaper of 3 1 May 1 977. It states:
We have now not only industrial unionism, we have industrial and political unionism . . . Trade unionism is probably the greatest force in this country today and men in control of it have used their power in a way which was never intended when trade unions were created. They have endeavoured to set their will against that of the people as a whole. At times they have not hesitated even to dictate to this Parliament, this great democratic institution which is representative of every adult male and female in the community.
The article goes on to state:
No, not Malcolm Fraser in 1977 but Stanley Melbourne Bruce in May 1928, when he was introducing a Bill that increased Federal powers in the conciliation and arbitration system and imposed tougher controls on the unions.
Of course, as I quoted in the debate on the conciliation and arbitration legislation on 1 June 1977, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party at the time, Mr Scullin, said in reply:
The assumption of the parry opposite is that when there is a dispute the workers are always wrong and every set of figures quoted is used as an indictment of organised labour. The Leader of the Government has indulged in this type of propaganda more than any other Prime Minister has done.
If we look back at what occurred in 1928, we find that not only did the Bruce Government lose the election as a result of its industrial relations policy but, in fact, the Prime Minister himself lost his seat.
For months Government Ministers in the Senate have been trumpeting the announcement of this type of legislation. We were told that legislation such as that introduced on Friday would bring to an end the trade union militancy which Government senators saw in evidence everywhere in this country. This legislation, we were told, would be the big stick. This legislation would be the means by which the trade union movement would be brought to heel. If one looks at the legislation, one sees that under it unions can be deregistered. I do not know whether anybody realises that if that happened the unions would be put right outside the system which, of course, would completely aggravate the situation. Savage fines and penalties can be imposed on those unions which earn the displeasure of this Government. Their officials can be gaoled and their funds can be dissipated because of the heavy fines that will be levied on them.
This legislation was intended to be the punitive third arm of industrial law in this country. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission can and will be by-passed as a result of thos legislator Collective bargaining will be put at risk. This is something of which we all ought to be aware. I just pose the question: What will happen as a result of this legislation? Many sections of the community, from employer organisations to State governments to those involved professionally in the industrial relations area, are beginning to realise that the legislation was ill conceived, ill designed and hastily prepared. Recently, as the trade union movement already realises, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission itself, has made veiled references to the unsatisfactory industrial relations situation that this type of legislation will bring about.
We on this side of the chamber did not oppose the reconstitution of the National Labour Consultative Council. In fact, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which has come in for its share of abuse, endeavoured to reopen the lines of communication between Government, the employers and the trade unions. Surely this is vital if industrial relations in this country are to improve. Surely the crucial factor will be communication between the parties concerned. In many cases disputes begin, continue and are prolonged because unions and management, unions and government or employers and government are unaware of the attitudes of the other party or parties involved. Any proposal which seeks to improve communication between the parties who are the main opponents in the industrial field should be welcomed in the Senate. Yet the legislation that we saw passed through the Senate on Friday could lead to the trade union movement boycotting the National Labour Consultative Council. I would not be surprised if this situation arose in the very near future.
This Government has to learn that industrial peace will not be brought to this country by forcing confrontation in the industrial area, by threatening the use of punitive sanctions or by implying that unionists and union leaders will be gaoled, and their organisations disbanded and dissolved. It is not by threatening to use any means at the Government’s disposal to break strikes, by placing at risk the functioning of the trade union movement or by pressuring employer organisations or business into confronting the unions and taking an especially hard line in negotiations with them that industrial peace will be brought about. Industrial peace in this country is more likely to result from unions, employers and governments co-operating in order to reach a satisfactory solution to deal with problems as they arise, instead of threatening the trade union movement in advance of the sort of legislation that will be used against them. This Government’s record in industrial relations and industrial matters generally is appalling. Over the past few weeks especially the trade union movement has displayed, I feel, a strong desire to negotiate and reach a compromise, but this Government is not prepared to follow that lead. Instead, it is forcing a confrontation that is going to place Australian against Australian- for what you believe, Senator Walters, will be your short term political benefit. You feel that if you can achieve a situation where the trade union movement is confronting the Government you will get political gain out of it.
– I suppose we really set up the dispute in Melbourne.
– I am not saying that you set it up but that you did not do anything to bring about an end to that dispute; in fact, you did everything to keep that dispute going.
– What about the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission?
– The legislation that was brought in last Friday will, I believe, place the conciliation and arbitration system of this country at risk. As I said previously, I wished on Friday to speak on this matter and objected to the fact that we did not have time to undertake a full debate upon it. I would hope that at some time in the near future the Government will make the time available for a constructive debate on industrial relations, and not repeat the situation we had on Friday where debate was gagged and guillotined and the trade union movement denied representation.
– I take this opportunity to raise a matter of great concern to me personally, to the people of the Northern Territory, to the Senate, and also to you in your position, Mr President, as President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I direct attention to the facilities available to our colleagues in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. I refer not to the remuneration which they receive, for that has been covered by the Remuneration Tribunal, but rather to the basic assistance needed to help them carry out the work that they have to do.
The Federal Government has made it quite clear that it is anxious to see the Legislative Assembly set up and operating effectively. I would like to quote from a statement by the Minister in the other place on the second reading of the Northern Territory Administration Amendment Bill:
It is appropriate and laudable that the people of the Northern Territory should at this stage in their history seek largely to control their own affairs.
The Government is determined that this desire will be fulfilled as quickly and effectively as possible and this Bill is an important step towards the realisation of that aim. It is, most importantly, an indication that the Government intends to work in a spirit of amicable co-operation with the people of the Territory and their elected representatives in the task of giving birth to Australia ‘s seventh State.
Perhaps, following those comments, we might look at the role of the Federal Government in this matter, which would appear at first glance to produce a State-like situation. We realise that the Federal Government set up the Remuneration Tribunal to look at the conditions in the Northern Territory. It commissioned the report and then brought it down in this place and the other place, and I feel we can say that it has some responsibility to see that its findings are implemented and that if financial assistance is needed this will be found. It has a further responsibility, that of ensuring that assistance of another sort which I shall detail later is given the Assembly, to enable the findings to be implemented.
On the matter of finance I refer to a Press release by the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann) dated 17 July 1977, which read:
The overall financial arrangements with the Northern Territory Government will broadly follow those lines that exist between the Commonwealth and the States.
I direct attention particularly to the following statement:
Due regard will, however, be paid to the particular circumstances and the special financial disabilities of the Northern Territory.
