31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 3.4 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 1 3 citizens of Australia:
The Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the Victorian Federation of State School Parents’ Clubs respectfully showeth:
That as citizens of Victoria and parents of State school children, we are most concerned that the quality of education available in our school be of the highest possible standard.
We believe that this can only be achieved if adequate Federal funds are provided. The recently announced policy of direct cuts to Government schools for 1 979 must have an adverse effect on them.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should arrange for
Withdrawal of the Guidlines to the Schools Commission for 1979 and acceptance of its recommendations for Government schools.
An increase of a minimum of5 per cent in real terms on base level programmes for 1 979.
Restoration of the $8 million cut from the Capital Grants for Government Schools.
Increased recurrent and capital funding to Government schools. and your petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-On behalf of Senator Grimes I present the following petition from 28 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the people of Australia having taken part in the government of Australia through universal suffrage in December 1 975 and again in December 1 977 and that on the basis of their expressed choice at the ballot box the people of Australia gave authority to the LiberalNational Country Party Coalition to form a federal government to bring into affect specific policies promulgated throughout the length and breadth of Australia by the said Coalition and that, whereas by virtue of being elected through universal suffrage, the Government Members now sitting in the House of Representatives were authorised to implement their state objectives by legislation and that such authority did not extend to acting otherwise or to enact legislation not previously submitted to the will of the people, namely:
Revoking the legislation for twice-yearly pension payments.
Imposing a freeze on the free-of-means-test pension.
Unemployed divided into those with dependents and those without.
Imposing income tax on pensions under age pension age- invalid and repatriation service pensions; rehabilitation allowances and incentives; sheltered employment and allowances for tuberculosis suffers (civilian and service) and any other impositions.
Your petitioners submit that all or any of the foregoing proposed legislation of the Lower House, if implemented, will greatly disadvantage many thousands of citizens as either against their expressed will or not submitted to universal vote as the democratic right of the Australian people, therefore,
Your petitioners call on the Senate as the House of Review to take appropriate action to release these persons from burdens unfairly placed in order to finance a deficit not of their making.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable, the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the provision of payments for induced abortion through items of the Medical Benefits Schedule is an unacceptable endorsement of abortion which has now reached the levels of a national tragedy with at least 60,000 unborn babies being killed in 1 977.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will so amend the Medical Benefits Schedule as to preclude the payment of any benefit for induced abortion, except one performed when a mother’s life is endangered.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Jessop.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled-
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas the Fraser Government was elected in December 1975 after promising that pensions would be adjusted instantly and automatically in relation to quarterly Consumer Price Index figures; and whereas that Government subsequently announced that pension adjustments should properly be made half yearly each May and November; it is the current intention of the same Government to legislate for pensions to be adjusted only once a year, and this constitutes a serious breach of generally accepted ethics of democratic government and also deprives many needy pensioners of increases that are essential to their subsistence.
The foregoing facts impel the undersigned Petitioners to request the Australian Government to uphold the principle that the trustworthiness of governments should at all times be above question, and to appeal to the Parliament to prevent the imposition of further economic hardship upon Australian pensioners by rejecting any Bill which has for its aim the introduction of annual adjustments of pension rates.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sibraa (3 petitions), Senator Douglas McClelland (3 petitions), Senator Tate, Senator Jessop and Senator Walsh.
To the Honourable, the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth.
That the provision of payments for abortion through items of the Medical Benefits Schedule is an unacceptable endorsement of abortion which has now reached the level of a national tragedy with at least 60,000 unborn babies being killed in 1977.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will so amend the Medical Benefits Schedule as to preclude the payment of any benefit for abortion.
And you petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Missen.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the people of Australia having taken part in the government of Australia through universal suffrage in December 1975 and again in December 1977 and that on the basis of their expressed choice at the ballot box the people of Australia gave authority to the LiberalNational Country Party Coalition to form a federal government to bring into affect specific policies promulgated throughout the length and breadth of Australia by the said Coalition and that, whereas by virtue of being elected through universal suffrage, the Government Members now sitting in the House of Representatives were authorised to implement their state objectives by legislation and that such authority did not extend to acting otherwise or to enact legislation not previously submitted to the will of the people, namely: ° Revoking the legislation for twice-yearly pension payments. ° Imposing a freeze on the free-of-means-test pension. ° Unemployed divided into those with dependents and those without. ° Imposing income tax on pensions under age pension age- invalid and repatriation service pensions; rehabilitation allowances and incentives; sheltered employment and allowances for tuberculosis suffers (civilian and service) and any other impositions.
Your petitioners submit that all or any of the foregoing proposed legislation of the Lower House, if implemented, will greatly disadvantage many thousands of citizens as either against their expressed will or not submitted to universal vote as the democratic right of the Australian people, therefore,
Your petitioners call on the Senate as the House of Review to take appropriate action to release these persons from burdens unfairly placed in order to finance a deficit not of their making.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Jessop, Button, Thomas, Carrick, Guilfoyle and Missen.
ACT Termination of Pregnancy Ordinance
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That the Termination of Pregnancy Ordinance (No. 16 of 1978) has the effect of prohibiting the operation of private abortion clinics in the ACT.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Honourable Senators should vote to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Guilfoyle, Tate and Chipp.
The Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the Victorian Federation of State School Parents ‘Clubs respectfully showeth:
That as citizens of Victoria and parents of State school children, we are most concerned that the quality of education available in our school be of the highest possible standard.
We believe that this can only be achieved if adequate Federal funds are provided. The recently announced policy of direct cuts to Government schools for 1 979 must have an adverse effect on them.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should arrange for
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Superannuation (Allocation of Previous Fund) Regulations, contained in Statutory Rules 1978 No. 156 and made under the Superannuation Act 1976, be disallowed.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– Last Thursday, Senator Missen, as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, stated that his Committee had considered the objections to the implementation of these regulations and saw no reason to disallow them. I, like many other honourable senators, have received a massive number of objections to the regulations. The Notice Paper shows that Senator Missen will be delivering a report of the Committee on the matter today. It is my view that the Senate ought to have the benefit of reading the report and studying the objections and each recommendation which, I am sure, will be sound as I understand the Committee’s decision was unanimous. Because of the number of representations I have received, I believe it would be responsible for the Senate to have a day or two to read and consider the report. I have given notice of the motion today because I understand that today is the last day on which under the Standing Orders such notice can be given.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I remind him of the statement that was made recently in the Parliament by the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning the possibility of an Australian involvement in a peace-keeping force in Namibia in southern Africa. As a member of the Council of Namibia, has Australia been kept informed of the progress of negotiations between the South African Government and the five members of the Security Council regarding the transition to independence in Namibia? Is the Minister able to tell the Senate the result of the negotiations concluded in Pretoria last Thursday in respect of that state and the possible implications for Australian policy of an Australian involvement?
– The Government has followed closely the recent discussions in Pretoria between the South African Government and representatives of the five Western members of the Security Council. Although South Africa is to proceed with internal elections, it has agreed to use its best efforts to persuade the elected leaders seriously to consider ways and means of achieving international recognition through the good offices of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the South African Administrator-General for Namibia. This means that a way has been left open for United Nations supervised elections in accordance with the proposals of the five and the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on their implementation. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative is now to resume discussions with the South African Administrator-General of Namibia to work out the modalities of the proposed elections to be held under United Nations supervision and to fix a date for them.
I have noted that the talks appear to have succeeded in removing the South African Government’s objections to certain aspects of the Secretary-General’s report regarding the proposals for police monitors, the question of consultation and the military component of the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group. The Government has publicly supported the proposals of the five and the Secretary-General’s recommendations for their implementation in line with our desire to see an early negotiated and internationally acceptable move to independence for Namibia. The outcome of the latest consultations makes it incumbent upon South Africa to demonstrate its good faith in cooperating with the United Nations in negotiations for elections under United Nations supervision. Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretariat is reviewing the size and composition of the proposed force for Namibia to which Australia has been asked to contribute.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs received information from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs relating to the allegations made by me in the Senate adjournment debate last Tuesday, 17 October, on the appointment of the Secretary-General and Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Conference and the injustices done to Mr David Anderson, the only qualified Aboriginal candidate seeking the positions? If so, will the Minister make the information available to the Senate? In view of the injustices done, whether accidental or otherwise, and the involvement of a Public Service Board officer in the appointment procedures, will the Minister strongly recommend to the Executive of the National Aboriginal Conference that it set aside the appointments to enable a full and proper consideration of all qualified candidates to be undertaken?
– I have information from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs relating to the appointment of the Secretary-General and the Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Conference. The information which I have is identical to that which was given by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the other place on 18 October. As it is a somewhat lengthy answer, I suggest that Senator Missen should refer to that statement to obtain the information that he now requests. The information given by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs covers the program that was undertaken with regard to the appointment to the NAC secretariat. I will refer the last part of the question from Senator Missen to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to seek information on it.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. I am aware of the statement which was made in the House of Representatives. Arising out of the statement by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs is the fact that the date of the letter from Mr McNamara, the Public Service Board officer, to Mr David Anderson should have been 6 September and not 6 August. Accepting that this was a writing error by Mr McNamara, can the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs tell the Senate why it took a competent officer four weeks to post out a stereotype letter to unsuccessful applicants after the actual appointment had been made? What was the purpose in delaying this notification to unsuccessful applicants?
– It was because the last part of the question that was asked by Senator Missen referred to some action which he suggested should be taken by the Government that I said that I would refer the matter to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for his consideration. I am aware of the matter raised earlier by Senator Missen. Realising that the information which I had was identical to that which was presented in the House of Representatives, I did not feel that my information dealt with the question which was raised. As Senator Missen has now raised further questions, I will see that they are referred to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I will seek an early answer to them.
-I refer the Minister for Science to an article in today’s Australian Financial Review, headed ‘Webster Dresses up the Research Grants’, in which the Minister is reported to have used the word ‘clone’ instead of the word ‘cutting’. I ask the Minister: Is he cloning when he indulges in this sort of behaviour, or is he seriously trying to disguise from the public the nature of the research grants which have been awarded by the Government?
-My attention has been drawn to the article in the Australian Financial Review that discusses this matter. As the honourable senator will know, quite recently I made an announcement relating to the distribution of research grants for the 1978-79 financial year. Those grants are a matter of which I think the Parliament generally can be proud. An allocation of some $12m has been made for the support of research of excellence in the Australian community. That is something which will return great benefit to the country. The comment made by the writer of the article in the Australian Financial Review was perhaps accurate. The notation relating to the awarding of the research grants also was correct. Indeed, the scientist in question used the word ‘cloning’ in his application. The application which came to the Department of Science, the wording of which was shortened for a Press release, in actual fact contained the word ‘cloning’. So apparently the scientist thought that that word was an appropriate description of the work he was doing. However, the work for which the grant is given is very important. Indeed, if there is a possibility of some benefit being gained from eucalypt trees, as that scientist believes is possible, I hope that the Australian research grants scheme will be acclaimed not only by the Government but also by the Opposition.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. I ask the Minister for Science: Does he not understand that the point of my question was directed towards the importance of the public understanding what the benefit of these research grants is? It was a serious question to the extent that it raised the question of whether perhaps the Minister should consider making more simple explanations in public pronouncements regarding the nature of research grants than appeared, for example, in the Australian Financial Review today.
– I doubt very much whether the announcement needed to be very much clearer than I made it. I do not think that all articles that are written on science are followed by all people within the community. There are some people in the science community who like to have an accurate scientific description of a particular subject. Here we have an application made by an outstanding scientist for Government assistance for a particular project. The Australian Research Grants Committee, which is composed of most eminent people- the Chairman is Professor Ross of the Australian National University- decide on the particular application and where funds will go. It recommends to me the grants that should be made. In this year, if I remember correctly, some 1,459 grants were made to individual scientists to assist them not only with equipment but also perhaps with staff which will enable them to bring to fruition suggested areas of research of excellence. In fact, some scientists get three-year funding for projects, and the 1,459 grants cover an immense area of interest in the scientific community. In my short Press release I think I noted perhaps a dozen or so that were of public interest. Some related to energy research, and the one that the honourable senator picked out related to research into growing eucalypts. The scientist himself used the word to which the honourable member drew attention. It may be the appropriate word; I would not like to judge whether it was the correct word to use or not. The newspaper reporter concerned appeared to indicate that he thought the scientist had told him that it was inappropriate. However, the scientist used that word. I recognise that the honourable senator does have an understanding of science because he is my opposite number as Opposition spokesman for science in this Parliament. I realise that he was only asking that question for the benefit of some of his back bench members, who do not understand. I think it was a very appropriate comment.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask the Minister whether he has seen reports that last weekend the Prime Minister stated:
The Federal Government would allow States to borrow overseas on their own inititative for major State projects.
Can the Minister now confirm that those reports are correct and, if so, that the proposed petrochemical plant at Redcliff in South Australia will have the Federal Government’s backing at the forthcoming Loan Council meeting? Can South Australians now look forward to the establishment of Redcliff, which will not only be of national benefit but will also effectively obtain maximum utilisation of the liquid hydrocarbons in the Cooper Basin in South Australia which would otherwise be wasted?
– There have been a number of reports arising out of the Prime Minister’s approach to Premiers at the last Premiers Conference inviting a discussion on a new aspect of the financial agreement that is now called infrastructure financing. What happened was that the Premiers were asked to submit a list of projects for which overseas borrowing might be achieved. That list would be examined by a working party and a list of priorities would be established which would go to a Premiers Conference. The Premiers Conference will be held, as I understand it, early next month- my memory is that it will be on 1 November- and no doubt that conference will sort out priorities. I am well aware that on the earlier list the Redcliff petrochemical project- the Dow Chemical (Aust.) Ltd project- was listed. I am also well aware of the interest of South Australians in the matter and of the fact that the development of gas and oil deposits in the Cooper Basin may have added some greater significance to the Redcliff project. I cannot, of course, give any advice as to the priorities as such. I believe that the honourable senator, who has a natural interest in this matter, will appreciate that this must be left to the Premiers Conference. I see in the infrastructure financing a very real step forward in Federal-State relations, particularly in regard to developmental projects in Australia.
– I ask a supplementary question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask again: Does the Prime Minister’s statement over the weekend change what I understood was the previous attitude of the Federal Government towards State requests for loans for major projects in particular States?
– I have not seen a report of the Prime Minister’s statement over the weekend. What I have reported is the only change in attitude regarding State borrowings. Whereas previously the Loan Council itself had to approve all borrowings, a situation has developed for infrastructure financing which fits the bill for projects such as that to which Senator Young referred. Of course, the Loan Council has to give final approval to the nature of the loan, its origin, its rate of interest et cetera, but the States will have the capacity to initiate projects and advance loan proposals for themselves.
-Following Senator Young’s question, I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Is it not a fact that under the new proposal for so-called infrastructure borrowing the final approval will still be with the Loan Council and that no new power is being given to any State to undertake overseas loans -
– Outside the Loan Council.
– Exactly. There is no difference. Will the Minister explain the rationale behind the so-called infrastructure borrowing proposal?
-Until the concept of infrastructure borrowing was introduced, with very few exceptions all borrowing on behalf of the States and the Commonwealth was done in the Commonwealth’s name through the Commonwealth Treasury. Money was then allocated to the States by way of the capital works program. I said that there were a few exceptions because one or two electricity bodies and other public corporations around Australia have achieved the right to negotiate loans abroad. The Premiers claimed that on their own initiative, in the names of their States and in the interests of specific projects in those States they could attract a real international interest in money coming forward. The difference with infrastructure borrowing is that the loans themselves, having been approved by the Loan Council within the concept of the 1927 Financial Agreement, will actually be made in the names of the governments concerned and for specific purposes.
-It is just a bit more adjustment to the deficit.
-I take it from the interjection from the honourable senator opposite that the Labor Party is opposed to this matter, otherwise he would not be interjecting. Anybody who understands the nature of the functions of the Loan Council, the 1927 Financial Agreement and the gentlemen’s agreement will know that all borrowings must be approved by the Loan Council. Nobody inside this Parliament or elsewhere would dispute that. The new technique is for specific State projects and the money will be borrowed for those projects in the States ‘ names.
– I ask a supplementary question. Assuming that these applications for infrastructure borrowing, which are now approaching $2,000m, will be approved by the Loan Council- the indications are that they will be- is the Minister not saying that the real reason that the program has been brought about is the massive reduction in capital payments to the States?
– That is an extraordinarily rhetorical question. It bears no relation to anything living or dead in the previous question and answer. Of course I am not saying that. When did a State capital works program previously finance, anything that looked like a project of Dow Chemical (Australia) Ltd? When did a State capital works program ever before finance a bauxite project or a trade centre in Victoria? When was there such a situation? To say it is to understand that these are two totally different situations and that this proposal is new and quite exciting.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. In view of the revelation that Syrian regulations concerning flights into Damascus are not as Qantas Airways Ltd understood them to be- this apparently resolves problems that were raised in the Senate last week- I ask the Minister whether there was any period during which Qantas believed that it worked under rules which limited the religion of Australians who were able to travel on one of its flights?
– My understanding of this situation is that in fact there was a period during which the Syrian Government imposed the sort of restriction which was talked about in the Senate last week and reported in the Age. It is also my understanding that a booklet brought out by the International Air Transport Association which sets out the various restrictions which are imposed on airlines operating around the world until the present time also contains a statement indicating that that restriction still applies. As I understand it, Qantas operated on the understanding that that was the position with respect to airlines landing in Syria and that its belief that this was so ended only last week. So in fact Qantas was proceeding on that assumption.
– It was acquiescing in it, I suppose.
– I think Qantas might well assert that it was not acquiescing but that while it was operating out of Syria it was subject to that disability. It appears that it was drawing that fact to the attention of passengers and pointing out that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to fly on those flights.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer to an article which appeared in the Canberra Times of 1 1 October, two weeks ago- I intended to ask this question last week but was unable to get the call- and which reported that about 70 Rotarians unexpectedly encountered what appeared to be a clandestine militia training session near Quirindi in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales. The report stated that the trainees were dressed in jungle greens, storm trooper caps, brown belts and black boots and were carrying knives, rifles and water canteens.
When startled they made off in a vehicle with an obscured numberplate, the number of which was obtained by a member of the Rotary group. It was stated in the article that the Commonwealth Police had received no report of illegal training. Has the Attorney-General received any report at all from the Commonwealth Police on this matter? Is there any evidence of a conspiracy under the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act? If so, which foreign country was or is the target and has the Commonwealth Police informed the Department of Foreign Affairs of this incident?
– I received some information with regard to the article which appeared in the Canberra Times and to which Senator O’Byrne referred. I received it about a fortnight ago but I do not have the full material in front of me at the moment. My understanding is that the Commonwealth Police investigated the matter and that the details contained in the article in the Canberra Times were not borne out by such information as it obtained. However, I will seek to get more up to date information from the Commonwealth Police in relation to the matter. I hope to get an answer for Senator O’Byrne quite shortly.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport by saying that both Westernport and Port Phillip Bays are particularly susceptible to serious ecological damage from oil spills and other shipinitiated pollution accidents. It is now acknowledged that some ships have a history of pollution, indicating such gross negligence that spillages by them no longer can be described as accidental. I appreciate that under the Navigation Act the Minister has certain powers to act where oil already is escaping from a ship, or he is satisfied that it is likely to escape from a ship. I ask: Does the Minister have any power similar to that recently adopted in the United States of America to ban- I repeat ‘ban’- foreign vessels which have a history of pollution accidents? If not, will the Minister give consideration to the early adoption of legislation which would enable such foreign vessels to be banned from Australian ports and territorial waters?
– I am advised by the Minister for Transport that provided ships comply fully with international requirements as to construction, load line and safety matters, the Commonwealth Government has no power to prohibit them from entering Australian waters, so the short answer to the honourable member’s question is no. I am further advised that there is no evidence known to the Department of Transport of vessels regularly visiting Australia having a record of disregarding international and Australian standards on oil pollution. Therefore, a need for the introduction of the legislation suggested by the honourable senator is not apparent. However, the Minister advises that if the situation were to change, the need to introduce such legislation would be closely examined.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications whether last Friday and Saturday the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio and television news programs ran an interview with a man who was said to be the leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Australia? Is it true that the man was not identified? Did he wear a cloak over his head? Did he make inflammatory statements about Aborigines in the Northern Territory designed to aggravate further the already tense situation that exists there? Is it the policy of the ABC news department to broadcast statements by unnamed and unidentifiable people which are designed to increase racial tension in Australia? Did the ABC give the man an undertaking not to identify him? Will the Minister ask his colleague, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, to confer with the General Manager of the ABC to ensure that practitioners of hatred in this country are not allowed to peddle their poison on news programs cloaked by a hood and anonymity?
-I did not hear the news reports referred to in the question by the honourable senator, but subsequently I have heard reports that somebody is claiming to be the king, chief wizard or whatever the expression is of the Ku Klux Klan in the Northern Territory. I have further heard claims that he heads an enormous band of one; that he is not only the chief of the tribe but also all the indians too. It would be my hope that if there is someone supporting the Ku Klux Klan he would be doing it in a very solitary manner. The particular inquiries that the honourable senator has made about the ABC, I think, as he very properly suggests, should be referred to that organisation, and I will pass them on to the Minister with the suggestion that that be done. I point out that, when complaints of that sort are made about the ABC, the normal practice of the Minister is to refer them to the Commission for attention and investigation, and
I think that would be the proper course in this case.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It follows questions that I have asked on a couple of occasions in the last few weeks regarding overcharging in telephone accounts. I preface today’s question by saying that I have no complaints against the staff of Telecom, as I am sure that the Minister would understand, but do not agree with its mechanical accounting system.
What legal right does Telecom have to remove a phone service for which rent in advance has been paid, when it has no positive proof that its recording system has been working accurately? Secondly, until Telecom has installed a proper subscriber trunk dialling accounting system which shows the number called, the time of the call, the duration of the call and the charge for the call, as is done in most other countries, will the Minister require Telecom to waive the extra charge which is made for operator-connected trunk calls so that people can keep a check on their accounts? Thirdly, does the Minister agree that most people are honest and do not complain about their accounts without reason and certainly do not complain to their member of parliament unless they know that Telecom is wrong? Finally, will the Minister request the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to table in the Senate or in the House of Representatives any files relating to STD charging systems that have been investigated by Telecom or by the previous Postmaster-General’s Department?
-This is the third question which Senator Townley has asked in this area. It is clear from comments made by other honourable senators that it is a matter of some interest to them. I suppose it is a sign that they also have had complaints from constituents. I commend to honourable senators the reading of the Hansard record of the hearings of Estimates Committee F which had extensive evidence given to it about Telecom ‘s charging system. I think that will be of interest to honourable senators.
– There are 80,000 complaints a year.
-The Leader of the Opposition has said by way of interjection that there are 80,000 complaints a year. I can perhaps very briefly cover the evidence to which I have referred by saying that Telecom puts out approximately 10 million accounts a year. The evidence given to Senate Estimates Committee F was that approximately 80,000 of those accounts give rise to an inquiry about the account. The evidence went on to show that about 64,000 of those 80,000-1 am now converting percentages given by Mr Banks into figures- are cleaned up just by means of telephone inquiry, leaving about 16,000 which require more detailed examination. In percentage terms, that is not too bad a record.
I shall now deal with the specific matters raised by Senator Townley. Under the by-laws under which Telecom operates, a power is granted to disconnect a subscriber’s telephone when the subscriber has failed to pay rental service charges or other charges due within 1 4 days. That is the basis for any action of that kind. The second matter raised by Senator Townley was whether the Minister would request the waiving of the extra charges for operator connected calls until a proper accounting system of the sort outlined by Senator Townley is instituted. I think an extra charge of 60c is imposed for operator connected calls. That charge is very simply a charge related to the additional cost of putting a call through a manual switchboard in circumstances in which STD facilities are available. Although I will refer the request to the Minister, I suspect that, in light of the overall number of calls involved, it is a course which is unlikely to be followed.
