31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 21 December 1977 of former Senator E. W. Mattner, M.C., D.C.M., M.M. Edward William Manner’s long period of service in he Senate began when he was chosen by the South Australian Parliament in 1944 to fill a casual vacancy. Although he was defeated in the 1946 election he regained his seat as a senator in the next election and represented South Australia as a Liberal Party senator from 1950 to 1968.
Mr Mattner served with distinction in the armed forces during the First World War. He was awarded the Military Medal, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Cross. He re-enlisted in 1941. After a period of service in Papua he was discharged on medical grounds in June 1942. His wartime experience gave him a deep and continuing concern for exservicemen and women and over many years he was a powerful and effective advocate in the Parliament on their behalf.
He was elected President of the Senate in 1951, a position he held until 1953. In that position he displayed those personal qualities that earned him the respect and friendship of senators on both sides of the chamber. He was an active member of a number of parliamentary committees and he also represented Australia overseas as a member of several parliamentary delegations. Throughout his parliamentary career he served with patience and devotion- a fine example to all who follow him. I therefore move:
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Edward William Mattner, M.C., D.C.M., M.M., a senator for South Australia from 1944 to 1946 and from 1950 to 1968 and President of the Senate from 1951 to 1953 and that the Senate places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders it sympathy to his family in their bereavement.
– The Opposition joins with the Leader of the Government (Senator Withers) in extending our sympathies to the family of the late Edward William Mattner. Senator Withers indicated his parliamentary career. I personally did not know him. I came to this place immediately after he left it. I recall that his name was held in very high regard at that time. Of course, some of us here would have known him personally but I am not one of them. It it evident that his career, both in the Parliament and in his service to the nation, not only in politics but also in his service to the armed forces, indicates a person who was obviously a great Australian and someone deeply interested in the welfare of this country. The Opposition supports the condolence motion moved by the Leader of the Government.
– I endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) in relation to former Senator Edward Mattner. Senator Mattner was here during my term as a senator. Along with others I came to respect him greatly. I feel that his experiences of life, both in peace and in war, gave him an awareness of the importance which citizens should attach to the management of themselves by their Parliament. He displayed a friendship to me and all who knew him during that time which I for one will long remember. My National Country Party colleagues offer their heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of the deceased in their sad loss.
-As a South Australian senator I would like to be associated with these tributes to the late former Senator Mattner. I had a long association with him in this Parliament and knew him in the days when he was not a member of the Senate. He lived in the district around Woodside and Oakbank south of Adelaide which adjoins the Strathalbyn area to which my family belongs. To that extent Senator Mattner and I had a kind of neighbourhood interest which was very pleasant and very useful, one which I greatly missed when he left the Senate. This association over the years gave me an extra appreciation of his many abilities and his unique personal approach to public affairs. Politically, he came to the Parliament in association with an earlier group of South Australian senators, and I recall the names of the late Senator Pearson, Senator Hannaford and Senator Laught.
Former Senator Mattner kept his political values strong and was a man with a keen sense of his obligations to his fellow citizens. He was essentially humane and understanding in his interpretation of public duties. He was a good senator for South Australia. He was very well known and was greatly admired throughout the State. He was a distinguished and gallant soldier and knew the needs of his fellow servicemen. He was, as you will recall, Mr President, a genial and companionable person much given to hospitality, as many of us can testify with our memories of enjoyable days as his guest at the Onkaparinga Easter meetings. A host of people enjoyed the fruits and products of his farm and garden. Those of us who worked with him and knew him are grateful for his contribution to the Senate and to the Parliament, and grateful for all the service which his many years of life enabled him to give. We, along with others, extend our condolences to his immediate family and to his only brother, Mr Leo Mattner, of Oakbank in South Australia.
-I wish to be associated with the remarks which have been expressed in the Senate in tribute to the late former Senator Mattner. I had the privilege of knowing him well and served with him during the major part of the time that he was in the Senate. He was a successful and sturdy primary producer. He came into the Senate and was acknowledged by the Senate by its election of him to the high office of President, an office whose duties he discharged with singular distinction.
The late former Senator Mattner, however, should be remembered chiefly for his outstanding record of bravery in the First World War. His decorations alone indicate a sustained campaign on his part of leadership, valour and courage and this is recognised throughout the whole of the returned servicemen’s community in Australia. His name is synonymous with outstanding courage. Anyone who has read, as I have recently, Gammage ‘s book The Broken Years and recalls the dreadful experience that had to be combatted by our soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force in France ought to be permanently conscious of the extreme debt we owe to men whose individual courage sustained the armies which brought success to our way of life. Lastly I want to pay a tribute to Ted Mattner as a family man. He had a remarkably successful family whose talents are unusually gifted in the extreme. He was proud of the members of his family and they gave him affection, as I have been a happy witness to on many occasions during their visits here. I think it is a great privilege that on this occasion the Senate has to acknowledge a man of the calibre of former Senator Mattner. On this occasion we pass on our esteem and our condolences to the members of his family with a very deep sense of feeling.
-I rise to support the motion of condolence to the late former Senator Ted Mattner. Ted Mattner was not only a great friend but also a great Australian. I had the pleasure of knowing him for many years. I did not serve in the Senate with the late former Senator Mattner. By a quirk of circumstance I took his place in the Senate when he retired.
As Senator Wright has said, Teddy Mattner was a great man. He served in the Australian Army in the 1914-1918 conflict. During that period he rose through the ranks, in the field, to a senior position as an officer in the Australian Army. But more than this, he became one of the most highly decorated men in the Australian Army during the First World War. When the conflict ended Mr Mattner wanted to go on and give further service which he eventually did when he joined the Australian Parliament and served in this place for a number of years. During that time he attained the position of President of the Senate. I became very impressed with Mr Mattner, or Senator Mattner as he was then known, because during that time he always remained a man of the people. Wherever one went one could see the valued friendships that had been made by Senator Teddy Mattner.
Although former Senator Mattner retired from this place physically he still kept a very keen interest in the activities of Canberra. On many occasions he would come into my office, sit down and have a chat to find out what was going on in Canberra and to ask questions about the various people with whom he had had a long association. We all know that former Senator Mattner made a pilgrimage to this place at least once a year to renew many of those associations even though with the passage of time, of course, many of his older associates had left the Federal Parliament.
Former Senator Mattner led a very active life in retirement and he lived to a very old age. He kept very active up until his death. He loved his family, he loved his garden and he loved the outdoors. As a matter of fact, his family told me that even a few days before his death he asked that he be put in a utility to be driven around the property. He still wanted to go to see his gardens, the fields and the places that he loved so much.
Teddy Mattner was a great Australian. We are paying a tribute to his service and to his memory today. He will be remembered by many people both within and outside this place for what he did in service for his country. I join with the Senate in expressing condolences, particularly to his family- a great family and one which, right down to his grandchildren, loved Teddy Mattner as we did so much.
– I want to say just a few words. During the long period I have served in this chamber former Senator Mattner became one of my closest friends. Over many years he and I, together with fellow South Australian the late former Senator Hannaford, formed a very strong friendship. I found former Senator Mattner to be a very loyal person, a very genial character and one whom I think everyone liked. His general characteristics regarding public service and war service have been adequately outlined by other speakers. However, I thought I should express these sentiments. I believe that those of us who knew him feel very deeply his passing.
– I want to be associated with this condolence motion in respect of Ted Mattner because of the long friendship I had with him. I came to know him particularly well during the 1966 federal election campaign when he assisted me in the electorate of Grey. When one is campaigning with a fellow under those circumstances one comes to know him very well. I, too, always enjoyed his hospitality at the Onkaparinga race meeting at Easter. I can vouch for the fact that he was a generous man in providing hospitality. Apart from all the other sections of the South Australian community that will miss him, I believe that the racing fraternity in particular will miss him because of the leading role that he played in that sporting field. I join with my colleagues in extending sincere sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
– It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 3 January 1978 of former Senator the Honourable Sir John Armstrong Spicer, Q.C. The Honourable Sir John Armstrong Spicer was a man who throughout his long and distinguished public life, both inside and outside the Parliament, contributed greatly to the dignity of each position he held. After graduating in law from Melbourne University, Sir John was admitted to the Bar in 1921. He built up an extensive practice and appeared as counsel in several important constitutional cases. In 1949 he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel.
Sir John was elected to the Senate for Victoria at the 1940 election, was defeated in 1943 and was then re-elected at the subsequent elections of 1949, 1951 and 1955. Sir John was a leading figure in the early days of the Liberal Party. After
Sir Robert Menzies’ return to power in 1949, Sir John served as Attorney-General for 7 years. It was during his tenure of that portfolio that the legislation for the establishment of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation as a statutory body was perfected, the relevant Act being assented to shortly after Sir John ‘s resignation from Parliament.
Sir John resigned from Parliament in August 1956 on being appointed the first Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He presided over that Court for the following 21 years with considerable diligence, dignity and patience. In 1963 the Queen honoured him by creating him Knight Bachelor. Sir John Spicer was a man of great personal integrity and humanity and he readily gained the respect and admiration of all those who came in contact with him. Sir John retired as Chief Judge of the Industrial Court in November 1977, after more than 36 years’ service to Australia both on the Bench and in this Parliament. It is a matter of deep regret that he was to enjoy only such a short period of the retirement that he so justly deserved. I therefore move:
That the Senator expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honourable Sir John Armstrong Spicer, Q.C, a senator for Victoria from 1940 to 1944 and from 1950 to 1956, Attorney-General from 1950 to 1956, and Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court from 1956 to 1977, and that the Senate places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its sympathy to his family in their bereavement.
– I rise to support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). The name of Sir John Spicer would be well known to all of us, no matter how long we have served in this place, because, as Senator Withers has pointed out, Sir John was involved in public life right up until very recent times. Despite the fact that there was an interruption to his political career, probably brought about by factors beyond his control, he demonstrated in his public life the great contribution that he had to make to this country. History probably will record that his contribution in the industrial area proved to be more significant than his contribution in this Parliament. I know from my colleagues in the industrial sphere of the trade union movement that, as Senator Withers has said, he was a man of integrity and patience in dealing with the very difficult industrial matters that existed in his time. It is fortunate that men of Sir John Spicer’s calibre, of his patience and tolerance occupy positions through which so much of the disharmony in our industrial life can be reduced in some way. On behalf of the Opposition, I support the motion moved by Senator Withers.
– My National Country Party colleagues join with me in endorsing the remarks of the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. Sir John Spicer was an outstanding citizen whose 36 years on the bench indicated his great competence. When he retired in November of last year as Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court he had spent a lifetime in service to the community. I had the great honour to represent the Parliament and the Prime Minister at Sir John’s funeral in Victoria. I can say only that I was honoured to be in such distinguished company, whose presence reflected the nation’s appreciation of Sir John’s great performance during his lifetime.
-I should like to join in the tribute which the Senate is paying to the late Sir John Spicer, whom I knew for over 30 years. I did not serve with him in this Parliament, my association with him being when I was young in politics and he was already experienced. I know of the efforts that he made and the respect in which he was held by all sections of the Victorian community over the very long period of his political life.
I first met him when he was an active member of the Young Nationalist Organisation in Victoria, which subsequently amalgamated with the Liberal Party. He was a very wise and wellrespected leading member of that organisation. He was at one time the President of the Constitutional Club of Melbourne and showed an interest in that organisation for many years, constantly attending its lunches and meetings. He had many friends amongst the business and legal community of Melbourne. In that area, as Attorney-General and as a politician of great renown, he always showed a great deal of interest in constitutional matters and an awareness of and interest in changes and ideas that came forward from time to time.
He served the Liberal Party in Victoria for many years in a most distinguished way, leading its Senate ticket and being a very important member of the Party from its foundation until he became a member of the bench. He was very important to the Liberal Party in its early days and contributed to the success that it then enjoyed.
During the very long period that he served on the Commonwealth Industrial Court bench Sir John Spicer was respected for his work and was often seconded to conduct inquiries on behalf of the Government. They were very meticulous and exhausting inquiries, and I know from speaking to many who served with him and appeared before him he was unfailingly courteous to people who came before him. He was always pressing but fair to witnesses. He was well known for the results of the inquiries and the respect in which they were held. Not only in his capacity as a judge therefore, but also in relation to those in inquiries I think he had a most unique and distinguished record so far as the Australian people are concerned. He was an Australian who made his own way in life and achieved the success that he deserved. That success was due not to any great influence or help that he received but to his own abilities, his own straightness and honesty of purpose, and to his legal abilities. These qualities made him widely respected not only by the legal community throughout Australia but also by the public, who know that he was a wise judge and a good man. I join with my colleagues in paying my respects to him. I am sure that his family will find consolation in knowing that he had a fine life, one deserving of great credit and favour from the Australian people. I thank the Senate for the opportunity to join in this tribute.
– I desire to join in this motion of condolence on the death of former Senator Sir John Spicer. He had a very close relationship with the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. In the period 1940 to 1 943 he was Chairman of the Committee. As honourable senators would know, the Committee has a legal adviser who examines the regulations. He was the first legal adviser to be engaged in the work of the Committee. He therefore played a very important part in that work. When I entered this chamber in 1949, having no idea of the work of committees, I found my name on the list of members of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I said to Senator Spicer: ‘Why on earth did they put me on this Committee? What is it?’ He said: ‘I thought we were paying you a compliment by putting you on that Committee’. As a result, I looked into the matter further and consequently I am now serving my twenty-ninth year on the Committee. The very few words that he spoke to me on that occasion made me think.
Senator Spicer was of a quiet disposition and a very thoughtful person. I felt that he thoroughly knew his work. He served as Attorney-General from the time when I came into this Parliament in 1949. 1 felt great respect for him and I know that throughout his career, not only in this place but also in a judicial capacity, he carried out his work in a manner which earned the respect of everyone. I therefore join in the expression of condolence to his family and relatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
DEATH OF FORMER SENATOR MacDONALD
Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Government in the Senate)- Mr President, it is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 18 January 1978 of former Senator the Honourable A. N. MacDonald. Allan MacDonald represented Western Australia in the Senate from 1935 to 1947. Like that of Edward Mattner, Allan MacDonald ‘s period of service as a senator was preceded by a period of distinguished service in the First World War in the Australian Imperial Force. In the Senate, Allan MacDonald served as Minister without portfolio from 1937 to 1939, first under Prime Minister Lyons and then in the Page Ministry. During that time he assisted the Minister for Commerce and later the Treasurer. Allan MacDonald will also be remembered as a former Chairman of the Western Australian Lotteries Commission and as a leading figure in the Western Australia National Party, the forerunner of the Liberal Party, being Secretary of that Party from 1930 to 1935.
Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania- Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)- On behalf of the Opposition I support the motion of condolence moved by Senator Withers. The former Senator MacDonald was unknown to me, and I daresay to just about everybody in this chamber, but it is apparent that he too gave great service to this country both as a parliamentarian and also in a military capacity. The Opposition joins the Government in extending deepest sympathy to his relatives.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria-Minister for Science)- My National Country Party colleagues join in this motion of condolence to the relatives of the later former senator, the Honourable Allan MacDonald. Although he was a man unknown to me and, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) has said, unknown to many honourable senators, the notification relating to his death indicated that he was a man of considerable courage and one who left his mark in the State from whence he came.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
– It is with deep regret that I inform honourable senators of the death on 12 December 1977 of Mr Allan Duncan Fraser, C.M.G., a former member of the House of Representatives for the division of Eden-Monaro from 1942 to 1966 and from 1969 to 1972; and the death on 25 December 1977 of Mr John Alexander Pettitt, a former member of the House of Representatives for the division of Hume from 1963 to 1972. I invite honourable senators to stand in silence as a mark of respect. (Honourable senators having stood in their places)
– I thank honourable senators.
– I present the following petition from 753 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
. Telephone users outside major metropolitan telephone districts, particularly those conducting businesses outside those districts, suffer an unfair burden for fees charged for calls.
The system of charging for calls on the basis of distance between non-adjoining zones instead of for the time of the call is unreasonable.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should require Telecom Australia to meter all calls, including local calls, and charge a uniform rate on a time basis regardless of distance between calling parties.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate of the Commonwealth in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That where whole or part of a deceased estate passes to the surviving spouse it should be free from federal estate duty.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator James McClelland.
Communications in the Northern Territory
To the Honourable the President and the Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that as citizens of the Northern Territory we express grave concern:
Don’t cripple our town, no money earned, no money spent;
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, should ensure that suitable amendments to communications and employment in general for we, all the people of Australia is ensured, and that speedily enacted so as to dispose of our concern.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Kilgariff.
Communications in the Northern Territory
To the Honourable the President and the Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Katherine area of the Northern Territory respectfully showeth that the proposal by the Australian Telecommunications Commission to centralise the telephone and radio-telephone systems serving the area in Darwin has occasioned grave concern because of the following adverse effects such action will have on the town of Katherine:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate inquire into the need for the action proposed and to ensure that the people of the Katherine area will be protected against the adverse consequences which could result.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Kilgariff.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the fact that the Government has already borrowed $2,000m in the past 12 months to restore confidence in the Australian dollar, does the Government consider that that policy has been successful? If it does, what is the reason for the continuing outflow of private capital and the announcement in the Governor-General’s Speech yesterday that the Government intends further overseas borrowings in the near future?
-The Leader of the Opposition asks: Does the Government consider that its borrowing program has been successful? The answer is that the Government does. Demonstrably it has been successful because under the overall money management plan of this country we have achieved, together with the balance of payments, a rectification of the recession which occurred some four years ago. It is the Government’s view that the program has been successful. Perhaps the answer is that recently, I think on 13 December last, the public showed its total belief in the success of our policies, including the one to which the honourable senator has referred.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to a reported statement by Mr Pat Clancy, the national secretary of the Building Workers Industrial Union, that Soviet trade unionists support Russia’s nuclear energy program because they are satisfied with Soviet nuclear safeguards. Is the Minister aware of any evidence that Russian technology is so far advanced over Western technology that nuclear waste can be disposed of safely in the Soviet Union whereas Western nuclear waste cannot be disposed of safely? Does the statement give the lie direct to the oft repeated claim by opponents in Australia to the development of uranium mining and nuclear energy that there is no known safe method of disposing of nuclear waste?
-Here we are back on the first day of Question Time and already Senator Sim has scored a bull’s eye and rather antagonised honourable senators opposite. He has asked a very good question. In fact, it almost answers itself. For years so many of our friends on the other side of the chamber have talked about the great benefits of socialism, how trade unions prosper under it, how Soviet Russia is the ultimate of it all and how honourable senators opposite worship at that shrine! Now we have Mr Clancy, who I have no doubt is a more devoted follower of honourable senators opposite than he is of those on our side of politics, saying that Soviet trade unionists are satisfied with the safeguards provided by that Government. I have no technical knowledge as to whether Russian technology is equivalent to ours or whether it is more advanced or not as advanced. I should imagine that it would be no further advanced than that possessed by the Western democracies. The honourable senator asks some technical questions. I shall obtain an answer to those questions. I am delighed with the information which the honourable senator has provided and which has evidently got under the skins of members of the anti-uranium lobby who sit opposite.
-I refer the Minister representing the Prime Minister to the Government’s decision of July 1976 to abolish the post of Australian ambassador to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, based on the Bland Committee recommendation that the cost did not justify its continued existence. I ask: In view of the Government’s continued commitment to cut costs, what special or new circumstances arose which led the Government to re-establish this post? When did those circumstances arise?
-Honourable senators opposite should not get too excited. This is only our second day back. As is well known, and as the honourable senator said, in July 1976 the post was abolished; but things have moved on quite considerably since then. One of the things that I really do enjoy about the Opposition is that, concerning a particular Australian, we have been through two election campaigns in which he has been a central figure and each time the
Opposition has been thrashed. I think honourable senators opposite are rather like the Bourbons, who never forgot and never learned. I am delighted that they are continuing this campaign because they will be thrashed at the next election, the one after that and the one after that. After all, whilst the present Opposition has emerged with the most disastrous thrashing from the election of members of the House of Representatives, honourable senators opposite should look at the Senate figures sometime; in State after State they could not even get two quotas. Here they are attempting still to rake over the old coals of the period before the 1 975 election. I would have thought that if they thought they had any future- they do have new leaders, new deputy leaders and all sons of things- they might even have a new song to sing; but here they are harking back to the old problems.
The Government is not ashamed of reopening the UNESCO post. If the Opposition had been following what was happening in Australia, instead of indulging in its old hatreds and bitterness, it would have known that, as a result of this Government’s initiatives last year Mr John Howard was appointed as Special Trade Negotiator to attempt to open up Australia’s capacity to trade with the European Economic Community. We all know, of course, that in 3 years of Labor government Australia’s export capacity was almost totally ruined, due to the lunatic inflation that got away in this country, the industrial strife we suffered and all the rest. It became quite obvious that we had to expand our export markets. In recent times, of course, more and more pressure has been put on the Paris Embassy in performing its economic tasks of helping both the Special Trade Negotiator and others involved in attempting to break down the trade barriers and allow Australian products, be they primary products or steel, to enter the European Economic Community. We had reached the situation where the Paris Embassy was geared to a very large extent to this area and to fulfilling its normal diplomatic functions; it no longer had the capacity properly to service its UNESCO role.
If honourable senators opposite think that UNESCO is totally unimportant, so unimportant that even Senator Cavanagh could represent us there, let them stand up and say in this place: We do not believe that the Australian Government should have an ambassador to UNESCO’. They thought once upon a time that it was important enough to send an ambassador to UNESCO solely, with no other function. If they believe that we ought not to have a full time ambassador to UNESCO let them stand up and say so; let them put themselves on the record. If they are using this as a petty, miserable, mean way of attacking a man behind his back, let them get up and say that.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister whether he is saying, in answer to my question, that the Australian Ambassador to UNESCO will perform a trade function? Secondly, if he attaches such importance to the work of the Paris Embassy, having regard to trade relations with France and elsewhere, why has its staff been reduced by 26 up to the last month?
-It is quite obvious that Senator Button either did not listen to my answer or did not wish to understand it. I said that the Paris Embassy now has other functions, such as helping the Special Trade Negotiator, and that, given those functions, it can no longer properly fulfil the role of being also ambassador to UNESCO. I also said that if Senator Button feels that we should not have a full time ambassador to UNESCO he should say so.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. Has the Government been asked by the Australian Capital Territory Teachers Federation to provide air conditioning in open plan schools in the Australian Capital Territory? Has the Government refused the request? Is the Minister aware of the very much higher temperatures endured in other parts of Australia such as in my city of Perth in Western Australia, not to mention numerous centres in Western Australia to the north and east of that city? Will the Minister assure the Senate that funds provided by taxpayers throughout the Commonwealth will not be used to provide air conditioning in Australian Capital Territory, schools unless Commonwealth funds are provided for air conditioning in schools throughout the hotter areas of the Commonwealth?
– Last year a number of schools and, I think, the Australian Capital Territory Teachers Federation raised the fact that for a limited number of days conditions were unpleasant in a small number of schools in the Australian Capital Territory. The Government was asked to look at this problem to see whether something could be done. As honourable senators will know, the technical advice received was that in the case of Stirling College there were technical difficulties that were sought to be overcome. In other cases there was an attempt by the National Capital Development Commission to test what is called a ‘reverse cycle heat pump’, as distinct from air conditioning, to see whether this could alleviate the problem. Such a test is in progress this financial year. It will be evaluated. It is not intended and it would not be within the funding capacity to install full air conditioning. Of course the Government acknowledges widely that in many parts of Australia the climate is so extreme that those areas may have more priority if air conditioning is to be considered.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: How much compensation, other than a trust fund for the children, will the families of the three men, two employees of the Sydney City Council and members of the Municipal Employees Union, and a member of the New South Wales Police Force, killed in the Hilton Hotel bombing incident receive? On what basis will the payment be determined? Further, will the Minister explain the apparent contradiction whereby shopkeepers who lost trade as a direct result of the security arrangements for the conference will be paid full indemnity while three families who lost providers will not be compensated for loss of future income or the emotional stress caused by the violent deaths of the men concerned?
– The honourable senator has raised a number of interesting questions. I ask him to put his question on notice so that I can get a properly detailed answer for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to the proposal to construct railway rolling stock for the Australian National Railway at Whyalla which was suggested in a South Australian Government working party report. The report suggests that this would provide a considerable number of job opportunities in that city which has a high unemployment level. I understand that the report has been under study by some Government departments. Is the Government able to give a report on that proposal? If not, when can we expect it?
– As my response to previous questions asked by Senator Jessop in the last Parliament would show, the Government is very well aware of the unemployment level in Whyalla. Incidentally, the Government acknowledges Senator Jessop ‘s close, continuous and practical interest in that area. At present the Government is examining a proposal initiated by a South Australian Government working party for particular usage of employment at Whyalla. It is necessary to evaluate the proposal not only in isolation but also as to its effect on other employment. The proposal has been examined by the Department of Transport. It is currently being studied by other departments. It is expected that the Prime Minister will shortly be in a position to talk to the South Australian Premier about it.
Honourable senators may be interested to know that in a small but nevertheless significant way the Australian National Railways has recently let a contract in the order of $ 176,000 to a Whyalla firm for the reconditioning and modification of coal wagons. However, the important thing to note is that any new rolling stock manufactured in Whyalla would be at the expense of the order books of other manufacturers. That is one of the difficulties. If we take work from one area of employment to create more gainful employment in another area the result is substitute unemployment and that is a major difficulty. I will bring the honourable senator’s question to the attention of my colleague in another place and underline the importance which the honourable senator and, I am sure, Government members also, place on it.
-Mr President, I wish to direct a question to you concerning security measures taken yesterday. Will you at an early opportunity explain why the wishes of the Presiding Officers that no member or senator should be obstructed when entering Parliament House were not conveyed to the police who guarded the main entrance at 7 a.m? Are you aware that because of this two honourable senators were refused entry because they had no passes and were told that their belongings must be searched? Who issued the instruction that persons from the Prime Minister down would be subject to these conditions? Was it the Prime Minister? If so, will you inform the Prime Minister that the Presiding Officers and not the Executive are in charge of the building and that their instructions take precedence and will continue to take precedence over any such instruction issued by the Executive?
– In reply I must first say that Mr Speaker and I, as Presiding Officers, are responsible for the security of this building and the persons within it. Senator Georges has asked a series of questions. Both Mr Speaker and I are deeply conscious of the need for the maximum degree of security possible in this place. The whole matter of security has received our very close attention for quite a while. Special attention is now being paid to it. In ensuring the security of this place I hope that we shall have the absolute co-operation of honourable senators and honourable members. Without absolute cooperation it will be difficult to achieve here the security which I and, I am sure, Mr Speaker feel is so necessary. I shall look at the question in detail and if I have not replied to it precisely I shall do so.
-I ask the AttorneyGeneral: How closely does the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation work with special branches of the State police forces in Australia? Will the role of ASIO and Australian security and intelligence organisations generally be adversely affected both nationally and internationally if there is a breakdown in co-operation with any State security branch such as the special police branch in South Australia?
-I adhere to the longstanding rule endorsed by Mr Justice Hope that in general the Government will not answer questions in relation to security and the activities of its security organisations. However, the matter which Senator Young has raised has been in the public arena during the recess. It refers to reports and decisions made in South Australia. As the Senate would know, the Prime Minister responded to a letter from the Premier of South Australia in respect of the relationship between the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the special branch of the South Australian Police Force. The position is that ASIO and the Government regard as valuable the relationships which have existed between ASIO and the special branch not only in that State but also in the other States. Mr Justice Hope, in his report, indicated that in his opinion it was a proper relationship but it was one that should be formalised between governments. That recommendation has been accepted by the Government and we propose to seek to achieve some formalisation of that relationship at the time when legislation is introduced into the Parliament which I hope will be during this session. But apart from that general answer, I do not think it would be proper for me to make any more specific comment on the aspects of the question.
– Does the Minister for Social Security recall in November last giving a guarantee to the Senate that the payment of dependants ‘ allowances and family allowances would continue for school leavers until they were eligible for the unemployment benefit, a guarantee that was given in justification of the Government’s change in the legislation? Were these payments in fact continued, and if not, why not?
– I recall that at the time we debated the social service legislation last session I was asked questions by, I think, a number of honourable senators with regard to the payment of allowances. I believe that one of the questions that were asked was whether payments to the dependants of an unemployment beneficiary would continue, I gave an assurance that they would continue. Of course, these are payments to children who are under the age of 16 years, and they continue until such time as those children are eligible for the unemployment benefit. I believe I was also asked a question with regard to family allowances, and I gave a general assurance that the period would be covered with regard to family allowances until such time as eligibility for the unemployment benefit was attained by a person.
It should be understood in respect of student children that the Social Services Act specifically provides that family allowance payments cease from the end of the four-weekly payment period in which the full-time education ceases. The procedure of the Department is to post a review form to parents and on the undertaking given by parents the family allowance is either resumed or deferred until such time as the parents advise what action will be taken by the student child in the following year. At the time I made the statement in November I believed that the closure dates of schools were such that before the following payment of the family allowance would be received a student child over the age of 16 years would be eligible to receive the unemployment benefit. I am now advised that in some States this was not the case. But if we look at the general picture of family income over the period of that vacation we see that the gain of the unemployment benefit after the 6 weeks deferment would mean that a family would be in better financial circumstances than it would have been if the family allowance had been the only payment received.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, concerns the armed hold-up in Sydney last Sunday allegedly involving Laurence Byrne, a work-release prisoner sent to a bogus job the day before. Has the Minister for Services in New South Wales blamed the Commonwealth Employment Service for the placement of this prisoner in a nonexistent job in a firm run by a former prisoner on parole? Are the claims of the Minister for Services in New South Wales correct? Is it true that some offices in the CES are considering withdrawing from any future participation in the work release scheme for prisoners? Indeed, is it possible or appropriate for the Commonwealth Employment Service to continue to offer help in relation to work-release schemes when it has been incorrectly blamed by an incompetent State Minister for placements which it has not made and which should have received approval from within that Minister’s department?
– I understand that the prisoner in question, a Mr Byrne, was in fact interviewed at the Silverwater gaol by an officer of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations- the CES- in May 1977 in relation to employment under the work-release arrangements and that a painting firm was in prospect for employing him. The employer was contacted by an officer of the CES and it was established that he was prepared to employ Mr Byrne without interview. That was reported to the Deputy Superintendent of the gaol, whose head office has the task of vetting the employer and approving the work-release. So really the CES is simply acting there in the ordinary way of finding an interested employer. The rest is then left to the gaol authorities. In fact, since May 1977 the prisoner in question has been allowed out of gaol on several occasions to work with this painting firm. However, no officer of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations has seen Mr Byrne since May 1977. Indeed, the Department played no part whatsoever in the release of the prisoner on Saturday, 1 8 February 1978, which is the day on which this incident occurred.
As to the other part of the question that Senator Baume has asked, there is certainly no intention on the part of the Commonwealth Employment Service or any of its officers, as far as is known, to withdraw from participation in the work-release scheme for prisoners in New South Wales. Indeed, the Department of the Minister whom I represent really has no information at all as to any blame being attached to the CES by any Ministers in New South Wales. In the light of that information, I hope that no blame will be sought to be attached to it.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources. Has the Government’s formula for bringing the prices for Australian crude oil to the level of import parity prices resulted in the Esso-BHP organisation receiving for its crude oil $3.40 a barrel instead of $3.20 a barrel, as is indicated in the Budget Papers? Does that constitute a financial windfall to EssoBHP of some $ 14.8m in excess of the $109m increase in profit it would make over and above the normal operating profit as a result of the phasing in of the import parity prices policy? If so, is that appropriate at a time when motorists are paying higher prices for petrol, small business is struggling to survive and the worker is continually being asked to tighten his belt?
-That was a very emotive speech. 1 do not know how much information about the portfolio of a Minister I am representing the honourable senator expects me to carry in my head. Whilst the first part of the question, which was about the rise in the well head price, may be correct, I do not think that the part of it concerning profit is correct. But I am not prepared to punt on that with the information I have. I will seek a detailed answer for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. It refers to a recent incident involving the apprehension of a Japanese fishing boat in Commonwealth waters adjacent to Tasmania. Can the Minister advise whether 10 Japanese fishing boats were in the area by arrangement with or at the request or with the knowledge of either the Federal Government or any State government? If so, was the presence subsequent to or dependent upon any continuing access to the resources of those waters? Has there been or is it proposed that there be an agreement that would require Commonwealth approvals or actions in support?
