31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2. 15 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) commenced a period of ministerial leave on 27 August 1979. The Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) is Acting Minister for Industry and Commerce until Mr Lynch returns on 7 September.
-On behalf of Senator
Lewis, I present the following petition from 23 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia, respectfully showeth objection to the metric system and request the Government to restore the imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– On behalf of Senator Keeffe, I present the following petition from 48 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that the construction of a uranium enrichment plant in North Queensland and the mining of uranium on the Herveys Range area should not be proceeded with on the following grounds:
1 ) No safe method has yet been devised for the disposal of nuclear waste.
) The mining of uranium ore exposes workers to considerable danger from radon gases.
) The danger of poisoning chemicals seeping into surface and underground water supplies as a result of uranium ore mining and refining of uranium ore could pose serious health hazards for persons living in the Townsville region.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should take all possible steps to abandon or postpone indefinitely the mining of uranium in the Herveys Range area, and the construction of an enrichment plant in the Townsville region.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 320 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That further cutbacks in Commonwealth funding to State Schools and transferral of funds to wealthy independent schools as required under the guidelines to the Schools Commission announced by the Minister for Education in early June are of vital concern in that they mitigate against the interests of the great majority of Australian Children in State Schools.
That Queensland State Schools have not reached the Resource Usage Targets set by the Schools Commission, and even at those financial levels will fall well short of actual provision standards envisaged by the Commission.
That Queensland’s effort in respect of Capital works is particularly of concern being less than half the per capita effort of other States.
Your petitioners therefore call on their legislators to ensure-
That Federal funding to State Schools is restored to at least 1974-75 levels;
the independence of the Schools Commission to recommend the allocation of funds to schools on the basis of need, unhindered by Government directives; and
that sufficient funds are provided to Queensland, appropriately tied, to ensure achievement of National standards in this State.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 8 citizens of Australia.
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on the 10th December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares that, Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration. . . . ‘ (Article 2) that ‘Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives . . . The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or equivalent free voting procedures. ‘(Article 21 (1) and (3).)
Elections for Senators meet all requirements except one. Senators are elected periodically, by secret ballot, with universal franchises, and the quota-preferential method of proportional representation ensures that the vote values within states are equal as nearly as can be.
However the provision of the Electoral Act that compels voters to show preferences for all candidates on the ballot paper interferes with the free expression of the will of the voters, and is unjust.
Australia, as a Member State of the United Nations, is pledged to achieve observance of Human Rights and Freedoms.
We, the undersigned citizens of Australia, therefore humbly pray that the Senate will fulfil the pledge of a
Member State of the United Nations and take steps to remove the compulsion from the Electoral Act in order to allow freedom of expression for everyone who has the right to vote for Senators.
And your petitioners as 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia residing in the Electorate of Wannon respectfully showeth.
Your petitioners pray:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Ryan.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That restoration of provisions of the Social Security Act that applied prior to the 1 978-79 Budget is of vital concern to offset the rising cost of goods and services.
The reason advanced by the Government for yearly payments ‘that the lower level of inflation made twice-yearly payments inappropriate’ is not valid.
Great injury will be caused to 920,000 aged, invalid, widows and supporting parents, who rely solely on the pension or whose income, other than the pension, is $6 or less per week. Once-a-year payments strike a cruel blow to their expectation and make a mockery of a solemn election pledge.
Accordingly, your petitioners call upon their legislators to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Ryan.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
1 ) That the following matters be referred to the Committee of Privileges-
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the Privileges Committee for the purposes of its inquiry and report shall have power to send for persons, papers and records.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources: Is it correct that the Government has approached Australian and overseas corporations seeking an expression of interest in the purchase of the Government’s share in the Ranger uranium mine? Is it correct that the Government has mentioned a figure of $240m as being the value of its interest? Will the Minister provide the Senate with an explanation as to how that figure has been reached?
– I quoted last week in the Senate some remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Resources in regard to the Government’s decision to call for interested parties to indicate whether they would be prepared to purchase the Government’s interest in the Ranger project. At the same time, the Minister made it clear that the Government had not made any firm decision whether to sell its interest, and certainly not in regard to any particular person. Senator Wriedt now asks whether approaches have been made to overseas corporations, whether a value has been attached to the interest, how it has been arrived at and so on. I will refer those specific questions to the Minister for Trade and Resources and seek an early answer from him.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, concerns the references made in the Senate during Question Time yesterday to the present Government’s achievements in the areas of keeping down inflation, keeping down interest rates and, despite world oil costs, keeping down fuel prices in Australia. How does Australia’s inflation rate compare with the inflation rates in other countries? How do Australia’s interest rates compare with interest rates overseas? How do Australia’s petrol prices compare with petrol prices overseas?
– Yesterday I was able to indicate to the Senate the extraordinarily good record of the Fraser Government in terms of inflation rates.
– You are the only one who believes that.
– The fact is that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development believes it even if Senator Gietzelt does not want to believe the OECD. The OECD figures for the six months to June 1979 give an average inflation rate for all the member countries of 11.8 per cent. In the United States of America, the inflation rate was 14 per cent, for France it was 1 1.3 per cent, for the United Kingdom it was 15.7 per cent, for Canada it was 10.5 per cent, for Italy it was 1 5.8 per cent, for New Zealand it was 14.3 per cent and for Australia it was 9 per cent. Australia’s efforts were exceeded only by two countries, namely, Germany and Japan.
Internationally, at the end of July interest rates in various countries were as follows: The United States 10 per cent, Japan 5.25 per cent, Germany 5 per cent, the United Kingdom 14 per cent, Canada 1 1.75 per cent and Australia 9 per cent. Again, with the exceptions of Japan and Germany, Australia has the best performance of the Western countries. The third part of Senator Teague ‘s question dealt with fuel rates. It would be fair to say that most Australians pay for motor spirit about half the price which prevails in European countries and Japan. For example, in Australian cents per litre, the price in Japan is 48.9, in the United Kingdom it is 46.9, in West Germany it is 41.7, in France it is 49.8 and in Italy it is 5 1.6. It can be seen that we pay about half that. The price would be very much lower still if the Whitlam-Hayden government had done its job in the past.
-I refer the Minister for Education to the Budget Speech and the implementation by the Budget of what is called an overseas student charge’. Can the Minister give us some information on this matter? If not, will he bring down a statement at some stage in relation to it, particularly indicating how many students are likely to be affected by this charge, when it will come into operation and how private students, as referred to in the Budget Speech, will be defined for the purpose of implementing this charge?
– Honourable senators will know that Australia alone, I think, of all countries has not been charging fees to overseas students. Of course, there was a flow of students to Australia attracted by that fact. It is natural, therefore, that there should be some kind of charge. The details have not been fully or precisely defined. I will respond happily to Senator Button in terms of the three parts of the question to which he has sought an answer. I will try to do so as soon as possible.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister whether that statement can be brought down soon because of the allegations of hardship occurring already.
- Senator Button may not have heard correctly. My final remarks were that I would do so as soon as possible.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction. With all restrictions now removed from the sale of houses financed under the States Grants (Housing) Act, can the Minister advise which States have made efforts to sell these houses to the current tenants and whether there has been any marked trend by any State authority to get improved use of these funds?
-My understanding is that the 1978-79 Housing Agreement removes the restrictions of the earlier agreements that only 30 per cent of the dwellings built as a result of Commonwealth finances may be sold. A State, therefore, may sell as many dwellings as it wishes to its tenants provided that such sales are at market price and that the cash proceeds of the sale are reinvested in housing. That is something with which this side of politics agrees. At present we need to bear in mind that 1978-79 was the first financial year of a new housing agreement. Some States have been slower to give effect to the new arrangements and, as well, are adopting different policies. Statistics are received by the Department of Housing and Construction on a sixmonthly interval basis, as I understand it, and at present are available only for the first six months to 31 December 1978. Sales of dwellings financed under Commonwealth-State arrangements during that period totalled 1,138. 1 take it this is the information that the honourable senator seeks. Let me give the performances of the various States. New South Wales sold 160 houses, my State of Victoria 695 houses, Queensland 173 houses, South Australia 68 houses and Western Australia 32 houses. The honourable senator who asked the question, who comes from Tasmania may be unhappy to learn that only 10 houses have been sold in Tasmania.
In 1978-79 it is estimated that as a result of sales and rental policies under the Agreement $97m is available for further housing assistance. As well, revolving funds from the operations of the house purchase scheme add about $64m to that figure. These funds, together with the wide ranging provisions of the 1978-79 Agreement, make it possible for States to undertake innovative steps to make the available funds go further by tapping the private finance market and by providing forms of assistance different from those of the past. For instance, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia have been very successful in introducing interest subsidy schemes to assist young people seeking housing finance.
-Is the Minister for Science and the Environment aware of a report carried by the Australian Press earlier this month that an accident at the French Muroroa Atoll atomic testing range may have been responsible for several deaths, a number of other casualties and a minor tidal wave? Has the incident been monitored or otherwise investigated by his Department? If so, will he inform the Senate of the result of the investigation? If there has been no investigation will he inform the Senate why?
-My attention was drawn to an article that appeared in one of the media about a month or six weeks ago which purported to give the views of a group, as I understood it, as to what may have been the effects of the atomic blasts at Muroroa Atoll. To the best of my knowledge my Department has not been involved in any investigation of these matters. I will seek comment from the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council which reports to me on such matters. If I can bring any answer to the honourable senator I will do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science and the Environment. In view of the Federal Government’s announcement that it may dispose of its shares in the
Ranger uranium project in the Northern Territory, will any environmental aspects of the project have to be reviewed? Will the Government continue to control those environmental aspects?
– The honourable senator from the Northern Territory raises a particularly important question which undoubtedly has some reference to earlier questions asked on this matter. In the arrangements establishing the Ranger Joint Venturers and in the associated agreement with the Northern Land Council, there are cast iron guarantees that the elaborate arrangements for the protection of the environment will remain in force in the event of any partner disposing of its interest in the venture. Any new partner must agree with the existing partners to assume, to perform and to observe all the terms, conditions, liabilities and obligations binding upon the original partners. In addition, the Minister for Trade and Resources must consent to the transfer of any interest. It should be noted also that any such sale would have no effect whatever on the obligations the Commonwealth has entered into in its agreement with the Northern Land Council under section 44 of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act. Under this agreement the Commonwealth has undertaken to make provision that the Joint Venturers shall observe all environmental requirements specified in the conditions of the authority to mine or otherwise imposed by the law. The Commonwealth has also undertaken to ensure that all rehabilitation work in the Ranger Project area is undertaken by the Joint Venturers in accordance with the conditions of the authority to mine. If for any reason the Joint Venturers fail to carry out the whole or part of the rehabilitation work, the Commonwealth will carry out any part of the work not carried out by the Joint Venturers.
-Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate give the Senate the reasons for the great anomalies in the Government’s new taxation schemes? I give as examples the differences in effective tax increases between a taxpayer with dependants and a single taxpayer. The wage earner with dependants and earning $6,000 a year will pay an increase of 134.63 per cent in taxation, while a single taxpayer earning the same amount will pay 13.8 per cent more. A taxpayer with dependants and earning $8,000 a year will pay an increase of 17.71 per cent, compared with a single taxpayer’s increase of 6.4 per cent. A taxpayer with dependants and earning $12,000 a year will pay 5.7 per cent more, while his single counterpart will pay 2.6 per cent more. I ask the Minister: Are these great differences a mistake on the part of the Government, or are they a deliberate attempt to destroy the family structure in our society?
-I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to a call from the Victorian Employers Federation for a budget every three years instead of annually. Has the Government ever considered this matter, which would avoid the great August uncertainty and the subjection of the Australian people to speculation by the Press? If the Government has considered the matter, what have been its findings? If the Government has not considered the matter, will it look at it?
– The system of annual Budgets is historically based on the idea that at one point in time the Government’s outlays or expenditure for a particular year should be made public. However, adhering to a Budget effective for either one or three years may not be the most suitable means of conducting economic policy. To the extent that the Budget is also an economic policy tool, there may be merit from time to time in bringing forward particular measures which have normally been announced in a budgetary context. For example, on 24 May the Government announced a series of fiscal policy decisions which were important for the conduct of economic policy during the course of 1979-80 and had to be announced before August. This means that Budget-type announcements may be made more frequently than annually, rather than less frequently, to ensure the effectiveness of economic policy. At the same time, there is an ongoing process of monitoring forward expenditure proposals and, to the extent that it is possible, the Department of Finance maintains details of forward estimates on a rolling three year basis.
– My question is addressed to Senator Guilfoyle as Minister for Social Security and Minister representing the Minister for Finance. If refers to a claim that was made in another place yesterday by the honourable member for Murray, Mr Lloyd, that 30 per cent of the public servants who retired last year on medical grounds did so on spurious grounds and with fake medical certificates. The honourable member also called on the Government to take action on what he described as a racket. I ask: Will the Minister assure the House that, if the Government unwisely decides to take the action recommended by Mr Lloyd, it will not use the methods that it used last year in another case in New South Wales, that is, call in the Commonwealth Police, arrest people, stop payments and ask questions afterwards?
– I have not seen the remarks made yesterday by the honourable member for Murray and referred to by Senator Grimes. I recall seeing recently a Press statement about the number of public servants who had been retired on grounds of invalidity. I think it showed that recently more had been retired on grounds of invalidity than on grounds of age. As far as the remainder of the question is concerned, I will discuss the matter with the Minister for Health and the Minister for Finance. Some of the remarks that the honourable senator made were gratuitous because what was said did not occur.
– They were not gratuitous. That is exactly what happened, and you know it. You know exactly what happened.
– The statements that were made with regard to other matters bore, I think, no relevance to the question that was asked today.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen the report concerning a medical practitioner who falsely bulk-billed Medibank for more than $ 1 7,500? Is it not a fact that he did not go to gaol for this offence but was instead fined a mere $5,200? Does the Minister regard this fine as equitable when one considers the large incomes that are earned by medical practitioners and also the fact that another medical practitioner who defrauded Medibank of only $236 was gaoled for three years? Will the Minister consider a tightening of the laws concerning the defrauding of Medibank by medical practitioners, including the bringing of fines into a realistic relationship with their incomes? Finally, is there any professional disciplinary body which can take further action in such cases?
– I have received some information from the Minister for Health on this matter. Senator Hamer has asked a fairly complex question and I suggest that he place it on notice. I will see that the information which I have is provided to him. In addition, any other information that has been requested by him could also be supplied.
-Has the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs seen a report that the Australian subsidiary of the international tyre company, Firestone, is closing down its operations in Sydney and that, as a result, 400 Australian workers who have been employed by the company will lose their jobs? Is it also a fact that many other businesses in Australia related to the tyre industry will be seriously affected by the closure, with a resultant further loss of jobs? As this company is a foreign-owned and controlled company operating in Australia, will the Government investigate as a matter of principle, or consider referring to the Industries Assistance Commission for investigation and report, the general question of foreign-owned enterprises closing down their operations in Australia and then using their off-shore operations to export their products to this country, thus further affecting job opportunities for Australian workers? Is it not time that the Government had a serious look at this general question?
-Senator McClelland has asked a number of questions, particularly relating to the closure of one specific company. I have read something to that effect, although I am not really familiar with the details of the matter. I will refer all the questions that the honourable senator has asked in relation to this matter to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs.
– I address my question to the Minister for Science and the Environment. I do so being aware of the concern expressed by some people and accepting that lead additives to petrol greatly increase efficiency and fuel usage. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the research that has been done on the effects of lead in exhaust emissions and the current thinking on lead additives?
-The matter of whether research is being carried out in relation to lead emissions from motor vehicles does not come directly within my portfolio. I have been informed by my colleague, the Minister for Health, that the relationship between levels of lead additives in petrol, and lead in the atmosphere and in human tissues is continuing to receive the active consideration of the National Health and Medical Research Council. It is a matter of very great complexity. My understanding is that the NH and MRC review of the most recent research findings is not expected to be available until late in this calendar year. At that time, I anticipate that the Minister for Health will be in a position to indicate desirable goals and appropriate guidelines designed to ensure the maintenance of health standards. The Government currently has under consideration the value of lead catchment devices fitted to the exhaust systems of motor vehicles as a means of trapping lead so inhibiting its emission into the air. It is not possible to comment at this stage on the economic viability of this approach to preserving the value of lead additives as a means of assisting the most efficient use of liquid fuels. If there is information that I can bring to the honourable senator’s attention, I will do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources. I refer to the Australian Government’s decision to sell its share of the Ranger uranium project and the discussions which the Government has had with a number of companies concerning the sale. Without wishing to ask him to reveal any confidential information as to the price, et cetera, I ask: Under what terms and conditions is the Government offering its share of the uranium project to these companies? Specifically, is it proposed that the Government will receive a lump sum in full payment for its share of the project?
– Let me preface my answer by repeating what I said in answer to an earlier question today. The Government has not yet made a final decision on whether it is going to sell its share of uranium. It has invited tenders, so to speak, from people interested in the project to indicate on what terms and conditions and at what price and so on they would be prepared to buy. Let me make it quite clear that the Government has not made a final decision one way or another. In the light of those circumstances, I believe that the rest of the question is premature. As I have said, offers of terms and conditions are being made to the Government by various bodies. Those offers are both serious and, if I am to believe what I heard on a radio program the other night, frivolous in some quarters. I feel that it is not possible for the Government to answer the question that Senator Coleman has asked in the detail in which she has sought at this point of time.
– I ask a supplementary question of Senator Durack. I am quite sure that if the Government has had any discussions at all, it must have determined whether in actual fact it intends to ask for a cash lump sum or whether it intends to permit the sale of its share of the Ranger uranium project to be done over a period of years. That is the question that I asked the Minister. I am sure that he should be able to answer it.
– I really have nothing more to add. I will draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Resources to the question and maybe he will be able to provide a little more information. I doubt it very much.
– I refer the Minister for Science and the Environment to my question to him on Tuesday, 2 1 August 1979, relating to the position of Lord Howe Island, and to his reply the following day which merely repeated known facts as to the administration of the island, which was the reason for the complaint. I was denied the opportunity to ask a supplementary question in regard to the reply. I now repeat my question and request a positive response. I draw the Minister’s attention to claims by the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales that one of the world’s unique beauty spots, Lord Howe Island, is in danger of ruination by wellintentioned incompetents. Is the Minister aware of the claims reported in the Australian of 3 August 1 979 that, unless the Island is proclaimed a national park, several species of birds on the island may become extinct? Is he also aware of the possibility that one day the island will feature on the World Heritage list, earmarked for preservation at all costs? To what extent does the Commonwealth Government regard this matter as part of its responsibility or the responsibility of its instrumentalities? Does the Minister agree that immediate action must be taken to prevent any further destruction of the island’s habitat? If so, will he assure the Senate that strong pressure will be brought upon the New South Wales Government to have the island declared a national park, managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service?
– I wonder whether it would be acceptable to the honourable senator if I were to give him a reply about Norfolk Island. The honourable senator has again raised a very appropriate question about Lord Howe Island, and has made a number of requests that I will study when I see the Hansard report. I am aware of claims that unless Lord Howe Island is proclaimed a national park, several species of birds on the island may become extinct. Lord
Howe Island has been suggested for possible inclusion on the World Heritage list. As the honourable senator would know, nomination of the island requires consideration by the Heritage Commission. Lord Howe Island is the responsibility of the New South Wales Government that would need to be consulted. The Commonwealth shares the concern of the New South Wales Government to protect endangered species and the island ‘s habitats.
The Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service has provided financial assistance for studies of the Lord Howe Island woodhen, one of the endangered species about which concern has been expressed. I understand that the New South Wales Government is fully aware of the nature conservation problems and is implementing measures on the island to overcome them. The international significance of the endemic species on the island is widely recognised and the New South Wales Government is continuing to pursue the implementation of appropriate nature conservation activities.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, concerns the standards required by the Australian Government before citizenship is granted. This week my office has received six complaints from people, some of whom received letters advising that they did not have an adequate knowledge of the responsibility and privileges of Australian citizenship and some of whom were told at the first interview that they were refused because their English was not fluent enough. Will the Minister advise the Senate of the guidelines and standards required before Australian citizenship is granted?
– As the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, I am unable to do that now. If that question were placed on the Notice Paper, I would see that that was the basis of an answer which could be supplied by the Minister concerned.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the recent horrendous bombings by an extreme fanatical and lunatic terrorist group which cost the lives of Earl Mountbatten of Burma and immediate members of his family, as well as the lives of 19 British soldiers, and also in view of a general upsurge in similar violent actions by this and other similar terrorist elements throughout the world, will the Minister inform this chamber as to the present position with regard to the training of the Australian antiterrorist squad? Could he also provide information on other action which is being taken or contemplated by the Government to protect the lives of important public figures, and the lives of all Australians from similar outrages?
-Senator Bonner rightly draws attention to the anguish of all decentthinking people in the world as a result of acts of terrorism against not only the Mountbatten family but also soldiers and others, and to the growth of terrorism around the world. Equally rightly, he draws attention to the need for upgraded protection. Incidentally, although one should not raise the question of VIP aircraft, one of the main recommendations of security authorities throughout the world is that national leaders should not endanger the lives of other people by travelling in domestic aircraft. That is one of the main security recommendations which some in this chamber have rejected.
asked further about the present position regarding the anti-terrorist squad and what action should be taken. I imagine that the honourable senator will understand that quite a bit of this information would not be for public discussion or comment. But I will invite my colleague in another place to give consideration to the information which could be made available for public discussion and see what he can let Senator Bonner have.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I refer to the social security frauds case which is now proceeding in Sydney against 2 1 defendants and which is expected to continue well into next year, and in particular to the prosecution of that case by the Government counsel, Mr David Rofe, Q.C., and his litter of some seven juniors. Is it true that because of the enormous length and complexity of this case the Commonwealth has arranged for the transcript to be computer-processed and indexed, an exercise requiring the full-time services of one Commonwealth solicitor and terminals being installed in the private chambers of at least some of the prosecution team? Is it the Government’s intention to deny to the defence counsel in this case access to this computerised transcript? Will the Attorney-General agree that denial to the defence of access to this crucial aid to the conduct of this case would be contrary to accepted principles of criminal law which require that so far as possible the Crown not enjoy any unfair or unequal advantage over the defence?
– It is a fact that an arrangement involving computer processing of the transcript, counsel ‘s indexing of it, notes and so on has been set up. It was set up as a result of a cost benefit analysis that was undertaken in my Department in regard to the cost of the prosecution. Senator Evans has referred to the number of counsel engaged in it. Of course, they require the assistance also of solicitors. Because of the size of the transcript it was determined that we would save the cost of employing further assistants in the prosecution by having this facility. That was the reason for it.
I am aware that a question has arisen in relation to the provision of the same facility to the defence, as Senator Evans has said. However, I must say that neither the Crown Solicitor nor the Deputy Crown Solicitor in Sydney, the latter having the specific conduct of the prosecution on behalf of the police, has received from the defence any formal request for that facility. I understand that one junior counsel raised the subject with the magistrate who, of course, had no power to make an order one way or the other.
The matter has been brought to my attention and is being given consideration. However, I think it is fair to say that there are real difficulties in making the specific facility available to the defence because of the way in which the prosecution is using it and the way in which the defence may wish to use it. In other words, there may be some difficulty in maintaining confidentiality in both the prosecution and the defence. It may not be in the interests of either party for them to be able to use the same facility. The matter is being looked at, but I think that I would need to know more about the attitude of the defence before I go into the matter any further. I propose to give the matter further investigation. I hope that I will be able to give further information to the Senate at a later date.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Is the AttorneyGeneral saying that if a formal request is made and if the problems of confidentiality to which he has referred can be solved he sees no objection, in principle, to the defence getting access to this important aid?
– I think that it may be a little premature for me to give as specific an answer as the one which Senator Evans is seeking to obtain from me. Further information and discussion are needed. The cost involved also must be considered. Again, I am prepared to look at the cost-benefit analysis of such use from the point of view of the defence, as I have looked at it in relation to the prosecution.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the announcement last week by the Government that it is making $400,000 available this year and for the next two years, a total of $1.2m, for marine science research. Will these funds be taken from existing Australian Research Grants Committee grants to the detriment of other research projects, as stated by Senator Button in his speech to the Senate on 22 August 1979?
– I did not say anything of the sort. You had better read my speech before you ask a question.
– The honourable senator should read the Hansard record. Is it a fact that the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which is expected to be one of the beneficiaries of this increased funding, was an initiative of the Gorton Liberal-National Country Party Government; that the necessary legislation was introduced in 1972 by the present Prime Minister when he was Minister for Education and Science; and that the AIMS is not, to quote from the honourable senator’s speech, ‘a most important institution established by the Whitlam Government’? If the answer to any or all of those questions is yes, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate make time available at the end of Question time for Senator Button to apologise to the chamber for misleading the Senate and allow the honourable senator the opportunity to explain whether it was ignorance, malice or sophistry which motivated him to make his speech?
-During Senator Button’s comments some days ago upon, I think, the tabling of a document, a number of honourable senators questioned me as to whether certain statements which Senator Button made were accurate. As a result, I have obtained information on this matter. My advice is that a number of the statements which Senator Button made are inaccurate. My answer, on advice, to the honourable senator’s question regarding the Australian Research Grants Committee funds is that the funds referred to have no relationship whatsoever to the funds provided for the Australian research grants scheme. The funds for the ARGS are set out in Appropriation Bill (No. 1), totalling $430,000, and Appropriation Bill (No. 2), totalling $12,370,000. The new allocation for the marine sciences and technologies research program is set out in division 929.01 of Appropriation Bill (No. 2) as $400,000.
The claim by Senator Button that the Australian Institute of Marine Science was, as I understand it was claimed, an initiative of the Whitlam Government is not true at all. The Australian Institute of Marine Science Act 1970 created the Institute and provided for the appointment of an interim council to recommend to the Minister the functions and powers of the Institute in relation to marine science. The interim council presented its report in July 1971. Legislative action followed in the form of the Australian Institute of Marine Science Act 1972, which repealed the Act of 1970 and established the Institute with its present functions. It is true that Mr Malcolm Fraser, the then Minister for Education and Science, presented the Bill to the House on 23 March 1972. As to the final part of the question, that is a matter for Senator Button ‘s own conscience and judgment.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and I ask: Is it a fact that, due to a shortage of Avgas at some airports in Victoria and Tasmania, commuter airlines are being forced to travel miles from their normal routes in order to obtain supplies of this fuel?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for National Development.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. How many Australian citizens are affected by a law of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which became effective on 1 July and which stipulates that anyone with two parents born in countries that now comprise the USSR will be deemed to be Soviet citizens? Has the Minister any information on how many Australian children become Soviet citizens under a provision of the new law? Does the Soviet law have special implications for Australian citizens who come under its provisions and who may wish to visit the Soviet Union? If so, what advice is being given by Australian authorities to those who could be affected?
– I have amongst my briefs some information on this matter which would direct itself to Senator Rocher’s question, which is an important one. I am advised that while the new law is clear in some respects it is obscure in others, and clear-cut answers to some of the questions which are uppermost in the minds of Australian residents who have close connections with the Soviet Union are not yet available. The law is at present under study in the departments concerned. Advice received so far suggests that the new law may represent a consolidation but not an extension of existing Soviet law. Australian citizens do not lose their citizenship should they automatically acquire the citizenship of another country under the laws of that country, whether they are residing in Australia or elsewhere. Consequently, no Australian citizen will lose Australian citizenship because of the automatic acquisition of citizenship of the USSR as a result of the laws of that country. Further inquiries are being pursued strongly in order that guidance may be given to those persons who are concerned about the implications of the new law.
In the meantime, I repeat the advice given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his statement to the Parliament in May last year that the problems of dual nationality cannot be overcome by citizens simply asserting that they do not accept their other citizenship and that it is for the individual to ascertain in advance the consequences of coming within the jurisdiction of another country which claims his or her citizenship. As the Minister has stated, and as all Australians are advised when receiving a passport, in these circumstances Australian consular officers can advise but they may not be able to assist. When the jurisdiction of another country is being asserted they will take all the steps open to them. A study of any possible new problems created by the Soviet legislation is being pursued urgently. Lest there are aspects of Senator Rocher’s question that are not covered by my answer, I will refer his question to the Minister concerned.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Treasurer. I ask whether it is a fact that the Lusaka declaration on racism and racial prejudice, which the Australian delegation helped to draft, contained these words:
Wc rc-affirm that it is the duty of all the peoples of the Commonwealth to work together for the total eradication of the infamous policy of apartheid which is internationally recognised as a crime against the conscience and dignity of mankind and the very existence of which is an affront to humanity.
Consistent with this statement, will the Federal Government therefore decline to pay export market development grants to those Australian manufacturers whom it is suggested will participate in the trade fair to be held in Johannesburg next October?
– I do not have before me the precise wording of the Lusaka declaration. I think it is interesting that the Australian Labor Party seeks to find, in a selective fashion, some major points of virtue but tries to condemn, with utter failure, the great achievements of our Prime Minister in Lusaka in the overall attempts to solve this problem. Let me simply say that one cannot pick and choose in this matter. Senator Gietzelt is greatly embarrassed by the fact that he has to seek to identify virtue in the Prime Minister in the hope of making some point in the second part of his question. I have no knowledge about the matter raised in the second part of his question. I will refer that to the Minister concerned.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs, although it also involves the portfolio of the Minister for Social Security. How many handicapped people are now seeking employment in the Australian Capital Territory through the Commonwealth Employment Service? What special facilities are made available to assist these people overcome the difficulties, including prejudice, that face handicapped people in seeking employment?
-As at 30 June 1 979 a total of 450 handicapped people were registered awaiting placement with offices in the Australian Capital Territory. The specialised placement and counselling assistance to handicapped people is provided by certain officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service. In the Australian Capital Territory there is the Vocational Psychology Unit which can provide a range of psychological services where this is appropriate and the CES can arrange to refer any person to this Unit. In addition, there is an officer within each CES office who has responsibility to assist handicapped people with employment problems. Further assistance may be obtainable through the National Employment and Training system. Some cases of employer prejudice have been noted by employment officers. In such cases, the employment officer or counsellor provides employers with factual and relevant information about the handicapped person’s potential in order to dispel any such misconceptions. As Senator Knight has indicated, Senator Guilfoyle, the Minister for Social Security may have something further to add in relation to her portfolio.
– I wish only to add that I think we provide funds through the Handicapped Persons Assistance Act to two centres conducting sheltered workshops. Other assistance is provided through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service in association with the Woden Hospital. I recall that the National Advisory Council for the Handicapped had discussions with the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of the Public Service Board. I was interested in that figure of 450 people awaiting placement. I will undertake to check the outcome of the discussions that I understand were held.
Perhaps the only other assistance I will mention is that which we give to ACROD- the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled- the co-ordinating body for disabled persons. As a co-ordinating body, it has always had a very active interest in the employment opportunities that are provided for handicapped persons. I will give consideration to the matter to see whether I can provide any further information to Senator Knight.
– No doubt the Minister representing the Treasurer is aware that in Australia there are a number of registered charities whose activities include sponsoring children in various parts of the underdeveloped world. As these schemes encourage Australians to participate actively in Third World aid on an individual basis, has the Government considered providing an incentive to donors by making such donations tax deductible?
– I believe that a whole series of governments in the past have been approached to make tax deductible donations to such charitable organisations. I think that all governments, whatever side of politics they come from, have decided not to do so for their own reasons. It is a matter of policy. I think it best that I refer this question to the Treasurer to seek his response.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, is about a report that the yacht Anaconda II will be sailed as the Federal Government’s entry in the Parmelia Yacht Race commemorating Western Australia’s 150th anniversary. Has the Government purchased or leased this yacht? Is it a fact that the yacht has been refitted by the Royal Australian Navy at a cost of $27,350? Has the Navy spent another $60,000 on sails and other equipment? Will the Government have any continued equity in the yacht after completion of the race? What will happen to the sails and equipment after the race? Will the owner of Anaconda II, Mr Josko Grubic of Adelaide, be on board the yacht during the race? Has the Government assisted any other yachts in the race, in particular the famous Siska or have all other owners had to finance participation without any government aid?
- Senator Lewis has raised a whole series of questions. I have a brief on the general situation. I will see whether it will suffice on all of the points raised. I am advised that the Government has approved a Defence Force entry in the Parmelia Yacht Race from Plymouth in England to Perth which is being staged as part of the anniversary celebrations. By arrangement with the owner, Mr J. Grubic, the yacht Anaconda II will be the Defence Force entry with a crew selected from Army, Navy and Air Force aspirants. Terms and conditions governing the loan of Anaconda II to the Defence Force for the Parmelia Race have been documented in a formal agreement between the Commonwealth and the owner. One important condition is that Mr Grubic is the skipper during workout trials and the forward passage to the United Kingdom as well as during the race. Mr Grubic is also to carry the full risk of loss or damage to the yacht while he is in command. Mr Grubic’s valuation of the yacht is in the vicinity of $ 1 m.
The financial arrangements are that the defence budget is to absorb all costs of the Defence Force participation subject to the owner’s providing approximately $20,000 for expenses overseas and $10,000 from the crew members. The cost of the Commonwealth contribution, aside from normal salaries and allowances, has been estimated at $127,520, but final costings are to be agreed upon by the Ministers for Finance and Defence. If there any further points I will have them commented on by the Minister concerned.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware of media reports of the controversy surrounding logging operations at Terania Creek in northern New South Wales and in particular a report in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald? The report stated: lt was like Vietnam. Dense green jungle, choppers in the sky, mcn with guns shouting into walkie-talkies, a bulldozer smashing through trees, people being carried off . . .
Why were two Army Iroquois helicopters present at the scene? Were they observing or overseeing the New South Wales Police Force which was moved in to remove protesters from the logging operations?
-I am aware of the newspaper report. Also I am able to assure the Senate that no Army Iroquois helicopters were overseeing the New South Wales Police. It so happens that on 23 August two Royal Australian Air Force Iroquois helicopters on a low level navigation exercise were returning to their base in Amberley from the Lismore area. The pilots observed the collection of police vehicles on the ground in the Terania Creek area. They circled the area once and then departed without landing. There are no prizes for poetic licence in the descriptions of the Press. I think Pooh-Bah in the Mikado had something to say about adding verisimilitude to an otherwise dull and unimportant subject. The Defence Force was not involved in any way in the operation carried out by the New South Wales Government at Terania Creek.
– My question is not whether the Department of Defence will take my yacht on the same terms as Mr Grubic’s; rather it is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and refers to the replacement for the position of Chairman of the Australian Wool Corporation following the unfortunate death of Mr Maiden. In view of the importance of this position, I ask: Will the position be advertised internationally as well as nationally to endeavour to ensure that the most highly qualified person, particularly in marketing skills, will be attracted to and appointed to the position?