I will be referring later to that comment by the Minister. If we see that the Federal Government has a role in this matter we should also see that the Legislative Assembly has a role, and that it plays this role through the Northern Territory Public Service, which has been set up to establish the necessary structure and provide the administative organisation needed to implement the decisions of the Legislative Assembly, but we must be realistic about the job we have given it to do.
Surely we ought not to load too many responsibilities on the shoulders of an infant Public Service. The phrases that have so often been used by this Government, and by the previous Government, are ‘working towards autonomy’, ‘working towards self government’ and, by the Prime Minister, ‘working towards statehood’. I see the relationship of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly to this Government as that of a daughter government and just as we might perhaps see our own children moving away we can in the same circumstances give similar support to the Assembly. We see of course that the Assembly will need independence, and we would want it to have independence. We would want it to have the fullest possible autonomy, but we need to give assistance, guidance and, where necessary, financial support. I am thinking of the amount of information that resides within this chamber and in the staff in this place, and the wealth of information that could be offered to assist the Clerk of the Assembly in fulfilling his function. I am sure that everyone here would be happy to share that knowledge with their colleagues in the Northern Territory.
Let me review briefly the development of the Northern Territory Assembly. In 1947 the Legislative Council was established, with six elected and seven official members. I would like to emphasise the position of these seven. They were in the main directors of departments; for instance, senior officers of the Departments of Welfare, Mines and so on. These were people with a wealth of background, able to come in and assist the elected members. In 1959 there were eight elected, six official and three nominated members. Again, the nominated members were appointed by the Government. In 1968, a greater step forward occurred when 1 1 elected members and six official members made up the Council. Of course, in 1974, thanks to the efforts of the Australian Labor Party, we had a fully elected Legislative Assembly.
The point I am trying to draw from this is that, from the beginning there was a very close relationship between the Public Service and the members of the Council in the first place, and then of the Assembly also. They had these good relationships on a personal basis and a great deal of support was given individual members by these heads of departments, the official members, and by the departments themselves. This brings me to the first area of concern to which I wish to direct attention tonight. That is the special support needed by the members of the Legislative Assembly in this role that we have thrust upon them. The Minister has arranged for senior officers to act as advisers, and I would note that they are at the very satisfactory level of Second Division, level 3, m most cases. One or two that I might mention would be specialists in the Aboriginal affairs area. I have in mind Mr Creed Lovegrove, who has been appointed to assist the Majority Leader. Mr Lovegrove is known to me personally as a man with a very wide background in the Territory. He was born in the Territory, grew up there with Aboriginal people, speaks one of the languages of the Centre and is an ideal person for that task. So we have officers moving in from education and other areas to assist. I would commend the Government on this move, which is an excellent one indeed. There is no doubt that the help these people are able to give is most valuable. The members will have guidance in developing the new structure in the Northern Territory.
My concern is that the same assistance is not being given to the Leader of the Opposition, and the Opposition generally. I suggest strongly that the Government consider the possibility of giving similar support to the Leader of the Opposition and the members of his Party. It is not enough to speak of briefing the Leader of the Opposition. We are speaking not in terms of someone coming along once a month, once a week or even more frequently to assist the Opposition to understand what the majority Party is trying to do, but rather of the need to give the Opposition suitable staff, as is done here on the Federal scene.
If one might look at the sort of assistance is offered on the Federal level, I would refer to of Hansard report of the debate in the House of Representatives on 9 December 1976, which shows Mr Lloyd asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice:
Mr Street answered:
The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
1 ) The original and present entitlement is 34 positions made available for allocation by the Leader of the Opposition.
If we look at the levels of some of these people we find that the Leader of the Opposition has one Ministerial Officer Grade 3, one Ministerial Officer Grade 2, three Ministerial Officers Grade 1, two Press Secretaries, three Assistant Private Secretaries, one Secretary Typist and five Steno.Secretaries Grade 1. So other members of the Opposition are given support. I am suggesting that something similar should be done for the members of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly in the Northern Territory. I make the point that these should be, as is the case in the Federal scene, allocated to the Leader of the Opposition to be placed by him. I would not see them being placed by the Chief Secretary or, for that matter, by the Majority Leader.
We have seen the situation in the Federal scene with 34 people, but what is the present situation of the Opposition in the Northern Territory? The Leader has one Steno-Secretary and one Assistant. The Opposition members have no steno assistance at all. The members are provided with 15 hours of electoral assistance and they can use that either to have typing done or to have research done. I am suggesting- I think honourable senators here will agree- that this is completely inadequate to someone attempting to move in the peculiar situation of the Northern Territory. It is a developing area. There are many problems. Many members are moving in for the first time. I think this is perhaps something which we do not realise. As one who came into this place only a short 18 months or two years ago, I know how important it is to lean on senior colleagues; to be able to go to them for advice; to be able to learn from those members on both sides of politics who have been here for some years and are only too happy to provide support for the younger members who have come in. That is not available to the members in the Northern Territory. They are a group of young people.
Research assistance is perhaps the area of greatest concern and need in the Northern Territory at the present time. In another debate recently I mentioned the fact that there is no public library in the Northern Territory. I made reference also to the fact that there are no adequate departmental libraries. I mentioned the fact that the Darwin Community College, as a developing institution, has an inadequate library. The Legislative Assembly Library, if we can call it such, could only be described as pathetic. It is completely and totally inadequate for the needs of the members in the Northern Territory. They have no legislative research assistance as we have here in the Federal scene. I think it is fair to say- again as one who is fairly new here- that surely the research assistance provided by the Parliamentary Library to senators and members in this place would be the best in Australia and perhaps would rank with the best in the world.
I wonder whether the Chief Parliamentary Librarian might give some thought, with guidance from the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers), to taking the Northern Territory under his wing and providing some assistance to it in these early stages. I put this forward as a very sincere suggestion. Until something is established in the Northern Territory-until it has a reasonable library and research assistance -would it be possible for the national Parliamentary Library to provide two or three officers to sit up there and to relay questions down here and provide that sort of backup service? After all, as has been quite clear, the need has been established in the Federal Parliament. The legislation will be as good as the support that is given and the debates will be as good as the support that is given. I put this forward as a serious recommendation to the Government that it might look at this proposition.