– I understand that the Eikyu Maru No. 7 1 , which is the vessel in question, was apprehended by HMAS Curlew inside the declared fishing zone off Tasmania on 3
February. The captain and the fishing master subsequently pleaded guilty to offences under the Fisheries Act 1952 and were convicted and fined in the Devonport Magistrates Court on 9 February. The fishing gear and the catch on the vessel were forfeited to the Crown. The vessel was one of six Japanese squid fishing boats reported off Tasmania by coastal surveillance patrols. It was the only vessel reported inside the declared fishing zone. The six vessels were not in the area by arrangement with or at the request or with the knowledge of the Commonwealth Government. I am not able to say whether the Tasmanian Government had made any arrangement with the owners of the vessels. So far as the Federal Government is concerned, therefore, the presence of the vessels was not dependent upon any continuing access to the resources of those waters, as suggested by the honourable senator’s question.
I am able to say that a proposal has been submitted to my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry, and supported by the Tasmanian Government, for a feasibility fishing operation involving squid in Commonwealth waters in the Tasmanian region. The proposal involves Tasmanian and Japanese commercial interests and is still being examined in relation to foreign investment and some other aspects before being considered by my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry. Such a proposal will require his approval before it is permitted to proceed. I can assure the Senate and Senator Archer, who raised the question, that to date such approval has not been given.
-I ask the Minister for Science: Firstly, what difference would be made by a feasibility fishing operation being conducted by the Tasmanian Government, the Commonwealth Government and overseas fishing interests? Secondly, did not the Australian Fisheries Council in January agree in principle that feasibility studies should be conducted into foreign ventures in fishing grounds, and has that not been accepted by all States?
-The actual thrust of the honourable senator’s question takes one or two directions and has a legal aspect associated with it. There is the obvious interest of the Federal Government so far as foreign investment is concerned. I responded to that question when answering Senator Archer. As to whether the honourable senator was correct when he said that the proposal had already been agreed to by the Australian Fisheries Council, in response to the previous question I indicated that aspects of this agreement have yet to be agreed upon by the Commonwealth Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and refers to the incident involving a Russian nuclear powered Cosmos satellite which re-entered the earth’s atmosphere during the fourth week in January and eventually crashed in Canada. The Minister will realise that the incident caused a disturbance on both a national and an international level. I ask: When was the Australian Government alerted to the fact that the satellite was falling out of its orbit and was likely to crash? What preparatory action was taken to counter the possible effects of the satellite crashing on Australian territory? What action can be taken by the Government to avert any further such incidents?
-I am advised by my colleague in another place that the Soviet satellite which re-entered the earth’s atmosphere over north-west Canada on 24 January was of the Cosmos series and was equipped for surveillance purposes. It was on an orbit which at times included pans of Australia. The United States kept Australia fully informed well in advance of developments relating to the malfunctioning of the satellite, including the fact that it was carrying a nuclear powered source. Whilst Australian and United States officials maintained close contact with developments, all necessary contingency arrangements were made by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission against the remote possibility that the satellite would reenter the atmosphere over Australia. Australia has indicated its preparedness to take part at the current meeting of the Scientific and Technical Sub-committee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, in a general discussion of the issues, particularly those of safety and prevention raised by the Cosmos 954 incident. In this connection the United States has canvassed the need for improved safety precautions and the possibility of United States-Soviet agreed measures. We look forward to an elaboration of proposals to regulate potentially dangerous vehicles. Australia, as a member of the United Nations Outer Space Committee, has a direct interest in promoting proposals to achieve greater safety in the use of outer space.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen reports of a statement issued by an organisation which apparently has an office in Melbourne, which is known as the Arab Information Bureau and which is publishing a black-list of Australian companies engaged in trade with Israel and of certain Australian individuals including myself, if I may have the pride to say so? I ask: What is the Arab Information Bureau? Does it have any standing within this country? Is it supported with funds or otherwise by any foreign governments? Are any of the people who work within the Arab Information Bureau citizens of another country? Indeed, are any of them in Australia on diplomatic passports? What are the consequences of being placed on such a black-list? And what is the Government doing to protect those Australian companies whose overseas trade could be damaged by the actions of this organisation in placing them on a black list because of their activities in legitimately trading with a country with which Australia has friendly relations?
-I must say that I have no direct information relating to this matter. In fact, I did not know of the existence of the Arab Information Bureau until the honourable senator mentioned it. I will certainly seek the information he requested from my colleague in the Department of Foreign Affairs and from any other departmental source which may be available. Might I say that I am somewhat disturbed that an honourable senator should be placed on such a black-list. One assumes this arises out of his support for a country with which Australia has friendly relations.
– He is one of our best exports.
-That may be so, but if people are to be put on black-lists of anybody in this community because of their political activities, that may be a matter at which the Senate Privileges Committee ought to have a look.
– What about the Special Branch in Queensland?
-To the honourable senator it may be a matter of no concern that one of his colleagues should be black-listed by an Arab information bureau. One would need to know the reason for that black-listing and the result therefrom. I suppose I can understand that sort of reaction because some honourable senators opposite are keen supporters of Iraqi breakfasts and such things. It is rather interesting. I should have thought that honourable senators opposite would not want any Arab information bureau in this country listing anybody, let alone one of their own colleagues, on a black-list. I shall seek the information which the honourable senator desires. It is information which ought to be made available to all honourable senators. It may be that this bureau ought to be properly exposed.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources. I refer to the Governor-General ‘s opening Speech in this House in which he stated that the Government’s decision to proceed with the export of uranium will make a significant contribution to meeting the world’s future energy needs. Is the Minister in a position to indicate now that the green light has been clearly given as to the time-table of development of uranium in the Northern Territory? If so, when is it anticipated that this uranium will be available to those countries which have agreed to the Australian Government’s safety formula for the use of uranium for specific energy purposes?
– As announced last August, the Government has decided that the development of the Ranger project may proceed. The Prime Minister, in his statement of 9 February 1978, indicated that the Government would do everything in its power to ensure that the Ranger project was developed as quickly as possible, subject to meeting the necessary constraints, social and environmental, and protecting Aboriginal interests in accordance with the Government’s decisions announced last August.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence. I refer to the general concern which has been expressed over recent months about our surveillance and operational capability in the Darwin area and in other areas in northern Australia. The Minister no doubt will be aware of the entry into Australia of a number of aircraft which have been hard to detect and of some vessels which have come from northern areas. Can the Minister advise whether the Government is satisfied with the present surveillance and operational activities of the departments concerned? Secondly, can he advise the Senate what steps are being taken to upgrade those facilities? If he does not have the information today, will he. at the earliest opportunity, advise the Senate of the general position as the Government sees it, particularly in view of the concern being expressed by the people of Australia in respect of this matter?
-As the honourable senator would know, this matter interests a number of Ministers. It interests me in my own capacity; it interests the Minister for Health because of the associated disease problems; it interests the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs because of the narcotics issue; and it interests the Minister for Transport. The matter involves a number of departments. I have a degree of knowledge about the matter, but I think it would be far better if I were to ask my colleague, the Minister for Defence, whether he can provide me with detailed answers to the questions raised or whether he is going to present to the Parliament a statement on the position of the Department of Defence in respect of this whole matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Is the Victorian dairying industry likely to be disadvantaged by the proposed marketing arrangements known as Stage II, as determined by the Australian Agricultural Council? Can he say what criteria the Australian Agricultural Council used to determine what Victoria claims to be an inequitable position? Can the Minister say whether the Government is taking action to meet the requirements of the Victorian dairying industry authority in regard to the Australian dairying industry marketing arrangements?
-My colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, has indicated that the Victorian dairying industry has claimed that it will be disadvantaged if the Stage II arrangements are implemented on the basis decided upon by the Australian Agricultural Council at its meeting in Adelaide last month. The principal objections raised by the Victorian dairying industry relate to the basis for the calculation of the size of the initial national aggregate entitlement and the basis for the allocation of the initial national aggregate entitlement amongst the various States which were decided by the Australian Agricultural Council. Senator Tehan can be assured that the objections which have been raised by the Victorian dairying industry will be taken fully into account by the Government when it is considering the Stage II marketing arrangements for the dairying industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and refers to the appearance of the name of the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, Mr Bruce Gyngell, in Press advertisements which extol the virtues of an American credit card company. I ask the Minister: Firstly, did Mr Gyngell seek and receive the agreement of the Minister and of the other members of the Tribunal to lend the Tribunal’s name to the advertisements? Secondly, did Mr Gyngell receive payment of any kind for participating in the advertising campaign? Finally, will the Minister tell the parliament whether he thinks it is appropriate for a Commonwealth statutory office holder to use his position to promote credit cards?
– I am aware of the incident to which the honourable senator refers. I do not have specific knowledge in respect of the several questions which she asked. If she seeks specific answers to those questions I shall obtain them and convey them to her. 1 understand from my colleague in another place that he has had discussions with Mr Gyngell about his involvement in the advertisement. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has told Mr Gyngell that he does not consider it appropriate for the chairman of a government instrumentality to appear in advertisements. I am further advised that Mr Gyngell has assured the Minister that he will arrange for his name to be withdrawn from the current series of advertisements. I understand the series was to run for some 12 months. While Mr Gyngell is taking steps to withdraw from the series his name may appear over the next few days in advertisements which were finalised before the Minister’s discussions. I understand that the Minister has questioned Mr Gyngell closely about his personal involvement with American Express and that Mr Gyngell has given him a complete assurance that he has not received any direct or indirect advantage, either financial or in kind. In case I have not answered any specific question, if the honourable senator will indicate that I shall go ahead and get further information.
– May I do that by way of supplementary question?
– The specific information I seek is: Did Mr Gyngell obtain the agreement of the other members of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal before using the Tribunal’s name in the advertisement?
-I shall seek out that information and let the honourable senator know.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. No doubt the Minister is well aware of the debate which has been going on in the Press about overseas air fares and of the likelihood that some international fares may be reduced. As local fares are much more important to people of the best but most isolated State- that is Tasmania- I ask: What action is being taken by the Government to examine the possibility of reducing the cost of internal air fares which are very high by international standards? I suppose this could be done by the reduction of things like air navigation charges and duty on fuel. Is the Minister able to say whether any internal airlines have recently asked for a reduction in air fares?
– It is true that the Government, through the Minister for Transport, is seeking to achieve reductions in the cost of overseas air travel consistent, of course, with two things above everything and that is the maintenance of the highest possible standards of safety and the quality of service. I emphasise that there is some danger in open ended pressure for a reduction in fares if it means that by harsh competition there is any threat to the standard of efficiency and technical quality of the airline. I am not aware of any recent discussions or deliberations by the Government with regard to internal air fares. I am acutely aware, as is the Government, of the significant disadvantage of an island State where, day by day, it depends so vitally on air transport. The honourable senator has raised a series of specific questions. I shall refer them to my colleague in another place and seek an answer.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development is based on a Press release of 5 February by the new Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development pledging total environment protection for the Alligator Rivers region in the Northern Territory. The question I put to the Minister is: How can that statement be reconciled with the continued mining surveys in the region which is encompassed in stages 1 and 2 of the Fox report? How can we avoid the vision splendid of the Kakadu Park being involved with a series of mining enclaves which will destroy the whole concept, quite apart from increasing the environmental difficulties?
– The specific questions which the honourable senator has raised are vital and were taken very seriously into account when the Government arranged its uranium development policies and specifically when it decided to delineate the Kakadu National Park both for the immediacy and for stages 1 and 2. Perhaps I can help the honourable senator in this way: As he will know the Government has decided to allow the Ranger project to proceed on the basis of the environmental controls recommended by the Ranger Inquiry, that is the Fox report. The Government has also decided that development of other new mines in the Alligator Rivers region should take place only when the requirements of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 have been complied with in each case and the Government is fully satisfied as to the acceptability of the impact of the development on the environment and the Aboriginal people, having regard for the region as a whole.
Furthermore, the Government has accepted the recommendation of the Inquiry that a major national park should be established in the region, the boundaries being arrived at as part of an overall land use plan. The Government has also accepted the suggestion of the Inquiry that it would be possible to develop the national park in stages, as I have previously indicated. In the stage 1 area which includes all the proposed Aboriginal land as recommended by the Inquiry, the Government has decided that there should be no exploration, development or mining for the time being and that any exploration in the future should be carefully controlled and in accordance with the plan of management for the national park. I emphasise that. In the stage 2 area the Government has decided to bring the area under special control exercised by the Departments of Aboriginal Affairs; Environment, Housing and Community Development; Trade and Resources, and the Northern Territory and that there will be no exploration, development or mining within the area without the authority of the Commonwealth and that all measures will be taken for the advancement of Aboriginal welfare within that area. Perhaps the honourable senator will find his answer in the reaffirmation given by the Prime Minister in his Press statement of 9 February 1 978. 1 read one extract which states:
The Government wishes to ensure the Aboriginal people in the Alligator Rivers region that until their claims over land in stage II of the region have been determined it will not permit granting of mining interests over that land without their prior consultation and agreement.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. I appreciate the detail of the answer but I wonder whether the Minister will ask his colleague favourably to consider quarterly visitations by honourable senators to see that all that the Minister has said will be faithfully observed by the mining companies?
-As I understand it-I speak just from a personal understanding of what is happening- the Government and the Minister will welcome visits to the area at any time by honourable senators. We welcome that so that we can get a full understanding. If any honourable senator wanting to arrange a visit either by parties or individually has any difficulty he should let either Senator Withers or myself know. I am quite sure that the Government will be happy to further that end.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry is further to the question asked by and answer given to Senator Archer in relation to the proposal by the Labor Government in Tasmania to give Japanese fishing interests special rights to fish in Tasmanian waters on some sort of survey basis. I ask: Under the proposal can the Minister indicate to what extent there will be Tasmanian participation in the provisioning of the Japanese ships and in the processing of the catch? I further ask: Is the Minister aware that the Commonwealth has chartered a trawl fishing survey vessel, the Zeehaan to conduct surveys in Tasmanian waters and that, on the face of it, that ship is capable of doing what is now proposed by the State Government to be given to the Japanese? Why cannot Australian ships conduct the survey? Is the Minister aware of the strong opposition from Tasmanian fishermen in relation to this proposal? The view expressed by the captain of the charter survey vessel is reported as follows: . . investigations had revealed an invaluable trawl fish potential that he believed would extend right down Tasmania’s west coast, ‘lt could save the Tasmanian fishing industry from its downhill slide . . . ‘
The captain expressed the view:
Let the Japanese onto these grounds for what they describe as a two-year survey and when they’re finished there will be nothing left.
Will the Minister ensure that there will be no sellout of Tasmanian fishing interests and that the fishery resource is not subjected to any form of over-fishing during any survey period?
-The honourable senator may have misconstrued my answer to his question concerning a proposal by the Labor Government of Tasmania for a survey. I was referring to a possible Australian-Japanese consortium for the fishing of squid in Tasmanian waters. I am not aware of any proposals by the Labor Government of that State to enter into an arrangement with Japanese interests for a survey. However, I think it can be stated generally that Australian waters have not been sufficiently surveyed as to their fish potential. I think the Government is taking action through both the CSIRO and State fishing authorities to attempt to remedy this. Certainly, it is in the interests of this country that the matters mentioned by the honourable senator, such as the providoring of ships and the possible utilisation of existing onshore facilities for the processing of catches, should be pursued. The general question that the honourable senator raised will be referred to the Minister whom I represent.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs whether the Government has considered the question of the nationality of the nearly 2000 Timorese in Australia. What is their present citizenship, in the light of the Government’s decision to legitimise the brutal annexation of East Timor by Indonesia?
– That is a question on which I think I should obtain a precise answer from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I will refer it to him and see that the honourable senator is advised.
-My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry relates to a series of reports which have appeared, most lately, in the South Australian Stock Journal and which refer generally to the introduction of some form of basic wage for low income farmers. Can the Minister say whether the Department of Primary Industry has completed draft proposals on this matter? Can he say, further, who will administer any such scheme and when the Government expects to make some announcement?
– I am unable to answer the honourable senator’s question directly. I am not aware whether the Minister has been involved in the discussion to which he has referred. Certainly, this Government has been concerned about the low income that is being earned in some areas of primary production and, indeed, has done something which, prior to the last two years, had not been heard of, namely, extended unemployment benefits to primary producers. The matter is of particular importance and I will hasten to bring it to the attention of the Minister.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. Is a proclamation by the Governor-General under section 42 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 an award covered by Standing Order 66a? If the answer is in the negative, will you direct the Standing Orders Committee to consider an alteration to compel any motion of disallowance to be considered by the Senate?
- Senator Cavanagh indicated to me that he would be asking this question. I advise him that the effect of Standing Order 66A is to accord precedence to the consideration of motions for the disallowance of certain instruments, but the Standing Order refers only to regulations, ordinances and awards. On a strict reading of the rule, I am of the opinion that it does not apply to proclamations by the Governnor-General of the kind referred to in section 42 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. Nevertheless, I incline to the view that the intended purpose of Standing Order 66A was probably to provide that all instruments subject to disallowance by the Senate would come within the ambit of the Standing Order. Senator Cavanagh has raised an important matter and, as requested by him, I shall refer it to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether, in the interests of preventive dentistry and the consequent savings to the community through higher standards of oral health, the Minister considers that the encouragement of the use of mouthguards in sport by children would be enhanced by their cost being allowed for tax rebate purposes? Further, would the Minister consider taking up with Medibank and private health funds the extension of insurance cover to the purchase and fitting of mouthguards as well as other preventive measures within the framework of present and possible future dental health schemes?
-I thank the honourable senator for raising these matters for public discussion. Certainly, as a parent I believe that the use of mouthguards would of be great assistance in preventing injury during the sport that many of our young people play, but the granting of tax rebates and kindred matters would have to be referred to the Treasurer and the Minister for Health. I will see that that is done and that the honourable senator is advised of the result.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry concerns sugar prices, particularly the prolonged uncertainty regarding future prices for the Malaysian contract, the effect that will have on the incomes of sugar growers and the current application by the industry for an increase in domestic prices. Does he know what price has been negotiated for the future under the Malaysian contract? If not, will that price be known, considered and publicly stated by the Government when it finally makes a decision on the application by the industry for a domestic price increase?
– I am unable to give an accurate response to the honourable senator’s question. My understanding is that sugar prices are at present the subject of discussion by the Federal Government. In relation to the other matters raised, as to whether there will be a public announcement of certain price negotiations, or as to the price which finally will be arrived at, I will refer them to the Minister for Primary Industry and attempt to obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Governor-General Amendment Bill 1 977.
Stevedoring Industry Acts (Termination) Bill 1 977.
Stevedoring Industry Charge (Termination) Bill 1 977.
Stevedoring Industry Levy Bill 1977.
Stevedoring Industry Levy Collection Bill 1 977.
Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee Bill 1 977.
Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977.
Port Statistics Bill 1977.
Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 2 ) 1977.
Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1977.
Income Tax (Rates) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977.
Income Tax (Individuals) Bill 1977.
Income Tax (Companies and Superannuation Funds) Bill 1977.
Income Tax (Film Royalties) Bill 1977.
Health Insurance Levy Bill 1977.
Public Service (Permanent Head- Dual Appointment) Bill 1977.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Amendment Bill 1977.
Coal Research Assistance Bill 1977.
Excise Tariff Amendment Bill ( No. 2 ) 1 977.
States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Amendment Bill 1977.
Queensland Grant (Special Assistance) Bill 1977.
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1977-78.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1977-78.
Tasmania Grant (The Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited) Bill 1 977.
Homeless Persons Assistance Amendment Bill 1 977.
Commonwealth Grants Commission Amendment Bill 1977.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill(No. 3) 1977
Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977.
Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Amendment Bill(No.2) 1977.
Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977.
Brigalow Lands Agreement Amendment Bill 1977.
Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1977.
Environment ( Financial Assistance) Bill 1 977.
Trade Practices Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1977.
Transport Planning and Research (Financial Assistance) Bill 1977
Australian Shipping Commission Amendment Bill 1977.
Customs Amendment Bill 1 977.
Beef Industry (Incentive Payments) Bill 1977.
Australian Rural Bank Bill 1977.
States Grants (Schools Assistance) Bill 1 977.
States Grants (Tertiary Education Assistance ) Bill 1977.
Social Services Amendment Bill 1977.
Broadcasting and Television Amendment Bill 1977.
Defence Force (Retirement and Death Benefits Amendments) Bill (No. 2) 1977.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Audit Act 1901, I present the supplementary report of the Auditor-General upon Other Accounts for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Council for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 39 of the Housing Loans Insurance Act 1965, I present the annual report and financial statements of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a communique issued by the Commonwealth
– Pursuant to section 44 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961, 1 present the annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Honey Industry Act 1962, 1 present the annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1977.
– Pursuant to section 33 of the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Supply Act 1962 I present the annual report of the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 33 of the Criminology Research Act 1971 I present the annual report of the Australian Institute of Criminology for the year ended 30 June 1977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 43 of the Criminology Research Act 1971 1 present the annual report of the Criminology Research Council for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 82 of the Repatriation Act 1920 I present the annual reports of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals Nos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for the year ended 30 June 1977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 58 of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1 956 I present the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30 June 1977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 29 of the Australian Tourist Commission Act 1967 I present the annual report of the Australian Tourist Commission for the year ended 30 June 1 977.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the reports of the Industries Assistance Commission on transformers and inductors; glucose and glucose syrups; paradichlorobenzene (by-law); mushrooms (NAFTA); ceramic tableware; certain internal combustion piston engines and parts therefore; certain spun yarns and wool textiles and other goods; agricultural wheeled tractors exceeding 105 kilowatts; and further short-term assistance arrangements for textiles, clothing and footwear.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
1 ) Days and Hours of Meeting:
That, unless otherwise ordered, during the Autumn Sittings:
the days and hours of meeting of the Senate until Thursday, 16 March 1978, be Tuesdays at half-past two p.m., Wednesdays at fifteen minutes past two p.m., and Thursdays at half-past ten a.m.
as from Tuesday, 4 April 1978, the meetings be in two-week periods, the days and hours of meeting being in the first week Tuesday at half-past two p.m., Wednesday at fifteen minutes past two p.m., and Thursday and Friday at half-past ten a.m.; and in the second week Monday at half-past two p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday at fifteen minutes past two p.m., and Thursday at half-past ten a.m.
That, until Thursday, 16 March 1978, the terminating time, unless otherwise ordered, be half-past ten p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and eleven p.m. on Wednesdays.
That, commencing Tuesday, 4 April 1978, the terminating time, unless otherwise ordered, be half-past ten p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and the first Thursday of each two-week period of sittings, eleven p.m. on Wednesdays, and half-past four p.m. on Fridays and the second Thursday of each two-week period.
Suspension of Sittings:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the sitting of the Senate, or of a Committee of the Whole Senate, be suspended from one p.m. until fifteen minutes past two p.m. and from six p.m. until eight p.m.
Adjournment of Senate:
That, unless otherwise ordered, at the terminating time each day, the President shall put the QuestionThat the Senate do now adjourn- which Question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the Question- That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the president shall forthwith put the Question- That the Senate do now adjourn- which Question shall be open to debate: Provided that on those days on which the terminating time is half-past four p.m. such Question shall be put forthwith and determined without debate; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the Notice Paper for the next sitting day.
That, if the Senate or the Committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the Question referred to until the result of such division has been declared.
5 ) Government and General Business- Precedence:
On all sitting days of the Senate during the Autumn Sittings, unless otherwise ordered, Government Business shall take precedence of General Business, except that General Business shall take precedence of Government Business on Thursdays after eight p.m.; and, unless otherwise ordered, General Orders of the Day shall take precedence of General Notices of Motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That the following Sessional Order be agreed to:
Petitions- Procedure for Presentation: That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the procedure for the presentation of Petitions be varied as follows-
1 ) A Senator desiring personally to present a Petition shall notify the Clerk when lodging the Petition. When presenting such Petition to the Senate, the Senator may announce-
that he presents a Petition from a stated number of petitioners relating to a certain matter; or
that he presents a Petition from a stated number of petitioners similarly worded to one presented earlier by a Senator.
The Senator may ask that the Petition be read by the Clerk: Provided that, unless otherwise ordered, a Petition exceeding 250 words may not be read.
The Clerk shall then make an announcement as to other Petitions lodged with him, indicating in respect of each Petition the Senator who presents it, the number of signatures, the identity of the petitioners and the subject-matter of the Petition.
Every Petition presented shall be deemed to have been received by the Senate unless a motion, moved forthwith, that a particular Petition be not received, be agreed to.
The terms of the Petitions presented shall be printed in Hansard.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 28a I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators Bonner, Coleman, Davidson, Devitt, McAuliffe, Maunsell, Melzer, Mulvihill, Wood and Young to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 38 I lay on the table my warrant appointing Senators Baume, Brown, Drake-Brockman, Grimes, Messner, Sibraa and Sim to be members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, a Standing Orders Committee be appointed to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees and Senators Brown, Chaney, Sir Magnus Cormack, Sir Robert Cotton, McAuliffe, Douglas McClelland, O’Byrne, Webster, Withers and Wriedt.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That a Committee of Privileges be appointed to consist of Senators Button, Drake-Brockman, Jessop, O’Byrne, Thomas, Wheeldon and Wright.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That a Library Committee be appointed to consist of the President and Senators Donald Cameron, Colston, Davidson, Harradine, Mulvihill and Walters.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That a House Committee be appointed to consist of the President and Senators Coleman, Lewis. McLaren, Melzer, Sheil and Young.
Motion (by Senator Withers)-by leaveagreed to:
That a Publications Committee be appointed to consist of Senators Archer, Bonner, Donald Cameron, Missen, Robertson, Ryan and Tehan.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters in accordance with Standing Order 36a from the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate nominating Senators Cavanagh, Collard, Georges, Missen, Ryan, Wood and Wright to be members of a Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That a Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances be appointed to consist of Senators Cavanagh, Collard, Georges, Missen, Ryan, Wood and Wright, such senators having been duly nominated in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 3 6 A.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That in accordance with Standing Order 36aa the following legislative and general purpose standing committees be appointed:
Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
Education and the Arts.
Finance and Government Operations.
Foreign Affairs and Defence.
Science and the Environment.
Trade and Commerce.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters in accordance with Standing Order 36AA from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) nominating senators to serve on the legislative and general purpose standing committees, as follows:
Constitutional and Legal Affairs:
Senator Button, Senator Chaney, Senator Devitt, Senator Missen, Senator Tehan and Senator Wheeldon.
Education and the Arts:
Senator Button, Senator Collard, Senator Davidson, Senator Martin, Senator Robertson, Senator Ryan.
Finance and Government Operations:
Senator Lewis, Senator McAuliffe, Senator Douglas McClelland, Senator Messner, Senator Rae, Senator Walsh.
Foreign Affairs and Defence:
Senator Knight, Senator Mcintosh, Senator Primmer, Senator Scott, Senator Sibraa, Senator Sim.
Senator McAuliffe, Senator McLaren, Senator Maunsell, Senator Robertson, Senator Thomas, Senator Townley.
Science and the Environment:
Senator Bonner, Senator Colston, Senator Jessop, Senator Melzer, Senator Mulvihill, Senator Townley.
Senator Baume, Senator Brown, Senator Grimes, Senator Melzer, Senator Tehan, Senator Walters.
Trade and Commerce:
Senator Archer, Senator Cameron, Senator Coleman, Senator Lajovic, Senator Sheil, Senator Walsh.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That the senators duly nominated under Standing Order 36AA be appointed members of the respective committees.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946-1973 the President and Senators Sir Magnus Cormack and Douglas McClelland be appointed members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951-1966 Senators Colston, Lajovic and Messner be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1973 Senators Kilgariff, Melzer and Young be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
– I move:
I am conscious of the great honour of being chosen to move this motion, an honour both to the people of Tasmania and to me. I am grateful for the opportunity of being able to express the loyalty of those I represent and the members of the Senate to Her Majesty the Queen who has just completed her 25th year of reign. In doing so I am also expressing our loyalty to our new Governor-General who has been so welcomed by the people of Australia. Through him I also am expressing our loyalty to Australia. Regrettably, few people ever have the opportunity of expressing their loyalty to their country, whether it is their country through birth or adoption. I would remind those who like to create a division that either we or our forbears migrated here in the short span of 190 years. We are a nation of new Australians.
Australia is a young country, a wealthy country, and a country full of promise. Only now are we coming out of a recession the like of which I hope we will never see again. There has been a world recession. The main reason for it was the sudden high increase in the price of oil. Australia has her own crude oil yet reached the inflation rates of some of the banana republics. I will not go into the reasons for this; the subject has been debated many times in this chamber. Suffice it to say that the inflation rate has come down now to single figures and business confidence has returned. We can see evidence of this every day. In the building industry in the first three weeks following the election building approvals totalling $1 ,400m were announced, and this is an area of high employment. With the added incentive of lower interest rates and the reduction in taxation we expect this industry to improve even further. However, we still have a long way to go and the Governor-General spoke of this yesterday when he referred to our unemployment problem. To overcome this problem Australians must have a good look at their present values.
In our 190 years our society has seen many changes, all of which should have led us to become a strong self-reliant nation. Our pioneers, explorers and soldiers gave us a magnificent reputation of determination and strength because they had intense pride in their country, wanted it to prosper and were all willing to do a good day’s work. The philosophy then was that the day was finished when the job was finished, not when the clock said so. However, in this regard there is a happy medium which can be achieved. I am not suggesting for one minute that we all work 12 hours a day; I am suggesting that we all work a good eight hours a day. Not until we all do a full day’s work can Australia prosper again. I was interested in Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s statement following the closing of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting. He said:
Australia will never be able to maintain its high prosperity while Asian competitors work for wages that are 7, 8 or 9 times less. To survive Australia must concentrate on productivity and in a specialised area where we are competing with world markets, not just Asian markets.
We have, as Mr Lee Kwan Yew said, a very high standard of living but it is in danger of slipping. We can see this in the rise in unemployment figures. How can we expect employment to expand if the high wages we are claiming are not earned and if we are not interested in the job we are doing? Quite a large proportion of the blame for lack of interest in the job can be laid right at the employers’ feet. There are few instances of much rapport between employer and employee. How on earth can we expect people to be interested in the job they are doing and in the prosperity of their industry if they do not know the problems that that industry encounters or the competition which it faces. Every man should know the importance of the job he is doing. Business is only as efficient and productive as its workers allow it to be. If I may talk about a field in which I have a little knowledge, there is no use in a skilled surgeon operating in a sterile operating theatre if the patient is then sent back to a dirty ward where the food is bad and the nursing slovenly. The patient, despite the skill of the surgeon, would not survive without the combined care and attention of the whole hospital staff.
The well known quotation from the poet John Donne that ‘no man is an Island, entire of itself, but everyone part of the main’ should be the motto of every trade union and every business. One relies on the other; one cannot prosper without the full co-operation and help of the other and it is time we did away with the divisions between employer and employee. This is possible; it is done in other countries. Just recently it was reported that the workers in the Honda company in Japan voluntarily gave up 4 days leave because the company was behind with its foreign orders. This is not a one-way affair. The decision of those employees to give up their leave resulted in their company remaining viable and their jobs being assured. However, this can happen only where there is complete confidence and trust between employer and employee and where the employee does not believe that he is being taken for a ride.
The co-operation and trust which exists between employer and employee should also exist between the elected government and its people. Yet we find that many set out to abuse the system. This is one of the many reasons for the high cost of our health care today. We all are paying for our health care either by way of a levy or through a fund contribution. So there is a tendency to get our money’s worth. We feel rather cheated if we have paid out money and have not made a claim. So we demand our moneys worth. Consequently, many people have suggested that one way to contain health costs would be to provide an incentive to people not to abuse the system. What a terrible indictment of our society. Surely people must realise that they have had a good year if they have not had to make a health claim. If their contribution has gone to help less fortunate people that is just their luck.
The Department of Social Security has had to employ field officers to check on the recipients of the unemployment benefit because many receiving the unemployment benefit would like to abuse the system- a system set up just 32 years ago to protect the unemployed and their families. Senator Grimes, the Shadow Minister for Social Security, has made quite a deal of criticism of investigations carried out by the Department. He claims that these investigations are set up only to harass the unemployed. We find that in October 1975 when his Party was in power, a particularly thorough investigation into this matter was carried out. As a result, Senator Wheeldon, the then Minister for Social Security, issued a statement in which he claimed that 28 per cent of people receiving the unemployment benefit were not entitled to receive the benefit. He went on to say it was obvious that a great many people were taking advantage of the unemployment benefit and it was essential that the Government should continue to conduct these checks. He also said that in many cases benefits would have terminated or they would have been suspended in the normal course of events where people had already advised the Department, but the Department had been too busy. I could not agree more with Senator Wheeldon. These checks must be carried out. I am rather surprised that Senator Grimes claims that the checks are made only to harass the unemployed. Is he suggesting that at that time his colleague was harassing only the genuinely unemployed? We have a big enough problem with the unemployed without the added burden of abusers.