-My understanding is that applications for such an important position as that filled by the late Mr Alf Maiden would generally be sought from the most experienced persons. We have many in Australia who fit that category. Many Australian Government officers and private individuals overseas also are most experienced and have the capacity to fill the position. I will look at the honourable senator’s question and refer it to the Minister for Primary Industry whom I represent.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security. I refer to a question asked yesterday by Senator Bishop in relation to supplementary assistance and special benefit. In referring to special benefit, the Minister referred Senator Bishop to section 125 of the Act which relates special benefits to unemployment benefit or sickness benefit. As supplementary assistance is payable for a sickness beneficiary after six weeks, is it possible, under the Act, to pay supplementary assistance to a person receiving a special benefit? Further, if it is not possible, will the Minister have the matter investigated to see whether hardship is being experienced in this area by the current format of the Act?
– I welcome the question from Senator Colston because I intended, at the end of Question Time, to refer to Senator Bishop’s question of yesterday. After the honourable senator referred the question to me I, on returning to my office, asked for some information. I am advised by the Department that the issue is somewhat more complex. At present I am awaiting a report from the Director-General who has sought a legal opinion on the application of the section that I referred to and another section, 1 12a, where sickness benefit may attract some supplementary benefit after the six-weeks referred to by Senator Colston. The matter is under consideration. I will also take account of the question raised by Senator Colston as to whether consideration could be given to hardship where it is found that no supplementary allowance benefit can be paid. I will seek to give an early answer on these questions to Senator Bishop and also to Senator Colston.
– Yesterday I undertook to make two comments at the end of Question Time. I was questioned, I think, upon information that I gave that the Labor Party Leader, Mr Hayden, had indicated that he would raise some $200m by way of taxing the wealthy. I had suggested that that might result in a 75c levy instead of a 60c levy. I draw attention to two things: Firstly, the substance of what is contained on page 953 of the Hansard of another place of 21 March and, secondly, to the speech at the
National Press Club on 15 March where, in fact, Mr Hayden said that he would ‘restructure the tax scales for the top two per cent of income earners’. He indicated that that would raise $200m. It is calculated that to raise that from the top two per cent would require a tax scale at the rate of 75c.
– Yesterday the question of the incorporation in Hansard of documents relating to a matter arising out of the Broadband program arose and Senator Missen raised the point that such an action in the Senate might prejudice the individual concerned in any legal remedy that that individual may seek to achieve. I said that the last thing in the world that this Government, and certainly this Senate, would want to do would be to harm any person in seeking justice, and that I would defer the matter in order to get legal advice. The best advice that I can get is that there might be some possible limitation and therefore some detriment to a person seeking legal remedy if such documents became privileged by incorporation. In no way would the Government want to do that in the course of the period in which a person was seeking legal recourse. Therefore, I cannot at this moment proceed. I am bound to say that, nevertheless, Senator Wriedt sought to peruse the documents concerned and I very willingly made the documents available for his perusal with the clear caveat, which I made here yesterday and which I now repeat, that there is no guarantee at all as to the authenticity or quality of the documents.
– The position referred to by Senator Carrick is not satisfactory to the Opposition.
– Are you seeking leave to make a statement?
– I will seek leave to move a motion, if need be; but for the moment I will seek leave to make a statement.
– Yesterday some material, the authenticity of which the Leader of the Government quite properly could not vouch for, was in the Senate. He indicated that he would be prepared to have that material incorporated in Hansard. It was material which formed the subject matter of part of a broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I think on Monday night. I think it is common knowledge that this is a matter of considerable public interest. It is not the procedure, and it has not been the procedure in this chamber over the years, to deny a person in this chamber the right to incorporate material which, as in this case, in no way would prejudice anyone. I ask the Leader of the Government to reconsider what he has just told the Senate. If he holds to the views he has just expressed, I will seek leave to move a motion to suspend so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent the incorporation of that material in Hansard.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– 1 move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Wriedt from moving a motion forthwith- That the documents referring to Mr Urbanchich, as made available yesterday by the Leader of the Government in the Senate for perusal by Senator Wriedt, be incorporated in Hansard.
As I have indicated, the normal practice over the years in this place, and indeed in the House of Representatives, has been that, if it is believed that a matter that is before the courts could in fact be the subject of debate in this Parliament that might prejudice somebody involved in legal proceedings, then the House and the Senate would recognise that. But at the same time we have also followed a procedure whereby, under certain circumstances, that rule is not necessarily observed.
I refer to page 250 of Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, where Odgers deals fairly extensively with this circumstance- perhaps not precisely this circumstance. Let us just consider what Odgers has to say about the position if in fact there is a question of legal proceedings. On page 250 he refers to the opinion expressed in 1937 by Sir Frederick Jordan, the then Chief Justice of New South Wales. I shall not read all of this, but I will read sufficient to make the case quite clear. Sir Frederick said: lt is of extreme public interest that no conduct should be permitted which is likely to prevent a litigant in a court of justice from having his case tried free from all matter of prejudice. But the administration of justice, important though it undoubtedly is, is not the only matter in which the public is vitally interested; and if in the course of the ventilation of a question of public concern matter is published which might prejudice a party in the conduct of a law suit, it does not follow that a contempt has been committed. The case may be one in which as between competing matters of public interest the possibility of prejudice to a litigant may be required to yield to other and superior considerations. The discussion of public affairs and the denunciation of publicabuses, actual or supposed, cannot be required to be suspended merely because the discussion or the denunciation may, as an incidental but not intended by-product, cause some likelihood of prejudice to a person who happens at the time to be a litigant.
Odgers goes on to say:
The view is taken that matters under investigation may be of such significance, their possible implications of such legitimate public concern and the need to get to the bottom of them so overwhelmingly important, that they may feel a duty to go ahead, writs or no writs, to investigate and examine, and if need be comment purposefully upon all the facts.
Further on he quotes the then Attorney-General of 1947, Dr Evatt, who in substance was saying the same thing. 1 do not want to go through all that again. All members of this Senate are surely conversant with the procedures and with what Odgers says and the cases he quotes. But the important difference is that in this case there are no judicial proceedings at all. All that has happened so far is that the Liberal Party in New South Wales, which, as we know, is torn asunder by this issue- this is the real reason why there is a refusal to incorporate the documents- has appointed Mr Spender, Q.C., to look into this matter on its behalf. In the New South Wales Parliament the State Attorney-General, Mr Frank Walker, in answer to a question on the same matter, indicated that he would be prepared to give the matter further consideration and to provide an additional answer. I do not know exactly what has happened there, but I understand that the matter is still under consideration by Mr Walker. Certainly no one could claim that there are any judicial proceedings.
In our normal process, even if there were judicial proceedings, the question of the documents being sub judice could still be overruled by this Senate in the public interest. That is exactly what Odgers is saying. They are the rulings which have been given in the past. Yet in this case there are no judicial proceedings. Therefore the reasons why we are being refused the incorporation of these documents are all the more dubious. I did have a chance to see some of them last night.
– You showed concern yourself, yesterday.
-I would have thought that anybody who has lived through this generation, the Second World War and the matters allegedly involved in this case would show concern about the seriousness of these allegations, as indeed Senator Carrick himself said yesterday. I would be surprised if there was one person in this chamber who would not be very concerned as to whether the allegations or imputations which have been made are correct.
All we are asking for is that the material which was brought in here yesterday be made available. I have had the opportunity to peruse some of it. I am unable to state that in my view these documents are authentic. I do not know either. But, in reading them, one could not help but have some very real concern about the opinions which have allegedly been expressed by the person who is, I understand, a member of the Liberal Party of New South Wales. I do not believe that whatever is happening inside the Liberal Party in New South Wales should be the determinant of whether this material is incorporated in Hansard. We should be following the normal procedures which would apply where any material which is brought into this chamber and which is of concern to the public interest, as undoubtedly this material is, should be made available to the Senate. I ask all honourable senators on the Government side, including the members of the Liberal Party, who themselves probably have a very real personal political problem now, to put that problem behind them and to keep before them the necessity to maintain the integrity of the procedures of this place. If they are going to subvert the authority of the Senate simply because of the political brawl that they are having in New South Wales, then it will be on their heads.
– I rise to a point of order. I take the point that the motion is out of order. I believe that the Government would have no objection to the suspension of Standing Orders if the Opposition wanted to discuss the matter but, as I understand it, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) has moved that the documents be printed- documents which have not even been tabled in this Parliament. All that Senator Wriedt has been saying about public interest, the sub judice rule and so forth has been very interesting and familiar ground to me and to other honourable senators, but quite irrelevant to the subject before us. So far as I know, no legal proceedings are on foot and nobody that I know of is suggesting at this stage that that is the reason why the honourable senator cannot do what he is proposing. However, there is another good reason why he cannot. Perhaps we could even suspend the Standing Orders, and then vote against the proposition, but I hope that you will rule Mr President, that the present motion is out of order. Standing Order 36 and Standing Order 365 enable upon motion certain documents to be printed. Standing Order 36(2) states:
All Petitions and Papers presented to the Senate which have not been ordered to be printed by either House of the Parliament shall stand referred to the Committee . . .
The committee referred to is the Publications Committee. The Standing Order provides further:
Provided that when a Paper has been laid on the Table, a Motion may be made at any time, without notice, that the Paper be printed.
The fact is that no papers have been laid on the table. Yesterday Senator Carrick, perfectly properly, raised this matter and gave his views on the subject, views which have certainly been a matter of much discussion and concern, because every citizen of this country has rights in respect of defamation actions and other questions which should not be prejudiced or suppressed by action of this Senate unless some important matter concerning the government of this country, in which such action must be taken, has arisen. Nothing of that nature has been shown to exist. When the matter was raised yesterday and discussed ultimately, the documents were not laid on the table by Senator Carrick. Senator Georges, Senator Chipp and I had sounded certain warnings about adopting that course of action. The ultimate result was that Senator Carrick, by leave, said at the conclusion of the discussion:
I withdraw the request for the incorporation of the documents in Hansard today. During the next 24 hours 1 will seek information on the matter. If I find that there is no legal disability, I will bring them back for incorporation.
No documents have been brought back here. Senator Carrick recognises that serious difficulties of a legal nature arise in regard to this matter. No documents have been tabled and there is nothing upon which action may be taken under either Standing Order 35 or Standing Order 365, which deals with accounts, papers and returns and provides:
On any Paper being laid before the Senate, it shall be in order to move- ( I ) That it be read, and, if necessary, a day appointed for its consideration; (2 ) That it be printed.
The reference is to a paper that has been laid before the Senate. I repeat, no papers have in fact been laid before the Senate. I submit, therefore, that the motion is out of order and that it would be pointless for the Senate to vote on it because no such documents lie on the table and there is nothing before us to be printed.
– We are debating the motion that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Wriedt moving that certain things be done. That motion is quite in order.
– If the motion is passed I will renew my application.
-I rise to speak in support of the motion. It is very difficult to take seriously the legal concerns that have now been expressed by Senator Carrick in justification of his refusal to proceed with the tabling and incorporation of these papers- the suggestion that somehow Mr Urbanchich ‘s legal position will be prejudiced as a result. How exactly Mr Urbanchich will be prejudiced by this course of action needs a great deal of further analysis than we have been treated to thus far either in the remarks of Senator Carrick today or indeed those of Senator Missen yesterday in first raising the question. The reality is that the tabling in this Senate, or the incorporation in Hansard, of material so presented cannot in any way prejudice rights of action of Mr Urbanchich or anyone else, which have already accrued. Let us get at least that preliminary point absolutely clear.
– That is not clear. What does it do to damages?
– Damages are not in issue.
– You said that it could not prejudice any of his rights. In relation to damages, it does.
– It may or may not influence damages. That is entirely a matter for the particular court to decide in the circumstances of a particular case- the defamation having been made out- what is the extent of the damage incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the material ‘s becoming public. I have no doubt at all that in this situation a court would take the view that the damage, such as it was, was unquestionably done at the time of the initial Broadband broadcast which encouraged not only the radio transmission to be heard by many Australians but also many newspapers to pick it up and the libel if such it was, the slander if such it was, to be spread about.
The subsequent tabling in Parliament of further papers in the matter would not appear to me, certainly not as a matter of law nor I think as a matter of likely practical outcome when it came to the assessment of damages, to alter one whit the amount of damages to which Mr Urbanchich would otherwise be entitled. Certainly, the important point to appreciate, quite apart from the question of damages, is that Mr Urbanchich ‘s ability actually to bring an action and recover, to make out his case, could not on any view be prejudiced. That remains the central issue if Mr Urbanchich is indeed anxious to take a legal form of redress for what has occurred. One of the interesting things about this case is that no writ has yet been issued. That is the preliminary point that has to be understood and I cannot imagine that there would be any serious dissent from that proposition.
The further point that has to be acknowledged- if one is groping about for some conceivable legal prejudice that might be suffered by Mr Urbanchich as a result of this course of action being taken- is that it is true that if the motion is agreed to, if these documents are put in and become public in this way, they will of course be privileged; that any accurate repetition of them by any other media, or anyone else in the community, will equally enjoy that privilege and that Mr Urbanchich will not have a remedy in respect of any further defamatory imputation that may emerge from these documents that it is proposed to put it in, which defamatory imputation has not emerged already in the proceeding run of events. I acknowledge that. That is possible; it is perfectly true. This will be, to some extent at least it seems, new material. To the extent that it is new and has new defamatory stings about it, Mr Urbanchich will not have the right of action that he would have had if the material had been put into the public system by someone else. But that question can hardly be decisive on the issue of whether this Senate is to accept or reject the proposition that this material should be tabled.
The question is as to whether this consideration should prevail against the very strongly arguable public interest that applies on the other hand; that is, that the documents in all of the circumstances as they have emerged should be tabled in order to enable the quality and quantity of the information available to the public on the matter to be much enhanced. That is the rationale that was advanced in the first instance by Senator Carrick. The question that we have to consider is whether that public interest aspect is sufficient to outweigh the possible very indirect prejudice that might apply if Mr Urbanchich were to lose some right of action that he might otherwise have had if this material were put into the system by someone else.
I suggest to the Senate that in considering and in weighing up the matter- I do not skim over it or suggest that it is not a matter worth considering or weighing up- it surely ought to consider from a common sense point of view that which is the obvious reality. The obvious reality is that any defamatory damage that has been done to Mr Urbanchich has been done already by the Broadband broadcast and by what was published in the newspapers following that broadcast. As was said by Senator Carrick yesterday, if this material is defamatory and would be held by a court to be defamatory, then the defamation has been done. It is difficult, indeed almost impossible, to imagine that anything in the documents which are tabled- if they are tabled before us today- could be more damaging than the basic material which was put in issue on the Broadband broadcast. I think that one has to bear that consideration very strongly in mind. If one is considering and weighing up the matter by reference to fairness, justice or considerations of that kind, what we ought to be doing -
– What if they are inaccurate? You do not guarantee their accuracy.
– Nobody is in a positioncertainly Senator Carrick is not, Senator Wriedt is not and I am not- to say whether these documents are, in fact, accurate. What does appear to be clear -
– We could seek advice on whether they are accurate before incorporating them.
– That does not appear to be the attitude, Senator, that the Government is adopting with respect to this matter. The point has been taken- I would be delighted to hear some further elucidation from Senator Carrick about it- that the indirect possibility of prejudice, which I can only assume to be the kind of prejudice I have already mentioned, is sufficient in itself to justify these documents not being tabled. If it is a matter of weighing and balancing the further considerations that Senator Martin has adverted to- that is, the likely accuracy and so on of this material- that might be a legitimate reason for giving further consideration to the question of whether this material ought to go in.
But that has problems too. That rather implies that we as a Senate or those who were determining whether the documents should be brought before us would be making some judicial type judgment as to the accuracy of them. I think that that probably would serve a greater degree of unfairness to Mr Urbanchich than would be the case if the documents simply went in as they are now in order that we and the community at large might be in some better position than we are at the moment to evaluate the status of the material that has already been put on the public record.
After all, all that is being sought is that we be put in a better position by the tabling of the whole documents from which this material has been put on the public record, which has apparently been quoted. If there is any truth in Mr Urbanchich ‘s denials or avoidance of the substance of the allegations that have been made about him, we, the Parliament, and the community as a whole will surely be in a much better position to evaluate the force of those denials, the force of this avoidance, with this material before us than we would without it.
I go so far as to suggest that the tabling of this material, if there is anything to be said in Mr Urbanchich ‘s favour, is likely to serve to Mr Urbanchich ‘s advantage rather than the contrary. One of the awful realities about the operation of the defamation law as it prevails at the moment in this country is that it takes so long- it takes months and years- for these matters to go before the court, to get a proper airing and for all the evidence to be put in the open. This, I think, is the substance of the recent Australian Law Reform Commission’s recommendations which suggested that there be a procedure for immediate redress. There is, in the absence of that procedure for redress, no other way in which all the material bearing upon this particular case can be put in the public forum and some opportunity for evaluation of it to be provided.
For those reasons, although I acknowledge that there is a weighing and a balancing that has to go on here, I believe that the balancing is unquestionably in favour of allowing this material in. I see no legal reason, and certainly no moral reason, why it should not go in. The only reason I can think of as to why the Government, or Senator Carrick at least, has changed its or his mind about what to do about this is that he has considered the matter further overnight from a purely political perspective. He has decided that there is a prospect of alienating a particular right-wing section of the New South Wales branch or the national body of the Liberal Party, and he has made a political decision to keep the material out. Whether it is a moral decision or whether it is a legal decision, let us hear some arguments other than the derisory argument that we have had so far from Senator Missen yesterday and from Senator Carrick today. If there is a good argument we will listen to it; we will take it into account. But we are not going to be fobbed off with the kind of nonsense that we have heard so far.
– I am glad that Senator Evans concluded his speech in the way that he did. I am glad to know that the Opposition is prepared to be reasonable. As Senator Evans acknowledged, there is a balancing to take place in relation to this matter. It is a question of whether, in fairness, these documents should at this stage be given the privilege which attaches to them by their incorporation in Hansard, which has been sought by Senator Wriedt. At this stage, the important points are these: First, there is the fact that the documents, as I understand it, have not been certified from the point of view of the accuracy of the translation. I regard that as probably the short end point. If the documents represented a certified translation from a person who is recognised as being acceptable to a court as a translator from the Slovenian language to the Australian language, then we would perhaps be able to debate the latter point. As I understand it, an examination of the translation makes it perfectly clear that it is not a good translation.
– How do you know that?
Seantor RAE- From someone who is in a position to be able to read the original document and the translation. That is what I am told. I believe that the problem can be overcome by there being sought a certified translation of the documents. Then perhaps we could see whether the other points apply. I simply make the point that the documents are not a certified translation. These documents cannot possibly be read in the original language by more than a very tiny percentage of the Australian population and, therefore, would have to be read in the translation. Before such documents are incorporated in Hansard, there ought to be an accurate certified translation. That is a sufficient reason for opposing Senator Wriedt ‘s motion at this stage.
There are further points to be considered, such as the damage the incorporation of these documents can do to the rights and interests of the person concerned, the effect that it may have on his rights in relation to the inquiry which is being undertaken at the moment and which affects positions which he holds, and the effect that it may have in relation to his rights to damages in relation to any publication which has already taken place. Those are questions which I do not think arise at all at this stage because we do not have a certified translation, and there should not be any attempts to incorporate the documents in Hansard until such time as there is. Therefore, I do not propose to debate the other points because I think that is a sufficient answer in itself.
– I get rather uneasy when the Senate is swamped by legal erudition. Therefore, I propose to introduce some lay ignorance into the debate.
– What is new?
– Nothing. I raised this matter yesterday and expressed to you, Mr President, some grave doubts about the propriety of the course that Senator Carrick intended to take. Let me say at the outset that I totally disregard the reasons given today by Senator Carrick, as I heard them, as to why he will not seek leave to incorporate these documents in Hansard now. I thoroughly accept the arguments put forward by
Senator Wriedt today when he dismissed Senator Carrick ‘s arguments on a legal basis.
– That is unworthy. It really is.
– I am sorry, I must have made myself misunderstood. I accepted the legal arguments of Senator Wriedt today when he debated the points raised by Senator Carrick and dismissed them as not being viable or applicable to this debate. That is what I said. I am sorry if I gave any other impression. Notwithstanding that, the Australian Democrats will vote with the Government on this matter for the very reasons espoused by Senator Rae and which I stated yesterday. We are being asked to incorporate photostat copies of printed documents with no heading or name at the top and without a signature at the bottom or a date. They are scrappy photostat copies of a typewritten piece purporting to be a translation of the original document. If the Opposition wants to move this same motion in a week or two weeks when a qualified translation of those documents has been made and when they have been attested that that is a true translation, then there would be a case for the documents to be incorporated in Hansard.
I say at the outset that if statements were made by a citizen similar to those purported to have been made by a certain leading citizen, we would denounce those with vigour, with every member of this chamber, and have them exposed. Let us assume the hypothetical case that an article appears in a foreign language newspaper in Australia; it is written in a foreign language and purports to have been written by a prominent citizen, or even by an honourable senator or member of Parliament. Let us assume that that article states some outrageous propositions on racism, revolution by force or some other dreadful thing. Further, let us assume that somebody produces an unsigned, unattested document purporting to be a translation of that article. We would not know the prominent person, senator or member of Parliament who wrote it in the first place and we would not know whether the translation was in any way accurate.
– Or even the report.
– Yes, or even the original report, and then let us assume that an honourable senator moved that that be incorporated in Hansard, even with all the provisions and qualifications attaching to it. I plead with the Labor Party on this matter. It is a serious question and I support the Opposition’s motives. I suggest that it wait until there is a proper translation so that no damage is done. Entirely disregarding the legalities of the matter and just looking at the future, I point out that if this resolution is passed today it is open season for anybody who wants to send up anyone in this country. Therefore, the Australian Democrats oppose the motion.
Motion (by Senator Peter Baume) put:
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Wriedt’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-by leave-I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented. I do not have the advantage of the report of what was asked by my colleague from Queensland, Senator MacGibbon, but at Question Time today he asked a question of Senator Carrick relating to a speech which I made in the Senate on 22 August. I must say that Senator Carrick, in that benign way which he has, indicated that time would be made available to me because it was a matter for my conscience. It is not a matter for my conscience; what took place is a matter of fact. If we look at the facts, I think that a very good starting point would be to look at Senator Carrick ‘s answer. Senator Carrick said that on a number of occasions he had had comments from other honourable senators about the contents of this speech, that they were concerned about it, and that because of that he had taken the trouble to check the facts. In answer to the question he went on to say, for example, that I had claimed that the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville was a Whitlam Government initiative. If he had checked the facts and read the Hansard report of what I had said, he would have seen that what I said was that the Whitlam
Government had established the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, and that is a fact.
– Clever lawyer.
Seantor BUTTON- Honourable senators opposite might not like it, but it is a fact. The history of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville is that for a period covering four Liberal governments it was discussed in this Parliament. Each one of those governments could claim that it was its initiative, but, like most Liberal governments, nothing was done. It was the Whitlam Government which established the Australian Institute of Marine Science and which chose the site and built the building; and it is there today. That is what I said and what is recorded in Hansard. I have been misrepresented by Senator Carrick who has been as sloppy in dealing with this matter as he is in dealing with most matters in connection with the Budget, for example. That was the second point of Senator MacGibbon ‘s question. Is that his name?
– Your memory is bad.
– It is not a question of memory; it is a question of knowledge. The other point to which Senator MacGibbon ‘s question alluded was that it was suggested that I said in the speech of 22 August 1979 that the money for marine science had been taken out of the general research funding budget. What I said may be wrong, but if it is wrong so are the Budget Papers tabled by this Government. I want to refer to the Budget Papers on that precise issue. I commend to Senator MacGibbon a reading of the Budget Papers on a number of matters, including the Government’s taxation proposals but particularly on this matter, if he wants to ask these sorts of questions about it. Under the heading of Research Grants’ the Budget Papers refer to the Queen Elizabeth II Fellowships Scheme and then continue:
Grants through the Australian Research Grants Scheme make up some 89 per cent of the research assistance provided. Provision of $0.4m is also included for a new program of research support for marine sciences and technologies . . .
That is the statement upon which I relied- a printed statement in the Budget Papers- for the statement I made in the Senate on 22 August. I do not detract for one minute from that statement, because nobody can do anything else but rely on a printed statement in the Government’s Budget Papers to draw a conclusion about a matter such as that.
I would not normally waste the time of the Senate with this sort of explanation, but if we are to have a sort of ‘answers to inaccuracies time’ we would be here for five years listening to Senator Carrick explain himself in such circumstances. I think it is important that the matter be corrected. If honourable senators on the Government side want to shoot at matters of detail such as this, they should at least get their facts right. To that extent I have been misrepresented in respect of matters of fact and, more particularly, by Senator Carrick ‘s inaccurate answer.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter dated 29 August from Senator Young:
Dear Mr President,
Pursuant to Sessional Order, I give notice that today I shall move-
That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency:
The moral obligation of Australia, as an energy rich country in an energy starved world, to undertake commercial development of its abundant resources including uranium.’
Yours sincerely, HAROLD YOUNG Senator for South Australia
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– I move:
I have moved this motion today because, in a world in which there is an ever increasing demand for and usage of energy, particularly with the sophistication of travel and the further development of industry, both in developed and developing countries, it has been estimated that more energy could be used between now and the turn of this century than has been used in the history of mankind. From that alone one can see that there is a need to look very closely at the world’s energy situation and at those countries which are fortunate enough to be rather rich in energy resources. One point that must be made is that following the Industrial Revolution there was a great increase in the demand for and usage of coal for generation and to assist industry generally. But over the years we have seen the demand for coal change to a demand with greater emphasis upon crude oil, which again fits in with modern requirements and general usage.
It was not until the oil crisis of 1973 that the world suddenly became aware that it was dealing with a diminishing energy resource. So there was a need for the major energy countries in particular to look around, to take stock and to reassess their energy requirements; to look to alternative sources of energy and also to general conservation. With the recent oil price hike, which has increased oil prices by something like 30 per cent since 1978, we find greater concern being expressed by the world generally. We have seen a change in the pattern of demand for particular types of energy. We have seen an upsurge in the demand for coal. We have also seen a great change in the demand for energy in the area of nuclear generation.
Whatever some people may say, we have to accept that the world today has decided that it must go nuclear to fill this energy gap. The situation is becoming more critical every day of the week. One can look at the statistics and find outlined very clearly what is happening with regard to nuclear generation. From the figures of 27 March 1979, which are very recent figures, we find that some 53 countries throughout the world are committed to nuclear energy. Already 2 1 9 reactors are operating; 244 are under construction; 100 more are on order; and at least 200 more are planned to be established in various countries. This shows very clearly what the world situation is regarding the need to fill the energy gap.
There is another area in which we can see the emphasis changing. I refer to the announcement in the Press yesterday that a $ 1 billion- I stress billion’- aluminium refinery or furnace, whichever people may like to call it, will be built at Gladstone, Queensland, purely because electricity there is cheap and in abundance because of the great coal supplies nearby. The trend of countries is to get to the source of their energy. Of course, Australia is one of those fortunate countries which are extremely rich in energy. We have a great abundance of coal- black steaming coal and black coking coal as well as brown coal. We have great abundance of uranium. We have one of the biggest reserves or sources of uranium in the world. Whilst we are not self-sufficient in oil, at present we are 70 per cent self-sufficient. We have vast amounts of natural gas and we have great potential in the area of shale ore, just to mention a few. But over and above that, we also have good potential to find more oil and gas in both the off-shore areas and the on-shore areas of Australia. I am very pleased to see the great increase which is taking place in on-shore exploration because of the policies of the Federal Government, which is conscious of the fact that as a government it must meet not only its national but also its international responsibilities.
Again I refer to the terms of the motion. It refers to the moral obligation of Australia, as an energy rich country in an energy starved world, to undertake commercial development of its abundant resources including uranium. When we look at the situation in the various States of the Commonwealth of Australia we find that great developments are taking place in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria regarding both black and brown coal. There is great potential in that area and projects are being developed there with great emphasis upon increasing exports of coal to energy hungry countries throughout the world. In 1977-78 exports of coal totalled some $38m. In 1979 they have already increased to some $39m, and one can anticipate that we will continue to see great increases in that area.
On the North West Shelf we have already discovered vast reserves of gas. Multi-millions of dollars will be expended there to bring that gas on-shore, where a lot of that gas will be sold overseas to help the energy needs of certain countries throughout the world. When one looks at uranium mining one finds that the development of mines in the Northern Territory and Western Australia is under way at present. A uranium enrichment plant will be established somewhere in this country. Under the strict guidelines set down by the Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Fraser, some two years ago, one has greater control in selling enriched uranium than in selling just uranium ore or yellowcake, as it is called by many people. But the interesting thing is that already three States in Australia wish to establish a uranium enrichment plant. I refer to Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. Last year the New South Wales Premier made approaches to see whether an enrichment plant could be established in that State. I commend him for doing that, and I accept the fact that he is the Premier of a Labor government. Nevertheless he can see that there is a need to fill the energy gap throughout the world. But there is one State in Australia that does not wish to adopt a uniform approach with regard to this country meetings its obligations. I refer to the State of South Australia. South Australia has a large amount of uranium. It has numerous deposits scattered throughout the northern areas. In fact, the proven reserves of uranium there at present are greater than the proven reserves in the Northern Territory.
– Why are you leaving them in the ground?
-I will deal with that in a moment.
– How deep are they?
-I shall not talk about how deep the uranium deposits are, as one honourable senator opposite has done. There is one company- I know that Senator Jessop, who is also from South Australia, will be dealing with this matter because he has been involved in this area of uranium- that virtually could start tomorrow morning if it were given the green light. So enough of that talk. Amongst these deposits there is a deposit known as Roxby Downs, which is already proven to be larger than the city of Melbourne. Many people say that the mine at Roxby Downs could be one of the largest mines in the world. So far it is proven to hold something like 10 million tonnes of copper and 300,000 tonnes of uranium, plus gold and rare earth. Mining of Roxby Downs would have a great impact upon Australia, especially South Australia. Firstly, a township would have to be built, with all the infrastructures that go with it. Secondly, milling plants and refineries would need to be established to separate the copper, uranium, gold and rare earth. I could go on. We might move even into refining with smelters. One can see the great potential that that mine holds. It would employ literally thousands of people. Millions of dollars would be invested there.
At the present time Roxby will not be developed because the Labor Party in South Australia says no, even though it will admit that there is an energy-hungry world. I should say also that Roxby Downs, if it is not developed, will be the only commercially viable uranium mine in the world that is not being developed. I say to those honourable senators opposite who have been interjecting that they should look at some of the countries on the other side of the world. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for instance, is mining every ounce of uranium it possibly can. It is interesting to consider the history of the uranium policy in the Labor Party in South Australia. I refer to an article in the Bulletin on 6 February this year which was written by Dr Dean Jaensch. The article states:
Three related events have sparked off new rumours of an early election in South Australia. The main one- the Roxby Downs copper and uranium deposits- is being described as crucial to the economy or the State, particularly since economics commentators have been predicting some hard times in the not too long term future.
Premier Dunstan is at present overseas on a fact finding mission on the possibility of the establishment of a uranium enrichment plant in South Australia, and the ALP has released a draft of a new policy on the issue.
It goes on, and this is most interesting:
The left of the party is organising opposition and this will come to a head in a special convention this month. Even if it approved, there is the larger hurdle of a national conference in Adelaide in July.
An article in the Canberra Times of 19 June this year, under the heading ‘Federal policy on uranium debated ‘, stated:
The State Minister for Health, Mr Duncan, representing the Elizabeth sub-branch moved to direct branch delegates at next month’s national Labor policy convention to support the current Federal platform on uranium.
Here is the catch-phrase:
However, he incorporated an amendment directing delegates to amend the Federal platform to provide for the repudiation of contracts without compensation.
After a fight at the State convention, that amendment was beaten and Mr Duncan missed out. It is also interesting to note what happened at the Federal ALP executive meeting. When it was discussed there was a battle, and all that the Premier, the Minister of Mines and the others in the Labor Party in South Australia who support the mining of uranium could do was achieve a holding position and maintain the current policy. It is interesting to see how the attitudes of the Labor Party in South Australia finally were exposed. Roxby Downs is so big that outside partners had to be sought. Eventually British Petroleum came in as a partner, with an initial investment of some $50m. I want to make it clear that BP is a very big company, a very successful company and a very alert company. No doubt it would not have gone ahead with such an investment unless it had been told by Mr Corcoran that Roxby Downs would go ahead. No company is going to invest $50m on a dead horse. In any case, Mr Peter Duncan, one of the left wingers in South Australia- he makes no bones about that- made a public statement, firstly, that BP would be wasting its money if it were to invest and, secondly, that the mining of uranium would never take place at Roxby Downs. Those are two positive statements. The next thing we find is that an anti-uranium lobby was set up within the parliamentary Labor Party in South Australia to oppose anything relating to the mining of uranium. So there is a big division in the State of South Australia. There are many right wingers in the Labor Party in South Australia who support the mining of uranium. Others of the party’s extreme Left strongly oppose it.
– Who are they? You couldn’t name one of them.
-Rather than looking to the responsibilities of the State and the nation and helping to supply the energy needs of the world, they prefer to adopt their radical left wing policies. They will not assist in any way to meet needs that are so easy to see and so necessary to fulfil. As this matter has progressed the left wing finally has forced Mr Corcoran to a State election some 18 months early. It is only a few weeks ago that the Premier, Mr Corcoran, made it perfectly clear that he had no intention of going to an election. I come back to the article in the Bulletin, where the issue is spelled out. (Quorum formed). As I was saying, Mr Corcoran has been forced into an early election by the left wing of the Labor Party in South Australia. There is absolutely no doubt that it is using him as a front for the election. Left wing members know jolly well that a left wing leadership would never get the support of the people in South Australia, whereas Mr Corcoran has an image and is respected by many people there. No doubt what will happen is that he will be deposed by the left wing because it will have an increase in numbers after the election. There are four candidates for safe seats who are reported to be staunch left wingers. It is obvious that there will be absolutely no uranium mining, no Roxby Downs in South Australia.
What this means in real terms is that not only will the people of South Australia, if they vote for the Labor Party, be opposed to economic development, including Roxby Downs, and filling the obligations for the energy needs of the world, but also they will be voting for somebody else as Leader of the Labor Party. Who would that be? Would it be somebody like Peter Duncan? Most people in South Australia know his politics, and I make no bones about saying that. They are very conscious of that. I can only say that, as far as I as a South Australian am concerned, Mr Corcoran has let down South Australia by giving in to the left wing of his party. Mr Corcoran should have stood his ground and fought for what he believes in, including the mining of uranium at Roxby Downs. I say that to Senator McLaren, who asked me to give him a name.
Mr Corcoran should not allow himself to be used as an election tool by the radical left wing of the South Australian Labor party on an issue that is so vital to South Australia. He is being used in this way and he knows what is going to happen eventually. All he is doing is allowing himself to be used in the hope of winning an election for his party, knowing full well that the left wing will take control straight after the election. There is absolutely no doubt about that. I am making a positive forecast. No doubt others in the right wing of the Labor Party are fully aware of it. There are honest men in the Australian Labor Party who do support the mining of uranium.
