31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 52 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizensof Australia respectfully showeth:
That on the 10th December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declarationof 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 governmentof his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives . . . The willof the people shall be the basisof the authorityof government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal sufferage and shall be held by secret vote or equivalent free voting procedures. ‘ (Article 21(1) and ( 3 ). )
Electionsfor Senators meet all requirements except one. Senators are elected periodically, by secret ballot, with universal franchise, and the quota-preferential methodof proportional representation ensures that the vote values within states are equal as nearly as can be.
However the provisionof the Electoral Act that compels voters to show preferences for all candidates on the ballot paper interferes with the free expressionof the willof the voters, and is unjust.
Australia, as a Member Stateof the United Nations, is pledged to achieve observanceof Human Rights and Freedoms.
We, the undersigned citizensof Australia, therefore humbly pray that the Senate will fulfil the pledgeof a Member Stateof the United Nations and take steps to remove the compulsion from the Electoral Act in order to allow freedomof expression Tor 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 Membersof the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petitionof the undersigned citizensof Australia respectfully showeth:
That the plan to obliterate the traditional weights and measuresof this country does not have the supportof the people;
That the change is causing and will continue to cause, widespread, serious and costly problems;
That the compulsory tactics being used to force the change arc a violation of all democratic principles.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the Metric Conversion Act be repealed to ensure that the people are free to utilize whichever system they prefer and so enable the return to imperial weights and measures wherever the people so desire;
That weather reporting be as it was prior to the passingof the Metric Conversion Act;
That the Australian Government take urgent steps to cause the traditional mile units to be restored to our highways:
That the Australian Government request the State Governments to procure that the imperial and metric systems be taught together in schools.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senators Teague and Watson
To the Honourable the President and Members in Parliament assembled. The humble petitionof the undersigned citizensof Australia respectfully showeth:
That we have heard the expressed intentionsof one entrepreneur to bring the Red Army Choir to Australia, and declare, that regardless of its artistic merits or demerits, the Red Army Choir is a military propaganda, glorifying the Soviet Regime which is still hostile to the democratic wayof life. The Red Army is the symbolof the power that is keeping formerly free people under subjugation, and its presence enables blatant violationof Human Rights to be perpetrated.
Your petitioners humbly pray that just as entry into Australian ports is denied to Soviet warships, so too, will entry be denied to the Red Army Choir.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Peter Baume.
Notice of Motion
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to human rights.
Notice of Motion
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral)I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
– My question is directed to Senator Carrick in his capacities as Leader of the
Government in the Senate and Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to a question which I asked him on 22 August 1979 in which I sought clarification of the Prime Minister’s views expressed in the Australian on 18 August 1 979. The Prime Minister had said:
There has been very little wage drift outside the Commission’s determinations- much less than I think most people would believe. 1 remind the Minister that he undertook to get a response from the Prime Minister as to the discrepancy between that statement and what the Government has been saying for the last four years. Has the Minister yet obtained clarification of that issue and can he provide me with an answer?
-If the Prime Minister has not responded directly to Senator Button, and I take it that that is the implication in his question, I will refer the second question to the Prime Minister.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development noted that the new South Australian Minister for Mines and Energy, Mr Roger Goldsworthy, has announced that he will give approval for the development of the Honeymoon uranium deposit at Lake Frome almost immediately? Does the Minister realise that South Australia possesses approximately 10 per cent of the world ‘s uranium? In view of the determination of the new State Government to develop the State’s resources, and bearing in mind its strategic position, will the Federal Government negotiate with the State to establish a uranium enrichment industry in South Australia, which I believe could be ideally situated at Port Pirie?
– I have not seen the announcement by the South Australian Minister for Mines and Energy, Mr Goldsworthy, concerning the development of the Honeymoon deposit. I am aware that South Australia has some very rich and promising uranium deposits, and it is pleasing to see that the new Government is taking some active steps in regard to their development. In answer to a question the other day, I mentioned that there will be a need to meet the Federal Government’s requirements as far as uranium development is concerned. Those matters will have to be given attention before any final decisions for development are made. However, as I said the other day, the fact that there is a new attitude by the South Australian Government means that planning for this development can proceed. As far as the uranium enrichment plant is concerned, any further consideration of that also has been stalled in recent years because of the policies of the previous Government. I am not aware just what stage those discussions may have reached, but I will refer that part of the question to the Minister for Trade and Resources.
– My question is also directed to the Attorney-General. I ask: In the course of his referral of the question he has just answered, will he also ascertain from the new South Australian Government the projected capital cost involved in the establishment of such a plant in that State? Will he discuss with the Treasurer the extent of the financial commitment the Commonwealth would be likely to make to such an enrichment plant?
- Senator Wriedt raises a very fundamental question in relation to a uranium enrichment plant, namely, the capital that would be required. Naturally, such a matter will be in the forefront of any consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the priorities used by those in control of the children-in-institutions fund? Is it a fact that the first priority is to wards of the State living in institutions rather than to double orphans who also live in institutions?