I remind honourable senators that in the Northern Territory most of the laws have to be rewritten. We have a situation in which, for a number of reasons, most of the legislation which is in operation at the present time goes back to the 1800s. There is a gigantic task in front of the Legislative Assembly at the present time. Its members are going to need all the assistance they can get. I think we perhaps have to remind ourselves that not very long ago the problems they had were our problems- they were the problems of the Federal Parliament. I call on the Government not to abdicate its responsibilities in this area. I know that we want to hand over the responsibilities to the Northern Territory, but might I suggest that, without being paternalistic, we could give some assistance with the task which we have put in front of them.
I move to the matter of office accommodation and refer to two areas, the first being the electorate offices. I read from recommendation 2.20 of the Remuneration Tribunal report on the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Review of 1977:
Electorate office accommodation shall be provided at government expense in the electorates of Arnhem, Barkly, Elsey, Nhulunbuy, Tiwi and Victoria River, in Alice Springs for the electorates of Alice Springs, Gillen, Macdonnell and Stuart and may be provided at government expense in the electorate districts of Darwin.
It is of concern to read the words ‘may be provided’. I think that is an area which ought to be looked at. If we look at whose responsibility it is to provide this accommodation we find that quite clearly it is that of the Chief Secretary- the new Northern Territory Public Service. But let us again be realistic. This is an infant Service which is not geared at the present time. I suggest that we could give assistance to it in providing office accommodation in each of the electorates.
I move to the matter of office accommodation which is available for members in Darwin. Again, this could be the responsibility of the Northern Territory Public Service- the Chief Secretary- of it could be the responsibility of the Department of Administrative Services; we do not seem to be too sure. But if it is not the responsibility of the Minister for Administrative Services, might I suggest that he might look at the matter. Here is an opportunity for him to give some assistance. The facilities are completely inadequate at the present time. The Cabinet members, which would be similar to our Ministers here, and the Leader have no privacy at all. They share a room with their secretaries. This means that if they want to interview someone the secretary has to go outside and waste time while the interview is conducted. Again, I call on the Government to look at this through the Department of Administrative Services, and to assist if possible.
Hansard is a problem in the Northern Territory. I commend the efforts being made by the Hansard staff there. They are working under extreme difficulties. When one realises that the Hansard record of the first sitting, which was held in September, is still not available one realises what a problem is being faced by the members of the Legislative Assembly. They are still left with their first copies- what we would call ‘pinks’- which are in a rough form. It is going to be a long time before the new Government Printing Office is established, so the Department must find some way of giving some assistance to these people so that they can provide the service they would want to provide.
Travel quotas and finance for travel have been set by the Remuneration Tribunal in the report to which I referred earlier. Members in remote areas and the Leaders have unlimited travel available to them, but unfortunately the problem is that they have no idea how much money is available. It could well be that at the beginning of next year they might find, like some of the departments, that they run out of money and they will have four or five months of sitting in the office not able to get out and service their electorates. Again I suggest that we could look at this situation and make sure that the Leaders and the members in remote areas are advised of how much money they have available to them. If there is not enough money, let us find some more so that they can adequately service their vast electorates.
I mention very briefly the matter of office equipment which, unfortunately, is extremely limited. I spoke to two members today who bought their own typewriters because none were available to them. There is a shortage of paper and envelopes and the original allocation of photo-copying was at the laughable level of 15 sheets a member a year. I believe that this has changed, fortunately. The postage allocation is 100 postage paid articles a month. Again I query whether that is enough. Surely in an area like the Northern Territory in these small matters there should be unlimited postage available, unlimited photo-copying and so on. If this is limited by finance it is our responsibility. If it is limited by the inexperience of the staff who made these decisions, surely through the good offices of the staff of the Minister for Administrative Services we could advise people of the sorts of needs members would have.
I must make it clear that I am not critical of the Chief Secretary or his staff. These people are doing a wonderful job working under the conditions that they have. But I think it is fair to say that the Chief Secretary is hamstrung for finance and this is something into which we as a group should look. The Chief Secretary is unsure of his full responsibility. Again, perhaps we could have discussions with him to make sure that perhaps not too much discretion is placed in his hands. This is one of the dangers any emerging government faces. There is a need for clear guidelines. These could be established by consultation.
I think we would all agree that this is an exciting, if difficult, time for the Northern Territory. I see the Federal Government- I think honourable senators would agree with me- as having the responsibility to which I referred as the responsibility of a mother government towards a daughter government. I see a great need for us to be concerned about what is happening in the Northern Territory. You will recall, Mr President, that you visited the Legislative Assembly and at that time you saw the enthusiasm of its members. I can assure you that the present group is no less enthusiastic than the group that you met. I trust that you will take the opportunity later, either in your capacity as President of the Senate or in your capacity as President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, of again visiting the Legislative Assembly and seeing the difficulties that these people face.
I ask that the members of the Legislative Assembly be given similar assistance to what is given in the Federal scene. I would like to see better staffing for all, but particularly the members of the Opposition who are the ones suffering the most at the present time. I would like to see more appropriate office accommodation and more electorate assistance provided to enable the people there to carry out the terrific job which, I say again, we have imposed upon them by moving away from the Northern Territory. I conclude by paraphrasing and old wartime slogan. I am convinced that if we give them the assistance that they need they will do the job.
-I take the opportunity of addressing the Senate on the motion for the first reading of a Bill to impose a levy upon certain oilseeds produced in Australia. It is significant that the Senate should be addressing itself to this matter. Over the past ten or fifteen years we have seen one of the strongest lobbies ever by the farmer organisations of
Australia against the production of oilseeds for use in the production of margarine because they believed that oilseeds were a threat to the dairy industry. The dairy industry has served a great purpose, has provided the means of livelihood for many great pioneer Australians, but science has found a way of substituting another commodity for the product of the dairy farm. Chemists, scientists and doctors have also realised that margarine is better for the diet of people than butter. So we have seen a change in the attitudes of people to something that was held very fervently at one stage to be the only commodity that should be part of the diet of people. Bread and butter were a basic part of our diet.
-Bread and dripping.
– Bread and dripping were part of the basic diet of the less fortunate section of the community. It appears from some of the views expressed by Senator Missen that he may have even had bread and dripping in his lifetime, as I have had. When one has such a basic backround to work from one often has a broaderased philosophy than people who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. The point I am making is that the fact that we are debating a Bill dealing with the production of oilseeds, a new concept in production in this country which bids fair to displace a particular product of the dairy farm, is an admission that all the efforts of the past and all the money spent in the past have gone for nought because we now accept as a fact that the oilseeds industry is able to provide some of the needs of mankind equally as well as, if not better than, the traditional dairy farm.