-I am sure that honourable senators, when they heard the wording of Senator Young’s motion, would have thought that it was a very high sounding and high principled motion because it referred to the moral obligation of Australia. But what happened to his speech? After five minutes of skirmishing, talking about energy problems and uranium, he did what the Liberals in Tasmania did. They set out to attack the Australian Labor Party and to say that it would be controlled by the left wing. Senator Young paid some lip service to a very fine Premier whom he likes. I know that Senator Young likes Mr Corcoran. He gave some great support to Corcoran and Hudson. However, Senator Young did not deal with the moral obligations of the nation in respect of resources. I point out to the Senate and to the people who are listening that the debate today is purely a stunt to somehow divert the attention of the Australian people and the South Australian people in particular from the achievements of the State Labor Government. I remind the honourable senator that at lunch time today Des Corcoran, at a tremendous meeting in Adelaide, delivered his election policy speech. Last night the Liberal Party leader was a flop. I make a second point: It is rather strange in this place that when genuine State issues are raised the position is not like it was in the old days when I came here. In those days, every South Australian senator supported his State.
– Come on, Reg.
-Of course they did. When Premier Playford said that the State wanted improvements in railways or something for the motor car industry, all South Australian senators joined forces and spoke for the State. But today in the Senate it is unfortunate that every time honourable senators on the Government side rise to speak, they play politics. I remind honourable senators of two recent issues. Let me tell them what happened in respect of the Whyalla shipyards. Only a few nights ago the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, said that he had made arrangements with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the shipbuilding unions for this new ship to be build for the Royal Australian Navy. He was satisfied that there would be a genuine attempt to build the ship. When the Senate
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence put such a proposition to Mr Fraser our friend who sits on the other side of the chamberthe honourable senator who was in the Navysupported that proposition. Honourable senators from South Australia uniformly agreed that they would support such a proposition if it were put before the Federal Government. But when the proposal came before the Senate,’ what did they do? They turned tail and let the motion lie.
Let me remind honourable senators about other issues. Let us forget for a moment about the railways. I want to talk about the Stuart Highway. The senators from South Australia- I include Senator Kilgariff, Senator Jessop and Senator Young- all went to a meeting with Mr Virgo. We said to Mr Nixon, the Minister for Transport, that we wanted a federal grant towards the Stuart Highway because that was a normal, national aim and it would support South Australia. We petitioned the Parliament in trying to get support in this matter. I had forewarned the Liberal senators by asking them whether they would support us. I did not receive a clear answer but when the matter was raised in the Senate, what did they do? Some of them walked out. They did not support the motion. I am sorry to say, having observed the parliamentary scene for longer than the two honourable senators concerned -
– We helped.
- Senator Jessop said that he helped us because he walked out. He made the voting stronger. I am rather alarmed about what has happened at Whyalla. We had the support of a large group of Liberals and we knew that the trade union movement would support a new shipbuilding activity which Mr Killen has now accepted. Unfortunately, South Australian senators opposite let us down.
What is the position in respect of Roxby Downs? It could be thought from what honourable senators opposite say that Roxby Downs is no longer a goer. But the fact is, as honourable senators well know, that nothing can be done. Already $50m has been invested by BP Australia Ltd and Western Mining Corporation Ltd for exploration over the next three years. We do not know whether it will ever be decided that the safeguards for the mining of uranium are satisfactory. The Labor Party’s insistence on safeguards is an important and moral stand. It is supported by a large number of the Australian people. In particular, it has been supported by the South Australian electorate because is supported the Dunstan Government. Let me tell honourable senators about another strange thing. In 1977 in the South Australian House of Assembly a motion was floated. Every member of the State Opposition in 1977 supported the motion that as a matter of principle they should not mine or develop uranium in South Australia until it was safe to provide uranium to a customer country.
– Where do you stand on uranium mining?
-I support the Labor Party policy without any hesitation. I would rather talk about the moral obligations of this Government which should provide some remedies for the unemployment problem. There is no doubt that unemployment will increase. That has been stated in the Budget Papers. Yet honourable senators opposite do nothing about it. The Government opposes job creation policies. Is there not a moral obligation on the Australian Parliament in this area? What about the cuts the Government has made in the training of young people. These young people should be trained now for jobs in the future when these great mining projects are commenced. What has the Government done about those matters? The Government has cut expenditure in these areas. The National Employment and Training system has been cut and the total grants for apprenticeship training and other training have been cut by $27m. Is there not a moral obligation in this area? We have heard nothing about moral obligations to assist people.
– Where do you stand?
– I am asked where I stand on the matter. Do honourable senators opposite want another Harrisburg incident? The Labor Party’s policy has been reinforced by the recent visit overseas by then Premier Dunstan. Everybody expected that he had gone overseas to change Labor Party policy. People said that his trip was an excuse. Already Senator Young has cited some such nonsense. But what happened when Mr Dunstan came back to Australia? Let me quote some of the evidence that he gave to the South Australian Parliament which has never been answered. For example, what would honourable senators on the Government side do about the disposal of radioactive waste? No honourable senator opposite has stated what sorts of safeguards he would apply. Would honourable senators bring the waste back to Maralinga? Would they bury it near Senator Kilgariff ‘s little humpy? Would they put it in the West? Would they pollute the streams? I was in New York in recent years. I went to see a great nuclear power station which was very near an important river. At that time- this was two years ago- it was stated that they had all the safeguards necessary to contain the residue from this power station. But what happened? A few months ago, of course, they had a leak. This leak might have threatened and polluted streams. The incident at Harrisburg came on top of that situation. The Labor Party has made its position clear. Its policy is strong and positive. It will continue to assess as much as possible all the information that it gets.
– Where do you stand?
– I have told the honourable senator where I stand. I support the Labor Party’s policies. I am sure that it is correct. I have seen more nuclear power stations than the honourable senator has. I have been to Iron Curtain countries and I have seen and heard their guff about protection and safety. Directly, Senator Kilgariff will get up and tell us about the uranium mines in Romania and how they are all safe. I tell honourable senators that no tests have been conducted under those conditions. No valuable information has yet been made available. When the Labor Party receives the information on which we know a decision can be made, we will certainly review our policy.
Let us talk about some of the things we know for sure. I refer firstly to the Windscale inquiry in the United Kingdom. This is a very recent review. Although it started in 1977, as recently as January of this year the British Government accepted a report in which Mr Justice Parker stated:
The disadvantages of disposal of spent fuel or indefinite storage of the fuel is that there is a wastage of energy but, in addition, it could escape from the disposal site back to the environment.
He went on to say:
On the question of the disposal of the solidified waste -
That is, the vitrified waste when it has been put in that form and while it is still dangerous -
Professor Tolstoy drew attention to a large number of points which showed that a final solution to the problems of disposal has not yet been found.
In fact, this report recommended to the British Government that it should not proceed at that stage. In the United States of America, as recently as late last year, a committee of the House of Representatives recommended:
Radioactive waste is a significant and growing problem. At least 3,000 metric tonnes of spent nuclear fuel are now being stored at commercial reactor sites and with an additional 17,000 metric tonnes expected to accumulate in the next decade. Yet there is still no demonstrated technology for permanently and safely disposing of this waste.
– You don’t believe that.
– Well, senator, committees of the United States Congress are very important. I suggest that the honourable senator listen to the recommendations of those committees. In addition, I want to refer to another publication. This publication, issued by the International Consultative Group on Nuclear Energy and published by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is entitled ‘International Custody of Plutonium Stocks: A First Step Towards an International Regime for Sensitive Nuclear Energy Activities’. One of its authors is Russell Fox. The report states:
The nuclear weapon proliferation problem relates to the security of every nation.
The critical proliferation risk is the diversion, actual or feared, of weapons-usable materials.
Assurances of supply of nuclear materials, services, equipment, and technology for civil nuclear purposes are dependent on the establishment of non-proliferation measures which are recognised as adequate.
A number of nations do not regard existing treaties and international arrangements, embodied in the IAEA/NPT system and certain regional arrangements, as adequate to deal with the proliferation risks arising from the widespread use of civil nuclear power.
Additional restraints … are at best only a partial solution -
Some suppliers insist on conditions which are more onerous than are required by others. The absence of uniformity not only tends to distort international trade patterns in nuclear materials, services and equipment, but also may subject nuclear enterprises in recipient countries to conflicting conditions . . .
Generally, of course, that is so. People talk about scientists who have supported this development which is going on in the world today; but for every such scientist there is conflicting concern expressed not only by other scientists but also by other people throughout the world. I suggest that in our own country- and South Australia particularly- there is a large and representative body of people who will support the Labor Party’s policy until they are satisfied, like the South Australian Government, that this necessary development can be carried out under proper safeguards and not under hazardous conditions.
Senator Young, in his own way, has given some credit to Premier Corcoran and to Mr Hudson. I think all of us would agree, leaving politics aside, that they are professional and conscientious Ministers. I refer particularly to Mr Hudson who is an expert. All of us have listened to Mr Hudson and have heard his recommendations on South Australian developments. A lot of us are trying to help, but I think -
– I think they might like enrichment.
– I would have been more mindful of the honourable senator’s advice about moral obligations if he had talked today in the Senate about the urgent need for the Federal Government to provide more back-up for the Redcliff proposition. I think that Senator Young, Senator Jessop and I are convinced about that. Along with those honourable senators I have attended a meeting with Mr Hudson. I and most of the Liberal members of South Australia attended a meeting. At that gathering we all said we would support the activities at Redcliff because we were convinced that Mr Hudson was a competent Minister.
I would have been more impressed with the debate today if Senator Young had not set about talking about what he considers to be the moral obligation of the need to provide more energy to a world which needs it. We all know that. I travelled recently through South East Asia and I am pleased to say that the governments of three of those countries were anxious to ensure they got some of the vast reserves of Australian coal. This is one way of coping with a very difficult situation. People have questioned me about whether I support the Labor Party policy. There is no doubt in my mind that what the Labor Party has said and what the conservationists are putting forward today constitutes good grounds for taking it easy, for slowing up. There is nothing better in this society, when we are not sure of developments, when we are not sure of the hazards, than just taking a short breathing space. The South Australian Labor Government is doing that. It is making sure, as everybody knows, that the technology that is so important -
– Hasten slowly.
– Yes, senator. The former Premier, Mr Dunstan, was criticised by a number of people for collecting as many scientific facts as possible. That is the proper attitude for a State government to adopt. I hope that when the Senate again debates the question we might leave aside the political emergency issues which have arisen today. I think I can say that after today’s meeting held by the South Australian Premier, there is no doubt- despite the efforts of Senator Young and the efforts which Senator Jessop will make later to sabotage the victorythe Labor Government will be victorious in South Australia.
-I have been anxiously awaiting some hint of policy from the Opposition benches concerning the provision of jobs for the unemployed in Australia. I think it is most appropriate that the matter we are discussing now should have been raised at this time. It is true that Australia has an obligation to share its energy resources with other less fortunate countries. I am appalled to find that whenever the question of uranium mining and development in Australia is raised members of the Labor Party throw up their hands in horror and start screaming about nuclear waste. We are not talking about nuclear waste. That is an excuse that just cannot be sustained. It is an emotional argument which, in my opinion, is nonsense.
I know very well that the United Kingdom, for example, is accepting nuclear waste from countries such as Japan well knowing that in the future it will have a resource of energy which will be quite valuable. That decision was made in the time of a Labour Government. It is quite foolish for people to turn their backs on this issue. If we are to provide jobs in Australia we have to develop the uranium mining industry as soon as possible. It is quite crazy for honourable senators opposite to suggest that action we take here will prevent 53 countries from proceeding with programs to expand nuclear energy in order to provide their populations with the energy required to increase their quality of life. If we adopt that sort of attitude we are denying people the right to improve their quality of life. I find it extraordinary that the Labor Party should adopt that attitude.
I am also appalled that the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable Des Corcoran, should state- he was compelled to do so, of course, by the influences at the trades hall, dominated by the left wing- that he will keep in the ground, in South Australia, 10 per cent of the world’s uranium resources. He said he would do so until the industry is completely safe. He is quoted in the Press as having made that statement. He disregards the other power generating industries in Australia. He chooses to disregard the fact that no industry in the world is completely safe. Recently we had evidence of that when there was a methane gas explosion at a mine in New South Wales which resulted in the deaths of 14 unfortunate workers. This created misery for their families. Hardly a ripple of concern was expressed in the papers of Australia about that accident yet if a uranium industry worker tripped and broke his neck in Harrisburg or at another nuclear plant there would be hell to pay. It would be an international incident.
There were 14 deaths in that coal mine in New South Wales. That industry has a safety record which is absolutely appalling when compared with that of the nuclear industry. Probably not as many as 14 deaths have occurred in the nuclear industry since it began. All the waste accumulated from throughout the world since the 1950s when nuclear power was developed would cover the Adelaide Oval to a depth of about one metre. What is the Opposition talking about? It just displays total ignorance. While the Opposition is denying job opportunities to people in South Australia and while it is denying people jobs by constant frustration and constant agitation by the left wing elements within the trade union movement, it asks what the Government is going to do to provide jobs. As Senator Young has illustrated, at Roxby Downs alone there would be 5,000 jobs.
– When? Tell us when.
-I will tell the honourable senator when, if he will listen. After 15 September, when the government in South Australia is changed, a government that will be led by Mr Tonkin and will not be harnessed and restricted by the stupid actions of a trades hall, we will see the jobs created at Roxby Downs. Within four years 5,000 jobs will be provided in that area alone. Let me give another example. At the Beverley deposits, in the vicinity of Lake Frome, there is a considerable amount of uranium. This could be developed within 18 months by a leaching process in which fluid is injected into the ore body- a process which has environmental appeal. The proposition alone would require $100m worth of steel. ‘Where could that steel be prefabricated?’, I ask the honourable senators from South Australia. The obvious answer is Whyalla. Yet the Opposition asks what the Government is doing about providing jobs for Whyalla. That is what we want to do. The Opposition talks about uranium enrichment plants.
– You cannot be trusted. You are the least trustworthy of the South Australian senators.
– The Opposition does not like to listen to this, because it is true.
– Order! There are too many interjections. The honourable senator will kindly direct his remarks through the Chair.
-Certainly, Mr President. I am just reminding the Opposition that it has charged the Government with not being interested in providing jobs in Whyalla and in the northern part of South Australia- the socalled iron triangle. I should like to read to the
Senate a letter written to me by the Mayor of the city of Port Pirie- a very densely populated Labor city. The letter is dated 20 December 1 977. What does the Mayor say?
– We went there together.
– Yes, we might have; but I will tell the Senate what the Mayor says in his letter:
The matter of support for your actions regarding the establishment of a Uranium Enrichment Plant in this area was put to Council on 5th December 1 977 and a motion supporting your enterprise was carried.
We are most grateful for your efforts to obtain this industry for our city.
We will be anxiously awaiting a decision on the Uranium Enrichment Plant, and also to meet you in the New Year to further discuss this proposition.
That is an acknowledgement from a Labor city.
– And did you go there?
– Yes, I did go there in the New Year. I took with me an expert who knows a lot more about uranium enrichment -
-Who is he? Who is the expert?
– The expert was Dr John Symonds from Lucas Heights. He is a former South Australian; he was educated at the Adelaide High School. This particular meeting was convened by the Mayor of Port Pirie. I supplied the expertise from Lucas Heights.
– You supplied it?
– Yes, I did. I invited Dr Symonds to attend the meeting, and the Lucas Heights authorities were very pleased to be able to educate the people of the north to such a degree that they are now satisfied that there are no problems at all associated with uranium enrichment, despite the nonsense and the red herrings that are drawn across the trail by members of the Opposition.
– Why is Radium Hill fenced off if there is no danger?
– Order! Interjections are in excess. Honourable senators will please desist from interjecting.
– A member of the Uranium Enrichment Committee happens to be Mr Dickinson, who was Director of Mines when the Radium Hill project was developed. He has assured me from personal knowledge and inquiry that a lot of nonsense was spoken about that particular dump at Port Pirie. It has been proved safe by the State Department of Health and a statement has been made accordingly.
I want, in a few moments, to draw to the attention of the Senate statements which have been made by Mr Dunstan. In late January and early February this year South Australia’s then Premier went overseas on a study tour related to developments of nuclear safeguards. In Amsterdam, at the conclusion of this trip, he said that, since the decision at the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference in Perth in July 1 977 not to mine uranium until the Party was satisfied that it was safe to do so, ‘the question of ultimate safe disposal has altered dramatically’. Mr Dunstan also said in Amsterdam:
All the conditions which South Australia would want can be provided in the next couple of years.
– The left wing killed them.
– Of course, as Senator Young said, while Mr Dunstan was away the left wing, led by Mr Peter Duncan, stabbed him in the back and forced his retirement. He was genuinely trying to help South Australia, and the Trades Hall would not allow him to do so. Another thing which Mr Dunstan said, before embarking on the overseas trip to which I have referred, was:
Supposing I can get it off the ground -
Perhaps that should read ‘out of the ground ‘:
Roxby Downs is potentially one of the biggest mines in the world. It is potentially a mine decidedly larger than Mt Isa. It would create jobs directly and spin off thousands of othersand if it is linked to a uranium enrichment plant- there are thousands more again.
Yet Mr Duncan gets up and says that a lot of nonsense is associated with the development of Roxby Downs and that no job opportunities are provided in that development. That indicates to me that the Labor Party must take a serious look at its front bench and put a few more responsible people there.
I was interested in the ALP theme for the current election, namely, ‘Follow a leader’. The ALP has jingles and variations on this theme flooding the radio, television and other media throughout South Australia, in an attempt to brainwash the electorate into believing that the ALP is the best thing since sliced bread. The theme ‘Follow a leader’ reminds me of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who tootled his flute and led all the brown rats, the tawny rats, the grey rats and the little kids dancing and singing over the cliff into the sea. I suggest that, the people having heard the non-policy, the unemployment policy of the Labor Party, that is precisely what will happen in South Australia. Unless they change the government on 1 5 September, I believe that there will be no hope.
– Peter Duncan says: ‘No mining’.
-Peter Duncan says that categorically, and the Labor Party regards him as a potential replacement for Mr Des Corcoran. I believe that what will happen in South Australia if Mr Corcoran is successful- I just cannot believe that he will be, because the South Australians have already woken up to this- is that he will be like the Pied Piper. He will lead the people of South Australia over the cliff and they will be floundering in a sea of industrial frustration and industrial hopelessness.
– I must admit that I really did believe that the Government was quite serious in its endeavour to get before the chamber an urgency motion which was not connected with the South Australian election. If we wanted any evidence to the contrary, we have just had it in Senator Jessop ‘s speech. This motion has been brought on quite deliberately by Government senators from South Australia to somehow bring some credibility to, or improve the flagging support for their party in the forthcoming election in South Australia. It is perfectly obvious that it does not matter what a Federal member of parliament from South Australia does in this chamber in a debate on an urgency motion such as this as there is no way in which it could alter the course of the election on 15 September. The South Australian Labor Government will be returned with a larger majority than it has now and will thus be able to work much more effectively.
However, I would like to speak to the urgency motion because it is a very important one. A number of the words used in the motion demand extremely careful scrutiny, both individually and collectively. For instance, reference is made to the moral obligation of Australia’, which is coupled with ‘commercial development’ and uranium’. Therefore, honourable senators on this side of the chamber must decide whether Government senators are serious when they talk about our moral obligation to the commercial development of resources generally or only when they talk about the commercial development of uranium. I strongly suspect that the latter is the case.
What we on this side of the House object to is the assertion, which seems constantly to come from the Government benches, that somehow this moral obligation embraces also the exploitation of our uranium mines. There are numerous ways in which the Government of this wealthy country could assist, in the words of the motion, ‘an energy starved world’ to overcome some of its problems. We could do that if we had the courage, the guts perhaps, to spend much more and to devote much more of our physical resources to researching other forms of energy, such as solar power.
– Can you export that?
– No, but we can export designs for the containment of solar energy, in case the honourable senator is not aware of that fact. I have obtained today, with the compliments of the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster), some very interesting documents from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. They are extremely interesting and all relate to solar energy, but they are all inconclusive because we have as yet done nothing more than write documents and undertake small amounts of research. Since I have only 15 minutes in which to speak to this motion, it will be extremely difficult for me to cover comprehensively all of the areas that I wish to cover. I say that we do have a moral obligation to the energy starved world, that we can assist it if only we have the courage to provide the CSIRO with sufficient funds and physical resources to enable it to conduct comprehensive research into those other energy areas.
Let us for a moment consider what this debate is really all about. The urgency motion speaks also of the ‘commercial development of its abundant resources including uranium’. We have in this country ample supplies of a number of minerals. We have known gas, oil and coal reserves, yet there is in the motion nothing which indicates that we should be undertaking the commercial development of our abundant resources in those areas. The motion concentrates on uranium. We have heard already noises from the Premier in the north, in talking about the enrichment plant at Herveys Range. We have heard also noises from my own State of Western Australia, where the Premier has insisted that by 1990 there will be a nuclear energy station. However very few noises are being made about -
– That is why people are going from South Australia to Western Australia to get jobs.
– How many jobs does the honourable senator say will be available? Will the honourable senator now say that the Fox report was wrong? Has the honourable senator read in the Fox report of the number of jobs that it was said would be available? I say to him: ‘Do not talk rubbish’. If he has not read the
Fox report, he should go away and study it comprehensively.
I have here a document for incorporation in Hansard. I have already obtained the agreement of the Deputy President and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) who earlier was in charge of the House. The document refers specifically to detailed comments concerning matters that were raised, by interjection, by such Government supporters as Senator Collard, who said that there had been no deaths in the nuclear energy industry.
– At nuclear power stations.
– I ask the honourable senator: Is he questioning, for instance, the statistics that appear in the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Year Book of 1977? Is the honourable senator questioning, for instance, the figures given by Mr Higson and Mr Crancher of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in their paper of October 1 976? Is the honourable senator questioning, for instance, the statements of Robert Barker of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Tansportation of the United States of America, in his summary before the Warren Committee hearings of November 1974? Is the honourable senator questioning newspaper reports that there have in actual fact been deaths in the nuclear energy industry, both here and in other countries? I now formally seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the document to which I have referred.
The document read as follows-
SAFETY RECORD OF THE NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY ACCIDENTS, LEAKS, FAILURES AND INCIDENTS
1952, 12th December-NRX Chalk River, Canada
First major reactor accident. Human error. Technician opened three or Tour valves. Resultant heat release melted some of the uranium fuel, heat boiled some of the coolant. The reactor core was nearly demolished by the explosions, much radioactivity was emitted. (Source: Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M., and in S. Novick 1955, November-Idaho Falls
EBR-1 reactor had a partial core meltdown. The reactor was destroyed and much low level contamination ensued. (Source: Eco. atomic reactor safety hearings 1973 p. 56) 1957, October-Windscale No. 1. England
Fire caused by human error. Defective procedure. Eleven tons of uranium ablaze released a vast cloud of radioisotopes from the melted fuel. Milk from an area of more than 500 square kilometres (approx. 2 million litres) was poured into the rivers and the sea as unsafe for human consumption. Farmers were compensated by the Government, but how people living near Windscale were affected is not known. Nor is it known how much radioactivity descended over
Westmoreland and Cumberland. Local inhabitants say there is a high incidence of cancer deaths in the area, but the Government did not do any medical or statistical checks. Both Windscale reactors have since been filled with concrete and entombed. Report of inquiries into the safety was never published. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.; “Les Amis de la Terre” 1958-Ural Mountains, U.S.S.R.
Explosion reported to have occurred in radioactive stockpile. Hundreds of square miles were left barren and unusable “for decades and maybe centuries”. Hundreds of people died, thousands were injured and surrounding areas evacuated. (Source: Dr Zhones Medvedev and Professor Leo Tumerman- nuclear scientists. Reported in “The Australian” 9th December, 1976).
Ural Mountains catastrophe was confirmed by published Soviet research into the effects of radioactivity on plants and animals by Prof. Leo Tumerman, former head of Biophysics Laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow. (“Sydney Morning Herald”- 8th November, 1976, 12th November, 1976; “New Scientist “-30th June, 1977.) 1958, May-Chalk River, Canada
NRU- irradiated fuel element broke and plant caught fire. Two months intense contamination. 400,000 square miles around the building were contaminated. (Sources: Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M., Jean Geue A.A.E.C., Les Amis de la Terre) 1958, 18th October-Boris Kidric Institute, Vinca, Yugoslavia
Nuclear reactor overheated. Six scientists were irradiated, transported to France for treatment
One death. (Sources: Work Circle Environmental Protection) Les Amis de la Terre) 1958-Los Alamos, U.S.A.
One death caused by radiation in the uranium enrichment plant. Plutonium had been allowed to accumulate inside a mixing vessel. (Source: World Health Organisation, 1961 and “Contingency Plan”) 1958-Waltz Mill, U.S.A.
Cooling system failed. (Source: World Health Organisation and “Contingency Plan”) 1961-ldaho Falls, U.S.A.
Reported as first MAJOR reactor accident in U.S.A. An explosion occurred, the cause of which is still not known.
- Three men were killed instantly- their bodies were so severely irradiated that their exposed hands and heads had to be severed from their bodies and buried in a dump for radioactive waste. Took years to dissamble the wrecked plant and the burial ground will have to be guarded forever. Rescuers received high radiation doses. (Sources: Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M., Les Amis de la Terre, Jean Geue A.A.E.C. ) 1962, 7th October -McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
Flash hydrogen fire in the nuclear plant containment tanks. 1945-1963 According to the Austrian engineer Erich H. Schulz there were more than 1000 accidents in the nuclear industry between these years (Source: K. Thiemig) 1963, April-U.S.S. Thresher-Nuclear Submarine
- Disappeared on a deep test dive; 1 12 navy men and 17 civilians on board. No-one knows what happened but the loss underlines the implications of substandard quality control in nuclear systems, both military and civil. There are an estimated 129 nuclear attack submarines and SSL submarines (those capable of launching ballistic missiles). The substandard quality of these submarines is borne out by the high number of accidents and incidents of nuclear submarines.
Since 1 963 when the first mishap was reported there have been 32 accidents and incidents involving nuclear submarines up to October, 1976. “The dangers of nuclear submarines are incisive with horrific consequences. There are no evacuation plans for cities whose ports are used by these ships. There only needs to be one accident or malfunctioning while a nuclear submarine is in port and the consequences would be disastrous. Large resources are being used by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the development of anti-submarine warfare.
When A.S.W. (Anti-Submarine Warfare) is perfected there would be, needless to say “an exceedingly dangerous development with respect for world security”. (Source: S.I.P.R.l. Yearbook 1977, p. 6) 1951-1963-Nuclear Tests held at Nevada test site)
*Martha B. Laird’s husband and son developed leukaemia. Son died. Other children developed rashes. Sister reported burns to eyes. “ During this time, our cows got white spots on them and developed cancer eyes”. Mrs Laird wrote to the Government. “One letter came back saying I was Communistically inspired”. Another said: “persons in fallout path ‘were a small sacrifice’ “. (The Herald, Tuesday, April, 24th, 1 979 ). 1963- Calder Hill Reactor, U.K.
Turbine failure caused by failing to find pieces of steel shot which would have been visible to the naked eye in the steam lines. (Source: Charles Wakstein) 1964, February-Windscale, U.K.
Leak of radioactive waste. (Source: Charles Wakstein) 1964- Shippingport, Pittsburgh, U.S.A.
New steam generators were installed but the pipes to them could not carry the new load, so “hangers” were installed to hold the pipes. The hangers broke and fortunately a worker happened to notice the sagging pipes. If he had not been there and the reactor had started operation the worst Loss of Coolant Accident (L.O.C.A.) would have occurred. (Source: N. Thieberger) 1964- Wood River, U.S.A.
*One death from radioactivity in the uranium enrichment plant. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1965, September- Humboldt Bay Station, California
High radioactivity. Fuel elements failed. Plant shut down to replace rods. Continued high radioactivity forced the company to run at 40% capacity. (Source: Les Amis de la Terre) 1965 - U.S. Public Health Department
Evidence suggests excessive leukaemia deaths among Utah residents. Report shelved.
*From 1950 to 1964, 28 leukaemia deaths in the South West Counties of the State of Utah. Only 19 cases of leukaemia would have been expected to occur among the 20,000 residents of the area.
- 1 959 and 1 960. 7 people with acute leukaemia, 5 of them children and teenagers. (“West Australian” 10th January, 1979) 1965-Mol, Belgium
Ferdinand Janssens, a Belgian physicist was irradiated and had to be taken to Curie Hospital in Paris for treatment. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.)
According to “Contingency Plan” a worker’s leg had to be amputated after exposure to radiation. 1966, 5th October- Lagoona Beach, Enrico Fermi (Fast Breeder) Reactor, Michigan, U.S.A.
Partial meltdown. The reactor was successfully shut down. It took1½ years to work out the cause of the accident. Several pieces of sheet metal had broken off the bottom of the reactor vessel and were swept up in the coolant flow, causing a blockage. The reactor had been operating at 1 5% of full power and was afterwards de-commissioned. Four million people lived within a mile of the site. (Sources: Les Amis de la Terre, Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M., Jean Geue A.A.E.C. ) 1967, 7th November- Grenoble, France
Leak of 5 5, 000 curies (Iodine 131, cesium 138, rare gases) into the reactor pool and 2,000 curies into the atmosphere via the chimney. (Source: La Guele Overte, April, 1974) 1968-Elk River, U.S.A.
Emission of high levels of radioactivity from leak in the primary circuit. Reactor had to be closed down. (Source: Contingency Plan ‘Work Circle Environmental Protection’) 1968, January, Chooz Reactor, Belgium
Serious accident occurred at the Franco-Belge reactor in the Ardennes. It took two years and two months to repair. (Source: Bulletin A.T.E.M.) 1968-La Crosse, U.S.A.
Failure of control system. Reactor had to be closed down. (Source: Contingency Plan ‘Work Circle Environmental Protection’) 1968, February -San Clemente, U.S.A.
Major cable fire. Failure of shutdown equipment at Edison’s San Onofra Plant ( Westinghouse). (Source: Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M. OP.CIT.) 1968, March-San Clemente, U.S.A.
Another major cable fire. Shutdown equipment failed at Edison ‘s San Onofra Plant ( Westinghouse ). (Source: N. Thieberger) 1968, 2nd-3rd October-The Hague (On the Channel) France
Leak of 18 curies per second iodine 131 from UP 2 reprocessing plant. (Source: Les Amis de la Terre)
“Ten workers died as a result of over exposure to radiation from experimental reactors or in laboratory work connected with the development of nuclear power”. (Source: D. Higson and D. W. Crancher Australian Atomic Energy Commission ) 1969 Irish Sea
Leak of plutonium (Source: C. Wakstein) 1969, 21st January- Lycens Reactor, Switzerland.
Partial meltdown of reactor core. Release of radioactivity, reactor destroyed. Reactor was in a rock cavern and has been converted into storage area for waste disposal. (Source: Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M.) 1969- Gundremmingen, West Germany
Repeated ruptures in the vanes of the turbines became worse due to radioactivity and eventually broke. (Source: Bulletin A.T.E.M.) 1969, 17th October-Saint Laurent-Des-Eaux, France
Fuel meltdown in reactor core. Repairs took three months. (Source: Bulletin Info.CEANo. 157, March 1971) 1969- Lingen, Federal Republic of Germany
Leak in the primary circuit. Effluent was discharged into the River Ems resulting in a radioactivity level 1 3 times over and above the permitted annual quantity. (Source: Contingency Plan) 1969- Bradwell Nuclear Power Station Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station Dungeness Nuclear Power Station Sizewell Nuclear Power Station Oldsbury Nuclear Power Station Trawsfyndd, U.K. Nuclear Power Station
Cracks occurred in the main cooling conduits of all the above reactors. 1969,11th May-Rocky Flats, Colorado, U.S.A.
Plutonium spontaneously ignited in a container of nearly 600 tons of combustible material; the fire burned 2000 kilograms of plutonium (a microgram of which can be toxic), giving off plutonium oxide, and caused a further $45 million damage. Soil samples taken from around the plant were contaminated with plutonium. (Private investigation by Or Edward Martell was necessary because the Atomic Energy Commission, which owned the plant, and Dow Chemicals, which operated it under contract, refused to do sampling in the area). (Source: N. Thieberger Op. Cit. Pg. 3 ) 1969- Geona Plant, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Employees at the plant became concerned at the high level of radioactivity in their drinking water fountains. Investigations uncovered a hose connecting the drinking water system to a tank of radioactive waste. The AEC concluded “the coupling of a contaminated system with a potable water system is considered poor practice in general ‘ ‘. (Source: “Rolling Stone” (Aust) 28th July, 1977.) 1970- Windscale U.K.
Criticality accident. Uncontrolled release of radiation caused by neglect of an accumulation of plutonium in a vessel. Engineers did not know there was any plutonium residue in the vessel as the reactor did not have neutron monitoring devices. (Source: C. Wakstein p. 2 12) 1970-Beznau, C.S.R. 10 workers exposed to radioactivity. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1970, 3rd April -Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Strontium 90 in the soil at the edge of the site of the Shippingport nuclear reactor (claimed to be the safest in the U.S.) reached a level 100 times greater than the national average. The radioactivity in milk was 4 times greater. (Source: N. Thieberger Op. Cit. p. 4) 1970, May-Indian Point, U.S.A.
Reactor had a major plumbing problem which required the use of 700 men (for a few minutes each) over a 7-month period to weld in the radioactive area. (Source: Les Amis de la Terre L’escroquerie nucteaire 1970,5th June-Dresden 2, Illinois, U.S.A.
A spurious signal started off an incredible series of mistakes by both technicians and equipment. The reactor was out of control for 2 hours, pressure built up inside until it released radioactive iodine 131 to 100 times the safe limit to the dry well. Kendall Moglewer preliminary review of the AEC reactor safety study. Moss 1974. According to Dr Sternglass of the University of Pittsburgh, 2,500 babies would die because their parents lived downwind of the plant. (Sources: Work Circle Environmental Protection; Jean Geue A.A.E.C.) 1970, September -France
Captain Jacques Cousteau, speaking to the Council of Europe, said of the barrels of waste lying at the bottom of the sea “they have been photographed lying open yawning like oysters”. (Source: Thieberger p. 4) 1970, 7th-1 1th September, France
At the symposium of the International Atomic Energy Agency it was revealed that reprocessing plants ‘lost’ through liquid and solid discharges, 1.5% of the materials they process. It was also stated that a nuclear power plant diffuses 30 curies of radioactivity per megawatt per year into the atmosphere. (Source: Thieberger p. 5) 1970, 30th September-Hanford Reactor, U.S.A.
A loss of coolant automatically started the primary SCRAM system (SCRAM is the rapid reinsertion of control rods). The system failed due to a short circuit. The backup SCRAM system worked. General Electric calculated that the probability of a failure in SCRAM was one in ten billion (10’°); the actual rate so far has been one in ten thousand ( 10’). Past accidents at Hanford occurred on 3rd October, 1954, 4th January, 1955, 6th January, 1966. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.) 1970, 18th October-Wylfa, U.K.
The plant was stopped after a power excursion accident, potentially more dangerous than a loss of coolant ( LOCA) (Sources: Nous allons tous Crever, J. Pignero, 1st April, 1 974; Les Amis de la Terre ) 1971, August-Muehlenberg, Switzerland
Fire at the nuclear plant quickly put under control. (Source: Journal of Geneva 25th August, 1 97 1 ) 1971, August-The Gulf of Gascone 4,000 tonnes of radioactive wastes dumped in the Gulf. (Source: Thieberger p. 5) 1971, 10th October-Bugey, France
Fire under the control room just before the reactor was put into service. (Source: ‘Le Monde’ 12th October, 1971) 1971, December-U.S.A.