I would now like to deal with the new violence that is creeping into our society. In the last few years we have permitted demonstrations to take place. They have been accepted as a way of airing grievances. It is no longer the done thing to air one’s grievances in a democratic manner at the ballot box or by petitioning parliament. Instead we are permitting this minority which is opposed to parliamentary policy to try to inflict its opinion on the majority of electors. We have seen these so-called demonstrations turn into riots. Bricks have been thrown and damage to both person and property has occurred. When the police, who have tried to protect those going about their duties, do their job they are open to both physical and verbal abuse. We find that when they raise their hands to protect themselves the media take photographs and we read headlines screaming ‘police brutality’.
– Sometimes they have held batons.
– We saw the result of the acceptance of this attitude only last week when Australia witnessed the worst type of terrorism.
– What has that to do with it?
– We saw the killing of innocent men. The honourable senator was not listening because this terrorism was the result of an acceptance of violent demonstrations. I am talking about violent demonstrations, not peaceful demonstrations. We have seen the result of violent demonstrations that have been held in Australia.
– I have not seen any violence in demonstrations.
– Then the honourable senator has not been reading the newspapers or watching television.
– I have been in most of them.
– I would be most surprised if the honourable senator has been in most of the violent demonstrations. However, just recently innocent men were killed, and I still contend that this was the result of allowing violent demonstrations to take place in this country. The immediate reaction to this outrage was one of horror. People wanted to know who was to blame. Every area of the police force was open to criticism. We all expect our police forces to protect us but many of us would not like to give them the means of doing so. For instance, the Premier of South Australia has just sacked his Commissioner of Police. The Premier does not like files to be kept just on suspected people who have engaged in some form of political activity. Is that not ludicrous? Surely both Senator Coleman and Mr Dunstan realise that the tying together of every little bit of information about suspicious happenings enables the police to make arrests and so shelter us from the terrorism which has occurred in other countries.
I notice that since the bomb explosion Mr Dunstan has been very quiet and has had a rethink. Premier Wran, who is backing Mr Dunstan, instigated an investigation into the relationship between the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Special Branch of the New South Wales Police Force but he too, since the explosion, has backed down and is no longer conducting the investigation. Did it really take a tragedy of this magnitude to bring those gentlemen to their senses? Surely those gentlemen and the groups who support them and who are so concerned about the people on whom ASIO have files, should spare a little thought for the three men who were killed- for their rights and for their families.
His Excellency spoke yesterday of the proposed measures the Government sees necessary in the war against drug traffickers. It is very reassuring to know that the Government is determined to crack down on all those who would bring illicit drugs into our country. I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) not only on the complete success of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting but also for bringing this drug problem to the attention of the delegates. It is the first time that this matter has been a major issue at such a conference. The Prime Minister’s initiative has resulted in the setting up of a working group to examine the possibility of further regional cooperation. This is the best way in which we can fight this problem in our area. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) announced that the Government had decided to employ extra staff in the Narcotics Bureau. He said that the Government will acquire highly sophisticated equipment to increase the Bureau ‘s surveillance capacity and that there will be an upgrading in the sea and air surveillance of our northern and western coasts. He also announced that the level of penalties for trafficking which has already been increased is to be reviewed to see whether a further increase is necessary. Also to be considered is the imposing of minimum penalties and the confiscation of money and real estate from the proceeds of drug trafficking.
As a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare, which recently presented a report on the drug problem in Australia, I welcome those moves. It was obvious to the Committee that the penalties being imposed differed not only from State to State but also from magistrate to magistrate. I am sure that the universal imposition of a minimum penalty and the confiscation of any gains from drug trafficking would overcome this problem. The Minister also referred to amendments being made to the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act to allow the tapping of the telephones of the suspected drug traffickers and the strengthening of the Customs Act to allow listening devices to be used by Customs officials during their investigations.
– You will have to be careful about that one.
– I could not agree more with Senator Georges. I believe that all these measures require the application of stringent safeguards. I also believe that when they have been brought in the Australian community will accept them and realise that they must be used in this day and age, even though previously we have never had to accept this sort of thing in Australia. As with the ASIO files, those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.
– That is what Hitler said, for goodness sake.
-No doubt we will hear the screams of those who are opposed to these measures. Senator Georges has already started. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Fife, said:
At the present time the telephone is being used by organisers of major drug trafficking into Australia as a basic secure method of communication to facilitate their miserable dealings.
It is essential that this route be barred to them; otherwise our officials will be too handicapped, and we might as well give up the unequal struggle now. I will welcome the initiatives that any government secs fit to take to cut out the most vicious habit of drug abuse. I have complete faith in the safeguards being sufficient to maintain- indeed, to expand- the freedoms that we in Australia have cherished for so long.
Some of the responsibility for the increase in the incidence of drug addiction was recently laid at the door of the media by Dr Eric Radcliffe, an experienced psychiatrist. He stated during a hearing before Mr Justice Williams in Launceston last week that the media had created the impression that the taking of drugs was so common that it was thought to be fashionable and the thing to do. I agree with that. The Committee of which I was a member was told time and time again during the evidence taken by it that there was a great increase in the use of a specific drug following the reporting of the details of that drug and its effect. The officers who gave that evidence were very concerned about that. They suggested that the Committee should approach the media and ask them to refrain from giving detailed, explicit descriptions. That type of education just does not work.
The Committee also received evidence about a study conducted of 19 high schools in which four different approaches to the whole problem were adopted. The children were divided into four groups; a teacher led one of the groups. In another group there was discussion of the problem led by a peer. The third group was involved in individual education. The fourth group was left alone completely; there was no education whatsoever. The main result of that survey was that a simple educational approach to such complex and widespread social behaviour is, at best, likely to have limited success. The survey also found in a follow-up that some of the education was counter-productive because the first form boys participating in the groups that had received any of the drug education and the first form girls participating in the individual group education all had significantly higher levels of recruitment to drugs than those who had been left alone completely. The problem is indeed a complex one. I am proud to belong to a government that is willing to take on this immense task, which has been made all the more difficult by the extent of our coastline. Previous governments have baulked at undertaking such a project and have not had the courage to bring in suitable legislation.
I have touched on just a few of the items that were mentioned yesterday by the GovernorGeneral in his inspiring speech. They are areas of concern to me. I am confident that the Government will have the strength and determination to bring in legislation that will correct the situation. I congratulate the Prime Minister on the initiatives outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech and express the hope that the Thirty-first Parliament will lead this country back to the strength and prosperity of which Australia is so capable. The Governor-General concluded his Speech yesterday by saying:
We also know as Australians that we are a nation that can only progress if we acknowledge our dependence on each other, if we work together for our common good. The unity which we seek is not the unity of unthinking conformity, but the unity of free men who live by respect and concern for each other.
It has given me much pleasure- indeed, it has been a great honour- to move the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General ‘s Speech.
-I have much pleasure in seconding the motion moved by Senator Walters for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply to the Speech of his Excellency the Governor-General. I consider it a personal privilege and also a privilege for the State of Queensland, which I represent, to do so. The Governor-General was a resident of Queensland for a considerable number of years and made a considerable contribution in his field while he was there. Of course, it was quite noticeable yesterday that he still maintains a keen interest in the things that will benefit Queensland.
The Governor-General outlined in his Speech the programs that the Government has put forward for the ensuing three years. I think that the Government should be congratulated on the fact that it is going to go ahead with the plans that it set down two years ago. It is going to right the economic disaster which we faced and which ultimately has had an effect on all people. It is going to continue to reduce inflation and interest rates. When those matters are ultimately brought under control it is going to create more jobs, which are so badly needed in this nation. Most important of all, to mention a paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech that Senator Walters mentioned, we are one Australia and it is this Government’s desire to maintain that one Australia. The Governor-General also said:
I want to look today at one problem which is facing Australia and keeping it from becoming a homogeneous society; that is, the conflict that invariable arises between city Australia and country Australia. At a seminar on the future of the family farm that was held last year in Roma by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries one of the extension officers had this to say of primary producers:
Big hats, big hearts and bloody bigger fools. They ought to build a monument.
And well might they build a monument. It is probable that never before have we had so many people working so hard to produce so much and yet receiving so little return as we have in sections of the farming community today. It is ironic that a country that grew on its rural products still subjects some of its primary producers to the boom and bust fluctuations of the market place without being able to guarantee a fair return. What is more ironic is that it is the boom conditions that attract a certain notoriety, that are seized on by the media and that are remembered best by urban Australia. Little thought is given to the lean years which dominate rural life.
Unfortunately, we have seen emerge the city versus country conflict, and comments such as landed gentry’ and ‘They have had it so good for so long, what are they whinging about now?’ are often heard. Conversely, country people are often unable to accept that urban societies also face huge social and economic problems, that city life can be stultifying and high-rise living soul-destroying. At the seminar I mentioned previously it was suggested that the city-country confrontation could become a significant factor in less than 5 years and could be in the form of a taxpayer-consumer resistance to any type of rural subsidy or support. The response of country people to that suggestion has been that at present the rural section subsidises the city dwellers by providing cheap food and accepting the disadvantage to the rural industry of high tariffs and quotas on imports of manufactured items, which of course protect secondary industry and city jobs. The opposing argument we have heard ad nauseam is that the subsidisation of primary industry cannot be justified and that if an industry needs a government subsidy to continue to provide its products serious consideration must be given to our society’s need for that product.
Thus, unfortunately, a stand-off situation exists between rural and urban Australia, but at the same time both are intrinsically linked. Disregarding for the moment the need for exports, internally there is a continuing need for a reciprocal relationship between both areas, and all should be aware of it. The Australian economy may be seen as being unbalanced. Protection to the manufacturing sector through tariffs and quantitative restrictions on imports has placed an unbearable squeeze on the rural community. It has eroded rural exports, inflated farm costs, and generally undermined the ability of the rural sector to remain competitive and to survive. The various sectors of the economyrural, mining, manufacturing and services- are interrelated in a highly complex fashion. The product of one sector can become the raw material of another. The transport and distribution segments of the service sector link the other sectors in a physical sense. More important, however, is the interaction of factors affecting the balance of payments and hence the exchange rate, as well as the linkages imposed by competition for resources; for example, the rivalry for the comparatively little arable land that we have and for our even sparser water resources from the various rural industries in the first instance and now from the mining industry.
The provision of massive assistance, mainly through tariff protection levied on importing industries competing with our own manufacturing industries, has had the effect over more than 50 years of transferring income and resources away from rural and other export industries. Many industries receiving assistance were originally established behind a high tariff wall, with little thought being given to their economic efficiency or longer term chances of viability. Unfortunately, tariffs are hidden from the public eye and do not attract the obvious attention attracted by subsidies. In a paper in March 1977 Mr W. A. McKinnon, of the Industries Assistance Commission, touched on this fact when he said:
Assistance afforded other sectors, more frequently than assistance accorded import-competing industries, tends to show up in Budget figures and, as a result, has been subject to far greater scrutiny than other non-Budget assistance measures, such as tariffs and quantitative restrictions. Perhaps this is because there is a greater awareness in the community of the trade offs that are made in a Budget contextmore assistance can only be accorded at the expense of expenditure on the environment, health, social welfare, defence … or through higher taxes. In real terms, the decision to grant assistance which does not feature in the Budget should be just as tough because quantitative restrictions and tariffs take money from consumers just as taxes do- and redistribute this money to producers in a similar fashion to subsidies. However, although the same trade-offs apply, industries have requested, and been given, assistance in large measure by means which do not figure in the Budget.
The proliferation of industries where Australia lacked international comparative advantage has produced a poor overall allocation of raw material usage. One reason for that is that we are an island continent and, until recently, we have been relatively isolated as far as trade is concerned. Our emerging primary and secondary industries relied on a large captive market. They were not necessarily attuned to world market needs and were thus out of step in relation to export requirements. When international trade opportunities opened up, industry had either to adjust or be protected, and that factor has contributed significantly to Australia’s sluggish economic growth rate. It is ironical that it is the rural industries which have had to do the most adjusting and secondary industries which have received the most protection. I am not denying that protection is necessary- nobody in his right mind would do that- but tariffs exist to protect unfair advantages, they do not exist to protect inefficiency. They do not exist to protect low productivity and they do not exist to protect an inability or unwillingness to change. I again quote Mr McKinnon. He said:
Let me state the view of theIAC, the objectives of industry policies should not be to insulate industries from long term changes in their environment. Industries often expect, even demand, increased assistance to offset long term declines in their competitive position, to insulate them from change. Relatively few industries request assistance to facilitate the adjustment to change. This is not new- change is difficult; it is often easier to resist rather than adapt to change. This may explain why in 1829 the Governor of New York wrote a letter to President Andrew Jackson in which he said:
To: President Andrew Jackson,
The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads’. The federal government must preserve the canals for the following reasons:
One- If canal boats are supplanted by ‘railroads’ serious unemployment will result. Captains, cooks, drivers, hostlers, repairmen, and lock tenders, will be left without means of livelihood, not to mention the numerous farmers now employed in growing hay for horses.
Two- Boat builders would suffer, and towline, whip and harness makers would be left destitute.
Three- Canal boats are absolutely essential to the defence of the United States. In event of the expected trouble with England, the Erie Canal would be the only means by which we could ever move supplies so vital to waging modern war.
For the abovementioned reasons the government should create an Interstate Commerce Commission to protect the American people from the evils of ‘railroads’ and to preserve the canals for posterity.
As you may well know, Mr President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 1 5 miles per hour by engines’, which in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countrysides, setting fire to the crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.
Martin Van Buren,
Governor of New York,
January 1, 1829,’
Although it is easy to smile now, this was an important issue at that time. There was a concern for employment, for the effects on associated industries and for defence. How different are the arguments that were advanced then from those put with equal earnestness today?
Economic changes in the Australian rural industry, as well as the havoc they have wreaked in a physical sense, have brought with them a range of sociological changes affecting primary producers and their dependants and employees as well as the wider community. If our nation is to regain a stable social and economic base it is vital that these sociological and economic changes be clearly understood by the decision makers and by others in the Australian community. For many reasons, and not only the ones upon which I have touched today, declining levels of real income are being experienced by most primary producers. For many, severe financial hardship, even poverty, has become established. When cyclical problems of particular industries- such as the beef crisis- are superimposed on the more deep-seated and long-term trends, the income and associated difficulties become immense. The decline in real income in one section of our economy is- unfortunately, but all too truly- passed on to other areas. The service industries, most of which are urban based, are the first to reflect the decline. Parents can no longer afford to send their children to boarding schools. Primary producers cannot enjoy leisure activities, including annual holidays or visits to the cities. Essential maintenance of rural buildings and farm improvements cannot be carried out, and the purchase of non-essential items and luxury items is impossible. Of course, manufacturing industrywhich employs large numbers of urban people- suffers and the domino effect of a downturn in rural incomes becomes increasingly evident.
A general area of sociological change arising from declining real income levels is a serious depopulation of rural areas. As people have left the land, some of the smaller towns have disappeared or their services and facilities have been contracted. As we know, most of these services are provided by what is basically known as small business, the one-family outfit that has been in the community for some considerable time. I do not think it should be the desire of any government, least of all this Government, to see any retraction in those services. We must admit that some towns would eventually have had to go. First of all, they were built at river crossings and then they followed railroads. Railroads quite often followed mining booms and as the mines were worked out railways were closed down and unfortunately some of the smaller towns had to go. The effect of this has been magnified by the rural problem and the rural decline of latter years. It is small business which has borne the brunt of this decline.
Although a gradual drift has been occurring for a much longer period, a rapid acceleration of the trend over the last decade has left visible gaps and created considerable difficulties. A lot of that harm can be tabulated. For example, the declining income; the number of people who have left an area; the number of people now employed; the average age of the people now running farms; the decline in living standards, and so on. Above all, there is a sociological problem. Emotional stress is imposed on families when there is not enough income to employ a son whose property the farm would ultimately become. There is heartbreak in a situation where a selection that has been in a family for generations has to go under the hammer and a sense of failure, albeit not justified, goes with it. Ultimately there is the leaving of the only life-style that those people have known, the necessity of finding a job as it is too late to look for another career, make new friends and adjust to urbanstyle living.
For those who stay behind there are fewer services, they have farther to go for supplies, there are added costs and- strange as it may seem in this technological age of the twentieth centurythe problem of physical and social isolation, especially for the womenfolk. People who live in our sparsely populated areas are as integral a part of our nation as those who live in the inner city areas. Often, though causes differ, problems are the same. Isolation can be just as complete and just as traumatic in suburbia. Neither government decision makers nor the community conscience should ever accept the fact that there should be a rift between the country and the city. Both have played- and are still playing- a part in the total development of this nation. Unfortunatelyand with good reason- the rural dweller feels deserted. He feels deprived because of lack of communication, lack of transport, lack of health care facilities and so on. The tyranny of distance indeed still haunts us.
Recently it was gratifying to see the tremendous effort, both financial and material, made by the people of Brisbane in relation to the drought stricken areas of Kilcoy and the Brisbane and Burnett valleys. These ridiculous artificial barriers can be torn down. We have proved that. One pleasing aspect of that effort was the excellent role played by the media. They have perhaps in the past been responsible to a large extent for reinforcing city prejudices against the grazier image of the country people. Because of the media’s access to people in every section of society they have a vital role to play in healing that rift. I think credit must be given to their efforts during the recent ravages of drought in most of the States of Australia and the disastrous bushfires. They were able as never before to bring home the reality and the totality of the distruction to the people living in cities.
So the Government in the past two years has made many efforts to assist the people living in rural Australia. It has introduced such measures as the Income Equalisation Deposits, revised income tax averaging; it has brought back fertiliser bounties and so on. The Government has indeed tried to assist these people and, most of all, it has recognised the fact that many of them have worked hard and still have not had an income. Under the beef aid scheme we have been able, through farmers using proper husbandry methods, to give them a cash flow, probably the first cash flow that many of them have had for some time. I have no quarrel with this. I have no quarrel even with their being given unemployment benefit. I would rather see them receiving unemployment benefit and still doing some work than see the large numbers who are receiving unemployment benefit and not doing any work. They will one day again be a viable part of our community and play their rightful role.
The Government has promised to continue its efforts over the next three years to provide for these people. At long last that iniquitous tax, death duty, is being abolished. I am not sure why it was brought in. Some people say that it was brought in to raise money for wartime funds; other people say that it was brought in to break up large family holdings. In either case the effect has been more disastrous than anybody would ever have imagined. It has literally broken families and forced them away from their holdings and their properties. With petrol price equalisation, at long last the people in the country can once again have some sort of compatibility in fuel costs with city people. Indeed, anything other than fuel price equalisation is an injustice to these people.
We are not of one heritage. It is a long time since we have been of one heritage, even though Australia is a young country. We have diverse hopes and we have diverse aspirations but we do have one future and we are all, firstly, Australians. I would like to close my remarks with a quotation from Herbert Hoover:
Our purpose is to build in this nation a human society not an economic system.
- Mr Deputy President, I enjoyed Senator Collard ‘s speech. I particularly enjoyed his references to American history which may have some relevance to us. There was certainly some wisdom in them in the way in which he brought them forward. I was also interested to hear that Australia is a society of great diversity of aspiration. I was encouraged yesterday to hear from the Governor-General that whatever our aspirations we will be treated by the Government as a whole and the majority will not receive any special treatment.
I wish to take the opportunity of the AddressinReply debate to consider certain aspects of yesterday’s events in Canberra. These include some aspects of the content- if indeed it had content- of the Governor-General’s Speech, in addition to events that took place outside the Senate chamber. If I say anything by way of reflection which might seem harsh, I hope that it will be understood that these remarks are made more in sorrow than in anger and that they are made basically because I am a sad man, even more saddened by yesterday’s opening of Parliament. Honourable senators on the Government side might say that I have every reason to be sad after the past two general elections and that is true; but there are things beyond the general election results to which I want to refer and which I do find saddening.
First of all, I must say that the ceremony which opened Parliament yesterday for some reason reminded me of a South American republic to which the British raj might well have once dispatched an honorary consul. I say that because it did seem to me, very much, that the whole thing took place not with relevance to the people of Australia but with particular relevance to those people who serve in this Parliament. The ceremony was devoted very much to their enjoyment and their satisfaction. I noticed with interest the very lengthy barriers which were erected for members of the public who came here to see the ceremony. Only 15 members of the public were sufficiently interested, it appeared, to come along. I mention that because in a symbolic way -
– They were all inside.
-I do not think that many members of the public were inside. In a symbolic way this does say something about the institution of parliament, the purposes which it ought to be serving and the purposes which it is serving in reality. In the past I have expressed my concern about the relevance of this institution and I want to return to that subject in a moment. My concerns in that regard were not assuaged at all by the contents of the Governor-General ‘s Speech.
Yesterday Parliament was made to appear very relevant, in a media sense, by the somewhat theatrical security precautions which were taken. I should have thought that the best security always was the least obstrusive security, but yesterday the situation was exactly the opposite; it was the most obtrusive I have seen. I suppose that from the point of view of members of parliament the results yesterday were satisfactory but the security really was obtrusive. Cynics might have thought that it was something of a stunt. It was based on a very tragic incident which took place in Sydney a week or so ago. Only some six months ago a man charged in Canberra with the somewhat violent kidnapping of a diplomat revealed in the court proceedings that he formerly had been employed for some time in the kitchens of Parliament House. I should have thought that that would have put some honourable senators off their food and would have concerned them had it been known at the time.
Only yesterday my two colleagues Senator Grimes and Senator Georges were not admitted to Parliament House in the morning because they could not satisfactorily identify themselves. The same honourable senators told me that when they came into Parliament House this morning nobody stopped them and they could have gone right through the building without anybody questioning their presence in any way. So what we had yesterday was a sort of instant one-day security operation for media purposes. That seems to me to be a very cynical exercise and one which we ought to think about a little more seriously in the future if people are concerned about security in a genuine sense. I do not wish to dwell on that but I do regard it as a significant aspect of yesterday’s activities.
As I mentioned, in the Governor-General’s Speech yesterday we were told that the Government intended to be not a government for the majority but a government for the whole. I should have thought that politically there were some conceptual difficulties in understanding that sentence. I should have thought that there were some difficulties in accommodating the entire economic interests of this country and at the same time, as the Speech purported to do, accommodating the civil liberty needs of the whole of the community. I do not wish to say anything about the Government’s economic policies at this stage because they have been more or less clear, for a long time and the arguments have been very well canvassed in the Senate. Personally, I regret that in the Speech there was no questioning of the assumptions underlying the economic growth which the Government seeks to engender into the community.
In many ways I found the Speech cynical in terms of the approach which the Government suggested for the problems of this country. This confirmed the view of a person who has never been a political friend of mine, Mr Geoffrey Fairbairn, as expressed in the Canberra Times on 18 February; namely, that this is an unspeakably cynical Government. At the time he was referring to the appointment of Sir John Kerr as Ambassador to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, a matter which the Leader of the Government, Senator Withers, finds a source of political convenience. The question of principle involved in that appointment were in no way answered at Question Time today; rather, it was suggested that because Sir John Kerr was an issue in two previous general elections which we lost that was the end of the matter and the Government was entitled to do exactly what it liked on issues such as that without any criticism of its course of conduct being allowed.
On reading the Speech this morning I found that there seemed to be two notions which the Government was trying to express. One notion, which the Government has been trying to express for a long time, was the importance of economic freedom for the individual. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has frequently espoused this and has expressed it in terms of an individual ‘s freedom to make and spend his own money. I should have thought that that was totally inconsistent with the well-being of the majority of the community as a whole and totally inconsistent with the very frequent references in the Governor-General’s Speech to the civil liberties or the individual political and social freedom of the citizens of this country.
– Do you think it would be better if you had the privilege of spending it for him?
-I did not say that. I know that wisdom is regarded almost as a function of old age, but I do not wish to take issue with the honourable senator about that. I put it to him that if he were to listen even he might appreciate the point I am seeking to make. The point, which I shall reiterate for Senator Wright’s benefit, is simply this: The notion of economic freedom does not necessarily lie well with the notion of individual liberty and individual freedom. I find that to be a very strange marriage in the Speech. Really, what has been attempted is to lard over the notion of an individual ‘s economic freedom with some lip service notions of civil liberties. As I said, a very large section of the Speech has been devoted to those issues.
I illustrate this in a particular way. Last week I was talking to a young girl who told me that the night before she had been introduced to and had had conversations with a heroin vendor or, in common terms, a dope peddler. She told me that when she asked him how he justified his economic activities as a heroin peddler he said that people should be free to indulge in any economic activity in which they wanted to indulge and that, on the other hand, people should be free to use heroin if they wanted to and, as he put it, to die in the way in which they chose. He saw that as an essential freedom. What he was really saying, of course, was that in his occupation he was advancing the cause of human freedom. The Speech yesterday reminded me very much of that story because, while I am not for a moment suggesting that the Prime Minister or any other Minister is a dope peddler, although it has been frequently suggested that the Prime Minister is a dope -
– Not by me, Mr President. I think the analogy is a good one because it brings into sharp contrast the notion of economic liberty and the notion of civil liberty. I shall refer to some examples which are specifically mentioned of the Government’s concern to advance the cause of freedom and of the promises which have been made. I shall contrast those promises with the performance to date which is very much glossed over in the section of the Speech dealing with civil rights and political reform. For example, the Speech states:
In consultation with the States, legislation will be reintroduced to establish a Human Rights Commission. My Government welcomes Australia ‘s membership on the UN Human Rights Commission as an opportunity to contribute to the discussion and further development of internationally accepted principles of human rights.
On 18 December 1972 Australia signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Since that time Australia has not ratified that international covenant. The importance of that and the debate about it which has taken place since, in my experience was well illustrated in Queensland last week when I was there. For example, I discovered a matter relating to two school teachers. One had stood as an Australian Labor Party candidate at the Federal election and was appointed to the position of deputy principal of a school on 23 January 1978. He was sacked on 25 January 1978. When the Premier was asked why that teacher was sacked the Premier said that he was not prepared to employ teachers who took their employment on a part time basis. That is, that after many years of service the teacher interrupted his employment to become a Labor Party candidate in the Federal election of 1977. I think that is a matter which ought to concern the Parliament in terms of human rights. I say that because I think that what the Premier of Queensland is really saying is: ‘If the Federal Parliament regards it as the right of every Australian citizen to contest Federal elections- to vote in them but, more importantly, to contest them- as far as certain Australians are concerned, I shall take it upon myself to qualify those individual political rights which are accorded to all Australians and the qualifications will be that the right to stand for Parliament is extended to all Australian citizens except teachers employed in Queensland ‘.
That happened not only to the Labor Party candidate for Leichhardt; it happened also, in a different sense, to a very great Australian, Mr John Sinclair. I believe he is the man who was responsible more than any individual in this country for saving Fraser Island. I congratulate Mr Sinclair. I speak of him in no party way because he fought to save Fraser Island against an Australian Labor Party government and a Liberal government. He finally succeeded- for the most cynical and mercenary reasons on the part of the Government, I might say- in saving Fraser Island during the time of the Liberal Government. But be that as it may. Mr Sinclair has received much the same sort of treatment in his employment as a result of his activities as did the teacher to whom I referred earlier. What has been the response of the Australian Government under Mr Malcolm Fraser to that sort of problem which I hope the Parliament will recognise is a real problem in terms of the civil liberty of Australian citizens?
– What about the police chief in South Australia?
– If Senator Tehan wants to take up his cause, he can do that and use exactly the same argument that I am putting. The honourable senator can get up and do that if he wants to do so. But the response of this Government has been to do nothing about ratifying the United Nations convention. The response of the Government has been, as the Speech states, to have Australia join the United Nations Human Rights Commission. That is an exercise in window dressing if the Government is not prepared to ratify the convention to which I have referred. The ratification of that convention would ensure protection for Australian citizens such as Mr Wood and Mr Sinclair to whom I have referred. Of course, rather than do that the Government much prefers to retreat into a position where it says: ‘These questions of civil liberties are all looked after by the States, by the notion of the division of power in Australian society between State and Federal governments. Civil liberties can naturally best be ensured by that 18th century notion that division of power will produce the best results for the people’. That, in the experience of the people to whom I have referred, cannot be true.
The second matter which is pointed out in this section of the Speech is that the Government will introduce freedom of information legislation which will give members of the public a right of access to government documents. I do not want to say much about this. I hope the Government will introduce freedom of information legislation which will give citizens access to government documents. It has been two years now since this legislation was promised. It is a common, public secret that the freedom of information legislation which will be introduced is a sort of anatomical freak. It will be a gelding before it is even born. Everybody knows that. It is known on the Government side as well as on the Opposition side.
– Wait and see.
– I shall wait and see. I hope the honourable senator wins within his Party’s ranks. I tell the honourable senator now that he will not win. The freedom of information legislation which will be introduced will not be comparable with the freedom of information legislation which exists in the United States and in other countries where this matter has been in legislative form for some years. The third area to which I wish to refer seems to be strangely situated under the heading of ‘Civil Rights and Political Reform’, and that is the Government’s promise to establish a public inquiry to make recommendations concerning conflicts between public duty and private interest of members of parliament and others in the public sphere and principles which might be adopted to avoid these conflicts. That is extraordinary terminology. What civil liberties are affected I wonder, other than the civil liberties of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch)? Perhaps it is the civil liberties of members of this Parliament.
I do not think we should elevate as a matter of priority the financial liberties of members of this Parliament to the status of civil liberties of great importance. What I find extraordinary about the inclusion of this suggestion in the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech of the setting up of an inquiry under Mr Justice Bowen to look into this matter is that in many senses it is an insult to the Parliament. After all, it is only a little over two years ago that a committee of the Parliament made recommendations regarding this matter. The recommendations were signed unanimously by members of both Parties including two Ministers in the present Government. The members, in their report, said that the code or register which they suggested should be the same as that which existed in the United States and Great Britain and that it should be implemented in this country without delay. The members regarded this as a matter of great urgency. So much for a committee of the Parliament because nothing has happened about the matter except there has been the appointment of an outside body to look into the question and presumably arrive at conclusions different from those the Committee recommended in 1975 and to which two of the present Ministers were a party.
What is the point in talking about Parliament as a significant and relevant organisation if its committee decisions are to be cynically avoided by the Government and judges and people of that kind are to be appointed to look into this matter with the apparent purpose of arriving at different conclusions which are more palatable to a Liberal Government than were the conclusions unanimously reached by the members of this Parliament as members of a committee. That is the sort of thing which makes a goat of the whole parliamentary process, especially when the committee reports are overturned in this totally cynical sort of a way for the benefit of Liberal politicians. Apparently Liberal politicians in this country have to have a code of conduct which is different from the code of public conduct used in the United States and Great Britain. That is the sort of thing that I think justifies people being cynical about the institution of Parliament and about this Government, and that particularly justifies cynicism in terms of talking about that sort of thing under the heading of civil liberties and political reform.
For a long time I have expressed my own personal, deep-seated concern about the capacity of the Government to handle many of the problems referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech. I have expressed my concern about the capacity of perhaps any government, in the current political situation in this country, to handle those problems, and the capacity of this Parliament to handle many of those problems in the context of an adversary system of politics. For example, 1 do not see how the deep-seated malaise and problems of the manufacturing industry of this country can really be solved on the basis of the kind of political cynicism about which I have been talking. I do not think that the problems of manufacturing industry can be solved by government, under the present adversary system, while people are so cynically concerned with power, as distinct from the problem solving and principle. I do not believe that a government can solve long term problems if it is frightened of short term pain. Even a government with a majority of 46, or 55 as the Government had in the last Parliament, does not seem capable of solving some of these problems. And it will not be made capable by the sort of cosmetic reforms proposed in yesterday ‘s Speech.
How much harder will it be for a Parliament such as this to solve some of the problems which seem to me to arise basically from technology outstripping man’s capacity to make social and moral judgments about how that technology ought to be used. How will this Parliament, if it cannot solve present problems of the kind to which I have referred, be able to solve the problems, in terms of individual liberty and so on, of the communications technology which is changing so rapidly, of medical science, of genetic engineering, of ecological disruption or of the breakdown of urban complexes and large cities? We will not solve any of these problems by such cosmetic solutions as putting on strong-arm stunts about security.
All things I have mentioned will, in the next decade, make a tremendous difference to the notion of normal human behaviour as we know it today. If we cannot solve and debate in this Parliament, on a better basis than perhaps we have in the past, some of the contemporary problems facing us, I fear indeed for the continuation of this body as a relevant institution in Australian society. If we cannot come to grips with these matters- there is no indication in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that they have even been thought about- to that extent Parliament will continue to appear to the Australian people to be increasingly irrelevant. That is a matter about which we all ought, I believe, to be concerned.
Whilst many of my colleagues will be discussing detailed issues arising from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, my remarks have been directed more to some of these larger problems, which are revealed by the absence of any reference to or discussion of them and the rather glib exercise in pursuit of a rather tired economic policy, glossed up a bit with grandiose and somewhat empty references to civil liberties. For that reason, I criticise the content of the Speech and do not accept the motion of Senators Walters and Collard.