The third part of Senator Townley ‘s question asked whether I thought most people are honest and do not complain unless they think that they have a good cause for complaint. I would have to say that I do think most people are honest. I have had one or two cases in relation to which I have had some doubts, but in the main I am sure that people who query genuinely feel that the bill is incorrect. The fourth request was that certain files should be tabled relating to charging systems for STD calls. Again, I can only refer that matter to the Minister for his attention.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Does she recall her colleague in another place on 15 August 1978 in a ministerial statement in relation to the Government’s latest national health scheme stating that some of the present employees of the Health Insurance Commission will be surplus to requirements; that the Government will be making every effort to re-deploy any surplus staff to the
Public Service, to other Commonwealth authorities, to private health funds or elsewhere; that the Minister will be raising employment possibilities with the private funds; and that he has asked that the Public Service Board and the Commonwealth Employment Service give particular attention to the placement needs of Commission staff? I now ask the Minister whether she has seen reports which appeared over the weekend and which stated that as many as 700 employees of Medibank will be made surplus as a result of the Government’s latest national health plan. Can she say what is the total number of staff to be made surplus and what has been the success or otherwise of the so-called ‘specific efforts ‘ to re-deploy surplus staff?
– I recall the statement which was mentioned by Senator Douglas McClelland. I also recall that some time ago Senator Bishop asked me questions on this matter. Today officers from the Department of Health briefed me on the National Health Amendment Bill and associated Bills which are to come before the Senate, I believe, tomorrow. This was one of the matters that I raised with them. They undertook to provide for me a factual statement of the number of people who will be affected by the changes and any other information that they are able to offer to me. So when the National Health Amendment Bill is being considered in the Senate I will see that the specific matters that honourable senators have raised are covered in the statement that I receive from the officers and perhaps we can discuss them further then. I have no information available as to the precise number of staff involved or the activities that have been undertaken on their behalf but I know that this matter has been the subject of concern and discussion. However, as I said, Senator Bishop and Senator McClelland have raised the matter and I have also asked for information and I will see that it is provided when we are considering the Bills in the Senate.
-Can the Attorney-General inform me of the appropriate course of action that can be taken by a person or company that has been misrepresented by a State Minister of the Crown under privilege? I refer to an alleged statement of the South Australian AttorneyGeneral, Mr Duncan, which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on Saturday last, in which he is reported to have said in State Parliament last week:
Which is a large retailing company in Adelaide- was a large shareholder in Channel 10 and had considerable influence in the amount of money spent on commercial television stations in this State.
He is also alleged to have said that television channels quickly caved in under sufficient pressure from John Martins to stop a consumer protection advertisement. As it has been publicly denied by Mr Campbell, the general manager of Channel 10, that John Martins has any shareholdings in Channel 10, and stated that the company has had no contact with the station with respect to the advertisement to which the Attorney-General has referred, and also as this subject was raised in the context of a Commonwealth inquiry into the renewing of television licences, will the Attorney-General examine the matter and inform the Senate how the rights of people can be protected in these circumstances?
– As this question relates to an alleged abuse of privilege in a State House of Parliament it is a matter that rests solely within the jurisdiction of that State Parliament. The fact that it relates to a Commonwealth matter does not make any difference. The question raised by Senator Jessop, as I have said, is one which is solely within the jurisdiction and the concern of the Parliament of South Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question concerning the FI 1 1 fighter bomber. I refer to problems which have been encountered with this aircraft’s gun firing system. My question is based on information I have just received. Is it true that originally when the guns were fired the vibrations were so extreme that the power hinges on the weapons bay cracked and broke, and that attempts were made to rectify this problem but that the vibrations still caused the rivets in the fuel tank to break causing danger of fuel leaks into the weapons bay? If this is so does it mean that at present the fighting capacity, as distinct from the bombing capacity, of Australia’s fighter bomber is either non-existent or significantly reduced?
– I have some information concerning the weapons bay gun system on the Fills. My understanding is that initial tests conducted within the United States of America on the FI 1 1 weapons bay gun system indicated that both the aircraft gun and the airframe needed minor modification to solve problems associated with gun vibrations and aircraft skin rippling in the vicinity of the gun muzzle. As a result of these tests Royal Australian Air Force FI 1 1 C aircraft had two specific modifications incorporated by RAAF technical personnel. Incorporation of these modifications has been completed on all RAAF F111C aircraft and at present all FI 1 1C weapons bay gun systems are fully serviceable and can be used operationally. In summary, the operational capability of the FI 1 1C meets current RAAF operational requirements which have not been inhibited by problems associated with the 20 millimetre gun system.
– I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to the quality and tone of advertisements presently being shown on commercial television. I refer in particular to an advertisement which is being run by a wellknown electrical appliance manufacturer and which has biblical overtones. Whilst it may not be strictly sacrilegious in the true sense it is in extremely poor taste and would be offensive to Christian-thinking people. Could the Minister inform the Senate of the controls that exist to ensure the quality of advertising within this medium?
– I will take that question on notice and seek an answer for the honourable senator.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations seen a Press article alleging that some employers are abusing the Special Youth Employment Training Program? Is he aware of a report in the Adelaide Advertiser of 2 1 October of statements by the Secretary of the South Australian Trades and Labour Council and the Manager of Key Personnel Pty Ltd that some employers are dismissing permanent staff and young people who have completed the six months training and working program to take on new labour under the employment training scheme? Will the Minister have these allegations investigated and, if they are found to be correct, take action to penalise the employers who are abusing the scheme and using young people as cheap, temporary labour?
– I am not aware of the specific complaint to which Senator Elstob has referred. Apparently it appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of 2 1 October. As I do not have any details in relation to that matter I will refer the question to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and ask him to make inquiries.
I will endeavour to get an early answer for the honourable senator.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Government any intention of varying the level of recovery currently being obtained from meat export inspection services and/or disease eradication campaigns during this financial year? If so, to what extent and when will it be varied?
-The Government currently imposes a levy of $1 per head for disease eradication purposes. Meat export inspection is currently provided free of charge except for the small charges which are aimed at the recovery of salaries and wages for inspection required by exporters out of normal working hours. So the basic costs are met by the Government. This procedure, as the honourable senator would know, has changed in the last year. Previously the funds were provided by the producer. The Treasurer indicated in his Budget Speech for 1978-79 that consideration was being given to levying producers to recover a greater share of the costs of providing export inspection services and cattle disease eradication campaigns. The Government has decided not to increase charges at this stage but it will review the situation later in the year in the light of the economic situation at that time. The honourable senator will have noted that in his Press statement of 13 October, which is a fairly current statement, the Prime Minister confirmed that government policy is not to increase charges at this stage and to ensure that producers have the opportunity to recover from the recent recession in the industry before the matter is again looked at.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, concerns legal aid. Is the Attorney-General aware that, notwithstanding guidelines so strict that people below the current Henderson poverty line are in fact being refused legal aid, the Australian Legal Aid Office in Victoria is currently running at a deficit of $245,000 and that the current national deficit is running at over $500,000? Is he aware of claims made in this morning’s Press by senior representatives of the Law Institute of Victoria and the Fitzroy Legal Service that the present backlog of cases in Victoria is of the order of 800 with an expected backlog of 1,500 to 1,800 cases within the next fortnight or so? Will he agree that whatever other measures to solve the legal aid crisis might be in Government contemplation and which may be announced shortly, the immediate backlog problem to which I have adverted can be resolved only by an immediate increase in the legal aid vote by $500,000?
– For some time now the Australian Legal Aid Office has had problems meeting monthly commitments. This pattern has applied in all States from time to time in varying degrees. As the middle or the third week of the month approaches, the monthly commitment level has been exhausted and cases which have been approved have been stockpiled until the beginning of the next month. I think that Senator Evans asked me a question on two levels- the Australian scene and the Victorian scene. At the end of the last financial year cases valued at about $400,000 were stockpiled. These cases had been assessed and approved but could not be committed. The stockpile or backlog- whatever one likes to call it- had to be carried forward into the present year. It is probable that the picture around Australia as a whole is getting slightly worse. I do not know what the exact figure is. We are now getting near the end of October. The present figure would probably be out of date by the end of this month.
As the Senate would know, I have been reviewing the guidelines and discussing the matter with the Law Council of Australia. I have been looking at ways and means in which the legal aid dollar can be directed and savings made in such a way that the people most in need of assistance will receive aid. I refer not only to people’s income but also to the importance of the matter for which they seek legal aid. I hope to announce a decision on guidelines generally very shortly. However, a problem has arisen in Victoria in the last couple of months. A great increase has occurred in the number of applications for legal aid there. The figure that Senator Evans mentioned for the end of September is correct. By the end of September the whole of the October allocation of funds for Victoria had been earmarked. I have been giving attention to the situation in Victoria. Any change made to the guidelines would not bring about an immediate resolution of the problem. In view of the situation I have taken the matter up with the Minister for Finance. I agree with Senator Evans that a further commitment is required to cope with the situation. At the moment the matter is under discussion. I hope to be able to announce a decision shortly.
-My question of the Minister for Social Security follows from a question I asked earlier about the family research project at the University of New South Wales. Is it intended that this project will continue indefinitely in order to provide the Government with a continuous data base for the formation of an adequate family welfare policy in Australia?
– The family research project was established in 1 972 because of growing concern about the growing numbers of oneparent families in Australia and about the social and other implications of this trend. The research project has published three bulletins and would have published more but for some delay in obtaining statistical material from the national family survey undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics between May 1974 and February 1975. This data is now becoming available progressively from the Bureau and the family research project expects to complete examination of it and to publish further reports by the middle of next year. Funding for the project will be provided up to the end of the current financial year. It is not envisaged that the project would continue indefinitely. When the project is able to process the information that comes from the Bureau of Statistics the work that has been undertaken under the project, to all intents and purposes, will be concluded.
There has been concern with regard to statistics and the standardisation of social welfare statistics for a number of purposes. In 1 976 the Commonwealth and State Social Welfare Ministers, through the Council of Social Welfare Ministers, established a project. Its goals are to provide a set of statistical standards for general use in the welfare area, to examine the statistical data which is currently being collected in order to assess what data is required for management and evaluation, and to work towards the production of standardised statistics needed for planning and evaluation at State and national levels. The project is also required to recommend statistical series to guide the Australian Bureau of Statistics in compiling and publishing national statistics relating to social welfare.
A secretariat has been established for this purpose. It comprises representatives from the Department of Social Security and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Working groups have been proceeding in each State and in the Northern Territory, comprising representatives of Social Welfare Departments, my Department and the
Bureau of Statistics. The State government social welfare representatives meet bi-annually to plan the project. As from the last meeting, State government statistical co-ordinators attend and have agreed to become involved. This will put welfare statistics in the context of broad State government statistics. It will be seen from what I have said that a great deal of effort is being made to secure the statistics that are required. Despite the on-going nature of the family research project, it is not envisaged that it will continue for an indefinite period.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer and refer to Notice of Motion No. 6, which appears in my name on the Notice Paper under General Business. In that motion, I seek the aid of the Senate in ensuring that action is taken by officers of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation under section 96 of the Commonwealth Banks Act to give job security to quite a number of interpreters and translators. Will the Minister inquire of the Treasurer whether any attempt has been made by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to suppress the legitimate desires of the employees concerned; in effect, has an attempt been made to nobble the motion which appears in my name on the Notice Paper?
-Whilst I have little doubt that the Commonwealth Banking Corporation has behaved well and impeccably, I will seek the information and let Senator Mulvihill know the answer.
-My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and concerns Federal-State financial relations. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to reports that the Leader of the Opposition, when speaking at the annual conference of the New South Wales Local Government Association recently, said that the Commonwealth is reducing State financial allocations, thereby forcing the State Premiers to cut essential programs or to increase taxes? Was Mr Hayden reported to have claimed also that the Whitlam Government made a mistake in allocating finance to local government on a needs basis because a number of councils received no grants under this arrangement? Will the Minister explain again for the benefit of Mr Hayden and members of the Opposition, particularly those in this place, the advantages of the Fraser Government’s new federalism policy, in particular its advantages for local government?
– I do have a cutting from the Canberra Times which reports matters similar to those that Senator Messner has raised. As I understand it, Mr Hayden is reported as having said at the annual conference of the Local Government Association of New South Wales that the Commonwealth is reducing State financial allocations, thus forcing Premiers to cut essential programs or improve taxes to maintain them. It is true that Mr Hayden has also claimed that the Whitlam Government made a mistake in allocating finance on a needs basis. There is no basis at all for Mr Hayden ‘s assertions about the federalism policy. The assertions show a failure to understand the Commonwealth-State taxing arrangements which give States scope to determine their own priorities. Since 1975-76 the States have received increased untied revenue via tax-sharing arrangements as follows: In 1976-77 they received $3, 723m, an increase of 19.6 per cent; in 1977-78 they received $4,34 lm an increase of 16 per cent; in 1978-79 they will get an estimated $4,777m, or an increase of 10 per cent on the actual allocation. In 1977-78 no States cut back on essential services. Over the last three years all have reduced State taxes. There is some comfort in finding that the Leader of the Opposition accepts that this Government’s initiative in local government tax sharing is a good one, and I refer to the two-tier approach. It ought to have been obvious that it was grossly unjust that some local councils, which were doing a first-class job, should be denied any kind of federal funds because they were efficient. It is even more comforting to know that Mr Hayden and the Labor Party find virtue in the local government elements of our policy.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government and follows the question asked by Senator Young about the Redcliff project, on which the Minister has answered a number of questions. The Minister will be aware that Federal and State officers have continued talks about the need to finance infrastructure for the project and that although those talks are continuing there are as yet no signs that the situation is favourable. The Minister would probably know that, in regard to the Prime Minister’s statement, a number of State
Premiers have welcomed the new announcement. I ask the Minister whether he considers that the Prime Minister’s announcement places the application for infrastructure costs in a more favourable situation than it was in before the announcement.
– My understanding is that the Prime Minister has confirmed that the general principles of infrastructure financing, as I outlined them earlier today in Question Time, will constitute an acceptable policy to be implemented by this Government. The only questions remaining relate to getting a working system to determine priorities and to quantification. Quite clearly, there must be an upper limit. Quite clearly also, in the general terms of overall international borrowing, there would be some specific limits in particular currencies and particular areas at any one time, depending upon rates and availability. Within that context, I think that the Prime Minister meant to indicate that infrastructure financing as a principle, and indeed as a practice, will be implemented in the near future.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Is the Minister able to make a stab at the answer? Does he think that the announcement provides a better economic climate for the application by the South Australian Government? It has been interpreted in that way within the State and elsewhere. The Minister would be competent to answer that question. Would he like to have a go at the answer?
– Fool that I am, I am not so foolish that I would pre-empt a decision or a dialogue of the Premiers’ Conference. I am very well aware that the Redcliff project is a high priority of the South Australian Government. I cannot predict by crystal ball or otherwise what priority the working committee has given it. I have no doubt in the world that South Australia, in common with the other States, will have a share of the cake. Within that priority, projects will be listed. I think that we should wait patiently for a little more than a week. The secrets of all hearts will then be disclosed.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Given that the Government’s claim that it has reduced the inflation rate to 7 per cent or 8 per cent is correct and being aware that the unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 6 per cent, will the Minister tell the Senate what has gone wrong with the Government’s prediction that as the inflation rate fell so too would unemployment decrease when, in fact, the opposite is the case?
-Senator McAuliffe will be well aware of the premise that as inflation rose so unemployment rose. He experienced that phenomenon when his party was in government. As inflation and interest rates rose, so Australia was costed out of world markets. Until such time as Australia’s inflation rate and interest rates have been adjusted so that we are competitive, so our capacity to expand our external trade and to manufacture in competition with other countries will be delimited.
If all goes well and the Tasmanian Premier’s prediction in his advertisement is achieved, our inflation rate by the end of the year will be below the average for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and by the middle of next year, God willing, it will be below the inflation rate of any of the developed countries except Japan and West Germany. Under those terms we will be, once again, in a position to expand our trade and to trade in world markets competitively.
– I seek the indulgence of the Senate to make a personal explanation. In today’s Canberra Times there appeared a serious allegation about me. The allegation was that I had misled the Senate. I regard that as a very serious matter. I have not misled the Senate. I seek briefly to correct the allegation that was made. It appeared in a letter to the Editor of the Canberra Times signed by Kathleen Woolf, the President of the ACT Right to Life Association. The letter stated:
Senator Ryan has misled the Senate, she has misled your newspaper, she has misled the public.
I have not misled the Senate in this or any other matter. From the outset, when I moved the motion for disallowance of the Termination of Pregnancy Ordinance in the Senate I made it quite clear that the successful passage of my motion for disallowance of what I consider to be an unsatisfactory ordinance would require the Government to bring in another ordinance which satisfied the undertaking given by Mr Hunt to the Parliament. I made this matter quite clear in my speech to the Senate on 1 1 October 1978 when I moved the disallowance motion. I quote from that speech to set the record straight. I said:
I urge the Senate to support my motion to disallow the Termination of Pregnancy Ordinance 1978. 1 point out that the effect of my motion would not be irresponsible . . . During the period of time that this matter will be resolved the Government should develop and present to the Parliament a permanent ordinance which will honour its promise to the people of Canberra that their elected representatives will take decisions in respect of the way in which abortions will be carried out in the Australian Capital Territory … I have moved disallowance of an ordinance which should not have been presented in its present form. I have done so in the hope that if my motion is successful- if this ordinance is disallowed- the Government will accept its responsibility, will fulfil its promise and will bring down an ordinance which all honourable senators can support because it will incorporate all the recommendations by the Legislative Assembly . . .
I take the time of the Senate simply to point out, by quoting my words, that I have not misled the Senate and that my remarks on this matter have been consistent in the Senate and in any public statements that I have made.
– Earlier in Question Time today Senator O’Byrne asked me about a report that appeared in the Canberra Times of 11 October concerning allegations of the possibility of a military training session that had been carried on near Quirindi in New South Wales. I recollected that I had received a report on this matter. The position is that the Commonwealth Police, as a result of the report- apparently no actual complaint had been made to it- has been making inquiries. At the time when I received the last report from the Commonwealth Police it had not been able to obtain any evidence which would establish that any military training had been carried on. It is still making inquiries and naturally I am not in a position to advise the Senate in any further detail in relation to its inquiries. Presumably, I will receive a final report in regard to this matter.
-On Thursday, 19 October, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) asked me a question about a hearing of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal which was held in Adelaide. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to that question: The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal is the independent statutory authority charged with the responsibility to conduct public hearings and for licence grants and renewal applications under the Broadcasting and Television Act. Under the Act the conduct of public hearings is a matter entirely for the Tribunal. The Minister has no power to intervene in or to direct the Tribunal on the conduct of public hearings. The Minister would not wish to comment on any matter which is presently the subject of an inquiry by the Tribunal.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Nurse Education and Training to the Tertiary Education Commission, entitled ‘Nurse Education and Training’. I seek leave to make a very brief statement.
– This is the report of the Committee which I appointed in September 1977 after consultation with my colleague the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt). The Committee which was chaired by Dr Sidney Sax was established to inquire into and make recommendations to the Tertiary Education Commission on possible developments and changes in nurse education and training. The Committee was asked to include in its inquiry whether nurse education should take place in hospitals or educational institutions or both. In carrying out this task the Committee was concerned with both basic and post-basic nurse education. The Government’s decisions on the report’s recommendations will await the advice of the Tertiary Education Commission and the reactions of State and Commonwealth health and education Ministers and authorities.
The only other point that I wanted to make about this matter was that, because of the sort of situation in which, as a result of the TEC decision, nurse education has found itself and because of the problems which have arisen, the report which has now been published is very welcome and it is to be hoped that the Government will see fit to act on it as quickly as possible. There would be no disagreement as to the importance of the conventions of the International Labor Organisation in relation to the upgrading of nurse training. There would be no disagreement, between political parties at least, about the need for a degree course in nurse educator training, if I could use that awful term; that as the profession of nursing becomes more and more sophisticated, in a sense, in its requirements so too must the profession of training nurses become more and more sophisticated. It is quite obviously, I would think, at this stage an area in which degree status should be accorded to what are appropriately called nurse educators- people of a considerably higher level of experience, training and knowledge who are engaged in programs concerned with educating other nurses.
I make the point that all other comparable nations of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have tertiary nursing education. It appears that the delay which has occurred in producing the report has caused considerable confusion and anxieties in the nursing profession. I do not say that because other countries have tertiary training for nurses we should necessarily rush to embark on that course. But it is very important that we clarify as quickly as possible the situation in this country. I hope that in clarifying it we will do something to rectify the unfortunate situation in which people who embarked upon degree courses found themselves when the decision of the Tertiary Education Commission was first announced on this matter. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the sixty-third report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, relating to the Historic Shipwrecks Regulations, the Superannuation (Allocation of Previous Fund) Regulations, and the Superannuation (Additional Pension) Regulations.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the report.
-The first matter referred to in this report is the Historic Shipwrecks Regulations. These regulations are the subject of a notice of motion for disallowance which is on the Notice Paper. In this report the Committee makes a recommendation of disallowance on the ground that one provision in the regulations trespasses unduly on individual rights and liberties. The regulations and the matters raised by the Committee may be more fully discussed when the notice of motion is resolved.
The second matter contained in this report was the subject of a statement which I made to the Senate last Thursday. The Committee has received a number of submissions and a legal opinion suggesting that the Superannuation (Allocation of Previous Fund) Regulations ought to be disallowed on the basis that they are unfair to long-standing contributors to the old superannuation fund and that they may not be in accordance with the Act. The Committee has carefully considered the submissions and opinion, has examined the regulations, and has taken advice on the matter from its own legal adviser. The Committee has concluded that the matters put to it had not established sufficient grounds for the Committee to take action to have the regulations disallowed or altered. The matters put to the Committee and the reasons for the Committee’s conclusion are set out in the report.
Briefly, there were two grounds upon which it was said that the Committee should take action against the regulations: Firstly, that the regulations take away the statutory discretion of the Minister for Finance to determine matters in relation to the allocation of contributor assets in the old superannuation fund, and, secondly, that the regulations were contrary to the statutory obligation imposed upon the Minister to make the allocation on a fair and reasonable basis. The Committee is not persuaded by either of these arguments, for reasons which are fully set out in the report. As the report points out, the objectors to the regulations have the right to take legal action on the basis of the matters put to the Committee. It would then be for the courts finally to determine the matters raised in the submissions. Today is the last day for giving notice of a motion to disallow the regulations, and my statement on Thursday last was intended to forewarn the Senate that the Committee had decided not to take any action on the regulations in case any other senator wished to give notice of a motion to disallow the regulations. Senator Chipp has today given such notice. Apart from making these remarks, I merely refer the members of the Senate to what we say in detail in the report.
The third matter contained in the report is the Superannuation (Additional Pension) Regulations. These regulations, which provide the basis for calculating the additional contributorfinanced early retirement pension provided in section 61 of the Superannuation Act 1976, are retrospective for a period of more than two years. The Committee has given an undertaking to the Senate that where regulations involving the payment of moneys are retrospective for such a period, they will be the subject of report to the Senate and, unless exceptional circumstances are established, of a recommendation for disallowance. In relation to these regulations the Committee considers that the circumstances are exceptional for reasons which are set out in the report and that the degree of retrospectivity is explicitly authorised by the Act. The Committee does not, therefore, recommend that any action be taken against the regulations.
Motion (by Senator Missen)- by leaveagreed to:
That business of the Senate, notices of motion 1, 2 and 3, be postponed until 9 sittings days after today.
– I indicate that when the Government’s legislative program has been obtained on Thursday it is proposed to adjourn the Senate to enable Estimates committees A and C to meet. I anticipate that consideration of the Bills on the program will be concluded before dinner so the Committees will meet at or before 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 28 September, on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– The Opposition is not opposing either of these measures. The main purpose of the Patents Amendment Bill is to require publication of specifications of patents 1 8 months after the initial claim has been lodged, whereas I gather that the principal Act allowed the Commissioner of Patents to publish the specifications some time after 18 months- and he in fact had the option of how much longer after 18 months the specifications would be published. That requirement will now be mandatory. When the Patents Act is amended it will conform to common practice internationally, particularly in other industrialised countries.