A box of radioactive salts of Molybdenum 99 was being carried on a Delta Airlines plane when it began to leak. The leak was not discovered until 9 flights later. Enough radiation escaped to cause “some worries” to the AEC. (Source: Thiebergerp. 5) 1971, 10th December-The Hague (On the Channel) France
Rupture of the pipes carrying radioactive materials, contamination of the pool and drinking water at the plant. 150 separate leaks into the centre occurred. Work periods of 3 minutes were instituted for the welders due to the strong radioactivity of the centre. (Source: Rayonnement, a paper of the CFDT CEA, July, 1972). 1971- Beznau, Switzerland
Fuel rods underwent swelling at Westinghouse reactor; each of the rods was supposed to have been filled with enriched uranium oxide. A number of the spent rods were found to be empty near the top for a space of several inches. (Source: N. Thieberger p. 5) 1 971 -Dresden 3, U.S.A.
Failure of pressure control system, excessive pressure built up in safety compartment. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1971, Mid year-Clinton, Tennessee, U.S.A.
The manufacturer of sealed radioactive sources abandoned a plant site leaving a significantly contaminated area. The cost of decontamination fell, by default, on the Federal and State Governments. (Source: “A Landscape of Nuclear Tombs “Alexis Parks) 1972, 8th March-Indian Point, U.S.A.
Pressures in the primary cooling circuit increased by 30%. Water released subsequently killed 150,000 fish in the Hudson River.
Studies in the U.S. have shown that there is a slight increase in radiation levels in rabbits and fish around all sites in the U.S. (Source: “New York Times” 16th June, 1974) 1972, April- Wuergassen, West Germany
Pressure relief valve opened and stuck. Steam poured out and destroyed reinforcement structures. Important reactor control instruments failed to function and about1050 tonnes of radioactive water flowed into the River Weser.
After months of repair the plant re-opened only to close down again in February, 1 973, and again in February, 1 974. (Source: Lebensschutz, April, 1974) 1972, April- Ginna Reactor, Ontario
The Westinghouse-designed and fuelled reactor contained 2,000 fuel rods, 40% of which were bent or crushed. (Source: N. Thieberger Op. Cit. p. 5) 1972, June- Mihama, Unit 1, Japan 1,900 out of 8,800 pipes of the steam generator were damaged. (Source: N. Thiebergerp. 5) 1972, 14th June-Holland
A Dutch fisherman found a metal barrel with the words highly radioactive’ printed on it, just off the coast of Holland. (Source: N. Thiebergerp. 5) 1972, July-Saclay E1-3, France
In this reactor there were two gates through which radioactive waste and normal wastes would pass. One would go into a special container, the other went straight into the drains. After the emptying of more than ten cubic metres of radioactive liquids, the special container was still empty. The reason was that the gate leading to it was still closed while the other one, the one leading to the normal drain system was open . . . (Source: N. Thieberger p. 5 ) 1972- Gundreminngen, Republic of Germany
Sediments in reactor core prevented circulation of cooling water. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1972-Obrigheim, Federal Republic of Germany
Radioactive contamination when container of radioactive effluent burst. Several source faults detected. (Source: ‘Contingency Plan’ Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1972-Surry 1, U.S.A.
- Two deaths due to failure of a valve. Investigation detected more than 500 faulty welding spots. (Sources: Work Circle Environmental Protection) “Not Man Apart”, Sept. 1972) 1972, September-Millstone 1, Reactor, U.S.A.
The 40,000 condensor tubes were made of aluminium alloy, they corroded, allowing sea water into the cooling system. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.) “Boston Globe” 14th October, 1974. 1972, 7th November-Turkey Point 3, U.S.A.
Switch gear room of the reactor flooded due to plugged drains. (Source: N. Thieberger Op. Cit. P. 6) 1972, 23rd November-U.S.A.
A hijacked DC-9 circled Oak Ridge nuclear installation for 2 hours. Hijackers demanded $10 million. Oak Ridge was shut down and most staff evacuated. Hijackers demands were met and they flew to Cuba. (Source: Thiebergerp. 6) 1972, 8th December-Annecy, France
Fire in the SICN plant which produces nuclear fuel. A further explosion and fire occurred on 22nd December and a fire on 9th October, 1973. (SICN = Societe Industrielle de Combustible Nucleaire) (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.) 1972, 14th December- Dounreay, Scotland
Anonymous telephone call alerted security staff who found two parcels in the plant. 1500 staff members were evacuated. Parcels were empty but could have been bombs. (Source: Thieberger p. 6) 1972, 21st December- Perpignan, France
Children found playing with boxes containing Strontium 90 which they found in a field near the local airport. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C. ) 1973, 15th January-Vernon, Vermont, U.S.A.
Vermont Yankee reactor gave off 100 times the safe limit of radiation caused by cracks in tubes carrying radioactive material. At one stage Vermont Yankee’s plant control rods were put in upside down and the plant later started operating with the lid off the pressure vessel. “Times Record “23 April 1974. 1973, January -Chooz. Belgium
Radioactive elements from the nuclear plant entered the River Meuse near Vise. Water remained abnormally radioactive for about 6 months. “La Nouvelle Republique” 10th January, 1973 1973, 16th February-Holland
Container of Cobalt 60 lost in the sea north of the Island of Ulieland (Source: Thieberger p. 10) 1973, 26th March- Argentina
Guerilla entered a nuclear reactor and initially were happy painting slogans but when they eventually left they threw a phosphorous bomb which fortunately was extinguished by firemen before it destroyed the whole plant. (Source: Thieberger p. 10) 1973- -Lingen Federal Republic of Germany
Serious damage to steam generators. Took one year to repair only to be replaced two years later with new generators. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1973-Wuergassen, Federal Republic of Germany
Cracks on two cooling system, potentially catastrophic as complete failure of cooling system could have occurred. Cracks discovered by accident. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1973, 17th April-Millstone 1, Connecticut, U.S.A.
Numerous cracks were discovered in the pipes of the cooling system. Radioactive mist escaped and activated radiation alarms on nuclear submarines docked at Waterford. “Wall Street Journal “3rd May, 1973 1973, 20th April, Hanford, U.S.A. 100,000,000 gallons of atomic wastes stored in containers whose life is 30-40 years. A leak was discovered on 20th April but wastes were still poured into the tanks, resulting in a leakage of 1 15,000 gallons before June 8th when pouring stopped. Geologists point out that the area has been under water at least 4 times in the last 40,000 years, the last time being 1 4,000 years ago. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection and Penelope Coeling 1973, June-Hanford, U.S.A.
A further 460,000 litres of radioactive liquid spread on the ground surrounding the reprocessing plant. “ Los Angeles Times “ 5th July, 1 973. 1973,July-U.S.A.
According to the A.E.C. cover reactors had been closed down or abandoned (costing millions and millions of dollars) as well as 77 research or experimental reactors, and the only nuclear cargo ship the “Savannah “. Four nuclear submarines were dismantled or ‘lost’. (Source: Thieberger p. 7) 1973-New Jersey, U.S.A.
EDWARD GLEASON, a New Jersey truck dock worker accidentally spilled plutonium on himself while handling a leaking box of liquid waste in 1963. Four years later his hand, then his arm and shoulder were amputated because of a rare form of cancer, from which he died in 1 973, aged 39. The company responsible refused to pay him compensation before he died. (Source: Thieberger p. 7) 1973, September -The Hague (On the Channel) France
Radioactive gas escapes, 35 employees contaminated, 7 seriously. “Us Echos’ 24th September, 1973.
According to “Time” magazine, the crabs in the Channel have developed strange ulcerous sores. Radiation level in the crabs in 1 975 rose to eight times the normal level. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.)
Sodium leak and chemical explosion in the secondary cooling system of the reactor. “Le Monde” 15th February, 1974. 1973, September-Mihama Plant, Japan
Fuel damage was discovered, bowing of the rods was not eliminated; similar to Westinghouse reactor problems at Robinson Point and Point Beach Island. (Source: Thieberger p. 7) 1973, September-Windscale, U.K.
Radiation leak in the reprocessing plant; 34 workers were irradiated. (Source: Jean Geue A.A.E.C.) 1973, 12th October-U.S.A.
Congress investigation committee told by Senator Mike Gravel that emergency cooling systems had failed six times out of six when tested in 1 970. He also told of the discovery of high concentrations of Strontium 90 near the Shippingport reactor in 1972. (Source: Thieberger p. 7) 1973, 22nd October-San Onofre, U.S.A.
Malfunction of turbine generator led to shutdown of reactor. Increased vibration led operators to shut down faster than normal, causing overheating; this in turn activated the primary coolant system which caused a drop in pressure, normally indicating a blocked coolant pipe. The emergency system cut in and flooded the reactor with cooling water which hit the valves with too much force since the coolant was already there; pipes broke and six months were needed to repair the damage. “The Observer” 2nd December, 1973. 1973, 14th November -Hanford, U.S.A. 35,000 litres of radioactive waste leak. Jackrabbits in the area excrete radioactive ‘hot’ pellets and coyotes which eat the rabbits die of radiation poisoning. By the end of 1977 half a million gallons of wastes had been leaked from the Hanford site. (Source: Les Amis de la Terre) 1973, 28th November-U.K.
Wives of employees at Britain’s nuclear installations started a ‘love strike’, fearing radiation sickness. Nearly all 2,000 employees at Windscale atomic centre were affected. Union delegate, John Nuctor, said that “the young women had told him they refused to have any intimate contact with their husbands because their sweat might radioactively contaminate the linen”. (Source: Thieberger p. 8)
86 1 incidents were reported in U.S. nuclear power plants. (Source: D. Higson and D. W. Crancher, Australian Atomic Energy Commission) 1974-Big Rock, Michigan, U.S.A.
Charlevoix County in Michigan has an infant mortality rate of 44% higher than national average. Immature infant deaths are 18% higher. Leukaemia is 400% higher. Cancer deaths arc 15% more numerous than national average. Congenital defects 230% higher. Charlevoix County is the home of the Big Rock Point nuclear power plant. The above diseases were not caused by an accident; no insurance company or corporation will acknowledge a link between the plant and outside sicknesses. These figures and others show that nuclear reactors are health hazards even when operating normally. (See Mary Weik 1964). 1974, 23rd January -Cherbourg
An appeal sent out by radio “Urgent notice for navigators from Cherbourg- Blue container, two metres long, containing radioactive material is lost in the North Sea 56° 36’ N, 000° 55 ‘ East. In case of discovery do not open, and immediately inform Aberdeen Coastguard “. (Source: Thieberger p. 8) 1974, 24th January -Washington, U.S.A.
Released today that Or Carl Walski told a Parliamentary subcommittee in May and June 1973 that 3,700 people who had had access to nuclear arms had been sacked during 1973/74 for reasons such as alcoholism, abuse of narcotics, or mental illness. (Source: Thiebergerp. 8) 1974, February-Australia
The annual incidence of leukaemia in Australia has increased from just under 2 cases per million in 1930 to 57 cases per million in 1970. (Source: “Atmospheric testing, a survey of medical statistics in Australia “ by Bruce J. Brown). 1974-Kerr McGee Nuclear Plant, New York
Woman contaminated by plutonium. Karen Silkwood had gathered evidence on the unsafe working conditions at the plant and was on her way to deliver these to a newspaper reporter and a union official when she died in mysterious circumstances. “West Australian” 22nd May, 1979. 1974, February
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists quoted the following incidents: “In August, 1971 an intruder penetrated past guard towers and fences to enter the grounds of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant at Vernon, Vermont” and “In November, 1971 arson caused $5-10 million damage at the Indian Point No. 2 plant at Buchanan, New York”. 1974-Niedereichbah, West Germany
A Siemens experimental reactor was abandoned due to insurmountable problems. Cost was approx. $A66 million. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1974, February- Wurgassen, Germany
Violent vibrations in the turbines cause most of the vanes to break off. Repairs cost $A93,000 per day. “Lebensschutz” April, 1974 1974, 14th March -Hanford, U.S.A.
Leak of 1 15,000 gallons of highly radioactive waste for 1 7th time. Defective storage tank. (Source: Penelope Coeling M.A.U.M.) 1974, 6th April-U.S.A.
Northern States Power Company reactor dumped 10,000 gallons of radioactive water into the Mississippi River causing Minneapolis to close its water intake gates.
From 1969-74 the AEC made a total of 10,320 inspections and found 3,704 installations with one or more violations (but imposed civil penalties or some other saction a total of only 22 times!) “New York Times” August 26th, 1974. 1974 analysis “indicating the industry can anticipate a probable accident involving radioactive material in 1975 and perhaps as many as one per month in 2000”. (Donald E. Reardon, Deputy Manager ERDA, SF office, at Warren Committee hearing in November, 1 975 ). 1974, 2nd May- Savannah River, South Carolina
A radioactive cloud of Tritium formed after a leak in a pipe at nuclear reactor. “Le Monde” 5th June, 1974. 1974, 3rd-4th May -Hanford, U.S.A. 1900 to 7600 litres of liquid radioactive waste containing 600-24- curies of Cesium 137 and 10-40- curies of Strontium 90 leaked from underground storage tank No. 1 1 1 which is forty metres above the water table. (Source: Penelope Coeling p. 4, Thieberger p. 4) 1974, May-India
Police arrested 5 members of the personnel of a uranium enrichment plant and discovered 3.6 kilos of uranium. Enquiries revealed a gang which stole uranium, transported it through Nepal to eventually end up in Hong Kong. (Source: Thiebergerp. 9) 1974, 28th May-U.S.A.
The U.S. AEC said that there were 861 irregularities in the industry in 1973 in the 42 reactors which were working. Of those, 371 had some potential of being hazardous, 18 really were, 12 actually leaked radioactivity to the atmosphere. (Source: Les Amis De La Terre) 1974, May-Miamisburg, Ohio, U.S.A.
AEC laboratory leaks plutonium and contaminates the Erie Canal. “Boston Globe” 14th May, 1974. 1974, 1 1th July-Quad Cities, Illinois, U.S.A.
Radioactive vapour escaped after a valve on the primary circuit ruptured. Reactor had been working at 25% capacity. “Chicago Sun Times” 11th July, 1974. 1974, August- Grenoble Isere, France
Leak into the reactor pool of 2,500 curies. “Le Monde” 29th September, 1974. 1974, August- ANS Matsu, Japan
The crew of this nuclear cargo vessel discovered a leak in pipes carrying radioactive material after leaving Japan. Because of the potential danger they were unable to re-enter Japanese waters. Operators used borated boiled rice and old socks to try to block the leak. (Source Les Amis De La Terre L’Escroquerie Nucteaire Patterson pg. 213) 1974, 3rd September-Los Alamos, New Mexico, U.S.A. 1900 to 3800 litres of radioactive liquid escaped into the enviroment on to one of the main streets and into a parking lot. The area was closed off, parts of the road were replaced.
Past accidents at Los Alamos occurred on 2 1st August, 194S, 25th May, 1946, 30th December, 1958. (Source: Thieberger p. 1 1 ) 1974, September and December- Illinois and Connecticut, U.S.A.
A crack about 7.6 cms long was discovered at the Dresden Plant in Norris. As a result of this discovery some sixty others were found. Plants of similar type were investigated (Millstone, Quad-Cities, Dresden 2) and two Japanese facilities were found to have experienced the same problem. (Source: Thieberger IBID) 1974, 19th September -Ringhals, Sweden
Three pumps of the primary cooling system broke down. Reactor had to work at 30% capacity after the accident. “Not Man Apart “ mid- 1 974. 1974, 18th October-Con Edison Tri-Cities Plant
Radioactive gas released, exceeding the AEC limit by 33%.
In 4,000 shipments of radioactive fuel in 1975, 400 reported accidents occurred in which 150 released “small amounts” of radioactivity, two “potentially dangerous”.
Robert Barker, NRC, Dept. of Transportation, in his summary of WASH 1238 at Warren Committee hearings in November, 1975. 1974, 10th November- Saint Laurent Des Eaux, France
Fire in an electrical panel of the SL 2 reactor. Reactor shutdown and not allowed to run at full capacity. “Journal du dimanche” 10th November, 1974. 1974, 23rd November- -Saclay, France
Chemical explosion occurred during the cleaning of pipes at the Osiris reactor injuring 6 people, no radioactive leak. “Le Figaro 24th November, 1974 1974, 24th December-Michigan, U.S.A.
Pallisades reactor taken out of service after leaks in 7,000 out of the 1 4,000 tubes in condenser were discovered. (Source: Thieberger p. 1 1 ) 1975-Oklahoma, U.S.A. “Plutonium poisoning of workers in enrichment plant. Chief witness died in mysterious circumstances. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1975-Brown’s Ferry, Alabama, U.S.A.
Fire in plant caused by electrician checking for air flow with candle. Destruction of 2,000 cables, emergency core cooling system, reactor core isolation cooling system hand all important regulators and emergency cooling system. Only chance that prevented the melting of the 1 100 megawatt reactor. Out of service for I W hours. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1975- -Gundermmingen, Federal Republic of Germany
Leak in pipes of steam generator of the Mihama 2 reactor ( 500 megawatts) caused radioactive gases to escape. (Sources, “ Nuclear News ‘ ‘ March 1975 Patterson p. 2 1 3 ) 1975 27th March-Waterford, Connecticut
Nearly 1,200 workers had to be evacuated from the Northwest Utilities Nuclear Plant because of a radioactive water spill. Some of the contaminated water entered Long Island Sound. 20 workers had to wade through 4,000 litres of spilt radioactive water to safety. (Source: Penelope Coleing. Work Circle Environmental Protection)
Over a one-year period 15-20 nuclear reactor power stations had to be closed by the NRC due to cracks in the water cooling system. (Source: Work Circle Environmental Protection) 1976 12th January-U.S.A.
Six drums containing radioactive waste burst open after they rolled off tractor-trailer trucks in Ashfield, Kentucky, U.S.A. Two drivers were slightly injured. When the highway was cleaned checks indicated radioactivity. (Source: Legislative Research Service, Parliamentary Library, Canberra) 1976 January-Windscale, U.K.
Leak of radioactive waste in storage tank caused by corrosion. (Source: Parliamentary Research Service, Parliamentary Library, Canberra) 1976, April-Windscale, U.K.
Leak of active waste from still drums caused by corrosion. (Source: Parliamentary Legislative Research Service) 1976, July-Vermont Yankee Plant, U.S.A.
Faulty valve caused 300,000 litres of radioactive water to spill into the Connecticut River. (Source: Thieberger p. 12) 1976, October-Windscale, U.K. 100 gallons per day of contaminated water leaking from an old waste storage silo. This incident was not reported to the Government for two months, and eventually set off the Windscale Public Inquiry. (Source: Parliamentary Legislative Research Service) 1976, December-Windscale, U.K.
Leak of radioactive waste. Beach contaminated by titium (Source: Parliamentary Legislative Research Service) 1976-Maxey Flats, Kentucky, U.S.A.
Plutonium dumped in unlined trenches, travelled 800 feet through soil in less than ten years. (Source: Thieberger p. 12) 1977, April-Windscale, U.K.
Site and adjacent area contaminated by ruthenium 106.
Paper: Legislative Research Service, Parliamentary Library, Canberra. 1977, 26th April-Windscale, U.K.
Plutonium contamination blown into laboratory after a reaction between plutonium nitrate and carbon powder in a sealed handling facility. (Source: Thieberger p. 12 and Parliamentary Research Service) 1977, April- Australia
*Australia’s first victim died as a result of being exposed to radiation at AEC’s nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights. The man contacted leukaemia. The AEC admitted liability by paying compensation to man’s widow. Two years before the death workers had complained of a health problem which they thought was related to their work with epoxies. “Sun Herald “19 June, 1977. 1977, 10th May-Dounreay, Scotland
A reaction between water and 2.5 kilos of sodium lifted the concrete covers off a solid waste disposal facility. (Source: Thieberger, p. 12) 1977, May-Winchester, U.K.
Semi-trailer carrying a 15-tonne container of radioactive nuclear fuel overturned near Winchester. Five people injured.
Paper: Legislative Research Service, Parliamentary Library, Canberra. 1977, 7th October-Colorado, U.S.A.
Nuclear alert declared near Springfield after 19 tonnes of powdered uranium-oxide fell from the back of a truck after an accident. The material was being transported from Wyoming to Oklahoma for processing. Colorado State Department later urged the NRC to review its safety standards.
Department spokesman said: “Luckily no other traffic came along. If cars had churned through the powder we could have been faced with a major crisis.” “West Australian ‘ ‘ 7th October, 1 977 1977, November- Pierrelate, France
Highly toxic gas leaked into the air from a commercial uranium fuels factory. No-one was contaminated and the situation quickly controlled. The leak of uranium hexafluoride occurred at the Comurex Factory where a similar accident took place in July. “The Herald “26 November, 1977. 1977, December- Maralinga, Australia
*Four Commonwealth Policemen died of cancer after working at the atomic bomb test site. Another two are dying of the disease. (Source: Thiebergerp. 13) 1977, December -Millstone, U.S.A.
Two hydrogen/oxygen explosions in the waste radioactive gas stream at Millstone Nuclear Power Station, Waterford, Connecticut, U.S.A. Chimney door blew off. One worker slightly injured and helpers contaminated with radioactivity. Reactor completely shut down. (Source: Parliamentary Legislative Research Service) 1977-Vallecitos, California, U.S.A.
General Electric’s small reactor closed because Federal officials found seismic fault near the plant. “Financial Review”28th February, 1979. 1978, 23rd January -Colorado, U.S.A.
Newly built reactor belches radioactive helium gas into the sky only 56 kms from Denver, Colorado. Fifteen workers suffered “light contamination “. Reactor shut down. “The Herald “24th January, 1978. 1978, 25th January-Brussels, Tihange, Belgium
Contamination of up to 80 people by iodine 131 while the reactor was being cooled for replacement of fuel. Another accident occurred in mid-June 1978.
Source: World Information Service on Energy, Brussels. 1978, 14th February- Munich, West Germany
Small amount of radioactive steam escaped from a nuclear plant being tested in Bavaria. “The Age” 15th February, 1978. 1978 April-India
It was revealed that a CIA electronic spy-station was destroyed in an avalanche. It contained 1.3 kg. of a plutonium isotope. The station had been placed on Nanda Devi, a mountain of the Himalayas to spry on Chinese missile bases. The Nanda Deve snow waters run into the River Ganges, and so plutonium may be washed down to the millions of people who bathe, wash and drink using the water of the Ganges. “The Australian” 12th April 1978 1978 19 June-Brunsbuttle, West Germany
Reactor steam circuit broke. The security system either failed to work or was put out of action manually and at least 100 tons of radioactive steam escaped. News of the accident got out through an anonymous phone call. Later measurements indicated some 4000 curies of radioactive inert gases escaped (against a yearly authorised level of 3500). (Source: ABC Radio News 25th June 1978) 1978 26 August -Titan II Nuclear Base, Kansas, U.S.A.
*One man was killed and six injured when deadly fumes leaked from an intercontinental ballistic missile which was being filled with propellant. When the accident was reported gas was still leaking, forcing the evacuation of residents of Udall and Rock. Reaction to the gas can range from mild to severe irritation to the eyes, ears, nose, throat and skin to severe burns and death.
The accident would have resulted in a nuclear explosion of the missile had it been carrying it’s nuclear warhead. (Source: “The West Australian “ 26th August 1978 1978 28 August-Aldermaston, U.K.
Britain’s main nuclear research station was closed when twelve workers were contaminated with plutonium dust. Unions of the workers believed the plutonium dust may have leaked through the plant’s ventilation system. “West Australian “ 26th August 1 978 1978 September To Kai-Mura Japan
Japan’s nuclear reprocessing plant at To Kai-Mura closed because of leakage of radioactive waste.
Legislative Research Service, Parliamentary Library, Canberra
Idaho Falls U.S.A.
Plutonium waste dug up after seven years because it was leaking from the barrels in which it had been buried, causing a threat to the water supply.
Penelope Coleing for M.A.U.M. 1979 February-U.K.
British dockyard workers exposed to radiation while working on nuclear submarines show a greater than normal incidence of damaged chromosomes. These results are based on a ten year study. The greater the radiation dose the worker received the greater the number of cells showing chromosome damage. Damage occurs even when radiation exposures are below internationally agreed safety standards. (Source: “New Scientist” 15th February 1979) 1979 27 March-South Korea
South Korea’s only nuclear reactor at Kari (near Pusan) closed because of leakage of contaminated radioactive water. Malfunction of the 595,000 Kilowatt plant similar to the reactor at Three Mile Island has had cooling system troubles in the past. 1979, April- Lucas Heights, Australia
Radioactive effluent discharged into the Woronora River. “Daily News” 4th April 1979 1979, April-U.S.A.
United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the closure of all Babcock and Wilcox reactors in the U.S. Exemption was granted to two reactors temporarily to prevent power shortages in three States.
California’s governor, Mr Jerry Brown, has accused the Nuclear Energy Industry of lying for 20 years. “West Australian “30th April 1979 1979, April-Three Mile Island, U.S.A.
Dangerous gas bubble formed. Risk of hydrogen explosion. Some vital instruments were exposed to more radiation than they were designed to withstand. Reactor is so highly radioactive it may never reopen. Radioactivity in reactor building is 100 times lethal level. Three Mile Island accident had 150 precedents … 150 valve failures in similar reactors, a U.S. Government official told the U.S. Senate. “Daily News” 1st May 1979 1979, May 6-Dungeness, U.K.
Nuclear Reactor in Kent will be closed for 8 months because of cracks found in the reactor. “West Australian” 7th May 1979 1979, May 7-Tennesscc, U.S.A.
Radioactivity released into the Tennessee River as a result of a leak in the generating unit’s cooling system at Brown’s Ferry Nuclear Plant. “West Australian” 7th May 1979 1979,11th May-Munich
Fire swept through a nuclear research centre, 100 metres from the nuclear reactor. Radioactive material was threatened by flames which burnt for 10 hours. “West Australian” 14th May 1979 1979, 11th May
Man tried to kill his employer with radioactive waste which he placed under the seat of his car. Enough radiation was given off to give anyone exposed to them a dose of 10 rems per hour. Recommended life-time dose for any one is 25 rems. “The Australian” 11th May 1979 1979,6th June-France
French Atomic Energy Commission reported leak in experimental reactor at Cadarache nuclear research centre in Southern France. “Daily News-ah June, 1979. 1979, May 3- Rancho Seco Nuclear Reactor, Sacramento, U.S.A.
Reactor shut down. “West Australian “3rd May. 1979 1979, April,-Zion, Illinois, U.S.A.
Radioactive gas escaped into the air and released 3200 litres of radioactive water within the plant. Three men were sprayed but “all wore protective clothing and tests had shown no traces of contamination “.
A company spokesman said “lt was only because of the Three Mile Island accident that they had informed the N.R.C.”. “West Australian” 3rd May. 1979.
Does this mean that previous accidents were not reported? 1979, 9th May-Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A.
Nuclear sabotage attempt at Surry Nuclear Power Plant. Caustic substance dumped into 62 of the 64 fuel elements through manhole-like openings in the floor of the fuel storage building. At first believed fuel rods would have to be reconstructed at a cost of $6 million but this did not prove necessary. Could have been extremely dangerous if rods were radioactive. (Source: “THE AGE” 10 May 1979) 1979, May-June-U.S.S.R.
Reports of prisoners dying through atomic radiation from A Shifrin the Director of a centre in the soviet Union that investigates the Concentration Camps and Psychiatric Prisons in the U.S.S.R. Some of these camps are near atomic submarine bases. Prisoners from camps reportedly clean highly radioactive parts of the submarines and thus receive lethal doses of radiation. Other prisoners work in uranium mines and refineries where they are exposed to radiation. “Baltic News” May-June, 1978 based on an article in :AT…….. Russkoya Siovas”, a New York periodical. 1979-Grand Junction, Colorado
Significant levels of radom have been found in houses, schools, etc. where tailings were used for land fill and building foundations. Infant death rate for Grand Junction is 50% higher than the State average due to birth defects. (Source: Penelope Coding M.A.U.M.) 1979, July, Radium Hill, South Australia 40% or 1,200 of the 3,000 miners who worked at Radium Hill up to its closure in 1962 have either died of, or have developed cancer.
The death toll is rising as more are discovering they have cancer.
Workers were contaminated with radon gas at a time when the dangers of uranium mining were internationally known. As early as 1920 radon was a known killer.
Safety procedures at the mine were substandard. Most miners did not know of the tremendous risk they were taking. Many miners are still not aware of the danger. Other miners have only recently found out, after public statements were made. Medical examinations have now shown a number have developed cancer. None were privately informed. “Nationwide “ A.B.C. 23rd July 1 979.
July 10 1979-Gentilly 1 Power Station Trois Rivieres, Canada
Quebec’s only nuclear power station shut down indefinitely. Mr Hugh Spence of the Atomic Energy Control Board said that the Gentilly reactor was fraught with problems from the beginning. “It is possible that Gentilly I will have to be closed permanently. The generating plant condemned by some scientists as a ‘lemon’ has functioned for only 10 days since opening in May 1977.”
The West Australian ‘ 1 1 July 1 979
July 30 1979-New Mexico
Accident in Uranium processing plant. Flashflood of radioactive material washed an estimated 130 kms. down the usually trickling Rio Puerco River which flows past a Navajo Indian Reservation. New York Times reported 100 million gallons of water and 1 100 tonnes of uranium tailings mishap considered largest such release in U.S. Residue from plant goes into large dam; dam burst.
ABC “A.M.” Program 30 July 1979 “New York Times” 28 July 1979
August 4 1979 U.K.
Five A.G.R. reactors (Advanced Gas Cooled) have been in use in the U.K. but “after a series of disastrous failures of design and equipment only two are now working”. “The American system of letting private companies build and run A stations seems more risky than the British way”. “Weekend News”4th August 1979 1979 July-Mururoa Atoll
*“Two people were killed last month and another four were injured in accidents which followed an underground nuclear explosion at France ‘s Mururoa Atoll Test Area in the South Pacific Ocean”. (Channel 9 News, Perth 9th August 1979 for A.A.P.) 1979 25 July
An explosion equivalent to an earthquake registering 6.3 on the Richter scale was recorded on July 25 at Wellington Observatory. There have been about 25 tests undertaken by the French since 1975. “The West Australian” 9 August 1979
August5 1979- Nevada Bomb Testing
Five movie stars have died of radioactivity from atomic bomb tests fallout in Nevada testing site conducted in 1953. Fallout higher than bombs which devastated Japan. Stars John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorhead have died along with most of their co-stars and film crew. Children in fallout area have had leukaemia rate 21/2 times the national average. “Sunday Telegraph” 5th August 1979 “Sunday Times” 5th August 1979
August 8 1979 The Hague
The only commercial nuclear power station in the Netherlands closed after a turbine steam bellows sprang a leak. “The West Australian “9th August 1979
August 16 1979 Maralinga South Australia
The former British atomic test site at Maralinga will not be considered safe until 2029 according to a report by the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council. Six Drums of plutonium have been dug up and returned to Britain in order to meet International Atomic Energy Safety standards.
The West Australian” 16th August 1979
WESTERN MINING CORPORATION-WESTERN AUSTRALIA
1978, June 8
*Two men died at Western Mining’s Kwinana plant. Western Mining being prosecuted for breach of mining regulation- failure to provide respiratory protective devices. “West Australian” 19th December, 1979.
This is the Company that the Western Australian Government is willing to trust with the mining of uranium in this State. 1978, November
Radioactive measuring device ‘lost’ or ‘stolen’ from Western Mining Corporation ‘s Kambalda Nickel Refinery. Mysteriously turned up in Singapore with scrap metal after being smelted at the National Iron and Steel Works. Western Mining are still at a loss to know how, when or why the device ‘went missing’. There are about 50 similar devices at the Kambalda Refinery.
Western Mining’s Kambalda manager admitted full responsibility for the Moss’, the Company was prosecuted and fined only $100. “Daily News” 7th December, 1978 “West Australian” 25th May, 1979.
There are now 66 nuclear reactors in the U.S.A. Ninety gallons per hour are leaking from waste storage into Biscayne Bay.
The situation is continually exacerbated but is too “radioactive” for anyone to get near enough to do anything towards rectifying it. (Penelope Coleing)
Studies in the U.S. have shown that there is a slight increase in radiation levels in rabbit and fish around reactor sites. (Penelope Coleing.)
A transientworker employed for three months in West Valley plant in a particularly high radiation level room has since had two genetically deformed children whose life expectancy is ten years at the maximum.
Ralph Denster claimed it was the “logical thing to do to employ transient workers for highly radioactive work “. (Penelope Coleing)
Indeed around highly radioactive work sites around Australia there is seemingly a disproportionate share of John Browns, Fred Smiths and Joe Bloggs!
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to double its budget to $5.7 million for risk assessment studies and plans to replace inspectors at all reactors by 198 1. (National Journal 2nd January, 1979)
Authors drop Nuclear Safety Study- N.R.C. officials in the United States have disclaimed methods and findings of their own Agency ‘s 3-year reactor safety study.
The pro-nuclear lobby have depended heavily upon this report, using it as the basis of its arguments, even to the extent of misusing it.
A spokesman for the Commission said “The summary is a poor description of the contents of the report . . . has lent itself to the misuse of the discussion of reactor risks “. (“West Australian” 22nd January, 1979 “How Safe is Nuclear Energy “-William J. Lanovette.)
According to scientific estimates the worst possible reactor accident would result in- 3,300 immediate deaths 45,000 immediate injuries 45,000 later cancer deaths 248,000 other injuries including genetic defects (“Daily News” 4th April, 1979)
*It is also likely that this is a very conservative estimate as most of those in connection with nuclear power have proved to be. (Harrisburg with 150 precedents was as remote a chance as a meteor strike on a city- once in a million years! ! )
Ledge Point- Western Australia
One of the proposed sites for Western Australia ‘s nuclear power plant would not comply with Regulations of the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission which controls population densities within 12 kilometres of the site. Ledge Point would fall within a 12 kilometre radius of the proposed site. (“Weekend News” 7th April, 1979).
Red Rock Navajo Reservation, Arizona
Alarming death rates amongst uranium miners caused by microscopic particles called radon daughter.
Dr Joseph Wagoner, Special Assistant for Occupational Carcinogenesis at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been studying uranium workers since 1960.
Last formal count showed:
Statistically 29.8 such deaths would be expected leaving 1 1 4 instances of what doctors call “Excessive ‘ ‘ deaths.
Dr Wagoner’s estimates of the toll through 1978 is about 200 deaths, 160 in excess “making 160 people who needlessly die due to lung cancer because we did not accept the published data that was already there for our use in the 1950’s”. “The date clearly indicates the inadequacy of current standards on radiation exposure in the mines”. (“Daily News “6th June, 1979).