– I believe that the speech which has just been made by Senator Button is his first in the capacity of Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I extend to him my good wishes and those of my colleagues for his success in the position he now holds. He is, of course, the man who yesterday was described in the Melbourne Herald as
Labor’s impish big debating gun in the Senate’. Many things he might be. Big is not one of them. Impish’ is denned in the dictionary as ‘pertaining to or characteristic of a little devil or mischievous urchin’, and that perhaps is a well chosen adjective as used by Mr Peter Costigan in his newspaper article yesterday.
The honourable senator, Mr Deputy President, made some comments on the institution of Parliament and expressed a pessimistic view about the capacity of this institution to function effectively in all appropriate areas. I simply point out that the complete functioning of the Parliament depends as much upon an effective opposition doing its job as upon a government doing its job. One of the challenges facing the Thirtyfirst Parliament is to ensure that the Opposition in both chambers begins at last to function as an effective, active, involved Opposition, doing its job properly. We have had a sorry sight before us in the last two Parliaments. The Labor Party has made some moves; it has made internal rearrangements which it thinks will assist it in another place. In this chamber, where it cannot pretend to have any grave deficiency of numbers, where always there is an even balance and it is well represented in terms of members, we on this side look to a better performance. There is no point in Labor’s best men sitting on the back benches, never speaking, never contributing. We all know that in the last Parliament, some of the finest debaters were never heard from. Therefore, if honourable senators opposite are going to criticise Parliament and its functioning, they should think about the contribution their own party has made to debate over the last couple of years.
If honourable senators opposite are going to refer to the committee system, where from both sides of the chamber senators have worked together, let us at least acknowledge that the mere fact that a Senate committee sees a certain course of action as desirable does not necessarily mean that the whole world needs to fall into line with its views. I am at present trying to promote the adoption of the recommendations of a Senate committee which reported last year. Some of those recommendations will, I believe, be picked up by the Government, but would it not be naive if I came into this chamber and complained or carried on because all of those recommendations of that committee were not accepted? We have to be fair and realistic in what we seek.
I want to use my time during the AddressinReply debate to refer again to a matter which concerned me last year. I refer to a deregistered, ex-doctor from New Zealand who is now in the
Cook Islands, who says he has a cure for cancer, who wants to come to Australia, and about whom there is some controversy.
– Watch that you do not draw down the wrath of Joh.
– I note the interjection, Mr Deputy President, and suggest that the honourable senator wait and hear me out. I may well draw down the wrath of many people.
The Governor-General pointed out in his Speech that it is the Government’s fundamental belief-
One of the ways to achieve that power, that choice and that freedom is through the acquisition of useful information. It is desirable, if there is to be a debate about this man, Milan Brych, and if there is to be pressure to bring him to Australia, that we know who he is, what he is and what he represents. In the Medical Journal of Australia of 8 October there was a summary of the events surrounding this man’s arrival in New Zealand, his provisional registration as a doctor, his being investigated, his deregistration, his determination to appeal, and his flight from New Zealand to the Cook Islands, where he has again been registered as a doctor despite the fact that he was deregistered because he had forged and falsified all the documents which were used to get him New Zealand registration in the first place. In New Zealand he obtained an appointment at one of the Auckland hospitals in a middle ranking position in one of the cancer units. I quote from this document. It reads:
Brych next obtained a position in the radiotherapy department of Auckland Hospital. Here he used high dosage combination chemotherapy -
That is to say he used a number of drugs together for the treatment of cancer- which was just then becoming popular in Auckland, and, soon after, he began to make public claims that he had developed a highly effective system of treating various forms of cancer. Increasingly he hinted that he might possess a new and secret method of cancer treatment.
This man has gone to the Cook Islands. From there he is now trying to come to Australia to gain acceptance and in the long run to be allowed to carry on his treatment. Senator Button drew attention to the desirability of there being no interference with people who offer themselves as candidates for election to Parliament. I shall now draw attention to what I consider to be a most serious intervention in the whole Brych affair. It occurred when the Premier of Queensland publicly intervened to urge that the man come to Australia. He made some serious and direct threats against a Minister of the Crown saying that he would ‘put the skids under him’ if he did not agree to let this man in. The Queensland Premier’s threats are detailed on page 3 of the Sydney Morning Herald of 14 February. The article quotes Mr BjelkePetersen ‘s words on radio. He said:
Gee, 111 put the skids under you one of these days if you don’t be fair and reasonable about it -
He was referring to the entry of Mr Brych. It is one thing for a politician to express an opinion about what another politician is doing but it takes on an entirely different character when he extends that to a threat to get rid of a Minister in a government if he does not make an administrative decision with which he happens to agree. It was a highly undesirable, inappropriate and improper intervention. It is time we said so and made my position quite clear.
What are the facts about Mr Brych and the treatment he has to offer? It is said by some that he is achieving an 80 per cent success rate for people with cancer. It is a serious matter for a person with a terminal illness when someone holds out a ray of hope- an 80 per cent chance of cure. It is desirable to point out to the Senate that this man’s claims have been tested fairly simply. Before he left New Zealand he treated a lot of patients in Auckland. Their names and the dates on which they were treated are known. The New Zealanders have done a simple exercise. They have gone back through the registers and identified the people treated by this doctor. They have also identified a series of people treated by standard methods and have worked out what happened to those people. If this man had an 80 per cent cure rate for cancer surely it would be revealed in any analysis of the hospital figures in Auckland? What comes out of the analysis is quite clear. I received a letter from a good friend in Auckland, Dr Gordon Nicholson. He wrote to me on 9 August 1977:
Clinical tests have been done comparing Dr Brych ‘s treatment -
That should of course read ‘Mr Brych ‘s treatment’-
With standard treatment and the results are very disappointing indeed, where such data is available as can be analysed. In breast cancer the natural history of the disease at 2 years allows for about 2 patients in 20 being alive -
That is for a certain advanced form of the disease- (In Dr Brych ‘s group 3 patients in 20 were alive and in the group given standard chemotherapy by Dr Stephens 12 of the 20 were alive.)
I am not suggesting that the standard treatment was necessarily better. I am suggesting that that kind of evidence and other available analyses do not lend any support to the claims of this man that he has an effective or unusual form of treatment. The Medical Journal of Australia of 10 September 1977 contains a letter from the Auckland Blood Transfusion Service signed by Dr Paul Berry of the Blood Transfusion Service and Dr John Scott of the Department of Medicine in Auckland. They analyse Mr Brych ‘s use of blood collected from voluntary donors. They conclude that, on the standard indication for giving blood, 75 per cent of the donor blood given in New Zealand which he used was given improperly and wasted.
Why am I so worked up about this man in the Cook Islands? He is either offering to people some special treatment or he is a charlatan profiteering from the misery of those with a terminal illness. Let us examine what happened in the Cook Islands.
– Do not all doctors accept fees? They all accept fees.
– I am surprised at the intervention of Senator McAuliffe. I am trying to set down some facts about a man who is preying upon his electors and my electors. They could be members of our own families. He is taking vast amounts of money from them. An article in the New Zealand Herald of 15 August 1977 shows that the operation in the Cook Islands is a giant rip-off grossing more than $ 1.3 m a year. It states that Mr Brych ‘s people are charging exorbitant prices for accommodation. Interestingly enough it states that a medical trust on the islands is taking some of the money. One of the trustees is the secretary of the ruling political party in the Cook Islands which altered its registration provisions to allow Mr Brych to be registered and to practise in that country.
This is a most disturbing business. Money is being taken from people in large amounts. The central thesis I offer to the Senate is this: Let us assume for one moment that Mr Brych has nothing new to offer to people with terminal cancer. We are then looking at a giant fraud. He is already a convicted felon. He has been gaoled in Czechoslovakia. He was deregistered in New Zealand for infamous conduct. He appealed but on the day of the hearing turned back at the courtroom door and withdrew rather than face cross-examination in a court of law. If this man has nothing to offer, what is going on? If he has nothing to offer why are Australian politicians and Australian Sunday newspapers taking up his cause? Why is it that no one has been able to demonstrate any benefit, and why does it cost so much, $10,000, for a course of treatment? Why, if there is nothing in it?
– Because he is a crook.
– Of course he is a crook.
– One would have to presume that he is a crook. Let me put another suggestion. Suppose Mr Brych has actually stumbled on the cure for cancer. Assume that this man who wants to come to Australia and has such powerful friends trying to promote his entry- powerful friends who are threatening Ministers in the Federal Government and colleagues of mine in my Party- has in fact found a cure for cancer. Now let us examine the morality of that situation. Let us examine the ethics. He is holding that information secret and selling it for $10,000 a treatment.
– Is that not free enterprise, private enterprise?
- Senator Primmer ‘s interjection is not worthy of him. If this man has the answer to cancer he is selling it to a restricted group of patients and he is excluding from it every other cancer sufferer in the world. He has been invited repeatedly to reveal his methods of treatment. He has been invited time after time to take space in journals, to go before medical meetings and share his information, but he will not do it. If we stay with the assumption that he has the answer, what he is doing is one of the most immoral and disgraceful acts that one could ever see because he is condemning every cancer patient in the world, every working class patient who cannot get the money; he is condemning every cancer patient in the world who cannot make his or her way to the Cook Islands. They will die because they cannot have the benefit of that treatment.
It is a basic tenet of medicine that secrecy about new treatments is disgraceful behaviour. There is a famous story from the 17th century about an obstetrician who invented one of the first obstetric forceps and kept it secret in his own family for the family’s profit and fame. The only people who benefited from the use of that appliance were those who could pay to go to that practitioner or his family. So it is an interesting situation and I challenge the Premier of Queensland to get from Mr Brych the full details of his treatment because if it is going to benefit mankind there is no way in which that information can be held locked up in the Cook Islands. I invite the Premier of Queensland to get that information and make it public. I wrote a letter to a person in Victoria who had written complaining about my criticism of Mr Brych. I wrote back to him in June last in these terms:
It is a tenet of medical ethics that no doctors shall keep new treatments secret. My memory seems to tell me that this arose out of examples through history, where doctors by keeping secrets made themselves rich but at the expense of other patients not being offered the new advances. If Mr Brych has a new form of treatment for terminal cancer then it is his duty to make it freely available to terminal cancer sufferers throughout the world. An important test of his bona fides is to put him to this test. There should be no secrets in medical treatment. Secrets mean that the treatment can only be available from those who share the secret knowledge . . .
– There is no room for that speculation. The first part of your speech was clear.
- Senator Georges feels that there is no question that this man has a cure for cancer. However, there are many Australians who are willing to believe that he has and I put it to them that they should not have to go outside this country to enjoy the benefit of everything Mr Brych says he has to offer. The statement made by the Queensland Premier was reported in the Australian of 13 February 1978 as follows:
Everything he -
I gather than is Mr Brych- says is logical and his methods of building up the blood to fight this disease seems sensible not only to me but to eminent doctors I have consulted.
I say with respect to the Premier of Queensland: You would not know if the treatment was or was not effective in the same way that I would not know whether you were growing peanuts properly’. I invite the Premier to approach this man, to get the details of his treatment and to make those details public for everyone in Australia. When the Premier has done that I will join him in seeking to invite this man to this country and to welcome him. However, while Mr Brych is running a secret racketeering operation in the Cook Islands and while he is making his profits from the sufferers in this country for whom hope is worth pursuing even if they know they are being cheated, if he comes here at all he must come as other than a therapist, other than a doctor and other than someone who is going to treat Australians. If this man comes here, or even if he does not, let him in the name of humanity declare the details of what he does because if it is dangerous and is killing people he should stop his treatment and if it is helpful we should all know what it is. I ask every Australian suffering from cancer, every Australian with a relative who has cancer and every Australian considering using this man’s treatment, whether they would settle for anything else. I thank the Senate for hearing me on this matter in the way it has and I support the motion so ably moved by my colleague Senator Walters.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Those who have become accustomed to dozing through the Speech from the throne would have missed nothing yesterday. After all, an administration which believes that the least government is the best government can hardly be expected to provide a feast of legislative goodies. But there is little comfort for the thousands of additional unemployed deliberately created by this Government’s policies to be told that the ‘Government rejects the notion that there can be a trade-off between inflation and unemployment’. The unemployed have been told, in effect, in the clearest possible terms, that this Government does not give a damn about them.
The philosophy of the Speech was that in the fullness of time and with a little help from on high things will right themselves. Seeing that Senator Walters in her opening fantasy to today’s proceedings about the condition of affairs in this country was moved to quote some poetry, may I proffer the suggestion that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), although I would never, of course, accuse him of reading Shakespeare, has adopted a slight variation on a theme from Hamlet which goes something like this:
The time is out of joint. Ah cursed spite! But I am damned if I was born to put it right’. However, a little attention to the words which the Prime Minister’s speech writers put into the mouth of the Governor-General would have been repaid by the delicious little touch of irony which occurs in the closing passages of the Speech. The Governor-General, referring to the nothing promises that he had made earlier, said:
By devoting all its energies to these goals, by emphasising those things that unite all Australians, my Government will strive to realise the hope and vision of every Australian- an Australia rich in opportunity for all its people to live the life they choose, fully and freely.
That certainly jolted me out of my slumbers. Does the appointment to a well paid sinecure of a handsomely pensioned Governor-General, who was by common consent the most divisive figure to fill that post, constitute an example of emphasising those things that unite all Australians? The most dangerous problem facing Australia today is not inflation and it is not unemployment. As Senator Button pointed out in his thoughtful speech earlier in the day, the greatest threat confronting this country is cynicism- a corrosive, insidious, slow-acting poison. When a great number of people, perhaps a majority of citizens, believes that people in the highest places are liars and cheats, we are living in a sick society. But when most people accept that as the normal state of affairs we are living in a society which can only be described as decadent. I have observed in recent Press reports that the latest surveys show that the Prime Minister’s popularity rating has improved. Admittedly the surveys were conducted before he told the greatest lie in what can only be described as the most mendacious -
– I am suggesting, Mr President, that the Prime Minister told an outrageous lie and I propose to prove it.
– Order! The honourable senator cannot acuse the Prime Minister of lying. That is not allowable here.
-Perhaps I can use a gentler word, Mr President. Would ‘ untruth’ be acceptable?
– It is not. It has the same meaning. Would you kindly use parliamentary language in your speech, Senator.
– I am attempting to do so, Mr President, but I must admit that the present incumbent of the Prime Minister’s office strains the use of parliamentary language. I will try to obey your ruling. Perhaps I can use the words ‘trifling with the truth’. I would suggest that what we have had from him in the recent period is the greatest trifling with the truth in which I believe must be the most mendacious career in Australian political history.
We have been challenged by Senator Baume today to do our duty as an Opposition and it is for considerations like that, and not out of spleen, that I am saying the things that I believe have to be said tonight. I believe there is a grave danger that unless this latest performance of the Prime Minister is adequately exposed he will get away with the conduct of which I complain and which I am not allowed to name in specific terms. The untruth, or the trifling with the truth, to which I refer is that there was no deal between the Prime Minister and Kerr- I think I am allowed to refer to Kerr as I want to do tonight because there is no privilege now attaching to him; he is just another ordinary employee of the Commonwealth Government- according to the Prime Minister, on that well known bon vivant ‘s recent appointment as Ambassador to the
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. That proposition was too much even for a committed conservative brown nose as Mr Peter Samuel of the Bulletin. To my knowledge the appointment has not been approved by any single newspaper in Australia. Even such a way-out Tory as Mr Geoffrey Fairbairn, who was referred to earlier in the day by Senator Button, wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald condemning the appointment. But even the Sydney Morning Herald, many of whose editorials in the past have to my knowledge been written by one of Kerr’s cronies and sycophants, Mr Guy Harriott, editorially condemned the immorality of the appointment.
Does anybody on the Government side of this chamber believe that the Prime Minister told the truth when he stated that there was no deal involved in Kerr’s vacating of the job of Governor-General and his appointment as Ambassador to UNESCO. The silence from the other side of the chamber is deafening. I can well imagine that a petty cynic like Senator Withers, who I notice is not here in the chamber tonight although I had hoped he would have been, would find the indignation that I am expressing ingenuous. Senator Withers, whom I have characterised in the past as the most cynical man in this Parliament, today once again proved me right out of his own mouth in his non-answer to Senator Button’s question about the matter that we are discussing tonight. Senator Withers said in effect- I ask any honourable senator on the opposite side who is honest enough to remember his answer or non-answer- ‘we thrashed you in a couple of elections so we can do as we like ‘. That was his answer. He is riding high now as are all Government supporters. But Senator Withers may live to realise that such an immoral attitude is not even good politics. I can imagine, of course, that Senator Withers, and I suppose all honourable senators opposite, especially the senior Ministers with whom Mr Fraser admitted he had discussed the Kerr appointment, would be deeply wounded if anyone suggested that they were such fools as to believe Malcolm Fraser’s blatant falsehood that Kerr’s resignation–
– . . tinkering with the truth that Kerr’s resignation as Governor-General was not made on the understanding that Fraser would give him a nice, cushy sinecure as a reward for removing his gross and embarrassing presence from Yarralumla.
It is notorious that Kerr had become an embarrassment to the Government. To the Tories of this place it may seem like par for the course and in the natural order of things that a GovernorGeneral would dismiss an elected Labor government and put them in its place. I do not propose to regurgitate that distasteful episode. But the beneficiaries of Kerr’s favours did not expect the titular head of state to fall over in the mud when opening a country fair or to conduct himself like a drunken lout before half the population watching him on television present the Melbourne Cup. Kerr had to go. He knew it and the Prime Minister knew it. But how to get rid of him? If Kerr had dug his toes in, the Prime Minister just had no way of getting rid of him- a man whom he had praised so lavishly. I do not suppose we will ever know–
– Your personal friend.
-You certainly will not, senator, because you are so dim.
– Your personal friend.
-One can make mistakes about friends. I understand that you were once a friend of Hitler, but I suppose you have woken up to him.
– The senator does not know what he is talking about.
-Who suggested the nice -
– I was never a friend of Hitler, senator. You will remember that, and you will remember it well.
– I do not suppose -
– You were a friend of Hitler, not me.
-What about a little bit of order, Mr President?
– Order! At the same time I would appreciate it if proper parliamentary language were used. Would you please take your seat, Senator James McClelland. There is no more important occasion than in situations of heat to use parliamentary language. Let me say to the honourable senator that it is in contravention of the Standing Orders to impute improper motives.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I ask Senator James McClelland to withdraw the statement that I was a friend of Hitler.
-I withdraw that, Mr President, as whatever Senator Lajovic was is not important enough to be laboured.
– Order! The honourable senator has withdrawn the statement.
– I do not suppose we will ever know who suggested the nice, do nothing job that the Prime Minister had considered to be so important that he abolished it. Of course, that was not explained today by Senator Withers. It may have been Kerr himself or it may have been Mr Fraser. Paris, after all, was a natural choice. It is not only a pleasant place, as the former Governor-General has remarked, but also a city which is notoriously tolerant of his well-advertised tastes. We can only hope that the tolerant French will not find Kerr’s habits so outrageous that they will judge Australians generally by his sottish behaviour. But that is enough about Kerr. I believe that he has written himself off with most Australians, including many of those who approved of his successful conspiracy which resulted in the events of 1 1 November 1975. What is much more serious is the poisonous precedent that his appointment as Ambassador to UNESCO has created.
– Talk about Gair now.
– I will talk about Gair if you like. I do not applaud what happened to Senator Gair. I disapproved of it then and I disapprove of it now. But it is a bad precedent for honourable senators opposite to remember. Did we profit from that? Just ponder whether you will profit from this appointment. It was the beginning of trouble for us. This appointment may be the beginning of trouble for you. Think closely on the matter of Senator Gair, Senator Thomas.
I would like to refer now to Sir Garfield Barwick, who himself besmirched his reputation in the events of November 1975. I recall that at the time of his appointment to the position of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia from this Parliament some years ago- that, of course, is not jobs for the boys, any more than Sir John Spicer’s appointment was or Sir Nigel Bowen’s appointment was- Sir Garfield Barwick, in justification of his appointment, made a point that I think has some validity. He said that judges, especially judges of the High Court who may have to pronounce on matters with some political content- as Senator Webster, the Minister for Science, would readily admit- should not, after their appointment, be in a position of expecting any further favours from the government of the day. Sir Garfield Barwick ‘s point therefore was that it was appropriate that a man who was not already a High Court judge- namely himselfshould be appointed because there would then be no taint and there would be no suggestion that any High Court judge had been rewarded for services rendered to the government. As I have said, there is a lot to be said for that point, if only Sir Garfield were always as ethically punctilious. But how much more is that the case -
– Order! The honourable senator must not make any reflection on the judiciary.
-Thank you, Mr President. But how much more is that the case with a Governor-General. I hope and believe that Sir Zelman Cowen’s ambitions for public office will be fully satisfied by his recent appointment and that he will not aspire one day to become, say, Minister to the Vatican or Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. After all, Sir Zelman may have to decide during his incumbency of the office whether the present Government should have a premature election or something else that it wants. We will recall that Kerr had no difficulty in coming to terms with his conscience over that one and swallowing his own words. He knew, of course, that there was only one side of politics from which he would expect further prizes. A Governor-General who can expect further favours on quitting his job and who has the elastic conscience of a Kerr is in a strong bargaining position–
– Order! The honourable senator is not using parliamentary language. He must vary his language to that which is acceptable to the whole of the Senate; otherwise I shall ask him to be seated.
– It is not necessary to the point that I am making. 1 say that a Governor-General who can expect further favours on quitting his job is in a strong bargaining position with any government. I hope that that situation will never arise. I certainly believe that Sir Zelman Cowen, on all of his publicrecord up to date, has moral standards much higher than those of his predecessor. But the lugubrious fact is that a precedent has been created. From now on any Governor-General will know that Malcolm Fraser is a man who will pay for favours rendered.
– Order! Please be seated, Senator. That is in contravention of Standing Order 4 18.
-Mr President, it is a comment that has been made by many reputable newspapers.
– You will be very careful to observe the requirements of Standing Order 418.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. If Senator James McClelland has breached Standing Order 418, which I am satisfied he has done, he also has been breaching Standing Order 398, which states that whenever the President rises the senator speaking shall be seated.
– That is not true. He sat down each time.
– You cannot see from the back of your head. You talk from the back of your head but you cannot see behind it.
-What about a bit of order there?
- Mr President-
– I will hear Senator Durack.
– I think that Senator James McClelland should be required to withdraw the remarks that he made about the Prime Minister.
- Mr President, I want to speak to the point of order. Standing Order 4 1 8 has not been breached by Senator James McClelland.
– It has.
– You can have your say in a moment.
– Order! You will address your remarks to the Chair, Senator Keeffe.
- Mr President, I am speaking to the Chair. I would hope that the unruly character on the other side of the chamber could be kept in order. Standing Order 4 1 8 reads:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
Senator James McClelland has not breached Standing Order 418 in any way. He has been making relevant statements.
– He is telling the truth.
– In other words, as my colleague Senator Coleman interjected, he is telling the truth. It will be a sad day for this chamber, or for any other House of Parliament in this country, when a member or senator is not allowed to tell the truth. That is precisely the case in relation to the speech being made now by Senator James McClelland. There has been no breach of the rules and I submit that he has not breached the Standing Orders.
– The argument just raised by Senator Keeffe is quite false. It is obvious that the matter raised by Senator Durack covered not only Standing Order 418 and the attack made on the Prime Minister and on his quality but also what I thought was the most surprising action of Senator McClelland, who is required by the Standing Orders to be seated when the President is dealing with a point of order. On two occasions Senator McClelland entirely ignored that requirement and remained standing. I was surprised that he should do so. I am sure that it was a matter of the heat of debate; nonetheless the point was properly raised by Senator Durack and I suggest that Senator McClelland should comply with it.
– Order! I have heard sufficient discussion and argument on the point of order. Senator McClelland, you have charged the Prime Minister by saying that he will pay for favours. You must retract that.
-Out of deference to you, Mr President, I will retract, and in the interests of having enough time to say the rest of the things that I want to say. I repeat that what is of abiding importance in this matter is the lowering of the standards of political life in this country which, if allowed to proceed unchecked, must ultimately threaten our most hallowed institutions. I recently read a most telling phrase. Revolutionary feeling begins in the perception of fraud. Sitting smugly with their overwhelming majority in both House of Parliament, the Conservatives regard any talk of revolution as laughable, and I hope that they are right. Much as I loathe the present political climate in this country, I see no solution to our problems in disorder or bloodshed. But if a large enough section of the population comes to believe that the game is rigged and if the proponents of reasonable reform are just not given a fair go within the democratic process, the day of the urban guerilla may arrive in this country earlier than people believe. Recent events have disposed of the old Ocker attitude that it cannot happen here. That is why I believe that Malcolm Fraser’s recent conduct, to put it as neutrally as I can, represented such a black day for Australia. Since that occurred, conservative people who previously rejected the proposition that Kerr acted in bad faith on 11 November 1975 have confessed to me that they now think I was correct in my assessment of his behaviour.
There is one ray of hope. It is just possible that this appointment may have a salutary effect in the long run if it turns out to be the beginning of a process of showing the Australian people to what sort of man they have entrusted the highest political office in this country, the prime ministership. It will be interesting to see what happens to Malcolm Fraser ‘s popularity rating in the coming months. We can forget about Kerr. We can leave him to the bartenders of Paris. But we cannot afford to be indifferent to the demonstrated fact that our Prime Minister has been so cynical in the handling of this matter, and I believe in his handling of the truth. I reiterate what I said at the opening of these remarks. This country faces very real problems, of which inflation and unemployment are the most obvious. But if the people of Australia continue to accept the proposition that a Prime Minister is entitled to act towards a head of state as the Prime Minister has acted over this appointment -
– Order! Be seated, Senator McClelland. When I rise you must be seated. You must not impute an improper motive to the Prime Minister or to any other member of this place or another place.
-Mr President, I suggest that you are putting limitations on debate in this chamber which are totally unacceptable. If we are not to be able to speak as strongly as this about conduct which we think threatens the institutions of this country this Parliament will become, as Senator Button suggested today, almost an irrelevant institution. With those words I conclude my remarks.
– Before I call on Senator Haines I should say to honourable senators that this is the first occasion on which the honourable senator has addressed the chamber. I trust that the traditional courtesies will be observed while Senator Haines addresses the Senate. I call Senator Haines,
– Thank you, Mr President. I appreciate such courtesies being extended by members of this chamber, as I am sure they will appreciate the short amount of time they will now have in which to cool down. As I rise this evening to support the motion I should like to say how honoured I am to be a member of the Senate, even though my stay will be such a short one. I am honoured to be the first senator to represent the Australian Democrats and to be the first woman to do so. As honourable senators are aware, I am due to finish my term at the end of June. However, until then I intend to fulfil the obligations of my position to the very best of my ability. I will endeavour to uphold the dignity of the Senate, to pursue the interests of my home State of South Australia, and to add, if possible, to the ever increasing regard in the community for women parliamentarians already engendered by that small but effective group which graces this chamber. However, it is not my intention to restrict myself to so-called women’s issues or to put only the woman’s point of view, whatever that is. On the contrary, I intend to concern myself with as many issues as possible affecting the people of this nation and South Australia in particular.
The results of the recent election surprised everyone with regard to the size and uniformity across the country of the coalition victory. That victory has led members of the Australian Labor Party to beat their collective brows and to ask themselves and the general public where they went wrong. I suggest that perhaps the problem lay in the fact that they were over-zealous in the courtship of the Australian voter and frightened away the bride with their enthusiastic advances. In the end, the object of their affections preferred to continue with an already established de facto relationship rather than move into another of questionable security. Truisms have an unfortunate habit of being fairly accurate assessments of life, and ‘once bitten, twice shy ‘ is as true of politics as it is of any other form of living.
Before government members become too carried away with congratulatory back thumping they should realise exactly what their support is in real terms. On 10 December 1977 the Liberal Party of Australia polled for the House of Representatives 38.1 per cent of the national vote, the Australian Labor Party 39.7 per cent, the National Country Party 10 per cent and the Australian Democrats 9.4 per cent. For the Senate the figures were Liberal-National Country Party 45.6 per cent, Australian Labor Party 36.9 per cent, and Australian Democrats 11.1 per cent. Those figures should hardly be a source of jubilation for the coalition, despite the fact that they brought government. In effect, the figures show, taking the Senate figures, that 54 out of every 100 Australians were sufficiently sceptical of the Liberal Party policy as put forward in November or were dissatisfied enough with the Government’s performance during its 1975-1977 term to vote against it. It is vital, therefore, that after realising that unpleasant fact the Government accepts that its responsibilities lie not simply with rewarding its supporters but with looking carefully at the legislation proposed for the coming session to see where and how it can do the most good for the most people. The role of the Senate is invaluable here if, as I believe it should, it is kept as free as possible of party politics, it acts as a House of review and it considers legislation that comes before it on its merits and its values to the community as a whole.
In yesterday’s address by His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia the Government put forward, among the apparently mandatory expressions of self-approval, a number of suggestions for furthering the development of Australia and promoting the welfare of its inhabitants. I propose to deal with several of them tonight. The Government pledged that it would, among other things, assist Aborigines ‘To become more self-sufficient and acquire the skills to manage their own affairs. ‘ It emphasised that it would ‘continue its efforts to improve the status of women in the Australian society’, that it wished to contribute to the ‘further development of internationally accepted principles of human rights’ and that it would ‘work to improve the quality of education at all levels.’ How is the Government going to achieve these aims, laudable as they are? Why, in the main, by setting up bodies of people, giving them grandiose titles and then standing back smugly saying: ‘There, you see, we really are concerned; our conscience is clear; we have done something for the people ‘. But, Mr President, has it really? I think not. Let us consider first of all the Government’s desire to improve the lot of our Aboriginal population, so that they do indeed become more self-sufficient and acquire the skills to manage their own affairs. Does the Government think that this will be achieved only by the formation of a nebulous body or two? It is deceiving itself if it does, if at the same time it ignores other very valuable schemes at achieving the same result. I must add here that I intend no criticism of the work of such bodies as the National Aboriginal Conference but only of their exclusive use as a palliative when others are available.
I cite as one example the deplorable situation of the Aboriginal Community College in Adelaide. Here is a college which draws its students from Aboriginal communities, mainly in South Australia, and which caters for Aboriginal people aged from 1 8 to 50 years. Its aim is to establish a clear Aboriginal identity and to that end it was established under a grant from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It is the only college of its kind in Australia and it will remain so as long as it continues in the tenuous position it now occupies. It has no really permanent residence. The one it now occupies in prestigious North Adelaide is not a particularly distinguished building, yet it costs $24,000 of wasted rental per annum, money that could well be spent better. The staff are not tenured; they are on a yearly contract basis and this does not make for stability. The principal and members of the council have endeavoured to remedy the situation by approaching various State and Federal Ministers and departments. But while everyone is sympathetic no one feels able to help in any real way. So the college- a pilot scheme which is positively adding to the stature of Aborigines in the community, which is truly encouraging selfhelp and self-development among the Aboriginal community- is tottering on its feet, continuing only because of the compassion and concern of its staff and the keenness of its students. I ask: How can the Government really expect people to believe that it cares about the development of the Aboriginal community if it is prepared to ignore the plight of such a valuable venture? Of course it cannot.
But Aborigines are not the only group in the community subject to the administration of placebos rather than restorative medicine. Women, individually and as a group, are faced with a similarly frustrating situation. Once again, nice noises are made about the necessity to increase the status of women but the only way that the Government can see of going about this is to recommend the setting up of yet another council. How can this be more valuable, how can it achieve more than active, positive measures on the part of the Government to improve the general attitude to women amongst the community as a whole and within government departments in particular? No amount of advisory counselling will improve the status of women if the Commonwealth Public Service refuses to promote equal numbers of women as of men into senior positions, when married women are singled out by some sections of the community and held responsible for youth unemployment, although these same critics conveniently ignore the 152,000 men who hold down two jobs, when the Federal Government allows into the country, and State governments permit the sale of, the amount of degrading pornographic material which is at present available? How can women ever respect themselves if their bodies are photographed being subjected to treatments that are not legally permitted to be done to animalssimply for the perverted pleasure of some men?
How can they walk with dignity if this son of behaviour by some men has the tacit approval of others?
Again, the Government has two perfect opportunities for positively improving the standing of women in the community, namely, insisting on equal promotional opportunities for women in the Public Service and in banning all imported and locally made pornographic literature from sale. But it ignores them in preference, yet again, to applying a council placebo. Mr President, I despair of the Federal Government ever acheiving anything at all in either of these areas or in the areas of human rights and quality of education if it continues in this vein. The rights of Aborigines and women will never be assured if the Government and other bodies continue to blinker themselves, continue to look at the problem from the wrong end of the telescope so that individuals disappear into the middle distance and injustices and anomalies are treated by talking rather than doing.