The purpose of the Trade Marks Amendment Bill is to extend the protection of a trade mark as an identification for a firm supplying services. It previously had applied only to products, goods and things. So where a firm supplying services is identified, favourably or otherwise, by a trade mark- I guess the firms that use trade marks would see them as assets and that the identification of a firm with the mark is favourable- it will be able to obtain the same advantages from the use of a trade mark as a firm that now provides goods. The Bill also provides for the removal from the Register, upon application, of any trade mark which has fallen into disuse. It also provides for a number of other similar modifications.
I wish to make only one other observation. These Bills were among the first Bills which were referred to the Legislation committees of the House of Representatives. I must confess that I have not examined any of the Hansard records of the consideration of legislation which has been referred to those committees but I noticed that consideration of one of the Bills, the Patents Amendment Bill, occupied less than two pages in Hansard. The Trade Marks Amendment Bill provoked considerably more discussion. The Opposition is not opposing either of these Bills.
– I thank the Opposition for its support of the Bills. The only comment I intended to make was the comment on which Senator Walsh concluded; namely, that these were among the first Bills to go to Legislation committees in the House of Representatives. One Bill has received detailed consideration already. I do not think any further comment is required.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 21 September, on motion by Senator Webster:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I rise a little out of order in this debate in the sense that perhaps my colleague Senator Button ought to have spoken first on behalf of the Opposition. He graciously deferred to me because I have another engagement later. Senator Button will indicate in more comprehensive terms than I that the Opposition supports this measure. I wish to direct my remarks to those aspects of the reorganisation of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which have to do with creating or aiding innovation in Australian industries. This principal function of the Organisation is set out in clause 6, which contains proposed new section 9. The Parliament will require the Organisation to carry out scientific research for any of the following purposes: To assist Australian industry; to further the interests of the Australian community; or to contribute to the achievement of Australian national objectives.
I see these required functions of the Organisation as interrelated. It must be an Australian national objective, it must be in the interests of the Australian community, that Australian industry be assisted by the research and development efforts of the CSIRO. The sad fact is that there is really nowhere else for Australian industry to go. The contribution of Australian industry is appallingly low in the field of research and development. In fact I believe that the situation is one of great danger to our future as a trading nation. This is particularly so in relation to the manufacturing sector where our major post-war development has been based on imported technology relating to process or product technology. This manufacturing strategy is based, as is well known, on import replacement and guaranteed by various import controls and tariffs. But, of course, many of the countries from which we derived this imported technology, or other countries which have adopted and adapted such technology, can offer equivalent products to Australian consumers at much lower prices than Australian industry can produce them, or can put these products on markets to which we would like to export. We cannot rely on imported technology to bring about a resurgence of Australian manufacturing activity. In fact, I adopt the words of Sir Ian McLennan in his presidential address to the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences in 1 977 when he said:
A high level of indigenous product and /or process technology must be preserved by continued research and development to ensure that a competitive advantage is maintained.
That was after he referred to the fact that we must move away from reliance on imported technology as the salvation for Australian industry. He advocated a progressive development in this country of specialised high technology products capable of finding a place in world markets. But the fact is, as the Australian Science and Technology Council’s report for 1977-78 stated, industrial research and development in Australia has decreased substantially and is still decreasing, due in large part to inadequate government incentives.
I am not seeking in any way to score political points. That last cause for declining research and development in Australian industry has been put forward by perhaps the most illustrious panel of persons available in Australia to consider this problem. I prefer to emphasise another major reason why Australian industry has not been able to undertake the necessary research and development effort. The fact is that half our manufacturing value is produced by some 200 large firms. The remainder is produced by about 30,000 small enterprises. Obviously on the whole they are too small to mount any viable research and development effort. I guess that is the major reason why we need to turn to government sponsored research institutions to have any hope of injecting into Australian manufacturing industry that innovative technology required, in Sir Ian McLennan ‘s view for our survival as a trading nation in any manufactured goods.
What does this Bill propose? The Bill deals with the CSIRO ‘s role in encouraging or facilitating the application of the results of its research. I am not utterly convinced that the CSIRO should be the only body to have access to its research results for the purpose of determining whether those results are or should be made available for application in industry. Rather I am inclined to the view- I would like the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) to remark on this matter- that an Australian research and development corporation should be established which had access to promising discoveries made in government laboratories, such as the CSIRO or defence laboratories, and which also had access to tertiary education establishment laboratories and research establishments as well as to industrial research and development, provided industry is prepared to offer to the corporation a part interest in the discovery in return for development funds. Such an Australian research and development corporation, based on the United Kingdom model, which has succeeded beyond anyone’s dreams, could advance money where necessary to finance the development and demonstration phases to bring inventions to a commercially viable state.
I draw the Minister’s attention to the remarks in this regard of the Australian Science and Technology Council in its annual report, particularly to its conclusion. It stated that an Australian research and development council, properly operating, would indeed facilitate rather than discourage existing and future contacts between the CSIRO and industry.
It is to that specific relationship that I now turn. The Australian Parliament this year is voting $ Ulm to the CSIRO; in fact, the amount is a little more than that. Therefore it is well within our competence to examine the way in which, if at all, the CSIRO is satisfactorily discharging its mandate to ensure that Australian industry is provided with the most innovative technology available. Australian industry must get a discernible return out of the CSIRO ‘s proposed expenditure of $141,244,000. I do not say that the CSIRO should get a return. In fact, I note in the estimates that it is expected to obtain only some $42,000 from patents and licence fees. But Australian industry must get a discernible return from this expenditure of a very large amount of money. As I now see it, a duty is in fact placed on the CSIRO by clause 6 of the Bill that is being discussed to ensure that transfer of its research to Australian industry.
I woul like to know exactly what mechanisms exist within the CSIRO to ensure that this responsibility is discharged. Procedures should be devised and implemented from the initiating scientists level right through to the chiefs of institutes level to ensure that the commercial viability of any research is properly assessed. When I say that the commercial viability needs to be assessed I am not so barbaric as to say that this should be the motivating force in every project undertaken by the CSIRO; far from it. It has a very valid role purely as a scientific establishment. But once a research project comes to a conclusion Australian industry and, in fact, the Australian community needs to be assured that mechanisms exist for the proper assessment of the commercial viability or possibilities of that particular discovery or improvement in technology.
There is something disquieting in the fact that the independent inquiry into the CSIRO found that out of 100 cases of patented research results an estimated 48 failed to attract any industry interest and a further 34 did not reach the marketing stage. The independent inquiry remarked:
We are concerned therefore that the CSIRO may be offering too many research results to industry which are commercially not viable.
Conversely, and just as worrying, there is no published mechanism to enable challenge of the decisions taken presently at the chiefs level not to apply for a patent.
– What was that again?
– There appears to be no published mechanism to enable a challenge to be made to decisions by chiefs not to proceed to patent a particular research result. Perhaps these are further reasons for the Minister to consider very seriously the formation of the Australian research and development corporation as envisaged by ASTEC. Perhaps it, having more entrepreneurial skills, could make the necessary assessment. Even if that is not gone ahead with, I would like to hear from the Minister as to whether the proposal that a sixth institute be formed and be called the scientific services institute is being actively taken up and prepared for and exactly what this sixth institute might have to contribute in this regard.
This transfer of results to industry may involve some development work within the CSIRO. I note that there has been a slight increase in the moneys appropriated. Some $345,000 is being set aside for this task of developing processes and products to potential application stage within industry. But I must say after sitting in on several Estimates committee meetings- I am thinking in particular of the estimates for the Atomic Energy Commission- that I have noted the effect of the numerical ceiling having a particular impact on organisations carrying on research and development at the skilled tradesman or technician level. These levels appear to be more mobile and when an organisation loses a member from that area that person is not replaced in order to keep within the numerical ceilings. I am wondering whether the CSIRO, in voting more money to the development aspects of its work will in fact find that its workshops- its technician level- are able to cope with this particular aspect of its work, given the ceilings that have been applied generally throughout the matters under Commonwealth jurisdiction. I notice that approximately a quarter of a million dollars is allocated to contract such development work to private industry. I think that this will be a useful stimulus to industry.
The major transfer of research into the industrial life of Australia is made by simple publication which makes the research available for free use within Australian industry. I guess that this is the best way for such research to become integrated into our commercial and trading life. There will be occasions where the patenting of an invention and its licensing will be essential if CSIRO is to fulfil its charter. Occasions could arise where the free publication of a particular process could lead to such a poor implementation of the development that the process would be brought into disrepute. On several occasions CSIRO has had to license a particular manufacturer undertaking the use of a discovery in order to ensure quality control in its implementing. Siroset is perhaps the best example of that. A more obvious example is where it may be necessary to encourage a firm to undertake expenditure necessary to take research through to the commercial stage. An exclusive licence could be granted to an industrial concern so that it knows others are not able to compete within a certain period. Repco Ltd spent half a million dollars taking CSIRO ‘s new method of manufacturing spun yarns- the self-twist spinner. For that expenditure Repco required an exclusive licence. That is a very sensible arrangement.
It is essential that CSIRO as far as possible make its research available through free publication rather than by patenting or licensing arrangements. It certainly should not regard these arrangements in any sense as a revenue raising device. I do not believe that it does. The mechanism should be used only where, in the judgment of CSIRO, it is in the best interests of Australian industry. I further commend the present practice of CSIRO whereby licences invariably are first offered to Australian firms, and overseas firms, when they are licensed, are licensed only on the understanding that CSIRO retains the right to licence an Australian firm to manufacture or use the process either within Australia or in seeking its own export markets. I think that this particular mode of operation by CSIRO is to be encouraged. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact it will be essential if it is to fulfil its charter under the duties the Parliament lays on it now in proposed new section 9 of the Bill.
I turn finally to what I believe is the most challenging power to be conferred on CSIRO by the Bill when it becomes operative. I refer to proposed new section 9AA (b) which enables CSIRO to join in the formation of a partnership or company for the purpose of the commercial development of a discovery, invention or improvement which is the property of the organisation. It is thought that such a venture is not presently able to be undertaken by CSIRO. This joint partnership consortium venture type proposal is undertaken by some tertiary education institutions in Australia, The Western Australian Institute of Technology, I believe, has such an organisation, as does the University of New South Wales. I am pleased to see that CSIRO is to be free to undertake such joint partnerships or to take part in the formation of a joint company to enable it to supervise the research in its application to Australian industry.
In my maiden speech I applauded the Government ‘s decision to form a joint development and marketing partnership with two private firms to exploit InterScan, the aircraft landing system which is known to honourable senators, and which was developed in the Radiophysics Division of CSIRO. I said then that this type of cooperation should be the pattern of the future. I realise that the consortium dealing with this InterScan proposal has been set up by the Department of Productivity. I would be interested to hear from the Minister whether that was done merely because no mechanism was then available to CSIRO to participate and what use he might expect CSIRO to be making of this particular provision. Whilst the use of that provision is subject to ministerial direction- as outlined in proposed new section 13- the contents of that directive have to be published in the annual report of CSIRO in future. I am wondering whether the Minister will indicate for the help of honourable senators and for the interest of the Australian community whether such guidelines have been formulated in anticipation of the Bill coming into operation and, if so, whether such guidelines might be made available to the Senate even before the publication of CSIRO ‘s report so that we might understand in what context CSIRO is expected to operate in this regard. I hasten to come to the end of my remarks. Because of the excellence of its research and the high regard in which it is held internationally I believe Australians have cause for very great pride in CSIRO. I believe that this Bill guarantees a similar future for this splendid organisation.
– I am particularly pleased that the first piece of legislation to which I have an opportunity to address my remarks in the Senate should be a matter dealing with the problems of science and technology in Australia. I do not believe that any single area is in need of greater public attention and greater parliamentary attention or that there is indeed any area where that attention would be more profitable for improving the wellbeing of Australia as a nation and of its people. I am equally pleased that this debate can take place in basically a non-partisan fashion. It is at times like this that I think the Parliament is doing its most useful work. In speaking to this piece of legislation I want to take the opportunity to range a little away from the immediate provisions of it and to try to place the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation within the general context of science policy in Australia and within the general context of what the Government and private research organisations are capable of doing.
I will refer also to the responsibilities of people involved in science and technology as a whole. Legislation concerning CSIRO gives me a unique opportunity to do so. CSIRO manages to combine not only a high level of theoretical scientific work but also a high level of practical application of the technology that arises from it. CSIRO has a long and distinguished history in Australia. Sir George Currie and John Graham in their book The Origins of CSIRO indicated that this matter pre-occupied the first Federal Parliament. People like Alfred Deakin, Isaac Isaacs, John Quick and W. H. Groom had an interest in establishing an institution of this nature. Within six weeks of the opening of the first Federal Parliament Sir John Quick moved a motion which read as follows:
That in the opinion of this House a national department of agriculture and productive industries on the same lines as that of the United States of America ought to be organized and maintained in connection with the Government of the Commonwealth.
For various reasons in 1909 and 1913 attempts were made to establish a bureau of agriculture as a forerunner to what is now CSIRO, attempts which proved to be without any practical result. It was indeed, as it is with so many scientific advances, that the exigencies of war propelled this one stage further. In July 1915 those exigencies impelled the Imperial Government in Great Britain to establish an organisation for scientific research to serve the nation during and after the war. When news of this reached Australia later in that year moves initiated in Melbourne led to the announcement by Prime Minister Hughes that a similar scheme would be established in Australia under the auspices of the Commonwealth Government. Indeed, an advisory council on science and industry was established in 1916. This progressed for some time until in 1920 it was decided to convert that council into the Institute of Science and Industrial Research, which, I regret to say, foundered largely because of a lack of government funding being provided at that point of time.
In 1925 Prime Minister Bruce was determined to make improvements in this field and a conference was called. As a result of that conference, in 1926 the Science and Industry Research Act was passed, establishing the framework of the CSIRO, which has continued by and large to the present date. It was perhaps appropriate that 50 years further on the government of the day decided that the whole of the CSIRO structure- the whole of the operation and the whole of the ethos of the CSIRO- should be put under review. I think that it would be ungracious not to acknowledge that the intellectual effort and the product of the Birch inquiry represent one of the great milestones in the development of national science policy in Australia. This Bill is a response to the Government’s decision on 122 recommendations made in the Birch report. I think it is evident from the Bill and from the explanations that have been given by the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) that the Government has certainly studied each of these 122 recommendations very carefully and given a considered response to each one.
The CSIRO is in a unique position in one other way. It has a relationship with the Australian Government and the State governments which in some ways is unique for a scientific institution. The possibilities and the work which an institute such as this is capable of doing are well recognised in the CSIRO thirtieth annual report 1 977-78, which is introduced with these words:
Science and technology are potent forces for change. Through scientific research man gains a deeper understanding of the world around him, through technology he employs this knowledge to use natural resources to achieve his own ends.
In the policy statement of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Country Party, which was published in November 1975, this general principle was contained in the opening statement:
Advances in science and technology provide a major means for economic growth and progress towards a better quality of life for all mankind.
Given the general statements which I have just outlined, it becomes important to establish clearly in our own minds the relationship that exists between a body such as the CSIRO and the government in general. Some time ago a person whom I regard as having had one of the most brilliant intellectual minds of the twentieth century, the late Dr Jacob Bronowski, published a paper which he entitled: ‘The Disestablishment of Science’. He was anxious to make these points about the relationship between scientists and governments:
A scientist who accepts money from such a source -
He was referring to government- cannot be blind to the subtle conformity it imposes on his own conduct and on those who work with him. including his students. The obligations that he silently incurs are dormant, but they are there, and he will be in a quandary whenever a government in trouble decides to make them explicit.
He went on to indicate certain responsibilities of the scientific community. They are responsibilities to which I shall return when I deal with particular clauses of the Bill. He went on to state:
We live in a civilization in which science is no longer a profession like any other. For now the hidden spring of power is knowledge; and more than this, power over our environment grows from discovery. Therefore those whose profession is knowledge and discovery hold a place which is crucial in our societies: crucial in importance and therefore in responsibility. This is true for everyone who follows an intellectual profession; in the sense that I have just described it, ours is an intellectual civilization, and the responsibility of a scientist is a particular case of the moral responsibility which every intellectual must accept.
He went on to write:
The time has come to consider how we might bring about a separation, as complete as possible, between science and government in all countries. I call this the disestablishment of science, in the same sense in which the churches have been disestablished and have become independent of the state . . .
Evidently the choice of priorities in research should not be left in the hands of governments . . .
In the long run, the aim should be to get a single and overall fund or grant for research, to be divided by all the scientists in a country.
To indicate that these are issues to which the Government will have to address itself is really to say no more than that the time has long since passed when Australia should develop an independent and comprehensive science policy- a science policy which will provide within itself a particular role and a relevant role for the CSIRO. I should perhaps indicate something about not only the nature of scientific research which applies on this occasion but also scientific research in general. In an essay on the origin and organisation of national science policies, entitled ‘Science for Development’, which was published in 1971 under the auspices of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the UNESCO authors stated:
True, the scientific organization of nations more often reflects the needs of the preceding epoch than that of the stage of development which they have actually reached. Such organization hardly ever leads on naturally to the needs of a future stage, as it ought to do. Research being essentially a preparation for the future, the state of scientific organization of a country ought in fact to give some indication of the shape it will assume tomorrow.
I believe that we are now facing a situation in which there is a need for an Australian government- any Australian government, Federal or State- to make quite clear its determination to have a national science policy, one which serves as a guide to its future actions and one which identifies the areas which it believes will be best served by the scientific community or, indeed, the areas in which Australia is particularly in need of additional research. In a report which was published in 1974, examiners of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development were critical of the absence of a science policy in Australia at that stage. They stated in their report:
As there is no Australian economic plan, it is not surprising that there has been little attempt to establish a coherent science policy, or even a research policy, although the need for this now seems to be fairly generally recognised. I put it to the Minister that we are now at a stage where planning is no longer a dirty word and that it is clearly accepted that this country is attempting to pursue a particular economic course- a particular national plan- with economic goals spelt out and being pursued.
– It is not clear to me yet.
– I am sure that these things will be clear to the honourable senator with the passage of time. Therefore, the need for this to spill over at the very least into a scientific policy is a need that I do not think can be ignored any longer. The unique position of the CSIRO has been alluded to already by Senator Tate when he remarked on the size of the budget provided for the CSIRO this financial year. The sum of $ 1 4 1 m of the taxpayers ‘ money is a very substantial investment in scientific research and technological development. It is interesting to note that in both the OECD examiner’s report and the report of the task force of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, which was entitled ‘Towards Diversity and Adaptability’, some criticism was levelled at the nature of the CSIRO and its relationship with the Government. I believe that many of these points have been taken up in the legislation that is now before the Senate and, as the new arrangements become operative, I hope that those criticisms will be addressed and will be faced up to squarely.
The most important point I want to make before dealing with the clauses of the Bill is this: We are now past the time when individual scientists, and science as a whole, are able to proceed along their own merry course without making some clear statement to the community they are alleged to serve about what they are doing, why they are doing a particular piece of research, and the consequences of that piece of research. The one general area in which I am most critical of this legislation, which I think in other respects is a very admirable piece of legislation, is that it does not seem to me to enshrine in legislative form in the way in which I think it should the need for greater public accountability of what people in the scientific community are doing, particularly those who are doing it with public money. Australian philosphers such as John Passmore have already written quite extensively about the growing public distrust of the scientific community. Marcuse, if anybody needs to be reminded, was writing 15 years ago about the problems of the non-neutrality of science and the need to spell out clearly what scientific developments were all about.
We know that there are current public concerns about all aspects of science, whether it be socio-biology, the misuse of psychology, recombinant DNA experiments, or the latest technology in the development of the uranium industry. We are witnessing a growth of the sort of Luddite mentality directed towards science which has had its own disastrous consequences that are quite clear for all to see. One does not need to be reminded of the Lysenko period in Soviet science, where a distrust of scientific research was allowed to pervert science for quite unimaginable ends. I know that within the current Australian community the concept of being a latter day or small ‘F luddite, whatever term one wants to use, is one that is becoming increasingly fashionable. The call for alternative technologies, alternative sciences, non-exploitive technologies, has to be faced up to.
I want to turn to the specific clauses of the legislation before us and to say that generally I believe the Bill is an accurate reflection of the recommendations of the Birch report. I am absolutely delighted to see that section 31 has at last disappeared from the old Science and Industry Research Act 1 949- 1 968. Section 3 1 read:
A member of the Executive, a member of the Advisory Council, a member of a State Committee, an officer or an employee shall not, except in the course of his duty as such a member, officer or employee or with the approval of the Executive, disclose any information concerning the work of the Organisation or the contents of any document in the possession of the Organisation.
Penalty: Imprisonment for two years.
I am delighted to see that at least there has been a recognition that section 31 of the old Act is entirely contradictory to the very spirit on which any scientific establishment ought to be based. Proposed new section 9 states in part:
The functions of the Organisation are-
to carry out scientific research for any of the following purposes:
any other purpose determined by the Minister;
While I accept that that is a perfectly legitimate role for a government which after all is providing the finance for this Organisation, it simply serves to reinforce the point I was making earlier: That when the Government uses a scientific institution such as CSIRO to undertake a particular piece of research by direction, it has incumbent upon it a responsibility to make it clear to the Australian community why such directions are being given, what results it is hoped they will yield, and what application is likely to arise.
– And to make the resources available.
– Indeed, and to make the resources available. But the important thing about it is that it is the responsibility of the Minister and of the government of the day to engage in and promote the sort of public debate on science and science policy which for so long has been lacking in Australia. Proposed new section 9AB deals with the number of institutes to be established, and although I have read carefully the Birch recommendations I am not altogether sure what is magical about the number six. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to inform me why it is that sub-section (2) of proposed new section 9AB specifies that at any one time the number shall not exceed six. I do not know whether that has any particular rationale or whether it is just thought to be a convenient and tidy arrangement.
I turn now to proposed new section 14, which deals with the structure of the Executive of the CSIRO. Quite clearly, this does not follow the proposals set out in the Birch report in recommendation 29. As I understand it, advice may well have been tendered by the CSIRO Executive that the structure of the Executive would be more workable and easier to manage if it were smaller and if it were composed in the way in which the Bill now sets out. As far as that part of the legislation is concerned, I am concerned that when the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made his statement in the House of Representatives he presented a document to that House which was the advice he had received from the Australian Science and Technology Council as to the proposals made in the Birch report. Those papers, which I found most useful- and in fact the ASTEC recommendations by and large support entirely the provision that is actually in the Bill- were not presented in the Senate. I think it is one of the regrettable features of the way in which this Parliament operates at the moment that reports and documents which are presented in one House are not presented in the other House. It was almost by sheer accident that I came across this piece of ASTEC advice by reading a throwaway line in the CSIRO ‘s annual report. I am glad to see that the arguments advanced by ASTEC and, as I understand it, by the CSIRO itself have led to the modification of the original Birch report recommendations as far as the Executive is concerned.
The second matter that I would be interested to have the Minister clear up on the public record, as it were, although he has already indicated to me in another capacity what the answer is in part, is that proposed new section 14 (4) indicates the requirement that a certain number of members of the Executive ‘shall be persons possessing scientific qualifications’. I am a little unclear in that sense as to exactly what a scientific qualification will be taken to be; whether a Bachelor of Science in psychology or a Bachelor of Science in statistics is to be regarded as a scientific qualification or whether some more restricted use of that terminology is envisaged. Proposed new section 23 of the Bill is important. I have already alluded in my maiden speech to the attitude I take towards the disclosure of interests in all forms of public life. I pause on proposed section 23 simply to say that I hope the principles enshrined in that section relating to the CSIRO are principles that will find far wider and more general application throughout all forms of future legislation, and indeed throughout all forms of political behaviour in this country. Proposed new section 32, under the heading of Staff’, indicates a degree of relationship between the staff of the CSIRO and the Public Service Board. It states in part:
The terms and conditions of service (other than in respect of matters provided for by this Act) of officers appointed under this section are such as are, subject to the approval of the Public Service Board, determined by the Executive.