July 25 1979 New York
An international meeting of scientists and theologians called for an immediate moratorium on the construction of all new plants for five years. The purpose of the debate would be to enable wide participation in a public debate on the risks, costs and benefits of nuclear energy. “The West Australian” 25 July 1979.
July 31 1979 Perth
Dr K. Roby the senior lecturer in the school of mathematical sciences at the West Australian Institute of Technology told a seminar that what had been thought to be acceptable levels of radiation for people working with radiation were now considered too high. The International commission on Radiological Protection had already suggested that the acceptable levels were about 10 times too high. “The West Australian” 31 July 1979.
August 15 1979 Three Mile Island
Radioactive air will be vented into the air from damaged nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island Harrisburg Pennsylvania as part of a four-year recovery program. The venting will be over a 30 day period and the total radiation will supposedly represent a fraction of dangerous levels- is there such a thing as a ‘safe’ level radioactive dose?
“National Journal”- 2 January, 1979 “Ecologist”, Charles Wakstein, July 1977, pg 2 10-215 “S.I.P.R.I. Yearbook”, 1977 “Accidents, near accidents and leaks in the Nuclear power industry”
Prepared by Penelope Coleing for Movement Against Uranium Mining 1977 “West Australian “-7 October, 1977, 26 August, 1978,28 August, 1978, 19 December, 1978, 22 January, 1979, 30 April, 1979, 3 May, 1979,25 May, 1979. “Sun Herald”, 19 June, 1977 “Military Balance”, 1978-79 “New Scientist”, 30 June, 1977, Volume 72, pg 264 15 February 1979 pg 460 “The Australian”, 9 December, 1976, 11 May 1979, 12 April 1978 “Daily News”, 4 April, 1979, 1 May,1979,6June 1979,7 December 1978 “Sydney Morning Herald”-8 November, 1976, 12 November, 1976
How safe are nuclear power stations? “ “Contingency Plan” ‘Work Circle Environmental Protection’ University of Freiburg/Br. W. Germany “Baltic News “-May-June, 1979-page 3 “A list of accidents in the nuclear industry”
Second edition Published by Nich Thieberger and La Trobe University F.O.E. and S.R.C. Environment Committee “A landscape of nuclear tombs”
Alexis Parks in Progressive V 41 (12) December, 1977, 30-31 “TheAge”-10May, 1979, 15February 1978 “The Herald “-Tuesday, April 24, 1979, 24 January 1978, 26 November 1977
Les Amis De La Terre “L’Escroquerie Nucteaire”
Stock 1978 France “Red light for yellow cake”, Jim Falk, D. Hayes, N.Barrett, 1977
Fission product containment of reactors under accident conditions and accidents to reactors”.
Jean Geye AAEC Publication “Weekend News”-7.4.79, 4.8.79 “Nationwide “-ABC Program, July 23, 1979
Sunday Times “5.8.79 “Sunday Telegraph “ 5.8.79 “Nuclear power plant safety- The risks of accidents” in “Atomic Energy” October 1976 No. 4 by D. Hughson and D. W. Crancher of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission “ A.M. “ Program Australian Broadcasting Commission 30 July 1979
Bulletin Info. CEA No. 157 March 1971 “Rolling Stone “Australian 28 July 1977 “Nuclear accidents in the last 2-3 years” 12 September 1978 Defence, Science and Technology Group Legislative. Research Service, Parliamentary Library, Parliament House, Canberra “Nuclear Accidents “Four Corners 21 July 1979 “Nuclear Power” Walter Cram Patterson Harmonsworth Penguin 1976
Rayonnement, A paper of the CFDT CEA, July 1 972 “Le Monde” 12 October 1971, 15 February 1974, 29 September 1974 “New York Times” 16 June 1979, 26 August 1974, 28 July 1979 “Boston Globe” 140ctober 1974, l4May 1974 “Times Record “ 23 April 1 974 “LaNouvelleRepublique” 10 January 1973 “Not Man Apart” September 1972 Mid 1974 “Wall Street Journal “3 May 1973 “Los Angeles Times “5 July 1973 “The Observer” 2 December 1973 “Les Echos” 24 September 1973 “Atmospheric Testing, a survey of medical statistics in Australia” Bruce J. Brown “Chicago Sun Times” 1 1 July 1974 “Le Figaro “ 24 November 1 974 “Journal Du Dimanche” 10 November 1973
Robert Baker NRC Department of Transportation in his summary of wash 1238 at Warren Committee hearings in November 1974 “Financial Review”28 February 1979
Australian Broadcasting Commission News Broadcast 25 June 1978
Channel 9 News Perth W.A. 9 August 1979 from A.A.P. “How safe is nuclear energy?” William J. Lanovette in National Journal 2 October 1979 PG. 228 “The West Australian “-26 August 1978, 13 December 1978, 10 January 1979. 4 April 1979, 12 April 1979, 7 May 1979, II May 1979, 14 May 1979,22 May 1979, 6 June 1979 “WOrkomnisse and Strahlenung falls in Kernttechmischer Anlagen “ K. Thiemig Ed. 1966 Munich
Mrs Mary H. Weik, Secretary of the American Committee on Radiological Dangers- A List of Mortalities in the U.S.A. for 1962 (Published 1964)
Compiled from official statistics
The Careless Atom S Novick Delta Books, New York 1969
Senator Ruth Coleman’s Office
P.O. Box B58 Perth 600 1 09/325.4772
Cathy Bradley August 1979
– For some days now we have in this place been discussing, and asking questions about, the proposed sale by the Australian Government of the Ranger uranium mine. Unfortunately, Ministers are either unable or reluctant to talk about it. I want at the moment to refer to another uranium mine which is operating in Western Australia. I wonder whether the Ministers are even aware of its existence. I wonder whether in fact the Minister for Trade and Resources (Mr Anthony) is aware of the operation, and who owns it. I wonder whether the Minister for Science and the Environment is aware of it and whether an environmental impact study has been done. I wonder especially whether the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney), who is at the moment in charge of the House, has been made aware of it and of the possible effects on the Ngangganawili population around Wiluna.
This little piece of paper came into my hands some days ago and relates to the Lake Way
Uranium Project, which is centred approximately 1,000 kilometres north-east of Perth and 10 kilometres east of Wiluna, close to the centre of Western Australia. The uranium deposits are found on the north-eastern shore of the lake within the boundaries of a large pastoral property called Millbillie, which is accessible from the main road heading east to the Gunbarrel Highway. The Yeelirrie deposit is roughly 100 kilometres to the south. This vast station, Millbillie is, surprisingly enough, owned by a large international company. It has been the headquarters for prospecting activities for the past four years, but those activities have lasted only during the four-month cool period each year- between May and September.
The project is conducted by a three-way consortium and is being pushed forward by American interests. The partnership is led by the Wyoming Co. and Delhi International Oil Exploration Corporation. In line with Federal Government guidelines, the Australian content is being supplied by a sham Australian company, VAM Holdings. The United States interests stem from the giant parent company of Wyoming and Delhi- the Westinghouse Corporation- which builds and maintains nuclear reactors and nuclear armaments. It is estimated that mining operations could be ready to begin in two to three years. I repeat, I have not formally been made aware that this project was even in operation. I doubt whether any of the Ministers concerned have been made aware of it. If they have, I would be grateful if the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs would advise me of the stage the project has now reached. It appears that during the fourmonth period of activity each year some 1 5 or 20 people are employed in various facets of development. They include drillers, surveyors, ore analysts and radioactivity experts. Most are Australians but the key position is held by an American who is answerable to his bosses in the United States. As I have said, this debate is not really an urgency motion about the moral obligations of Australia, as an energy rich country in an energy starved world, to undertake commercial development of its abundant resources including uranium. It is purely and simply about the mining of uranium and the South Australian elections on 15 September.
Not so very long ago the Minister for Science and the Environment said, as did Senator Collard a little while ago, that there had not been a death in the nuclear energy industry.
– In nuclear power generation.
– All I can say is that a 28-page document has been incorporated in Hansard and the honourable senator can read all about it tomorrow. If he is still not satisfied I ask him to come back to me and I will then talk to him about the Nugget file, which contains excerpts from the United States Government’s special internal file on nuclear power plant accidents and safety defects, as obtained in January 1979 by the Union of Concerned Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act of that country. Let us hear what these people have to say about nuclear energy and nuclear energy stations. The Nugget file was uncovered. It had to be uncovered because this fellow in charge of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was hiding facts, not only from the people in the United States but also from the world, as to what really was happening. That union of scientists had this to say:
Finally, the twelve-inch thick stack or nuclear safety documents squirrelled away by Dr Hanauer became available for public perusal. The Nugget File is a collection of short reports, averaging perhaps 2-3 pages in length, about a wide variety of astonishing safety deficiencies at U.S. nuclear power plants. It casts light on both the technical and institutional aspects of nuclear power reactor safety and shows how seriously the image of safety in the nuclear program is blemished by simple and widespread carelessness.
Whether an accident happens by human error or whether it happens by technological fault is not important. The point is that it does happen. It can endanger an awful lot of lives. We are not opposed to the development of nuclear energy if we can be satisfied that the working conditions of the people who are going to mine the product are safeguarded. We are not against the mining of uranium if we can establish that there is not going to be any harm to the environment or to the people who are in the immediate surrounds. We are not against the mining of uranium if we can be satisfied that there is some safe way in which to dispose of the waste. I point out to Senator Collard that that is something that nuclear scientists are still arguing about throughout the world. I have no doubt that they would be extremely grateful to receive his contribution. I doubt that it would help them very much. If he feels that he can fulfil that obligation in some way, I ask him to make his contribution to them. If we saw that we had a moral obligation to an energy starved world, to provide them with the necessary uranium, I would be quite happy for us to do so if all those obligations were fulfilled. There is no known way at the moment that we can say that nuclear energy is safe and that the mining of uranium is safe. Until such time as we can say that, it is pointless honourable senators opposite bringing on for debate an urgency motion, taking up the time of the Senate on a broadcast day for the specific purpose of publicising the South Australian elections to be held on 15 September, and then saying that it is the moral obligation of Australia as an energy rich country in an energy starved world to undertake commercial development of its abundant resources, including uranium. As I said before, this urgency motion is based purely and simply on the South Australian elections and the Government’s endeavours to have further commercial development of uranium in this country. (Quorum formed).
– I note that there were only five members of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate when the quorum was called. In regard to the papers that Senator Coleman has incorporated in Hansard, I must say that despite interjections asking for a particular fatality to be cited, she did not do so. We will have to wait until tomorrow to peruse those papers to see just what they were all about. Of course, I think that it would have been better if she had answered the interjections. The terms of the matter of urgency before the Senate read:
The moral obligation of Australia, as an energy rich country in an energy starved world, to undertake commercial development of its abundant resources including uranium.
One cannot restrict such a debate entirely to uranium because very many resources in Australia are being mined now. I should say that at this stage those resources are being mined to a greater extent. Australia is a very lucky country. It has mineral and pastoral wealth. Its wealth more than compares with that of most countries of the world, despite the fact that we have a small population. Surely that factor alone warrants, at this stage of the world’s growth and population, that we should share the abundance of this wealth that we have about us. It is all very well for some to say that because we have this abundance of wealth we should not export it.
A few years ago we were in the utmost trouble because of our operational, management and handling costs. This was at a time when under Labor inflation rose to 18 per cent. What happened then was that Australia’s resources were out-priced on the world market. Thank goodness that in the last few years we have come back to taws- to an inflation rate of some 9 per centand that there are ready markets overseas for the abundance of energy resources that we have in Australia. There are very many reasons why we should export overseas. I would like to indicate Australia’s uranium policy. I think that the people should know this. Australia’s uranium policy was announced on 25 August 1977. After exhaustive consideration of all the issues, the Government decided that there should be further development of uranium under strictly controlled conditions. In announcing the Government’s decision, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said:
The Government especially has been conscious that in a world of finite resources that is an obligation on resourcerich nations, such as Australia, to make these resources available to meet the legitimate needs of other nations.
Australia was expected at that time to receive the bulk of the new uranium orders placed in the following few years. The Prime Minister went on to say that government approval for the development to proceed had been given to the Ranger, Nabarlek and Yeelirrie uranium projects. The situation is that Australia’s known uranium resources at the moment represent some 18 per cent to 20 per cent of the world ‘s resources. Our resources are in the world class and they are required overseas.
I would like to take the opportunity now of discussing a table which I have before me. I ask that it be incorporated in Hansard. It has been shown to the Minister who is in charge of the
House at the moment. A copy of it is on the desk of the Opposition Whip. He was not in the chamber and I was not able to show it to him.
The table that I wish to incorporate in
Hansard relates to the world nuclear power reactors. It shows that on order in the world today there are 98 reactors, that 209 reactors are under construction, that 212 are in operation and that 323 are known to be planned. As at 3 August 1979, in the world today there are on order, under construction, in operation and known to be planned a total of 844 reactors. I would like honourable senators to peruse this document. Indeed, I would like the people of Australia to peruse this document when they see it in Hansard. It indicates that the world nuclear power reactors are not just in the developed countries, but that very many are now being constructed or planned in the undeveloped countries.
– Like the one in the Philippines?
– Yes, the Philippines.
– Ha, ha!
– It is all very well for Senator Coleman, with the very comfortable life that she enjoys in Australia, to laugh. But would she like to go to the Philippines, as I have, and see the people there living in the open without comfort or any source of power? Would she laugh then? It is all very well for the honourable senator to laugh. Let her go to the Third World countries- to the poor countries- which are short of power. She speaks so much about human dignity and humanity. I have a table which indicates that nuclear power reactors exist in Iron Curtain countries. The point I make is that nuclear power reactors are a part of life in the world today; they are required for the good living and welfare of the very many nations. These 844 reactors are in 47 countries. I seek leave to incorporate this table in Hansard.
The table read as follows-
– I refer briefly to the development of uranium mining in Australia. The first uranium was mined at Uranium Hill in South Australia and treated at Port Pirie. In the Northern Territory it was mined at Moline and at Rum Jungle. In those days a number of people worked in the uranium mines. I know most of those who worked at Rum Jungle and Moline and who are still in the Territory today. I see no effects on them whatsoever. They also remark on that fact. There is far too much made of the illness that can be contracted through uranium mining. As Senator Bishop has said, I was in Hungary with him last year and we went to a mining area where uranium was being mined at a depth of approximately 6,000 feet to 7,000 feet. We spoke at length to the Minister for energy in that country which, of course, is behind the Iron Curtain. He asked what on earth was the matter and what was wrong with the people in Australia that they were not mining uranium. He said that in mining uranium in Hungary to a depth of 6,000 feet to 7,000 feet there had not been one casualty. Honourable senators can disagree with that if they wish, but that is what the
Minister had to say. He made a comparison with the mining of coal where there had been many injuries.
In regard to the situation in South Australia, it has been well proved that Roxby Downs would require an initial investment of at least $ 1 ,000m and would create further investment and employment opportunities in many other areas. It is estimated that if Roxby Downs were developed, approximately 1,700 people would be employed. The establishment of a uranium enrichment plant would bring even greater benefits to South Australia. The estimated cost of such a project is put at $2,000m. There is a general requirement overseas for Australian uranium. I see no reason why South Australia should not participate. It is in a poor economic situation and needs a considerable boost. Projects such as these would assist that State. A survey on industrial investment conducted by the Commonwealth Department of Industry and Commerce in April 1 979 showed that the level of investment in South Australia was a dismal $255m. In contrast, $ 1,750m has been committed to investment projects in Victoria, $ 1,865m in New South Wales, $2, 438m in Queensland and an enormous $5, 389m in Western Australia. Those figures speak for themselves.
I turn to the Northern Territory. Despite the knockers, both in and out of the Territoryprincipally out of it- uranium is making a tremendous difference to that part of Australia. No matter where one goes in the Northern Territory one will find that the Territory is moving ahead very rapidly. Of course, this is not only because of the development of uranium. One need look only at the economy of Darwin and at the building up of Jabiru. Despite what the figures show about high unemployment, at Jabiru literally hundreds of men are being employed and there are not sufficient men in Darwin to match the labour requirement in the development of Jabiru. There are jobs to spare, and people come from the south to find work. An effect of the development of uranium mining is increased employment. That will bring about the development of the north of Australia and it will also lead to an increase in the population of the area.
One thing has to be remembered about the future. It cannot be denied that Australia has the right, the necessity and the moral requirement to provide energy to other countries, but one can also see the richness and prosperity that will come to Australia. It has been said, and will be proved, that the present deposits of uranium in Australia now measure up to the black oil of the Arab countries. With the prosperity that will come about through the exporting of uranium- a prosperity similar to that given to the Middle East countries by oil- Australia can look forward to having an influence similar to that which the Arab nations have in the world today. Despite the knocking of many people, I expect uranium mining will bring prosperity to the people of Australia, and it will allow Australia to assist the underdeveloped nations. I support the motion. I believe it is a very good motion and it should receive the support of all honourable senators.
- Senator Kilgariff often contributes well to debates within this chamber. His contribution today was good but it is unfortunate that he was dragged into this political scandal of trying to rescue a hopeless minority in the South Australian Parliament when it faces the elections on 1 5 September. It is a minority that joined with the majority for the purpose of saying that there should be no mining of uranium in South Australia. I can agree with everything that Senator Kilgariff has said. There are employment opportunities and there is an energy need for many countries. Roxby Downs could have the biggest mine in the world. However, the Australian Labor Party’s policy is that we will not mine uranium until we are assured of the safeguards, and that there is no danger. Do people think of humanity when they say that it should be mined without the safeguards? That is the whole matter.
– We must have safeguards, and we have them.
– Australia must examine the safeguards it wants. I do not know whether Senator Kilgariff is reciprocating as a result of my praise of his contribution, but he agrees with me that there must be safeguards. Injuries as a result of uranium mining appear long after the people have been in contact with the environment which causes those effects, unless there is an explosion or an overdose of uranium radioactivity. South Australia has the longest history of uranium mining in Australia. The first uranium discovered in Australia was found at Radium Hill by A. J. Smith in 1 906. In 1 920 a Mr W. D. Greenwood found at Mount Painter in South Australia a yellow-green mineral which Sir Douglas Mawson identified as uranium. Therefore, the first uranium was discovered in South Australia.
We commenced to mine at Radium Hill in 1 95 1 . It was a low grade ore which yielded 2 lb to the ton and we treated it at Port Pirie. This mine closed in 1960. Therefore, for nine years we mined uranium there although at Mount Painter we had mined some uranium during the war years for the British atomic bomb experiments. We developed a low grade ore for only nine years. In 1 960 we dismantled the mine. The Minister for Health in South Australia has established an inquiry by his Department as a result of the effects on those who worked at Radium Hill in South Australia. Although the report is not yet finalised and has not been released it has definitely proved that since 1960- a matter of only 19 years- 59 per cent of those who worked underground at Radium Hill over a period of at least two years died of cancer. It is not a complete report, but it shows that deaths as a result of cancer were four and a half times the Australian average. They are figures from South Australia where 19 years has elapsed since we mined uranium.
On the television program Four Corners or the program Nationwide there was a report concerning 12 boilermakers who, after the Radium Hill mine had been closed, were employed at Thebarton by the Mines Department in dismantling machinery, cleaning it up and doing any necessary maintenance and repairs. The person who made the investigation did not know what happened to all 12 of the men but he knows for certain- he supplied names, the dates they died or where they were treated- that eight out of the 12 have cancer, or had had it, somewhere in the body. Is this not enough proof to show that we must ensure that there are greater safeguards? I do not know whether any honourable senator has seen a death from cancer, but if I hear of anyone who has cancer my reaction is to say: ‘I hope they do not last long’. Not only does it kill, it kills over a long period with all the agonies imaginable.
There is a great possibility that the people who work at Rum Jungle and the other areas in the Northern Territory will not know for 20 years the dangers which are there. Yet we have had introduced here an insulting urgency motion which is not concerned for the welfare of the people of Australia; it is concerned with an obligation to engage in commercial development. We would sell our souls for a dollar! In 1 977 the party to which Senator Young belongs was prepared to support a motion in the State Parliament that we should not mine uranium. He was agreeable to that when there was no election being held. Because an election is to be held now this specimen of humanity comes along here without consideration for anything but winning a few votes for a motley crew of politicians so as to save their jobs in South Australia. That is the whole purpose of raising this matter.
If we want more verification we must remember that the mining industry, in a big way, is trying to get mining started at Roxby Downs. In the Advertiser of Wednesday, 17 January- the morning newspaper in South Australia- there was a full page advertisement by Mr N. C. Shierlaw who will be known by those who had an interest in Poseidon as a man who became a multi-millionaire overnight. He took a full page to tell us the reasons why we should be mining uranium and how we could overcome all the dangers. I think it is important to note that he is not a source that honourable senators may have some suspicion or doubt about. He is one of the greatest mineral exploiters in Australia and he is advocating mining at Roxby Downs. He stated:
As a mining engineer, I Tully appreciate the other hazards associated with the mining, treatment and enrichment of uranium just as our Premier does and I believe he and his Party is protecting the public, particularly all union members who could be employed in the production of uranium in South Australia until he is satisfied that all safety precautions are complied with.
Is the fact that a man is insisting on some safety provisions a reason to vote against him in an election? Mr Shierlaw went on:
We are well aware of the Fox Reports covering the Ranger Uranium Environment Inquiry. All parts of the mine and mill complex will be potential sources, to a greater or lesser extent, of radiation exposure if the Roxby Downs project proceeds. The undisturbed ore contains uranium together with its decay products, thorium, radium, radon and the short lived radon decay products.
Blasting, ore handling, crushing and grinding would cause radon to be released together with the ore dust.
There is no greater poison. He stated further that adequate underground ventilation, as well as controlled dust collection in the mill, may do something about the problem. He went on to state:
Evidence has been given that the average whole body dose from external radiation actually received by uranium miners overseas is about one tenth of the recommended maximum. There has been no evidence of over maximum dosage received by Radium Hill miners who worked underground up to a decade.
I say that the evidence is coming out only now. The basis of this question is: Do you support on this occasion a government that will not mine uranium, no matter how many dollars are in it, until such time as we have that assurance?
– With safety precautions.
– With safety precautions; we agree with that. I am saying that the Radium Hill investigation shows that we do not know whether we have sufficient safety precautions because we do not know the effects until 20 years afterwards.
– Dead men tell no tales.
– These men, some of whom are now dead, are telling tales. There is danger. The inhuman and unchristian people who speak in this place to gain votes take the attitude that they do not care whether 5,000 people, or 10,000 people, or however many will be employed at Roxby Downs, will suffer the lingering death of painful cancer and that men are easily replaced. What they are concerned about is the dollar. Then they put before this Senate a statement expressing the view that the Senate is so heartless that it is concerned about a dollar, and a dollar only. Surely we have passed the stage when we have no sympathy for mankind. Surely we are not so devoid of Christian principles and of concern for humanity that we adopt that attitude.
A small amount of radioactive material was buried at Maralinga in South Australia because that area was a testing ground for the British. Because that radioactive material could have been dug up by terrorists or terrorist organisations and used to make a bomb, this Government assisted the South Australian Government in having it removed from Australia and letting England accept its responsibilities. There we saw the Government recognising the potential dangers of radioactive material. Yet the Government parties do not rely on the issue of uranium to fight an election; they rely on other issues which would be less likely to lose them an election. The Commissioners of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry outlined in the Fox report their finding that a terrorist group could use reactor grade plutonium to make a bomb which would have good prospects of yielding several hundred tonnes of TNT. They claimed that the mere possession of nuclear material, coupled with the threat or presence of bomb construction, could suffice to produce the effect desired by terrorists.
Roxby Downs will be mined, regardless of whether a ban is imposed on uranium. Roxby Downs is potentially one of the wealthiest mines in the world. According to Senator Young’s figures, it would yield 10 million tonnes of copper. My figures are a little higher. An assessment of the values per tonne in the ground is: Copper, $80; uranium, $20; gold, $45; and rare earth, $15. There are only 300,000 tonnes of uranium at Roxby Downs. So Roxby Downs is a copper mine. British Petroleum knew its value as a copper mine if it was not permitted to mine uranium or if it had to stockpile the uranium and not make full use of its investment. It knew that without the need to be told a story by Des Corcoran and for him not to tell the other members of his Cabinet about the matter. The mine is a profitable investment. Concern for human lives is the reason that uranium will not be mined for the purpose of sale. If it is mined, it will be stockpiled. The motion before the Senate should be defeated. It should be condemned as a sham. It is a disgrace that it was moved in this Senate.
– This is one of the most cynical political exercises I have experienced in my 17 years in the Parliament. When I read the reference on the Notice Paper to Senator Young’s motion, I was under the illusion that we would talk about the moral obligations of Australia. What we have done has been to engage, in the debate on that motion, in a most petty exercise in an attempt to win a few cheap votes. The most serious issue facing the human race is under debate. This debate has been about the development of Roxby Downs. It has not been about uranium per se or moral obligations. I support the remarks on this subject of other speakers on this side of the House. The Australian Democrats will not have a bar of stockpiling uranium at Roxby Downs.
As I think Senator Cavanagh just said, ore can be processed in such a way as to extract copper without extracting uranium. That has been done for many many years in Chile. I suggest to Senator Young that he look at the Chilean experience. Roxby Downs could go ahead producing copper but not uranium but if the uranium were extracted and stockpiled the pressure to sell it overseas, both economically and politically, would be irresistable. Stockpiling is the thin end of the wedge for exporting and, as such, we totally oppose it.
I return to the matter of moral obligations, which Senator Young mentioned in his motion but did not seem to address his speech to. I remind honourable senators of what was said by a very distinguished former South Australian, Sir Mark Oliphant, who to my knowledge has not yet been accused of being a communist. As far as I am concerned he is one of the greatest Australians of all time. Not too long ago he said that there is only a 50 per cent chance of mankind reaching the end of this century because of the risk of a nuclear holocaust occurring. I would have thought that that question was a component of moral obligation. We have a moral obligation to consider future generations whenever we are taking decisions that could destroy the planet and everything that lives on it. Another famous Australian to comment on this matter- I am not conscious of his having been accused by the Liberal Party of Australia of being a communist- is Professor Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet. He pointed out the grave risks of using radioactive substances for nuclear energy and advocated the use of alternative safer resources.
I mention another person who pointed to the moral obligations. He is a man whose mind I respect as much as that of any person now living. I refer to Arthur Koestler. Again, I do not think that he has been accused of being a communist. He wrote probably the most devastating expose of communism that has ever been written in his classic book entitled Darkness at Noon. He stated that, because man’s emotional development has not matched his technological progress, man’s self-induced extinction on this planet now becomes almost a statistical certainty. If we are talking about moral obligations of Australians, I would have thought that I, as a person living today, have a moral obligation to the children and grandchildren who will follow all of us in this nation to consider them before putting the planet at risk. What sort of emotions was Koestler talking about when he said that our technological progress has outmatched the ability of our emotions to cope with them? He was talking about greed, money, hate and power. I would have thought that those emotions were relevant when talking about moral obligations.
Let us look at some examples of what uranium has done to change people’s emotions in those areas. Let me take the Philippines as an example. It is probably the most corrupt nation in the south-west Pacific and we are selling our uranium to it. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock, tells us that we can trust President Marcos and the Philippines Government. They can be trusted on one thing, that is, to win elections. They have a rather cute way of ensuring a win at a democratic election: They lock up all their political opponents during the election campaign. On 3 May 1979, Senator Mason directed a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Carrick, about the reactor in the Philippines being sited in a notoriously active earthquake zone close to five active volcanos. Senator Mason spoke of concrete of inadequate strength being used in its construction and asked Senator Carrick whether he could advise him on the matter. Senator Carrick gave an official answer for the Minister responsible for the issue. I wonder where Senator Young’s sense of moral obligation fits in with that answer. It is our uranium which is going to the Philippines. Where is Senator Young’s moral obligation to the men, women and children of the Philippines who live in the shadow of that reactor which has been built near a volcano in a geophysical site? The Minister concluded his answer by saying:
It seems reasonable to assume that in these cases it has proved possible to meet the concerns of the local authorities, which are responsible for safety and environmental requirements.
Talking about morality, that simply means that we in Australia do not give a damn what the Philippines do with our uranium or where it builds its reactors or what the consequences are for the people of the Philippines; that is their responsibility, not ours. Yet the motion refers to moral obligations.
I turn to the situation in Pakistan. It is about to explode the Islamic bomb. Pakistan’s closest ally is one of the most insidious maniacs in the world, Colonel Gaddafi, who outdistances even the Ayatollah Khomeini for sheer lunacy and an obsession about cutting off hands and killing people at firing squads. Yet we are putting a bomb made from our uranium into that source. Pakistan acquired every bit of its uranium through peaceful agreements. Yet we talk about moral obligations. I thought that this Government had a distinct distrust and dislike for the Soviet Union.
We have heard statements to that effect in the past. Yet the first or second nuclear agreement we signed for the sale of our uranium was with Finland, which is openly sending its material, our uranium, to the Soviet Union. To do what? Is the purpose to fuel reactors for peaceful purposes?
I believe, the Democrats believe, that going to nuclear power and exporting our uranium is the ultimate insanity. Uranium will provide only some 1 5 per cent of the world ‘s energy needs for 30 years; it will leave a legacy for future generations for 500,000 years, a time span my finite mind cannot embrace. Yet we do nothing about seeking alternative sources. If Senator Young had moved a motion today to the effect that Australia had a moral obligation to future generations not to go after the ultimate insanity in uranium but to seek alternative fuels for the energy crisis which will hit our young in the mid-1980s, I would have thought it would serve the Senate better.
Motion (by Senator Knight) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.S7 to 8 p.m.
– by leave- I wish to inform the Senate that Australia will be represented at the funeral of the late Earl Mountbatten of Burma by His Excellency the Governor-General, who will be accompanied by His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), a former Minister in the Whitlam Government and a former Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and by me. I add that both Mr Uren and I were prisoners of war in South East Asia during the 1 939-45 War. His Excellency will also be accompanied by Mr A. G. W. Keys, O.B.E., M.C., National President of the Returned Services League. I add that the Australian High Commissioner in London, Sir Gordon Freeth, will also attend. The funeral will take place in Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, 5 September. During the absences of the Governor-General and the Governor of New South Wales, the Governor of Tasmania will be sworn in as Administrator.
-Mr President, I present the 67th report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances consisting of a list of members of the Committee since its establishment, a chronological list of the reports of the Committee showing their subject matter and an index to all previous reports of the Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Reference to Standing Committee on Trade and Commerce
Motion (by Senator Chipp) proposed:
That the following matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Trade and Commerce:
The need for legislation, without delay, to resolve distribution and marketing problems in the oil industry and to maintain effective competition and the continuing operation of a viable small business sector in the industry, by the implementation of the four proposals outlined by the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Fife, on 30 October 1978, namely:
the prohibition of unfair discrimination by oil companies between their lessee or licensed dealers;
b ) that such a prohibition would not infringe upon the freedom of oil companies to price their sales to other independent buyers as they wish, subject to the existing law;
c ) that oil companies would be prohibited from themselves retailing petroleum through direct sales sites; and
that lessee or licensed dealers would be given the right to obtain compensation from oil companies for an unjust termination of their lease or licence or a refusal by the oil company to renew a lease or licence.
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Reference to Standing Committee on Trade and Commerce
Motion (by Senator Mason) proposed:
That the following matter be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Trade and Commerce:
The withdrawal from circulation and use in Australia of one cent coins, two cent coins, or both one and two cent coins.
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve the right, at a later stage, to debate the need for seconding such motions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Guilfoyle) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill provides for an amendment to the National Health Act to increase the general patient contribution for pharmaceutical benefits, as announced by the Treasurer (Mr Howard) in his Budget Speech. I draw honourable senators’ attention to clause 3 which will increase from $2.50 to $2.75 the maximum amount that approved pharmaceutical chemists may charge for the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This increase will take effect from 1 September 1979.
As in the past, pensioners holding a pensioner health benefits card will not be charged for pharmaceutical benefits. Similarly no charge will be made for repatriation pensioners. It is now just over a year since the patient contribution was set at $2.50 and this increase of 25c is broadly in line with the movements in prices and incomes since then. Increasing the patient contribution is one of the means by which the Government can curtail the increasing expenditure on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This small increase is expected to result in a saving of $5.1m for the Government in the financial year 1979-80. I commend this Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21 August, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
– At the presentation of each annual Budget by a Federal Government, it would be the normal expectation of most members of the community that a basic objective of each Budget would be to correct those trends in the economy which are working against the interests of the majority of the community. It would be reasonable to assume that in drawing up a Budget, the Government would take into account objectives which it claims that it wants to achieve, but which obviously are not being achieved, and having identified them, take the necessary corrective action. Unemployment is an immediate example which comes to mind. It seems inconceivable that any government, just for plain economic reasons- let alone moral reasons- would stand by in a period of increasing unemploment which is predominantly made up of young people, could disregard the situation in its annual Budget, and take no action to correct it. Yet this is precisely what is happening. It would be idle to suggest that any one budget could overcome the endemic unemployment problem from which this country is now suffering, but to say that nothing can be done and in fact to take no action to see that something is done must leave the majority of Australians wondering what manner of government we have in Australia at present. That in itself is reprehensible enough, but for a government under such conditions to declare policies, knowingly and openly, for the next 12 months which will worsen unemployment surely borders on disbelief.
No one would argue the proposition that the doubling of unemployment in the last three years has been quite deliberate as a means to achieve the Governments stated prime objective of reducing inflation. This statement can be made in complete fairness because for three years we have witnessed no attempts by the Prime Minister (Mr Fraser) to reverse the unemployment trend. It appeared for a short time that he could claim that by deliberately creating unemployment he was able to arrest inflation. Indeed, in the last Budget he said that the Government expected inflation to be down to 5 per cent by mid- 1979. But mid- 1979 has now come and gone. We find inflation at double the rate that he had claimed as his objective, and this Budget predicts that inflation will go higher this financial year. So we have wound up with the worst of both worlds. Unemployment is double and inflation is double the predictions. Just on the basis of this one example, can it not be justifiably claimed that either we are dealing with a man who simply does not understand what he is doing to the Australian community, or alternatively, if he does, he is incapable of rectifying it? I would suggest it is a mixture of both.
Let us take another example. How can a person who is a millionaire several times over say to another person earning $ 1 SO or $ 1 60 a week that we must further depress the purchasing power of his wage or salary? Just in case anyone believes that that is not what the Prime Minister is saying, we only have to look at page 49 of Budget Paper
No. 1 which states:
Because of the implications for activity and employment of the real wage/productivity imbalance, the Government in national wage case hearings before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has consistently advocated the awarding of less than full indexation.
So let there be no misunderstanding of what we have seen and what has been happening and what will continue to happen. Wage and salary earners throughout Australia- I ask honourable senators to bear in mind that 70 per cent of them earn less than average weekly earnings- will experience a year in which their pay increases will not keep up with the cost of living, and that is a deliberate stated policy of the Fraser Government. The Budget Paper goes on to say:
A partial indexation approach, it has been argued, not only helps to constrain real wage levels but also lowers the general inflation rate and thus assists in strengthening activity and real national income.