– The childrenininstitutions program referred to by Senator Walters is a segment of the Special Education Program of the Schools Commission, which makes funds available to government and nongovernment residential institutions for projects which support the education children receive at school and at the same time provide opportunities for a broader program of experience outside the institutions. Projects offering direct support for formal education may be concerned with needs in such fields as tutoring, remedial help, therapy, educational, resources such a books and equipment for study, the development of motor skills, and curriculum support. To enable institutions to complement the education received at school, projects may be funded to provide for opportunities in areas such as the development of social competence and an awareness of the community and its facilities, recreation activities and, among others, the development of creative arts, new skills and vocational training.
In terms of eligibility to receive assistance, the program aims to assist young persons between the ages of 1 5 and 1 8 who are legally committed or otherwise admitted to residential institutions, including institutions conducted by voluntary organisations. Large traditional institutions as well as small family-style cottages, whether schools exist within them or not, come within the scope of the program, but foster homes, boarding hostels and boarding schools are not eligible. In 1979, $ 1.3m was made available. On the specific point raised by Senator Walters, she should be aware that representative State committees provide guidelines appropriate to the operation of the program in their respective States. The Schools Commission has no knowledge of any State committee using the priorities referred to by the honourable senator. If she has a specific case in mind, I would be happy if she could let me have details of it.
– Is the Attorney-General aware of the serious injustices being suffered by citizens of the Australian Capital Territory because of the failure of the Government to appoint an additional Supreme Court judge? In particular, is he aware that on 6 August this year there were 60 criminal cases awaiting trial, that there was a backlog of up to 12 months for criminal cases and that serious hardship was being imposed on people awaiting resolution of civil cases? When will the Government appoint another judge to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory?
– I am aware of delays that are occurring in the hearing of cases, particularly criminal cases, in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. The matter is under attention at present. I hope to be able to make some announcement in relation to these matters in the near future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and concerns youth unemployment and the transition by young people from school to work. Is the Government satisfied that the manpower statistics gathered by government departments give a clear picture for planning to solve youth unemployment problems? I am aware of the Department of Social Security’s quarterly survey of unemployment benefit recipients and of sample surveys within the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs, but I am not satisfied that sufficient manpower statistics are being gathered by the Government to answer the question which is very much in the public mind of who exactly the unemployed are. I urge the Government to improve vastly the range of statistics. What assurance can the Minister give that sufficient manpower statistics are being gathered by the Government?
– The identification of the unemployed, the nature of the unemployed and their potential aptitudes and lack of basic skills are matters that have been engaging a number of departments of the Government for some considerable time. One of the reasons for the creation of the new Department of Employment and Youth Affairs was to enable a heavy concentration on the general picture of who are employed, what are the availabilities of jobs, who are the unemployed and the nature of the unemployed. The pilot scheme which has developed rapidly, the Education Program for Unemployed Youth, has given us some very significant clues about these matters, but they are not sufficient. The Government at this moment is in discussion with the various departments in order to strengthen the whole of this area and in order to ensure that our knowledge of these matters will be sufficient to guide us in policies for upgrading the training of the young towards employment.
It is fair to say that there is a very clear picture that amongst juvenile unemployed the lack of basic skills of a significant number is such that the employers regard the juveniles as being not acceptable for the available jobs. This would not necessarily improve, even with a widening of job opportunities. The tendency over recent years has been for employers to prefer mature age people to juveniles. The key fundamental in this matter is to upgrade the skills and attitudes of the juvenile unemployed.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs: Has a person responsible for or associated with Almond Growers, Jaxone and other companies received, or have those companies received, amounts of up to $250,000 from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for the purpose of employing Aborigines in growing almonds or in performing other work? Can the Minister say what Aborigines have been employed, and when, by the companies or associated recipients of that money? Have the Government’s funds been used to buy cattle or for any other company purposes in the Tamworth district or elsewhere? Has the principal concerned a business association with the Department’s area officer, including a common interest in race horses? Can the Minister say what steps the Government has taken to recover Federal funds improperly applied?
- Senator Gietzelt raises a series of matters of which, I must confess, I have no knowledge at all. May 1 explain that the Department which I administer gives grantsinaid, I think, to something like 1,000 organisations. I have to confess that the detail of all those organisations does escape me. However, I tend to hear about the ones which have difficulties and troubles. No one has drawn my attention to the allegations contained in the question asked by the honourable senator. I think it would be clear to all honourable senators that the allegations raised by the question are extremely serious. I will, of course, investigate them as soon as possible and let the honourable senator have an early reply.
-Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to articles in today’s Press referring to the economic newsletter distributed by W. D. Scott and Co. which makes certain predictions on the Australian economy, with particular reference to inflation. If so, can the Minister say whether the predictions in the newsletter are in line with information that is available to the Government? Can the Minister say whether the pointers are in reality likely to lead to an increase in the inflation rate? If so, what plans does the Government have to meet the problem?
– I am aware, as any reader of the Canberra Times of today would be aware, of an article headed ‘W. D. Scott predicts more stagflation’. I have read the article. I think- it is a matter of judgment- that the article may be unduly pessimistic. The article recognises a number of essential realities, particularly the reality that the continued Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries price rises in the world, forcing upon the Western world the application of more and more foreign exchange moneys for the purchase of a constant supply of petroleum energy, result in a shrinking of the ability of the Western world to buy other goods and, therefore, a danger of recessive elements in the world. There is no doubt that those predictions will be proved to have some element of truth.