I note that both the report of the task force of the Royal Commission and recommendation 53 of the Birch inquiry were quite insistent that there should be a very distinct separation between the operations of the Public Service per se and the operations of the CSIRO in terms of staff, employment and management. I hope that that distinction is not being blurred in any way by the words used in proposed new section 32.
Proposed new section 34 again brings us back to the important question of general responsibilities. Here the Advisory Council is required to furnish advice to the Executive in connection with a number of matters. Recommendation 32 of the
Birch report suggests that the reporting should give prime consideration to the following:
It is of some distress to me to find that somehow in this particular provision the idea of the word social’ has disappeared. I am very concerned to ensure that a body which is using a large amount of government money has the capacity to make reports, recommendations and comments about the social implications of scientific research. I do not mean questions of sociology because I accept entirely that the CSIRO ‘s function is not to undertake sociological research, but there are social consequences of just about all forms of scientific research likely to be undertaken by the CSIRO. Until it is clear that the CSIRO retains a capacity to talk publicly and to engender public discussion about the social consequences and responsibilities that will arise as a result of whatever other matter it happens to be undertaking, the legislation is defective. I hope that the Minister will be able to give some assurances on that matter. The proposed new section replaces section 15 (1) of the previous legislation which, in some ways, was even less satisfactory. But I do not think that the proposed new section addresses itself properly to a major matter of public concern.
Proposed new section 35 revives the Advisory Council. I hope that for the first time in five or six years my own State of New South Wales will have the good sense to have a State advisory committee. If one examines the annual reports of the CSIRO for 1973 onwards one will see that State advisory committees are listed for all States except New South Wales owing to a dispute that has taken place between the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments. It is perhaps one of the more disgraceful features of Commonwealth-States relations in that period that New South Wales was deprived of an opportunity- largely, it must be confessed, through the pig-headedness of its own Government at the time- to establish and use the facilities of an advisory committee. This is particularly as one of the projects that an advisory committee in New South Wales was likely to look at was the exploration of the potential megopolis- that is a very tedious word; I prefer the word conurbation ‘-represented by the WollongongSydneyNewcastle complex. There was a piece of research which could well have been undertaken by such an advisory committee but which because of the breakdown in CommonwealthState relations did not take place. I hope that with the revival of these advisory committees under proposed new section 35 that sort of research will be possible.
I note that, as distinct from the recommendations of the Birch report, it is proposed that the Chairman of the Advisory Council be appointed by the Minister and not elected. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to provide some elucidation of the Government’s thinking on that matter. Proposed new section 37 concerns a matter that I have taken up perhaps ad nauseam with the Minister. Unfortunately, I have to go through the process again. I find it a little gratuitous that a body of the standing and competence of the Australian Science and Technology Council should be limited by statute to sending one observer to a meeting of the Advisory Council. I am sure that this should not present any difficulty. It may well be overcome. I think it is a little silly to write into legislation a requirement that there be only one observer and then to respond that this is not really a problem because, after all, there are ways of getting round the Act. It makes a mockery of the whole business to specify a number, tongue in cheek, expecting quite simply that there will be some way of avoiding the legislative requirement.
Proposed new section 41 of the legislation is a very important departure from previous practice. It involves the separation of the executive, the Advisory Council and the State committees. I think that this is one of the great strengths that is being introduced in this legislation. It provides not only for the separation of these bodies but, more to the point, the potential for the involvement of far more people in the process of the development of scientific policy and thought in Australia. Finally, I turn to proposed new section 56 and look, again with some degree of pleasure, at the belief that a consultative council comprising representatives of the Executive and organisations of officers will be established. For too long now, governments of both political persuasions in the Parliament have been paying lip-service to the concept of meaningful consultation. This is one of the first instances of this being given some form of legislative basis. The extent to which this will become a useful model for people involved in work which, after all, is being undertaken on behalf of the whole Australian community may serve us very well in the future.
There are a few other general matters to which I would refer. One is that I am a little concerned about the extent to which the nature of the CSIRO is becoming a little less scientific and a little more bureaucratic. I am reminded of an article that appeared in the Australian Financial Review on 1 September which indicated that some people within the CSIRO feared that the amendments which were being undertaken would result in an increase in bureaucratic control within the CSIRO to the detriment of the scientific control. The Royal Commission when studying the CSIRO made an interesting observation that in 1952 there was one member of the administrative staff for every 2.4 research scientists whereas there is now one member of the administrative staff for every 1.4 research scientists. I think that this must be looked at by the new Executive. In exactly the same way, the Royal Commission was critical of the age distribution of people within the CSIRO. It quite clearly believed that there was need for the injection of new blood throughout the system.
The concept that the CSIRO will be able to contract out or involve itself in external arrangements- this has already been referred to by Senator Tate- is a most important development. It was urged by the Royal Commission. It was also urged very strongly in recommendation 5 of volume lA of the ASTEC report entitled Science and Technology in Australia 1977-78. The Council stated that it believed that the CSIRO and other government agencies and departments should actively encourage and promote the formation of research associations. I believe that it is only by getting out into the wider world of private industry and universities that the CSIRO will be able to fulfil its proper obligations.
One of the things that the Parliament will have to look at in the future is whether there should be established a committee of members of Parliament whose responsibility it will be to take some more active oversight of what is going on in terms of science and technology in Australia. The Parliaments of Holland, the United States of America and the United Kingdom have science forums composed of members of the Parliament. In a non-partisan sense they are able to discuss matters of new development and new technology with scientists. We must get away from the stage where this Parliament and most parliaments tend to be scientifically illiterate and rely very extensively upon a great deal of external advice as distinct from having members with any great in-depth knowledge of the subject. Developments are already afoot, such matters as peer reviews of scientific undertakings and the concept of a ‘science court’ have been advanced.
I notice that an editorial in the journal Science of September this year discussed these matters.
They are matters to which the Parliament will have to refer its attention. Colin Rubenstein of the Department of Politics at La Trobe University presented a most interesting paper nearly eight years ago at Monash University on science affairs and Australian politics. A research paper was prepared not so long ago on science policy in Australia, ‘Notes on a role for the Federal Parliament’. They are issues which need to be addressed by the Parliament but I do not think they can be addressed properly unless we are prepared to look at some institutional arrangement within the Parliament whereby we will be able to respond, adequately. We have come a long way since Dr Peter Pockley was able to broadcast in 1971 that it had ‘in fact been Australia’s science policy to have no policy’. I think we have come a long way from that time; but I think we still have a considerable distance to travel.
I wish to make only two other remarks. I believe that the CSIRO potentially is one of the most valuable tools in Australia’s foreign relations. The Australian National Paper which was prepared for the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development 1979- one of the matters which is currently on the Notice Paper, I understand- indicates in its summary:
The example of CSIRO may be relevant to developing countries in that it has enabled the concentration of scarce resources, not only of scientists from many disciplines but also of support services, to tackle national problems.
I would hope that in the future we will see the CSIRO developing into a useful tool of Australian foreign policy in the sense of being one of the bodies that we can give as an example and whose results can be a practical form of assistance to countries in our region which will be able to benefit directly. Senator Tate certainly mentioned in response to the ASTEC report the need for some sort of research development corporation. In the New Scientist of 14 September this year John Stansell who is the Director of the National Research Development Corporation of the United Kingdom indicated not only the value of this in scientific terms but also was able to state:
When foreign industrialists hear that NRDC- which will be 30 next year- makes a profit while managing to provide high risk finance to industry for the development of novel technologies, they are impressed.
I am sure that in current economic circumstances any Australian government which was not impressed by that statement would bear looking at very closely. I come finally to remind the Minister and indeed honourable senators on this side of the chamber that we are committed as a
Liberal-National Country Party coalition to certain undertakings made in the policy speech in 1975. It was promised that we would establish a National Information Office, investigate the need to establish an independent authority to evaluate and assess new scientific and technological processes, and present an annual science budget and an annual science statement to the Parliament. In the belief that governments should at least make some attempt to adhere to the undertakings that they make, particularly those undertakings of a non-controversial nature, I would perhaps be bold enough to remind the Minister and honourable senators on this side of the chamber that those are undertakings which we have not yet fulfilled.
The Bill that is now before the Senate, I believe, is an important one, coming as it does as part of a series of Bills which have been before the Commonwealth Parliament since the first Parliament sat, I believe that CSIRO is an Australian institution of which we should all be extremely proud. I believe that this legislation will enhance its position in the Australian community. I plead with the Minister and all honourable senators that we should now move from these piecemeal attentions to worthy institutions towards the development of a national science policy and a national approach to scientific matters which will put these items in their proper perspective and be of general benefit to the Australian community as a whole.
– It is wrong of Senator Puplick to chide the Government for not giving an annual science policy statement every year; the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) in fact does that at Question Time every day. Having said that, that is the only objection that I have to the present Minister. I think he has been most diligent in the way in which he has discharged his obligations in relation to his portfolio and I am sure he will continue to be so. It is just at Question Time that those of us who are concerned with other matters besides science policy sometimes feel that it is getting all the attention it needs. I want to begin by congratulating the two previous speakers on the contributions which they have made to the debate so far. As Senator Tate indicated, it is not the Opposition’s intention to oppose this legislation; in fact it commends the Government for the review arrangements which it has made. Science and technology again remain a static matter and, as two of the previous speakers have said, it has great significance for this country in the years ahead, probably more so than it has ever had in years gone by.
The realities of the situation in Australia I think have been pointed to quite clearly by Senator Tate and Senator Puplick. The real gap or hiatus which seems to emerge is at the research and development level. It is most important I think that urgent steps are taken by the Government to try to do something about this situation. I really think that the defect lies very much with Australian manufacturing industry and indeed with other industries in Australia. We have a small market and a long history of highly protected industries. We have been a very derivative nation in terms of all sorts of matters, but particularly in our reliance on overseas technology. I do not think organisations such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or Australian universities can be blamed for that situation. I think there has been a very strong reluctance on behalf of Australian industry to take up at the development stage research which has been offered by bodies such as CSIRO and Australian universities. It is a difficult problem both financially and intellectually, in a fairly featherbedded society. It is something which I believe very strongly that we have to get over if the full value of CSIRO to countries such as this is to be realised and if we are to take the sorts of steps to which Senator Puplick referred in his closing remarks when he mentioned the significance of scientific research for Australia as a nation in the South East Asian region. I think it is a very important point that he made. Time and time again one hears stories about research projects which have been undertaken in Australia and in respect of which there has not been the imagination, initiative or genuine entrepreneurial skill to take the benefit of that research and apply it in Australia. Unless that happens, we are in for very real problems in a society which will depend very much on information based industries and high technology if it is to employ a significant number of its population in the 1980s and beyond. Therefore we should look at any measures which are designed to boost the application and the quality of Australian scientific research because it relates very much to the real problem of restructuring Australian industries.
We, as a Parliament, have to face one very important fact. Five or 10 years ago it was assumed that in its development Australian society, as it had done traditionally, would follow the pattern that had been set by the United States. It was said, therefore, that if there were a decline in the Australian manufacturing sector it would be taken up by the service or tertiary sector of the economy, just as it had been in the United States.
One can follow the pattern movement of employment from the secondary sector to the tertiary sector in the United States and Australians blithely assumed that the same would happen here.
Unfortunately we are always 10 years behind the United States. That 10-year gap is immensely important because, in the last 10 years there has been such a rapid development of technology, particularly computer technology that the natural movement towards employment in the service sector that might have taken place is very likely to be aborted by the replacement of employees by technology. We have all become increasingly aware of that situation. It is one of the reasons why we believe that for some time the Government has been on the wrong track in its analysis of the employment situation. However, we hope we are fully aware that that situation has now changed.
I make those few general observations because it is very important to discuss, in the broadest social and political context possible, anything that happens to CSIRO. Senator Puplick made a very important point in referring to recommendation 32 of the Birch report, in which the Advisory Council was enjoined to leave the Executive free, as it were, to take into account broad social considerations in determining scientific policy.
– To do the things you want to do, CSIRO will not be enough.
-I appreciate that. I was coming to the point that anyway CSIRO has not enough money to do these things. As Senator Peter Baume in his interjection points out by implication, the requirement is probably much broader than that.
– And the social responsibilities are not sufficiently emphasised in the Bill.
-I took that to be the point that Senator Puplick made. I thought it was a very good one. There is, as he pointed out, a growing concern about the direction of scientific research. The difficulty of defeating the Luddites in the debate which takes place relates very much to the capacity of scientific researchers to explain in social terms what they are doing. Whilst we may have a very gentle debate at this stage of our history, I am sure that, if we are not careful, in five or ten years time it will be a very bitter one- not necessarily on party political lines- within the Australian community. It is an area of increasing concern.
I agree with the interjection of Senator Teague that the social aspects have not been sufficiently emphasised in the legislation before us. That was the point that was made by Senator Puplick also.
– What example would you give me of that? What do you imagine, should be the response from a body such as CSIRO?
-It is not my task to give the Minister examples, and I cannot pluck one readily from the air; but the Birch report included terminology that is omitted from the Bill. I do not say that there was any mal-intent but a slightly different emphasis to the functions of the Advisory Council and the Executive might have been given if the point raised by Senator Puplick had been reflected therein. I do not think that one can do anything magical overnight with words. As Senator Peter Baume interjected a moment ago, probably a much wider approach to these problems than could be encompassed by this Bill alone is needed; but in trying to develop that breadth it might have been important had the Birch report recommendation to which Senator Puplick referred been incorporated in the Bill.
I do not object at all, but since I rose I seem to have been dealing with questions and interjections. For an Opposition senator to be taking part in question time is a very refreshing experience. I fully appreciate the questions and the spirit in which they have been directed at me, and I appreciate the comments that have been made by way of interjection. I think all of the interjections and comments were right and I agree with them. .
The first point that I was seeking to make was that the whole debate about the CSIRO and its functions in the Australian community must be seen in the light of the research and development aspects, and the capacity of Australian industryalong the lines referred to by Senator Tate in a quotation from Sir Ian McLennan of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd- to take advantage of the opportunities which an organisation such as CSIRO offers is immensely important. In the past industry has been a bit lazy, a bit chickenhearted, a bit self-indulgent about that. It has been very much set in its ways and dependent upon overseas technological development and inventiveness- generally reflecting the derivative nature of Australian society- when it should perhaps have been playing a much more significant entrepreneurial role than it has shown itself capable of playing to date. If we follow Senator Puplick ‘s point, it is crucial that in future Australian industry have the capacity to play that sort of role in South East Asia. That is the general context in which I wish to put my remarks on this Bill.
In talking about that problem, the basic and applied research of an organisation such as the CSIRO is essential to the process of development. I can only join other honourable senators who have generally commended the CSIRO for its outstanding record in this regard. All organisations of this kind are from time to time highly susceptible to public criticism on the grounds of accountability and contribution to the society and the Parliament, which gives them considerable financial support. It would be true to say that of all of the statutory corporations that this Parliament has established over many years there would be perhaps two, the Snowy Mountains Authority and the CSIRO, which would stand out as having a very distinguished record and attracting relatively minor criticism concerning public spiritedness, the importance of the work that they are doing, and the accountability to Australian society which they have shown. The CSIRO has a quite commendable record in this regard. But, as I said earlier, the CSIRO represents only half of the story. The other half concerns the follow-through into industry and the application of scientific research in the social interests of this country.
I do not want to leave the impression- nor has any other speaker- that the Bill has my total approval, or the total approval of the Opposition. It contains defects, and there are defects in the administration of science policy by this Government, as there have been in its administration by previous governments. I say that to the Minister with the full knowledge of what I said earlier about his diligence in this area since he became Minister.
The whole stress of the Birch report and, indeed, the second reading speech of the Minister was on extending CSIRO ‘s role in industry and in community welfare generally; that is to say the economic welfare of this society. There is a demand for more relevance to current problems. For example, clause 6 of the Bill, to which Senator Puplick referred, makes a new statement that the function of the Organisation is ‘to encourage application’ and so on in relation to the work of the CSIRO. Proposed new section 9 (a) (i) refers to the desirability of the Organisation assisting Australian industry. Proposed new section 9 (a) (ii) refers to the furthering of the interests of the Australian community. That is a most important reference, in the light of the comments which other speakers and I have made.
Mr President, I see you are now in the Chair. You appear like a will-o-the-wisp, if I may say so respectfully- I almost said ‘like the phantom of the opera’, but that would put us in the awful situation of being the opera. In my view, the Government has not given the CSIRO up to the present time the resources which it needs to carry out the functions which it is now envisaged it will have. Those functions are much wider than those the CSIRO had formerly. The CSIRO budget this year has been increased by only 6 per cent in cash terms; that is to say, there is no real growth in the budget. In a total staff of 6,000, staff numbers have been reduced by 50 this year. At the same time the Organisation is having greater demands put upon it.
Of course, that is a common cry from all sectors of the Public Service and from a great variety of organisations. I think it is a cry which probably is more genuine and more heartfelt coming from the CSIRO than from many of those other bodies and organisations which are making the same sort of noise. As I say, the CSIRO is quite properly and deliberately being loaded with added responsibilities. Its budget for this year has been increased by approximately 6 per cent. In real terms, of course, that is a very slight increase, if it is an increase at all. That process has been compounded over a number of years. I am informed by CSIRO staff that it has been accommodated only by a degree of improvisation in the organisation, with people doubling in various positions, with scientists, for example, spending a considerable amount of time in building their own equipment, and things of that nature. A view which may not properly have been expressed about the CSIRO even two years ago I think is now properly expressed. To use the words of a former Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, its expenditure has now probably reached the point where it is cut to the bone, just as the Australian Broadcasting Commission has complained for a long time that its expenditure has been cut to the bone. I make that sort of comment in criticism only in the light of what I believe to be the very worthy intentions expressed in the Bill and expressed originally in the Birch report.
The CSIRO is being encouraged to process more patents. The whole purpose of that is to boost technology for new industries, if indeed we are capable and able to find and develop new industries in this country. If we are able to do that, those industries will depend tremendously on a scientific, technological and information base. The CSIRO will be one of the major contributors to that process if, as I said, we are capable of carrying it out. The Budget allocation for patents and licensing for CSIRO this year is $150,000. Last year the Organisation spent $170,000 on that item. The Organisation is now well below the peak in the numbers of patents which it holds. The essential point I want to make in that regard is that the Organisation has, I believe, the capacity to develop new ideas. It must have the money to enable it to develop new ideas, and I believe that to be a very important matter.
I wish now to refer very briefly to the 1977-78 report of the Australian Science and Technology Council which, in the jargon, I think is now known as Volume 1A. That shows a lot of hope of better things to come. One of the recommendations of that report states that the CSIRO should take a prominent part in the provision of information services within Australia. That specific recommendation is recommendation 34 which appears on page 13 of the ASTEC report and it reads:
That CSIRO take a leading role in the provision of information services in science and technology; that the information services at present provided by CSIRO be expanded; and that a policy for charging the users of such services be developed.
I do not know whether ASTEC in making that recommendation really was adverting by the use of that terminology to the provision of information services in relation to very fundamental changes which are probably taking place in this country as we move more and more towards an information-based society. Nonetheless, the bald wording of that recommendation is perhaps no clue to that. However, I think it is a very important recommendation. The consequences of that recommendation, if it were applied, are really very important and would probably be enormously expensive for an organisation like the CSIRO to implement properly. Of course, that is determined by priorities and the extent to which the Government is prepared to go. The dissemination of scientific information and technological information throughout the community will be a matter of crucial importance in the next decade or so. The extent to which any government is prepared to carry out a recommendation such as the one to which I have referred is a very important matter and one of which governments should be continually reminded if they accept the principle of such a recommendation.
I note also that the Department of Productivity is working on a proposal to establish a national applied technology agency. I understand that that is being designed to be a loose group of bodies capable of aiding industry. I do not know whether Senator Baume was referring to that sort of proposal-a proposal to establish a national applied technology agency- when he interjected at an earlier stage that these matters went wider than the CSIRO. Senator Tate, I think it was, in an earlier contribution referred to the importance of the establishment of such an agency. In discussing the potential of an organisation like that, he cited the example of InterScan and the particular arrangements which had been made in relation to InterScan. I draw the Senate ‘s attention to the importance of that development in the Department of Productivity. Perhaps there is some urgent need for a rationalisation of the various pieces of legislation and the various bodies which exist if we are to achieve an overall thrust in the development of scientific policy and an understanding within the community in regard to the provision of information in achieving the thrust of that scientific policy. There is a need for great cohesion and a close relationship between the various developments which I think are quite properly taking place.
One thing which is certain is that developments of this kind, whether they be the establishment of a national applied technology agency or the CSIRO having the capacity to continue its work at the present level of activity and beyond, will require more positions to be created in the CSIRO and will require a flexible application of the staff ceilings which are currently being applied by the Government. What I am concerned about is that there is a difference between the rhetoric of the Government in relation to science policy and the actual reality as at present being exhibited.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was endeavouring to make the point that the Government’s rhetoric in relation to the CSIRO and scientific research generally in Australia is not matched by money. Having had the advantage of dinner I can perhaps adapt George Orwell’s favourite aphorism to the situation. He once said:
Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels and have not money I am nothing. Now abideth these three: faith, hope and money; and the greatest of these is money.
We all have faith and we all have hope -
– In a book about an aspidistra, was it?
- Keep the Aspidistra Flying- Senator Baume. I must say that I am continually amazed by Senator Baume ‘s erudition. It is one of the great delights in this chamber. The point I am seeking to make is that while we may have all these aspirations for the CSIRO and for research and development in Australia consequent upon scientific discovery, at times it has to be matched by the necessary muscle to enable it to take place. I think that is something to which the Government will have to give attention. Apart from changes in the functions of the CSIRO as described in various clauses of the Bill and which have been referred to, the main changes are to do with organisation. The CSIRO divisions and laboratories- I think there are 37- are to be grouped into six institutes which it is supposed will give better co-ordination of research.
One of the great advantages of the CSIRO ‘s organisation structure in the past has been the easy communication between divisions in the Organisation. The divisions were small enough for the chief of a division to know what was going on within the division. This assisted with matters such as promotions, the funding of particular projects and so on. The CSIRO has never suffered from the sort of organisational malaise that the Australian Broadcasting Commission now suffers from, which is a sort of disease of middle management. One of the advantages of that has been a great deal of flexibility, or comparative flexibility, within the Organisation. Therefore the Opposition raises a query about the wisdom of this move and wonders whether it will simply impose another level between creative scientists and the top policy level of the Organisation.
I know that many of the staff of the CSIRO are concerned about this problem. A senator speaking earlier in this debate mentioned an article in the Australian Financial Review which drew attention to this problem. I know from independent investigation that this matter has been queried. There is a fear that the aggregation into the institutes will hamper communication in the CSIRO by imposing another layer on top of divisions through which the business of the Organisation must pass. It may be that there is a great deal of wisdom in the proposal which the Government has put forward. Maybe it will work satisfactorily for the benefit of the organisation, and we certainly hope so. I am concerned to raise this query, which has already been alluded to, because I think it is important that we recognise that by and large, as I said earlier, the CSIRO seems to have been free from bureaucratisation in the past and we are very concerned that it should remain so in the future.
The question of the aggregation into divisions also brings up the problem of direction in a creative organisation. Professor Birch, in the report on the inquiry into the CSIRO wisely rejected any suggestion of detailed control of the Organisation by government departments despite the superficial attractiveness of making scientific research an arm and aid of national policy objectives. I think we all agree in another way that it should be an aid and an arm to national policy objectives but the sort of administrative structures to achieve that should not be in any sense departmental interference in the internal affairs of an organisation such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. This involves a question of finding another method of arriving at the right form of organisation to enable a sense of direction to develop, a sense of social and political direction, in relation to Australian science policy yet at the same time retaining the very important factor of independence for the Organisation, a level of independence it has enjoyed in the past and which I think it is necessary for it to enjoy in the future.