So there we have it spelt out in a little more detail. The Government will continue to press for partial indexation, that is, only permitting wages and salaries to increase at a rate below the cost of living, and, as it says, will constrain real wage levels. It then goes on to state:
Despite the experience of the past twelve months, that by reducing real wage levels, we will be able to lower the general inflation rate.
It is patently a contradiction. Real wage and salary levels, as everyone knows and as the Government has been proud to proclaim as some sort of achievement, have been depressed over the past two years, but inflation remains at twice the level of what the Government had planned for. Surely this demonstrates in the simplest and clearest terms another major failure in its economic policy.
We have listened to these arguments from Mr Fraser now for Vh years and, despite the fact that they have been demonstrated to fail, exactly the same thinking has been pursued in this Budget and it will have exactly the same results: Declining purchasing power by everyone in the community; higher unemployment; and, as has now been revealed by the Australian Taxpayers’ Association, higher taxation for everyone- a combination of the three least desired factors in any economy. Again we saw a repetition of the full story not being revealed in the Budget Speech. The truth of what was really in the Budget had to be extracted by the Opposition and the media. When the truth was revealed the initial reactions of a fair budget, a soft budget, a tax reducing budget, were shown to be totally false impressions and very quickly the media got the message. I draw attention in particular to the unanswerable tax scales that were produced by Mr Eric Risstrom of the Australian Taxpayers Association the following day. When the media finally got the story, Sydney papers such as the Sun and Daily Mirror, which are not known to be particularly allied to the Labor Party’s cause, ran headlines with such words as these: ‘Tax sting- you will pay more’ and ‘Tax row on Budget’. These headlines were followed by most newspapers expressing the view that Australian wage and salary earners will be paying more this financial year. All this was in contradiction to the impression that Mr Fraser had tried to give. While the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr Howard) protest loudly that this will not be the case, the headlines express the significant perception of the Australian community and that is that most Australian taxpayers will be paying more tax.
People are no longer prepared to believe the Prime Minister- that is a well-known fact. With the prediction of inflation at over 10 per cent and wage and salary increases of only nine per cent, and even with the partial lifting of the surcharge, everyone is able to see that this Government is tax harvesting- a process which Mr Fraser so roundly condemned when he was in opposition. He said that it was ‘an excellent opportunity to re-think and develop positive and progressive policies ‘. Those were his words.
Perhaps it might be useful if we recall the figures which are involved. The total receipts in the last Labor Budget were $15.3 billion; in the Fraser Budget they were $26.3 billion. It also shows that contrary to its assertions that it is against big government, the Fraser Government is proving not only to be the highest tax government, but also is proving to be the biggest government in Australia ‘s federal history. There is no doubt that I will be accused there of misrepresentation. So, to avoid that accusation, I will quote from a document prepared by David Block and Associates, financial consultants in Sydney. I suppose that the company is one of the most highly regarded in Sydney business circles. I suggest that Government members have a look at the paper prepared by the firm’s principal, Mr Block, entitled ‘Preliminary views on the Budget’. He said:
To finance the projected growth in expenditures and a significant reduction in its deficit, the Government has budgeted from an increase of 16.3 per cent in taxation revenue. Indirect taxes are estimated to increase by 1 7.2 per cent to $8.6 billion, accounting for 3 1.7 per cent of total revenue. Individual income tax payments are budgeted to rise by 18.2 per cent to $ 1 5.2 billion.
Mr Block appropriately comments:
The increased taxation revenue flowing from this Budget and the mini Budget will add to already rising inflationary pressures and restrain private sector growth.
That comment is by a senior member of the Sydney business community about this allegedly free enterprise government. This is exactly the opposite to the Government’s intentions and the community’s expectations. This is not a case of the Prime Minister’s raising expectations excessively; it is a case of creating false expectations. The Block document then makes what I regard as the most significant point. Government senators would do well to listen to it because already it has been picked by the National Farmers’ Federation. Mr Block says:
The public sector has expanded relative to the economy as a whole under the present Government, accounting for over 38 per cent of gross domestic product compared with an average of less than 34 per cent under the Labor Government.
The National Farmers’ Federation was more to the point when it said:
It has been overlooked that, despite the Government’s efforts, the size of the Government sector … is higher now than in 1978, 1977, 1976 or at any time during the Whitlam Government. This is not ‘smaller government’ that the present Government has sought and which farmers support.
Those figures should be emphasised, as should the conclusion that the Fraser Government is not for small government but has effectively installed the biggest government in our history. This is the fourth Budget and the fourth occasion on which it has managed to fail to convince people that it is promoting genuine tax reforms. This is the fourth occasion on which it is clear that the Government has not done its homework. On the first occasion, in 1976, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Treasury could not do their sums; the arithmetic was all wrong. On the second occasion the figures were, to use the expression of the then Treasurer, ‘rubbery’. Now, on the fourth occasion the public perception is that the Fraser Government is a high tax government.
It is significant that on all of those four occasions tax reform has been allegedly a basic component of budgetary policy but the electorate has failed to be convinced. If the Government really believes that it is for small government and that it must introduce stage 2 of the new federalism policy and force the States to raise their own income tax, then it should say so, because all it is doing at the moment is fudging economic policy and, as a consequence, making a mess of economic management. The Treasurer estimates that inflation will be running at over 10 per cent for the financial year. I suggest that even without pressures for increases in money wages the rate of inflation will exceed that amount, and by the end of next year it could well be at 12 per cent. Food prices for the month of July have already shown increases. There will probably be increases in the price of crude oil and, because of the Government’s crude oil pricing policy, the price of petrol will rise substantially by the end of next year. Any economic policy maker would be deluding himself if he did not take more notice of exchange rate fluctuations.
While the Prime Minister has been quick to claim that the capital inflow has increased, he has failed on two counts to be completely honest with the electorate: Firstly, he has not clearly stated in the Budget Papers or elsewhere that since it came to power the Fraser Government has borrowed nearly $5,000m overseas, and all for the purpose of propping up the Australian dollar. Secondly if the Prime Minister really believes that he has to smarten himself up, then he should explain to the Australian people that most of the inflation of the last six months, and certainly the inflation of the next 12 months, will result from Government initiated actions. Commodity price increases and wages demands in excess of indexation will be aggravating factors, but they will not be the cardinal factors. It is convenient for both the Prime Minister and his colleague, the Minister for National Development (Mr Newman), to blame the member countries of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries for the oil price rises. They have within their means the power to moderate the effects of increases in oil prices. If the recent price rises are examined, it becomes clear that those OPEC prices have risen at a slower rate than the general rate of inflation in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries over the same period.
The major factors contributing to inflationary effects have been the rapacious governments which have seen this as a means of milking millions of dollars from the motorists and the oil companies which have used the spot market to push the oil prices higher. Since 1 974, the price of crude oil has increased at an average annual rate of 1 1 per cent. That is about the same as the inflation rate for the OECD countries over the same period. But the dates on which the rises occurred lagged behind the announcements of significant increases in inflation rates in the major industrialised countries. The fact that the crude oil levy is expected to provide the Fraser Government with over $2,000m this year shows what a profitable source of revenue oil has been and will be. It is easy to rely on the crude oil levy for making up for being big government. But, in so doing, the Fraser Government has locked all future governments into this source of revenue raising and, apart from prescribing a particular method of raising taxes, has restricted the flexibility of fuel pricing policy. While the Government continues to harvest inflation and raises very substantial sums through the crude oil levy, it has failed on another three counts: Firstly, it has failed to act positively to solve the very serious problem of unemployment. Secondly, it has failed to stimulate economic growth. As the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in the University of Melbourne has forecast, 1979-80 will be a very tough year. Thirdly, it is still attempting to force the States into raising State income tax.
The Treasurer hardly mentioned unemployment in his Budget Speech. The Government has done its best to disguise the issue by publishing only the figures which would paint the best picture, and then making it more and more difficult to find out the number of people who are being paid unemployment benefits. With unemployment a serious problem, one would have expected some measures to offset at least the immediate effects. Instead, the work training programs are cut back by $27m, and the Treasurer stated at the National Press Club last Wednesday that the cut-backs were made because the programs were not cost effective. Perhaps any program introduced by the Fraser Government has to show some immediate electoral advantage to become cost effective. If this is the Government’s approach, it is an extremely cynical one. The Government has tried to sell the idea that, by providing incentives to business and reining in inflation, economic growth will follow. This is at least a return to the original thesis of 1975 in which we–
– And you don ‘t think it will?
– I suggest that the honourable senator should remember. She has been here long enough. We were to have a consumerled recovery; then we were to have an investment-led recovery; and then we were to have an export-led recovery. All the time, every year, we have listened to Mr Fraser saying ‘We are going to have some form of recovery this year’, and in not one year has he succeeded- and he will not succeed this year. Nothing has eventuated, and Australians would be excused for thinking that nothing will happen on this occasion either. These policies deliberately breed stagnation. There is no real incentive for manufacturers to produce more, because there is no additional market for what they produce. Under these conditions, there is no real prospect of the unemployed in this country obtaining work, unless there is a change in the attitude of the Government.
Mr Fraser remains intent on forcing the States into their State income taxes. Do not let anyone be under the impression that that little issue has been forgotten. The Government wants the States to have to raise State income tax over and above the Federal income tax that we all pay. Fraser federalism is a naive and impractical concept which would only serve to further limit economic growth and increase the financial problems of the States and the individual taxpayers.
– That is what Hawke wants to do. He admitted it today.
-I am pleased that Senator Messner and now Senator Walters are interjecting in support of State income taxes. It is excellent to hear honourable senators on the Government side speak up in support of State income tax. In the last State elections every Liberal in the States said that they did not want anything to do with a State income tax; that it was being forced on them by the Fraser Government. It is no wonder that the Liberals have problems all over the Commonwealth.
The fact that the Government chose to devote a special section of the Budget Speech to measures for Tasmania indicates that it realises that its stocks in that State have hit rock bottom. I am sure that Senator Walters will agree with me on that. It is commonplace, of course, for the present Government to conduct things by sleight of hand. For example, the native forest assistance which was allegedly announced in the Budget was actually announced last year, and the Bill for the completion of the agreement with the Tasmanian Government was introduced into the Parliament during the last sittings. The contribution of $ lm for the construction of the second bridge over the Derwent River is the result of the Tasmanian Government’s and, I hope, my pinning the Government down to make a commitment to fully fund the second bridge. Had the matter not been pressed, we would never have got that commitment, and Government senators know it. The only reason we finally have got it is that the seats of Franklin and Denison are under threat. We waited for three years to get that commitment, which was given by the Labor Government in 1975. It was given just like that. There were no arguments. We said that we would do it. But Malcolm Fraser has waited three and a half years to give that commitment and he would not have given it if he thought for one moment that his electoral stocks in Tasmania were okay.
Let me compare the total payments to Tasmania with those to the other States. In this Budget the average increase in total payments to all the States was 6.6 per cent. Tasmania will receive a 6 per cent increase. When she speaks, Senator Walters can explain to us why that is so. This slug does not end with the lower growth in the payments to the States. Tasmania, of course, has just had an increase in air navigation charges, which will lead to higher air fares.
– By how much?
– This, in turn, will prejudice Tasmania’s tourist industry. Senator Walters asks, by how much? What she is saying, in effect, is: ‘I do not care whether they increase the air fares to Tasmania. They can increase them by 10, 20 or 30 per cent; I do not care. It does not matter how small or large it is ‘.
At a time of international uncertainty, with serious unemployment and increasing inflation, this is an extraordinarily contractionary Budget. I note that Senator Rae has come in to assist Senator Walters regarding my comments.
– To demonstrate that what you said about the Hobart bridge was totally untrue.
-I am sorry, Senator, I have finished my comments in that respect. The Budget offers no hope to the unemployed and very little hope for the maintenance of a reasonable level of economic growth. It offers a real prospect of higher interest rates and a return to pressures for higher money wages in an attempt to maintain real incomes. If nothing else, this Budget puts to bed the myth that the Fraser Government is a low tax, small government party. It is not. It is a high tax, big government party which spreads, very thinly and most unevenly, any benefits that should be available from the massive revenues that are available to it. One would have assumed that, in the current uncertainty and depressed state of the economy, this year’s Budget would have faced up to the task of rescuing the Australian economy from deepening recession. One finds little pleasure in having to say so many of the things that I have said, but they must be said because Australia cannot continue along the path chosen by Mr Fraser. The position will be worse at this time next year. Overseas factors will have caught up with us by then. This Government appears to have no idea of how to meet that eventuality.
– Having just listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt), one would think that he was not a member of a government that caused the greatest inflation that this country has known. One would be excused for thinking that he had no understanding of the central theme of the Government’s policy since taking office in 1975, that is, to make an absolutely uncompromising attack on the inflation that had been caused by the government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member. If we are to talk about inflation- and Senator Wriedt chose to do so- we should not forget that in June 1 975 the rate of inflation was as high as 1 7 per cent. When we took office it was 1 4 per cent. In June of this year it was running at about 8.8 per cent, which was below the average for all the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Priority has been given by this Budget, and by the Government since it has come into office, to the attack on inflation so that we shall be able to achieve the things that this country is capable of achieving.
I notice that Senator Wriedt quoted everybody to whom he could lay claim to suit the purposes of his speech. He has quoted Mr Eric Risstrom, the National Farmers Federation, Mr Block and everyone else. I notice that he did not quote from Mr Hayden ‘s speech last night on the Budget. I wish to say something about that speech because if there is to be a response to a Budget one could claim that it should take the form of an alternative Budget. It could certainly not be claimed that any alternative proposals which made any sense at all were presented in the speech on the Budget of Mr Hayden. The Australian Labor Party has demonstrated that it has no specific proposals for restoring economic growth, creating permanent employment, reducing inflation or doing anything other than hitting the private sector with more taxation. That was the message in the speech of the leader of the Australian Labor Party last night.
Senator Wriedt did not quote for us the policies which emerged from the Adelaide conference of the Australian Labor Party, filled as they were with the dogma of the past, filled with the problems that we have experienced and indicating a return to the increased deficit which Mr Hayden promised us that he would introduce. That is the sort of basis on which I would want to speak. Mr Hayden described this Budget as representing an attack on the families of Australia. I want to put down some of the facts with regard to the policies of the Australian Labor Party and those of the present Government and to ask the people of Australia whether there is any real ground for comparison between what has been achieved by this Government and what is threatened by the increased deficits and resulting inflation that will flow from some of the Opposition ‘s policies if put into effect.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke as if the 1979-80 Budget had not given priority to social security and social welfare programs. I wish to refute that statement and place on record briefly the fact that the income security programs of my Department- social welfare programs- will rise by about 10 per cent this year. Expenditure upon them will be almost $9,000m. Among the Budget features is the fact that most pensions and benefits will be indexed on a six-monthly basis and that income limits for fringe benefits will be increased to recognise the position of some who, through higher incomes, have not been able to avail themselves of those benefits. The Budget also provides for the extension of eligibility for pensioner health benefit cards to supporting parent beneficiaries. Also, additional funds are to be provided for aged persons’ accommodation, for handicapped persons and for senior citizen programs, all programs in which the people of Australia work closely with the Government to ensure that services are provided for those who need them.
– Has the Australian Labor Party acknowledged these generous provisions, Minister?
– I have not noted any recognition on the part of Senator Wriedt, Mr Hayden or any of the other speakers who have been responding to the Budget Speech. I wish to refer to the programs of the Government and to what can be achieved by the Australian peoplebecause it is a case of the Government using the funds of the Australian people- in providing these programs. Recognition ought to be accorded to the direct assistance that is given under pre-school services, childrens’ services, States grants and home care for aged people and the sort of help that can be given to voluntary agencies in working with the Government. Large figures could be quoted to show the improvement in services that has occurred over the three previous Budgets of this Government and that has been continued in this Budget.
Let us turn now to what seemed to be a central theme of Mr Hayden ‘s speech. He described the Budget as anti-family. That seemed to me to be an extraordinary thesis to develop. If he were to look at what had been achieved by the Government through the use of the funds of the Australian people he would see that in four years we have increased our assistance to families from $34 1 m under the last Hayden Budget to $ 1,053m in this Budget. That represents a threefold increase over a four-year period. These figures reflect, of course, the changeover to the family allowance scheme, which was introduced in 1976 by the Fraser Government. Whatever people may say about that scheme I would think that the Australian Labor Party would have accorded recognition to the fact that it has brought to 300,000 families assistance that they have not previously enjoyed. The Australian Labor Party apparently has never liked the family allowance scheme. It has never liked the fact that it has had such universal acceptance by the people of Australia or that it was a social reform that it wished it had introduced.
Mr Hayden, in his reply to the Budget Speech, criticised the Government, as he has done on many other occasions, because these allowances have not been increased or indexed. I do not argue that they have. They stand at the level at which they were introduced in 1 976. However, I note that Mr Hayden ‘s alternative Budget of last year, wherein he made a detailed effort to show what he would introduce as a program, no account was taken of the requirement to index family allowances. One could hardly suggest that, in his speech last night, he made any commitment to increase family allowances. In fact, Senator Grimes is on record as saying that the high cost of increasing payments to the 4.3 million children who are the subject of family allowances represents an inhibiting effect on any desire by the present Federal Government to increase them. He acknowledged that that would also apply to an Australian Labor Party government in times of economic difficulty. The sheer magnitude of the program, involving as it does the expenditure of $ 1,000m, shows the difficulties that confront one in considering indexation. It is sheer hypocrisy for the Australian Labor Party to make such statements and adopt such a posture concerning the non-indexation of family allowances by this Government in view of what is said in a paper that has been released by Senator Grimes concerning an alternative to the present universal family allowances scheme. I shall quote some of the statements in that paper. It is a paper that calls for a reform of the family allowance scheme. The family allowance scheme provides for the payment of a universal family allowance to every child in Australia. It is an allowance that is universally paid. It is one that is not taxed. Therefore, every child in Australia receives the same benefit regardless of his family circumstances. I quote from page 2 of Senator Grimes’s paper. It states:
Family Allowances, which replaced the old system of child endowment and taxation rebates for children, present a means whereby a start can be made to give a more equitable distribution of public monies to benefit those in need, while more basic changes in other areas are sorted out.
I do not know what that might mean- sorting out what? Is it a case of using a universal system to direct funds away from that universal payment? On page 3 of Senator Grimes’s paper under the heading: ‘ Reform of the System ‘ he states:
The fact that the Family Allowances are paid at the same level to the most wealthy and poor families has been the subject of question and debate since they were introduced. The need to increase the level of payments has been obvious in the case of low income families. The fact that the affluent in the community would benefit unnecessarily from such an increase is an inhibiting factor in advocating increases. The high cost of increasing payments to 4.3 million children per year has an inhibiting effect on any desire by the present government to increase payments. It must be said that this may also apply to a Labor Government in times of economic difficulty.
I quote further from the paper:
Reform in keeping with Labor Party principles must involve a redistribution of funds to those in need.
Let honourable senators opposite tell that to the people who receive the universal family allowance. (Quorum formed). Page 6 of the paper states:
The suggested modifications would result in a system with the following features- retention of the present non-income-tested payments paid as at present, at either a reduced rate or at the same rates if economic conditions allow; the introduction of a yearly payment in the form of a tax credit or a direct payment if desired, based on a family income test.
Under the heading: ‘Cost’ the paper states:
If it was considered desirable not to add to government spending, a reduction in the Family Allowance could pay for the increased supplement paid to lower income groups, e.g a reduction of $4 per month per child would have resulted in approximately $200,000,000 in 1 978.
Is that not an anti-family policy to the children of Australia who are receiving benefits under the universal family allowance scheme? Some comment was made with regard to income tax collections. I believe that that is one matter which has been ventilated a great deal over the past few days. I simply want to put on record this fact: Even after increasing taxes last year and for part of this year, the Liberal-National Country Party Government’s personal income tax collections have increased on average by only 3. 1 per cent a year in real terms. This compares with 14.5 per cent a year under Labor in 1972 to 1975, and 6.2 per cent a year in the three years before the advent of the Labor Government. That is surely a record reduction- from 14.5 per cent a year to 3. 1 per cent a year. There should be no way in which that can be refuted.
I am glad that I have had the opportunity to say something about the family allowance policy or proposals of the Australian Labor Party. To have a paper circulated with those sorts of proposals and to hear the comments of Mr Hayden in his speech on the Budget last night on behalf of the Opposition with regard to indexation indicates, I think, that the Labor Party is being less than frank with the Australian people. There are 2 million people who receive these family allowances on behalf of 4.3 million children. When the Leader of the Opposition is responding to a Budget, instead of making criticisms of the things that cannot be achieved by the Government, he ought to put down what his own policy would be, if he ever had the chance to put one into effect.
The real intentions of the Labor Party are also camouflaged with regard to other allowances. Mr Hayden criticised the Government for failing to index some basic social welfare benefits, such as allowances paid for dependent children of pensioners and the unemployment benefit for single people. There is no specific commitment in Mr Hayden ‘s speech to index all these basic social welfare benefits. Perhaps the reason is that Mr Hayden understands that it would cost in the order of $ 1 80m a year to index the payments that he mentions. Of course, this cost would significantly increase if inflation ever returned to the rates that were experienced under the Labor Government. The $ 1 80m a year relates to a rate of inflation which is half that which we experienced under the Labor Government. One could call it $360m a year if the Labor Party had the same approach to economic management that it had when it was in office.
It is probably worth noting too that Mr Hayden was less than accurate in implying in his speech that the real levels of payment to disadvantaged family units were maintained by the Labor Government. I remind him that guardians’ allowances, supplementary assistance and child endowment all lost value under the Labor Government. Perhaps he did not care to mention that when he was talking about a anti-family approach. It was also Mr Hayden who froze the rate of the unemployment benefit for those under 18 years of age in the Budget which he introduced. All he says is that he will come up with the response to the unremitting neglect of pensioners’ dependent children. Perhaps the response that he is talking about is the redistribution of the $200m from the family allowance scheme that was mentioned at the conclusion of the quote that I made from the paper of Senator Grimes. If his response is to abandon the universal family allowance scheme, let us hear that from him so that the people can judge which payment they prefer to receive on behalf of the children of Australia.
There are other aspects of the Fraser Budget of this year and of previous years which, to me, were very important ones. I speak firstly of the introduction last year of the supporting parents’ benefit which extended assistance to sole fathers on a basis similar to that which had been introduced by the Labor Government for sole mothers. In this Budget, I take great satisfaction from the fact that from November of this year we are able to extend the pensioner health benefit card to supporting parent beneficiaries. This will ensure that all Commonwealth sole parent pensioners are eligible for the same rates of assistance and the same Commonwealth fringe benefits. It is worth noting that the benefit that has been introduced could be estimated at a value of up to $10 a week for a supporting parent. I think that that is considerable recognition of the needs of families. It represents a considerable measure of support to the families who will now be introduced to this benefit. We estimate that some 56,000 supporting parent beneficiaries- this would cover about 96,000 children- will now qualify for the pensioner health benefit cards. Their health costs will be reduced significantly. This should be of great assistance, particularly to those children who are suffering from chronic or repeated illnesses in relation to which the burden of cost on the family is a very grave one indeed.
Mr Hayden did not choose to mention that the children’s services program is playing an essential role in the support of low income families. The direction of this program has been to assist those low income families and those with special needs. Inded, the whole focus of the program has been changed by this Government. When we came into office there was a program related to pre-school education. While we have maintained a commitment to pre-school education, we have directed this program towards creating a flexible network of services for more disadvantaged children. We have been able to include services such as day care, emergency care, outside school care and vacation care. Since the 1976 Budget the Government has been able to increase expenditure from $ 16.9m to $36. 13m in the present Budget. It has doubled the assistance given to those families where children’s services are vital and where family support services are required for the strength of the family. There are many anti-family aspects of the Labor Party program. For instance, the program does commit the Australian Labor Party to a policy of big spending. Let us make sure that we have Mr Hayden ‘s statement accurately. Last night he said:
I make no apology for the fact that in committing ourselves to such a program we would support a larger domestic deficit to help fund it.
That is not news to the Government. We know that larger domestic deficits were the pattern of the economic management of the Labor Government. To have the sorts of statements made by Mr Hayden with regard to anti-family programs and to neglect to appreciate the effect of inflation on the security of the family is a significant omission from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. In the income security system of this country we have developed a system of minimum income support which is one of the most comprehensive in the western world. Basically, all people- other than those who are able to work but choose not to work or choose to work in unprofitable ventures- are guaranteed an income. The various categories covered under the income security system shows that Australia has a very comprehensive income security system. However, I notice that the Australian Labor Party at the Adelaide conference talked about the introduction of a universal guaranteed minimum income scheme. We do not know the cost of the scheme that the Labor Party has in mind, and neither do its supporters. It is the sort of thing that the Labor Party talks about. It sounds good- a GMI. The Government would like to know by whom it is guaranteed, for whom it is guaranteed and at what cost. I wish to refer to the sorts of programs that came forward. I am using the document prepared in the Laurie Oakes report of the Labor Party conference. If there are any inaccuracies -
– There are a lot of inaccuracies in it.
– I ask to be excused. I am reading from that document.
– You ought not to quote from it, particularly in view of the fact that you cannot vouch for its accuracy.
– Order ! Senator McLaren, your interjections today have been excessive. I ask you to be careful.
– At the Adelaide conference it was stated that the Australian Labor Party social security policy aimed at the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income scheme. An introduction of a scheme of that kind needs costing and serious consideration. I wonder what sort of consideration Mr Hayden would give to that and whether in the introduction of such a scheme he would place recognition on the need to maintain the income security system- which we now enjoy- in respect of families. Some of the other aspects of the Labor Party schemes formulated at the Adelaide conference show that the Labor Party would review the family allowance program in order to direct resources to low income families and provide for annual review of the level of payment to maintain its value. That probably relates to the sort of paper from Senator Grimes about which I was talking. The Labor Party talks about updating the income tests for social security payments and fringe benefits in line with inflation but it did not necessarily do that when it was in government.
The Labor Party brings back the old faithfuls- the no fault national compensation scheme and a national superannuation scheme. Perhaps something ought to be said about that. The Government has considered a national superannuation scheme, which was suggested in the Hancock report, and it has rejected the introduction of that scheme because it has recognised that it may place a very heavy burden on the lower and middle income families where the responsibility of raising children already imposes heavy costs. The Hancock National Superannuation Inquiry would have increased the effective tax burden of the worker on a minimum wage by 20 per cent. The scheme would have required $ 1,500m a year in addition to the present taxes which are collected from the Australian people. That costing was based on 1975 or 1976 figures. Today’s cost would be far greater. Where is the low tax government that Mr Hayden was trying to put forward as his style of government, and where is the small government that Senator Wriedt was trying to imply was his preference when he talked in disparaging terms of big government, as it related to the Fraser Government.
One thing that is known from the Hayden alternative Budget is that he will not promise to index taxation. He has never suggested in concrete terms that he would introduce personal income tax indexation. He has promised a larger domestic deficit but he has never suggested that he will index personal income tax. He has been quite consistent in this matter. Of course, he is a product of the Whitlam Government which specialised in the collection of increased taxes from the Australian people. All honourable senators can remember Mr Whitlam ‘s policy speech and they could probably transfer it into the speech of any future Labor Government. Mr Whitlam said:
The huge and automatic increase in Commonwealth revenue ensures that rates of taxation need not be increased at any level to implement a Labor Government’s program.
In other words, we will have more and more inflation, we will collect more and more tax by stealth and we will be the biggest government that Australia has ever seen.
– But you are.
– I am speaking as a future Labor Government would speak. It is an interesting exercise to compare how much individuals would have paid in tax under the Hayden tax scales of the last Hayden Budget and the amount payable under the Fraser tax scales. For example, a man on an income of $ 10,000 a year and with a dependent spouse would have paid some $600 a year less on the Fraser tax scales than on those of Mr Hayden. That is the sort of thing that the Government would like the people of Australia to understand when they are trying to contrast the situation with what seems to me to be a non-policy, just a series of criticisms of the Budget by Mr Hayden in his speech. With some very choice words Mr Hayden said: . . the finest flower of Australian youth has been allowed to wilt, while bewildered families have looked on without knowing why.
Mr Hayden might not know why but most families in Australia do. They knew why in 1975 and 1977, and nothing that Mr Hayden says now suggests that the Australian Labor Party has learned the lesson of the disastrous effect of its policies on the economy. Professor Henderson, of the poverty inquiry, put it fairly succinctly. He said:
Many of the commendable social reforms were introduced (by the Labor Government) at the price of aggravating the plunge into unemployment, which has become Australia’s worst social and economic problem.
Dr Scotton, formerly the Chairman of the Health Insurance Commission- established by the Whitlam Government- put it in the following way: . . there can be no doubt that two central policies of the Labor Government- the expansion of public social expenditures and the encouragement of substantial wage and salary increases- contributed to the intensity of both of these problems (inflation and unemployment) and the difficulties of the subsequent readjustment.
Has there ever been any recognition in the comments by Senator Grimes or any of the Labor spokesmen of the price that this Government has had to pay for those three years of Labor Party policies? We have not had a costing of the price that would have to be paid for the Adelaide conference policies; we have not had any suggestion from Mr Hayden of any sense of responsibility in what he suggested that this Government ought to be doing in the present Budget. It seems to me that whilst every person in Australia understands that we have to live within a controlled expenditure, the Labor Party still puts forward the policies, programs and criticisms of the Government’s curtailment of expenditure in a way that sounds all too like a repeat performance of the three years from 1 972 to 1 975. Every private employer in the country is aware of the difficulties; every private employer in the country was able to receive with satisfaction the Budget of the Fraser Government this year. The Budget statements pointed out that wage rates remained too high for certain categories of labour, including those people who lacked qualifications and experience. It is no coincidence that unemployment remains particularly high amongst the unskilled and the juniors. Has Mr Hayden or any other spokesman for the Labor Party in their concern for unemployment addressed themselves to that issue? Of course, they cannot because the recent Labor conference in Adelaide pointed out that wages policies could only be carried out with the consent of the trade union movement. The policies of the trade union movement are for higher and higher wages regardless of those who do not have jobs.
One specific policy proposal that Mr Hayden made to cope with unemployment was for 50,000 jobs to be provided for a total cost of between $80m and $ 100m; in other words, at a cost of about $2,000 a job. Award wages for a 16- year-old are over $3,000 a job. If Mr Hayden assumes that every job means one less on unemployment benefit and that only 16-year-olds would be assisted, it still seems hard to come up with his costing if ongoing costs and administration are taken into account. The Labor Party’s experience of job creation schemes takes us back to the Regional Employment Development scheme of 1975 which cost about $11,000 for each job it created. Even the Whitlam Government realised that that could not work. The purpose of Mr Hayden ‘s scheme, of course, was not to create employment but to grab a few headlines by suggesting that the Labor Party has a concern for the unemployed, something which does not show up in the rest of its policies. To this extent perhaps the Labor Party’s policies are cheap. But they are not cheap for the Australian people. They are not alternatives to responsible economic management. Mr President, it gives me pleasure to support the Budget of the Fraser Government.
– I consider the speech we have just heard from Senator Guilfoyle to be a most extraordinary speech for a Minister of her calibre. I would have thought that in the week during which the Budget was brought down we would have heard Ministers and members of this Government telling us positively and enthusiastically just what this Budget was going to do for the great mass of people in Australia. She did not tell us, of course, what this Budget was going to do positively for the great mass of people in Australia because it will not do anything positive for the great mass of people in Australia. It is just going to drag them down further into poverty. We heard a Minister of the calibre of Senator Guilfoyle reduced to the old catch cry about its all being the fault of the Whitlam Government, forgetting very conveniently the number of Budgets which have now been brought down by this Government and the number of chances it has had to bring this country up to something worth while.
In 1979 in Australia it does not do to be old, to be sick, to be unemployed, to be a school-leaver or to be a family man with young children. If one falls into one of those categories one is part of the plan of the Treasurer (Mr Howard), who stated in the Budget Speech:
Overall business profits improved last year. This process must continue if recovery is to be consolidated.
Business profits improved at any price! Presumably business profits can be improved while thousands and thousands of Australians are on the breadline and while thousands and thousands of young Australians find that there is no place in society for them. Evidently we are supposed to be grateful for the ridiculous little bits of padding here and there which have come out of this Budget. Whilst more and more people are pushed into poverty we are supposed to be grateful for the ridiculous little handouts to people. What we and the people of Australia want is more employment, fewer handouts and more dignity. In 1979 in this country who wants to be the object of somebody’s charity? After having gone through school and passed examinations, who in 1979 wants to find that there is no place in this country for them and that whatever they have to contribute is not wanted?
The old and the aged in this country at least achieved indexation of pensions in this Budget. But that will not come into force until May of next year, whilst pharmaceutical benefit increases come into force from next Saturday. If the Government is so concerned about assisting people in this country one wonders why the situation could not have been reversed. Millions of dollars have been saved by cutting back those pensions that the aged should have got. If the pensioners had got the rise to which they were entitled in May 1978 they would each have $60 more. Over that period meat prices rose by 400 per cent, rents increased, transport charges rose, doctors’ fees rose and the cost of health schemes rose. But pensioners were kept on an amount of money that was not able to cope with their needs in 1 979, let alone at this time of the year.
I say again that what the aged and the pensioners of this country want is more dignity. They want to be able to buy what they need and to pay their bills; they do not want various schemes handed out to them or various bits of charity dolloped out to them when those in authority think fit. While pensioner health benefit schemes go up, the pensioner health benefit card is made available to a few more- a little more charity is handed out. While the petrol tax pushes up the price of every conceivable item that a pensioner might buy they are handed bits of charity and told that they should be grateful for it.
The sick in this community are in a very bad way. Under this Government and through this Budget they have to put up with increased doctors’ fees and the Government has made no move to assist in paying those doctors’ fees or to keep them down. They have to put up with increased hospital charges and yet we still have not got hospitals distributed equitably throughout the community. In areas of Melbourne people have to go for miles before they can find a hospital to care for their problems. People who have been caught in accidents have to go miles and miles because there are no hospitals. We are told that we have many hospital beds in excess of requirements, but we do not have hospital beds where we need them; and when we find them we have to pay more for them.
The increase in pharmaceutical benefits has got to the absurd point. I have listened to young people, who did not know who I was, talking about paying $51 a month for health benefit schemes- for things that they will never need. They will never be so ill that they will need to spend that sort of money, but because of the scare tactics put out by the health benefit associations, assisted by this Government with its propaganda, people are paying out extraordinary amounts of money that they cannot afford. What we wanted in this country was a system that would make sure that when people are ill they are not punished, that when they are ill they are made well whether or not they have the money to pay for a bed in a hospital. If we are going to move away from that, if this Government no longer believes that everybody is entitled to care when they are ill, it should come out and say so to the people of Australia and then the people of Australia can judge. If it believes that health care is an area in which it is quite justifiable to make a profit, it should say so and give the people of Australia the chance to choose.
When it was shown that there would have to be rises in health benefit payments I noticed that Derek Shaw, President of the Health Benefits Association Ltd in Victoria, issued a warning about the rises that this would entail and the risks that this would involve people in. He said:
The Government has broken an undertaking we had reached with the Minister for Health that we were to make necessary rate change adjustments just once a year.
The Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) broke a promise to the HBA and to the health benefit funds. He broke a promise he made to the people of Australia when he was elected in 1975 because he said then that the Government would not disrupt Medibank- that Medibank would stay whole. So much destruction has been wrought on Medibank that now in Australia we have no health scheme worth talking about. All that people know is that they have to pay out enormous amounts of money and they are not sure where the care comes from or what calibre it is. If in this country at the moment one is unemployed, married and has a family one has to keep that family on less than $ 100 a week. At the same time the cost of health care has risen enormously. People with young families need health care because of the things that can happen to kiddies. If someone is unemployed, married and has a young family he is facing an enormous increase in doctors’ fees which he cannot afford. He is facing enormous increases in hospital charges which he cannot afford. He is facing increases in the prices of foodstuffs which go up every day. The petrol tax imposed by this Government increases transport charges and raises the cost of every item that people have to buy in their day-to-day living. Those increases in transport costs come directly from this Government’s greedy grabbing of an increase in taxation that every member of the Australian population pays every time he fronts up to a bowser.
An unemployed person without dependants in this country is stuck on an amount of $57.90 a week. No adjustment is being made for cost of living increases; no adjustment is being made for the petrol tax which still has to be paid. Something like 78 per cent of the unemployed people in this country are without dependants. They are told by this Government that they must go out and find jobs. To do so they have to spend money on transport, telephone calls and newspapers. They have to buy clothes so that they look decent and clean when they front up for a job. They are expected to do all of that on $57.90 a week. That is not possible with the sorts of costs which people have to meet today- the sort of costs which come about because of the policies of this Government and which are increasing day by day.
People are being jammed into a situation in which they do not have the money to go out and find themselves jobs, yet they are told by this Government that they are dole bludgers if they do not do so. They are told that they are paid too much dole money, that there are people who can exist on less than the dole that they are paid. The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Phillip Lynch, has been reported as saying that some people could survive on a lower unemployment benefit. I will bet Mr Lynch has never tried to survive on unemployment benefit. Mr Lynch said that the unemployment benefit could be too high and could be encouraging people to live off the dole. He has to be kidding. The people living on that sort of money are almost living in a state of starvation. They are in extreme desperation bringing up families on that sort of money. Mr Lynch said that people are encouraged to go on the dole because they will receive magnificent amounts of money. He underestimates people. He does not pay them their due. People are honest and hard working. They wish to contribute, to be a part of the community. They do not want to have charity handed out to them. They want to keep their families in their own way. They want this Government to provide them with jobs so that they can do that.
Let us now consider the position of the unemployed people aged under 1 8 years. Let us look at the rate they are paid. They are paid $36 a week. It has been at that figure since 1975. It has lost 60 per cent of its value since that time and no move has been made to increase it. Yet these people make up the heart of what this Government is pleased to call ‘the dole bludgers’. One wonders how these young people manage to keep themselves going at all on $36 a week. It costs money to go out every day to find a job. Fares could take up $10 of the weekly amount. They have to buy newspapers to find out where the jobs are and pay for telephone calls. They have to buy clothes so that they can look clean and respectable when they go for interviews for jobs. After all those things are taken into account, how much of the $36 a week would be left for board and lodgings? Is it any wonder that mothers and fathers are in despair as to what is to become of their children under those circumstances?
If it is difficult for children in the city to manage on that sort of money, imagine what it is like for children in country towns who have to go to the city for jobs. How in the name of fortune are they supposed to keep themselves on that sort of money? Yet there must be hundreds and hundreds of children across this country who do have to go to the city to find jobs. I have before me a report prepared by Dr Don Edgar, Reader in Sociology at the La Trobe University and Chairman of the Planning Committee for the Victorian Country Education Project, and it has some figures on the unemployment levels for country towns. When we look at the situation concerning vacancies for juniors in country towns we find startling ratios of unemployed people to vacancies. In Cessnock, New South Wales, there are 409 unemployed people for each vacancy; in Maitland, 238 people for each vacancy; in Taree, 193 people for each vacancy; in Albury, 80 people for each vacancy. Some Victorian figures are: In Geelong, 120 people for each vacancy; in Mildura, 120 people for each vacancy; and in Swan Hill, 82 people for each vacancy. Those figures give an indication of the number of young people- juniors- in country districts who cannot get jobs.
– Malcolm Fraser says that they do not want jobs.
-Malcolm Fraser says that they are dole bludgers. Mr Lynch says that they would rather live on that amount of money than try to get a job. On $36 a week those people have to come to the city, find themselves board and lodging and get around the city to find a job. In January 1979 the young unemployed people in New South Wales numbered 34,420, 41.3 per cent of the rural jobless. In Victoria they numbered 19,015, which was 52.1 per cent of the rural jobless. That presents for rural towns a massive social problem which has gone unheralded by either the Government or the media. Evidently this Government does not care because not one thing in this Budget will be of any assistance to those youngsters in country towns; nor will anything in this Budget do anything about the problem of jobs or education in country towns. As Don Edgar stated in his report:
Caught somewhere in the middle are the nation’s forgotten children- those in rural schools. They, their parents and the wider rural communities demand a new look at how well served are their education needs.
Their education needs are for something which will give them some sort of chance of finding jobs in the city, of standing up to the culture that they have to move into in the city. Don Edgar said of the system:
This Government has shown not the slightest concern for the problem that those people are faced with. They are doomed to no work in the country and to no work and no money in the city. Indeed, one wonders what happens to them when they do come to the city on that extraordinarily small amount of money. As I have said, no support is given in this Budget for the idea of real work for people in the country. No care is shown for the real problems that exist in the country. No response is made to the call for country children to be able to stay in their districts to live out their lives there and to contribute there in a very real way. This Government is responding to the call that has gone out about the closing of expensive half-full country schools but is showing no care for the very real problems that exist there. Yet the cost of country schooling will rise as a result of the petrol tax because it will mean that the cost of buses to take the country children to school, the cost of the petrol which parents use to drive them to school, will be much increased.
We have a great problem with unemployment. We have a government which is taking something like $2,000m in petrol tax, yet it does nothing about training, re-training and providing work opportunities. This Budget cuts $50m from the National Education and Training program. It is the only program which exists to assist support to the semi-skilled and the unskilled in finding work in the community. The Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) pointed out that we have a great number of unskilled people in the community who find it difficult to get work. If the Government acknowledges that, one would think that at least it would take steps to do something about giving skills to those unskilled people. Yet $50m is being cut from the only scheme we have which might do that.
We have a scheme called the Special Youth Employment Training Program. This Budget has cut the funding for that scheme by 67 per cent. That scheme subsidises employers to employ people who have been out of the work force for four months. Some employers have abused the scheme. Why do we not deal with the abusers instead of condemning the people who need that scheme to get themselves some work experience and the opportunity to get back into the work force and gain self-respect? That is the only scheme we have which deals with people in that sort of area, yet its funding has been cut by 67 per cent by this Budget. That shows just how much the Government cares about the unemployed, and adds to the growing feeling in Australia that this Government does not really care what level unemployment reaches. It believes that unemployment will solve a lot of its problems. With a large pool of unemployed there will be no problems with the work force and no pressure to give people anything like a real wage for the work they do.
Some $2,000m will be raised through the petrol tax, but there is no money for training, no money for retraining, no money for employment programs. Where are the plans this Government might have for producing skilled tradesmen? Where are its plans for maintaining our expertise, our ability to produce all sorts of goods in this country. Does the Government acknowledge that we no longer produce such things as spark plugs and ball bearings and that we are in danger of losing the expertise we need to produce those sorts of goods? There is no acknowledgement at all of that. As far as the Government is concerned, we can become a farm, a mine, and a load of peasants. At the moment, a person with a young family finds that costs are rising, unemployment is growing and wages are going down.
I come now to the family allowances. Senator Guilfoyle spoke glowingly about family allowances, which were going to give women freedom. Family allowances have not been increased since 1 976. The Government took away child endowment and cut out tax rebates for children. It replaced them with family allowances, which have not been increased since 1976. Although operating on 1979 prices, families have been left with the level of assistance that was deemed reasonable in 1976. So much for this Government’s care for the family. That care was further indicated this week when the Government announced that it would make available $2,000 for research into the cot death syndrome. I cannot help but contrast that with the $3. 5m made available to Project Australia, a project which the Government fondly hopes will raise its standing in the eyes of the community. But when the people of Australia see where the money is going- $3. 5m to Project Australia and $2,000 to research into the cot death syndrome- I am sure that they will understand only too well where the priorities lie.
– This is the Year of the Child.
– In the Year of the Child this Government has not seen fit to increase the $10 allowance paid to parents of handicapped children. It has not seen fit to raise the isolated children’s allowance to anything like a realistic amount of money. In the Year of the Child the children’s allowance paid to pensioners has not been increased.
The majority of people in Australia know that there is plenty of wealth in this country. The problem is not that we are not a wealthy country; it is that the wealth that exists in this country is distributed unevenly, away from the bulk of the people, and this Budget perpetuates that uneven distribution. I shall quote to the Senate some interesting figures which show the distribution of incomes among families in this country. Some 10 per cent of the lower income people receive 2.2 per cent of total income; the top 10 per cent of income earners receive 23 per cent of total income.
The wealth of the country is owned in this way: The bottom 10 per cent of our population owns 0.27 per cent of the wealth of the country; the top 10 per cent of our population owns 22 per cent of the wealth. So the money is there but it is very unevenly distributed, and the Government is not prepared to do anything at all about redistributing it. What it has done is impose a petrol tax on the little people of this country, a tax that will bring in a minimum of $2,000m. As petrol prices rise, so will the amount of tax collected. The petrol tax will mean extra transport costs, which will push up prices. Higher prices will mean fewer goods bought, which in turn will mean fewer goods produced. Fewer goods produced will mean fewer jobs, which will push Australia into even deeper trouble.
It was put earlier in the debate that nothing had been said about what the Labor Party would do. I shall say a little about that by quoting from the policy agreed to in Adelaide by the Labor Party, a policy which has been of such great concern and interest to the Government. Perhaps if I quote the policy the Government will be even more concerned and will adopt some of it. The items we adopted included these:
Recognising that taxation is a source of revenue . . . and a means of redistributing income and wealth -
We fervently believe that-
Reform the taxation system as far as possible to redistribute the burden of taxation in ways consistent with the philosophy of ability to pay and the need for an adequate, minimum standard of living. Maintain a progressive income tax on individuals; and avoid recourse to any form of concession which favours high income earners.
Support tax indexation to ensure that the burdens and benefits of the personal income tax are not distorted by inflation.
We believe those things fervently. We are proud of them. We are not in any way ashamed of them, and we will go out and push that line from one end of Australia to the other. The Government knows very well that policy will be well received by the people of this country because, in essence, it represents what the majority of people believe that taxation should do. I should stress that the policy puts the emphasis where it belongs. It puts the emphasis on tax coming from those who can afford to pay, and on the Government’s own figures it is obvious that it is giving the biggest tax concessions to those who have the highest incomes.
At this stage in the debate on the Budget one can only ask: Where are the Government’s positive plans for employment? Where are its plans for equitable distribution of the wealth of this country? Even in the Government’s terms, where are the plans for a more equitable distribution than we have at the moment? They are to be found nowhere at all, and under this Government there never will be such plans. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the Government believes that business profits must be improved. That is what the Treasurer has said. We on this side say: You are killing the golden goose.
– We have just listened to Senator Melzer outline the Opposition’s- (Quorum formed). I thank Senator Primmer for bringing an audience into the chamber to hear me. I refer particularly to the matters raised by Senator Melzer. She made out a case that there was nothing at all in the Budget for the creation of jobs for young people. We will come to a larger outline of that matter later. I will answer in a short way now the two specific matters on which Senator Melzer ‘s case falls to the ground immediately. Business, government, unions and the Crawford report all agree that the way to create jobs in Australia is by stimulating the exports of manufactured products.
Senator Melzer obviously does not have much time to read the detail of the Budget and possibly she has missed several very important points. The position is that this Budget outlines a substantial increase for the export incentives grants scheme from about $60m or $70m last year up to a sum of over $2 15m in this coming financial year. If that is not a job creation program I do not know what is.
Let us consider a couple more examples of which I hope Senator Melzer will take note. I refer to the reduction in the coal export levy. There was a reduction of $3.50 a tonne in respect of new mines. Is that not creating jobs? Of course it is. Unless I misheard the speech last night and misread the newspapers today, I am absolutely certain that I heard Mr Hayden say that we must cut taxes to create jobs. Heavens above, we have cut taxes. What does that mean? Where is the argument of honourable senators opposite? They have no argument at all. Do honourable senators opposite want some more examples? There are the industrial research and development grants. The Crawford report, the Williams study and the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment on industrial research and development point out strongly that there is a need to increase the amount of government money going towards technology and research in this country. What has the Fraser Government done?
– The Government has done the right thing.
-Of course the Government has done the right thing and I thank the honourable senator very much for his comment. Expenditure for this purpose has increased from $ 14m in 1977-78 to $24m in 1978-79 and will increase to $32m this year. These are the real arguments. This is the direction job creation is taking and this is the most necessary way to do it. For many years the Opposition has made out cases for artificial job creation schemes, that is that everybody could earn a living by sweeping the streets. That is the sort of job creation scheme that the Opposition has in mind. It does not want to create new skills to enable people to convert from one industry to another because it upsets the union movement. That is why it does not want to create new skills.
Let us have a look at another case in respect of the tourist industry. Most people acknowledge that by the year 2000 the largest industry in the world will be tourism. Of course, this is as a result of rising affluence within the community. Obviously, it will be a substantial area of job creation in the next 20 years. What is the situation in that industry? Obviously, Australia is crying out for more tourist development as a means of assuring job creation. What has the Fraser Government done? It has responded in an incentive giving way by providing for a deduction of 2Vi per cent on the depreciation of buildings used for accommodation purposes.
– You put up air fares to keep them away.
-Senator Cavanagh knows that that is not true. The Government obviously has the very real interests of country people in mind in this industry. Senator Melzer must acknowledge this because the setting up of new motel and hotel rooms throughout Australia must stimulate economic activity in country areas. That is clearly an objective of this Government’s policy as laid down in the Budget. That is job creation in the real sense of the word. That is using the tax system to provide jobs for people in the most acceptable way for an industry whose future will be great. This is not merely putting people to work with brooms to sweep the streets. That is the Labor Party’s alternative. That is job creation in its book. I happen to know that there is a great interest in this depreciation allowance. I am aware of several new developments that are likely to occur as a direct result of that decision that has now been taken by this Government. These will involve substantial investment throughout Australia in the tourist industry thus creating jobs for people to service those motels and accommodation units. That is the proper direction in which to move.
Senator Melzer apparently is not yet satisfied with this great string of job creation programs incorporated in the last Budget. I mention another very substantial allowance which was made in order to create jobs in the small business sector, namely, a 10 per cent increase in the retention allowance for private companies. This is so that they can retain more funds to invest in more plant and more buildings to house more workers. If that is not a substantial movement in that area, I do not know what is. Obviously Senator Melzer cannot be satisfied.
Let us look at the broad spectrum of the Budget and see how it fits the developing trends in the economy not only in Australia but also throughout the world. Firstly, we have to consider the disaster from 1972 to 1975 when the Australian currency was brought into disrepute on the world markets. It depreciated at a great rate of knots. Inflation was going through the roof at over 20 per cent per annum. We had a situation in 1974 in which, in real terms, the
Government took 24c out of every dollar of income from the average wage earner and put it in its own pocket. This 24c was not taken in inflation; it was taken in real terms out of the pockets of the workers.
- Mr President I raise a point of order. This debate is extremely important. I think that I should draw your attention to the state of the House.
– There is no point of order, but there is not a quorum present. Ring the bells. (Quorum formed).
– I was just reiterating the point that the Whitlam Labor Government extracted from the pockets of the people 24c in every dollar- not Mr Risstrom ‘s inflated taxation figures- in 1974 and 20c in the dollar in 1975. What happened in 1 978-79? In the last financial year the Fraser Government actually put back into the pockets of the people a net sum of 3c in the dollar. It did not extract that amount.
Opposition senators interjecting-
-The trouble is that members of the Opposition will not listen to facts. Let us again consider the state of the Australian dollar in 1975. At that time the unemployment which had been created by the Whitlam Government rose from something like 60,000 to round about 300,000 in the space of four or five months. Inflation was still running at about 1 7 per cent when the Fraser Government came to power. The first move was to reduce inflation substantially, as that was the most accepted means of ensuring that jobs were created and preserved. Indeed, that still remains, as it should, the fundamental thrust of our policy. In 1976, because of the state of the Australian dollar, something that had been created by previous economic events in the period of the Whitlam Labor Government, the currency of Australia was devalued by 17V4 per cent. This was followed by a series of moves by this Government designed to reduce inflation. This was carried out quite successfully and brought down the inflation rate in the 1978 financial year to under 8 per cent. On that basis, obviously in the last financial year there has been a step-up in the number of jobs created in the private sector. The policy is working. Some 60,000 or 70,000 new jobs have been created in the private sector as a result of this Government ‘s control over inflation.
What does the Budget for 1979-80 do within the broad panorama of that policy? It continues the thrust against inflation. Not even Bill Hayden disagrees with that policy. It has due regard to a very substantial change in favour of Australia in terms of capital inflow into this country. In the last financial year we saw a movement from the area of negative balance in our balance of payments to a substantial credit balance. It is expected that that will occur even more so in this financial year. It means that a substantial addition to the money supply of this country will result from that capital inflow. It would be a most irresponsible government that did not take action to control the fiscal aggregates of this Government by ensuring that the domestic deficit was kept as low as possible. Accordingly the Government has budgeted for a reduction in the domestic deficit to a figure under $ 1,000m. That is clearly designed to offset expected increases in the surplus deriving from overseas transactions.
– Isn’t it the lowest for six or eight years?
-Yes, it is the lowest Budget deficit for six or eight years. As a proportion of our total gross domestic product it has fallen to the almost insignificant figure of round about one per cent. That has been accepted very well in the financial markets which are the source of investment capital for further job creation activities within the Australian economy. The Opposition will not acknowledge that this is clearly a very sound basis for developing the future of this country. This week we have seen an increase of $ 1 ,000m in investment in respect of the Gladstone alumina refinery, something that was not contemplated prior to the Budget. Given the confidence of investment in that particular activity as a result of this Budget, jobs will be created. That is a direct result of the Fraser Government’s policy. This Government is in a very sound position from the point of view of raising funds on the financial markets to meet its deficit this year. This means that interest rates will be kept stable, at least. I hope they will continue to fall.
I would like to make some remarks about economic growth in South Australia. Having recognised that there is a substantial move for increased investment in new plant, mineral activities and resource development projects throughout Australia, it is of the greatest concern to the people of South Australia and to my fellow senators from that State- Senator Teague, Senator Jessop, the President, Senator Sir Condor Laucke, and Senator Young- that this sort of improvement in our domestic economy is not happening in South Australia. In fact, it was projected in the newspaper this morning that an estimated $26,000m worth of projects will be under way within the next few years. This estimate is by W. D. Scott and Co. Pty Ltd. This figure is for the whole of the Australian economy. But how much relates to South Australia? It is less than 2 per cent of $26,000m. This is notwithstanding the fact that the population of South Australia represents 9 per cent of the Australian population. It is incredible, but it is true.
– Why is that? Tell us why?
– It is because we have in South Australia a government that is ensuring that these sorts of developments will not occur. The Corcoran Labor Government prohibits any development of the Roxby Downs copper, gold and uranium deposit. That Government, because of its silly, narrow policy on uranium mining, will not allow exploration and development to occur. Yet this particular deposit in the northern part of South Australia is said to be the greatest mineral deposit in the world. If that is so, why are we not getting it under way? Why are we not moving now? No doubt my colleague Senator Young would have adequately covered this matter this afternoon during the debate on the matter of urgency so I will not dwell upon it.
I want to refer to several other matters with regard to South Australia. Clearly, if the people of South Australia get rid of the Corcoran Government on 15 September- I do not doubt that they will- we will see that project go ahead. The Labor Government in South Australia is stopping job creation. A Tonkin Liberal government will create new jobs in South Australia based on Roxby Downs and other mineral deposits in that State. Members of the Opposition should face facts. I am not trying to be political; I am trying to make the point that here is an opportunity for the people of South Australia to ensure that more jobs are created so as to get the economy of that State moving and to ensure that it plays a full part in Australia’s continuing recovery and development. The only way to do that- this is not a political statement- is to get rid of the Corcoran Government because it is stopping that development.
Since the Opposition does not seem to agree with that sort of statement, perhaps some of the people of South Australia and members of the Senate might be interested to hear of some of the great new promises of the Corcoran Government. The Corcoran Government suddenly has found a brand new interest in things like controlling finances. It has been under pressure from the State Opposition on this matter. Yesterday, the day before his policy speech, Premier Corcoran- I was going to say ‘Corporal
Corcoran’ but he is called ‘Colonel Corcoran’was going to make a statement about the reduction he would make in the number of statutory authorities in South Australia. A report by Ted Knez in today’s Australian states that, out of 250 statutory authorities, Mr Corcoran will abolish eight. Let us hear some of the eight statutory authorities that are to be axed under his new sweep clean’ policy of looking after the finances of the State, after the tragedy of the Department of Health losses which were made quite clear as a result of the report of the Public Accounts Committee last February. The statutory authorities which are deemed to be redundant and are to be abolished include the South-Eastern Drainage Appeals Board, the Builders Licensing Advisory Committee, the Dog Fence Board, the Pastoral Board, the Land Board and the Central Inspection Authority. The Premier will amalgamate various classifications of Theatrical Performances Boards. I will bet that Don Dunstan will not like that. Apparently the Premier is going to amalgamate a large number of pest control authorities. This is the state of affairs that we find in South Australia at the moment. Corporal Corcoran came out with an advertisement in today’s Adelaide Advertiser, which reads:
The Fraser Liberal Government is the biggest tax collector in South Australia, not the State Government. The Fraser Liberal Government collects $7 out of every $8 you pay in tax.
What does he go on to say? He says:
I need your support to tell Fraser to ease off.
I ask honourable senators: What sort of statement is that, when it is well known that the Federal Government passes back to the State Government about 40 per cent of its revenue for the benefit of that State?
– At least.
– At least 40 per cent. That is only in direct reimbursement grants. I take Senator Rocher’s point. On top of that there are housing grants, grants for immigration services, grants for health services through deficit funding of hospitals in South Australia, and so on. Out of that $8 that is collected in South Australia, possibly $5 goes back to the State Government for its expenditure. What a misleading report! What a misleading advertisement, which confuses people in an election campaign- as though it would have some real impact. But most people in South Australia see straight through this man, and clearly they will not support him on 1 5 September if he is prepared to perpetrate such misleading statements.
I should like to follow that up a little further. Corporal Corcoran is well known in South Australia for his misleading statements. We have just heard how active Mr Corcoran is in respect of axing authorities in South Australia. Recently it was my misfortune to have drawn to my attention the fact that there have been several attempts by the State Government to accuse the Federal Government of not making money available to the State for decentralisation grants. There has been a bit of a song and a dance in our State about the fact that Tasmania seems to be getting all the money, and our State is not getting it. That is supposed to be the fault of the Fraser Government and, indeed, of the Federal representatives from South Australia in this House and in the House of Representatives. But what is the truth? This matter centred on the City of Whyalla. Recently, the Federal Government made a grant of $500,000 to Pacific Salt Pty Ltd to create jobs in Whyalla- that city which in recent times has been suffering some difficulty with unemployment. There were three other submissions by the City of Whyalla. There was one for the creation of one or two jobs for an urban social survey; one for the creation of some jobs in respect of an urban bus depot; and one in respect of a hydroponics industry employing two people.
I understand that those requests are not sent directly from the local government source to the Federal Government for review and approval of the grants under the decentralisation Act. They are passed through the State Government. One would have expected that if the City of Whyalla had made out these cases to the Federal Government and said ‘We need your support to help the poor unemployed of Whyalla’- there are substantial numbers of unemployed in Whyallathis request would have received the wholehearted support of the State Government; that is, Corporal Corcoran ‘s Government. But what has happened? I understand that the State Government in South Australia would not give its support for those projects and that it wrote to the Federal Government and indicated a very low priority for those particular projects at Whyalla.
Is this Government of South Australia one that is interested in the development of the State, or is it one that is merely trying to make politics out of the truth, to shift the truth and to misuse the truth in misleading ways, such as the way in which this advertisement does, in order to create a mere political support for it that really does not exist? The fact is that the people of South Australia can see through this State Government, and they will give their answer on 1 5 September. It will be a very surprised Mr Corcoran who, on 16 September, wakes up to find himself as Leader of the Opposition. I understand that he will not even be in that position and that it is quite likely that he will lose all his positions. I see that honourable senators opposite acknowledge that. That is very interesting.
Let me conclude by reiterating this most important point: The people should look at the tax cut that is coming on 1 December as a very definite reduction in taxes. The people will know that that is what it is, because after that date the average weekly wage earner will have an extra $4.45 in his pocket. He will know quite clearly, through all the confusion and subterfuge that is going on in this place and in other places, that what some people are trying to perpetrate now is nothing but a misleading statement, and it is unlikely, in terms of the people’s understanding, to improve their position thereafter.
-In speaking to the 1978-79 Budget Papers, I suggest that it is clearly evident that the two speeches we have just heard- one from the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) and the other from Senator Messner- would be two of the worst speeches which have ever been delivered on the opening of a Budget debate from members of the Government parties. I say at the outset that the speech of Senator Guilfoyle had nowhere near the fire in it that the speech which she delivered in this House immediately after the 1975 Budget had. That was the speech in which she introduced legislation to take away the $40 funeral benefit from pensioners. She was full of fire on that piece of legislation. Tonight, she went down like a lead balloon. So, when the Government is taking something away from pensioners, the Minister in charge of the debate can come in here flashing fire; but when she has to try to explain this Budget, which has also gone down like a lead balloon, she has done exactly the same. She was trying to make excuses. I would say that it is the worst speech I have ever heard from her.
I will return later to the remarks of the Minister concerning what she intends to do to help the needy people. Senator Messner made great play, first, about jobs. I wish to refer later to an article which was published in 1977 and of which he was the author concerning jobs- jobs which did not eventuate. He talked about advertising by the present Premier of South Australia, Mr Corcoran, being misleading but did not tell us about the misleading advertising during the 1977 election. We then saw full-page advertisements in the daily Press right across Australia showing a person holding a fistful of $5 notes. When counted they amounted to about $70. The advertisement attempted to hoodwink and fool the workers that they were going to get this by way of a taxation deduction, per week mind you, from their income if they re-elected the Fraser Government. No sooner was that Government elected than it imposed a 2lA per cent surcharge on income tax. If that is not misleading the electors I do not know what is.
Senator Messner went on to talk about the tax cuts that the people are to receive on 1 December, but he did not tell us that these would be severely offset by the massive increase in the price of petrol which has been nearly doubled since the Government came to office. Also, as the Government has abolished Medibank and people will have to pay probably another $ 1 1 a week to cover themselves for medical care. What is the good of this minute tax cut that they are fooling the people about? They are the greatest con men ever, and Senator Messner well knows it.
Senator Messner, as did Senator Young, today used the forms of this House to try to promote Mr Tonkin in his election campaign in South Australia. I intend to do the same thing and to rebut some of the statements that he made. Government supporters have created the precedent. I am not promoting Mr Tonkin; I am promoting one of the best Premiers that we have had in South Australia, a person who was Deputy Premier under Don Dunstan for nearly a decade and who is well qualified to lead the State. We had Senator Messner getting up tonight and saying that all the economic ills that he talks about in South Australia can be cured by a government that is led by Mr Tonkin. Not one of the people that he would have in his Ministry, except perhaps Mr Hill, has ever been in government or has ever had the experience of running a State, yet Senator Messner had the audacity to get up here tonight and tell us that they could run South Australia. Mr Tonkin could not run a dog fight, and the honourable senator well knows it.
Getting back to the false advertising issue, I wish to refer to an article that appeared in the Standard, which is a Messenger Press throwaway publication, dated Wednesday, 23 February 1 977. It reads: 1000 Jobs in Liberal Plan:
A new scheme to help the 1,000 unemployed people in the State electorate of Ross Smith has been announced by the Liberal Party.
In a joint statement this week, Senator Tony Messner and Liberal Candidate for Ross Smith, Terry (Chick) Hanson said the scheme was aimed to help unemployed people who had a desire to become self-employed.
This is the statement that Senator Messner issued. The article went on:
Senator Messner said the scheme was aptly named The Ross Smith Flying Future for Self-Employment, in honour of the great aviation pioneer.
Where are the 1,000 jobs. Today I checked with well-versed people in the electorate of Ross Smith and no such thing as 1,000 jobs was ever created. Indeed, no jobs at all were created. As a matter of fact, there are fewer jobs now than there were then. The people of that electorate had never heard from Senator Messner or Chick Hanson after the latter was defeated in that election. Chick Hanson was never heard of until he surfaced in the newspapers yesterday. His comments appeared first in the Advertiser. I will read from the article that he wrote. It would be the same Chick Hanson. I have checked the telephone book. He said, in writing to the Advertiser of 28 August:
The Labor Party slogan urging us to ‘Follow a leader’ reminds mc of an old fairytale ‘The Pied Piper’, where a joker blew his own trumpet, and those who chose to follow him blindly wound up in deep water.
Today Senator Jessop also quoted from that to bolster his speech on Roxby Downs. In last night’s issue of the Adelaide News- I shall not quote it entirely- Mr Hanson said: . . Mr Corcoran ‘s honesty, which must be in question, after leading us all to believe that an election was not forthcoming.
It was signed by C. Hanson, again of Blair Athol, the very same person who worked in close collusion with Senator Messner to endeavour to mislead the people when he was a candidate in 1 977. For all we know he might be a candidate this year because as you would know, Mr President, the Liberal Party in South Australia was caught with its trousers around its ankles when the election was announced. It had. 13 seats for which it had not even endorsed candidates. But I do not think that the people of Ross Smith, if Chick Hanson is endorsed for that seat again, will be again fooled by false and misleading adverstising such as was put out by Senator Messner. That honourable senator, who preceded me in this debate, slated the South Australian Labor Government and Mr Corcoran with issuing misleading advertising. He is a real expert at it himself. Let us return to what Chick Hanson, the colleague of Senator Messner, said. He said:
Mr Corcoran’s honesty, which must be in question . . .
– I raise a point of order. Senator McLaren, on his own admission, is not speaking relevantly to this Budget debate. He should not be abusing the procedure of the Senate and should instead speak about the Budget.
– The point of order is not sustained.
– It is quite obvious that in the short time for which Senator Teague has been a member of the Senate he has not read the Standing Orders or he would know that in speaking to a money Bill an honourable senator may refer to anything. He has learned his lesson tonight. Chick Hanson said:
I wish to refer to the honesty of the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I made a speech on that subject some years ago and later I intend to quote quite a bit from an article in the National Times of 2 June. His honesty is open to question. He is the person who said that he would not go to an election, that he would not refuse a Budget when we were in government. Of course, as soon as he had unloaded Mr Snedden, he went to an election. The Liberals are criticising the Corcoran Government for going to the polls, saying it has no need to do so. Let me recall a little bit of history. The Australian Labor Party was elected to government in the Federal Parliament in 1972. The Liberals in this very chamber forced us to an election in May 1974. They again forced us to an election in 1975, and in 1977 they again went to the people. Therefore, they had three elections in the space of four years. So there is no ground at all for any Liberal to try to criticise what the Labor Government has done in South Australia. That Government, at this very day, is faced with the same problem that the Whitlam Government was faced with between 1972 and 1975. We had a hostile upper House. For more than 100 years, because of the gerrymandered electoral system under successive Liberal governments- under the restricted franchise, voluntary voting and similar schemes- the Labor Party in South Australia has not been able to obtain a majority in the upper House. However, because of the electoral reform that was introduced by a Labor government, any party in South Australia that can obtain 50 per cent of the electors’ votes on a broad base over the whole State will have the required numbers in the upper House. That is the very thing that we expect in a democracy. The Liberals in South Australia still want to hang on to power in the Legislative Council. Some of the members of that Council were elected eight years ago and have not faced the electors since and they want to sit there for another 1 8 months or 19 months.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator McLaren is using most misleading analogies. Indeed, most such people were elected in 1973, which is six years ago and certainly not eight.
– There is no substance to the point of order.
– The record can be checked. When it has been it will be seen that what I have said is correct. There was no Legislative Council election the last time that the House of Assembly went to the people. We well know that under the present constitution in South Australia members of the lower House are elected for a maximum term of three years but that those of the upper House, under legislation that was drawn up by the old bluebirds of many years ago, serve for a minimum of six years. We well know that some of them have been in there for eight or nine years and they do not want to face the electors now. But, of course, we will flush them out. That is why they are squealing like stuck pigs. I completely disagree with Senator Messner’s remark that on the morning of Sunday, 16 September, Mr Corcoran will wake up and find himself in opposition. I am quite confident that the people in South Australia realise that, except for a period of two years between 1968 and 1970, they have been well governed since 1 965, by a very stable Labor government. In successive elections since 1970 they have given their decision at the ballot box, and they are going to give the same decision again.
I turn again to some of the comments that were made by Senator Messner when he accused the Labor Government in South Australia of being misleading in its statements. I saw Mr Tonkin when he was interviewed on the night that the election was announced. He was talking about income tax. When asked what he would do about tax, he said that income tax rates were too high. He said that one of the first things a Liberal government would do would be to reduce income tax. We all know that the State governments have no powers to levy income tax.
– That is not true.
– Yes, it is. I saw it with my own eyes. I refer to another matter. In 1 968, when I was a candidate for the Legislative Council, I happened to go door knocking in the streets of a certain town. I struck a lot of pensioners who said to me: ‘How can the Labor Party expect to get a vote for your candidates for the State Parliament when the candidate’- I am not going to name him because he is not in Parliament nowwas along yesterday and told all the pensioners that if he were elected he would see that our pensions were increased? He said that he could increase our pensions’. That was another misleading statement. I know of many pensioners who are still alive today, even though this happened 1 1 years ago, who will verify what I am saying.
– Who said that?
– I am not going to tell the honourable senator, but I am saying that it is quite correct. That is an example of how Liberal candidates mislead the people. That is particularly so of Liberal leaders. The Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, has done it on many occasions. I will refer to those instances shortly. One of the other matters that Senator Messner talked about when referring to creating employment was that with the magnificent amount of money allocated by the Government to tourism a lot more work would be created in the building industry by new motel rooms being added and new motels being built. Of course, what he did not go on to tell the Senate and the people who are listening is that people will not be able to drive motor cars because of the massive increase in petrol prices, the high rate of unemployment and the high rate of taxation. What is the good of building more motels if people are not able to drive their motor cars to them? The only people who stop at motels are people who drive motor cars.