It is on that basis that I would like to address myself to a few other rapid changes that have taken place in our community. I think that I should refer just to some of the things which have occurred in the last five years. Honourable senators on the Government side will not admit it but, just as sure as night follows day, these things have become accepted in our society. I would like to put on the record some of the things that have been bitterly opposed by people with blinkers and blindfolds over their eyes because of their commitment to the thinking of the past. I want to recite some of the things that a previous government did in this country in a short period of time- a very disturbed period of three yearsand that are here to stay. I refer to the dramatic increase in the spending on education, which was the No. 1 priority of the previous Government. I refer to the establishment of Medibank. It is very pleasing to see that Senator Baume is present in the chamber. I am sure that, despite the difficulty in following him in many other areas, he will be consistent and agree that Medibank is of great advantage to the health of this country. I refer also to the health centres that have been established. I am certain that anyone in the medical profession who is sincere will realise that these centres are a long sought after necessity in our community.
– They were started before the Labor Government came to office.
-I admit that preliminary work was done on them. They were then developed to the stage where they are accepted in the community. The health centres, which are admitted to be of great advantage, were established and enlarged by the Labor Government. The women’s shelters meet a great need in our society. Any humanitarian will admit to the need for women’s shelters because of the inconsistencies of the capitalist system, whereby profit, selfishness and greed are the No. 1 priorities and men are influenced to the extent that they feel as though they can use women as their serfs or vassals and can ill treat them and get away with it. There are now places where women can go for shelter.
– It has as much to do with family problems as it has to do with the economic situation.
– Governments prior to the previous Government treated women as vassals. They treated them as though they were an inferior section ofthe community, as though they had to be kept in their place- in the kitchen and pregnant. That was the woman’s role. We have heard Senator Walters speak about the role of women and say that they should be paid for being in the kitchen. That is an abysmal attitude. It is an abysmally backward-looking philosophy. Honourable senators opposite support her. They think that she is a duchess. What is a maharajah’s wife called?
– A maharanee.
– Yes, a maharanee. I turn now to the matter of equal pay. People in the textile industry have said that they could have continued to produce textiles and make fabrics in this country but for the introduction of equal pay for women. The story of free trade and protection in Australia is a long one. The time had to come when there had to be a reappraisal of the traditional attitude about whether we should protect industries in Australia and thereby increase our cost of living or whether we should modify our economy by allowing some imports into Australia. I did not agree with the decision that was made but it was a matter of policy.
When it was introduced it did have a great effect upon the textile industry in particular. There are people in this industry who are saying today that the reason why the textile industry failed was that the Labor Party supported the principle of equal pay for women. Be that as it may, many women hold the opinion, and I support them, that they are as capable as men of putting an effort into the economy on any level. That great advance was made, but it had been opposed for generations by the people who have occupied the government benches. The Labor Government introduced, supported and developed the concept of urban growth centres. Members of the Country Party have been almost like parasites on the backs of the farming community of Australia. They claim that the only party which represents the farmers’ interests is the Country Party, or whatever its name is since ‘Country Party’ has become unfashionable. They call themselves the National Country Party now, and they have a great inspiration in Queensland- the deep north-where the Premier is their spiritual guide, their bible-belter. That is all I will say about him, and I hope I have been respectful.
– Very respectful. You could have made it much worse.
– That is right. The Labor Government introduced the Prices Justification Tribunal which has given some reality to this country in regard to inequities in price control. Legislation will be introduced as a result of the Hope report which will condemn any man who advocates that the employees of this country should get proper wages for the commodity that they sell- their labour. On the other hand, any business organisation, any factory, can charge whatever it likes. It is only because the toothless prices justification organisation gives some indication of exploitation and profiteering in the community that there is any balance at ali in the commodities people have to sell.
I should like to say a few words on what the Labor Party did to bring about the rebirth of the arts and the complete hypocrisy of the so-called elitists of this country who nominally support the arts. They exploited the efforts of the previous Government to uplift, widen and expand our artistic field and our appreciation of international artists.
– Like Blue Poles.
– Yes, I am referring to Blue Poles. The way in which our selection board was denigrated and reduced in status by the attack made upon it for political purposes will be to the everlasting disgrace of every individual member on the other side of this chamber, not only in respect of Blue Poles but also in respect of their attitude towards the improvement and expansion of the art collection of this country. One would think that members of the Government who claim to be the elitists would set a standard which would continually improve man’s great prospects for development, but one finds that the greatest representatives of the Aussie ocker image of this country are to be found on the Government side. They do not want to change anything. The Government is quite happy to see its supporters having their few bob each way and their Tooths or Courage or whatever it might be, continuing with the daily grind, the common task, and turning up on election day, fearing the $2 fine if they do not turn up. Those are the people that the Goverment cultivateskeep them stupid; keep them uninterested. In that way the Government can dominate them and get on with the job of assisting the people it represents. I will have something to say in a moment about the multinationals and the way they have been able to influence this country and take over our most important resources.
-Like CSR? That is a multinational.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company does not bear very close investigation. It has been subsidised for a long time through the different levies and sugar agreements and nitrogenous fertiliser subsidies. All roads lead to the CSR. As a matter of fact, CSR, with its basis in Queensland, represents the attitude of the whole of Queensland and its CourierMail psychology about what they would like to do to the whole of Australia. Queensland is almost a forgotten area because it is dominated so completely by an organisation such as CSR, which claims that it is an Australian company but has all the hallmarks of a multinational exploiter.
I turn now to the important matter of Aboriginal land rights, which has some parallel with CSR. The Australian Labor” Party when in government attempted to elevate the matter of Aboriginal land rights to a position where it was accepted as part of Australia’s policy towards Aboriginals. As a Tasmanian, I almost have to bow my head when I speak of Aboriginal land rights. The problem of Aborigines was solved in Tasmania by shooting and poisoning them, by annihilating them. The situation is almost as bad in Queensland.
– They are doing it to human rights in Queensland.