However, petrol prices probably will not rise at as fast a rate as they did in the first half of this calendar year, although it is difficult to be certain about that. Food prices, in particular beef prices, also will not rise so fast, we hope; in fact, they could decline later. As the Treasurer made clear in his Budget Speech, the inflation rate will be higher this year than it was last year because of a world-wide resurgence of the rate of inflation. At the same time, the Treasurer also made it quite clear that Australia is in a relatively sound economic position and in a better position than many other countries. I repeat: Australia, which some 5 years ago was costed out of world markets by the previous Labor Government and was put into the bracket of the top inflation nations of the Western world, is now costed back into world markets and is now in a very good competitive position compared with other countries, notably our main competitors, such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has made it perfectly clear that of OECD countries Australia is now in the lowest quarter for inflation.
Business investment continues to grow strongly. The newspaper report concedes some strong private capital inflow. Inflow in the past year was at the highest level for some 7 years. There has been a marked strengthening in private sector housing. Civilian wage and salary earner employment grew consistently during the past financial year. Our balance of payments position has improved very significantly. Consequently, our overseas borrowing requirements have been reduced substantially. Above all, however, our success in reducing inflation has meant that business has renewed confidence in Australia. There is no doubt that world-wide there are some very real problems, posed primarily by the OPEC rise in prices and by rises in food prices. I am happy to say that Australia is to some extent waterproofed. I think it is good news to read this morning that the Bass Strait oil wells are likely to develop more reserves now, largely due to the fact that the import parity price policy has enabled a developmental costing structure for the companies concerned to develop the oil wells beyond their past economic capacity. It is also good news to read this morning that we will continue at least a 65 per cent capacity into the late 1 980s. It is through Government policies like this that this country is being waterproofed.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the fact that the Australian Government has now borrowed overseas in excess of $5,000m since coming to office.
– They have put us in hock.
-I ask the Minister: Firstly, will he table in the Senate details of the repayment commitments, both principal and interest, under this borrowing program? Secondly, in view of the announcement on Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund that it expects that there will be an international recession next year, does this mean that Australia will have to increase its overseas borrowings in order to hold up the value of the Australian dollar? Thirdly, should the value of the Australian dollar decline, will it mean that Australia will have to make higher repayments on the amounts it has already borrowed?
-I could not help but overhear the suggestion that an accumulation of $5,000m of borrowing by Australia overseas would put Australia in hoek. This suggestion was made by way of interjection from people who in one go wanted, by very devious means, to raise $4,000m of money to put us, in one gesture, in deficit to the world. It seems to me that there are very, very short memories. I remind the people of Australia of the device constantly used in this Senate by the Opposition. When lacking any constructive ideas themselves they tend to shout down Government Ministers when they are are putting forward the hard cold facts. It is for the people of Australia to judge the behaviour of Opposition members. Indeed, the substitution of noise for ideas is why the South Australian people turfed them out.
I will invite the Treasurer to respond to the request for the tabling of information. I cannot respond to the second question other than to say that a great deal of our capacity now to reduce our borrowing overseas has resulted from, first of all an inflow of capital which has come because of the attraction of Australian investment opportunities, and also of course from better seasons in the rural area. With good rains and a continuation of the policies of the Government which attract investment there is no reason to believe that our international borrowing policies should be necessarily heavy at all. Senator Wriedt could not have read his newspapers very fully this morning. In some articles in the newspapers this morning is foreshadowed the possibility that because of Australia’s sound economic policies, there is likely to be a decline in interest rates in Australia and therefore a strengthening of our opportunities, which will provide the possibility of a strengthening of the value of the dollar.
– There is obviously no answer to my question, but I remind the Minister that in answer to a previous question he made a firm statement that Australia’s overseas borrowings are declining. That was an answer to a question of which he obviously had notice and for which he was prepared. If he is not able to answer my last question, was the previous question answered factually or was what he said simply off the top of his head to doctor up the answer?
– The fact is that Australia’s overseas borrowings are declining for two reasons, which I explained. Because of the inflow of investment capital we have more funds, and because of good seasons and good husbandry, both animal and pastoral, we have had good exports. Equally manufacturing industry has increased its exports. Rather than not answering the question I said specifically that with all those factors prevailing in the coming year there is every reason to believe that the trend will continue. They are factual matters and Hansard will bear out that those are the things I said. I repeat that the tendency of the Leader of the Opposition- who is a very shaky Leader of the Opposition at this moment, being contended against by others in the Labor Party- to hog Question Time by the dubious device of asking supplementary questions which are not supplementary at all, ought to be understood by this Senate.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services been drawn to an item in the Sun of 18 September which is entitled ‘MPs Travelling Allowance Rise’ and which alleges that the Federal Government has approved a $40 rise in the all-inclusive overseas travelling allowances for members of parliament and their wives, bringing the top rate to $150 a day? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the information in the article is correct and whether the alleged rise applies to all members of parliament and their wives when travelling overseas?