Senator Messner also said that the reduction in the coal levy was going to create jobs. Of course, an interjection came from Senator Primmer to the effect that if the Government had left the coal levy at $6 a tonne- that is the level at which it stood when the Government came into office- it would have had more revenue to create capital works and to create employment for the people who live in Australia. Instead, it is giving the money to these overseas combines who could well do without it. In the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) last night, he pointed out certain things. Senator Messner is leaving the chamber because he does not want to hear the figures I am about to cite, If we have a look at the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd’s operating profits for 1979 -
– I raise a point of order. I appreciate that the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast tonight. Senator Messner was not leaving the chamber and yet Senator McLaren has given false information to the general public.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I am glad that I stopped the honourable senator in his tracks because he was heading for the door. I will start again. We find that BHP’s operating profit for 1979 was $548m. That is 73 per cent greater than that of two years earlier. G. J. Coles’ 1979 operating profit was up by 60 per cent over that of 1977; CSR’s profit was up by 37 per cent; Conzinc Riotinto of Australia’s 1978 profit was $149m and Utah ‘s profit was $270m. That shows who is getting the big rake off as a result of the reduction in the coal levy. It is not the residents of this country, but the overseas combines who are ripping us off left, right and centre. This Government is giving away our natural resources because in some areas- we would be hard put to prove it- it is getting some kick back to run its election campaigns. This, I think, is a very severe indictment on it.
While I am talking about coal, I should refer again to the incident we witnessed in this chamber today. I would not have mentioned it if Senator Messner had not brought it up. I refer to Roxby Downs. The Government brought forward an urgency motion. The only significance of that urgency motion was that, because Senator Young is most critical of the fact that his Government does not have an energy policy, he had to move in the Senate today an urgency motion on his own government. That is one of the reasons why many Government senators were absent from the chamber tonight. They have realised that the Government does not have an energy policy. I suppose the Mineral and Energy Committee- whatever the Government calls its party committee- is out hastily trying to reconstruct one or get one together so that during the recess the Government can say: ‘That is our energy policy’. It is quite evident that at the present time the Government does not even have one.
I turn now to some of the statements that the Minister for Social Security made here tonight on the Budget. She talked about the magnificent moves this Government had made in relation to family allowances. Of course, what she did not go on to tell the people was that with the introduction of family allowances the taxpayer can no longer claim children as a tax deduction. I have had people come to my office about this matter. Mothers have been in tears because Dad had cut from the weekly house keeping money the extra money that they received in the family allowance. He had to balance his budget. So in effect what the Government gave Mum by way of the family allowance, Dad took away to pay the accounts that he had to pay. So these people are no better off. In lots of cases they are much worse off under this family allowances scheme. That is nothing for the Minister to be boasting about.
The other thing she said was that an extra allocation has been made in the Budget for the provision of homes for elderly citizens. I wrote to the Minister yesterday on behalf of the people of Kapunda who have been trying for years to get a grant from this Government to establish an elderly citizens home complex. Every year they are told: ‘Next year you might get it’. I wrote to the Minister and I pointed out that she had made a statement in the House last Tuesday to the effect that there was an extra allocation of money for this purpose. I asked her to give the Kapunda claim high priority. I hope that in view of the fact that the Minister has made in this House within a week two statements to the effect that extra money will be made available for this type of project at least the people of Kapunda, who have been trying for many years, to receive funds, will receive an allocation or grant so that they can go ahead and provide the homes which are so sorely needed. I might say in passing that while we were in government we made a four to one subsidy grant to people who wanted to construct elderly citizens homes. When this Government came into office it cut the grant right back to about a one for one ratio and made it a triennial grant. Many people in your own area, Mr President- the Barossa Valley- had been granted money for architects ‘ fees. They had had the plans drawn up and suddenly, when this Government came into office, everything was swept away and they got nothing.
This is the Government which, through its Minister, has outlined what it is doing to help elderly people. The Government makes a great brag about having restored the twice-yearly indexation of pensions. 1 am quite confident that that would never have occurred had it not been for the many thousands of Australian people who signed petitions and had them presented both in this chamber and the other chamber ever since that was taken away in the last Budget. Of course, they are not going to get their twiceyearly increases until well into next year, because the ordinary once-yearly increase takes effect in November. So they have to wait until May next year before they will see any real benefit coming out of this restoration of the twice-yearly increase- something which should never have been taken away from the pensioners of this country.
The Minister spoke also about an extra $5. 5m for child care services and pre-schools. The allocation has gone up from $63. 8m to $68. 3m, an increase of about $4.5m. On a quick calculation, that would represent an increase of somewhere in the vicinity of 7 per cent. That sort of increase does not even keep up with the inflation rate which the Government admitted in its Budget is going to be something in excess of 10 per cent this year. So in real terms we see a reductionSenator Messner talked about this- of about 3 per cent of the allocation to the people who want to maintain their child care services. That is what we are going to be faced with. When we talk about misleading statements, misleading advertising, we have to remember that this is the type of exercise that the Government is conducting. The Minister for Social Security devoted the greater part of her speech to criticising the policy of the Labor Party which was formulated at the Federal Australian Labor Party conference in Adelaide earlier this year. Every ticket-holding person in the Labor Party stands by the decisions taken at the conference by the delegates from every State and Territory in the Commonwealth. Unlike the Liberal Party, every person right down to the sub-branch member had a say in formulating policy. Committees met for two years- since the last conference- to talk about how the Labor Party could amend its policy. That has been done, and the members stand by the decisions.
The Minister talked about broken promises. Unlike the Fraser Government, which has broken every promise that it has made since 1975, the Labor Government honoured every promise that it made prior to the 1 972 election except for those promises which this chamber would not allow it to honour. Honourable senators are well aware of the trauma that went on in this place and how we were forced to an election in May 1 974 and again in 1 975. Half the people in this chamber had been elected before the 1 972 election. As Senator Withers said in this chamber, the night after the election results were known they set about formulating a policy to get rid of the Labor Government. Honourable senators well know how that came about. I do not need to refer to that matter again because history has been written and I dare say that if the Labor Party wins office at the end of next year- as I expect it will- and if it does not get the numbers in this place, it will face the same type of frustration from the people who sit opposite. As I have said on many occasions in this chamber, when the Liberal Party is in government and when it has the numbers in this chamber it uses this place as a rubber stamp. When it does not have the numbers in the other place and it has the numbers here, this place is used as a house of frustration. To back up my argument honourable senators only have to look at the record of the Autumn session and see how many amendments were moved by the Opposition in this chamber and how many divisions were won by the Opposition. The Opposition did not win one division and yet we have these people who go out on the hustings and say that the Senate is a House of review. It is nothing but a house of frustration when the Liberal Party has the numbers in this chamber.
The Minister for Social Security stated that the expenditure in her Department this year would increase by 10 per cent. In fact, this is no increase at all because the Budget Papers forecast an inflation rate this year of 10 per cent- exactly the amount by which she says the expenditure in her Department will increase. Honourable senators know that the Budget in her Department blew out by an enormous figure last year because of unemployment which was running rife all the time. As the Government admits in the Budget Papers, unemployment will increase. Of course, the Government is doing everything possible to hide the true figures of the unemployed. It is now known that it uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures and that it will not use the official figures from the Commonwealth Employment Service. Anyone who likes to read the Hansard reports of the Estimates committees debates last year will see that I was able to get an admission from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that the way in which it conducted the surveys was to do a door-to-door campaign and to ask people if they had a job in that week. If they worked for two or three hours, they were put down as not being unemployed. A completely fictitious set of figures are used purely to hoodwink the Australian people into believing that the unemployment figures are lower than they actually are.
Senator Guilfoyle also accused the Whitlam Government of being a high spending government. I say here and now that perhaps it was a high spending government, but where did it spend the money? It spent the money on giving a better living standard to people who needed it, in the way of increased pensions, more money for child care services, more money for hospitals, more money for land commissions and that type of thing. One can go right through a whole list. That is where the money went. It did not go on luxury items, such as this Prime Minister uses, which waste taxpayers’ money. I wish to quote from a revelation in the Sydney Daily Mirror of Monday 27 August, that is this week. It is headed A $3,498 tax slug for the PM ‘s trip ‘, and states:
Taxpayers are slugged $3,498 every time the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, flies from Canberra to his Victorian country property Nareen in a BAC-1 1 1 VIP jet.
Yet, we find this Government preaching austerity and preaching to the workers, as Senator Guilfoyle did, that the workers are the cause of all economic ills because they want an extra bob or two in their pay packets. The Government says that they are the people who create the economic ills in this country. Here we have a Prime Minister who costs the taxpayers of this country $3,498 every time he flies to Nareen. How often does he fly between Canberra and Nareen? It is a scandal. He ought to be ashamed of it. The very same person who is running up these expenses stood up and criticised the previous Prime Minister because he had the audacity- in the Prime Minister’s view- to charter an aeroplane from Qantas Airways Ltd for his overseas trips. We all know what this Prime Minister is doing and the amount of money that he has expended on these two special aeroplanes that he now has for a few overseas trips. What an enormous cost it is to the Australian taxpayers. Of course, the people suffering are the working people who will be hit with higher taxes. Mr President, I did show two tables to you earlier in the night, and I showed them to the Attorney-General (Senator Durack). They give a clear indication, and will prove conclusively, that rather than decreasing taxes in this Budget, the Government is increasing them. I seek leave to incorporate those tables in Hansard.
The tables read as follows-
– I wish to briefly refer to some broken promises. The quotations I will mention were used in an article in the National Times of 2 June which is before the Budget was brought down. I do not know what sort of article the National Times would write now. The article is headed: ‘Malcolm’s Battle with the Time Machine’ and it refers to some of the promises that he made. It states:
Only under a Liberal-National Country Party Government will there be jobs for all who want to work. (November 27, 1975.)
Unemployment will fall from February (1978) and keep falling.(November21, 1977.)
On inflation, Mr Fraser said:
Inflation at an annual rate of 5 per cent is within our reach by mid- 1979. It will go on falling under the policies of this Government. (September 12, 1978.)
Yet, the Government’s own Budget Papers, introduced into this House on Tuesday night of last week, state that inflation will be 10 per cent. He made a promise to the people that by the middle of this year inflation would be down to 5 per cent. In relation to tax indexation, the article states that Mr Fraser said:
We will fully index personal income tax for inflation over three years. (November 27, 1975.)
Of course, honourable senators know from the Budget Papers that he is not going to honour that promise. In regard to deficits the article points out that he stated:
We have brought Government spending under control … We have halved Labor’s $4,500m deficit. (November2l, 1977.)
The Whitlam Government’s last Budget planned a deficit of $2, 798m. Even after Mr Fraser had worked on it for seven months it rose to $3,585m.
One can see that the members of this Government are not economic managers. The only economics that they know involves providing money for the great multinational companies and luxurious and comfortable travel for their Prime Minister. The sooner that the people of Australia wake up, the better off they will be. I am sure that the people in South Australia on 15 September will give their decision. I challenge Mr Tonkin to ask Mr Fraser to come to South Australia and appear on the hustings with him in support of his campaign. I hope he does but I am afraid that he will not have the courage to do so.
-Mr President- (Quorum formed).
– I call Senator Rae.
Government senators- Hear, hear!
- Mr President, I thank you and I thank honourable senators for the ‘hear, hear’. After what we have been listening to I imagine that some people might feel that a change of tempo and content is called for. I hope that I can provide that and that we will not have the problem we have just experienced. I think I could be most kind to Senator McLaren by saying that I am glad that not too many people heard what he said. Had they done so, they would have been even more convinced than they were before that there is something wrong with the way in which he approaches the subject of politics. He reminded me of his federal parliamentary leader, Mr Hayden, who, in commenting on the Budget, made his most significant contribution when he told a story about himself which I believe tells a real tale. It is quite significant in the context of what the Labor Party and its leader are all about. He said:
When I was much younger, my mother caught me walloping a donkey on the hindquarters just to see it keep braying and bucking.
That is a quotation from the House of Representatives Hansard of 28 August 1979 at page 663. When I was listening to Senator McLaren I could think only that he is following his leader–
– He is the donkey.
– That he is the donkey and obviously his leader has been practising on him, which is what got him stirred up.
– Tell us about your Budget.
– I would like to talk about the Budget and I thank you for the invitation to do so. Having heard on Budget night what had happened in relation to tourism I was forced to say: If I die tonight the undertaker will never wipe the smile off my face’. That night tourism came of age. Tourism has been an interest of mine and of a number of other honourable senators in this place -
– On this side of the House.
– On this side of the House. We tried to achieve for it the recognition which we believe it deserves and which we now believe it has attained. Tourism is one of the greatest growth industries in the world, if not the greatest growth industry in the world. It has resisted all the trials and tribulations which have resulted from the huge hike in the cost of fuel. Senator McLaren unfortunately has left the chamber. I wanted to try to enlighten him. He said that tourism had no future. He is a typical Labor Party knocker. He was knocking the tourist industry to which my colleague, Senator Messner, had referred. He said that tourism had no future because energy prices were going up and nobody could afford to travel. Energy prices for travel purposes in Australia are about half of those in most of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, yet since the hike in energy and petrol costs tourism has continued to grow. It is one of the major growth industries in the world.
– Particularly on Magnetic Island.
- Senator Bonner reminds me that Magnetic Island, with its mini-mokes and its many other attractions, is one of the many areas where tourism is continuing to develop.
Let me get away from the donkey-walloper approach to politics and get on to the positives. Let me talk for a little while about tourism and this Budget. Something which was promised in 1975 by the Liberal-National Country Party coalition in its policy was that as soon as economic circumstances permitted we would introduce a depreciation allowance in respect of tourist accommodation buildings. That matter has quite a long history. It goes back as far as 1954. In 1954 the Hulme committee recommended that it ought to be introduced. It has been recommended by a variety of other bodies since then. In 1975, after the Labor Government of that era had refused to introduce it, the Liberal Party decided as part of its policy that as soon as economic circumstances permitted it would be introduced. It has now been introduced. It is a Vh per cent- that is, a 40-year life term- annual allowance of depreciation in respect of incomeproducing buildings such as hotels, motels, guest-houses and the like used for the accommodation of travellers.
This is a great day for the tourist industry. It means that people can now invest in that industry with the full confidence that it has the total support, on a continuing basis, of the Federal Government. This is the breakthrough which the tourism industry has been waiting for. This is the breakthrough which will mean, I believe, that the finance sector of Australia will change the attitude which it has previously had towards providing funds for tourism development. From the time that this Budget was introduced anybody who is interested in any way in tourism can look forward to the fact that tourism has come of age. It is a real industry. It is an acknowledged industry in which people can invest with confidence. I believe that many people will be taking advantage of that. Already I have had reports from
Queensland of a whole series of projects which will now go ahead. These are building projects in the various areas of Queensland’s tourist attractions. I am told that several hundred million dollars already are likely to be spent in Sydney on the provision of good accommodation in that city. That city is strained already from the point of view of good accommodation. I am told from almost every sector of Australia that this is the encouragement which people have been waiting for.
Having received that encouragement, what will happen now is that there will be a fairly significant investment in building in the tourist industry. Building provides jobs, as my colleague, Senator Messner, said. This is one of the job creating provisions in this Budget. The building industry, I believe, will obtain a tremendous fillip out of this provision and flowing from it will be a large number of jobs in the tourist industry, which is a fairly labour intensive industry. That is one of the reasons that it is so important that tourism has received the recognition and the assistance which it has received in the Budget. It will provide jobs. Technology does not take the place of a smile. It might take the place of somebody who is working on a production line or of somebody who is doing some other son of job in a manufacturing sense, but it does not take the place of the person who works in the industry and who provides a service to travellers and to tourists. We are going to have increasing job opportunities as the increase in tourism takes place as a result of the lead which this Government has given. I hope that the State governments also will follow this through because they have a very large and significant part to play in relation to tourism development in this country.
– What about the increases in domestic air fares? They are not going to help.
– I thank the honourable senator for the interjection. I was coming to that later, but I am happy to come to it now. Of all the garbage we have heard from some people in relation to this Budget, the matter referred to in the interjection is probably the subject of the greatest amount of garbage. We have been told that as a result of the increase in air navigation charges air fares will increase dramatically. Does Senator Sibraa know that over a full year- not this year, but over a full year- the increase in air navigation charges, taking as an example the fare from Melbourne to Launceston, which is one of the most important tourist routes, will add less that the cost of a Sunday newspaper to the fare?
– That is not what the Labor Party led us to believe.
– The Australian Labor Party has led us to believe that there has been a massive increase. I emphasise that over a full year the increase in air navigation charges will add less than the cost of a Sunday newspaper to a fare of approximately $50. That is supposed to be a massive retrograde step. What absolute nonsense! Let me continue to talk about air fares for a moment before returning to the Budget provisions. I do not mind which way I deal with matters, but having started to talk about air fares I will continue to do so for a moment. In this regard I pay tribute to the activities of the Minister for Transport, Mr Peter Nixon, in particular. I pay tribute also to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Phillip Lynch, for the work he has done. As a result of their activities, the number of visitors coming to Australia in the first six months of this year has increased by 28 per cent. Labor Party senators are attempting to say by interjection that that is disastrous. Given the 28 per cent increase in the first six months of this year, I believe that the increase we can look forward to in the future is untold. I would like to have a lot more time to develop that argument. I will return to it in a moment.
Let me talk about domestic fares for a minute. Domestic fares have been restructured in a way which now means that the average fare being paid in Australia as a result of the introduction of advance purchase excursion fares, super-APEX fares, stand-by fares and other variations of fares is less than it was 12 months or two year ago. Apparently this is one of the things which the Labor Party cannot understand: What has happened is that the people who want regularity of service and first class service from the airlines are paying more for it; the average traveller is paying less. The persons who go on a holiday on a package deal or super-APEX, the young persons or others who can afford to run the risk involved in stand-by arrangements of perhaps having to miss one flight and go on the next, are all getting remarkably cheaper fares than they were getting a year or two ago. What has happened is that there has been a revolution in Australian domestic air travel. It is a revolution which is in the interests of the consumer. It has happened as a result of co-operation between this Government and the domestic airlines.
There are so many good things to talk about in relation to tourism. Let me come back to some of the things which arose out of the Budget. The Australian Tourist Commission, which is principally involved in promoting Australia overseas as a tourist destination, has had its funds increased by nearly 100 per cent. I do not think that the Labor Party senators can laugh or cackle about that or say anything other than ‘well done’ to the Government for making a 93 per cent increase in the amount allocated to the Australian Tourist Commission. This will enable us to make sure that with the introduction of much cheaper international air fares Australia, as a tourist destination, will receive the maximum promotion. I look forward to seeing as a result not just the 28 per cent increase in visitors which has taken place already but a much more marked increase after the Australian Tourist Commission’s activities in promoting Australia as a tourist destination have been carried out for a year or two.
– I am glad you can say something nice about Qantas.
– I keep getting interjections about Qantas Airways Ltd, some of which I reply to, others I do not bother replying to. Let me reiterate what I said in this chamber at, I think, the close of the last parliamentary session in May or early June. I believe that Qantas is the greatest airline in the world. I believe that we have every reason, as far as its airline operations are concerned, to be proud of it. But as far as property development is concerned, I just wish it stuck to running an airline. It is building a Taj Mahal in Sydney and it is a disgrace.
Let me go on with some of the other aspects of this Budget. Provision is made in the Budget for $500,000 to be spent over the next two years on a domestic tourism promotion campaign. I welcome that measure also. One of the things which I believe we need to do is to encourage that 50 per cent of Australians who have never been tourists, who have never been travellers, to travel. Fifty per cent is a figure which amazes a lot of people, but the result of a survey showed that 50 per cent of Australians have not spent time away from home which would enable them to be categorised as tourists. There is a tremendous domestic market just waiting to be tapped as well as a huge overseas market. I believe it is important that the Australian Tourist Commission be able to get itself involved in working in co-operation with the States in developing a greater appreciation of Australia for Australians. We find that $300,000 has been allocated for special research in relation to marine services and technologies associated with the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the world’s major attractions. I believe it is one of the most important areas of the world. That is to supplement the activities which are taking place through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which is centred in Townsville and which I had the pleasure to visit a little while ago and to hear about some of the plans for the development and preservation of the reef.
I am delighted to refer to the fact that the Government has seen fit to set in train something which will make a tremendous difference to Tasmania and, I believe, to the preservation of Australian history. I refer to the proposals concerning Port Arthur in south-eastern Tasmania. Already it is a major tourist attraction. But unfortunately a lot of the buildings, some of which were damaged by fire in about 1929 or 1930 and which no steps have been taken to preserve, are starting to deteriorate rapidly. That area is an attraction because of its historical significance. Let me put this point in relation to its historical significance: Its real historical significance is not that it was a horror place but that the way in which it was conducted was the greatest advance that had ever taken place in any gaol in the world. At the time that Port Arthur was constructed it represented a major advance. It has a place in the penal history of the world. It should be preserved so that it can be seen and compared with what was happening in other parts of Australia, in other parts of the world, at the time that the model prison was developed. We can now look back and say what was done to people was horrific, but when we look at it in the context of the day we see that it was a major step forward compared with what was happening to people who were kept in the hulks anchored in the Thames and at other places around Europe. Compared with the way in which people were kept in prisons in England- horrible though it now seems to us- it must have represented a major step forward to the people who had experienced the prisons of Europe in those days.
– But work still needs to be done on it, doesn’t it?
– Work urgently needs to be done to Port Arthur. I am delighted that our Government has recognised that fact. Provision of $400,000 has been made in this Budget to start the work. It has been made on the basis of two Commonwealth dollars for every one Tasmanian dollar. So it is of major benefit to Tasmania. The work is not just being left to the Tasmanian Government because, as we know, the Tasmanian Government does not do a great deal unless it gets a bit of encouragement in one way or another from the Commonwealth.
We also find an allocation of $2m has been made for the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. This is a matter of considerable encouragement to the Northern Territory, which is developing a major tourist industry. The Government members tourism committee was there just a couple of weeks ago. The committee has been active not only in relation to depreciation allowances but also in relation to the development of Uluru Village at Ayers Rock and the urgent need to take some steps. More than 30 reports had been made in relation to the proposed Uluru Village at Ayers Rock, but nobody had grasped the nettle. I am delighted to know that decisions have been taken, money has been provided, and the development is now going ahead. The situation that had been reached at Ayers Rock was most unfortunate from the point of view of the very large number of tourists who visit there every year. The road in to Ayers Rock from the main north-south road is being sealed and the whole area is being developed in other ways. The village was suffering from overcrowding and is now to be moved away from the Rock to a new site, where proper environmental protection can be undertaken and a fine village will be built to cater for the needs of the tourists.
An amount of $130,000 is being provided to the Bureau of Industry Economics, and I should like to refer briefly to its activities. Professor Johns and his team have done a very valuable job in research work relating to tourism. They were able to show what the tourist industry had always believed but many people, including Treasury, had never accepted; that is, that the tourist industry in Australia is a major industry. They were able to demonstrate, for instance, that it is of greater economic significance than the motor vehicle industry, and I think the matter is put in some sort of perspective when those two industries are compared. The team was able to demonstrate that every tourist dollar spent is divided between over 100 other industries. The tourist dollar goes around in the economy more than virtually any other dollar spent. Professor Johns and his team are going to do quite a bit more work to overcome an unfortunate situation. Very little information on the tourist industry, other than the 1973-74 survey, has been available to enable people to work out just what benefits can be obtained and which way policies ought to be directed.
I am glad that the Government is going to take another step- one which will cost only a relatively small amount; I think from memory something like $36,000- and that is that Australia is going to join the world tourism organisation. That is something which has been advocated for some time by those who are really interested in tourism. Great benefits are to be obtained for Australia as a potential major tourist destination in the world through its membership of that organisation.
Another matter which I think is not understood sufficiently by a lot of people in the tourist industry, and certainly no credit is given for it by people on the other side of the chamber, is that the Government has included the travel and tourist industry within the Export Market Development Grants Scheme. This is a tremendous opportunity for people involved in the industry to get overseas and promote Australia. What better way to supplement the work of the Australian Tourist Commission and Qantas- I pay credit to Qantas for its overseas promotion work- than for people to be able to spend their own money, to spend a dollar to make a dollar and to be provided with a considerable subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. An amount of $3.2m has been provided for this year, and I hope that the amount required under the scheme will be a whole lot more than that. If the tourist industry gets out and uses the opportunities that are available to it under this scheme it will make a tremendous difference to its own and Australia ‘s participation in the tourist industry. As I have said, tourism is one of the world ‘s fastest growing industries, and I think that Australia has every opportunity to join in that growth.
While talking of tourism I want to mention something that has not been done yet but which I believe should be done. I refer to the development of some of the circuits available to the people who live closest to us. While we are opening markets in North America, Europe and Japan, we should not forget that we have a very large population, including an increasingly affluent one, much closer to us. For instance, in Taiwan the growth rate last year was 34 per cent and the inflation rate 6 per cent, which is not a bad sort of development rate. An increasing number of people with increasing living standards can afford to travel. They would be most interested to come to a country such as Australia, and particularly to the northern part to see the mining areas and the Pilbara region, to go through the Top End, perhaps across to the Barrier Reef and then out. We need to open up circuits that are available to them.
If we took a direct line from Japan to Taiwan to the Philippines and through Jakarta to Karratha, we would have a relatively short trip that opens up a population of 300 million people who could travel in a way in which they cannot travel at the moment. We just have to get things organised. I suggest that that is an area that needs further development. I hope that we can do quite a bit, in co-operation with China Airlines of Taiwan and with Philippine Airlines. I have had discussions with the people who run those airlines and they are both keen to develop the sort of thing I am talking about. I think such a trip would be of tremendous interest to those hundreds of millions of people, not all of whom can afford to travel, of course, although a considerable percentage of them could.
My time is running out, so I will leave the subject of tourism to be developed a little further at another time and refer briefly to some of the things that have been done for Tasmania in this Budget. Again, I regard the Budget as being good not only in broad terms but also in relation to the particular interest areas that I have. I am delighted to find that the Tasmanian Fish Centre in Hobart, notwithstanding the protestations of the Labor Minister in Tasmania, has received $234,000 in this Budget. Apparently the Minister is complaining that it did not get enough. Some $200,000 has been provided for the development of a pilot industrial site at Legana, $3,000 for the re-equipment of the Launceston precision tool annexe, and the $400,000 I have already mentioned for Port Arthur. All of those things are important to Tasmania and to Tasmania’s development. However, one matter of greater importance is the continuation of the freight equalisation scheme. Whenever I hear people say that that was something to do with the Labor Party I feel like -
– Getting agitated.
– I feel like getting agitated; thank you. I want to go back into the history of that scheme. It arose out of the recommendations of a committee of this Senate. It is part of the value of this Senate and of the way in which it operates. I get so sick of hearing people such as Senator McLaren knocking the Senate as an institution, as he was doing a little earlier. It was out of the reference to a Senate committee of the Australian National Line freight rates to and from Tasmania that the whole freight equalisation scheme arose. It was through that reference that the scheme was developed, and I am delighted to say that the reference to the committee was a Liberal Party initiative. I am not saying that the Labor Party had nothing to do with it. I am saying that it was an initiative which came out of the Liberal Party; it was an initiative which was developed by a Senate committee and was carried on from there.
The Maritime College is to receive nearly $ 10m under the current Budget. The college represents another major development for Tasmania which came as a result of an initiative of the Liberal Party, notwithstanding that from time to time it is claimed that that is not so. When I heard Senator Wriedt say earlier tonight that he had been trying for years to get some commitment out of the Liberal Party in relation to the second Hobart bridge, I wondered what on earth he had been doing. In 1974 that commitment was given by the then Leader of the Liberal Party. It was repeated by the then Leader of the Liberal Party in March 1975 and repeated again in November 1975. It has been a continuing commitment of the Liberal Party from the time it was first announced in 1974. It was our initiative and not that of the Labor Party, and I find it very hard to understand how Senator Wriedt could have the gall to come in here and claim some sort of credit for the Labor Party and some sort of criticism for the present Government. I compliment the Government on the Budget. I am delighted to be able to talk about things in which I am interested and have developed. I wish that I had longer to speak because there are so many other things in the Budget about which one could talk.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– In the other place earlier today the honourable member for Robertson, Mr Barry Cohen, at Question Time asked this question of the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon):
I ask the Minister for Transport whether it is a fact that the original tender documents for car rental concessions at Commonwealth airports provided that the third or local car rental concessionaire could not sell or assign his right to operate to another party. Were the terms and conditions of contracts changed after tenders had been accepted to enable the third operator to sell or assign with the approval of the Secretary to the Minister’s Department? Has this enabled Avis, which missed out as one of the national operators, to purchase from Elite and Thrifty rent-a-car firms their concessions at Hobart, Devonport, Wynyard, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Coolangatta, thus enabling Avis to link up with its own concessions as third operator giving it rent-a-car concessions at 90 per cent of prime airport locations for a fraction of the price paid by Hertz and Budget? Who gave the authority for this action?
At this point the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (Mr Hayden) said: ‘Scandalous’. Mr Nixon, the Minister for Transport said- it is very revealing- ‘There is nothing scandalous yet. Just wait and be patient’. I am sure that this will prove to be a Freudian slip. He went on to say: ‘There will be nothing scandalous about this matter by the time it is completed ‘. I want to give some background to the matter and to the Minister’s response. At 2 p.m. on 9 March 1979 tenders closed for the rental car concessions at the 58 Commonwealth airports owned and controlled by the Federal Department of Transport. The original tender document C3/79/10 contained an appendix B headed Terms and Conditions to be observed by Concessionaires’. Section 6, dealing with the assignment of rights, stated:
The concessionaire shall not assign or sell any privileges or rights arising under this authority or sub-let any part or parts of the business, except that he may appoint persons as his agent on franchise for the purpose of conducting the business at any of the airports. The concessionaire shall not permit any person so approved to conduct the business otherwise than in the name of the concessionaire.
On this basis, Hertz, Budget and Avis tendered for two national concessions. Budget, Avis and a number of small rent-a-car firms tendered for various third or local concessions. When the results of the tenders were announced, Hertz had won the No. 1 position with a tender of $8.1m and Budget the No. 2 position with a tender of $3.2m. Avis, the holder of the position for sole operation for a number of years, had missed out with a bid of $3.1m. However, Avis had been successful for the third operation spot at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Mackay, Mount Isa, Rockhampton, Townsville, Launceston, Port Hedland and Alice Springs. A variety of other firms had won the third operation spot at the other airports.
Shortly afterwards it was announced that Avis, in complete breach of the tender documents, had negotiated the purchase of the concessions at Hobart, Devonport and Wynyard from Elite and at Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Coolangatta from Thrifty Rent-a-Car. The figure for the purchase has been suggested as between $ 1.5m and $1.6m. Avis therefore had gained access to the 18 prime airports that generate 90 per cent of traffic for a figure of around $2m which is twothirds of what Budget had paid and for onequarter of what Hertz Rent-a-Car had paid. When the documents of contract were returned to the other companies it was noted that a significant change had occurred that altered the whole meaning of the original tender documents.
The alteration had occurred to appendix B which I quoted before and which now reads:
The concessionaire shall not assign or sell any privileges or rights arising under the authority -
These are the new words-
Without the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Transport.
They had not been in the original tender documents. Budget has now announced that it is taking legal action. It is now quite clear to a number of people who have examined these documents that some person or persons in the Government acted in an immoral, unethical and corrupt way to advantage Avis Rent-a-Car and therefore Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. If the Facom- IBM incident was a scandal for this Government I believe that the issue that I have raised tonight will prove to be a disaster for this Government.
– The information I have relating to the matter that has been brought forward by Senator Sibraa is that the general wording that was originally placed in the documents, as I understand it, would obviously convey the meaning that any transfer of rental car concessions at airports would not be in order unless it were done with the approval of the Department of Transport or its principal officer. Senator Sibraa castigated the Government and suggested that something untoward had happened. According to the principle outlined by the honourable senator, a transport concessionaire at an airport who was going bankrupt and wanted to get rid of his concession could not do so because he had agreed to a provision preventing the transfer of his concession. Provided the Government or the Secretary to the Department of Transport approved the sale or transfer, it would be acceptable.
As I understand it, the words which were originally used, were inserted to protect the Commonwealth. The tender documents did say that the concession was not to be sold or assigned. Of course the intention was that it was not to be sold or assigned without Commonwealth approval. The honourable senator may have knowledge of some documents in which he says the wording has been changed substantially, although the words he quoted did not suggest to me that it is a substantial change. There is some lack of commercial understanding. If a proprietary company or a public company were a successful tenderer and the shares in the proprietary company or the public company were bought out by another concessionaire then, according to the honourable senator’s argument, the sale or transfer would be readily acceptable because at law ownership had not changed. As I understand it, it is a matter of getting authority from the Department of Transport or the principal officer of that Department. I do not see any point at all in what Senator Sibraa has raised but I will refer the matter to the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 2 1 February 1979:
– The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 28 February 1979:
– The Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has suggested the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the answer given by the Prime Minister to Question 1335 appearing on pages 1608 and l609ofHansardof2May 1979.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 9 May 1 979:
Does the Government propose to initiate a study on the economic and employment effects of the $135m of taxpayers’ money that is spent at present on the investment allowance, in the light of the Crawford Study Group ‘s inability to assess this on the information currently collected, and its call for such a study to be conducted.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Study Group on Structural Adjustment considered in some detail the various aspects of the investment allowance and recommended that it not be altered in substance until its expiry and that, prior to that time, theIAC be requested to conduct an evaluation of the allowance. The Report of the Study Group is currently under consideration by the Government.
The honourable senator’s attention is also drawn to the answer to Senate Question on Notice No. 1 598.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 7 June 1 979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 7 June 1979:
Has the Commonwealth Games Foundation applied to the Minister for a cheaper, less restrictive round-Australia air ticket for overseas visitors: if so, what decision has been made in relation to the Foundation ‘s request.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have received representations on behalf of the Commonwealth Games Foundation, I advised that the recently announced major new domestic air fare package included provision for in-bound international travellers to receive a 30 per cent discount on the normal economy fare under the ‘See Australia Fare’. A condition of this fare is that the length of air travel must exceed 1,000 kms but that the sectors travelled need not be consecutive. This fare would appear to offer considerable benefits to international visitors to the Commonwealth Games in 1982.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health; upon notice, on 7 June 1979:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In New South Wales and Tasmania, proposals to establish additional private hospital accommodation are considered by these Commonwealth/State Co-ordinating Committees. The States of Western Australia and South Australia as well as the Northern Territory have also recently agreed to consider applications for private hospitals on this basis. When these Committees consider such proposals the meeting is chaired by the relevant State health authority representative and the report of the Committee is considered by the State health authority which makes the initial decisions and advises the applicant accordingly.
In Queensland, a Commonwealth/State Co-ordinating Committee on Private Hospital Accommodation has been established to specifically examine proposals to provide additional private hospital accommodation. This Committee which is chaired by a State health representative consists of representatives of the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Queensland State health authority.
In Victoria, the Committee does not currently examine applications for private hospitals. The Victorian health authority assumes the sole responsibility for the initial assessment of applications for new hospital facilities. However, I have recently proposed to Victoria that all applications for the construction of new or additional private hospitals be referred to a Commonwealth/State Co-ordinating Committee of Officials.
However, the relevant State Government health authority in each State has the primary responsibility for licensing of premises as hospitals and if a State licence is not issued Commonwealth approval for the payment of the $16 a bed day benefit would not be granted.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 August 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1979/19790829_senate_31_s82/>.