There is no doubt that there should be some direction at the high level of an organisation such as this, and the executive of a body such as this must be responsive to national needs and must make decisions on research projects with those national needs in mind. But the scope of creativity and motivation has to be maintained at the working level. The important factor is to make sure that those aspirations, those national needs which have to be dealt with at the top level, do not in any way frustrate creativity and motivation throughout the scientific research level of the organisation. The CSIRO has a very high level of trained professional people who are largely directed by the ethics of their profession and I believe that they are justifiably proud of the work in which they are engaged. We would have thought that that was a good argument for staff representation on the Executive of the CSIRO. A Minister in the previous Labor Government, Mr Clyde Cameron, in 1975 made provision for nominations for election of a staff representative or representatives on the Executive of the CSIRO. But that decision was cancelled on 31 December 1975. It is of course the consistent view of this Government that staff representatives should not be elected to the bodies of organisations such as this- either to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for example, or the CSIRO. It is very important in a body which has a creative function that the staff feel motivated and part of that organisation even at the top level, part of the self-management structure of that organisation.
Of course, it will be said by Government spokesmen that there is provision in Part IX of the Bill for the establishment of a Consultative Council. The relevant clause is rather vague but the Council presumably is designed to bring in that element of consultation between management and staff, between executive and employee, which will cater for that sense of motivation and the need to feel part of an organisation at all levels, the need to feel that one is taking part in the creative decision making processes about the sort of work which is done. The Consultative Council arrangement which this legislation provides for the CSIRO will provide, I think it is true to say, the first test of the Government’s view about these sorts of bodies. I see a real danger that it will be regarded as a talking shop by the Executive or alternatively a paper tiger of some kind, and that the decisions of the Consultative Council, its deliberations and so on, will not be taken seriously either by management at the top level or by staff in trying to fulfil the sort of aspirations I mentioned a minute or two ago.
– But that has not been South Australia’s experience in the industrial democracy units there. They have tried the same model, haven’t they?
– I would not care to say that it was the same model. If the honourable senator can persuade me that it is, I will be convinced, but I do not have sufficient information as to whether it is the same model. Of course, there are many critics on both sides of the fence of the industrial democracy propositions in South Australia. The comment I am making is just one of doubt as to whether that sort of structure will work in a body such as the CSIRO. I am not so addicted to the election of staff representatives to the executive of an organisation that I stand by it as a point of fundamental principle on which I would be prepared to go to the wall, but I think it is a principle which would appeal to the staff of the CSIRO. It is important that the device which has been substituted for that principle of staff election to the Executive should work, otherwise the situation ought to be reviewed. I think it is most important that in an organisation such as this Organisation those sorts of matters are properly dealt with and properly catered for by the legislation.
I note in proposed new section 56 of the Bill how the Consultative Council of staff and management is to be appointed. That matter is to be left to regulations. If the Government was concerned about the Consultative Council being one of principle I should have thought that it would have been prepared to write it into the legislation and not leave it as a matter of subordinate legislation. One criticism which I generally have about this whole Bill is that there are a number of matters which might properly have been included in the Bill and which have been left to be dealt with either by regulation or by ministerial decision. This is another example. The Consultative Council is there. One is unable to tell from the nature of this legislation whether it is merely a symbolic gesture, whether it is something real that the Government is concerned about or whether it is something real that the CSIRO is concerned about. It has to be if it is to carry out the intentions to which I have referred and which are important in a body of this kind.
I note also that the functions of the Council are to consider and report to the Executive on any matter affecting or of general interest to the officers of the Organisation, including any such matter that is referred to the Council by the Executive. With respect, that is a pretty wishywashy sort of proposal. It makes it quite clear right from the beginning that these two bodies will deliberate separately. The Executive might, if it wishes, refer something to the Consultative Council if it thinks it is the Consultative Council ‘s business. The Consultative Council on the other hand may refer matters to the Executive or report to the Executive. That again, 1 would have thought, is an unfortunate terminology for inclusion in a clause relating to a body which is basically having a sort of industrial relations function as well as having a function in the truly professional sense in relation to the work done in the CSIRO.
I refer next to the fact that the Advisory Council is to be an independent body. That is a very laudable objective. I qualify the expression laudable’ only by the fact that the Bill specifically forbids a member of the Executive or the staff being chairman of the Advisory Committee or a State committee. At the moment the staff of the CSIRO is represented on advisory committees. I do not see the reason for the prohibition of staff from the advisory committees which, after all, are going to be very important bodies if the intentions of this legislation are to be carried out. What one fears about the removal of staff representatives from the advisory bodies and what one fears about the wishy-washy nature of the provision relating to the Consultative Council is that the Government’s intentions are merely to have a sort of show pony which will do virtually nothing and that the legislation as it stands is merely a reflection of Government phobia about staff representation. We are concerned that it should provide contact with the staff; it should be a genuine effort. Either the Consultative Council or the Advisory Council should have full and steady contact with the staff on a permanent and regular basis in preference to the provision which is included here. Perhaps the Minister has some plan which will make this work and perhaps he will unveil it later, but it certainly is not revealed by the terminology of the legislation itself. I note also that in the past it has been the custom to appoint two members of this Parliament to the Advisory Council of the CSIRO. Whilst that has never been written into the legislation, I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that that practice will continue, particularly having regard to the comments which have been made and which the Minister himself has made about the advisability of having a parliamentary science group and of holding more discussions on scientific matters in this Parliament.
Another problem in relation to the CSIRO which was raised by the Birch Committee is the age structure of the Organisation’s staff. That is referred to at page 99 of the report. Starting at page 98 of the report under the heading ‘Tenures of Directors and Chiefs’, the Birch Committee dealt with the flexibility of staff and so on. At the bottom of that page it dealt with the question of research staff imbalance. That matter is also dealt with at page 10 1 and other pages of the report. The report was concerned with the question of mobility within the CSIRO. It is perhaps not appropriate to consideration of this Bill, but the Government should be considering early retirement schemes for organisations of this kind. That is a matter about which we had some discussion in the Senate only a few days ago in relation to universities. The CSIRO is a body which suffers from the same aging process of the research population and there is a need for consideration of early retirement provisions with appropriate terms.
Another matter which I would like to draw to the attention of the Government is the need for the CSIRO actively to seek exchanges with universities. For example, the summer student arrangements whereby university students spent much of their time in CSIRO laboratories has ceased. Also, the incidence of CSIRO staff teaching in universities has declined. This means that economies are being made among younger people, such as students and young staff of the CSIRO. The economies should really be made amongst the older members of the staff, perhaps amongst the administrative members of the staff who ought to be the beneficiaries of early retirement schemes. That matter is dealt with in recommendations 93 to 95 on pages 191 to 195 of the Birch report.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. It was adverted to by Senator Peter Baume earlier by way of interjection. I refer to the fact that the Bill covers only part of what ought to be a science and technology policy. The Government will be considering the report of the Australian Science and Technology Council. This report deals, amongst other things, with the question of the follow-through of the product of scientific research in industry. The important recommendation of the Australian Science and Technology Council is, of course, the recommendation for the setting up of a research and development corporation, which is dealt with in some detail in that report. One would hope that such a corporation would be financed by government in partnership with industry. One would hope that some of the captains of industry who have talked so much about the need for such an organisation and about the need for applied research or the application of research to Australian industry would be prepared to support both financially and verbally the establishment of such a body. I believe that this is essential for the development of new industries. It is a matter to which all speakers in this debate have drawn attention.
The Government found itself in quite a strange way, one suspects, with the InterScan development whereby it was forced into adopting an appropriate structure to take account of a piece of research which already had been brought to fruition. I am not criticising the Government for that at all. There are quite clear reasons why a more sophisticated long-term structure should be developed in an applied way for research conducted by Australian scientists in CSIRO and elsewhere in Australian industry. I think we all agree about that most important point. It is a matter on which we hope the Government will see fit to act as soon as possible. With the qualifications I have made, I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– I join with other honourable senators who have already given their support to the Science and Industry Research Amendment Bill 1978 and who have made comments on matters not related solely to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation but related to wider matters affecting science policy in this country. The debate has been remarkably bipartisan. The theme running through it has demonstrated a great degree of agreement and comprehension of the same issues by both sides of the Senate.
Debates on science policy have been rare in this Parliament. When they have occurred they have often reflected credit neither upon the Parliament nor upon the understanding which might exist in the Senate on issues such as those to which Senator Button was referring. Although the Science and Industry Research Bill, which was introduced and debated in 1949, has been amended a number of times until now no substantial debates have taken place. This is the first chance to debate, in any significant way, the issues which should underline the structuring of CSIRO and its place within Australian science. It is quite instructive to go back to 1949 and to examine the Hansard record of the debate that took place then. One realises just how far we have come. In debating the Science and Industry Research Bill in 1949- at that time a most important Bill- the Parliament spent its time in the hysteria of communist hunting. The debate ended up with tirades from one side to the other about who was fighting the communists most effectively. With all the calls for oaths of loyalty and allegations that eminent members of CSIRO were communists and fellow travellers, I think that both sides of the Parliament covered themselves with rather less than glory. The honourable gentleman who led for my party at the time made the following statement:
It is well known that there are Communists cells in the Public Service.
I remind honourable senators that a science Bill was being debated. The honourable gentleman continued:
It is also well known that the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research . . . has appointed many Communists to that organisation.
Later on he said-
– Which side was fighting it more effectively? Have you made a judgment on that?
-Senator Button, I am of the view that neither side of the Parliament came out of the debate with very much credit at all. The honourable gentleman went on further- this was part of the issue at the time, a time now thankfully behind us- to say:
Scientists, from their lofty mental pinnacle, consider that research discoveries should be made available to other nations, but the Government must take a more practical view.
If that was not bad enough, the honourable member for Reid, at the time a certain Mr Jack Lang, entered the debate in 1949 and said:
The Communists have been allowed to do their deadly work unhampered by governmental interference. Hence this Bill.
Mr Lang was referring to the Bill to set up CSIRO in 1949.
– It was the beginning of the cold war era.
-Thank you very much, senator. Mr Jack Lang went on to say further:
It is the undercover intellectual, the Communist capitalist of industry, the Communist scientist and the Communist public servant-
And so on. We have a chance tonight to address some of the issues of what CSIRO is about, some of the issues of science policy and some of the questions that have been raised on both sides about the kinds of structures we need and the directions in which we think we are trying to move. May we avoid the kind of disgraceful debate of 30 years ago which did nothing more than attempt to blackguard Sir David Rivett who was then head of CSIRO and who, as honourable senators know, was virtually destroyed by the events of the time because he stood up for the rights of scientists to publish their results.
There is one reason why this Parliament is a more appropriate body to take part in this debate. Perhaps I differ on this point from my colleague Senator Puplick. Whatever its defect, there has never been a parliament better prepared by reason of training and occupation to make a useful contribution to a debate on science. There are more people in the Parliament now who have been practising scientists in their own right, who have gone through the rigours of scientific training, who have taken higher degrees in scientific disciplines and who have contributed to the world of research. This is the first time in this decade members of parliament can say: ‘We are here to take part in this debate as people with expert knowledge and background. For that reason we want others to listen ‘.
The CSIRO which we are talking about today is a very different organisation from that which was discussed in 1949. It has a budget then of, say, $3. 7m. Honourable senators have indicated that the Budget expenditure today is in excess of $140m. Its size and functions are greater, as honourable senators have pointed out. The organisation’s scientific and supporting staff and its capacities have risen greatly. Scientific activity in Australia is not a recent phenomenon. It has been going on ever since European settlement. The Royal Society of London supported Cook ‘s famous voyage to the South Seas and his exploration along the east coast of Australia. The Endeavour carried on board a scientist of the very first rank in the world at that time- Joseph Banks. Early scientific activity in the colony is described today as the Banksian era of science.
During this period new sites for Australian colonies had to be identified and mapped. Unique flora and fauna were being discovered and classified in the colonies.
Government supported scientists were being appointed in the colonies in the early days of the nineteenth century. Allan Cunningham, a botanist, was based in Sydney from as early as 1816. He not only worked as a botanist but was an explorer as well. Governor Brisbane, the sixth governor of the colony of New South Wales, was an enthusiastic patron of Australian science in the first decades of the nineteenth century. The colony of Victoria conducted a geological survey in the 1850s- quite an ambitious scientific undertaking. By the 1860s there were government astronomers and botanists in most Australian colonies. The universities were founded at this time. Government analysts were appointed and learned societies for science began flourishing. I remind honourable senators that in 1886 we had the formation of an Australasian association for the advancement of science. It is often not realised that it goes back quite as far as it does. Today Senator Puplick set out some of the events that occurred early in this century when we moved to set up a more formal structure within government for scientific research and for the support of science.
Let us examine what we have gained from all this; what kind of scientific activity we have had in Australia; and what is its worth. Without looking at personalities but looking at areas in which Australians have worked, it is rewarding to consider those scientific fields in which Australians have been world leaders. We can think of my profession of medicine, in which we have had world leaders in several areas and have received several Nobel Prizes. We can think of advances in all aspects of agricultural science, largely through the CSIRO. We can think of radio astronomy and optical astronomy in which our particular situation with the clear skies of the southern hemisphere has given us a great advantage. We can think of advances in all forms of energy research- for example, solar energyparticularly through the universities and the CSIRO. We can think of advances in the areas of mineral processing, particularly through the CSIRO.
– And Dr Harry Frith and the role he played in wildlife conservation.
– I thank the honourable senator for his interjection and I was about to say that with our unique flora and fauna we have been leaders in areas of marsupial biology. I have been paid the courtesy by the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) of being able to inspect some of the excellent research institutions which are looking at marsupial biology. We have made notable advances in the biochemistry of photosynthesis, the process on which all life in the end depends. These are all recognised as Australian discoveries. The CSIRO has played a major part in all these.
Let us look at the CSIRO and ask what it has given back to Australia and what have been some of its contributions. I think it is worth while in a debate such as this- a debate which occurs perhaps only once in every 10, 15 or 20 years- to identify the parliamentary recognition that we have of some of the successful products that the CSIRO has developed and given to the nation and to the world. They include the atomic absorption spectrometer, invented by the CSIRO, which have been very important instruments in measuring small amounts of metals. Now up to 67 elements can be detected and up to 1,700 analyses can be performed in a day on these instruments developed in this country. Over 30,000 atomic absorption spectrometers are now in use around the world.
We have had the discovery of cobalt efficiency deficiency sheep. I notice in the chamber my South Australian colleague, Senator Teague, who would have an interest in the problems that were overcome when it was discovered that some marginal land was capable of supporting the grazing of sheep. Previously the land had been marginal because of cobalt deficiency. We have the InterScan system, at the details of which Senator Webster occasionally has given us just a peek. The InterScan system is based on microwave beams which scan to and fro across the sky. We have the development of myxomatosis as a method of biological control of rabbits. The CSIRO finally succeeded in transferring this virus disease to rabbit colonies on a large scale via mosquitoes. Galactochesmistry achievements have been gained by the CSIRO. Again because we are in the southern hemisphere and because of our possession of a powerful radio telescope we are a world leader in detecting new organic groupings in space, whether they are planets or galaxies of different kinds. This work has been done by the CSIRO in conjunction with Monash University, to take up another theme which has emerged from other speakers during this debate.
The development of self-twisted wool yarn may not sound exciting, but it has been a major development by the CSIRO. It came from the
Division of Textile Industry in 1961 and, in cooperation with the CSIRO, Repco Ltd later built the prototype self-twist spinners for demonstration to woollen mills. Again, this picks up the theme developed by both Senator Button and Senator Puplick that we have to encourage this exchange and this co-operation between the CSIRO and different groupings in our society. Over 1,600 of these self-twist spinners have been sold overseas already.
This debate provides an opportunity for us to examine the CSIRO as part of our national scientific establishment. I think that other honourable senators have tried to do this. What is its function in relation to a national scientific policy, a national policy for science and industrial research and development? It seems that there is a lack of science policy, and the lack of a science policy can have very serious consequences. If I refer back to the contribution made by Senator Puplick and draw attention to his passing reference to what happened in Great Britain in the 1910 to 1914 era we can see what the lack of a national science policy can cause. At the beginning of the 1914-18 War Britain realised that Germany held a commanding lead in many fields of science, especially in industrial chemistry and chemical engineering. The British found that they were dependent upon the Germans for many essential components. They could not get chemical precursors from coal tar; they could not get aniline dyes; they could not get optical glass; they could not get magnetos; they could not make drugs; they could not make zinc and tungsten. The Germans could. The Germans were using many inventions and processes which had been developed in Great Britain but which had not been followed through in that country.
Honourable senators will recall that in Australia during the First World War we found we had no supplies of salicylate, one of the few effective drugs at that time. It was the action of the Australian Government in seeking a method of synthesising this drug which led, I think, to the birth of Nicholas, who are the makers of Aspro in this country. This development resulted from our national need in World War I to synthesise and to develop, as part of scientific endeavour, our own self-sufficiency. The lesson we learnt was that the Germans, through a continuously strong science policy throughout the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century, had developed the scientific processes as they became available and had pushed them through into industrial production and commercial viability. For that reason, Germany had great advantages over the British which led to the kinds of developments of policy to which Senator Puplick has referred and which eventually in this country led to the development of national science bodies.
I was intrigued when reading the background of this to learn that the Prime Minister of the day, William Morris Hughes, acting in his typical cooperative fashion, actually committed the Government at a dinner one night at the University of Melbourne. He made a stirring speech in which he made the commitment which his rather reluctant Cabinet and parliamentary colleagues later had to go along with, whether they liked it or not.
– That story has a familiar ring.
– I thought that the honourable senator would be intrigued about that account of the kinds of quite useful policy commitments that sometimes can be made at university dinners. I think they are usually made at the end of dinners.
In this country we have a similar concern about a science policy because it is very hard to discern in any organised form what it is or where it is. Especially, it is very hard to find the kind of logical support for the relation of science to secondary industry, to the service industries, to manufacturing industries- to find the way in which scientific inventions and developments can be carried through. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development examiners who came to this country wrote a report in 1974 in which they alluded to our lack of science policy. They set out some background about Australian society from which I want to draw some conclusions. In the report they said:
Although displaying some features of under-development, Australia has achieved, relatively speaking, a very high standard of living. This is clearly shown by the distribution of employment by sector. Only 7.5 per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, 1.5 per cent in the important mining industry, 23 per cent in manufacturing and a surprisingly large proportion- 60 per cent- in the service sectors.
Yet if we look at the distribution of research funds at about that time we find that they were quite differently distributed in relation to the occupations in which the community was engaged. About one-third of our research activity went into the defence area- about 30 per cent. About 18 per cent of our research activity went directly into agriculture. About 20 per cent went from various sources into the industrial area and only about 7 per cent went into health and the social sciences. If we look at the OECD figures on where our population worked and if we look at where the research effort was going, it does not seem that the two lined up in any rational way.
-Well, they don’t, do they?
– I take Senator Button’s point. If I could interpolate, if there is a criticism we have to make of the CSIRO it is that for very understandable historical reasons, due to the emphases that were given to it at its birth, it has had a very high degree of activity in agriculture and minerals and a very small degree of activity in some of the more industrial areas or manufacturing areas. I say that in the hope that we can improve this a bit. I note the existence of Project Score, which is being undertaken by the Department of Science. That project is going to be very important in helping to identify what we are doing and where we are doing it. We look forward to identifying the contemporary share of the research dollar in different sectors in this country. We need to know because we are still waiting for the development of a national science policy, which we cannot achieve until we get some idea of what we are spending and where. I note with very great concern that there is no place now for the social sciences. I am not now confusing in any way the argument advanced by Senator Puplick or the argument supported by Senator Button. They were talking about something different. If we look simply at the formal social sciences, which are going to be of increasing importance in this country, not only are they apparently not catered for adequately within our national research framework but they are specifically excluded from the activities of a body such as the CSIRO in the provisions that are being proposed and which have been proposed by most people who have examined the Organisation. The Government may be correct in adhering to the recommendations in the Birch report say, but I still find it quite disturbing that we do not seem to be making adequate provision somewhere for research in the social sciences that we so urgently need.
– This is the universities, and in particular the Australian National University.
– I am talking about research in the social sciences through any agencies, through any kind of support. We need a national policy in science that would give a place to these kinds of activities. At the present time we seem to be picking up a little bit here and a little bit there, with the CSIRO doing these jobs. What we require is some kind of coherent policy. One might ask why we need a science policy anyhow. In summary, the OECD found the following kinds of things about Australia’s science effort:
First of all, it found a lack of industrial and research policies. It found that our universities were under-funded for research compared with the CSIRO, to pick up the point made by my colleague, a former university professional. The universities were under-funded compared with the CSIRO. It found, when considering the research being done in secondary industry, that there were very grave shortcomings, both in the amount and the quality. It found that the working relationship between the CSIRO and industry and the CSIRO and the universities, though it existed, was still short of ideal. Of course, the OECD pointed towards the creation of the Australian Science and Technology Council, which is now a most important body in terms of the thrust that I am developing towards a national science policy.
After all, what is a science policy? What should it contain? The OECD examiners in their report defined it in the following terms: a deliberate and coherent basis for national decisions influencing the investment, institutional structures, creativity and utilisation of scientific research.
I think that that is a perfectly adequate kind of framework within which we can look at the development of a science policy. It probably has two elements. The first is the management of the system through which national science and technology is delivered. This would have relationship, say, to the universities, to the CSIRO, and to other bodies of that kind. The second arm of science policy has to be the integration of science activity in some way with other national goals and aspirations and policies, which themselves must be stated and clear and understood. I accept the caveats put on this by Senator Button in some of his concluding remarks. We cannot insist that all scientific activity relate to some central national goals, but we should at least identify the kinds of goals towards which science policy should be contributing some of the answers.
We do have problems facing science in Australia today, headed by the lack of a science policy. There should be actual research budgeting in line with a laid down policy. There should be planning for scientific manpower, for the information-gathering function to which other honourable senators have referred, for education of the general public, which has to live with science and the scientists. A science policy has to include mechanisms for the transfer of research results into socially desirable products. It has to include capacity for assessment of new technology. It has to include an arrangement for the transfer of scientific know-how to other countries that may wish to purchase or use it, and I will make the point later, I think in support of Senator Button, that if we are to survive we will have to recognise that the development and sale of some or our own innovative capacity and skills, some of the products we can make, are going to be important.
– Technology transfer is another aspect too. It is a recipient aspect. We have to be able to understand it.
– I hope I have referred to that already, but I agree with it. I have already mentioned Project Score, which is an information-gathering project on science, and I hope the Minister can tell us the stage we have reached with it. Of course, there is also ASTEC, which has been given a rather enormous job in making some statements about the needs of Australian science. Hopefully, it will be given the job of bringing down some policy guidelines within which we can state where we think we are going and what we hope to do.
If I could just revert briefly to the CSIRO, during its early years David Rivett, as he then was, insisted on considerable autonomy for his .division chiefs, and that was fine. They were able to do their own work without reference to anyone, free from political interference, and that was highly desirable. But with the present multiplicity of divisions, or the present number of institutes, however one wants to talk about it, with multi-disciplinary studies becoming more common, with a greater need for team effort in science and less capacity for individuals to be sole operators in major projects, there needs to be a greater co-ordination of effort within some coherent policy framework. I do not think we can have faith in one man at the bench, following his own interests, necessarily working towards goals which we see as nationally important or desirable, goals which might have very important effects on employment opportunity or other matters such as that.
There are other matters which we need to get from science policy statements. We need to get clarification of the funding of national science activities. We need to get clarification of the career structures. I think that Senator Button has already referred to some of the problems in this regard. We have to recognise that as potential employers of scientists the universities, like the CSIRO, have well entrenched scientific staff members on tenure who are not about to move out. If we want to do something about the very small prospects for qualified young scientists we will have to take on board some of the problems involved in making spaces at times of economic hardship and stringency.