– That is true, and that is what I am pointing out to members of the Government. The Government’s predecessors solved the Aboriginal land rights problem in Tasmania by shooting the parents and poisoning the children, obliterating a segment of God’s creation. On Sunday the bible belters will get up and preach ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’, but they can justify the fact that a race of people were obliterated because those people were inconvenient. They used to steal sheep and they objected to their women being violated, and for that reason they had to be obliterated and annihilated. When the history of the southern part of this globe on which we live is written, the Australian pioneers will have to answer for a small blot on the evolution of mankind, namely, the fact that a defenceless section of the community was wiped out without a whimper. That is one of the matters that we put to the Australian electorate, and we succeeded in gaining acceptance of the right of Aboriginals to be treated as people. After 75 years of Federation that simple fact was recognised. During that time the Aboriginals had no right to recognition as human beings, but now they have that right. They also have a vote, the No. 1 priority in a democracy; but that is all they have. Today Senator Bonner spoke about Aborigines building humpies. What a disgrace! What a reflection on modern people, that he should speak of building humpies.
– What if they choose humpies? Do you object to that?
– They do not choose anything. They have no choice whatever.
– The traditional Aborigines want to go to the outstations to build humpies.
– The traditional Aborigines were nomadic people. They did not even have humpies- except when they built them temporarily and moved on. In this day and age, even to use such words as ‘build humpies’ is such a retrograde attitude that it is unforgivable. The fact that Senator Bonner, as a representative of his race, had to raise this matter in the Senate indicates how hopelessly backward this Government is in regard to the needs of this day and age.
I move on to another important matter which has always been very dear to my heart. It is the matter of human rights and conscription. I suppose that one can almost liken the conscription of people to go and fight in a foreign war m Vietnam to what is in the mind of the Government on the conscription of labour in the Latrobe Valley where people do not want to accept the terms which are being offered by a government instrumentality in Victoria. No private enterprise would ever have the temerity to create this situation; but a Hamer led government in Victoria finds great political capital on creating the unprecedented situation which exists at present in Victoria.
– Creating? How do you make that out?
– I ask Senator Missen not to worry because I will give him word for word an account of the situation. This article might be of interest to the honourable senator because it is written by a great friend of the Government- it will not claim him; but he is- a man who is very well respected in this Parliament. His name is Mungo MacCallum. Before this situation arose in the Latrobe Valley, in the Nation Review of 3 to 9 February, which is quite a while ago, he wrote:
Announcing the Government’s confrontation with the union movement on Tuesday, the hapless Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (it used to be called labor, but we can’t use that word now) Tony Street told a somewhat cynical press conference that the new scheme for an industrial police force wasn’t meant to please the unions, or the employers: in fact, Street said rather desperately, it wasn’t meant to please anybody. This was what the late Sir Winston Churchill used to call delicately a terminological inexactitude, or in less parliamentary terms, a bloody lie. It was meant to please exactly one person: Malcolm Fraser.
The whole scheme was Fraser’s brain child, and for years now he has been employing his finely honed feudal mind in polishing up the last details of it. He first put forward the plan as shadow Minister for Labor (in the days when we still could use the word), and reiterated it firmly as Leader of the Opposition: and it was one of the very few direct promises he made in his election campaign speeches in 1975.
Most of the others have been broken (except for the one about not giving our money to African terrorists, which no one had been doing anyway, but it sounded good at the time) but this was the one Fraser really had his heart set on.
Despite the fact that he has never worked for a living, or had much acquaintance with anyone who does (except for his own farmhands, or serfs, as they describe themselves) Fraser has always prided himself on his deep understanding of industrial relations. Insofar as this understanding is based on anything, it seems to derive from a more than casual acquaintance with a number of members of the National Civic Council, who have convinced Fraser that the unions are really just tools of the handful of communist officials, and the employers either don’t know or don’t care, and the only thing that can do any good is for the government to make things as difficult as possible for the commos.
That illustrates in the clearest possible way how the situation in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria has been manipulated for the purpose of calling an election. The Government has created an atmosphere to display to the Herald, to the Melbourne Sun and to the Government’s colleagues in Victoria and also in New South Wales how to manipulate in a Goebbels-like way the mind of the electorate.
– He is succeeding, is he?
– The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Honourable senators opposite will get their desserts in the right proportion whenever the election is held. In the other place it is the back benchers in particular who are most disturbed and who will get their proper-
-I shall keep going. I am very pleased that the whole scenario is unfolding so clearly before the event. This exposing of the Government’s plans will not be published in the Press; but at least it is putting on record in the Senate the fact that most senators on this side of the chamber are fully aware of the way in which people can be completely manipulated and brainwashed. This is what is happening at the present time over the industrial problem. I will read from an article in the Examiner, which is a local Tasmania newspaper. It relates to the present situation. It is dated Thursday last and the heading is: ‘No Easy Answer’. I think that Government senators should read or listen to and digest this article because there is a power of truth in it. It states:
The Victorian power strike has now become a veritable chamber of horrors and open to exploitation by the political hit men of the extreme right and left. The last thing the concerned individual should do at this stage is join the mob of simplistic authoritarians-
Mark ye- who believe that a battle to the death on the Latrobe Valley coal fields will usher in a political-industrial Utopia. It won ‘t, but it could speed the change towards an authoritarian society of left or right, with the moderates, the pragmatists, the believers in consensus being squeezed out. The communist secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union, Mr John Halfpenny, commented after trie Latrobe Valley maintenance men went back on strike, that it could be the most serious industrial dispute in the history of Australia.
– How right he was.
-He still is. The article continues:
The scene is now set for solid confrontation,’ he said. As the member of a political faction which is committed to the destruction of a society such as Australia’s, Mr Halfpenny may even welcome another plunge by Australia into crisis.
Government senators- Hear, Hear!
Let honourable senators say ‘hear hear’ to the next paragraph. The article continued:
However, the extremists of the left are not the only ones who might be welcoming the power strike chaos. Yesterday, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, said that sooner or later the Government must face up to the industrial situation and have an election. ‘The Government needs two or three years in front of it to get the country under control ‘, he said.
This is quite hypocritical. The Government’s had almost two years to prove its worth as a ‘controller’, and has more than 12 months to go if it feels it needs more time. Mr
Anthony is one of the more obvious union bashers in the Government and his remark appears to be as hypocritical as those of the more extreme Latrobe Valley shop stewards who led their colleagues into the present maze.
– What paper is this from?
– That is from my local yokel place in Launceston, Tasmania, where they are more informed than all of these socalled brilliant intellectuals we see leering from the other side of the Senate. The article continues:
However, there is no doubt that the Government will use the wave of national outrage caused by the strike to launch a campaign for an early election. And at this stage it will win such an election because Australians have had their fill of strikes and union leaders . . .