The rights of children to the best education system possible- as distinct from the best education system available- will be similarly glossed over if governments both State and Federal, Liberal and Labor, continue to provide material items and resources in preference to providing human resources. Tape recorders, video machines, rock gardens and landscaped gardens are immediately obvious to the electorate. The teachers, and extra classrooms for those teachers provided for the same cost, are not so obvious althought they would be of far greater value to the students concerned.
I suggest to honourable senators that the time has come for us to stop providing placebos and to start administering restorative medicine; to provide actions not words; teachers, not tape recorders; relationships, not rock gardens; constructive reform as well as councils and commissions. I therefore support the motion, more in the hope that the Government will attain its objectives than in the faith that it will, especially if its persists in directing its approach pragmatically rather than positively, cosmetically rather than with compassionate concern for each individual Australian.
– I commend Senator Haines, from my home State of South Australia, on her contribution to the debate and wish her all the best while she is here in the next few months until 30 June. I know that she will represent my State, as all of us on this side of the chamber from South Australia certainly will, in the interests of that
State. I should like to address my remarks in this Address-in-Reply debate to the situation in South Australia.
One of the clear statements in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech yesterday related to an improvement in the prosperity of Australians and the creation of more jobs. By all indications this certainly relies upon the development of manufacturing industry, as was pointed out in the Governor-General’s address. But I point out that in South Australia the manufacturing industry is one of the key employment areas and consequently is the area to which our State looks in terms of recovery in the coming years. I am glad to say that the Fraser Government has addressed itself to that problem and has been seeking policies to reduce inflation, to lower interest rates and to increase the level of confidence in the community because these things will increase investment.
I am reluctant to speak now of some of the problems, largely home grown problems, that do arise in my State. I know that probably I will be accused of knocking my own State and of knocking those people who currently occupy the Treasury benches in the State Parliament. Nevertheless, I believe that these things have to be said in the interest of obtaining a clear picture about the recovery which is emerging for Australians generally and the limitations upon that recovery in South Australia. I shall give a short history lesson. South Australia came into its position of prominence in the Federation by virtue of the development of skills and abilities in its population to an extent somewhat greater than in other States. This is clear because South Australia has always had a great lack of resources. It has lacked the water and mineral resources which some of the luckier States have been able to exploit. South Australia did get going originally on the basis of copper development but since then there does not seem to have been much of that type of development.
Then we came to about the late 1930s- the beginning of the Second World War- when we were fortunate enough to have Thomas Playford elected as Premier of the State. It was his theory, his dream, that the State ought to develop by virtue of the development of manufacturing industry. The only way that it could do so was to employ the skills of the people to a better extent than in other States. South Australia succeeded in doing that and continued to do so until recent years. It did this chiefly on the basis of the simple theory upon which all great thoughts seem to be based; that is, that one should not expect to get more out of a product than one puts into it. Very simply, that relied upon the proposition that wage levels would be slightly lower in South Australia than in other States in order to compensate the exporter of goods to other States for the increased cost of transport. In order to compensate the wage earner for those lower wages, which was only reasonable, the objective of the Government of South Australia at that time was to keep living costs low also. That policy relied very heavily, first of all, on establishing a basis for cheap housing. In South Australia we have seen the development of the South Australian Housing Trust, which over a long period has provided a great deal of low cost housing for low income earners. It should not be said that that accommodation is insubstantial or inadequate; in fact, housing in South Australia is generally of a higher level than it is in other States.
-Well, this is a States House.
– We are great!
– I am glad to see that Senator Cavanagh agrees with the proposition that South Australia is great. Following the adoption of the simple proposition which I have outlined, South Australia prospered and, very largely, in terms of population, it grew at rates in excess of those which applied in other States. That was pretty clear until about 1968.
- Mr Hall became Premier then, did he not, and wrecked the place in two years?
– That is a funny remark when one realises that it was the Walsh Government which came into power in 1965 in South Australia and in a very short period reduced the State to ashes. In 1 968 it had to be taken over by the Hall Government, which tried to turn the situation around in a very short period. Of course, that Government was out of office by 1 970, when the rot really started to set in.
– Labor has been in ever since.
-That is correct. Let us look at one or two factors in relation to the proposition which I have put, namely, that South Australia’s development has been based very largely on the cost advantage it has had in relation to other States. What has happened during the period of the State Labor Government? In that period we have seen wage rises outstrip those of other States. Average weekly earnings increased from 1970-71 to 1976-77 by 209 per cent while in respect of Australia they increased by 204 per cent. This means that the wage differential between South Australia and New South Wales has fallen from 1 1 per cent to only 7 per cent and between South Australia and Victoria from 8 per cent to 6 per cent. Those lower percentages of six or seven per cent are now too low when compared with the added cost to freight goods between the States.
The next point relates to the cost of living. In Tom Playford ‘s view the second great element in his theory was that South Australia should have a cheaper cost of living than other States in order to offset the effect on the ordinary wage earner of cheaper labour costs. We find that from the December quarter of 1970 to the December quarter of 1977 the consumer price index increased by 216 per cent, bearing in mind that average weekly earnings increased by only 209 per cent, whereas the average increase for Australia was 204 per cent.
– Now tell us about Western Australia’s cost of living. It is the highest in Australia.
– I am sorry, I am unable to compare it with that. However, that argument it totally irrelevant. We are talking about issues in South Australia. In the past month or so a survey came out which disclosed that food and grocery producers revealed that food prices in Adelaide were higher than in other States due to the higher worker compensation payments and higher overheads in South Australia. We see somewhat similar increases in freight costs in South Australia to those in other States. These costs have increased, naturally, because of added fuel costs and so on. Over the past six or seven years these costs in South Australia certainly have not increased at rates disproportionate with the rates of increase in the rest of the community. So it is not freight costs in themselves that have caused any real problems for the development of South Australian industry. On the other hand, let us look at State taxation revenue. We find that in 1970-71 taxation revenue raised by the State Government totalled $58.7m. In 1976-77 it amounted to $325. 5m, which was an increase of 554 per cent. On a per capita basis that increase was something like 295 per cent. For Australia that increase was 222 per cent.
– The Government is providing a lot better service.
– It is one-third more, Senator McLaren. Just to give some answers to Senator McLaren’s point let us have a look at the cost of registering a Holden Kingswood sedan in South Australia compared with other States, that is the cost of stamp duty, registration and so on. A new Holden Kingswood 202 in Adelaide costs $33 1 to get on the road. I point out to Senator Coleman that in Perth it costs $ 1 3 1; in Brisbane, $162; in Sydney, $280, and in Melbourne, $328. So that the cost in South Australia is far and away ahead of the average Australian cost of registering a motor vehicle. Let us look at water rates imposed by the South Australian Government. The highest cost of water for consumption is something like 1 9c per kilolitre. I point out for Senator Coleman’s benefit that in Perth it costs 12.73c.
– They have water restrictions which we do not have in South Australia.
– I am very pleased that Senator McLaren has brought that point out because it is precisely the one I want to make. South Australia exists because things are done better than they are done in the same area in some of the other States. What has happened in relation to water conservation in South Australia is something outstanding. I know that and Senator McLaren knows that. It is the reason why South Australia has existed. It is not necessarily because of the Dunstan Labor Government. It is because of the far-sighted plans made by people back in the early part of this century in relation to the use of resources from the River Murray and the development of the Hills Reservoirs. I am sure Senator McLaren will acknowledge that.
– Could you pass some hints on to the present Government in Western Australia?
– I am sure the honourable senator will have an opportunity to express that view to some of her colleagues in Western Australia so that they can do something similar. In relation to workers’ compensation, the cost to employers in South Australia in 1 973-74 rose by the astronomical figure of 98.2 per cent over the figure for the previous year. In 1 974-75 there was an increase of another 92.9 per cent. In 1975-76 there was a rise of 40 per cent and luckily in 1976-77 the cost has risen by only 20 per cent. But why has this happened in South Australia, and is the situation really much worse than the situation in the other States? Perhaps we should examine the position. Let us have a look at the source cost of workers’ compensation insurance. We know that it relates to the benefits available to workers who are unfortunately injured and who consequently need to draw on workers’ compensation.
In South Australia compensation is based on average weekly earnings over the last 12 months of service which includes all additional benefits according to the award. In New South Wales, a Labor State, the current award rate applies for only the first 26 weeks. After that compensation is based on 90 per cent of average weekly earnings. In Victoria there is a $73 maximum pay-out per week with increases to make up the figure but these do not rise to the South Australian figure which is astronomical. So obviously there are reasons why costs in South Australia are higher than those in other States. It is this situation which ought to be attacked if we are to see an improvement in the local economy of my home State. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be in the list of priorities of the State Labor Government.
In the last day or so the Premier of my State saw fit to make a statement- he did not see fit to deliver it in South Australia but he had to go over the border to Melbourne- which affected the welfare and future of South Australians. The statement concerned the introduction of socalled industrial democracy in South Australia. Very little detail has been given in relation to this matter. I understand that the State Government intends to bring into the State area of control in the very near future what is known as worker participation in relation to such bodies as the electricity trust, the housing trust and so on. I understand the Government intends to legislate in relation to that. However, apparently the Government will introduce and extend that scheme after 1 980 to cover the private sector. We have already felt a great deal of disquiet in the commercial business community in Adelaide concerning this matter. I shall read a statement made by the Chairman of News Ltd, Sir Norman Young, at the annual general meeting of that company in November of last year. It was said publicly. He stated:
If South Australian companies are to bc controlled, in the future, by the joint forces of the trade unions and the Government, funds for new business projects and for business expansion will just not be available from the private sector. Who, in these circumstances, would want to invest their own money in a company in which the right to make major financial policy decisions has been taken away from the shareholders and handed over to the trade unions and the Government?
– That is a sheer exaggeration.
-Senator Georges might say that that is misleading.
– Sheer exaggeration, I said.
– Exaggeration, 1 am sorry I misquoted the honourable senator. The fact is that the principle of one-third of the directors being appointed by the unions, one-third by the Government and one-third by the shareholders is set out clearly in a policy document which was circulated by the South Australian Labor Party in 1975. That is a clear policy objective of the Labor Party in South Australia. There is no question of any exaggeration in that, Senator Georges. The general matter of worker involvement in his own work place is a most laudable ambition. It is something for which I would personally work. But the proposals of the Government in South Australia are not in the form of worker involvement. They are a form of worker control over private business. That is the point which Sir Norman Young was making in his statement. Of course, that is the point being made by other businessmen in the Adelaide community who are very worried about the future development of their State. It is pretty clear that the Government in South Australia intends to pursue this matter.
The Premier, when asked in the State Parliament last year about the objectives of the State Government in this matter, said that there was a list of companies available to the worker participation unit or the worker democracy unit, as it is called, which set out a priority list for pressuring those companies to implement this program over the next few years. That is the sort of program which is before us and which consequently leads to a great deal of concern in the business community and obviously to a great lack of confidence in investment in South Australian industry. If that is so, what, then, for the future of South Australian industry? That is a question which I am afraid cannot be answered here. Certainly, general policies in relation to the economy need to be developed and promoted by the Federal Government. The Federal Government will continue to do that in accordance with the policy set out in the Governor-General’s Speech. But there are local issues which are totally within the control of the South Australian Labor Government and which must be re-thought in order to ensure that South Australian industry gets going again. One has only to consider for a moment to realise the impact on the minds of potential investors of the mere statement of the Premier yesterday in Melbourne: ‘We will introduce worker democracy in private industry after 1 980 ‘. If private industry were at all concerned to invest in South Australia in the immediately subsequent period, clearly it would withhold all plans for investment until it knew what the Government actually had in mind. As we have just noted, those plans are spelled out, but they are not in the form of legislation and no rightthinking businessman would act until such an important matter was clarified. One would think that the Government of South Australia was actively out to destroy industry in that State. One would expect it rather to encourage industry to get going with investment by making the position clear, by enabling businessmen to arrive at decisions about their future. Instead, it casts more gloom around the place and creates more indecision amongst the businessmen of Adelaide.
I implore the Government of South Australia, in the interests of the people of our State, to reconsider its actions of the last few weeks in this matter, to take another look at State taxation and the problems wrought by the very high levels of benefits that accrue from workers compensation in South Australia. These things are at the core of our problems in that State. Until they are overcome I must reluctantly say that I have great hesitation about the future of the State. It worries me that South Australia cannot get going as rapidly as is possible in other States. I am sure that the South Australian Government is concerned about that situation, but apparently it is not aware of the facts and the impact its decisions are having on the business community. I implore it to rethink this whole matter. It is pretty clear that if it establishes an organisation for the economic development of South Australia but at the same time creates another organisation which is in contradistinction thereto, with exactly contrary objectives, such as the worker democracy unit, there will be very little development in South Australia.
I will conclude by referring to one or two points that Senator Button made. His was indeed a thoughtful speech on the institution of Parliament. I do not share his pessimism about the future of Australian society and Australian institutions, which seemed to be the keynote of his speech. In fact, the institution of Parliament as we know it will survive because of the goodwill of those who occupy the benches in it. I believe that that is the real key; the amount of regard that we members of Parliament have for the institution itself will determine its future. It is the goodwill of those of us who feel concern for its continuing development and extension into the life of Australian society that is important. The institution, of itself, will not solve problems; rather, it is we who belong to it who will make it work. That is what we on this side of the Parliament are committed to- making things work. Institutions in themselves are mere buildings and facades; it is the people in them who make them go. That has particular relevance in the situation that we have in South Australia.
Although I have been terribly parochial tonight, I feel that I speak on behalf of the small States in this regard. I again affirm my view of the vital position of the Senate in relation to the general life of the Australian community. I believe that it is the fullest expression of the contract between the States, of the Federal pact made back in 1 90 1 . We have seen it develop thus far. It has a long way to go, and I have the fullest faith in the development of this parliamentary institution. I support the motion.
– Before I call Senator Cavanagh I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in my Gallery of a highly-esteemed former senator for South Australia, Mr Jim Toohey. I am sure that all honourable senators will join me in welcoming him to this chamber and expressing the hope that he will enjoy his visit back to Canberra.
– Although later in my speech I want to deal with some of the criticism of the South Australian Government by the last speaker, Senator Messner, let me say first that I agree with him when he says that we South Australians are more brilliant than the mugs who live in other States. We are in agreement on that. The truth of that statement is reflected in the Government that we have in South Australia. I am sure that my statement that we are so far above the others would be endorsed by our distinguished visitor. We must not forget the sympathy we must have for those unfortunates who live in other States.
I congratulate Senator Haines on both her election to this Parliament- it was not a foregone conclusion- and her maiden speech tonight. Every maiden speech in such an august chamber represents a somewhat traumatic experience for the speaker, but the new senator handled herself with perfection in regard to her subject matter, method of delivery and accurate assessment of the practice of setting up placebos purporting to show concern about particular issues when in fact one is doing nothing about them. I regret, since I would like to see her continue in that vein, that her stay here will be of such short duration. Her position will then be taken, I believe, by someone whose politics would not lead us to expect the same contribution to the work of Parliament or assessment of the frailties and problems facing our society as she has given us this evening.
I mention this matter also because the election of Senator Haines was the first after the constitutional alteration which provided for the filling of a casual vacancy by a member of the party with which the retiring member had been associated at the time of entry to the Parliament. Not only was it the first occasion on which such a selection had to be made in South Australia, but also the senator who retired was from a party whose existence in South Australia was difficult to recognise. For that reason, the Liberal Party in that State submitted a nominee and urged at the joint sitting that its nominee should receive the selection.
– He has subsequently been elected by the people, to take his seat in the Senate on 1 July, has he not?
-That is a different matter. I am talking about the filling of a casual vacancy for the unexpired term of a senator who resigns. The contention of the Liberal Party was that the party to which Senator Steele Hall had belonged at the time of election had now merged with the Liberal Party and that, in accordance with the constitutional alteration, a Liberal Party member should receive the endorsement. The Labor Government, supported by Robin Millhouse, who is now leader of the Australian Democrats in South Australia, argued that the Liberal Movement of which Senator Steele Hall was a member when he was elected to the Senate no longer existed and that it had been taken over by the Australian Democrats. The Australian Democrats was, in fact, a new Liberal Movement party. Therefore, someone from the new party should fill the vacancy. Its nomination was Senator Haines. The Labor Government took the attitude that in accordance with the wish expressed in the change to the Constitution it should appoint someone close to the feeling of the electors at the time they elected the senator who had retired.
Senator Hall was elected for a three+year term. The second candidate on the ticket at that election is now in the State House as a Liberal Party member and would not have desired election to the Senate for a six-month period. The Labor Government thought that as Senator Haines was third on the ticket her appointment must express the wishes of the voting electorate at that time. That is what I query. That was the claim of the Labor Party in South Australia which appointed Senator Haines. However, the referendum proposal was not to fill a vacancy with someone who expressed the opinion of the electors at the time they elected the person who retired and created the vacancy. The replacement had to be a member of the same party. That is important. A party can change a belief over a period which could justify the appointment of a person from another party.
We remember the occasion when a member of the Labor Party died and the procedure was not followed. The then Opposition took advantage of the death of one of our senators and became capable of throwing a government out of office. In the referendum the electors of Australia decided that that should never happen again. Therefore, a person chosen to fill a casual vacancy had to be a member of the same party and not someone with the same thinking. There was a suggestion that the appointment by the State Government should have been held over until after the Federal elections so that if the fate of Senator Steele Hall was what it in fact proved to be he could be re-appointed for the six-month term as nearly expressing the opinion of the people who elected him. Everyone knows that at the time Senator Steele Hall was originally elected he had different beliefs, different politics and made different utterances than he had and made when he stood at the last election. He no longer represented the party for which he was originally elected. When he was a member of the Liberal Movement he was opposed to the Liberal Party. When he stood for a seat in the House of Representatives he supported the Liberal Party.
We must be careful in our interpretation of the wish of the people expressed in the constitutional referendum that we keep the numbers of the party for which the electorate originally voted so as not to give an advantage to another party which was not elected by the people of Australia. One cannot criticise. The attitude of the Dunstan Government and of Robin Millhouse may have been correct if one can associate the formation of the Australian Democrats with a takeover of the Liberal Movement. There is some doubt whether this could ever be justified. Nevertheless, if it cannot be justified, in the absence of a member from the same party as the senator who retired, the State Government was free to appoint whom it liked. It could have elected a Labor Party member but to give the Premier his due his justification for the appointment was that he thought he was better expressing the wish of the electors at the time and the referendum decision to change the Constitution by putting someone from the Australian Democrats into the Senate. That was the basis of the entrance to this place of Senator Haines. I think her speech tonight justified the South Australian selection.
This indicates the extent to which the South Australian Labor Government will go for the purpose of fairness and to carry on its interpretation of the democratic principles of the majority of voters. Senator Messner admitted that by a deliberate policy of the Fraser Government the wages and conditions of workmen in South Australia were suppressed.
– It was the Playford Government.
– And the Playford Government. The honourable senator admitted this tonight. He said that it was a good thing because it attracted industry by offering cheaper labour than the other States. He wanted a lower standard of living. Senator Walters told us today that Lee Kuan Yew asked: ‘How can you compete when you have a wage rate seven times as high as ours?’ Obviously if we reduced our wages and standards of living below those of workers in Singapore we could compete tomorrow. Does anyone want to do that? Does the South Australian Labor Government want to keep workers in South Australia down to the lowest level in Australia? We are condemned tonight because the Dunstan Government and the Walsh Government did not. The wage rate in South Australia is now comparable with Australian standards. It is not higher; in many cases it is not as high. Until recently the unemployment figures in South Australia were the lowest. Senator Messner pointed to the hesitancy of industry to start up in South Australia. Where is it starting up anywhere in Australia? It is closing down. The standard of living in South Australia is now high.
Senator Messner is a supporter of this Government. It said in the Governor-General ‘s Speech that it is a government for all the people of Australia. Does he therefore think that the workers’ compensation paid to the individual who suffers an injury and may give his life in service to an employer should not be as high as possible? His criticism tonight was that a person receives payment of the wage he was receiving and that payment is not reduced to 26 weeks as it is in New South Wales or to $73 as it is in Victoria? Does he want these standards to apply in South Australia? Is that his intention for the State he represents? Does he want to return Playford to reduce conditions for workers to this extent? Yet Senator Messner is a supporter of the Government which yesterday said: ‘We represent all the people of Australia’. Surely there never can be justification for Senator Messner ‘s utterances tonight.
The comparison between water rates is irrelevant because there is no State in Australia which has the difficulty that South Australia has in bringing water to its metropolitan area in terms of the cost involved in pumping and purification. Instead of ridiculing South Australia’s elected Government and the standard of living in South Australia the Federal Government should give to South Australia those rewards and monetary payments which were promised by it but which have not been given. Senator Messner should go to Whyalla where there is the highest level of unemployment in Australia. That level of unemployment could be greatly reduced tomorrow if there were a Federal Government subsidy for the building of rolling stock. If he goes to Senator McLaren’s area of Mannum he will see the machinery industry closed down and no money forthcoming from the Federal Government to provide employment opportunities. This is another of the placebos that Senator Haines was talking about. Senator Haines asked why we cry crocodile tears and condemn the Government reigning in a particular State when we know that we have the purse strings here but will not do anything to alleviate the situation in the States. This has been the tenor of the Address-in-Reply debate today. The Governor-General said yesterday:
My Government rejects the notion that there can be a trade-off between inflation and unemployment. It will continue to give the highest priority to reducing inflation, for only in this way can there be a sustained reduction in unemployment.
We now have the highest level of unemployment since the Depression days, the dim dark 1930s. The Government has been elected for another 3 years on its pledge that it will continue to do what it has done over the past 2 years, that is, to reduce government expenditure and tighten the belts of everyone in order to reduce inflation. It hopes that in this way it will cure unemployment. In the meantime we find that unemployment is increasing.
The Opposition acknowledges that the Government got an overwhelming vote last December. I believe it got the overwhelming vote because of the Labor Party’s threat to take away the taxation reductions that were coming in February. It must be remembered that in the November Gallup poll Labor was 3 per cent ahead and increasing its lead. It was only after our unfortunate policy speech was delivered and later exploited in false advertising by the Liberal Party that we saw our popularity drop and Fraser’s popularity rise. There was false publicity to the effect that Labor was going to rob electors. There were advertisements showing a fistful of notes to indicate that that was what Labor was going to take off the people. Our purpose was to relieve unemployment which Mr Whitlam, the Gallup polls and the Australian public said was the major issue. On the other hand, Mr Fraser said: ‘Get inflation down ‘.
Mr Fraser made another false statement about the reduction of the inflation rate when he said: We have reduced inflation to 9 per cent and by the end of February there will be a regular sustained reduction in unemployment’. His time is almost up and no one imagines that in the next couple of weeks there will be a growth in employment opportunities. The electors believed that there would be a reduction in unemployment in 1978, commencing after February, and accordingly gave their votes to the Government. I do not suppose that we can complain if the Government continues with its harsh policies because the people have agreed to this by reelecting the Government but organisations such as my Party cannot stand idly by and watch the destruction of those things that have been built up by people in Australia for the protection and improvement of the lifestyle of people in this country.
The Governor-General also made this declaration in his speech:
My Government will continue to support industrial laws which protect the rights of individual unionists and which contribute to a just and orderly system of industrial relations.
That is little better than a cliche. The Government talks about the rights of individual unionists but everyone knows, as a result of past legislation and the threats now being made against officers of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, that the protection of individual unionists really means the promotion of scabs and the protection of non-unionists in Australia. Everyone knows that this is an attack on the union movement. The Government should not think that the union movement will stand idly by and let that happen. The Government will find that it has a lot more to do before that happens. Criticism has been levelled at the South Australian Government over the Salisbury sacking. Senator James McClelland said tonight that nothing leads to revolution quicker than the belief that there has been fraud and that there is no way out of it. Contrary to what Senator Walters said about there being no demonstration of violence, there are many demonstrations today which result in violence. No one likes to believe that we had to have the squad of police that we had in this building yesterday. Nobody likes to believe that it was unsafe to stop at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney last week. There is nothing to suggest that we will prevent these demonstrations of violence unless there is complete faith in our system and thus it is not necessary for people to revert to violence.
It is difficult to pin down blame for the Hilton Hotel explosion to any organisation. The trend in relation to recent explosions throughout the world is for organisations to boast that they had set the trap. It is useless for someone to place a bomb at a meeting of heads of government unless that person, obviously wishing to make an impression, indicates the person for whom the bomb is meant. The Ananda Marga movement, about which there is great suspicion because of its recent actions, has denied that it is responsible for the explosion. It could well be that the person responsible did not intend the bomb to go off. There is no evidence of a time fuse having been placed in the bomb. The person responsible would not have thought that the bomb, which was just outside the steps of the hotel, would be removed by garbagemen and placed in a pressing machine, thus causing the explosion. If that is so there could have been only one purpose in placing the gelignite almost on the steps of the hotel and that was to prove that all the securityand the security arrangements at that time were the greatest we have seen- is still not protection enough if the determination is there. Therefore we have to convince people that no good can come from causing violence to any person or any group.
The Ananda Marga group claims that its leader, who has been convicted for being implicated in some six murders, has been wrongfully imprisoned. I think anyone would agree that if this charge is proved he justifiably should be locked up for the rest of his life. However, members of the group are asking for a retrial. Some doubt has been cast upon the previous trial in India. There is justification for being suspicious about trials that have taken place in India during the latter years of the regime of Mrs Ghandi. This country must never degenerate to the stage where we have no faith in our institutions, courts and parliament.
Whether we like it or not we know that there will be more incidents of terrorism in Australia. We know that eventually someone we like and love, perhaps a colleague, will suffer as a result of the spread of terrorism and violence in this country. We cannot sacrifice everything in order to obtain the protection which we do not get from our system of protection- the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and other security bodies. No one disputes the need for ASIO or some other security body in Australia recording, among other things, information concerning those who are a genuine threat to security. Don Dunstan in South Australia has said that; he has agreed with it. He has said in correspondence to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser): ‘We want an agreement’. Honourable senators heard the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) today say that the Commonwealth agrees with Mr Dunstan that an arrangement between the States and Commonwealth in respect of what security records should be kept and how security information should be transmitted from the States to the federal body should be established on a proper legislative basis. Therefore, there is complete agreement on this matter.
However, the Press in South Australia took up this question when Mr Salisbury was dismissed. The State Government had no alternative other than to dismiss Mr Salisbury because Mr Acting Justice White ‘s report disclosed that the Special Branch of the South Australian Police Force was not a collector of security material; it was a collector for the Liberal Party of information about the Australian Labor Party members and trade unionists. The Liberal Party and the establishment of Australia were immediately up in arms because they were to lose this source for obtaining information on their political opponents, and they have aroused indignation in South Australia over the question. The Hope report has disclosed that Peter Coleman, the Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in New South Wales, supplied Mr Maynes, a journalist, with five ASIO files for the purpose of providing documentation for an article which the journalist was to write in a publication which I believe is registered in Mr Coleman’s name.
The source of information for the Liberal Party was threatened with destruction as a result of Mr Acting Justice White’s report. Why is it necessary to compile a complete record of the activities of a churchman who attends a peace demonstration? What has that to do with security? Why should a record be made of a prominent member of the Liberal Party in South Australia who is considered to be a security risk because he was once seen in or adjacent to a leftwing bookshop? This is the sort of information that is contained in security files in South Australia. The Premier of the State- the appointed custodian of the State administration -said to the head of the South Australian Police Department: ‘The files must be related to genuine security matters. You misled the Parliament’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I welcome the opportunity to enter the AddressinReply debate. One might well be forgiven for thinking that we have just been listening to debates in the Legislative Assembly of South Australia as we listened to the last and recent desperate defence of the Dunstan Government. I want to bring the Senate back to what is happening in Australia. We represent Australia and therefore I want to return to matters of concern to the whole of Australia.
– You do not seem concerned about the land inquiry in Victoria?
– I will not be drawn into dealing with every State in Australia or any part of the Territories. I shall deal with issues that I think are important and should be raised during this debate.
First, I want to congratulate Senator Haines who made her maiden speech tonight. She gave a very cogent and interesting speech. I wish her every success in her short term in this place bringing before the Parliament matters in which she obviously shows great interest.
Senator Cavanagh, who spoke after Senator Haines, proceeded with a somewhat turgid defence of the decision to appoint Senator Haines and in somewhat of a shame-faced way spoke of Mr Millhouse ‘s views on the Constitution. Senator Cavanagh seemed to think his thoughts were quite irrevelant- that somehow the election of a successor to Senator Hall was related to the constitutional amendment which this Parliament and the people, adopted last year. Quite obviously it was not. It was probably the only example since Federation where a retiring senator belonged to a party which ceased to exist. Therefore, as provided for in the Constitution, unaltered by the amendment, the State from which the senator was elected had the unfettered right to choose a senator. Of course, we know the State of South Australia chose Senator Haines and she has this term to serve. The people of South Australia then elected Senator-elect Baden Teague, a very able man, who will take up his term in July. I do not propose to enter into what is a turgid and useless argument at this stage.
I want to turn to some aspects of the AddressinReply Speech because that is what we are concerned with. First of all I want to turn to those references in the Speech that relate to civil liberties and to legislation which the Government proposes to proceed with in this area. This matter was the subject of some cynical discussion by Senator Button earlier this afternoon. Whilst I agree with one thing that the honourable senator mentioned, I think he was well wide of the mark in respect of the other matters he raised. You will recall, Mr Deputy President, that the Government has said that it will carry on its continuing program of law reform. This is a program which during the last two years has gone a long way towards designing protection of civil liberties and enhancing individual rights.
It is proposed to establish a Human Rights Commission. A Bill was put before the previous Parliament to enable public discussion to take place on this matter. Freedom of information legislation is very much in the final stages of preparation. Legislation in respect of security appeals tribunals is among the things which the Parliament has been promised.
Senator Button referred to the fact that it was highly desirable that this country should ratify the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which we signed in 1972. I believe that this action should be taken. The sooner we take it the better, particularly in view of the fact that we are now part of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. We have been elected to that body and therefore I think it is highly desirable that we should ratify the Covenant. Senator Button spoke of the position of a person in Queensland who resigned from his position as principal of a school for the purpose of taking part in the last election and whom the Queensland Premier has refused to allow to return to his job. I regard that as a significant lack of appreciation and lack of consideration of human rights. Likewise, I think that the actions in regard to Mr John Sinclair over Fraser Island and his subsequent sufferings are significant depredations of human rights.
I think it essential that we have to have operating in this country a human rights commission that investigates and draws to the attention of the public any cases of human rights not being properly protected in this country. On that I agree with Senator Button.
But I do not agree with his comments regarding other aspects of the Government ‘s programfor example, the announcement about the freedom of information legislation. Senator Button said that this legislation had been promised for two years. That is not right. It has been promised for about five years. It was promised for three years by the Whitlam Government, which never got around to putting any Bill before the Parliament. It brought experts from overseas to look into the preparation of freedom of information legislation, but it never reached the position of actually putting any legislation before the Parliament. I think I can say that the work that has been done by members of the Government parties in the preparation and completion of this legislation is such that it will stand the test of time. It is important that when this legislation comes forward it be full blooded legislation and be similar to that legislation which now operates very successfully in the United States of America. I for one will be very keen, as will other members of the Government parties, to see the legislation and to ensure in its passage through the Parliament that it is very worthwhile and effective legislation. There is no reason to accept Senator Button’s somewhat cynical view that, because it has not been seen yet it will be, as he described it, an anatomical freak and will not be comparable with the United States legislation. He speaks without knowledge of it and he speaks without having any way of judging it. I think that he will be found to be incorrect. I hope that he will be pleased if the legislation turns out to be useful.
There is also, in that part of the Speech regarding civil liberties reference to the introduction and establishment of a Security Appeals Tribunal to ensure that security assessments are subject to an appeal system and safeguard individual liberties. I believe that it is highly essential that we should have that in this country. At this stage I must draw attention to a disagreement I have with what my colleague Senator Walters said earlier this afternoon when she was discussing the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s files. She made the contention, which I think to be quite unsound, that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. There is much to fear from inaccurate reports. My experience over many years as a lawyer and as a politician has been that there have been many occasions when people have not been able to get jobs in the Public Service because others have made certain allegations about them and those allegations have been collected in a file. It is highly essential, and the Government has recognised it in this proposed legislation, that there be somebody sitting in appeal who can look at these documents and see whether they are soundly based. I think that experience is against what Senator Walters said. One may have nothing to hide but one may find that people have made allegations against one and those allegations stand against one for a long time. I welcome the legislation which the Government proposes to introduce and which I believe will lead to a great improvement in our civil liberties in this area.