– My attention has been drawn to that article. It is not correct that the allowances set out in the article are payable to members of parliament travelling overseas alone or with their wives. The confusion arises with respect to whom the allowances are payable. The allowances shown are in fact the allowances paid to Ministers who are travelling overseas. I can understand Senator Lajovic’s wanting the distinction to be drawn. I am sure all honourable senators are aware of the facts related to these matters. The Remuneration Tribunal provided in its last determination- as it has done in the past- for financial assistance to all senators and members to enable them to travel outside Australia for the purpose of undertaking studies and investigations of matters related to their duties and responsibilities as members of parliament. The financial assistance which is available is for fares only and no travelling allowance is paid when one is using that entitlement.
The information in the Sun relates to the increases in advances paid to Ministers travelling abroad in the discharge of their portfolio responsibilities. I emphasise that the allowance is payable only in those circumstances. I point out that Ministers do not receive a travelling allowance as such but an advance against anticipated costs. Any unspent amounts are repayable to the Department of Administrative Services. The recent increases in advances were in line with rises in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s consumer price index. This index measures price changes in OECD countries, including Europe, North America and Japan.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, concerns the drug Depo-Provera whose technical name is medroxyprogesterone acetate.
– Very good.
– I have the approval of the pharmaceutical profession for that pronunciation. My question concerns its prescription as a so-called long-lasting injectable contraceptive. Has the Minister noticed reports of adverse side effects of such an application of the drug? Is it a fact that the Department of Health has sent a letter to family planning clinics saying that they may use it as a contraceptive after obtaining the informed consent of the client? Is the Minister aware that a number of drug control authorities throughout the world have refused to endorse such a use of the drug and, specifically, that the Food and Drug Administration of the United States refused to endorse it after its attention had been drawn to the fact that the drug was associated with cancer, temporary or permanent involuntary chemical sterility and birth defects in children? Could the Minister say how the action of the Department of Health squares with that refusal by the Food and Drug Administration and other drug control authorities?
– I am not aware of the facts as stated in the question by Senator Harradine. As it is a matter of some interest to numbers of people, may I suggest that he place his question on notice and obtain the information from the Minister for Health in that way.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources. I preface it by drawing to the Minister’s attention Mr Anthony’s comments on the idea of a South Pacific economic union, reported in the Australian of 6 August 1979 as follows:
Does the Minister agree that Australia’s economic future will depend largely on its involvement in the formation of a Pacific economic community? Does the Minister also agree that the establishment of Australia as the pivot of a South Pacific trading bloc will give us more leverage when negotiating to enter the Association of South East Asian Nations? Will the Minister inform the Senate what action is being taken to ensure that Australia plays a more constructive and progressive role in the establishment of good trading relations with South East Asia and the wider area of the Pacific basin region?
– The comments of the Minister for Trade and Resources, to which Senator Missen has referred, were made in the course of an address to the Australian-New Zealand Businessmen’s Council. The governments of Australia and New Zealand are considering the possibilities that may exist of establishing some form of closer trade and economic relationship. That was the point that the Minister was making. The question of a regional association of countries in the Pacific is one that has been mooted from time to time in recent years. A study of the question has been made in academic circles. The concept of a wider Pacific community is one of growing interest in Japan and the United States and has recently been discussed at ministerial level between Japan and Australia. The subject is to receive further study. The suggestion by Senator Missen that Australia is, or may be, negotiating to join ASEAN has no foundation. The Australian Government has made it clear that Australia has no intention of seeking membership of that Association. The
Government is working on many fronts, both bilaterally and in multilateral forums to achieve the closest possible trade and economic relationships with all of its trading partners in South East Asia and the Pacific Basin.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is it a fact that surveillance work along 3,000 kilometres of the Western Australian coast, between Geraldton and Big Island, is being undertaken by Trans- West Air Charter Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Zung Fu Co. Ltd of Hong Kong? Is it also a fact that in April of this year, as 1 outlined previously in a question in this Senate, a quarantine team was left on a Northern Territory beach for some 36 hours without a radio while a private charterer went about his other commercial business? Will the Minister support an urgent reference to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on the question of this dependence on private charterers, some foreign-owned, for Australia’s surveillance operations, given the failure to establish an Australian coastguard service? Further, will the Minister reconsider his earlier refusal of my request that an armed forces helicopter be stationed in Darwin to respond to sightings of vessels or aircraft which might be breaching our quarantine laws or engaging in smuggling or illegal entry?
– I understand that in the broad the facts mentioned by the honourable senator in the early part of his question are correct. Certainly the surveillance of part of the Western Australian coast is in the hands of the company to which he referred. That company is foreign owned and, I think, owned by shareholders in Hong Kong. As far as the matters of the quarantine team, the reference to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and any reconsideration to the stationing of a helicopter are concerned, I will refer those to the responsible minister and ask him to give them consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services. Did registrations of interest in the purchase of the Fawnmac group of pharmaceutical companies close at 2 p.m. on 2 July 1979? How many potential purchasers had registered interest by that date? When is it expected that decisions might be announced or negotiations completed on the sale of this group of pharmaceutical companies.