This is the whole idea behind the manipulation of this situation. A state of confrontation has been brought about. As Mungo MacCallum said last February, this has all been organised. Why did he write that last February? Is he a seer?
– He is an idiot.
– If he is an idiot, I would like to know what the honourable senator’s IQ would be- it would be about 22 minus. The article continues:
And despite the naivete of the Federal Government in industrial matters, it has a lot going for it . . .
In addition, unionists generally, will wonder why a group . . . should be allowed to wreck wage indexation . . .
– Read it all.
– Read something else.
– I will finish up by quoting the following words:
However, the Government has made so much of union intransigence and how it will stomp on it that if it mishandles the situation the backlash will be large and swift.
It is happening and the lambs that are being led to the slaughter are the old mutton that is on the other side of the Senate.
– It is mutton done up as lamb.
– Yes. Finally, the article states:
Oh for the wisdom of a Solomon instead of the expediency of an Anthony.
What prophetic words. I would like to conclude my remarks by quoting -
– Read something else.
– I will be-many other things, as a matter of fact.
-He left out all the bits about unionists costing others their jobs.
– I shall leave you out.
– The policy of the Government on union bashing will cause a tremendous backlash to the Government. This policy is polarising the Australian community. We are seeing this polarisation in Queensland. No one can support the extremist attitude that is being carried out by the Premier of Queensland who is legislating in a manner which is in direct contrast to the tradition of democracy.
Australia has developed out of a complex amalgam of people from all walks of life. People have been deported to this country as convicts and people have come here to escape persecution, including religious persecution. People have come here to find a new way of life in a new part of the world. We have had a recent influx of migrant people from an effete capitalist European environment to try to find a new way of life in Australia. But they have come to a country in which archaic people, such as those people in Queensland, are legislating to turn the clock back and are refusing to recognise democratic rights which are basic to the Australian way of life. After aU, the start of the history of Australia was at Eureka.
– Of course it was, and we are proud of it. We are proud of the history of demonstrations against the oppression. It was the start of the right of people to demonstrate. It was the start of hatred shown by Australians in respect of the use of police at demonstrations. We have always been able to avoid the gestapo tactics that were introduced by Hitler. But we find that actions by police last weekend in Queensland had all the hallmarks of a gestapo police state. The people of Australia will not only reject that concept but, as shown by history, also will abhor the situation that has developed in Queensland.
I want to refer to the situation that has now developed as a result of the propaganda campaign and through the use of the Senate. I refer to the prostitution- and that word was used today by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack- of the conventions of this Senate by Bjelke-Petersen by sending a ring-in, a stooge, into this Senate. I refer to the prostitution of this Senate by the Premier of New South Wales by breaking the convention -
– His stooge voted for you.
– He would never have voted for the present Government, that is for certain. He would not see any value in it. The prostitution of these conventions has broken down the concept that one could trust the Parliament and the leaders of a government. We now know that they will break any rule for some cheap political opportunistic advantage. Honourable senators know the old English public school motto which says: ‘Fairly though your foe be mastered, any way just beat the bastard’. This is what the Premier of Queensland and a former Premier of New South Wales did to this institution of the Parliament. They adopt the attitude of ‘play any rule, kick a head where you see it, break your convention, break all your traditions get the majority and hold it’. This attitude is all right as long as one can get away with it. The present Government, when in Opposition, even brought in the Chief Justice of the High Court who had to stretch to the limit -
– I have not mentioned anyone ‘s name yet.
– The honourable senator knows that he must not refer to a member of the judiciary.
– The then Opposition had to stretch all the conventions to seek advice from the Governor-General who had hidden crown powers to be able to work another stunt to overthrow the conventions and traditions and to gain power.
The Government has deceived the public of Australia. The public has no confidence at all in its leaders because there is no limit to which those leaders would not sink to achieve power. Using again the word which Senator Sir Magnus Cormack used earlier today, every member on the Government side has prostituted the history and traditions of Australia to gain power. The Press and the other media came in to help them and they also have been soiled in this affray, this sortie.
Today we find that the numbers in the important House, the House of Representatives, the people’s House, have been so reduced that the trade unions are saying: ‘If we rely on this Parliament, if we allow this Parliament to decide our destiny- the Parliament that has let us down and shown that it can be manipulated in such a way- we will be trodden down and all the gains we have made in 100 years will have been for nothing’. They say: ‘We have to take up the cudeels and put on our own fight’. This is what is happening in the country today. The trade unions and the workers are taking extraparliamentary action because they have no voice in the Parliament. They have been deprived of their voice in this Parliament because of all the instruments that were used by the establishment to gain power. All the underhand methods that were used to attain power have resulted in an overkill, to use that modern word, and have placed the Parliament in a position where the working people who produce the wealth have no respect for the Parliament. As a result they are going to show that they still have a clout, and they will clout even more than they have up till now. The crisis in Victoria is only an indication that the capitalist system relies on people to produce wealth. We can take a horse to water but we cannot make it drink. We can send a man to the factory but we cannot make him work. We can send a scab into a factory but the factory still will not operate. It shows how hopeless the system is if we do not co-operate with the workers and the unions. This is the order ofthe day. The Government is so blind or so stupid that it underestimates the power of the people who produce the wealth. Those people are organised today as they have to be organised because -
– By whom?
– By themselves. I read a newspaper a little while ago which reported that the shop stewards and Bob Hawke were trying to tell the men to go back to work but the men said: Jump in the lake’. I do not mean Lake Burley Griffin but whatever lake is nearest to them. They said: ‘We are not going back because there are people in this factory who are sweeping the floors and getting as much money as we are getting, and we are skilled tradesmen’. So they are bucking and quite rightly so. No honourable senator opposite knows the real reason for the strike.
– That is exactly what you did.
– I will not take advice from Senator Messner. I would like another hour to speak on this subject but I cannot have it. The other night I rose on the motion for the adjournment to speak on a matter and what happened was no credit to the Government. I think it was in about 1933 that another lot of damned fools did the same thing. It did no credit to the Senate then either. Government senators were shirking thenjobs. They are paid big salaries to be here while the Parliament is sitting.
– Where were you?
– I was here. It is the Government’s job to keep the numbers in the chamber. Questions had been asked by Senator Chaney and by Senator Wood relating to Elizabeth Reid. I happened to receive the indulgence of the President the next day to make a personal explanation in respect of an imputation against me that I had something to hide because I was sensitive about the matter. I was reminded of the great Shakespearian play Othello and I will quote part of it for the record.