Australian science has other problems. We will have to do something about making the public debate on scientific matters far more sophisticated than it is at present. We have a tendency in Australia to over-simplify public debates. We see this in matters such as the debates on uranium policy or tariff policy. We tend to take positions, get into our trenches- not at all like scientistsand fire bullets at the other side. We have to do something about making sure that the debate in scientific areas is at a better level for the reasons which Senator Button indicated by interjection a little while ago. We also have to recognise that Australia is isolated. Our scientists face particular disabilities not suffered by scientists in, say, Europe or North America. The OECD examiners drew colleagues to this matter in their report. They talked about our geographical isolation from foreign centres of research and learning which made a greater intensity of fundamental research more desirable in Australia than in many other countries. They went on to develop that idea.
In this country, unlike North America, scientists do not have instant contact with other scientists in the field. They find it more difficult to meet colleagues who are working in the same areas. Relatively few scientists of world standing come to Australia. Although some scientists come, they are fewer than one would meet in other areas. It is common for our scientists to be dependent upon journals for the dissemination of information and that information is late by the time the scientists read the material in journals. Our scientists have less access than some of their colleagues overseas to pre-prints of material prepared before publication. They have less access to some of the communications media. For example, it is not common for an Australian scientist to pick up the telephone and call one of his equivalent colleagues in, say, Washington, Palo Alto or some other centre of” excellence. All these things are important to the scientists working in this country. When we talk about science policy we need to take on board these problems as well as other more mundane matters, such as study leave and salary structures.
We have to improve relations between science and industry. It is interesting that, relatively speaking, the CSIRO has been moderately inactive in this area. This point was well brought out by the OECD report in 1974. When we look at the problems facing Australian science we have to ask ourselves about the atypical funding structure. Of all the OECD countries only Greece has a greater percentage of its science effort funded by government itself. In this country an unduly great amount of our science expenditure comes from government. It is government funded and government performed.
-That is partly due to the shortsightedness of Australian business.
-The honourable senator said that that is partly due to the shortsightedness of Australian business. It may also be a lack of capacity to become involved or to respond. I think we have to accept that one of the tasks we have to undertake, as I will make clear in a moment, is to prepare Australian business bettter than it is prepared at present to respond and to take part in advancing science policy. I certainly do not accept the situation that science policy -
– It is the feather-bedded, softbellied, private sector.
-I was interested in the comments that Senator Button made previously about a feather-bedded society. We have to be better able to respond. The CSIRO has not achieved the industrial successes necessary to maintain Australia as a world ranking industrial power. The Organisation might say that that is not its job, but it is the main scientific body that we have working for us.
– Would you see it as being on a par with the Academy of Science in the USSR?
-I know nothing about the Academy of Science in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. If I learnt something about it I could possibly respond to the interjection. I am referring to the nexus between government funding and who carries out the research. In other countries, perhaps the USA, government defence contracts, for example, have been the cornerstone of industrial viability for large numbers of firms and also for the capacity of those organisations to remain innovative and competitive. Many of the defence innovations in some countries have been applied for nondefence purposes. Yet in this country we have an almost complete separation of research in the defence area. We have our defence scientific establishment and our industrial and academic research bodies. That is not good enough.
– Aren’t multinationals prone to be less loyal to us than to their home countries?
-The honourable senator offers an interesting comment which is not really relevant to the debate at the moment. I will take it up with him privately later.
One of our major problems concerns identifying what are the real needs ahead of Australia. When all is said and done, the needs are to maintain a manufacturing sector which is viable, relevant and capable of employing the large numbers of Australians who want jobs. No matter how I look at the situation, I do not see any other sector in Australian society able to take up the slack and offer jobs. We must do it through the manufacturing sector and we must do it in a world in which we are becoming less competitive. The world is becoming more protectionist. We are competing more and more with countries which have advantages which we cannot match in terms of costs of production. We are not ahead of them in terms of our scientific and marketing skills. In spite of all these disadvantages, we have to find some means of re-establishing and maintaining a manufacturing sector. In this matter innovative research science must play a major role.
I am impressed by the fact that Switzerland is a prosperous country. It is a country with almost no natural resources. The Swiss have had to live off their wits. They have had to live by developing products which people want and getting out and selling them. Even the products they develop are only in small areas, they can make markets. I was interested in the George Judah Cohen Memorial Lecture for 1978 which was given by a friend of mine, Peter North. He talked directly about the kind of problem which faces us in our society. He said:
In the long term, we cannot escape the need to have a very significant part of our manufacturing industry operating in world markets in its own right, standing on its own feet. In a world where labour is plentiful, capital is scarce and major markets are distant from our shores, that means a major part of our manufacturing industry depending heavily on incisive identification of demand in small, specialised market niches in other countries for unique and much-needed products produced on a modest scale.
I think that there is a lot of sense in that kind of analysis and approach. Within that context what have we done about developing a national science policy? Within some of” the universities an academic discipline is emerging. People are trying to develop science policy. I note Griffith Uni.tersity, in particular, where Mrs Ann Moyal is running a science policy research centre. CSIRO perhaps needs to link in with this kind of effort. In developing our science policy we need to link it with the science manpower policy. I think other honourable senators have referred to that suggestion tonight. We need to improve communications between Australian scientists and their overseas counterparts. We need to fund more private research through contracting work out. We should do all we can to quicken the commercialisation of our research findings.
My colleague who gave the George Judah Cohen Memorial Lecture offered his own analysis of some of the things that we might usefully do within a science policy to try to advance the development of our manufacturing sector. He talked about the establishment of a bureau of industrial development, a small task force which should be set up to try to identify these unique opportunities to which we might respond in order to try to win markets. We need to increase our research and development expenditure in what might be called ‘experimental development’ in moving from the research finding to the commercial application. Not enough money is being allocated at present. As a matter of policy we need to designate several equipment areas in the defence field for Australian procurement. We need to involve more private companies in government funded research and development. We need to educate our businessmen- I take up Senator Puplick ‘s interjection here- to develop the entrepreneurial skills which we will need in order to alter our approach to marketing, competition and survival. We need to establish a small national school of industrial design as a centre of excellence to try to help this kind of activity.
I am concerned now about what the Australian Science and Technology Council will produce. It offers the hope for a national science policy. The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) which was made to the Parliament in 1977 made clear his belief and intention that ASTEC should have a strategic planning role. Indeed, under the Act that established the Council it has been given clear responsibility in identifying the basis of a science policy. To that end I am awaiting a further report from ASTEC on the present state of science policy and the basis for the structure which we should adopt. I think that the Australian science area generally is awaiting a statement of goals and directions, both national and scientific. It is awaiting a framework in which it can operate appropriately. It wants guidelines, funding information and organisational guidelines. We really need these things via Project SCORE and ASTEC before we can be certain that CSIRO is in fact operating in an appropriate manner. At the moment until I know what our national science policy is or what we are trying to do I really cannot say where CSIRO fits into the picture. That it operates well, I have no doubt; that it operates effectively, I have no doubt; but I am not quite sure of its place in a national science framework and I do not think anyone else really knows until we have a national science policy statement before us.
I urge the Minister to hasten the production of these policy guidelines which are needed urgently for our manufacturing capacity, a manufacturing capacity which my State needs so badly in the next few years. If we as a nation are to live on our wits- I believe that is what our future is- in an increasingly hostile world where we have few advantages industrially, if we are to sell technology and innovation and develop new techniques to keep us competitive, I believe we need a clear framework in which we can develop. It is to the Minister for Science and his department and to CSIRO and such bodies that we look for the policy and those guidelines.
-The Bill which we are discussing is the Science and Industry Research Amendment Bill 1978. The purpose of the Bill is to redefine and broaden the functions of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as laid down by the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 and to provide new organisational structure for its direction and control. In looking at the short digest of the Bill which has been provided by the Parliamentary Library, I note that the propositions put before us in the Bill have general acceptance, almost unanimous acceptance, in this place. Perhaps I ought to drop the word ‘almost’ and say that the Bill has unanimous acceptance in this chamber. If I recall correctly we debated the matter at length on a previous occasion with the same unanimity. I doubt that it is necessary for me to add to what I said previously on the occasion of the debate of the report.
The contribution from honourable senators on both sides has been enlightening. I do not have much more to say but for the benefit of the speaker who follows me I say merely that all the great anticipations of the legislation that is before us will come to nothing unless the finance is provided to support this grand concept. Unless the funds and staff are made available, all we have is merely a framework, a part structure. Nothing substantial will flow from what we have accepted as being a fine concept. This legislation is introduced at a time when the Government is concerned with budgetary restrictions. I suggest that these budgetary restrictions should have no priority as far as this legislation is concerned. We are rapidly reaching a position in Australia which is similar to that position reached in many other countries which have an advanced education system where a flow of graduates comes out from tertiary institutions with no place to go.
There is a possibility, if the funds are provided, for the great wealth of qualified talent which is emerging to be used to the benefit of the research institutes which are being set up by this legislation. Unless the funds are made available of course we will have a situation where we create the need but are not able to satisfy it. I wonder whether honourable senators- I do not doubt that they have- have given thought to those graduates who have left universities with little chance of employment. More so, I wonder whether they have given thought to the many students who enter the various streams of the universities knowing that when they complete their studies they will have nowhere to go. Since I have nothing to add to the excellent contributions that have been made on the general philosophy of the need to have diversification in science and bodies that are provided for in this Bill, I merely voice my concern that, having developed the idea by inquiry and having produced this legislation, all of it will be worthless unless the funds are provided. The hopes that we now raise by this legislation in the minds of young students, young graduates and those people who are doing advance studies may come to a useless end.
That might sound a gloomy note to inject into the debate, but let me repeat what I have said about other legislation, and other needs of society- that a priority should be established so that, although there may be need for budgetary restrictions, it should not apply as a blanket restriction upon all government activities. A selection should be made so that money will be provided without restraint in those areas that the Parliament decides are of prime importance to the future of the country.
I merely reiterate that the Opposition supports this legislation. We have spoken previously to the CSIRO, which, in Australian terms, is almost akin to a motherhood concept with us. We look upon it as not so much as a sacred cow- that is not the right term- but with respect and often admiration, realising the great contribution that it has made to the primary industries of this country. As a result of this legislation, and the proposed diversification of its role, the CSIRO may be able to give to secondary industry what it has previously given to primary industry; but we have spoken of that before. I repeat that the Opposition supports the Bill and the concepts that it contains.
– I rise to speak briefly in support of the thrust of the Bill, and to compliment the Government on its recognition of the importance to Australia of science and technology. Australia is facing a technological crisis, and the sooner we come to grips with the need to develop a total policy for science the better it will be. The Bill is a move in the right direction.
I compliment my colleague, Senator Puplick and other honourable senators who have spoken for their contributions to the debate. The Government should take note of what has been said and in the future act upon the recommendations of honourable senators. I have noted in particular the need to maintain our communication with scientists overseas. I was rather disturbed recently to hear it suggested that the sending of scientific counsellors to represent us overseas should be discontinued. As Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment, acting in furtherance of the wishes of the Committee, I wrote quickly to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) pointing out the urgency of retaining scientific representation overseas. It seems to me to be quite important that Australia should liaise consistently with overseas scientists on technological advances. I am still concerned that we are not providing sufficient staff at our embassies in other countries. I have spoken with scientific counsellors from our embassies in various parts of the world. For instance, in July I visited Japan as a member of a delegation and learnt that insufficient emphasis, in my opinion, was being placed on the scientific thrust of our overseas posts. I spoke today with a member of the embassy in the United States of America. He told me that he has with him on the staff in Washington one other officer and a stenographer. He has to deal with every facet of science in America. That is a very large task. The Minister for Science (Senator Webster) will appreciate my point that on occasions staff ceilings present problems to the Government and, in fact, in many areas represent a retrograde step.
The Minister will doubtless reflect upon the report on the Australian Institute of Marine Science that earlier this year I presented to the Senate. I pointed out then the significance of maintaining a full scientific staff at the Institute. I know that he would be sympathetic to that request. It seems incredible that at a time when we have increased our territorial sea limit to 200 nautical miles the staff of the AIMS should still be at something like 50 per cent of what it should be. I noted also that the Birch recommendation said that the extent of the involvement of CSIRO in marine science should await the examination of the whole matter by the Australian Science and Technology Council. I note that at page 7 of the report, under the heading ‘The Need for Increased Attention’ the following appears:
ASTEC believes that the marine sciences and marine technologies are important to Australia. They are rapidly becoming increasingly so as activity on the Australian coastal margin increases through industry, shipping, waste disposal and recreation, and as international developments, such as those of the United Nations’ Conference on the Law of the Sea, lead Australia to increased responsibilities, rights and opportunities in the marine area.
That tends to bear out the claim that greater attention should be paid to our marine sciences and technology. Australia needs to come to grips with the question of a total policy which incorporates all areas of science. Senator Baume mentioned the social sciences, applied .sciences and pure sciences. Overcoming the problems of evolving this type of policy presents a tremendous challenge to the Government.
Recently I spoke to someone who had been to England on sabbatical leave. He came to my office one day and mentioned the term ‘tero technology’, which I have never heard before, but apparently it relates to having a total technology concept. It appears to me that that type of technology would bear consideration by this Government. In the United Kingdom a small department has been set up under that heading. The idea is that it will bridge the gap between various areas of science, engineering and so on. It could well be of benefit to Australia to examine the department that has been established in that country.
The Standing Committee on Science and the Environment is currently engaged in an examination of Australia’s industrial research and development. The objective is to present early next year, hopefully by March or April, a report directing the attention of the Government to the need to do more in the area of research and development. I was very pleased to see that the Budget prescribed for research $24m, or an increase of $ 14m over the figure for last year. That is an indication that the Government recognises the importance of research to Australia. Recently the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment visited Western Australia. Senator Mulvihill will recall that we visited the establishment of the Sarich orbital engine. I mention this because the company is spending approximately $3m on this particular project. The end result will be an automotive engine which will be one-third the size of the conventional motor and in which less material is used.
This is very important, bearing in mind the energy required to produce the material for these motors. The engine itself will use less fuel and will be less pollutant than a conventional engine. It seems to me that $3m is a great deal of money to be spending on developing an engine. Yet we learn that General Motors in America is spending over $140m this year- I think Senator Mulvihill will recall this- on one aspect of research into the conventional automotive engine. This seems to me to demonstrate how far removed we are from reality as far as research expenditure is concerned. I understand that Australia initiates about 1 per cent of the world ‘s research and development projects, whereas America ‘s contribution is around 50 per cent.
I believe that the Government is acting in a progressive way with the introduction of this legislation. I am glad to hear that the Opposition is behind the measure and is giving its backing to the need for Australia to spend more money on research and development in this country in order to maintain our position in the world as an industrial nation.
– in reply- The Science and Industry Research Amendment Bill 1978 is the first major piece of legislation to be introduced since 1949 which affects the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The level of debate on this Bill and the bipartisan nature of the commendations and criticisms from both government and opposition senators give me great heart as the Minister in charge of the CSIRO. Those honourable senators who are interested in the structuring of Australia’s principal research organisation will be aware of the close attention which the Government has given over the past 18 months to the affairs of the Organisation, pending the introduction of this Bill.
Over the past three years, I, as the Minister in charge of the CSIRO, have been greatly impressed by the excellence of the Organisation, as undoubtedly have those honourable senators who have spoken in the debate as well as others who have not taken part in it. Although those contributions brand the Organisation as being one of excellence, that goes to the credit of those persons who serve in the Organisation. I have known personally the past four chairmen of the CSIRO as well as, of course, the current chairman, Dr Paul Wild. Indeed, they have all been very outstanding Australians. It is notable that the four previous chairmen, after leaving the Organisation, continued to make a major contribution in many areas in our society. Indeed, the scientists and the staff- the people who compose this Organisation- have done so during the 50 years of the Organisation’s existence. The staff is deserving of the highest commendation.
I have travelled very widely throughout Australia during these past years looking at various CSIRO installations. My visits have been most elevating and rewarding. I have been most proud to be associated with this Organisation and to realise the dedication of those who work at all levels. I have been proud to say to the staff at all divisions I have visited that I see the central organisation of CSIRO as being composed of a most aware group of men. They run the central office most economically. Indeed, the liaison that occurs between the Minister and the executive, as well as those who support the executive, again is deserving of the very highest appreciation of the nation. Of course, it is their impact on their community which brings about the elevation which CSIRO receives throughout Australia and in international circles.
I make this comment because this Bill brings forward a restructuring of the Organisation. It would be wrong for the Senate to believe that this is the first change that has occurred to the Organisation since 1949. I have found the Organisation to be most critical of its own performance. I see it constantly reviewing its programs, critically analysing the direction which it is taking and rearranging the thrust of its work. It should not be thought that this legislation is the basis of the most major restructuring that has occurred. Over 12 months ago the Organisation, through its chairman, presented me with a blueprint of the way in which the executive believed the Organisation should work in future. If we were to compare that particular advice with the results of the quite long proceedings of the committee of inquiry, as well as the Government’s considerations and the various other actions that have taken place, I would have to say that it is my view that the executive was well aware of the deficiencies and attributes of the Organisation prior to the Government initiating an inquiry into the Organisation. I think that should be said to the credit of the executive, the chairmen over the years and, indeed, the staff who have supported them.
The legislation now before us flows from a Government decision to ask three eminent persons- Professor Arthur Birch, of the Australian National University, Sir Cecil Looker and Mr R. T. Madigan- to act as a committee of inquiry to report upon the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. As a result of their inquiry one can be satisfied that Australia has achieved perhaps the most intense inquiry into a science and research organisation that has occurred in any country. Undoubtedly, honourable senators have read parts of the report. The introduction in the report gives some idea of the recognition given to the Organisation and the comparisons that were made during the inquiry of the committee which resulted in it compiling the report that it put forward. The introduction in the report reads:
CSIRO is a research organisation with a number of outstanding successes over the last fifty years. Nevertheless, it exists to serve the interests of the community, rather than those of the scientists in it, and must not be allowed to lose touch with community affairs.
The world reputation of CSIRO is a source of pride and morale to its scientists, and to Australia, and facilitates interactions with world science and technology. The Committee has identified the need for changes, but believes that changes should not be lightly undertaken and must take account of strengths built up over a long period. The purpose of our survey is to set the background to the scientific, financial and organisational situation of CSIRO as a Government organisation carrying out mission-orientated research.
We have examined, with varying degrees of intensity, Government science in the UK, France, Canada, Norway, the Federal German Republic, the USSR, the USA, Japan and New Zealand. Many ideas seem pertinent, but no system applies in any detail to the Australian situation.
The introduction goes on to point out the way in which that Committee had approached its task. The Committee report contains some 122 recommendations. It was incumbent upon me, with the advice that was available to me, to study those recommendations. After critical examination by Cabinet, finally the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) addressed the House of Representatives and gave a comprehensive outline of the Government’s decision upon the Birch report. As Minister for Science I complemented the Prime Minister’s statement with a statement relating to other matters which had not been dealt with by him. Honourable senators interested in this subject will note that the latest annual report of the CSIRO brought together both those statements. The decisions of the Government relating to the Birch report are set out for future reference in that report. The introduction of this Bill was supported by what I believe was a very comprehensive second reading speech. These several documents are intended to give, and I believe do give, the most comprehensive outline of the reasons for the Government decisions and actions regarding Australia’s major scientific research organisation.
Honourable senators who have spoken on this Bill have made excellent contributions. I thank Senators Tate, Puplick, Button, Baume, Georges and Jessop for their comments. Much as I would wish to take up each of the points that they have raised and comment upon them at length, it is not appropriate that I do so. However, I will deal with one or two of the major points that have been brought forward. By no means do I suggest that the ones I take up are the most major of those that have been brought forward. Each criticism and commendation will be closely studied by me and I will look at the recommendations that have been made by honourable senators to see whether they can be introduced into the future organisation of the CSIRO.
It is interesting to note, as a major policy point, that the Birch Committee recommended that the CSIRO stay as one organisation. At one stage there was a possibility that it might be broken up into several areas to meet the interests of competing Ministers. But we now have the assurance, on the advice of Birch and in accordance with the decision of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, that the CSIRO will remain as one organisation. Senator Tate raised the point of whether the CSIRO, in deriving royalties from patents, is returning sufficient income to government or reaping sufficient reward. As Senator Tate suggested, the revenue estimated to be derived in this area in 1978-79 is some $42,000. But that is for appropriation-funded activities. Those words should emphasise the difference; it is only a part of total CSIRO revenue from patents. That excludes revenue from patents associated with contributory funding. Mr Deputy President, you would be well aware of the millions of dollars that have been derived, for instance, from wool funded research. That demonstrates the demarcation line for claims to revenue by the CSIRO. The statement of 1 1 May by the Prime Minister made clear that the Organisation should not have income as its objective and maximisation of returns from patents should not necessarily be its aim. In my statement on that day I said:
However, lest this be taken to mean that CSIRO is to become primarily a money-making concern, the Government has reaffirmed that CSIRO does not have as a principal aim the generation of revenue, either to support on-going research or as a direct return for results achieved in research. To do otherwise would defeat the purposes of having a broadly-based public-funded national research organisation.
If one were to consider the benefit that the CSIRO has been to Australia over past years one could draw attention to the many excellent projects and the excellent results of research that have come about. Indeed, Senator Baume covered that area. He mentioned not only the results of the investigation into prickly pear but also investigations into myxomatosis and the results that have been achieved by way of improvement in farm and grazing lands. There are benefits from current projects such as InterScan. The late Lord Casey said when he was Minister in charge of the CSIRO that the annual return from its developments was in excess of the total outlays since its inception. I would be inclined to believe that statement.
Senator Puplick referred to the guidelines which will be included in the CSIRO ‘s annual report and mentioned public accountability for the research that is undertaken by the Organisation. This, amongst a number of other important matters brought forward by the honourable senator, deserves comment. As I have said, I have found the CSIRO to be a most responsible organisation. I consider what is demanded by accountability- I find that a most attractive term- in relation to all areas of government and find myself satisfied. I am not a scientist but I have some knowledge of commerce and know there can be accountability. In past years the CSIRO has produced major publications setting out the objectives of its research programs. The one I have here has some 330 pages. If one were asking an organisation to be accountable for its work how better could one do it than by asking for a publication such as this? I draw the attention of those interested to this document in which the Organisation sets out its research program objectives for 1978-79. On page 78 of the document which I have in my hand, for instance, there is an indication of the objectives of the division of chemical technology. One program is waste water purification.
It sets out the aim and states that the aim is to extend Australia’s water resources through purification and recycling technology. The document makes general comments relating to that particular aim. It notes clearly the sub-programs which flow from the aims of that division. It mentions sirotherm desalination, continuous magnetic ion-exchange and adsorption systems, water clarification and decolourisation, treatment of sewage and sewage effluent, oxidation processes and the environment and public health. They are the sub-programs. It points out not only that the divisions of the CSIRO collaborate with each other but also that the CSIRO collaborates with universities, the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories, the Perth Metropolitan Water Board, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the Caulfield Institute of Technology and industry.
The document makes note of the professional staff that are involved in that program. It notes the name of the program leader and gives details of the allocation of funds for that work during the year. I know that there were 200 programs in the previous year. One could turn to that document and say that it makes it clear that the CSIRO has attempted to be accountable for its work and to put forward its work for scrutiny by the public. Indeed, I have not heard very much comment in this place or outside relating to that document. I think that any organisation that is prepared to lay its work before the public for criticism must have said of it that it is totally accountable for the money that is going to it and the work that it undertakes.
Senator Puplick mentioned the guidelines relating to proposed new section 9aa of the Act. These are to be included in the annual report. There are a number of matters that will come forward once this Bill has been passed. There are major things to be done relating to the structure of the executive, the Advisory Committee, the State organisations and the organisation concerned with the staff. I certainly will be giving attention to the matters that have been raised. The guidelines that will be followed by the CSIRO in its annual report will be given close attention by me.