– I understand that interested parties were invited to register their interest by 2 p.m. on 2 July, but not to the exclusion of subsequent registrations. A number of expressions of interest were received subsequent to that time. It is not the usual practice to disclose the number of firms registering interest. In this case I can say that interest has been keen. A number of people have been interested in the matter. As result of these expressions of interest, the Department of Administrative Services is about to enter the second round of negotiations by inviting firm tenders from registrants. To facilitate this, the Department of Health has prepared a common data pack of financial and commercial information relating to the group. This will be available to registrants when tender documents are distributed in the near future. It is expected that an announcement of the successful tenderer will be made by the end of 1 979.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. It refers to the report this year of the Auditor-General which again alleges overpayments by her Department of pensions, benefits and family allowances. Does the Minister consider that the measures taken last year as a result of the AuditorGeneral’s report have been successful? In view of overpayments again this year, what methods does she intend to introduce this year to try to cut down on this problem?
– The administration of the Department of Social Security is continually under review to ensure that the objective of the Department is reached, and that is that those who have an entitlement to a pension, a benefit or an allowance are paid on time and as efficiently as is possible. In the course of the Department’s work and in the course of reviews which are undertaken, matters arise which show that people have received an entitlement in excess of their eligibility. When this is discovered, an overpayment is raised in the Department. The Auditor-General’s report reflects the amounts which the Department has detected as being overpaid in the past year. As I have said, the administration of the Department is continually under review. Where excess payments are discovered they are recoverable under the Social Services Act.
In order to continue the service that we are giving, it would be understood that where there is a pension pay day and a client does not advise changes in his circumstances, it is possible for an overpayment to occur. I would stress again publicly that it is in the interests of the clients of the Department to advise, as quickly as possible, any changes in their circumstances in view of the fact that any excess payments which are made are recoverable and can cause difficulties to people on low incomes if substantial amounts have been overpaid. There will, undoubtedly, always be overpayments in the Department because of the nature ofthe system of sending cheques on a particular day in accordance with the latest advice that the clients have given to the Department. I do stress the need for clients of the Department to advise, as soon as possible, any changes in any of their circumstances.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, follows an earlier question from Senator Wriedt concerning overseas loans. Is it a fact that the loans raised by Australia over the last three years have not been used to fund the domestic operations of the Government and are invested off-shore? Was there a net reduction in borrowings of the order of $ 130m last year? Is the outlook for private capital inflow substantially better now than two years ago as a result of the successful borrowing program of the last two years? Will this mean a stronger Australian dollar and a better outlook for investment in the domestic economy? Will repayments of loans be funded from off-shore deposits? Does the Minister agree that the action taken by the Government has proved to be a great success and in no way is comparable with the program of the Australian Labor Party in 1 975, which was to put the country in hock to fund domestic socialist enterprise?
– Here is the Prime Minister’s stooge now.
– Order! Honourable senators must not use unparliamentary language.
– It is not unparliamentary to a clown like that.
– Order! I call Senator Carrick.
– The matters which Senator Messner has described are facts. The borrowing has not been for funding domestic deficits.
– Are you telling us you have got $5 billion in off-shore deposits? That was one of the questions.
– That is what he said. If he believes that, he is sillier than he looks.
– Order! The Minister is answering a question.
– He is not answering the question; he is answering himself.
– Order! Senator Grimes, I am directing that the Minister reply to the question as asked.
– I hope he does. It will be a change if he does.
– Order! Senator Grimes, there will be no more interruptions.
- Senator Messner has described what has happened in terms of overseas borrowing and the use of overseas funds. He has correctly described the fact, as I indicated earlier, that there has been a decline in the need for overseas borrowing and that there has been a very healthy and significant inflow of overseas capital to Australia. There is every reason to believe from overseas reports that the dollar could strengthen against such factors, although one always hesitates to talk in terms of exchange rates. Senator Messner’s question simply underlines the reply that I gave to Senator Wriedt.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development seen a report of the United States Department of Energy, which states that energy consumption by American industry will be 13 to 17 per cent less per unit of output in 1980 than it was in 1 972? It further states that the most fuel intensive industries have improved their energy efficiency by more than 8 per cent through conservation measures. I ask the Minister what measures the Australian Government has taken to encourage industry in Australia to embark upon programs of energy conservation.
– I have not seen the report to which Senator Elstob refers, but the matter he raises is very interesting. I certainly will inquire further about it. If the United States is able to make energy savings of that substantial character, it is certainly a major development and it would have major effects on the worldwide energy supply situation. The Australian Government has been very conscious of the need to save fuel. I refer Senator Elstob and the Senate to a very lengthy statement that was made on the matter by the Minister at about the end of June. I will obtain the document and forward it to Senator Elstob.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen the report in this morning’s Age that Mr Iwasaki has been buying Queensland property- and I quote from that article-‘in contradiction of his agreement with the Federal Government’? Did Mr Iwasaki have a contract with the Foreign Investment Review Board to limit his land holdings to the boundaries set out in the franchise agreement with the Queensland Government? Did the undertaking with the Foreign Investment Review Board not only prevent the acquisition of further land but also require Federal Government approval before Mr Iwasaki- and I quote again from the article- ‘made any agreement about more land, signed any contracts or even negotiated about any more land in Australia’? In the light of the documented allegations in this article in the Age that Mr Iwasaki is actively purchasing land in addition to the very large holdings which he already owns under the franchise agreement and if Mr Iwasaki did enter into a contract with the Commonwealth of Australia in the terms outlined, will the Government take immediate action to sec that the terms of this contract are honoured?