– Quote it all this time.
– I will and Senator Walters should listen to it. It will do her the world of good. Senator Walters might listen to what I am about to read because it is an everlasting truth. The quotation from Othello is as follows:
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of our souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ‘tis something, nothing;
Twas mine, ‘tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
I quote that in defence of Elizabeth Reid, a great Australian who was maligned by insinuations in this Senate.
– By my question, you say.
– Partly by Senator Chaney but more by Senator Wood. Senator Chaney inspired him.
– Not by mine.
– Mostly by Senator Chaney ‘s question. He raised this matter because of an article which appeared in the Australian and which was written by a malicious man with evil intent. He wished to spoil the chance of Elizabeth Reid obtaining the position of director of women ‘s affairs in the United Nations.
– I would save her from her friends.
-I have a silent respect for Senator Missen. I almost called him Senator Mission’. Unlike most of his colleagues who do’ not have a mission, I think he has one and I say that with respect to him. Elizabeth Reid has dedicated her life to a belief. As I mentioned earlier, most women in the world are hewers of wood and carriers of water. They are the toilers, the peasants, the underprivileged. Senator Walters thinks that a woman should stay in the home and be paid but that would be the most archaic attitude of any woman who has been in this Parliament. I cannot understand how anyone who advocates that point of view ever gets into the Parliament.
– A former senator, Dame Ivy Wedgwood, would not have agree with that.
-Of course she would not. None of the great women who have been in this place would have advocated that either. Elizabeth Reid believes that the emancipation of women is a world problem; that 80 per cent of the women of the world are toiling without status and without significance and need to be given status. In this country we gave them equal status by ensuring equal pay for equal work.
– You did not do that.
-The Labor Government did that. Elizabeth Reid was hounded out of this country by jealous, stupid, catty women and men. She was able to obtain a position as adviser to the twin sister of the Shah of Iran. In that country they have a great problem because women traditionally have been underprivileged and have been subjected to an inferior status. Now Elizabeth Reid will be appointed director of women’s affairs in the United Nations. I hope that lesser people will not condemn her for that.
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The Senate stands adjourned until tomorrow at 3 p.m. or such later time as the President may take the chair in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 26 April 1977:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 26 April 1 977:
What are the total Federal payments to or for local government authorities for 1972-73 to 1976-77 in the shires of Kowree, Arapiles, Wimmera, Stawell, Ararat, Mortlake, Warrnambool, Minhamite, Portland, Glenelg, Wannon, Dundas, Mt Rouse and Belfast, the town of Portland, the boroughs of Port Fairy and Koroit, and the cities of Hamilton, Warrnambool, Hotham and Ararat.
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question;
The attached tables containing details of grants to selected local government authorities in Victoria have been supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
They show the amount of Commonwealth Government grants paid directly to these local government authorities and also those grants paid via the State governments where ultimate distribution has been determined by the Commonwealth. However grants paid by the State Governments from funds provided initially by the Commonwealth are excluded where the distribution is determined by the State (e.g. assistance for roads). Grants paid under the National Sewerage Program to sewerage authorities operating within the municipal areas are not included because separate figures are not available for individual local government areas.
Except in respect of some programs in 1975-76, the tables show details of allocations because information on actual payments is not available.
Other qualifications have been shown as footnotes to the tables. Figures are not available for years prior to 1973-74 and details for 1 976-77 are still being collected.
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
National Servicemen received sick leave benefits during service and it was considered that there was no justification for duplication of those benefits. It was in keeping with the spirit of the legislation that the employer should not be burdened unnecessarily. It was considered that Government employees called up for National Service should not be provided with sick leave in excess of that which employers generally were required to provide for their employees.
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
1975-76 and 1976-77 and also indicates the number of visits that were approved and not approved.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 16 August 1977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Following the review of the New South Wales manual to automatic conversion programme, the exchanges tentatively programmed for conversion during each of the next 4 years are as follows:
Most of the exchanges listed will also be provided with STD facilities from the time of conversion to automatic, and the commissioning of the minor switching centres at Tumbarumba, Tumut and Glen Innes will enable existing automatic exchanges in these minor switching areas to be provided with STD access. In addition to the conversions listed above it is expected that approximately 12 to IS new small country automatic exchanges could be established each year. If these exchanges are connected to established automatic switching centres they will also have access to the STD network.
Telecom expects that by the completion of the proposed 1980-81 program the number of manual telephone services in New South Wales will have been reduced to approximately 23,000, but is unable to indicate at this stage in which year subsequent to 1980-81 automatic service and STD facilities are likely to be provided at the remaining exchanges.
asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, upon notice, on 25 August 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer to question No. 1272.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 25 August 1977:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer you to the Acting Treasurer’s reply to Senate question No. 1272 (Hansard, 11 October 1977, pages 1276-7).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 25 August 1977:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Construction, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Minister for Construction has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer to parliamentary question No. 1272 provided by the Acting Treasurer (Hansard 1 1 October 1977, pages 1276-7).
Allocation of Commonwealth Funds to Queensland Government (Question No. 1289)
asked the Minister for Science the following question on notice on 6 September 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I refer you to the answer provided by the Minister, representing the Treasurer to question No. 1272 (Hansard 1 1 October 1977, pages 1276-7).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
Has the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development investigated logging activities on Fraser Island; if so, (a) is the Department completely satisfied that logging activities are not harming the environment on Fraser Island; and (b) if the answer to (a) is no, what action does the Minister propose taking.
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
No. The logging activities on Fraser Island fall within the responsibility of the Queensland Government and therefore my Department has not investigated this issue.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 15 September 1977:
What particular considerations led to the choice of the PGA Championship as an appropriate beneficiary of Telecom’s ‘Limited business promotion’, mentioned in the Minister’s answer to Senator Button’s question without notice of 6 September 1977 (Hansard, 14 September 1977, pp 827-8).
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
To achieve the objectives outlined in the reply to the honourable senator’s question without notice of 6 September last, the Commission selected the PGA Tournament because it was regarded as a major sporting event in which there is a high degree of national public interest and participation. Importantly, it is an event which is to be televised nationally with an extensive live coverage over a four day period and reaching a high percentage of the Australian television viewing public
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 2 1 September 1 977:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Other areas applied for including Sadadeen Range, Yirara and Bazzos farm had been set aside to meet future needs of Aboriginal groups when required and when details of intended use could be supplied. Other applications including areas at Palmers Camp, Heavitree Gap and Artists Camp could not be acceded to and alternative proposals have been put.