I must say that in this area of civil liberties there is no mention of the Criminal Investigation Bill which was before the Parliament in the last session and which was the subject of a great deal of public comment and of public recommendations to the Government. I do not take it, from that omission that no action will be taken. Those matters were considered in great detail by Government committees. I hope that the Bill, which of course was based essentially on the recommendations in the reports of the Australian Law Reform Commission, is one that we will see again in this Parliament and that the recommendations that have been made by many organisationspolice, civil liberties bodies and otherswill come forward as legislation in this Parliament.
I believe that the situation that we have in this country, whereby there is great criticism of some elements of the police forces and whereby some elements that are irresponsible are very often capable of bringing into disrepute the whole system of law enforcement in this country, is not satisfactory. One does not have to go from one State to another and to examine the reports and allegations made in one State or another to realise that there is a need for review of the investigative processes that the police and other organisations undertake. I will certainly be asking questions about such legislation, which does not rate a mention in the Governor-General’s Speech but which I hope will be proceeded with in this Parliament.
The second aspect with which I propose to deal in regard to the Governor-General ‘s Speech is the reference in it to our essential needs in regard to exports. It is very important to note that the Governor-General said:
Essential to my Government’s economic program is the growth of Australian industry, the development of our resources, and a renewed emphasis on growth in exports. These hold the key to greater prosperity and the creation of more jobs.
He went on to say:
My Government has embarked on a major program to boost exports.
Increased access to overseas markets will be actively sought, and in particular my Government is determined to press for fair access to the markets of the major trading blocs.
It seems to me to be quite essential that we get underway in succeeding much more in selling our products abroad. I was a member of a group of members of the Government parties who were in Japan and China for some weeks and who have just returned to Australia. We discussed with the authorities in those two countries the trading position among the three nations. We found there a great desire for increasing opportunities for trade. There is no doubt that the essence of Japan’s economy is her ability to trade abroad- for example, her ability to trade with us and with China. We read only a few days ago of a $20,000m trade agreement being negotiated between’ China and Japan. That represents an enormous and very important increase in trade for both of those countries.
So far as we are concerned it is obvious that there are areas of our trade that leave something to be desired.
While in Japan we had an opportunity to discuss the vexed question of beef exports to Japan and the fact that good quality beef- perhaps not the most expensive sort on which the Japanese sometimes rely- is coming in from Australia at one price and finally reaching the consumers in Japan at 10 times that price. It would appear, without going into this matter in great detail, that there is undoubtedly a great weakness in the distribution system in Japan. There are a great number of matters that ought to give concern to the Japanese people. I think it is important that the Australian traders and the Australian Government should be able to get to the consumers of Japan- to the people who live in their millions in the cities and who I believe desire to consume a lot of beef but at a reasonable price. We are in a position to provide such beef.
– There is a problem with the Country Party in Japan, is there not?
– I did not notice any Country Party. We had discussions with the new Liberal Club, which is a breakaway group, and the Liberal Democrats in Japan. I believe that we could do quite a lot with the consumers in Japan. I think that our interests and their interests coincide very much. I believe also that there is obviously a very intense desire to increase trade between Australia and China, the other country that we visited. The ViceChairman of the People’s Republic, Mr Ulanfu, who led the delegation of the Chinese people here last year, specifically said to us in the Great Hall that China wanted not only particular goods from Australia but also our expertise and knowhow. China wants to learn from us about the way in which we have managed to produce primary products in great quantities. There is no doubt that the Chinese Government, under its present leadership, desires to have a great deal more activity in overseas trade. It regards Australia as a friendly country and one with which China can have a lot of dealings.
Overall, I believe that the promotion of exports referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech require us to be much more adventurous in our dealings with the South East Asian countries near to us. I believe that there are many markets to be obtained and that, in seeking them, we would not be in the position that Senator Cavanagh would have us in, namely merely sitting here protecting a standard of living, fearful of letting in imports from these countries. We will have to take imports from these countries if we are going to export to them. We will have to increase our imports, and we will therefore have to decide between industries in this country that are never likely to be viable and those that provide a lot of employment and are viable. Those are long term decisions but we should be looking at them now, knowing that we might not be able to make some decisions immediately because of our unemployment situation. We must know where we are going in the future and how we are going to increase our trading opportunities with our neighbours in the Asian countries and with China and Japan. I believe that those matters touched on in the Governor-General’s Speech are going to be of great importance to us in the next three years.
Apart from the matters contained in the Speech I wish to refer to two or three other issues. Things have happened in this country, both during the election period and since that time, which I think ought to have our immediate concern. One thing which happened during the course of the election campaign and which I regard as a matter of some seriousness was the premature disclosure of the report on human relationships. Three distinguished Australian citizens- Justice Evatt, an archbishop of my own church, and a leading public figure- spent a long time preparing the report. I do not say that I agee with everything in that report. I have read some parts of it and I would be very hard to persuade on some of them. But I felt that it was a very grave disservice to the commissioners that parts of the report were leaked out and thrown into the election campaign.
– Leaked out or picked out?
– Leaked out. Whatever may have been the way in which they came out, I thought that it was a grave injustice to the commissioners who sat for so long and heard so much evidence. The report deserves more than that and I believe that it has been wrongly dealt with. It since quite properly has become public knowledge and now deserves careful consideration and detailed debate in this Parliament. Politics should not be used as the basis for passing judgment on the report. An earlier Parliament decided to refer these very difficult questions to the commissioners. Now that their report has been received I believe that the Parliament has a duty to consider that report and to come to conclusions on whether the recommendations are wise or not.
The second matter that concerns me and which occurred in the last few months was the de facto recognition that we gave to the Indonesian take-over of Timor in January 1978. Because I was out of the country at the time I feel that it is only right that I should repeat the consistent view that I have expressed for some two years. I have made consistent criticisms of the Indonesian take-over from the time that I first attacked the Labor Foreign Minister because we did not take a stand at the very beginning of the trouble in 1974-75. Since that time we have had something to answer for. I believe that the de facto recognition was an unwise decision, at this time anyway. I know that it is a de facto recognition only and not a recognition in law; nonetheless it has been adopted by the Indonesian Government as giving it some justification for its actions. I recognise that in our previous actions we have not had much support from other countries in the Western world. Although the United States apparently was refusing to give wartime supplies to Indonesia at one stage, it now admits that at that time it was continuing to make those supplies available to the Indonesian Government. We have not been guilty of any such deception, but I believe that successive governments in this country, and particularly the previous Government, will have a lot to answer for in the future. We may be seen to have been somewhat too complacent about this matter.
I believe that since the last war we have had a continuing obligation to the Timorese people. I have said before and I will say again now that we continue to have that obligation to them. There are only 600,000 Timorese, but after all we are only 13 million here and if we were attacked we too would expect people to come to our aid.
I believe that the Government will continue to press for proper decisions in regard to the reunion of Timorese families in this country, and there are many of them, and that would be seen as an improvement. I trust that we will press further for the International Red Cross to go into Timor and see what is going on there. We must continue to regard this matter as being one in which we have very substantial obligations. Whilst I regret the decision that was made, it was a matter of judgment so far as the Government was concerned, and I believe that it in no way lessens our obligations to or interest in the area.
The third matter with which I wish to deal is the continuing state of unemployment, which we must recognise as being a heavy responsibility and one on which we should concentrate very thoroughly in this Parliament. Undoubtedly unemployment amongst migrants is higher than unemployment amongst other sections of the population, and that is a matter of considerable concern. So also is the problem of unemployment amongst the youth of the community. I have spoken about this subject in previous speeches and I refer to it again, although I will not go into the detail one should give to such an important subject. People who have finished their period of education and who in many cases are not properly trained for jobs in the community in the first year or so after they complete their education are in a tremendously important formative stage. If we do not provide them with proper and worthwhile employment opportunities in this country we socially endanger the future of that generation. Those people cannot sit about without worthwhile employment without great damage being done to our community. I believe that the Government and the Parliament will treat that matter with great urgency.
In the three years ahead of us we have important things to consider so far as the Constitution of this country is concerned. In the last few years we have found some weaknesses and obscurities in our constitutional situation. We have not yet found solutions to those problems. We have perhaps reduced some of the great heat which existed at the time of the consitutional crisis on 11 November 1975.
– Do you not think that the three referendums which gained affirmative votes are a hope for the future and indicate that people are becoming more broad-minded?
– Yes, I agree very much with Senator Mulvihill. We did get broad agreement. In fact we even got a 62 per cent vote for the fourth referendum, although it did not get the necessary four-State majority but achieved a three-all result. However, the substantial support gained I think indicates very favourably that we ought now to get on to the more difficult areas and try to find solutions to problems such as the relationship between the two Houses of the Parliament. What will happen in another crisis? We should not leave these things until there are differences of a parliamentary nature between one House and another, with different parties controlling the two Houses. We must get on to these issues and try to find dialogue and solutions, whether through the Constitutional Convention or through our individual activities. I would like to see, among other reforms, fixed terms for the Parliament. It seems to me that we have too many elections and too early elections in this country. I think that we ought soon to come to a situation where we know when elections will be held. This is not a revolutionary proposal; it is something which the United States of America has had throughout its history. I can find nothing in the Westminster system of government that requires, for example, a Prime Minister to have some special right to choose, in consultation with the Governor-General, a time when there should be an election. I think it would be very useful as one possible solution to our problems if we had a fixed term, we knew where we were and we knew when the elections would be.
But that is just one of many issues that I think ought to be looked at quite fearlessly in the time ahead. A question has been raised about the financial interests of members of Parliament and others and Sir Nigel Bowen is making an inquiry into this matter. It was pointed out today that we had a report of this Parliament some time ago, but I believe there is a criticism of that report that it may not be practical in its proposals. It will not do any harm to have a further investigation of this matter by an eminent judge. It is important that we do look into these questions. Here again we must put aside some of our party differences and consider not whether it is in our interests or someone else ‘s interests but what is better for the working of our democratic system.
Having recently been in the United States of America and Japan and having looked at their political systems and the way in which members of Parliament are paid and political parties financed, I am not too happy that we should follow along their lines. So many countries not only have control or disclosure of the pecuniary interests of members of Parliament, but have even reached the situation where political parties are to some extent financed by the country. I think this should be looked at also in order to ascertain whether it would be practical in this country. So much money is spent on television and other political expenditures and political parties are so dependent on outside resources that I think it is somewhat dangerous to the democratic system and we must find some bipartisan approach if we are to achieve some reform. I mention these areas at this time because I believe that as we proceed into this Parliament we have a great obligation.
We as a Government have been elected by a very strong majority and that is an important thing. I acknowledge that this does not mean that governments should just make up their own minds and parliaments meekly follow. The Parliament- and the Senate in particular as a house of review- must, I think, be considering legislation very carefully and making up its own mind. It is important that we each do our duty, that we develop our systems of committees in this Senate particularly to a more effective range and that the Parliament work better in this democratic era.
With these things in mind I hope that the three years of this Parliament will increase the Parliament’s standing in the eyes of the people. I do not regard it as very high. We see denigration every day. It is very easy for a member of the Press to have a go at members of the Parliament. I believe that most of my colleagues on both sides of the chamber work very hard and that they are in fact desirous of trying to help effectively the operation of democracy in this country. It is up to us in our legislation and in our speeches to enhance the jurisdiction and the respect which the people hold for this Parliament. I hope that I can contribute a little bit to that improvement and I hope that this debate overall will contribute ideas that we can use in the next three years of this Government.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, after nearing Senator Missen ‘s views on international trade and the takeover of East Timor by Indonesia, his condemnation of the highest in the land who selectively leak for cynical political gains the contents of reports, and his repudiation of the crazy logic displayed by Senator Walters earlier today, I note with some satisfaction that the Liberal Party of Australia is not entirely bereft of conscience and intelligence. But those attributes, I note with some sadness, are almost extinct. It must be a severe embarrassment to Senator Missen to be a member of a party led by such a man as Mr Fraser and which includes Senator Walters.
Senator Messner in his contribution to this debate proposed that the criterion by which the success and efficiency of a government could be judged was that government’s success in controlling consumer prices. It is an empirical fact that Western Australia- which when the present Premier, Sir Charles Court, came into office had the lowest consumer prices in Australia and the lowest rate of increase- now has the highest consumer prices in Australia, and ever since September 1974 it has the highest rate of increase. When Sir Charles Court became Premier the consumer price index in Perth was 142 and the weighted average of the six State capitals was 148. In Perth the consumer price index is now 242 and in the six State capitals it is 239. It has increased by 70 per cent in Western Australia and by 61 per cent nationally. So I note that by the criterion proclaimed by Senator Messner the Court Government in Western Australia is the most incompetent government in the country. I will not argue with Senator Messner about his assessment of the Court Government.
The opening Speech made by the GovernorGeneral yesterday shamelessly repeated the unfulfilled platitudinous promises and the, by now, demonstrable falseness of its 1976 predecessor. We have heard it all before. But the cargo that the first speech promised has not been delivered. The cargo that the second speech promises will not be delivered either. It is interesting to look back on the Speech of 17 February 1 976, the opening Speech to the Parliament of the first Fraser Government. Through the mouth of the then Governor-General, the Government said that there could again be jobs for all who wanted to work. Since such a statement was made, 102,000 extra people are looking for work which they cannot find. As part of this approach, that is, a welfare approach, the then Government said: ‘We will place great emphasis on directing welfare assistance to those in real need’. Twelve days ago this Government appointed to an ambassadorial position a person who draws and will continue to draw a Governor-General’s pension of $650 a week in addition to a salary of $570 a week. So much for directing assistance to those in real need!
The then Government in 1976 said that it would ‘expand job opportunities in the private sector’. I will return to that later. Turning to rural matters the Government said: ‘The Government has taken action to assist the rural community to overcome its present crisis’. What action has the Government taken? Since that statement was made net farm incomes have fallen by 20 per cent in real terms. Even Mr Anthony, I note in his speech to the National Country Party made on 18 February, said that rural incomes had fallen by 30 per cent in the last three years. I am gratified that Mr Anthony finally acknowledges the truth. Since three years ago when the Labor Government was in power rural incomes have fallen by 30 per cent. What action has this Government taken to offset that decline? If it has taken any action it obviously has not been effective and it does not contemplate any new initiatives. It was further claimed in 1976-1 again use the Government’s words- that:
The Government is pursuing energetically proposals for a Rural Bank and a Farm Income Reserve Fund.
It pursued its proposals for a Rural Bank so energetically in fact that in the dying days of the previous Parliament it introduced legislation, which had been written for it and had been directed to it by the Australian Bankers Association, to set up an institution which it called a ‘Rural Bank’, one which does not provide a full range of specialist banking services, is subject to the iniquitous lender of last resort provisions, and which still has not been established. So much for the Government’s energetic pursuits of that goal! Now the Prime Minister lectures the world on the virtues of free trade; he who in December last made a primary virtue of virtual import competition. What credibility in the councils of the world has such a man?
Turning to the Governor-General’s Speech delivered yesterday, I note that in the very first paragraph of the Speech the Prime Minister bignoted himself by having included a reference to the largest gathering of government leaders ever to meet in the country. That is a reference to the farcical Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting. The Speech then proclaims that our nation’s prospects are limitless. Reference is then made to the Government’s priorities, which include:
To build on the progress we have made in the last two years, defeat inflation and unemployment, and restore full economic health to our country.
Those words come from a Government which has presided over an increase of 102,000 in the number of unemployed in the two years in which it has been in office. Returning to a favoured theme of the Prime Minister, it was then stated that government spending had been brought under control. In 1 975 the then Opposition and the then Opposition Leader in particular made a major political issue of the size of the deficit. If we look at the deficit for the current financial year we now find that, by the Government’s own admission and by the admission of the new Treasurer (Mr Howard), the deficit will overshoot the estimate by several hundred million dollars.
The current estimate of the size of the deficit, as calculated by this Government, is about $3,000m, and quite possibly higher. If we make the appropriate adjustments for the cosmetic accountancy tricks to which this Government has resorted in calculating the deficit in 1975-76 and in this financial year and we add into that $3 billion the $300m Telecom capital raising which has been transferred from the public accounts to the private loan market with absolutely no effect on the money supply or on anything else except what is written in those books, and we add the $200m which the Fraser Government shamelessly pre-paid to the States on 30 June 1 976 in order artificially to inflate the deficit figure for that financial year, we find that in fact the likely deficit confronting the nation today is higher than the deficit actually recorded in 1975-76; a deficit which the present Prime Minister then claimed was absolutely catastrophic. Of course, I hasten to dissociate myself from the primitive and erroneous economic views expressed by the Prime Minister on this matter. I just note that he stands condemned out of his own mouth. Yesterday’s speech continued:
This Government’s economic policies will continue to be based on: Rigorous restraint of Government expenditure so as to provide for longer term expansion in the private sector.
Since January 1976, when this Government came to power, the number of people in private employment has declined in fact by no fewer than 198,000. ‘Expansion of the private sector’, as defined by this Government and by this Prime Minister, means a contraction of nearly 200,000 in the level of employment. As the Australian Financial Review editorial today noted when assessing the puerile speech which we heard yesterday:
As yet there is no evidence of doubt within the Government as to the private sector’s intrinsic strength unilaterally to create the conditions for an economic take-off.
The private sector, the stimulation of which this Government proclaimed to be its primary policy objective, is in decline. There is every indication that it will continue to be in decline. Mr President, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the original and the seasonally adjusted level of private employment in January and October 1976 and in October 1977.
The document read as follows-
The opening Speech continued:
My Government rejects the notion that there can be a trade-off between inflation and unemployment.
As the Australian Financial Review editorial again noted, that statement is contradicted by the Government’s statements in other areas. The A Australian Financial Review commented:
The two, unemployment and inflation, are, of course, connected. Mr Fraser may believe that there is no relationship between increased unemployment and the breaking of the inflationary psychology. If he does he is the only one in Canberra.
The Government asserts that there is a positive correlation between the level of inflation and the level of unemployment. Everybody else asserts virtually the opposite; namely, that there is a negative correlation between the two. But it is the policy proclamation or the doctrinal belief of this Government, as proclaimed in yesterday’s Speech, that there is a positive correlation between the rate of inflation and the level of unemployment. For the purpose of this analysis, let us accept that as true. The Government claims that inflation has fallen and is continuing to fall. It follows logically that if both those premises are correct the level of unemployment will be coming down with the rate of inflation. The level of unemployment is going up, and is going up at an accelerating rate. The Speech then states:
Substantial tax cuts have already been achieved through tax indexation . . .
Tax indexation, even if fully applied, does not represent tax cuts. In fact, tax indexation applied at the same rate as the increase in earnings ensures that the proportion of income paid in tax remains constant. The tax indexation factor has been less than 100 per cent because this Government has fiddled around with it to make corrections for the effects of devaluation. It has admitted that in July next year it is going to use only a 50 per cent indexation factor anyway.
Later the Speech referred to the alleged concern of this Government for the unfortunate victims of circumstance. On Monday of last week we got the first instalment of this Government’s concern in that respect when, by order of the Department of Social Security, directed by the Government, a blitzkrieg was launched against the unemployed in an attempt to intimidate people from applying for the unemployment benefit and to encourage them not to register for that benefit so that there would be a cosmetically attractive and false adjustment to the unemployment statistics. The next thing which we can anticipate in this area, I predict, is an abolition of the publication of Commonwealth Employment Service statistics altogether. The Government will solve the unemployment problem by defining it out of existence.
Last week at the CHOGRM conference the Prime Minister finally recognised the severe difficulties imposed on the Australian economy by the continuing international recession. Whilst it is pleasing again to note that a moment of partial enlightenment has arrived for the Prime Minister, it is interesting to contrast that admission with his bold assertion at the ANZUS conference in January 1975, when he said:
When political leaders say the present situation cannot be helped, it is part of a world situation, they are expressing the futility of their own leadership when if they were men of real stature, they would be saying, ‘we can overcome’.
I suppose it is not really surprising that that repudiation finally surfaced a couple of weeks ago. Public morality a couple of weeks ago also plummeted to a new depth when the architect of the assorted repudiations which I have been citing in what was, even for him, an act of breathtaking cynicism, appointed the ambassador to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. The Prime Minister, who speaks of concern for the needy and the need to concentrate government assistance on the needy, resurrected a position which he had made a virtue of abolishing 18 or 20 months ago. He appointed to fill that position a vulgar racecourse drunk, a drunk who will continue to draw his $650 a week pension in addition to his $570 a week salary. Senator Withers, in a feeble apologia this afternoon, in answer to a question from Senator Button was, if I may borrow an expression, caught with his pants down. He tried to explain away this extraordinary appointment on the grounds that trade demands at the Embassy in Paris and the increasing workload on the Embassy had made it necessary to hive-off portion of the Ambassador’s and of the Embassy’s previous responsibilities. Senator Withers was somewhat stunned, if I may say so, when Senator Button then asked him why 26 people had been retrenched from the Embassy staff as an economic measure. The Prime Minister has insulted the nation. Australia will be represented in an international forum by the person who made such a disgusting spectacle of himself at Flemington Racecourse last November. Everybody knows he did because six million people saw it.
– We should send Bob Hawke, should we? He has never done that?
– I do not know what inference about some former senator Senator Rae is trying to make. However, we did not resurrect a position which we had made a virtue of abolishing. The Prime Minister in a Press release in an even more feeble apologia for this reprehensible action of his, said that Sir John Kerr was admirably qualified for the post of Ambassador. Evidently, from that assertion, we must assume that the primary qualification for an ambassador is many years of chronic alcoholism. This is a pay-off as everybody knows.
– Who appointed him?
- Senator Rae apparently is denying that Sir John Kerr was drunk at Flemington Racecourse on 1 November 1977. 1 shall leave judgment on that matter to the six million people who saw him. Yesterday we saw what Senator Button succinctly described as a publicity stunt, rather than a security operation, outside Parliament House. Of course, everybody deplores the shocking loss of life which followed the planting and subsequent explosion of the bomb in Sydney. But in the hysteria which the Prime Minister has attempted to whip up over this issue, let it not be forgotten that if security services such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Special Branch in South Australia- I do not know about special branches elsewhere- were not so busy and did not focus so much of their attention and resources on collecting files on Labor Party politicians and then either lying to their governments about the existence of those files or trying to flog them off to journalists and Liberal Party politicians with the intention of publishing them and with the further intention of discrediting those Labor Party politicians, if they were not devoting so much of their resources to those reprehensible activities, they might more effectively be able to control terrorists and potential terrorists. The Prime Minister has displayed what the Australian Financial Review described as an unhealthy obsession with security matters. It is quite obvious that he relishes a military type command position. Given that fact and his fervent belief that communists should always be stopped with guns, it is a great tragedy that he did not join the Army in 1950 and go to Korea instead of picking up a third class degree at Oxford University. Mr Fraser’s brilliant military career, like that of his mentor Robert Menzies, was cut short by the outbreak of war. The last matter I wish to raise in relation to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is the Government’s commitment to introduce what it called national regulation of companies and the securities industry. The Government’s tardiness in this matter, one might note, is thoroughly reprehensible.
– It was wrecked by your own Attorney-General, as you well know.
– Having blocked the Labor Party’s attempt to cover this matter legislatively in 1975 the Government has done nothing for two years. It now says that it will do something in the future. We will see. The need for such effective legislation, of course, has been amply demonstrated in the report presented by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange of which Senator Rae, who interjected a moment ago, was Chairman. I want to dwell on some of the information contained in that report concerning the sordid story of a company called Burrill Investments Pty Ltd and the association with that company of many prominent members of the Liberal Party. The company was established in 1969 by two gentlemen called Burrill and Jones who were also principals of another company and were consulting geologists to Poseidon NL. In a document, a return of the allotment of shares, a photocopy of which I have procured from the Corporate Affairs Commission in Perth, it is revealed that on 22 May 1 969 some eight persons and a company were allotted shares in Burrill Investment Pty Ltd. One of those persons was Noel Ashley CrichtonBrowne who is currently President of the Liberal Party in Western Australia.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. As I understand it, this matter is presently before the courts. It involves the rights or otherwise of a citizen of the country who may or may not have committed some offence. If he has committed it and is judged by the court to have done so, let him be dealt with. But do not let him be dealt with by innuendo and sleight by somebody who has chosen to try to use the free expression available in this chamber to attack somebody who is already at peril from the point of view of the judicial process. I suggest it would be appropriate if Senator Walsh desisted from any further comments. If he wishes to pursue the matter I could take a further point of order. But I simply ask him, in view of the fact that this matter is currently before the courts- it is hardly within the exception, and I recognise the exception that this Parliament is not totally restricted from discussing something which is before the courtsand in fairness, as the man has been charged, to leave the matter to the courts if he will.
– In relation to that point of order, Mr President, I point out that I mentioned no charges. Senator Rae mentioned charges. I am giving the Senate details of an allotment of shares to eight persons and one proprietory company on 22 May 1969. 1 mentioned nothing about any charges, nor do I intend to do so.
-Reference to any matter which is sub-judice must be looked at very closely before a comment is made lest there be a breach of procedure.
– I make no comment on any charges which are pending. On the same day some 3,250 shares were allocated to a Peter John Crichton-Browne who is a brother of Noel Ashley Crichton-Browne -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. The honourable senator is going on to discuss the matter which is the very subject of charges which are before the court. I do not care how much he likes to try to guild over the matter by saying that he is not referring to some charges. The fact is that he is referring to the substance of what is before the court in relation to that invidivual. I have views which Senator Georges knows, as well as I do. I have expressed them fairly forcefully about people who misuse the system. We have both expressed those views. Whether the person to whom Senator Walsh wishes to refer is somebody who has misused the system is a matter for determination by the court not by this chamber. I simply say: In all decency, Senator Walsh, will you refrain from further reference to that and let us get on with what we are concerned about? But, if you wish, I can tell you that you will get back more than you give.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. No charges have been made against Peter John Browne; nor have any charges been made against a woman who in 1961 was Esther Grace Stevens and is now Mrs Crichton-Brown, and who was granted 2,000 shares in the company at the same time; or against Norma Rosa Stevens, her mother, who was allotted 2,000 shares in the company at the same time; or Malcolm Scott Holdings Pty Ltd, the family investment company of ex-Liberal Party Senator Malcolm Scott, which was granted 1,000 shares in the company at that time.
– Order! I point out to Senator Walsh that matters awaiting, or under, adjudication by a court of law should not be brought forward in debate except by means of a Bill. Bear that in mind, Senator Walsh. Subjudice matters are difficult of determination, and the decency of honourable senators in ensuring that there be no prejudice of judicial proceedings is a vital aspect.
– I am aware of that Standing Order, Mr President. Again I submit that I mentioned nothing about the charges, and cast no reflection upon the possible outcome of the charges, which I understand are pending against one person. I mentioned this in the context of the necessity to have adequate securities legislation. This company was established by people who were consulting geologists to Poseidon. As Senator Rae very well knows, because there are 50 pages on this in the report of the committee of which he was chairman, Messrs Burrill and Jones were on 25 September 1 969 in receipt of an assay report from the Windarra strike. They bought in thousands of Poseidon shares when they knew the assay and the public did not. Subsequently, according to the report of Senator Rae ‘s committee, the company made a profit of $ 1.3m on the deal in a period of a few months. Messrs Burrill and Jones gave conflicting evidence to the Committee subsequently. Five of the people who were allotted shares on that particular day have very close connections with the Liberal Party in Western Australia, and perhaps that has something to do with Senator Rae’s sensitivity on this particular matter.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I object to that reference. The record shows clearly that, so far as the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange is concerned, it reported without fear and without favour. It did not hide the association of anybody with any particular party, with any particular company or anything else. For Senator Walsh to imply that my objection to his attempt to try a matter presently before the courts is made because of an association with Liberal Party people is, I believe, offensive, and that ought to be withdrawn.
- Senator Walsh, Senator Rae claims that the observation is offensive to him. Would you withdraw it?
– I withdraw any imputations against Senator Rae or his Committee. It nevertheless remains a fact that these people, who have very close associations with the Liberal Party in Western Australia, were shareholders in this reprehensible company.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I regret the interlude which has just taken place and will try to forget it in my remarks; but I cannot forget that tonight we witnessed a further example of the recidivist tendency of the Labor Party Opposition- the tendency to go back rather than forward. We heard one of the best speakers in this Parliament, one of its best brains, one of the people I most respect in this Parliament, Senator James McClelland, going back to carry on the vendetta against a man who was formerly a friend and was appointed by the Labor Party to what I regard as the highest office in the landthat of Governor-General.
It was a brilliant speech, brilliantly carried out by a man who is undoubtedly a very capable speaker and lawyer; but it was a pity that he had to use his talents to show that the Labor Party has still neither forgotten nor forgiven what it, in its paranoic way, believes was an injustice. I think the people of Australia, in December last, made a judgment on whether the paranoic of the Labor Party, in trying to rehash the events of November 1975, was justified. As a matter of fact, I was excited by Senator James McClelland ‘s speech tonight. I was glad to see him back in this chamber because his contribution here is always worth listening to; but I was disappointed to find that his talents were being used in again rehashing, in a backwardlooking way, an event upon which the people of Australia had twice given their very firm judgment.
The ‘We was robbed’ syndrome upon which the Labor Party has seemed to exist has not made for good government. What it has done is to leave Australia in a situation where there is effectively no Opposition. The action of the former Governor-General in November 1975 obviously so stirred the Labor Party that tonight, when Senator James McClelland was speaking, it was regarded as an event in the life of that party. We had a lot of strangers in the gallery, as you Mr President might have noted. We had none other than Mr Bowen, who holds a wellknown position in the Labor Party; Mr Hurford, who holds a well-known position in the Labor Party; Mr Michael Young, who holds a wellknown position in the Labor Party; and Mr Uren, who holds a well-known position in the Labor Party. In fact we had a greater inundation of well-known members of the Labor Party from the other place than we have had in this chamber on any other occasion during the time that I have been here. In fact, most of them did not know, until they came here tonight to hear and gloat over Senator James McClelland ‘s attack, just where this chamber was.
– How was it that they did not know? They were here yesterday.
– That is about the standard of interjection I expect from the honourable senator. I thank him for proving my point. It was obviously a matter involving some degree of gloating, some degree of excitement within the ranks of the so-called Opposition, that we should have heard tonight a very effective, if slightly vindictive, attack upon a man who was formerly a friend of the people who made the attack. I believe that the attempt by the Labor Party to overthrow parliamentary democracy in Australia, the attempt by the Whitlam Government to rule without Supply and to force the banks to provide the finance to enable the then Government to continue contrary to the democratic process had created a situation where the man with the responsibility for blowing the whistle and letting the people speak had to act. What was the reaction of the then Prime Minister? It was: ‘I will smash the Senate ‘.
– Did he?
– No, he failed as the Labor Party failed as a government. The Labor Party said it would do so many things. By its failure to do them it created in Australia a disillusionment from which we are still suffering. To me the situation in November 1975 was reminiscent of some of the great battles between the Parliament and the Executive in the whole history of the development of parliamentary democracy in the relatively few parts of the world where it exists today. They were battles between the power of Executive government to say, ‘I am the greatest’, as Gough Whitlam said. He said: ‘I am the greatest Foreign Minister Australia has ever had’.
– What rights have we got as an Opposition when you tell us with your jackbooted fascism -
– Order! I remind honourable senators that interjections are disorderly. Senator Rae has the call. He will continue his speech. I do not want this continuous interjecting.
– The statement by the former Prime Minister that he was the greatest Foreign Minister in Australian history exemplified in the minds of many Australian people what was so wrong with the members of the Party described by the Melbourne Age as behaving like a mob of schoolboys who had just found the key to the tuckshop which was unattended. They came in and pillaged. They pillaged the system in so many ways but this was never better demonstrated than by the attempt to hang on to power at a time when the democratic system in a bicameral democracy had reached the stage where the people were entitled to have their say. Have their say they did in very clear terms. I hope that we will have an Opposition which is concerned about tomorrow and not yesterday, which will forget its past misdemeanours and the attempt to justify them and start to look forward and produce plans, ideas and criticisms of what the present Government is doing, and some alternatives.
– Do we have to pay to listen tonight or is it gratuitous?
– It is gratuitous but I hope in the interests of Australia that even Senator Button will listen. I am delighted to see that he is still here. Surely it is the essence of the constitutional contract that someone should be able to blow the whistle on the Executive and say in effect: ‘Hey, back to the people ‘. That is what democracy is all about. It is about the people being able to determine. When I hear some of the cries from politicians from both sides of the Parliament that they do not like having an election at a particular time because they might be a little unpopular I can say that they are condemned out of their own mouths. A government which cannot face the people at any time has totally failed in one of its major tasks. One of its major tasks is that of communication to the people it represents.
If it cannot communicate with the people, if it cannot explain to them its objectives and why it is doing this or that it has failed in one of the major responsibilities of government. There should never be a fear of facing the people. They are the Parliament’s masters. People are what the Parliament is all about. A parliament that resents and fears facing the people has commenced to take the first step down the road to autocracy. I object strongly to any suggestion that a parliament cannot be forced to go to the people whenever the people’s representatives in either House of that Parliament suggest that the people should be able to have their say. That is what 11 November 1975 was all about. In my view whatever the man has done subsequently, in November 1975 Sir John Kerr showed considerable courage and great constitutional propriety in making the decision he did.