– I have seen an article in today’s Age headed ‘Developer “breaking” land deal’. I do not have any first hand information as to the accuracy of the various points and allegations made in the article or the various points raised by Senator MacGibbon. I am bound to say that my understanding is that land purchases within any State are essentially matters for the State government concerned. However, as Senator MacGibbon asks whether the Foreign Investment Review Board imposed caveats upon the Iwasaki corporation to restrict land purchases, I will refer the question to the Treasurer and seek an answer.
– My question is directed to either the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services or, if he prefers to answer it, the Attorney-General. I refer to the Irish Republican Army sympathiser, Mr John Murray, who, in the aftermath of the Mountbatten assassination last month, made a number of extravagant and, no doubt to most people, quite unpalatable statements about the role in Northern Ireland of the British Government and British royalty. Is it a fact that officers of the Commonwealth Police have this week visited radio station 3XY in Melbourne and other media outlets seeking copies of tape recordings and other information relating to contacts made by the station or stations in question with Mr Murray? Is it the case that the Commonwealth Police, subject no doubt to the agreement of the Crown Solicitor and the AttorneyGeneral, either have laid or are about to lay charges of sedition against Mr Murray under the Commonwealth Crimes Act? Does the Minister accept that, whatever his or my views might be about the merits or tastefulness of Mr Murray’s reported remarks, there is a tradition of robust free speech in political matters in this country and that a charge of sedition against Mr Murray would be no more appropriate than was the charge of sedition which it will be recalled Mr Ellicott threatened to lay against Mr Whitlam in the aftermath of events in 1975?
- Senator Evans directed his question to the Minister for Administrative Services or to me. The initial part of the question was appropriately directed to the Minister for Administrative Services because it concerned a police investigation. I am glad that Senator Evans, unlike some other honourable senators, directs his questions on police matters to the appropriate Minister, the Minister for Administrative Services, and not to the Attorney-General. However, in this case the question is more appropriately directed to me because, as a result of the statements that acquired wide publicity, I thought that it was proper to make some investigation of this matter. As part of that investigation, I asked the police to make inquiries and to endeavour to obtain the actual wording used in some proceedings in the radio station to which Senator Evans has referred. It was really as a result of my request that the investigation was made. I have not yet received the full details of what was said by Mr Murray in the various places on the occasions that Senator Evans mentioned. The matter is being considered by me and by senior officers of my Department, but no decision has been made in relation to it. I will certainly bear in mind that the matters Senator Evans has raised are proper considerations, but they are only some of the considerations. I do not propose to say any more on the matter at this stage.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Science and the Environment. With the establishment in Darwin by the Federal Government of the Lionel Rose Laboratory, which with the subsequent transfer of powers to the Northern Territory Government is under the control of that government, what role is now envisaged for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in animal health research and surveillance in the north?
– I noted something recently in one of the northern newspapers about the development of this laboratory. Basically, the only reference that it has to my Department is through CSIRO and the system it has for the sentinel herds. Originally they were established for research purposes and, in addition, they have fulfilled very important surveillance functions so far as the Northern Territory and, indeed, Australia are concerned. However, following the recommendations of the Animal Health Committee of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, the States and the Bureau of Animal Health will be developing a routine diagnostic surveillance system using sentinel herds. In the Northern Territory, the recently opened Lionel Rose Laboratory will be taking over all routine work, including the serological monitoring for bluetongue, which has been the subject of discussion here on a number of occasions. Of course, that is in connection with stock trading. Much of this work was carried out previously by the CSIRO laboratories. The Lionel Rose Laboratory will still be collaborating with CSIRO’s various divisions, particularly the Division of Animal Health, on bluetongue research.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations: Is the Government still not deducting union dues from the salaries of members of the Australian Public Service Association, having ceased that practice earlier this year? If that is the case, what is the reason for the policy and will it be reversed in the near future?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for Industrial Relations.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs. Bearing in mind that single unemployed have not received any increase in unemployment benefit for two years, and bearing in mind that 241,500 people are involved, or 77.5 per cent of those receiving the unemployment benefit, I ask: What further measures will the Government implement to alleviate the range of problems of unemployed persons, especially those with no dependants and living away from home?
-The Government has been very conscious of the need to increase the range of competence, as Senator Watson said, for the large numbers of unemployed, particularly young people. One of their problems is lack of skills, and the Government has been maintaining a range of programs in respect of these matters. I will refer the question to the Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs and seek an up-to-date reply for Senator Watson. 1 am sure that Senator Watson is familiar with a number of programs such as the Special Youth Employment Training Program, the National Employment and Training scheme and the Community Youth Support Scheme and the other scheme that Mr Viner has in mind. I will get an uptodate reply for the honourable senator from Mr Viner.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General or whoever may like to field it. Is it a fact that at the Blackburn North Baptist Church on 1 1 August and again at the Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University on 12 August this year, Australian citizens protesting against the Indonesian invasion and continuing presence in East Timor were kicked and punched by staff attached to the Indonesian Embassy, resulting in injuries to these citizens? Can the Minister state whether diplomatic immunity extends to this point or have these Australian citizens some recourse to law?