One honourable senator asked about the reason for having a number of institutes. The committee of inquiry suggested that there should be six institutes. The Government, even before the committee of inquiry commenced its inquiry, had an indication from the CSIRO that its activities could be ordered into approximately six aggregations. In my view it is encumbent upon the Organisation to organise itself along that line at the moment, but if events prove that more institutes are necessary I believe that we will be in a position to invoke processes that can bring about a greater number. It seems to me to be appropriate to have six. Honourable senators may know that it is intended that the directors of the six divisions will sit as part of the executive management. Indeed, one needs to consider the number that should be in that position.
I should comment upon the major point that was made by three honourable senators about the social implications of the Organisation’s work. The word ‘social’ was raised in the Birch report in the context of the social needs capable of benefit or amelioration by scientific research in the physical and biological sciences. It was not a direction to study the social implications of science, which is a very broad matter. Senator Puplick, Senator Tate and Senator Peter Baume mentioned this matter. In fact, Senator Puplick discussed it with me at some length prior to the introduction of the Bill. I think it is worth noting that the Birch report expressed the main role of the CSIRO as being as follows:
The main role should be scientific and technological research in support of Australian industry, community interests and other perceived national objectives and obligations.
Ministerial discretion should be preserved in relation to programs, but the broader role defined will reduce the need for its application. When Ministerial discretion is employed it should be reported in the Annual Report.
The fields of science in which research is to be undertaken should be the physical and biological sciences.
Research into economics and other social sciences should not be undertaken, but steps should be taken to utilise the requisite expertise from these fields in program conduct, evaluation and planning.
I certainly take very much to heart the comment that it would be as well if the CSIRO were in a position to be able to evaluate and predict the social consequences of its particular research. I have stated previously that I believe that the average scientist today has a strong recognition of the social implication of the work that he is doing. If we were to decide that the Organisation should conduct a survey into the social consequences of its particular activities in each of its fields, we certainly would need to expand the Organisation to in excess of double the size that it is today. That may be wise. It appears to me that it is probably impossible at any particular stage to understand the social consequences of the research that is being carried out.
Thirty years ago when scientists were studying astronomy, I used to go to one of the places where they were gazing avidly at the stars and wonder what would be the return. It was pure science; science for science’s sake. It was orientated to nothing. There was no task at the end of the field. What did it produce? It produced, thirty years later probably the whole basis of the world’s communications system. To have attempted 10, 20 or 30 years ago to make an evaluation of the social implications of that research would have been a farce. Undoubtedly, such evaluations are necessary in some fields. Of course, it appears to us that research into nuclear activity or whatever the field of research may be at the moment, is a particularly urgent matter and that some report is needed as to their social consequences. I again say that we are dealing with the recommendations made in the Birch report. I believe that report sets out very clearly the work that this Organisation should undertake.
Mention was made in volume 1 A of the report entitled Science and Technology in Australia of the Australian Science and Technology Council. Recommendation 7 of that report states:
That the Departments of Productivity and Science study the operations of the UK. National Research Development Corporation and other similar bodies, in order to identify the detailed requirements and terms of reference for an Australian equivalent for consideration by the Government, and that following consideration of the above study an NRDClike body be established in Australia, financed in the first instance by a government loan.
That comment touches on an important matter that was raised by a number of honourable senators. One of the thrusts of the Bill is to get research findings to the public more readily than happens at present or has happened over the past years. As Minister I have found it difficult to get industries to take up discoveries quickly. Some competing interests are involved. One must not be seen to hand any find to one area of interest too quickly. It is incumbent upon CSIRO to advertise and to ask those who may be interested to set out the funding that they would put into a particular patent should it be taken out by CSIRO. That may not be sufficient reason these days for us to attempt to get out the findings of the organisation to the public quicker than previously.
In the last month the head of the Department of Science, Dr John Farrands, has been in the United Kingdom. The report was released while he was overseas. I had him contact the National Research Development Corporation. He has brought back with him within the last two days fairly conclusive evidence of the way that organisation works. I hope that that information will be of benefit to the science community and that we will be complying with the excellent advice contained in recommendation No. 7 of the report of ASTEC. Senator Button mentioned information transfer. I invite the honourable senator to look at CSIRO ‘s basis of information transfer today. CSIRO ‘s capabilities are quite startling. This matter will trouble society. Information transfer and technology assessment are two major things to which excellent minds in this chamber can attend over the coming months.
Mention was made of the management structure. I will certainly be looking at it and making recommendations to the Government very shortly in relation to the quality of the people to be put on the management board of CSIRO. The comment was made by Senator Button that the interests of the staff must be closely attended. I will certainly be doing so. The choice of individuals for top management positions most certainly will be by quality and qualification. I appreciate very much the comments that have been made by honourable senators. This Bill is a significant measure, as the speeches of honourable senators who have participated in this debate so clearly demonstrate. The value of CSIRO to the nation is accepted on all sides of this Parliament and in the community generally. CSIRO ‘s research has produced many beneficial results for Australia in past years. The Government believes that the re-definition of the Organisation ‘s powers and functions are more appropriate to contemporary circumstances and, together with revised management structure and the advisory mechanisms which are set out in this Bill, will create an auspicious and effective foundation for the Organisation’s continued success.
I think we all share a very real awareness of the central role that science will play in our future. In a nation like Australia whose future prosperity must in large measure depend upon the competitiveness of its export products in many cases allied to the maximum but proper use of our national resources, the role of scientific and industrial research is, to say the least, vital. At the same time there remains a great needindeed, an increasing need- to take into account community and national needs and aspirations. There resides in CSIRO a store of scientific skills and facilities which, as well as making quite dramatic contributions to a nation’s well-being and to the advancement of national objectives, is providing Australia with a very real form of insurance for the future.
Government financed scientific research will continue to represent a major segment of the nation’s scientific endeavour. The provisions of this Bill and the full range of initiatives that are being taken by the Government following the Birch committee of inquiry will, I believe, go a long way towards ensuring that the returns to the community for the investment in research will continue to be maximised. This Bill will ensure that CSIRO ‘s management structure is appropriate for the years ahead, that a full and adequate flow of advice is readily available to CSIRO from industry, government and community generally about national needs and priorities, and that the results of research and the information gained during the course of research are transferred effectively to those sections of the community in a position to put them to practical use or to gain practical benefits from them. I again commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6- by leave- taken together.
-Some comment was made during the second reading debate about clause 6 of the Bill which deals with the functions of the organisation. I do not think there is much disagreement about those matters which, of course, comprise the important section in the first part of the Bill. I would like to raise with the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) a couple of matters in relation to proposed new section 9aa which, in a sense, is a new initiative. It provides quite properly that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation shall be able, as stated in paragraph (b), to join in the formation of a partnership or company for the purpose of the commercial development of a discovery, invention or improvement which is the property of the organisation. Two points arise. I take it that something becomes the property of the organisation when a patent is taken out. I wonder whether the Minister can explain to the Committee what the Government has in mind with that provision. It is a matter not of controversy but of interest as to whether the organisation does plan in relation to specific matters to take advantage of that section in the near future and what precise form that development will take. That is the first point I wanted to raise in relation to proposed new section 9aa.
Proposed new section 9ab seeks to put into the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the first time what one might term a middle management structure. As I indicated in the course of the second reading debate, the CSIRO seems to be relatively free from many of the problems which flow from middle management in statutory corporations. I am more particularly concerned to find out how the institutes will work, first of all, in terms of where they will be situated. I think that the Minister will understand that when legislation like this comes forward following the presentation of a report rumours and queries abound in the community particularly the scientific community. In this case, amongst the staff of the CSIRO. One quite strong rumour- whether it is true or not I do not know- is to the effect that the institutes would all be situated in Canberra. If the Minister could elaborate a little on how that provision relates to both the functions of the institutes and where they will be situated I think that it would be helpful to a number of people who are concerned about this legislation.
My other question is: To what extent will the institutes as an administrative structure be autonomous in the sense of having their own staff and facilities, as distinct from the staff and facilities of the various divisions and of the Executive? In a structural sense, will there be built in revolving around the various institutes a division which will create a sort of larger administrative or bureaucratic staff responsible to the institutes themselves, as distinct from being responsible to the Executive or to particular divisions? I am sure that honourable senators would be helped if the Minister could elaborate a little on what is intended by proposed new sections 9aa and 9ab in relation to those matters.
- Senator Button has drawn attention to several aspects of proposed new sections. Where the word ‘partnership ‘ is used it relates to a situation in which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, having registered a patent, may enter a partnership arrangement. That would be defined as a relationship which exists between persons carrying on business in common with a view to profit. It would be a case of the Organisation, through its executive structure, entering into a partnership and maximising return to the Organisation or to public revenue, at least from the results of its finding. The position of a body such as the CSIRO in such a relationship may require some clarification because the CSIRO is not a business undertaking in the sense in which that term is normally used. In looking for examples .of government business undertakings our minds are most likely to turn to Trans-Australia Airlines, to the Australian Telecommunications Commission, or to some other such body. Some Commonwealth statutory bodies, such as the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, have functions which include a mix of business and non-business roles.
At the present time the functions of the CSIRO do not include a business role. Its functions do include, however, a function of encouraging and facilitating the application and utilisation of the results of its research. This function relates in the main to having ideas put into commercial practice for or by Australian industry. The Organisation will be given a corresponding power under proposed new section 9AA, paragraphs (b) and (c). It follows, therefore, that the purposes for which the CSIRO might exercise its commercial powers must be bona fide and relate to encouraging the adoption of the research and results. Under the new legislation the CSIRO will not be empowered to go into business for the purpose of making a profit. However, the Organisation will be able to enter into a relationship with a commercial partner which has as a subsidiary or incidental purpose, from the point of view of the CSIRO, the purpose of making a profit. As long as the primary purpose is technology transfer it would not be beyond the powers of the Organisation to enter into a relationship with a commercial partner. Of course, the purpose of the commercial partner would be to make a profit. The CSIRO would need to withdraw from the partnership once its primary purpose had basically been achieved from it.
– I am indebted to the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) for his response, but may I explore the matter a little further. I ask the Minister: For what reasons has it been determined that the only purpose of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation entering into a partnership with a private concern would essentially be one of technological transfer and, once that was completed, the CSIRO would withdraw from that partnership? Might it not in fact be a great encouragement to a continuing application of scientific research if the CSIRO were in a position essentially to have an equity in an ongoing project? I am exploring this possibility because the Minister’s explanation is somewhat different from the method which has been followed in relation to InterScan, as I understand it. I hope that the Minister does not see the proposed provision as one which will foreclose the possibility of the CSIRO being engaged in the development of a project on an equity basis and on a continuing basis.
The other point I raised which I think the Minister did not deal with was the role of the institutes, the location of the institutes, the size of that proposed new element of the bureaucratic structure of the CSIRO; and how much it is intended that that should develop at a sort of middle management level? Those queries regarding the size and location of the institutes specifically relate to problems which have been put to me by members of the CSIRO staff. It is for that purpose that I raise the questions.
- Senator Button’s first point obviously refers to proposed new section 9AA paragraph (b). Proposed new section 9AA states:
The Organization has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions and, in particular, may -
The functions of the Organisation are set out. It is not intended that it be a money-making body. But in the performance of its functions, the Organisation may under paragraph (b) of that proposed new section: join in the formation of a partnership or company for the purpose of the commercial development of a discovery, invention or improvement the property of the Organization;
I am sure that when we speak of property we speak of it in the legal sense, as the honourable senator did. The Organization will be permitted to join in the formation of a partnership or company for the purpose of taking advantage of a finding of the Organsation and attempting to get it to the public as quickly as possible. Obviously any profit would be a side effect of being involved in a partnership because a partner would require profit from his investment. As I see it, that is the general thrust of what occurs today. The CSIRO takes out a patent and advertises for applications from those who may be interested. As I see the proposals that are put to me, it evaluates the proposals from the various applicants and considers which organization is willing to invest the most, or dedicate the most staff, or work towards the development of a project. The CSIRO then obtains a benefit from holding the patent rights. The proposition is that the Organization can extend itself and go directly into a partnership or company situation. I do not think that that will be a matter for the Minister to direct in any way. The Executive, when it is performing that function, will have the right to decide the arrangements under which it will enter into a partnership. Indeed, one could well imagine that that particular provision could be said to be taking away the rights that the Minister has today. Under the terms of the Act, the Executive will be free to enter into arrangements as it thinks best. That appears to me to be appropriate. I do not know that I can expand upon the question of the sort of organization that the CSIRO might bring about at such a time. Guidelines will be laid down and it is necessary that that should be so. Undoubtedly, the Minister will still be responsible to the Parliament for the actions of the organizations concerned.
The other point brought forward by Senator Button related to the institutes. We are in the early stages of aggregating the various interests of divisions at the present time. The Executive, as I understand the situation, believes that there should be a logical aggregation of the various divisions as they exist today. I have seen some lists of what is proposed. Indeed, there has been discussion in the CSIRO over the past few months, by staff and others, as to what may be a logical aggregation of the existing divisions. As to whether or not they will be located in Canberra, it is my view that the institutes will be located throughout Australia. As the honourable senator knows, the heads of the institutes are to act on the Executive of the CSIRO, and I should think that the directors of the institutes will find themselves located in Canberra for a great deal of the time. I believe that the institutes will have a measure of autonomy, but the CSIRO is still to be a single entity. I would hate to think that any development would bring about six miniCSIRO’s. It follows then that whilst each director must have some dedicated institute staff to himself, there will be an attempt to ensure that the actual administration is kept to a minimum. The main organisation of the CSIRO, with its central office in Canberra, will exist as it does today. I do not know whether that is sufficient for the honourable senator in relation to the matters he raised.
– It is sufficient in view of the progress that has currently been made. I just record the fact that I am interested in the Minister’s statutory interpretation of the relationship between proposed new section 9AA and proposed new section 9, but that is not a matter which I wish to debate tonight.
– Is that argument on the word’ property’?
-No. As I understood what you said, you referred to proposed new section 9AA and the power of the CSIRO to do all things necessary in connection with the performance of its functions. You also referred to proposed new section 9 and said that it was not a function of the CSIRO to make a profit as a result of a partnership venture. With respect, I would doubt that interpretation, but it is not a matter that I wish to pursue.
– I think I made the point that that would not be its principal aim.
Clauses agreed to.
-The only matter I wish to raise with the Minister on this clause is the constitution of the Executive. As I understand it, this is a matter on which the legislation does depart from the recommendations of the Birch report in terms of the size of the Executive. I wondered whether the Government had any particular reason for adopting that approach as distinct from the approach in the Birch report, which is quite specific, as to who shall constitute the Executive. That is the first point. The second point I put to the Minister by way of a question: Is there currently, or has there been in the past, staff representation on the Executive and what has been the method in the past for appointment of the Chairman? Those may be questions which it is unfair to ask in the context of this debate, but I believe that the Minister probably will know the answers and it would be helpful to understand the situation in the light of the new proposals.
– One of the main thrusts of the Birch committee report was the description of the management of the Organisation. I think it is fair to say that Cabinets’ evaluation of the Birch recommendations was that the structure recommended was not appropriate in a number of ways. Indeed, it is my firm view that the Birch recommendations were not appropriate. If one reads the report and then studies my statement and that of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), I think it will be clear why a change was brought about. For instance, Birch recommended that one of the three full-time members of the Executive should be appointed deputy chairman. Again, that was an evaluation, and on reflection it was considered that in an Executive of three members it was not wise to appoint one as chairman, one as deputy chairman and the other to no special position. In fact, the result of our deliberations is that there will be a chairman and executive officer, and if there is a need for an acting chairman or a deputy chairman he can be appointed at any time.
Other recommendations were made by Birch in relation to one of the three permanent members having a commercial background. Looking at scientists, those who made up the Birch committee saw great wisdom in having as one of the three full-time members of the Executive a person with some commercial interests. Again, we had to assess what was meant by that, whether it meant a person having qualifications in the commerce area, such as accounting qualifications or a degree in commerce, or whether it meant a very good commerce man from industry. The Cabinet considered that it was best that there should be three full-time members of the Executive, supported by from three to five part-time members. We believed that in that way we would achieve a very competent Executive for the Organisation. I do not know whether there is any argument about the Birch recommendations not being adopted by the Cabinet. Cabinet decided that it was not appropriate to follow the recommendation in the Birch report. I am advised that there has never been a staff member on the Executive. The previous Labor Government contemplated electing a part time member from the staff. I think that that was the situation when I first came into office. We did not proceed with that proposal.
– Perhaps the Minister could make some comment at this stage on the two matters I raised originally. One relates to whether the relationship between the employment of staff by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation under proposed new section 32 (2) and the normal requirements of the Public Service Board is such as to preserve the degree of independence of scientific people working in the Organisation from the general constraints of the Commonwealth Public Service. This was indicated both in the Birch report and in the report of the task force of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration. It was also alluded to in the examiners report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Secondly, the Minister might comment on proposed new section 37 regarding the decision to give some legislative limitation to the attendance of observers from the Australian Science and Technology Council at meetings of the Advisory Council by specifying that its representation should be limited to one observer.
-My attention has been drawn to the fact that clause 7 of the Bill with which we are now dealing takes in the remaining proposed new sections. The Minister has been asked one or two questions about matters in which I am interested. I also want to raise a couple of matters relating to the Advisory Council. As I understand it, the Birch report recommended that the Chairman of the Advisory Council be elected. I am not sure by whom. It would be interesting to know what was the basis of the departure from that decision, if there was a departure. I raised a point in the second reading debate in regard to proposed new section 56, which deals with the establishment of the Consultative Council. I take it that the Government is putting a tenative toe in the water in an area in which it has shown singular inexpertise if I may say so without being less than charitable. Was the Association of Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation consulted about this mechanism prior to the drawing up of this legislation. What was the view of the Association regarding this mechanism? Secondly, it is far from clear on the basis of the rather tepid prose in this clause how the provision will work. For example, it provides that the Consultative Council may report to the Executive- that sounds extraordinarily military to me- and that the Executive may refer matters to the Council. I would be interested to hear any wisdom which might fall from the Minister’s lips on those two points in relation to the Consultative Council.
– I refer firstly to the points raised by Senator Puplick. I am advised that the drafting of proposed new section 32 is a modern impression by the officer who drafted the Bill. There is absolutely no change to the status of the Executive or to employees of the Organisation vis-a-vis the Public Service. I think that the honourable senator had that point in mind prior to asking the question but that is the answer. Senator Puplick also raised a point regarding the provision that one officer of the Australian Science and Technology Council may attend meetings of the Advisory Council. These matters have been given fairly lengthy consideration. I suppose that the honourable senator is suggesting that more than one officer from ASTEC should be permitted to attend. I investigated whether an officer from the CSIRO Executive itself should attend. That raised the question of whether a member of the Executive should attend Advisory Council meetings. We are setting up an Advisory Council which is much more powerful than it was previously. We are giving it an independent secretariat. We are keeping it at arm’s length from the Executive so that some strong advice can be given to the Executive. Should a member of the Executive be present to hear what is said at at an Advisory Council meeting? I am hoping that the Advisory Council will make it possible for one member of the Executive to be present at its meetings to understand the general thrust of its discussions.
With regard to the representation of ASTEC, I had to make a decision about the representation of various areas of interest. For instance, Senator Button raised the question of whether representatives from unions should attend meetings of the Advisory Council. It appeared to me that ASTEC should be notified on every occasion of an Advisory Council meeting. I took the decision that one representative should be present. I do not doubt that if ASTEC requires more than one representative to attend that could be brought about. I advise Senator Button that there have been discussions with the unions associated with the Organisation. As far as I know they have no basic query about the setting up of the Consultative Council. I believe that as Minister I have been associated a great deal with the representatives and the interests of employees of the Organisation. I am advised that all the associationsthis is basically an Executive matter- were consulted about the formation of the Consultative Council. The functions were agreed with the CSIRO Officers’ Association and others. The wording of proposed new section 56 was not discussed but the general way in which it is to be used was discussed with them. I met representatives of the association involved.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill- by leave- taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Webster) read a third time.
Immigration-Civil Rights in West Germany
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! It being 10.30 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish very briefly to make an appeal to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) to forge much closer links between the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs special reports section and State authorities in regard to the practice of some solicitors in Sydney who appear to be misleading people who are in Australia on tourist visas about their alleged rights to have the visas converted to permanent residency. It may be recalled that last year both in this chamber and in the other place reference was made to a Mr Khoury, a solicitor in Sydney. I know that the Minister was disturbed at the way in which Mr Khoury was misleading certain tourists on the assumption that he could get them permanent resident status. Yesterday I was approached by members of the Chilean community about a Chilean national named Mr Arroyo who has paid the sum of $500 to this particular legal gentleman and of course for all his efforts, financial and otherwise, he now finds himself an inmate of Villawood Detention Centre.
I make three proposals. First of all, I ask to have incorporated in Hansard a receipt for $500 plus a sequence of three letters from the firm of Benjamin and Khoury, solicitors, of Victoria Street, Potts Point containing advice on 4 May 1977, 6 June 1977 and 17 August 1977, respectively. I ask that they be incorporated in Hansard, as well as the receipt for $500.
The documents read as follows-
Received from Mr Arroyo. the sum of Five Hundred Dollars -of fees $500.00
Benjamin & Khoury Solicitors & Attorneys At Law
Our Ref: MT/PO’B: 2132 Phone 357 2866
Your Ref: 357 2909 1 84 Victoria Street, Potts Point, 20 1 1 P.O. Box 912, Potts Point. 201 1 C.D.E. 853 4th May, 1977
Mr R. E. R. Arroyo, 9/39to45 Kensington Road, Kensington 2033
Re: Your application for permanent residency.
We confirm your initial instructions to act on your behalf in relation to the above matter.
We refer to our initial request in conference for further particulars to be forwarded to our office as soon as possible. We note that to date you have failed to supply the information requested.
It is essential that you forward the sum of $500.00 by way of intial retainer to this office, to ensure the satisfactory progress of your matter.
We note that your failure to forward your retainer and information as previously requested may seriously prejudice the satisfactory progress of your matter and we may then not be able to properly carry same.
We anticipate your immediate response and remain,
Yours faithfully, Benjamin and Khoury Per:
Benjamin & Khoury Solicitors & Attorneys At Law
Our Ref: MT/PO’B:2132 Phone357 2866
Your Ref: 357 2909 1 84 Victoria Street, Potts Point 20 1 1 P.O. Box 9 1 2 , Potts Point 20 1 1 C.D.E. 853 6 June 1977
Mr R. Arroyo, 9/39 to 45 Kensington Road,
Re: your application for permanent residency.
We acknowledge receipt of your letter enclosing your personal history and answers to questions previously asked of you.
We enclose herewith a form which we ask you to complete in all details and return to our office as soon as possible.
Yours faith Tully . BENJAMIN & KHOURY
Benjamin & Khoury Solicitors & Attorneys At Law
Our Ref: MT/HS.2 132 Phone 357 2866
Your Ref: 357 2909 1 84 Victoria Street. Potts Point 2011 P.O. Box 9 12, Pott Point 2011 C.D.E. 853 17 August 1977
Mr R. E. R.Arroyo. 9/39to45 Kensington Road, Kensington 2033, NSW
Re: your application for permanent residency.
We refer to previous requests made of you in letters and in conferences with you and we would appreciate your immediate response or communication with this office, so that we may ensure the satisfactory progress of your matters.
BENJAMIN & KHOURY
– I do not want to labour the question but the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) in another place last year raised several case histories. The Minister gave a promise that the cases would be looked at by the special reports section and that details would also be handed to the Law Society of New South Wales. The fact that we have had a resurrection of this sort of case merits, to say the least, an immediate investigation even if it means the Commonwealth Police taking a statement from Mr Arroyo and dealing with appropriate State legal authorities. The individual concerned is an inmate of the detention centre at Villawood. I believe that if people are enticed into this situation clemency should be given. Even if the Minister feels that in the current situation he cannot extend clemency to the person concerned, I think that at least action should be taken to see that if not all of the $500, the larger proportion of it, should be returned to the individual concerned.