– He had Fraser round the back of the Lodge behind the Government’s back.
– Order! Senator McLaren, you persist in interjecting. I call you to order and you still interject. I will not allow that to continue.
– I want to talk a little further about the constitutional contract. I do not think it does any harm to remember that it was important in November 1975 that the Executive could be brought to answer to the people of Australia. So too must this chamber remember at all times that one of its most important functions is the preservation of the Constitution. In Australia there is a constant battle between centralism and federalism. It is not just a political battle; it is an economic and social battle. It is an attempt to offset some natural forces. Centripetal forces mean that there is always the likelihood in a nation such as Australia for the cream to be spun off to the centre of the system. It is important that we remember that people in Melbourne and Sydney exist in their multitudes as a result of the work and effort of the people from the mines of Mt Isa, the north-west of Australia or Tasmania. The standard of living of people in Melbourne and Sydney is brought about largely as a result of the exploitation of the natural resources distributed throughout our nation. Because they have greater numbers they have no absolute entitlement to run the country to the detriment of the people who live in other areas.
One of the beauties of the Senate and one of the things which makes me say ‘Thank God for the founding fathers’ is that they had the courage, foresight and fortitude to insist on the creation of a system in which the Senate had equal representation from all the States and virtually equal powers with the House of Representatives. We are the only country in the world with such a system. I believe that we have the most successful form of government. The more I see the operation of forms of government in the rest of the world the more I congratulate the people who designed the Australian system. It is important that the people in this chamber should never forget the incredible responsibility which they have to keep a system of checks and balances.
Whilst some Opposition senators like to interject from time to time, one of the things I like about this chamber is that a large number of Opposition senators feel substantially as I do about the work of this chamber. I have always appreciated that when we get down to the committees and what I regard as the real work of this chamber there is a preparedness to get on with the job and contribute without its being on some structured, already determined party political basis. That is one of the things of which this chamber can be proud. It has developed a committee system which, and I say this as somebody who had the opportunity to go to a number of other countries to study their committee systems, possibly is the best committee system in the world. I realise that he is here and may blush but I pay particular tribute to the Clerk of the Senate for the work for which he was responsible in relation to this development. I pay tribute to a number of other people but I do not want to name individuals.
When in the 1960s the Senate came of age and started to accept its responsibility as a House of Review and started to say: ‘We must stop being a rubber stamp, a semi-geriatric place and get out and do what the founding fathers in their wisdom thought we could do’, it was not one individual who thought of these things. Rather it was the good will, thought and strength of a large number of people. However, there was one person who attempted to take the credit for it and I deprecate that. He attempted to take the full credit for the development of the committee system. As you well know, Mr President, and let anybody later deny it if he can, history shows that this was a matter which grew over a period of time amongst members of both parties, although there was a group within the Liberal Party which put forward a scheme. The scheme eventually went to the Standing Orders Committee which was about to present a report. The then Leader of the Labor Party in this place Senator Murphy marched into this chamber, used the exact words in the Standing Orders Committee report, including the typing mistakes, produced it as his own and claimed credit for it.
I believe that it is time that we recalled that it was not simply the work of one man which produced the Senate committee system. It was the work of a lot of people. It was the work of the Standing Orders Committee which included members of all parties. It was the work and spirit of this chamber which produced the committee system, and thank God it did. I was sorry that there was a tendency for somebody with a public relations machine to attempt to take credit for what was not his own work. I applaud the extent to which he supported it but simply say that it was not his own work and the record should be set straight.
Whilst we are talking about the forms and traditions of this chamber I take the opportunity to do two things. First I wish to congratulate our new senator, Senator Haines, on her maiden speech, but having done that I would like to add something further. I deprecate the fact that she misused the traditional immunity given to people making their maiden speeches. There is a tradition which has been observed by and large in this chamber and when it is not observed it should be commented upon. One of our traditions is that a person making a maiden speech will be heard in silence, will not be interjected upon and will not have points of order taken during the speech. I think that is fair enough and that it is a proper tradition. But there is a quid pro quo, as there often is, and it is that person making the speech uses the opportunity to tell the Senate and the people of Australia of their personal credo and to say not what is politically troversial but what they are all about as a person.
– That is rubbish.
- Senator Cavanagh interjects by saying that that is rubbish. Senator Cavanagh is not well-known as a person who respects traditions. I simply suggest that the Senate has survived and developed by using and developing traditions that are worth while and that is one of the traditions which it has developed which is worth while. I do not believe that the role of this chamber and the respect between members of this chamber is enhanced by the breach of such a tradition. I would deprecate an interjection or a point of order being taken on a person making a maiden speech to the same extent that I would deprecate a breach of the quid pro quo rule. Whilst I am talking about our new senator whom I welcome here as the first representative of a new Australian party, which I congratulate upon the success it achieved in the December election, I raise a matter of concern in relation to that Party and I think it is fair enough to do so tonight. I have had a look at the apparent platform of that Party and among other things find, as a matter of some concern, that this Party, which has one member here already and two further members coming in July, suggests that ‘we shall establish a joint parliamentary committee system covering every area of government activity’. If there is anything that is anathema to the independence of this chamber, to the separate existence of this chamber and to this chamber being able to fulfil its constitutional role relating to the scrutiny of the Executive and ensuring the accountability of the Executive, if there is anything which could destroy that it is a system of joint committees where the Senate is the poor relation of the greater number in the House of Representatives, where we are taken on suffrage in some way to do the bidding of the House which represents the executive government.
– I agree with that.
– I am grateful, indeed delighted, to find that Senator Cavanagh and I are able to agree. I suppose I could say that if one tries long enough one is bound to strike pay dirt. I hope that it was a lack of thought on the part of the new Party, which has demonstrated a tremendous virility in the Australian political system, which led it to talk about something which was so clearly an attack on the lifeblood of what I regard as the checks and balance system of Australian politics. I do not believe that it is typical of the sort of attitudes we can expect from that Party but it may be.
The growth of the legislative and general purpose standing committees of this chamber and the growth of our Estimates committees is something of which we are all proud. It is something which regrettably has not been as well understood as it should have been by the average member of the Australian public. We had a situation where the Executive, over a period of 76 years, had happily created statutory authorities without the parliament ever creating a system to ensure that statutory authorities were answerable to the people who created them and the people who paid for them to a greater or lesser extent. When the Finance and Government Operations Committee created by this chamber as a standing committee set out on the task given to it by the Senate of looking at the statutory corporations, the first thing it found was that no one could produce a list of the statutory corporations created by this Parliament. What it also found was that there were some statutory corporations which had not reported to this Parliament for 30 or 40 years. It also found that the whole system has been haphazard, unsupervised and not scrutinised. It found out that some statutory corporations are answerable to audit and some are not. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate interrupted.
Argentina: Political Refugees- Incident at Perth Airport- East
– Order! It being 1 1 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to make a plea to the Government concerning some political refugees in Argentina. I shall seek leave to incorporate some documents in Hansard and I hope that the Senate will be given further clarification of the definition of a political refugee. The case to which I am referring concerns Ana Maria Mohaded, an Argentinian national. I shall illustrate the case by a series of documents of which the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) already has copies. At the conclusion of my speech I shall also direct to the Minister several other matters that I hope she will clarify for me in the near future.
The first document, which I shall term document A, is naturally a translation and is entitled Certificate of Solicitude to Leave the Country’. It quotes the law in the Argentine. It is signed by the Sub-prefect of the gaol and is counter-signed by the prisoner. At the bottom of the document appears a further signature of the Inspector General who is also the Director General of the Provincial Penitentiary Service for the Province of Cordoba in the Argentine. The significance of the document is that in many cases, irrespective of the type of government from which people are seeking freedom, it is very hard to define in advance whether people really are political refugees or whether, to use the term usually adopted by our Foreign Affairs people, they are subject to political duress. The document, which I have not read in full, simply states that the girl can go to another country that will accept her as a political exile or else she will remain locked up for an indefinite period. I seek leave to incorporate document A in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
CERTIFICATE OF SOLICITUDE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY
LAW 21 650
I certify that the interned MOHADED ANA MARIA arrested by the Nation Executive Power by law No. 2000 of 8.7.77 has solicited to be protected by article 10 of the Law 21 650 which is the option to leave the National territory. This certificate is presented so that ESTRELLA DE MOHADED (L.C. No. 7 305 825) may solicit from the foreign diplomatic authorities, accredited in Argentina, a certificate required by article 1 1 of the above mentioned law, to the effect that they will accept the arrested person in their territory.
Signed prison authority JULIAN R. CONTRERAS Sub-prefect Unit director No. 1 Capital Penitentiary
I certify that the signature above corresponds to the Subprefect JULIAN RICARDO CONTRERAS, Director of the Unit No. 1 Capital Penitentiary.
Inspector General HECTOR CLAVDIO GASTALDI Director General, Provincial Penitentiary Service
Cordoba 16 November 1977
-I turn to document B which is a letter signed by Senator Durack as the Acting Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In effect the Acting Minister and his officers state in the letter that they have never seen a certificate of this type before. I appreciate the fact that the certificate is a trail blazer and as such it should add considerably more weight. The Acting Minister states in the middle of his letter that he believes the applicant should be treated as a normal migrant and that she has to meet certain criteria. I am not even necessarily arguing in respect of this point because one always has to be wary when one is dealing with such matters. There are always people who seek to falsify their position as genuine political refugees. But I emphasise the point that document A is the first document in which a home government has defined a person as politically opposed to it, and I suggest that this puts the matter in a different light. I seek leave to incorporate document B in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
Acting Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T. 2600
Ref 77/3 1227 1 Feb 1978
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
In the absence of my colleague the Hon. M. J. R. Mackellar, I am writing in reply to your letter of 16 January, 1977 addressed to the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs on behalf of Miss Estrella De Mohaded of 1 /50 Wiley Street, Waverley, N.S.W., 2024, concerning the entry to Australia from Argentine of her sister, Miss Ana Maria Mohaded.
You will recall that in his reply to the Hon. A. S. Peacock, M.P. in September, 1977, following your representations to the latter on this case, Mr Mackellar indicated that although Miss Mohaded did not appear to be eligible for entry under normal migration policy, he was, nevertheless, prepared to give further consideration to her case when additional information was made available to him, preferably supplemented by the results of a normal selection interview carried out by his officers in Buenos Aires.
Even though Miss Mohaded has now been given the option by the Argentine authorities to leave her country, it is my understanding that such option would entail an unconditional undertaking on our part to accept her for entry to Australia immediately upon her release.
Mindful as I am of Miss Mohaded ‘s difficult circumstances, you will appreciate that I cannot responsibly authorise the issue of such an undertaking without being given the opportunity to assess Miss Mohaded ‘s ability to satisfy even the basic migrant entry requirements, which all intending migrants are expected to comply with.
In all the circumstances I am prepared to authorise the Australian Embassy in Buenos Aires to issue a certificate to the appropriate authorities to the effect that provided our officers are permitted to interview Miss Mohaded and she successfully completes normal migrant entry requirements with regard to health and character, a visa will be issued to enable her to travel to Australia.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Commonwealth Parliament Offices, Commonwealth Government Centre, Chifley Square, N.S.W. 2000
– I replied by way of telegram to the letter from Senator Durack. The Minister has a copy of the telegram which I shall call document C. In the telegram I drew the attention of the Minister for Immigration (Mr MacKellar) to the fact that if we were cutting corners in relation to the boat people as political refugees at least we could do the same for Latin American people. Whilst I have instanced a case in the Argentine one could say that virtually all the Latin American countries are under military dictatorships, and our own Foreign Affairs people and the International Labour Office are unanimous in their claim that the reign of terror that exists in these countries is equal to that of Hitler’s SS troops at their best. Therefore I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard document C which is my telegram to the Minister.
The document read as follows- text of telegram to immigration minister Mackellar i 3.2.78
Relative your communication Feb 1st File 77/31227 concerning entry to Australia of Argentinian national, Miss Estella Mohaded Stop Disturbed at your insistence that she be treated as normal migrant applicant Stop My submission to you 16 Jan contained Argentinian document Certificate of Solicitude to leave country Stop Such document would surely prove the applicant subject to political duress a situation the boat people contingents have used to the full mulvihill
– I now come to the most important of the four documentsdocument D. It is a letter dated 15 August 1975 from the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is signed by Mr Alan Oxley, the Minister’s private secretary, in the absence of the Minister who was attending a meeting of the United Nations Organisation. A paragraph in the middle of the letter refers to Chile. I submit that what applied to Chile then could apply to the Argentine now. The letter states:
Generally, there are two categories of persons who are so denned by the UNHCR.
The letter is referring to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In replying to the Latin American matter, the letter stated:
In respect of Chile these would be those persons who are required to leave Chile for political reasons and foreigners who want to leave although they may not be obliged to.
Subsequently, along with other countries, Australia took a quota from each of those categories of refugees. In a moment I will ask that document D be incorporated in Hansard. It is significant to note that Australia accepted the fact in the case of Chile that Chileans were under political duress. We took in some Chileans, as did countries such as Canada and Mexico which have a reasonable attitude towards political oppression. Therefore, I make the point that, if Australia did that in relation to refugees from Chile, its actions do not square up with what is stated in the letter from the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Durack, in which he said, in effect, that this woman I am talking about is an Argentinian national. Therefore, she would have to come to Australia like the boat people from Vietnam or appear in one of our embassies throughout the world. I dispute that definition and I say respectfully that there is an obligation on the Australian Government in relation to this question of even-handedness.
I do not wish to rub the sores that have developed in respect to some of the refugees from one Asian area. A real unity ticket existed between the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Bob Hawke, the Minister for Transport, Mr Nixon, and myself. Our position was portrayed incorrectly. All we were saying was that, if the Australian Government cut corners in respect to one group of refugees, it had to do the same in respect of other groups. Conversely, we said that if adequate screening were applied we would avoid the possibility of people masquerading as refugees when they were not.
I simply make this appeal. I speak for most of the Latin American communities in Sydney. I speak for a number of trade unions which have as their officers men of varied Labor attitudes. Whether I speak for brother Garland of the Australian Metal Workers Union, brother French of the Rubber Workers Union or the officials of a host of other unions I think I can say that the Latin American people in the unions are a little concerned. They do not believe that the Australian Government is giving the same urgent consideration to refugees of this character. I know that there always will be a limitation on how many people can be brought out to Australia under any circumstances, irrespective of the migrant classification. I have no doubt that shortly I will obtain the statistics in respect to the people who came from Vietnam. I will compare them with the small number of people who are merely paying for their active trade union and academic careers in Latin American countries. I think that the Minister could be a little more active. When I use the word ‘active’ I am not exactly casting a personal reflection upon him. I understand that the Australian Government has some immigration officers in Latin America. One of the letters to which I have referred implies that an Australian immigration officer was trying to reach this Argentinian penitentiary.
I am saying that two things should happen and I make these points to the Minister very strongly. The last letter I received from him is dated 1 February 1978. 1 know that our Government had been trying to get a response from the Argentinian Government. I ascertained from my last telephone call to the central office of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs that in December the Argentinian Government said there was no such person as this girl in a gaol. I would be very surprised if, when our ambassador or one of his deputies produced a copy of document A- this certificate- which I have incorporated in Hansard, the Argentinian Government could deny that it had made an offer to the girl and that it rested with Australia to take a person like this. I wind up my speech in this way: The strength of this submission is based on the documentation. I seek leave to have the letter marked document D incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
OFFICE OF THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS 15 August 1975
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
You sent the Minister a letter as a result of a call from a delegation from the Committee for Solidarity with the Chilean People. In addition, you rang me to pass on some of the more specific points which the delegation members made to you. I am sorry it has taken me so long to get these details to you but I wanted to cross-check some of the definitions of the various sorts of immigrants with Foreign Affairs and Labor and Immigration.
There is often some confusion about the term ‘ refugee ‘. In strict legal terms, and these are the terms the Australian Government uses, persons are only regarded as refugees if they are so defined in the UN Convention on the status of refugees. Generally it is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who makes the judgment. Generally, there are two categories of persons who are so defined by the UNHCR. In respect of Chile these would be those persons who are required to leave Chile for political reasons and foreigners who want to leave although they may not be obliged to, and have chosen to apply for refugee status with the UNHCR. Within these categories, between October 1973 and May 1975, Australia accepted for permanent residence 110 non-Chilean refugees as defined by the UNHCR. In the same period 275 Chilean refugees, also as defined by the UNHCR, were accepted for permanent residence. Of this number, 167 came from Peru and 108 from Argentina.
Another category of immigrant from Chile is defined as Chilean Duress Cases’. Within normal Australian parlance, these people would probably also be described as refugees. They are not, however, in terms of the UNHCR definition. Nevertheless, they are people who have been accepted for permanent residence to Australia because the political climate is unfavourable to them. If these people do not meet the ordinary criteria for permanent residence, special exception is made because they are duress cases in the following two ways: the requirement for them to meet the criteria of national need ‘ is waived and they are, in most cases, granted assisted passage. Between October 1973 and May 1975, permanent residence was granted to 207 persons in this category.
It is within the above category that those individuals who are political prisoners in Chile, fall. In November 1974 the Chilean Government announced it would release political prisoners if foreign countries would accept them. Of the first list of 100 prisoners submitted, 1 1 volunteered to come to Australia and finally 8 were accepted. The Australian Government’s initial response to the Chilean proposal was that of the 100, it would accept at least 10. It was announced that no ceiling would be set on the numbers taken and this still applies. As you will appreciate the number that actually choose Australia as first preference for emigration is small.
The Chilean Government is still submitting the names of political prisoners that it will release for emigration and the Australian Government is continuing to consider any who nominate Australia as their destination. Additionally, the Government has on a number of occasions, as a result of representations in Australia, approached the Chilean Government and stated its willingness to consider accepting individual political prisoners if the Chilean Government would release them. It was by this means that Mrs and Miss Bachelet came to Australia in January.
In addition to the above special cases, I understand that between October 1973 and May 1975 we accepted 2,476 Chileans for permanent residence. I am not sure how this compares with what was the rate of emigration from Chile before the coup but I know that very substantial increases occurred after the coup. You will note I gave you an erroneous impression when I said to you that I thought that perhaps half the ordinary permanent residence cases may have been political duress cases. I apologise for this error.
I have been told by Foreign Affairs that the list of names of individuals which was given to you by the delegation from the Committee for Solidarity are being processed through the Brisbane Office of theDepartment and Labor and Immigration. I understand Senator Georges made representations on behalf of those same applications.
I recall that another point the delegation members raised with you was that Australia should take Chileans who fled to Peru or Argentina. Our Embassies in those two countries are still processing applications from Chileans.
I have not yet had an opportunity to show your letter or this reply to the Minister but will do so at the earliest opportunity and I shall also raise with him the question of members of the Committee calling on him in Canberra.
As you are aware the Minister is due to leave for North America on 2 1 August. One fact which he may weigh up in his mind about whether to receive a delegation from the Committee is that he did receive a similar delegation in July 1974.
I hope the above information will be of assistance to you.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Australian Parliament Offices, Chifley Square, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000
– I make these points very strongly. I believe they should be accepted regardless of whatever Government is in power. I take up Senator Rae’s suggestion about the role of the Opposition. Any government that wants respect from me as a member of the Opposition will have to prove to me that it will take action against political persecution. Such persecution emanates largely from right wing governments, although I do not deny that totalitarianism can emanate from the far Left as well. I would like to believe that, if the Argentinian Government refuses to respond to the genuine requests I have documented of the Latin American communities and trade unions I have mentioned, we will get up at the United Nations and name the Argentinian Government as destroying all that we believe in and accept in the charter of the United Nations.
– I feel sure that it is because this Parliament has been in recess for the last three months that so many of us are anxious to speak in the adjournment debate tonight. I hope that it will not be a continuing thing, as our hours are quite long enough. I feel that it is important that I participate in the adjournment debate tonight in order to bring to the attention of the Senate an incident that occurred at Perth Airport on 3 January. It is only because I have not received a reply from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) to my communication of 12 January that I raise the matter. On 20 January I received from him a standard acknowledgement saying that he would write to me as soon as possible on the matter. That is now nearly five weeks ago. It is now more than seven weeks since the incident occurred. To the best of my knowledge, no action has been taken.
The issue relates to a Ms Franci Williams and her husband, Mr Les Stein. They are both Canadian citizens. They both have permanent resident status in Australia. They have both been here for three and a half years. To the best of my knowledge, neither has ever been suspected of any infringement of the laws of this country. They may have either collectively or individually held views different from those of other people. They may have come to the attention of other people because of those different views. I remember that at one time Mr Stein was quite outspoken when a fuel and energy Bill was being introduced into the Western Australian Parliament. I know that he has been involved with environmental groups.
I know that Mr Stein gives free legal advice on a talk-back radio program in Western Australia one day a week. Perhaps that could be a reason for the events of 3 January. Perhaps we should not expect to get free legal advice. Perhaps we are so well endowed with lawyers- barristers, solicitors and Queen’s Counsel- in this place that it appears strange that someone would like to give free legal advice. Perhaps I am being a little facetious, and I should not be because to me it is a most serious matter. I also know that Mr Stein is considered to be an authority on planning law and environment law. I know that he has written a book on urban planning in Australia that is used as a textbook in law schools around the nation. I know that he has been appointed an associate editor of the international legal journal Urban Law and Policy and that he is the editorinchief of the University of Western Australia Law Review.
Mr Stein is 32 years of age. He began his academic career with a Bachelor of Arts degree in New York in 1965. He took a law degree in Ontario in 1968 and a master’s degree in law at the University of Toronto in 1 970. In that year he was admitted to the Ontario Bar with first class honours. Later that year he took a lecturing post at Monash University and then went to the University of Melbourne. He went back to Toronto for a period of three years and then accepted a position as senior lecturer in law at the University of Western Australia. He is a director on the board of the Population Research Foundation in Ontario. He is also a member of the International Commission of Jurists in Perth. From what I have said, I think that the members of the Senate will agree with me when I say that Mr Stein has a tremendous background and a tremendous capacity. I think that we should be very proud indeed that he has chosen to accept the post of senior lecturer in law at the University of Western Australia.
Because of his position and because of his background and the work that he has done it is not strange that he received an invitation to present papers at the University of India and to address local government groups to put forward his ideas on urban planning laws. That is a particular interest of his. He is recognised as an authority on the subject and I think they would have thought they were pretty lucky to get him for a study tour. The University of Western Australia was only too happy to pay for his fare. Let me mention here that Mr Stein’s appointment at the University of Western Australia is a permanent one. I think I am right also when I say that he does have tenure, that he cannot be sacked except for gross misconduct.
Because of the invitation to India his wife, Ms Franci Williams, decided to accompany him for the first two weeks and have a bit of a holiday there. So they employed a babysitter to look after their children, a six-year old girl and a four-year old boy. They obtained the necessary documentation to allow them to leave Australia, to enter India and also to return, they thought, to Australia without harrassment. One of his colleagues at the university informed me that ‘Les
Stein’s always been interested in all things Indian’. I would go a little further than that and say that from my very limited knowledge of both Ms Williams and Mr Stein they are interested in all things. They are interested in people.
On 3 January, at the end of her two weeks, Ms Williams returned to Australia on a British Airways flight from Singapore and arrived at the Perth airport at approximately 11 o’clock at night. She presented her documents, including the re-entry visa, to the immigration officials. She was asked to wait, and another official was signalled. He took her passport and asked her to accompany him to an office. In that office there was an official of some sort whose name was not mentioned. He did not pay her the courtesy of introducing himself. He simply said that he wanted to establish that she was indeed the person that they were after. So after some fairly comprehensive questioning and apparently having satisfied him that she was indeed the person that they- whoever ‘they’ may have beenwanted, she was taken to a detention room and guarded by two Commonwealth policemen. She was a little curious, of course, and on a couple of occasions she asked why she was being held but no one bothered to give her a reply, except on one occasion the official said that she would find out in due course.
She asked- quite courteously, I believe, and quite correctly- to be able to make a phone call. That request was refused. She asked that her two children- as I mentioned, a girl aged six and a boy aged four- who were waiting in the airport lounge to be allowed in to see her. That request was refused. She was taken back to the office for further interrogation- and I use that word advisedly. I do not think any other interpretation could be put upon it. It was only then, some one hour afteer the plane had landed, that she learned that because of a possible association- I repeat ‘a possible association’- with the spiritual group Ananda Marga she could be deported that night.
There appears to have been quite a deal of shuffling between detention rooms under Commonwealth police guard and back to this official who preferred to remain nameless before anything was done. She informed me that at one stage whilst he was asking her questions he was also on the telephone to another official and he was repeating every word that she said. There also appears to have been a certain amount of time spent in trying to get information from Ms Williams that she just did not have. They wanted to know exactly where her husband was. She knew that he was in India. She did not know exactly where in India he was. He was to contact her within a few days and advise her of an arrival date. He was to tell her where he was and he was to give her an entire program once it had been set down, but she did not know where he was at that time. The officer was determined that she should find out exactly where he was before she would be allowed to go.
No compassion at all appears to have been shown by the bureaucrats employed that night at the Perth airport. It was more than an hour after her arrival before the children were allowed to see her, and even that was not done without threat. She was informed that, but for the children, she would not be allowed to go home that night but would be kept at the airport until a flight out could take her back to Singapore. No one suggested, of course, that she might not have the funds to get to Singapore, but that seemed to be irrelevant. The implied threat was that her husband would not have the excuse of the 2 children when and if he arrived back in Australia. At about one o’clock in the morning Ms Williams was allowed to go home, with the final instruction that she was to present herself at the passports office the next day with the children, their passports and their birth certificates. No one knows why the children’s birth certificates were required and no one has yet told me why she had to appear at the passports office. However, I am hoping that following tonight’s adjournment debate I will get a reply.
There is a lot of confusion about the whole interview. Whilst Ms Williams says that two Commonwealth policemen guarded her in a detention room, Mr Richards of the passports office informed me on the phone that she was not even held. She has claimed that she was not allowed to make a telephone call but Mr Richards has said that she was not held. I thought it was fairly normal that in most circumstances a person picked up even on a murder charge is entitled to make one phone call, but apparently a murder charge and the Immigration Department at the Perth airport are two separate and entirely different things and the same courtesies do not apply. One has to assume, therefore, that it was the possible association with the Ananda Marga sect which was responsible for all the kerfuffle at the airport. I know that Ms Williams and Mr Stein openly admit that they have adopted the Ananda Marga philosophy to the extent that they meditate and are vegetarians. I am informed that that is their total commitment to the Ananda Marga philosophy. They are not members of the Ananda Marga sect.
One would hope that 5 weeks would be quite long enough for the Minister to have established why the distressing circumstances of 3 and 4 January occurred at all. There has to be a reason, and I think the Senate will agree that the one I got from Mr Richards is not satisfactory. But he did tell me that it was at ministerial direction. The Minister has not told us why he gave that direction or even if he gave it. He has simply said: I shall write to you on the matter as soon as possible’, and that was on 20 January. As I pointed out in my letter to the Minister on 12 January, I cannot and will not condone the sort of treatment meted out to Ms Williams being meted out to anybody who comes back and legitimately tries to be reinstated as a permanent resident in Australia. I do not believe that this treatment was necessary, and I reminded the Minister that all of this occurred at a time when Ms Williams was most vulnerable. She had left her husband in a relatively strange country- admittedly only temporarilynevertheless she had left him. She had had a long and probably tiring plane trip, and of course she was most anxious to be reunited with her children.
If a mistake was made I believe that the Minister should be prepared to extend an apology not only to Ms Williams but also to her husband. Mr Stein was subjected to a certain amount of concern on his wife’s behalf and also on his own behalf. He was concerned, of course, about what might happen when he returned to Australia, and because of that concern he incurred a certain amount of expense that he need not have incurred. He was also subjected to a situation where it was impossible for him to remain and present the papers that he had been invited to present in the first place. He did not know what was happening to his wife in the meantime. He did not know what would happen to him when he arrived back. He had to take cheap accommodation while in India, in an endeavour to save sufficient funds in the event of finding, when he tried to re-enter Australia, that he might have to pay his fare back to Singapore or some place else. Of course he had to make a number of expensive telephone calls from Bombay to Perth. He also had to obtain legal representation for both himself and his wife. He has since turned down an offer to go overseas later this year to present more papers and to discuss his urban planning, because of his concern that Australian officials will see that as an excuse not to allow him to return.
The situation when Mr Stein came back into Australia was a little different. I was amazed at the speed with which one can clear Customs when one comes in with a re-entry visa. Mr Stein’s wife had to wait three days before her reentry visa was stamped, but his foot was hardly out of the door of the plane before officers were taking his passport and his visa off him to stamp and making sure that he was the first through the immigration procedures. I went out to meet him at the airport to ensure that if there were any questioning I would be advised and I would be present. I do not think, in view of what I have said, that I am being unreasonable in asking the Minister for a satisfactory explanation and for an apology to be forwarded to both Ms Williams and Mr Stein.
Ms Williams is a highly sensitive woman. Her daughter is a highly sensitive person. She has been greatly affected by the traumatic experience suffered by her mother. She is old enough to understand that something terrible was happening that may have prevented her from being reunited with her father when she expected to. Mr Stein is also a highly sensitive person. All he wants is that he and his family can live in the particular lifestyle they have chosen, without harassment, and secure in the knowledge that because of that lifestyle and because they have not done anything wrong they do not have to worry about being deported from Australia, where they have chosen now to live.
I believe that both these people are entitled to an apology. If the decision was taken, as Mr Richards informed me, at ministerial direction, of course the apology has to come from the Minister. If it was at the direction of someone in the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the officer responsible for the direction should be located. Because he comes under the jurisdiction of the Minister, I believe the Minister should accept the responsibility of that officer’s action and forward an apology on that officer’s behalf. I hope that a satisfactory explanation is forthcoming. I hope that it will not take the Minister a further five weeks to explain what happened and why it happened to a very genuine and wellrespected member of the Western Australian community. I sincerely hope that it will not happen again.
– I rise at this somewhat late hour to speak again about a matter on which I have spent a great deal of time during the last two or three years. I refer to the situation in East Timor. The situation has concerned quite a sizable body of members of this House and another place during that period of time. Many of us have striven to prevent and to allay the outrageous actions of the military clique, the right wing generals of Indonesia, and also the pliant attitudes of certain Australian Government leaders, advisers, et cetera. We were all, I suppose, somewhat shocked to wake on the morning of 2 1 January of this year and to read and to hear the headline that Australia had agreed to Indonesia’s incorporation of East Timor. In plain language the Minister’s statement attempts to mask a thousand lies, distortions and complicity. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) swept aside the rights of the East Timorese to self-determination when he said:
The Government has decided that although it remains critical of the means by which integration was brought about it would be unrealistic to continue to refuse to recognise de facto that Timor is part of Indonesia.
In my opinion that was a black day for all Australians. One wonders what the manipulators who hide behind the grey walls of the Department of Foreign Affairs and other places in this nation think about it all, and how they must ultimately feel about the tragedy of East Timor as it has developed over the 3 years and the bloodshed that will continue, I am convinced, until the last Timorese who is old enough to carry a gun lays down his life. Through devious means and means of any sort at all the Indonesian Government, and to a large extent the Australian Government, has tried to hide the truth from the people of Australia. We all know very well the situation that developed a couple of times in Timor when a certain radio was confiscated. We know that people have been chased because they tried to maintain some form of contact with the people of East Timor. It is hard not to feel anger about this whole matter, particularly in view of some of the pious statements made in this Parliament and in parliaments of the world by Australian leaders and others, including public servants, on issues such as human rights. I will deal with that matter in a moment.
We were, I suppose, somewhat mystified as to why the Government or the Minister for Foreign Affairs should have made this statement at that time. We perceived something cynical afoot; we presumed that there was some reason for it. It came at a time when Australia was ducking for cover under an alleged expediency. The Jakarta regime was rounding up students and closing newspapers. If one was to be cynical about it one could describe the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs as campaign managers for General Suharto in his quest for another bout of the Presidency.
Whilst the fixer is enforcing his political control over an increasing internal dissent movement in Indonesia Messrs Peacock and Fraser hand him an incalculable boost to his tarnished image. He now has Australian recognition for the brutal takeover of East Timor. Really, instead of continuing to call for self-determination for the East Timorese, Australia caved in. What was the reasoning behind it? In the world community continual opposition towards Indonesia’s actions is being expressed. As recently as 28 November 1977 the General Assembly of the United Nations carried a resolution on the rights of the peoples of East Timor. I seek leave to have that resolution incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
Question of East Timor
The General Assembly,
Recognizing the inalienable right of all peoples to selfdetermination and independence in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in its resolution 1 5 14 (XV) of 14 December 1960,
Having examined the chapter of the report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples relating to the Territory, 1 /
Having heard the statements by the representatives of Portugal 2/ and Indonesia, 3/
Having also heard the statements by the representatives of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente, 4/
Mindful that all States should, in conformity with Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter, refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or national independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,
Deeply concerned at the continuing critical situation in the Territory, resulting from the persistent refusal on the part of the Government of Indonesia to comply with the provisions of the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, 1 / A/32/23/Add.3, chap. X.