-I think I should ask that the question be put on notice. It relates to a specific incident on which I have no information at this stage. It may be more appropriate for the question to be directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, but I will take responsibility for answering it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to a report on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program AM this morning. Is it a fact that the Queensland Government has returned funds to the Federal Government that were not used for
Aboriginal purposes in that State? Can the Minister provide specific details on the matter?
- Mr President, I take a point of order. The question is identical to the one I asked yesterday.
– I think a question was asked yesterday by Senator Keeffe seeking similar information.
-I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whether he is aware that an Aboriginal spokesman this morning said, on the same program, that Aborigines in Queensland are going blind due to the lack of effective treatment of trachoma, ls this a fact?
-The first part of the question will be dealt with when I provide a further answer to the question Senator Keeffe asked yesterday. I am aware of a substantial problem with trachoma, not only in Queensland but also in other parts of Australia. Honourable senators would be aware of a survey conducted right around Australia this year by the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists and paid for by the Government. A very full report has been prepared. Treatment was administered during the survey. That report is in the process of completion and 1 expect to receive it in the relatively near future. It is certainly true that there is a serious problem with respect to trachoma. It is receiving attention from the medical profession and from the Government. I hope it is a problem that we will be able substantially to alleviate over the coming years.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I listened to his answer carefully and, following on that, I ask: How can he justify the return of moneys by Mr Porter, the Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs, to the Commonwealth Government, moneys that could have been used in support of the program he mentioned? Will he give a clear explanation of how he will make certain that moneys made available to the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland are fully used when these problems still exist?
– It is not a matter in this case of Mr Porter’s justifying the return of moneys. Any moneys returned in the health area have, on my understanding, been returned because of the actions of the Department of Health in not spending the money in Queensland. Mr Porter’s department has been concerned with respect to other money in relation to housing. It is not possible, I believe, for a Federal Minister to make certain that funds directed to States are expended. It is possible for the Commonwealth to require that funds made available are spent in a particular area. If they are not spent, the most the Commonwealth can do is to request that they be refunded. That is the practice which is followed and the procedure which has been established.
I would have thought that, fairly clearly, there is a need in future for a closer and better working relationship between the Commonwealth and Queensland than has existed in the past. Over the past 10 months I have expended considerable efforts in trying to achieve a better working relationship. I believe that in part that has been achieved and that we will see improvements in the future.
-Has the Minister for Education seen reports of claims by the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations that the Budget this year represents a serious blow to research in universities because of the failure to provide substantial increases in funds for university research? Does the Minister regard that criticism as being well founded?
– I am aware of claims to that effect by FAUSA. The fact of the matter is that, over quite some years now, there has been an argument by universities that over the past six to eight years in particular their trend towards concentration on primary degree education has tended to weaken their areas of concentration on research, both applied and pure. I think that argument has some validity. Certainly, the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training, the Williams Committee, drew attention to that aspect and believed that a method of restoring to universities something of their traditional role ought to be developed in the years ahead by creating centres for research and concentrating more on research. The Williams Committee report, which was initiated by this Government, is under study by the Government and in due course its recommendations and findings will come before this Senate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Efforts were made in this chamber last night by the blatant uranium lobbyist, Senator Hamer, to assure the Senate that practically all fields in the uranium and nuclear industry are safe. He even claimed that windmills were more dangerous than uranium mining. I draw the Minister’s attention to this morning’s Press report concerning the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ordering the immediate closure of an atomic fuel fabrication plant in Tennessee, which reported the loss of uranium suitable for making nuclear weapons. I draw the Minister’s attention also to the fact that India, South Africa, Israel and now Pakistan have obtained nuclear power by stealth. In view of other reports from America and in Australia of a high incidence of cancer among uranium miners, does the Government not see-
Government senators interjecting-
– I am talking about safety in the uranium industry. We are getting assurances from the Government that uranium mining is safe. It is not safe.
– Order! The honourable senator will ask his question.
– The fact that there is a lack of safety precautions in the uranium industry is proved by the report from Tennessee.
– What is your question?
– I am entitled to ask whether the Government knows any more about the incidence of cancer among uranium miners now that it has been disclosed that there was a lack of safety precautions in Tennessee. Does the Government not see how immoral is its attempt to bluff the Australian public into believing that any part of the uranium industry is yet safe either for individuals involved in mining and processing or for the wider environment?
-Completely different questions arise in relation to safety at a nuclear reactor and safety in mining yellowcake. The whole question of the mining of uranium in Australia was examined exhaustively by the Fox Royal Commission. The Government’s policy in relation to the report of this commission has had very close regard to all those factors. Obviously they are matters which need to be continually monitored and the safety measures kept up to date. Senator O’Byrne raises a very wide question. 1 will refer the question to the Minister for National Development to get a further reply from him. I can assure the Senate that the Government’s policy in relation to this matter has has regard to and has been as a result of advice on matters of safety.