While every country has to have a fairly tight immigration system, we should not have these vultures who are living off some people’s misfortunes. I have deliberately not gone into a lot of detail about the financial position of the individual concerned. I have made other inquiries. I simply say to the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Chaney) who is at the table that, as a matter of urgency, he should find out what was the outcome of the case of which the honourable member for Banks has complained. Secondly, he should find out what follow-up has been taken by the Department’s special reports section in, as it were, culling out these sorts of people who definitely masquerade as immigration experts. While he is about it, he might interview this inmate of the Villawood hostel to find out if any travel agent was involved. 1 have suspicions but, being a very just man, I will not name the travel agency.
A discussion with the inmate might reveal that a sort of a ring involves a dubious travel agent and the legal firm to which I referred. I will leave the matter for the Minister for Administrative Services to transmit the information to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, but I indicate that I raised a matter concerning members of the Latin American community some months ago. That complaint concerned this sort of situation. Also another legal man named Kaiser William Simpson was involved. I think Senator Keeffe would understand another occasion when the Church of England Board of Missions at Tranby and Glebe had a number of Tongans who were in the toils of that person. I leave the matter on the basis that we will get some restitution for the man who has been done out of his $500.
-Without wishing to disturb unduly or dispel the atmosphere of mutual bonhomie, sweetness and light which prevailed at today’s official parliamentary luncheon for President Scheel, I do not think the day ought to be allowed to pass without someone putting on the record the proposition that not everything in the West German garden presently is lovely. I refer to the mounting concern which has come to be expressed by democrats around the world in recent years at the condition of civil liberty in West Germany. That the West German Government feels just a little bit sensitive on this subject was perhaps demonstrated by President Scheel’s explicit and unprovoked denial in the course of his luncheon address that West Germany is a police state. I certainly do not wish directly to contradict that denial.
I would certainly concede that the restrictions that have been imposed on liberty in West Germany and to which I propose to advert briefly bear no resemblance whatsoever to the curbs on liberty which exist in the German Democratic Republic, that is Eastern Germany, which are manifestly worse than anything that West Germany has been able to manage. I would also readily concede that the problems of urban terrorism from the Baader-Meinhof group and others with which West Germany and other countries have had to deal in recent years surpass anything in our experience and on any view would justify a significantly harsher regime than one might wish for in the best of all possible worlds. I nonetheless suggest that the kind of regime which has been implemented in West Germany in recent years goes significantly further than most people, including very many reputable West Germans, would readily concede was justified and is of a kind which should significantly qualify today’s apparently unqualified approval of all things that are West German.
There are a number of measures and programs to which I might advert in this context, including some recent and rather unhappy amendments to the West German criminal law which were the subject of adverse comment in the Amnesty International 1977 report. Perhaps the central unhappy feature of the regime to which I have referred is the anti-radical decree of 1972 which led to the establishment of the office for the protection of the Constitution, the development by that office of the concept of enemy of the Constitution and the associated development of the system of Berufsverbote which translates as professional disbarment or a ban on following one’s chosen profession. Although those developments did not originally have the force of law, the decree of 1972 to which I have referred was in fact adopted very briskly thereafter as guidelines by the respective State and Federal bureaucracies in West Germany and received the imprimatur of the West German Supreme Constitutional Court in 1975.
During this period it had become well and truly entrenched. The basic feature of the system is that anyone who is labelled by this apparatus as a political radical or as an associate of extremists is forbidden the right to work, either to join or to continue in employment in the West German Public Service. What needs to be appreciated is that while in Australian terminology one normally thinks of the Public Service in daytoday terms as being simply the persons employed directly by Commonwealth and State government departments, the German concept of that expression is to apply far more actively and widely the term so as to cover such disparate groups as policemen, soldiers, many employees of hospitals, the railroad system, the Post Office, public utilities, schools and universities, welfare agencies, public libraries and so on. Indeed, the expression as it is used in West Germany covers more than 20 per cent of the work force.
The principle behind the system to which I am adverting is the familiar McCarthyist one that if one is not committed to the Constitution, or works against it- as we will see, the way in which these assessments are arrived at leaves something to be desired- one has no right to work for any of the public services to which I have referred. That basic notion that if a person does not believe in and is not committed to the existence of the state it is not reasonable for him to be employed by it might command theoretical acceptance to some degree, I suppose, insofar as it applies to genuine revolutionaries, although I would not necessarily accede to any such principle, at least so long as one’s revolutionary commitment remained of a purely theoretical and inactive kind. But the basic difficulty with the system is that the principle has been applied in West Germany in such a way that many Germans have faced Berufsverbote or professional disbarment because of political activities which would pass virtually without comment in Australia and other familiar political democracies.
Although the developments to which I have referred have been the subject of comment for some time in the print media available in this country, the British and American weeklies in particular, I suppose that the first acquaintance that most Australians would have had with these developments would have been the Four Corners television program ‘Democracy at Risk’ which was shown by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the weekend of 7 and 8 October. I commend the producers of that program for what was, I suggest, a balanced and dispassionate treatment of what were, on any view, somewhat alarming developments.
The Four Corners program showed a number of specific cases of the operation of this system, all of them presently being fought out in the German courts. One example was that of a mature aged trainee teacher, not a member of the Communist Party or any of its multifarious offshoots, in West Germany whose offences apparently were twofold: First, to organise his fellow trainee teachers when they were threatened with a salary deduction, to threaten a strike- not actually to carry it out- against the authorities; and, secondly, to sign in company with a number of other people who were communists- I repeat that apparently he was not- an open letter protesting against the violation of the Constitution in Chile. As a result of that behaviour he has been subsequently unable to acquire any kind of teaching job in West Germany, notwithstanding some 60 applications and 40 interviews, and manifest approval of his formal qualifications.
The mass circulation German magazine Stern, in a series of special articles published earlier this year under the general title ‘ Freedom 1978’spelt out dozens of similar case histories. Other reports that I have seen in the Australian media feature many other examples of the system at work. For example, a West Berlin trainee teacher was barred from teaching because she belonged to an art society whose executive council included a gentleman, a lawyer who had once defended members of the Baader-Meinhof gang, and who was suspected of sympathising with his clients.
Another trainee teacher was refused a school appointment when it was discovered he had distributed pamphlets for the Communist Party. Others have failed to get government jobs or have been dismissed from government jobs because they were relatives of known terrorists or extremists. A whole series of examples of that kind have emerged from a steadily burgeoning literature on this subject.
The system, as it operates in West Germany, is apparently built around a highly elaborate surveillance and information network which extends right across the central and state governments and links police agencies at those respective levels of government with the Central Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The system was conveniently summarised in its relevant respects by Paul Lyneham in the Four Corners report to which I have referred in the following terms:
At the local police station intelligence reports-
Which, I interpolate, are primarily compiled from records of people attending demonstrations, distributing leaflets, signing petitions or attending controversial court hearings- are prepared and sent to the state offices of criminal investigation and to the State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution. If the state criminal police think the reports are interesting they will forward them to the federal office of criminal investigation. There they are fed into either the terror computer, called PEOS, or the search computer, IMPOL IMPOL is now linked with nearly 1,300 terminals in police stations, patrol cars and border crossings and airports. IMPOL also stores data on citizens who have come under suspicion on very vague information. In police jargon ‘observance search seven’.
Meanwhile the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution may also have forwarded the reports to its federal office in Colgne where details are fed into the computer known as NARDIS. It ‘s NARDIS that will sift your political background if you try to join the public service, to become a train driver, or a teacher.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution can also tap the computers of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Intelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service. There are plans to include in this link up the computers of the Central Registry of Foreigners and of the Federal Central Registry which keeps data on criminal offences.
Evidence is also accumulating of this surveillance system operating in a number of other spheres as well. I refer just in passing to an article which appeared in the Guardian Weekly of 16 July 1978, which refers to the emergence of information about the Office for the Protection of the Constitution seeking and obtaining from public libraries around Germany records of the borrowings of politically suspect persons to elicit what sort of literature they are in fact reading.
The scale of this whole operation is somewhat difficult to estimate, for fairly obvious reasons, but such information as is available from official sources does suggest that officially 450,000 applicants for public service posts were subjected to political investigations between January 1973 and October 1975. They included postmen, train drivers, nurses and teachers. Since then the total is thought to have risen to at least 800,000. lt is suggested by West German sources which have commented on this that, in a more indirect way, surveillance in fact has been extended to millions of German citizens, creating a real atmosphere of concern in many areas, conspicuously in schools and the teaching profession and universities, and creating something worse than that- something in the nature of alarm and fear among the young and especially politically active West Germans. The number who are actually subject to berufsverbot or professional disbarment is not a figure which is officially available, but it has been estimated by Stern magazine and a number of other informal sources as being of the order of 4,000. These are people who are actually subject to explicit disbarment orders such that they cannot gain public service employment. Of that 4,000 it is estimated that only about two-thirds have ever actually been members of the Communist Party or any of its various West German offshoots.
The criticism which has been directed to the operation of this system, not only from outside Germany but also certainly from many quarters from within it, has been widespread and substantial. Perhaps the most significant such criticism to emerge has been that delivered very vigorously and effectively by the former West German Chancellor, Willi Brandt, who was indeed Chancellor in 1 972 when the anti-radical decree was promulgated, and who bears very real responsibility for the introduction of the system. He has described it as having acquired a grotesque momentum of its own. Again, let me quote a couple of relevant passages from a speech which he delivered earlier this year to the West German Parliament, and which was reported on the Four Corners program. It was to the following effect:
The investigative procedures of numerous government agencies have developed a dynamic of their own, and unfortunately this has not been corrected by the judgment of the Supreme Court.
The dynamic has developed to such an extent that some investigations have quite grotesque features. This has become more and more of a scandal in the states of Germany.
Mr Brandt went on to say:
None of us would have predicted that this would lead to hundreds of thousands of cases of people being asked about what they had once written in a high school newspaper, or whether they had ever participated in a demonstration. But it is not only a matter of numbers, it is also a problem because of the stress on the intellectual climate in the Federal Republic. That is the point.
I hope that it will not be thought to be unduly churlish of me to raise these matters at a time when the hospitality of the Australian Government is being extended to the most senior West German governmental delegation ever to visit this country. I suggest that Australia gains no points anywhere in the world by turning a blind eye to the totalitarianism or to totalitarian developments in governments of any colour, whether they be routinely identified as governments of the right, of the left or of the centre. 1 hope that Australians will not turn a blind eye to what a great many people have thought in recent years to have constituted a most unhappy development in West Germany’s recent political history.
– I wish to respond very briefly to the matters raised by Senator Mulvihill in the adjournment debate. They are yet another example of Senator Mulvihill trying to provide assistance for people whom he sees as being in difficulties. In this case, as I understood what he was saying, he was not arguing that Mr Arroyo should not be deported. It does seem to be a case in relation to which the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) is acting quite properly. Mr Arroyo came to this country on a temporary visa as a visitor. When he entered the country he signed an undertaking that he would not seek to remain in Australia, that he would not engage in employment in Australia and that he would leave Australia on the expiration of his authorised stay. He has broken those undertakings, and the decision of the Minister certainly appears to be justified in this case.
Senator Mulvihill has really raised a principle of difficulty which is faced by Mr Arroyo and apparently by other people who it is alleged are being exploited by people who claim to be able to influence the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I will, of course, refer the comments of Senator Mulvihill to Mr MacKellar as well as the request that something be done to get back the $500 from the solicitors to whom it is alleged he paid that amount of money.
I seek also to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that this matter has been one of concern for some time. In fact as long ago as 16 May 1977 Mr MacKellar issued a statement in which he warned prohibited immigrants that they would be satisfactorily dealt with if they approached the Department directly as opposed to using intermediaries who claimed to be able to influence the Department. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard that statement of 16 May 1977. 1 have shown it to Senator Button, and he has no objection to its incorporation.
The statement read as follows- 16 May 1977
EXPLOITATION OF PROHIBITED IMMIGRANTS
Migrants and would-be migrants are amongst the most vulnerable elements in our community’, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Hon. M. J. R. MacKella said today.
They should be very wary of groups charging high membership fees or otherwise requesting ‘subscriptions’ who claim to have special influence with the Department, ‘
Mr MacKellar was commenting on press reports of the Sydney Central Methodist Mission Rally on Sunday, 15 May.
Mr MacKellar said that it is unfortunately true that there are people within the community who are prepared to exploit the vulnerability of migrants and their unfamiliarity with immigration laws and procedures.
At least one body which receives substantial contributions from its ‘clients’ continually makes representations on behalf of visitors, some of who have become prohibited immigrants by overstaying their authorised period of entry.
These cases receive exactly the same consideration in the Department as those in which the people concerned approach the Department directly. The body concerned has absolutely no influence and in some cases appears to have done nothing more for the fees it charges than raise false hopes amongst people who did not meet the criteria for migrant entry or change of status
Because there is a percentage of visitors who do meet family reunion or occupational criteria which make them eligible for migrant status- and would be eligible for it if they applied themselves- this body is able to imply that it has been successful in influencing the Department’s decision.’
Unfortunately, this kind of operation does not appear to be illegal, Mr MacKellar said, ‘and lean only counsel people with immigration problems to contact my Department rather than pay money to organisations that make spurious claims about their ability to influence departmental decisions. ‘
I note that it has been claimed that certain solicitors have charged large amounts for services related to immigration. People who believe this to be the case- should provide the facts to the Law Society in their State of residence. ‘
-The only other point I make is to draw the attention of the Senate to the concluding point made in Mr MacKellar’s Press release. In cases where there are allegations of solicitors charging for services of this sort and allegations of impropriety, Mr MacKellar urges that these facts be drawn to the attention of the Law Society in the particular State. I believe that is a course of action which ought to be encouraged so that any impropriety on the part of solicitors can be dealt with by that body.
– I respond very briefly to the comments made by Senator Evans. Senator Evans has chosen to make some comments- he has the right to do so- about aspects, as he sees them, of contemporary West Germany and about what he sees to be some delimitations on freedom in that community. As I say, it is entirely his right to make those comments, and it is for honourable senators to study the Hansard record and to deliberate on whether, at a time when we as a nation are for the first time host to the President of West Germany and, indeed, to a very fine and impressive group of visitors, such remarks might be considered to be suitable. That is a matter for Senator Evans to think about; I do not comment on it. I simply say that I hope that when honourable senators balance those remarks they look at the distance run by that country since the time when it was torn apart by war and divided; at the distance run from its being a totalitarian state to a state of great decentralisation and a state of great achievements- certainly not to total perfection. But who are we, in our imperfect state, to make comments on the mote in the eye of others. I hope also that in the course of considering these matters honourable senators understand that in a country in which terrorism has emerged in all its ugliness and in which threats to public figures have been enormous, sometimes there are necessary restraints. I hope that these comments will conclude the debate because I do not rise in any manner other than the normal one of responding to the debate. I simply say that if we look at one contribution we might look also at the other clear eye in which the achievements can be found. I hope that all Australians will commend the delegation which is in this country and will wish West Germany great development in the future into a great democracy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 24 May 1978:
Did some philatelic post offices have no copies, or have short supplies, of the imperforate minisheet of the Famous Australian Aviators stamps, on the first day of issue: if so, (a) why; and (b) which philatelic post offices were involved.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Because of production difficulties experienced by the printer, it was not possible to deliver stocks to all philatelic post offices by the first day of issue.
In New South Wales, all of the 155 philatelic post offices received some stamps but were under-supplied on the first day of issue.
In Victoria, only four philatelic post offices- Bright, St Arnaud, Stawell and Yarrawonga- did not have supplies for sale on the first day of issue.
In Queensland, only Yeppoon philatelic post office had not received supplies by the first day of issue.
All other philatelic post offices were supplied with their full stamp requirements by the first day of issue.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 June 1978:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
Will the Minister make available to the Parliament:
a) the information used by Australia Post in arriving at its decision to increase postal rates in Australia;
the estimates of Australia Post’s projected financial position for 1978-79 had the rates not been increased; and
the estimates of Australia Post’s projected financial position for 1978-79 now that the rate increases have been approved by the Commonwealth Government.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 16 August 1978:
Will the Minister make available to the Senate: (a) the national evaluation study which was recently completed on the Community Youth Support Scheme: and (b) the evaluation study which was recently completed on the Special Youth Employment Training Program; if not, why not.
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
An evaluation study report on the Community Youth Support Scheme is being prepared for publication. An evaluation study of the Special Youth Employment Training Program has not been completed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 22 August 1978:
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Bureau is currently compiling information relating to investigations for inclusion in its Annual Report.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 23 August 1 978:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer for the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 12 September, 1978:
What action has been taken, or is proposed, concerning the recommendations in the Second Report of the National Advisory Council for the Handicapped that:
‘the Handicapped Persons Assistance Act 1974 be amended to authorise the funding of suitable consultancy and advisory services to eligible organisations’; and
‘the Tertiary Education Commission be asked to allocate funds to Colleges of Advanced Education and Institutes of Technology to offer suitable courses of theoretical and practical education for managers, supervisors and residential staff of facilities of handicapped people’.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
A proposal for a new course in a college of advanced education is, in the first instance, the responsibility of the State co-ordinating authorities for tertiary education. The Commonwealth authority, the Tertiary Education Commission, gives consideration for funding only to those courses which are referred to it by the responsible State authority. There are currently courses which relate to the type of programs outlined in the Senator’s question. These include an Associate Diploma in Residential Care at the Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education in Brisbane; and courses in Rehabilitation Counselling at the Cumberland College of Health Sciences in Sydney and the Lincoln Institute in Melbourne.’
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 14 September 1978:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Victoria- 1975 (i) 4 Wright Street, Essendon; (ii) ‘Jungai’ Rubicon Road, Thornton; (iii) Staff House, Rubicon Road, Thornton; (iv) ‘Lionel Rose Centre’, Buckley Street, Morwell; (v) 160-162 Mary Street, Morwell; (vi) 31 Chestnut Avenue, Morwell; (vii) 104 Day Street, Bairnsdale; (viii) 12 King George Parade, Dandenong; 1976 Nil; 1977 Nil.
Queensland- 1975 Nil; 1976 (i) 13 Mclntyre Street, Mount Isa; (ii) 9 Walton Avenue, Mount Isa; 1977 (i) 16 Nancy Street, Yorkey’s Knob, Cairns; (ii) 8 Margo Street, Yorkey’s Knob, Cairns; (iii) 5 Walton Avenue, Mount Isa; (iv) Lots 1-7, RP27496, Chester Street, Thursday Island; (v) Part Transferred Property No. 188, Summers Street, Thursday Island.
South Australia- 1975 Nil; 1976 Nil; 1977 Nil.
Western Australia- 1 975 (i) Lot 954, Kabbarli Street, Wyndham; (ii) Lot 76, 35 Archer Street, Geraldton; (iii) Lot R1332, 141 Campbell Street, Kalgoorlie; (iv) Lot 53, 33 Hough Street, Narrogin; 1976 (i) Lot 2558, De March Road, South Hedland; (ii) Lot 2660, Limpet Crescent, South Hedland; 1977 Lot R1 168, 10 Edgar Street, Kalgoorlie.
Victoria- 1975 (i) to (viii) In each case the former owner was the Victorian State Minister Administering the Aboriginal Affairs Act 1967.
Queensland- 1975 Not applicable; 1976 (i) C. and N. Tubman; (ii) C. and N. Tubman; 1977 (i) Watkins Ltd; (ii) James Sheppard; (iii) C. and N. Tubman; (iv) Department of Defence (Army Office); (v) Department of Defence (Army Office).
South Australia- Not applicable.
Western Australia- 1 975 (i) Shell Company of Australia; (ii) J. L. and D. M. Sheldon; (iii) K. N. and J. M. Scott; (iv) G. Anza; 1976 (i) State Housing Commission; (ii) State Housing Commission; 1 977 M. D. and D. S. . Yujnovich
Victoria- 1975 (i) to (viii) In each case the properties were transferred at no cost to the Commonwealth.
Queensland- 1976 (i) $33,100; (ii) $32,800; 1977 (i) $24,665; (ii) $24,665; (iii) $27,005; (iv) $28,000; (v) $4,000.
South Australia- Not applicable.
Western Australia- 19 75 (i) $26,500; (u) $20,000; (iii) $23,000; (iv) $21,500. 1976 (i) $4,850; (ii) $4,850; 1977 $32,250.
New South Wales-Not applicable.
Victoria- 1975 (i) Family group home; (ii) Campsite complex; (iii) Staff quarters for ‘Camp Jungai’; (iv) Boys hostel together with office accommodation; (v) Girls hostel; (vi) Departmental residence; (viii) Hostel for Secondary School Students; (viii) Boarding House for Young Workmen.
Queensland-1975 Not applicable; 1976 (i) Staff residence; (ii) Staff residence; 1977 (i) Staff residence; (ii) Staff residence; (iii) Staff residence; (iv) Staff residence sites (seven); (v) Site for office accommodation.
South Australia- Not applicable.
Western Australia- 1975 (i) Residential accommodation; (ii) Residential accommodation; (iii) Residential accommodation; (iv) Residential accommodation; 1976 (i) Site for residence; (ii) Site for residence; 1977 Residential accommodation.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 20 September 1978:
Is any action being considered to relax section 78 ( 1 ) (a) (x) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 to induce financial support for the Australasian College of Dermatologists in their research studies, in view of the high incidence of skin cancer and dermatological complaints incurred by Australians.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No action is in course to amend section 78 ( 1 ) (a) (x) of the Income Tax Assessment Act to allow deductions for gifts to the Australasian College of Dermatologists. In 1972 the College was advised that the Commissioner of Taxation had decided that gifts to a proposed scientific committee of the College would be eligible for deduction under section 78 ( 1) (a) (x). I am informed, however, that the College did not proceed with the establishment of the committee. It is still the position that, if the College establishes a separate research fund exclusively to finance its research studies and which meets the other requirements of the Director-General of Health, income tax deductions would be allowable under section 78 ( 1 ) (a) (x) for gifts to the fund.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 2 1 September 1978:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senior’s question:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 27 September 1978:
What are the entitlements of all holders of parliamentary gold passes, in view of the Prime Minister’s statement that he intended to use his gold pass to gain entry to a rugby league final in Sydney.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The entitlements of holders of a Commonwealth life gold pass are as determined from time to time by the Remuneration Tribunal.
The current entitlements are set out in clause 6 of Remuneration Tribunal Determination No. 1978-9.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 27 September 1978:
What are the latest available figures relating to funds invested by the superannuation funds of Commonwealth government employees and employees of Commonwealth instrumentalities in:
b) shares in public companies;
joint venture investments; and
– The Minister for Finance has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have been advised by the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust that the Superannuation Fund, established by Act No. 3 1 of 1 976, was invested in the following manner at 30 September 1978, investments being shown at cost:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 1 1 October 1978.
Is a person receiving unemployment benefit required to notify the Depanment of his intention to leave his place of address for a short period; if so, what are the relevant instructions or sections of the Social Services Act 1947 which make this necessary.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
There is no specific provision in the Social Services Act requiring an unemployment beneficiary to notify the Department of Social Security of a change of address. However, Section 129 places an obligation on a beneficiary to furnish, whenever so required and within a specified time, a statement relating to any matter which might affect the payment to him of his benefit.
Unemployment beneficiaries are generally required to complete and lodge an application for continuation of benefit each fortnight. On this form a beneficiary is required to state his current address.
The address is necessary not only for the posting of payments but for entitlement review purposes.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Has the Minister investigated the case of Mr Derek Martin, who was mentioned on page 1 of the Sunday Sun, 8 October 1978; if so. what are the results of the investigation.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes the case of Mr Derek Martin has been investigated but, to preserve confidentiality of Mr Martin’s affairs, I am writing to Senator Colston to advise him of the outcome of the investigations.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 18 October 1978:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has forwarded me the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1978/19781024_senate_31_s79/>.