4/ A/C.4/32/SR.11 and 20.
Recalling its resolutions 3485 (XXX) of 12 December 1965 and 31/53 of 1 December 1976 and Security Council resolutions 384 (1975) of 22 December 1975 and 389 (1976) of 22 April 1976.
Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of East Timor to self-determination and independence and the legitimacy of their struggle to achieve that right;
Reaffirms its resolutions 3485 (XXX) and 31/53 and Security Council resolutions 384 ( 1 975) and 389 ( 1 976);
Rejects the claim that East Timor has been integrated into Indonesia, inasmuch as the people of the Territory have not been able to exercise freely their right to selfdetermination and independence;
Requests the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and
Peoples to keep the situation in the Territory under active consideration, to follow the implementation of the present resolution, to dispatch to the Territory as soon as possible a visiting mission with a view to the full and speedy implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, contained in General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV), and to report back to the Assembly at its thirty-third session;
Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Chairman of the Special Committee, in the meantime, to send urgently, a special representative to East Timor for the purpose of making a thorough, on-the-spot assessment of the existing situation in the Territory and of establishing contact with the representatives of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente and the Government of Indonesia, as well as the Governments of other States concerned, in order to prepare the ground for a visiting mission of the Special Committee, and to report back to the Special Committee;
Draws the attention of the Security Council, in conformity with Article 1 1, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations, to the critical situation in the Territory of East Timor and recommends that it should take all effective steps for the implementation of its resolutions 384 (1975) and 389 (1976) with a view to securing the full exercise by the people of East Timor of their right to self-determination and independence;
Calls upon the Government of Indonesia and the leadership of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente to facilitate the entry into East Timor of the International Committee of the Red Cross and other relief organizations in order to assist the people of the Territory.
Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its thirty-third session the item entitled ‘Question of East Timor’.
-The resolution in essence reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of East Timor to self-determination and independence. It is critical of Indonesia for refusing to comply with previous resolutions and it specifically rejects the claim that East Timor has been integrated into Indonesia. The Australian Government did not vote against the resolution, but instead showed a degree of support by abstaining. Yet less than two months later the Government changed its mind. As it was so close to the date of the election, one wonders why Mr Peacock could not have informed the Australian people of the Government’s intention before 10 December so as to allow the citizens of Australia to vote on this issue, to make up their minds whether they believed that Indonesia had the right to move in and take over East Timor. But the Government would not be in that. I believe that it realised the depth of public support within Australia for the people of East Timor and consequently it would not inform them of the impending sellout in a situation in which they, the people, could exercise a vote on the matter. Perhaps the Government has become so enmeshed in resources diplomacy that the questions of self-determination and human rights have been reduced dramatically in importance.
Could it be that the timing of this decision to recognise incorporation is linked with the disputes in the Timor Sea concerning the seabed and oil exploration rights? Of course I was certainly surprised when I read an article in the Australian on 21 February 1978. The evidence contained in the article supports documents emanating from the United States and Australia concerning the role that oil politics may have had in determining Mr Peacock’s sudden announcement. Mr President, I seek the leave of the Senate to have that item of news incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
Way opens for Timor oil hunt
By Peter Terry
The Federal Government’s recognition of East Timor as Indonesian territory has paved the way for Australian participation in a multi-million dollar oil exploration program.
Drilling is to centre on an area of the seabed the ownership of which was long disputed by Australia and East Timor s former colonial rulers, Portugal.
Now that Indonesia’s takeover has been recognised, oil companies are expecting early negotiations between Canberra and Jakarta to finalise the mid-ocean border line.
Had the Portuguese had their way, the border would have been drawn straight across the potential oil field. But oil company officials said yesterday they were now expecting an agreement far more favourable to Australia.
The area of seabed in question extends roughly from what was East Timor south across the Timor Sea and Joseph Bonaparte Gulf to the coast of north-west Australia.
Portugal always argued its territorial rights should extend well down into what is essentially the Australian continental shelf. It is at the extremities of the shelf that oil companies are most hopeful of finding if not oil, at least commercial quantities of natural gas.
The area is rated by one oil company geologist as being among the top six offshore areas around Australia in oil potentiality.
There are two main companies planning to explore the region, Woodside and the French Government-owned Aquitaine-Elf.
Woodside is the multi-national with which BHP is planning to develop the huge natural gas fields on Australia’s North West Shelf. Aquitaine-Elf is one of France’s largest petroleum companies.
Aquitaine’s Australian exploration manager, Mr G. Dailly, said yesterday the Federal Government had long been aware that no company would explore the area until the border dispute was settled. “No one would want to find oil there without knowing who owns it”, he said. “But we are not expecting any major problems over the border now because of the border lines already agreed to by Indonesia on either side of the disputed area. “If these two lines are just joined together, there will be no trouble at all”.
Aquitaine is committed to exploring exploration leases in the area by July next year. If the border is settled soon, drilling will probably start earlier.
The company will initially sink one wildcat well at a cost of around $3m. If it strikes oil or gas, it will immediately increase the investment to confirm the extent of the oil basin.
Before the border dispute with the Portuguese developed, some exploration drilling did take place, but although gas condensates were discovered, they were not of commercial quantities.
But the whole Timor Sea- area, both disputed and undisputed, is attracting increased interest from oil companies, just outside the disputed area, Arco Australia Ltd is now sinking a wildcat well off Cartier Island, about midway between southern Timor and the Australian mainland.
Some people in the oil industry see the well as a critical one in deciding the prospects of the area.
Arco’s chief geologist, Mr Frank Ingram, takes a more conservative attitude but admits the well will go a long way in helping define future prospects.
Whether the Portuguese would have ever won their demands for the rights to a larger slice of the Australian continental shelf is open to question.
Before they pulled out of East Timor the dispute was to have gone to the World Court for settlement. Oil company officials generally believe Australia would have won the case.
Now it appears Australia is certain to win without the court’s help.
– If even part of that news item is true, it means clearly that the decision to recognise integration was taken in order to settle the dispute about the seabed border between Australia and East Timor. Once settled, a multi-million dollar oil exploration program involving some Australian participation could get under way. The scramble for oil has meant a further erosion of support for human rights in our region. It is indeed a most tragic irony that after listening to the conservatives attack resources diplomacy by the OPEC countries, we now see the crudest forms of resources diplomacy being courted by the Australian Government with the monkey-dance generals of Jakarta. I say to Mr Peacock that it is indeed a deadly monkey dance that he continues to play, especially for the East Timorese people. While this cynical game of diplomacy is being played out in Canberra and Jakarta, the plight of the East Timorese people continues to worsen. On several other occasions members of the Senate have referred to the atrocities and murders being committed daily in East Timor. We can all recall previous church reports stating that up to 100,000 persons have died in the fighting. Despite the Indonesian cordon sanitaire around East Timor, information continues to flow, suggesting immense brutality, privation and despair on an enormous scale. One such piece of information, which was written by an East Timorese priest in November of last year and smuggled out of East Timor by two Dominican missionary sisters who were formerly in East Timor, is especially disturbing. In order to save time, it is not my wish to read this letter. I seek the leave of the Senate to incorporate it in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
I was so happy to receive news of you. So much yearning, so many memories . . . Now if you like I’ll tell you something about me . . . My spirit is too confused for me to present a ridiculous description of me and of the reality of Timor today. But I shall try. I am as thin as a toothpick, without shoes (and not a Carmelite): I am in rags (without the vow of poverty), and I am sick (without being in hospital) and I could go on . . .
But do you think I am joking? After the war I will tell you the rest if I am still alive then. Let us now turn to more serious and important things.
Firstly- the War
It continues with the same fury as it had started. Fretilin continues the struggle, in spite of famine, lack of clothing, death, and a crisis in understanding and objectives which has surfaced lately. The invaders have intensified their attacks in the three classic ways- from land, sea and air.
Between 7 and 3 1 December 1 975 and up to February 1976, were at anchor in Dili harbour up to 23 warships which vomited intense fire towards Dili 24 hours a day. Daily from 8 to 12 helicopters and 4 bombers flew reconnaissance and bombing runs near Dili. Numerous tanks and armoured vehicles roamed about the territory. The Indonesian armed forced in Timor must have surpassed 50,000 (I don’t know for certain). In December last year there was heavy movement of ships in Dili, discharging war materials and disembarking troops. From last September (1977) the war was again intensified. The bombers did not stop all day. Hundreds of human beings died every day. The bodies of the victims became food for carnivorous birds (If we don’t die of the war, we die of the plague), villages were completely destroyed, some tribes (sucos) decimated . . . and the war enters its third year with no promise of an early end in sight. The barbarities (understandable in the Middle Ages, and justifiable in the Stone Age), the cruelties, the pillaging, the unqualified destruction of Timor, the executions without reason, in a word all the ‘organised’ evil, has spread deep roots in Timor. There is complete insecurity and the terror of arbitrary imprisonment is our daily bread, (I am on the ‘personna non grata’ list and any day I could disappear). Fretilin soldiers who give themselves up are disposed of- for them there is no prison. Genocide will come soon, perhaps by next December. Taking advantage of the courage of the Timorese, they are being recruited to fight their brothers in the jungle (or interior). It is they who march in front of the (Indonesian) battalions (to intimidate the game?).
Second- the Church. (The silence, the individualism, the exchange of insults) . . .
Many missions are without priests; schools have been closed for more than two years, there are not joint activities; but there is greater awareness of events and there is an attempt to establish a line of action according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council. The Bishop has resigned, and in his place is an apostolic administrator- Fr Lopes . . . The Canossian sisters- some have returned (7) and some new Spanish Carmelites have arrived (in all 5).
We have only three Jesuits and the Salesians have not abandoned us. The Timorese priests are: Lopes (now Monseignor) Demetrio, Maia Aureo Jose Antonio, Mario, Cunha, Rafael, Agrostinho, Ricardo, Leao who are not in the Indonesian part; with Fretilin are Timorese priests Luis da Costa, Mariano Soares and Francisco Tavares dos Reis. Also with Fretilin are Frs. Lioneto Vieira Fagundo Martins and Carlos da Rocha Pereira. With the Indonesians are, apart from the Jesuits and Salesians, the Goans, Santana, Monteiro, Brito and the Metropolitans Julio Aco and Barbosa The seminarians have gone to Flores. The Carmelites have opened a new house in Dili.
Third- the Political Situation
Indescribable. Sabotage and lies dominate the information sector. Integration is not the expression of the will of the people. The people are controlled by the Indonesians and given the character of the oppressor and the level of the Indonesian presence, it is a lamb being led to the slaughter. In the presence of such force there is no resistance; liberty is a word without meaning. The proclaimed liberation is synonomous with slavery. Timor is returning to the years 194S-S0 and anti-communism is an Islamic slogan meaning iconoclasm’- The reform of our customs means the setting up of cabarets and houses of prostitution … In commerce the search for basic needs dominates, and black market is the rule. The Chinese are easily corrupted and they themselves are instruments of commercial exploitation. To travel outside of Indonesia is a dream. Mail is opened.
Oecussi is now part of the diocese of Atambua. Everything is changed. Our residence, Bishop Madeiras, has been totally destroyed by the fire of the barbarians, the Seminary of Dare destroyed, and colleges of Maliana and Soibada destroyed. Timor is not integrated, but annexed, it has not been liberated from ‘Communism’, but handed over to barbarians and sold to Indonesian Moslems. Freedom in any aspect does not exist.
Please do something positive for the liberty of the Timorese people. The world ignores us and our grief . . . we are on the road to complete genocide. By the end of December the war could exterminate us. All the youth of Timor ( 30 per cent of the population) are in the forests: the Indonesians control only 1 or 2 kilometres beyond the villages. We ask all justice-loving people to save Timor, and we ask God to forgive the sins of the Timorese people.
I am very tired and I do not have the equanimity to give you a more detailed picture of the reality of Timor in these last two years. We here are all exhausted.
A yearning embrace for all of you. (Sender’s name withheld)
Timor, November 1977. (Sent via Sister Natalia Granada Moreira and Sister Maria Auxiliadora Hernandez (Dominican Missionaries, formerly in Timor)
-That letter points out some of the facts that the Australian Government has chosen to ignore in seeking to sanction Indonesian barbarity. These are: Only a small part of East Timor is in Indonesian hands; Fretilin is still strong and inflicting heavy casualties upon the Indonesians; in Indonesian-held areas the people are held in virtual slavery; churches, buildings and villages have been destroyed; executions and murder of the East Timorese are going on in the occupied areas. Surely de facto recognition is completely immoral in these circumstances. Indonesia does not control East Timor, as nearly all of the limited numbers of independent observers have pointed out. Further, there is no guarantee that such an action on Australia ‘s part will have any benefit in alleviating the suffering of the East Timorese. Where are the united families which were used by several honourable senators last year as an excuse for voting against the proposal to hold an inquiry into East Timor?
No, the decision to recognise de facto integration was adopted by the Government for cynical reasons, borne of the thirst of multi-nations to explore for oil and delivered by the Foreign Minister as the penultimate of Australian foreign policy weakness. It must be remembered that the Indonesian generals will limit their excesses, both internally and externally, only through pressure and not through compliance. Witness the recent release of 10,000 political prisoners which was brought about only by international pressure. Finally, one area of the Government’s program as stated by the Governor-General yesterday strikes me as contradictory when we consider Australia’s record on East Timor. His Excellency said:
In consultation with the States, legislation will be reintroduced to establish a Human Rights Commission. My Government welcomes Australia ‘s membership on the UN Human Rights Commission as an opportunity to contribute to the discussion and further development of internationally accepted principles of human rights.
What a way for the Government to commence its term as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, by providing Indonesia with de facto recognition of its takeover in East Timor. How hypocritical can one get? This decision successfully underlines Australia’s essential lack of commitment to human rights. How in the future can the Government claim to be concerned with human rights when the basic human rights of more than 600,000 people fewer than 400 miles from Darwin are so conveniently denied and now ignored? This will remain the eternal shame of Australia’s foreign policy in the 1970s and without doubt will not be forgotten either in Australia or in the South Pacific or, indeed, by the suffering East Timorese themselves. I only hope that the Government will see fit to stop this disastrous course on which it is heading. I conclude with the remarks of United States Congressman Fraser at the hearings of the Congress Sub-committee investigating East Timor on 1 9 July 1 977. He stated:
The United States was apprised, at least in general, perhaps specifically because . . . Secretary Kissinger was in Jakarta the day before the invasion . . . of the intention of the Indonesian Government, but we made no serious objection to what they proposed to do; what I would regard as a facade of self-determination was expressed, the United States immediately indicated it was satisfied with what had transpired and resumed shipments of military assistance it never told Indonesia it was suspending . . . There is a degree of complicity here by the United States that I really find to be quite disturbing. Even if one sets that aside, to write off 600,000 people, because we are friends with the country which forcibly annexed them, does real violence to any profession of adherence to the principle of human rights.
In essence these remarks remain an accurate reflection of Australia’s foreign policy on this issue. I must say that I fear the same appeasement might be applied to other situations in our area in the future. Quite frankly, Mr Peacock could offer some redress to the Australian people by resigning his ministerial portfolio.
– Tonight I raise a matter which I raised in this chamber on 18 October last year. It is the serious unemployment problem being faced at Mannum in South Australia. To get the story in its proper perspective, I quote the question I posed to the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Senator Cotton, in the Senate on 18 October 1977:
The Minister will be aware that the South Australian farm machinery manufacturing firm of Horwood Bagshaw Ltd is to lay off 300 employees at its Mannum and Edwardstown plants this week. In view of the fact that 169 of the 197 persons to be laid off at the Mannum plant are married men and as there is no alternative employment available in this country town with a population of 2,000 people, will either the Minister or his Cabinet colleagues take emergency measures to assist the South Australian Government in preventing undue hardship to the work force and business people of Mannum?
I will quote only part of the Minister’s reply. He said that he and I had been working on this matter in Canberra and said that through the information with which I supplied him he was made aware of what the South Australian Government proposed to do in this problem. He said:
I acknowledge that, and Senator McLaren has my assurance that we will do what we can to help.
That was on 18 October. Granted in the intervening period we have had an election, but governments should not come to a halt because of elections. I am sure that Senator Cotton would have put the matter in train to try to bring some assistance to the South Australian Government so that it in turn could help the town of Mannum. I shall quote from the Adelaide Advertiser of 28 October 1977. It points out what the South Australian Labor Government was doing to try to help the town of Mannum. I shall then turn to the State Hansard and point out what the South Australian Government has done as far back as 1970. Of course the Hall Government comes into it for a brief period. This will prove that some of the remarks made by Senator Messner today to the effect that the Dunstan Government is setting out to cripple small businesses and industry in South Australia are completely without foundation. Of course I cannot delve into that today, but I will do it next week. The article in the Adelaide Advertiser of 18 October is headed Grant to provide 100 jobs at Mannum ‘. It states:
About 100 retrenched Horwood Bagshaw workers at Mannum will get jobs under a $60,000 State Unemployment Relief Scheme grant announced yesterday.
The Premier (Mr Dunstan) told a public meeting of about 200 people in Mannum the grant was in addition to $ 140,000 approved for job maintenance in the areas.
It has been the Government’s experience that not all retrenched workers wanted work under the SURS
That is the State Unemployment Relief Scheme. The article goes on:
But, if more jobs for Mannum unemployed were needed, more money would be provided. The $200,000 was expected to provide work until the end of January with the Mannum and Murray Bridge district councils and the Monarto Development Commission.
Preference would be given to those not entitled to longservice leave payments.
Mr Dunstan ‘s announcement came two days after Horwood Bagshaw laid off 19S workers from its Mannum plant, leaving a skeleton staff of 68.
He told the meeting that a senior officer in the Economic Development Unit was working full-time on examining proposals for other industries in Mannum.
If we can find anything that will be a goer, we will be behind it, ‘he said.
Industries Assistance Commission help would be given to keep the plant’s foundry open if enough orders for work were received.
He said that the Government would look at ways the Mannum plant could help to build the Wallaroo jetty and at some other jobs. I checked up today. As the Premier pointed out, the $200,000 provided would provide work only until the end of January. Of course that money is now exhausted. As of 13 January in Mannum registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service were 132 adult males, 11 adult females, 38 junior males and 22 junior females, a total of 203 people. But a further 70 of various ages have been engaged in SURS. This work is running out and will cease next week, bringing the total to 273 registered unemployed, which is 50 per cent of the Mannum work force. Yet the Government said during the election campaign that it was very concerned about the unemployed people in this country. Here we have the massive amount of 50 per cent of a town’s population of 2,000 unemployed. If it were not for the help given by the State Government, many of these people would have had to leave the town. I refer now to a report in the Murray Valley Standard of a function held at Mannum on 1 1 February, just over a week ago. The Standard is reporting the outcome of a massive function held at Mannum to celebrate the opening of the big community centre which was built mainly with money provided under the unemployment relief scheme. I shall read some of the article which refers to the opening by Mr Dunstan. The article states:
The key to a better future for Mannum lies in the initiative of its people, the Premier (Mr Don Dunstan) told about 300 people at the opening of the town’s community complex on Saturday night.
That would be 1 1 February. The article continues:
He said the Government would assist those initiatives in every possible way, and give Mannum ‘s people positive assistance. The Premier said Mannum Community Centre was one of the finest in South Australia, and was a lasting tribute to the involvement and hard work of many local people. He assured people that the co-operation and support given the town by the Government would continue.
The recreational and social benefits of such a magnificent centre are obvious. Even in monetary terms, it is by far the biggest building project ever undertaken in Mannum. I am naturally proud that the State Government, through its unemployment relief scheme, provided two-thirds of the $335,000 total cost. The SURS grant enabled 85 jobless people to be employed in productive work for the community.
Seventy per cent of the workers employed in the construction of the centre were young people, under the age of 2 1. Most had no experience in building or construction work, and were organised by Mannum Council, also not a professional builder . . .’
He said that during recent months, local people had pooled their resources to work towards a better future for Mannum. The Government helped by making funds available to employ a fulltime Community Development Officer -
I point out that $8,000 was made available by the Government to employ this officer full time for a period of six months- and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries had agreed to help the committee to do a feasibility study on the vegetable glasshouse industry. The Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport had also made funds available to the Council to upgrade tourist facilities in Mannum. He applauded the work being done by Mannum Economic Development Committee, which has been working closely with Department of Economic Development officers in laying plans to diversify local industry.
I will have something to say about that matter in a few moments, during my concluding remarks. To further illustrate the assistance given to the town of Mannum, mainly by an Australian Labor Party government, I shall read from the House of Assembly Hansard of 29 November 1977, at page 1052, where the Premier gives a series of answers to questions which were asked by the State member, Mr Wotton, and which were placed on notice. Both the State electorate which covers the town of Mannum and the Federal electorate are Liberal electorates. It is often said that State Labor governments do not give any assistance to electorates which they do not hold or which they cannot win. On present voting figures it will be many years before we can win either of these electorates. Mr Wotton asked these questions:
The Premier did not answer that question. He said that it was a confidential matter. The answers he gave to the first two questions were as follows:
. The following assistance was provided to David Shearer Ltd in the past 10 years after recommendation by the Industries Development Committee.
David Shearer Ltd went into receivership in 1 972.
We see that, although the Hall Liberal Government guaranteed a loan of $950,000 to this company, which was the mainstay of the town, to keep it functioning, it was the Dunstan Labor Government which had to pick up the tab and find the money when the company went into receivership. The other questions asked by Mr Wotton were:
What financial assistance in the form of guarantees, loans or any other assistance has been given by the Government to Horwood Bagshaw Ltd for specific use at Mannum during the past 10 years?
Two of the other questions asked were not answered because the information was confidential. That is set out in the Hansard. Mr Dunstan said in reply:
Horwood Bagshaw in 1 972 acquired the assets of David Shearer from the receiver. This acquisition was assisted by the Government’s purchasing Horwood Bagshaw’s Mile End factory for $ 1 ,500,000 as part of Highways Department land acquisition program for the proposed north-south transportation corridor. Horwood Bagshaw assumed responsiblity for repayment of a loan of $ 100,000 to the South Australian Industries Assistance Corporation. Repayments on this loan are on schedule.
I hope that Senator Messner takes notice of what I have read here tonight. If he reads Hansard tomorrow he will see that despite what he says the Dunstan Government is doing all it can to help industry.
I raise this matter tonight because of the concern that I have for the attention given to matters of importance by the present Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch). As I said, I believed that the assurance given to me by Senator Cotton would be honoured. I was invited to attend a meeting of the Economic Committee in Mannum some weeks ago. It was quite some weeks ago now. Because I raised in this chamber the matter of serious consequences affecting Mannum as a result of the unemployment situation, I felt that I must seek some information from the present Minister as to what had been done following the promise made to me by Senator Cotton. So I sent the following telegram to Mr Lynch on 10 January:
Mr Phillip Lynch, M.P., Minister Industry & Commerce, Parliament House, Canberra. A.C.T.
Wish to draw your attention to continuing problem of unemployment at Mannum South Australia. I raised this matter in the Senate October 1 8 Hansard page 1 4 1 8 and followed up with discussions on the problem with Senator Cotton. Will be attending meeting of Mannum Economic Committee January 1 8 and wish to be advised before this date of assistance forthcoming from Federal Government to relieve the anxiety of Mannum residents.
Geoff McLaren ALP Senator for SA
Six weeks have passed and I have not yet received an acknowledgment of that telegram from Mr Lynch. Yet yesterday and during the election campaign the Government said that it had a vital concern for the unemployed in this country. It is just four months since I first raised the matter in this chamber. Six weeks have gone by since I sent to the Minister the telegram in which I asked what the Government had done. He has not even had the courtesy to acknowledge my telegram so that I can convey the message to the people of Mannum.
– He got into trouble with his family trust.
– Yes, he did get into trouble with his family trust, but he does not have as much financial trouble as have many of these families in Mannum who have been existing on benefits provided under the State Unemployment Relief scheme instituted by the Dunstan Labor Government. Many of the people who are using their long service leave have not sought relief work under the scheme and as yet have not registered for the unemployment benefit. The Government has promised the people that it would do certain things for them. The people in this country town are faced with a dire emergency. It is a decentralised town; there is no railway service to the town. I give great credit to the people of Mannum for what they have done over the years in trying to help themselves. I give great credit also to the Dunstan Labor Government for what it has done by way of payments out of its meagre coffers in trying to keep the town afloat and to look after the business people who also are suffering as a result of the work force being diminished and the pay packets of all of the people in the town disappearing. They are very concerned about the future of the town. I think that this Government at least ought to have the courtesy to give some reply. Even if the Minister had replied to my telegram by saying that the Government had done nothing, at least I could have told the people that much. But as yet there has not even been an acknowledgment of my telegram.
I sent forward today a message stating the reason why I wished to raise this matter tonight. I hope that the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) who represents Mr Lynch in this chamber can tell us that at least the Government is doing something to help the State Labor Government to help these people throught its unemployment projects in the town of Mannum. The State Government cannot be expected to bear the burden for ever and a day. Much of the unemployment has been brought about by the policies of the Government. It is time that it accepted some of its responsibilities. The Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) will remember also that I raised in this chamber before the election the matter of the deferred payment of unemployment relief benefits. It was going to throw an extra burden on the State welfare services. I asked then what relief was coming from the Federal Government to reimburse the State for the tab that it had to pick up to provide relief for people who were the responsibility not of the State but of the Federal Government. We now find that the Minister herself has issued either today, or will issue tomorrow, in answer to a question news of the witch hunt that is going on to flush out people who are alleged to be wrongly in receipt of unemployment benefits. There are many people who are fully eligible but have to wait up to five weeks from the date of application before receiving a cent in benefits. They have, of course, to fall back on the State welfare organisations. I think this is a dereliction of duty on the pan of this Government after having made the promises that it did. If it is claimed not to be a dereliction in this respect I do not see how it can be claimed that there is no dereliction on the part of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in his not having the courtesy to acknowledge my telegram to him asking what the Government is doing to help this town in South Australia which is in serious trouble.
– I wish to respond briefly, in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar), on the matters that were raised by Senators Mulvihill and Coleman. Senator Mulvihill incorporated in Hansard a number of documents which indicated that the matter of the political detainee in Argentina, Miss Ana Maria Mohaded, was the subject of discussions with the Minister at an earlier time. I would like to make some brief comments on the Minister’s behalf. The other matters raised by Senator Mulvihill will again be referred to the Minister for any further action that could be taken by the Government.
As I understand it Miss Mohaded is a political detainee in Argentina and has been nominated for migration by her sister, who lives in Sydney. The Acting Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs indicated to Senator Mulvihill in a letter of 1 February 1978 that he was prepared to authorise the Australian Embassy in Buenos Aires to issue a certificate to the appropriate authorities to the effect that, provided our officers were permitted to interview Miss Mohaded and she successfully completed entry requirements concerning health and character, a visa would be issued to enable her to travel to Australia.
It should be noted that Miss Mohaded is not a refugee, but an Argentinian national residing in Argentina. The question of her entry is being considered on a special basis and the criteria to be applied are not those for normal migrant entry and relate only to health and character. The Australian Ambassador in Buenos Aires approached the Argentinian authorities in December 1977, requesting permission to interview this person, and despite repeated attempts to do so has received no response. Until such time as it is possible to have an interview, the Government will not be able to take further action enabling her to be processed for acceptance to Australia.
As I stated earlier, I will again refer the matter to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and draw his attention to the way in which Senator Mulvihill presented this problem tonight to see if further action is possible by the Australian Ambassador or the Government to facilitate the processing of the application concerning the person who has been the subject of our discussion tonight.
Concerning the matter raised by Senator Coleman regarding a Mr Stein and a Ms Francie Williams I will refer the Senator’s comments to the Minister and seek an early answer.
– I will respond briefly, on behalf of Senator Withers, who is unable to be here, and through him on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the remarks of Senator Primmer regarding East Timor. I do so in the knowledge that Senator Primmer, in parallel with quite a number of members of this Senate, from both sides, has over the months expressed a very genuine concern about the people of East Timor and the circumstances that have brought about the present situation. On a personal note, I spent a significant part of my life on the island and, therefore, have some knowledge of the people, the island and the complexity of the situation. The basis of Senator Primmer ‘s argument related to the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) on 20 January regarding de facto recognition. I simply draw attention to the statement of 20 January. In that statement the Minister indicated that Indonesian administrative control of East Timor is effective and covers all major administrative centres of the territory.
In order to pursue the objectives of family reunion and the rehabilitation of Timor, Australia will need to continue to deal directly with the Indonesian Government as the authority in effectual control. In so doing this Government in no way condones the circumstances. The Minister’s statement makes the Government’s attitude clear. The Government has not condoned the means by which East Timor has become part of Indonesia. The Government remains firmly attached to the principles of nonaggression and self-determination. It regrets that events in East Timor took the course they did in the period August to December 1975 when these principles could have been put into effect and when the present Government was in Opposition.
I remind honourable senators that the present Minister for Foreign Affairs was very articulate at that time in drawing to the attention of the then Government the circumstances of East Timor and requesting action, particularly with relation to some multilateral intervention, perhaps some regional intervention, and certainly intervention at the United Nations level. Regrettably, it was apparent that passive acquiescence was the policy of the Government of the day, and the time when something could be done passed by. As honourable senators know, at that time there was a lot of murder and wounding as a result of a quite brutal and savage civil war on the island and a situation in which the people were in a desperate plight, particularly the 40,000 or more fleeing across the border. That was the time for action. Despite the positive actions of Australia and others in this regard, the United Nations has failed to carry international opinion sufficiently to have a decisive influence on the situation in East Timor. The Government’s efforts and its strong criticism of Indonesia ‘s actions are a matter of public record. The Government will take whatever action it can, having inherited the situation, to mitigate the circumstances and to help for the future.
- Mr President, I rise to ask whether you would inform the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) that it is time to go home.
– It is high time we went home. We are detained by Senator Cavanagh ‘s colleagues no doubt raising important matters. Senator McLaren raised again in the Senate a matter which he first raised by way of a question to Senator Sir Robert Cotton in his former capacity as Minister for Industry and Commerce on 18 October last year. His remarks have been readdressed to me on this occasion in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch). They refer to the serious problem which has arisen in the town of Mannum, South Australia, as a result of the closure of an agricultural machinery plant run by Horwood Bagshaw Ltd. I gather from the facts which Senator McLaren presented to the Senate in October 1977 and which he repeated tonight that something like 1 97 people have been laid off as a result of the cessation of work at this plant. Senator McLaren said that this is about 50 per cent of the work force of this relatively small town.
The problem arises from the generally depressed condition of the agricultural machinery industry in Australia. As a result of the difficulties this industry has been facing, which have been getting worse in recent years, a number of major companies have made substantial retrenchments. Unfortunately, Horwood Bagshaw Limited in Mannum, South Australia, had to cease production. The difficulties have been largely due to the uncertain prospects for many rural producers, notably the poor seasonal conditions in several States, particularly South Australia. Until seasonal conditions improve there is little prospect of any improvement in the situation of the industry, particularly in the case of this company in South Australia.
Additional problems have been depression and uncertainty in commodity markets in various parts of the world. The Senate would be aware of the great efforts the Government has been making for some time to improve access to markets, some of them traditional markets which have been closed to Australia for agricultural products. In particular, the Government has created the special portfolio of Minister for Special Trade Representations. At present the Minister is overseas on a mission to improve access for Australian farm products to international markets generally but especially in the European Economic Community. The Government has also introduced, with notable criticism by the Opposition, including, probably, Senator McLaren, a generous investment allowance. This should help to encourage the purchase of agricultural machinery if seasonal conditions improve and give farmers the opportunity of making use of new machinery. However, those are the reasons why the problem has occurred in Mannum.
There is a limit to the assistance that can be given by any government, State or Federal, to maintain an industry which has become uneconomic. If the problem in Mannum had been temporary no doubt the type of assistance given by the South Australian Government would have been an adequate solution. But the problem is persisting. Therefore, a detailed case would have to be put forward to the Government to justify grants of money to continue the creation of employment in what may be in many respects an artificial way. It would be justified only if a long term solution to the problem was evident. I suggest that if such a solution is evident a detailed case should be prepared. The Minister for Industry and Commerce would then be in a better position to respond. This would be better than sending telegrams calling for attention to the problem and asking what is going to be done about it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.15 a.m. (Thursday)
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 February 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1978/19780222_senate_31_s76/>.