The Abbotts camp group has not made a lease application but reside on land allocated to Aboriginal Hostels Limited in 1975 and their needs will probably be metthrough that organisation.
The question of internal services and the funding of improvements on the leases is one for my colleague the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to answer and his Department’s Darwin office has provided the following information:
Connections to the main Alice Springs power, water and sewerage supplies are as follows:
Internal sewerage- design completed, tenders to be called
Sewerage to boundary-completion expected December 1977
Interna] sewerage- design proceeding
Sewerage to boundary- complete
Internal sewerage- complete
Water- completion expected October 1977
Sewerage to boundary- completion expected
Internal sewerage-subject to further design work
Alec Simpson’s Camp
Sewerage to boundary- completion expected
Internal sewerage-accurate requirements not known
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice on 22 September 1977:
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Pan of a research proposal prepared by an advisory group of eminent scientists is to consider a controlled spill of oil over a small area of a reef in which the oil would be rigorously contained and cleaned up.
Any proposal for such research in the Barrier Reef would be subject to the provisions of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act, and under this it would be essential that the feasibility of the project be clearly demonstrated and that no danger would be offered to the Reef.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice on 22 September 1977:
– The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A subsequent survey of the island indicated the captive colony was surviving but it is still too early to draw final conclusions about the success of this operation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development upon notice on 5 October 1977:
White Paper on Manufacturing Industry (Question No. 1390)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, 6 October 1977:
– The Minister for Productivity has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
Public Telephones: Use of Coins of Higher Value
– On 18 August 1977 Senator Townley asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the following question without notice:
Has Telecom considered designing less bulky and cheaper to build public telephones for use in areas that are relatively safe from vandalism and robbery, as any saving in cost of the production of public telephones would mean that more telephones could be installed? Further, will the Minister ask Telecom to examine and report to the Treasury its need of a coin of a value of $2 or $3 as suggested by me by way of a question yesterday.
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Telecom Australia advises that the size of its STD public telephone is governed primarily by the coin checking and counting mechanism, the associated logic circuitry and the coin tin. Although the instrument utilises advanced technology it is not feasible to reduce significantly the size of its mechanical components in order to produce a more compact unit.
The Commission is shortly to test a public coin telephone equipped to accept SOc and 20c coins at locations where there is a demand for ISD calls. Should coins of larger denomination be introduced, Telecom would of course examine the practicability of appropriately modifying coin operated public telephones, particularly those in ISD traffic locations, to include the capability of accepting the higher value coins.
Touchfone: Arrangement of Numbers
-On 6 September 1977 Senator Messner asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the following question without notice:
This most serious matter has been raised with me by a number of constituents in my State. The Minister will know of the introduction of Touchfone by Telecom Australia. Is the Minister aware that the order of numbers on pushbutton telephones, running from one to nine from top to bottom, is exactly the reverse of most calculating machines where the numbers run from bottom to top? In the interests of efficiency of operation and assistance to workers generally, will the Minister request Telecom to consider a re-arrangement of the numbers into proper form as already established by most calculators?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australia is one of the150 member countries of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) whose technical organs are responsible to study and make recommendations on technical operating and tariff questions. Telecom Australia participates in the work of the technical and operating study groups.
Following extensive international studies by the ITU, a Recommendation was adopted for a keyboard layout for flush button telephones. Overseas experience was that the l ayout adopted had received a favourable response from customers generally. Telecom has applied this recommendation to the Touchfone.
Overseas Investment in Australia
-On 5 October 1977 (Hansard, page 1066) Senator Wriedt asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning the capital outflow. The Treasurer has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As to the suggestion that Euro-Pacific Finance Corporation Ltd gave advice to Nestle Co. (Aus.) Ltd that it should remove funds from Australia for speculative purposes, I draw to your attention the response to a similar question in another place on 6 October 1977 by the Prime Minister. That response was as follows:
Yesterday a serious statement was made which indicated that a number of companies had advised companies operating in Australia to withdraw funds. It indicated that Credit Suisse, the Deutsche Bank and the AmsterdamRotterdam Bank had from time to time been active in raising loans overseas for Australia. It was a serious allegation because it claimed that the Euro-Pacific Finance Corporation Ltd, a partly owned subsidiary of two of the three banks that have just been mentioned, had been advising, among others, the Nestle Co. (Aus.) Ltd to withdraw funds from Australia in view of the situation relating to the currency.
This morning the Chairman and Managing Director of the Nestle Company rang my office and indicated that the statements were completely untrue and that the EuroPacific Finance Corporation had not been in touch with the Nestle Company. The Managing Director said that he had never heard of the Euro-Pacific Finance Corporation until he looked it up in a trade directory this morning and that his company has never received advice from that Corportion. He confirmed in a telephone call to the EuroPacific Finance Corporation that there had been no contact between the company and the Corporation. He said that the Nestle Company had not sent money out of Australia other thanfor normal purchases of materials and that in fact in July that company had brought funds into Australia. This matter was originally raised in a question asked by Senator Wriedt in another place. This again indicates the completely mischievous and false way in which the Opposition has been behaving in relation to these particular matters’.
As regards the similar allegations involving Ciba-Geigy Aust. Ltd, that company’s Managing Director sent to me the text of a letter he addressed to Senator Wriedt, in which he stated:
Our Company has neither sought, not received advice on this matter from Euro-Pacific Finance Corporation Limited. No responsible member of our company had any contact with this merchant bank. While our company deals with other financial institutions, we have also neither sought, nor received from them advice on this particular matter.
Ciba-Geigy ‘s intake of overseas funds in the form of share capital increases and borrowings in each of the years since 1 January 1974, up to the end of 1977, taking into account loan repayments, will have resulted in a net inflow of funds into Australia aggregating $9. 4m.
Ciba-Geigy Limited in Switzerland has demonstrated its faith in the future of Australia by substantial investments. The equivalent of $1 lm have been transferred in cash from Switzerland since 1 January 1974 to bring the paid in capital to the current level of $2 1 m. We intend to continue making our contribution to the future development of the economy of the country. We hope our company will be able to do so without having to face unfounded allegations’.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771025_senate_30_s75/>.