- Senator Elstob asked me a question today concerning the Government’s policy with regard to energy conservation. The statement to which I wished to refer him was a statement made by the Prime Minister on 27 June last.
-On Tuesday, Senator Rocher asked a question without notice concerning response to Radio Australia’s broadcasts in China. I further advise the Senate that Mr Staley has now advised me that the volume of mail received into the Radio Australia post box in Peking as quoted by Senator Rocher is correct, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission is presently examining methods of coping with the heavy influx. The Australian Embassy in Peking has provided assistance to the ABC in handling the mail. However, because of the volume it has been suggested that the advertisement of the box number cease until the mail can be cleared. The ABC has now done this in its Radio Australia broadcasts, pending a resolution of the administrative difficulties associated with the handling of mail volumes of this size.
Expenditure from Advance to the Minister for Finance
– I lay on the table explanatory notes of the Department of Industrial Relations relating to departmental expenditure under the Advance to the Minister for Finance, 1 978-79.
Senator CARRICK (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)Pursuant to section 27 of the Australian Science and Technology Council Act 1 978, 1 present the annual report of the Australian Science and Technology Council 1978-79.
– by leave- I move:
I regret that a copy of this report has not been made available to the Opposition. This makes it very difficult to comment upon it. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I regret that there has been any delay in producing the document. I will check up as to how that happened and see that it does not occur again. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the final report of the Committee on Official Establishments, together with the text of a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and a listing of those recommendations of the Committee accepted, rejected, and referred to a new permanent body.
– by leave- I move:
Might I say briefly that it is three years since the Committee was established in 1976. The Committee presented an interim report to the Parliament in May 1977. It has now tendered the final report. The buildings that are the subject of the terms of reference of the Committee’s report are the four official residences of the Government, that is, Government House in Canberra, the Lodge in Canberra, and Kirribilli House and Admiralty House in Sydney. I note that the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) mentions that these buildings have already been declared part of the National Estate, and emphasises that they are well worth preserving as symbolic items in our country ‘s history and cultural heritage. I would have thought that the Australian Heritage Commission or the National Estate would have a continuing interest in the buildings.
I notice that the Committee has recommendedthe Government has agreed with the recommendation- that continuing machinery be established in the form of a permanent advisory trust. It is rather interesting to note that the five members of the Committee on Official Establishments are all to be the members of the proposed official establishments trust. It appears to me that there could be a duplication of interest so far as these buildings are concerned. It seems to me rather ludicrous that some of the Committee’s recommendations are now to be referred to the official establishments trust, which in fact will be the same body that made the recommendations to the Government. It appears to me to be a situation of lodging an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. I have not seen the Committee’s recommendations but I read through the interim report which the Committee tendered in 1977. I note that the Government has said that because of economic circumstances it does not intend to accept the Committee’s proposal that official establishment facilities be provided in Melbourne at this time. I specifically emphasise the phrase at this time’. Nonetheless, I suggest that the Government should indicate now whether in the long term it intends acting upon that specific recommendation.
The only other thing I would like to add is that last week we heard in the Parliament- I think from you, Mr President- that 26 Senate reports had been presented to the Parliament and that the Government had not indicated what action it intended taking on those committee reports. I hope that the Government will report to the Parliament on the proposals of Senate committees as it has now done in respect of this report. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators and on behalf of Senator Guilfoyle I present the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Industry Inquiry report of August 1 979.
-by leave- I move:
The Opposition has not had the opportunity to study this report which has just been brought down. I think it is more commonly and simply known as the Ralph Committee report. This is a very important matter in respect of Australian health consumers, if I can call them that. The recommendations contained in this report, as reported in the Press and as otherwise rumoured, are really rather horrifying in respect of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme as we have known it in the past. The first observation I make is simply that the Pharmacutical Benefits Advisory Committee has been asked by the Present Government in the last week or so to cut $20m-worth of currently prescribed drugs off the free drug list.
– In what way is it free?
-I take it that in making that perceptive interjection the honourable senator is referring to his old friend Milton Friedman.
The honourable senator knows perfectly well what the free drug list is and I do not think we need debate that any further now in philosophical terms. He knows that it exists and that recommendations about it have been made to the Government. The proposal which is contained in the Ralph Committee report really changes the whole basis of the payment for drugs very much against the health consumer. The suggestion taken up in the report is that there should be a prescribed level of Commonwealth contribution towards the cost of each drug and that, over and above that level, the matter should be left, in the jargon of the drug industry, to market forces. One of the consequences of leaving the price of drugs to market forces is expected to be that there will be a lot of competition to produce drugs and another that prices will rise considerably.
One suggestion that already has flowed from the recommendations of the Ralph Committee is that Australians should insure not only for normal health cover, whether hospital or medical, but also against the cost of more expensive drugs which may be prescribed in the event of their becoming seriously ill.
These are matters that we should perhaps discuss at greater length when we have had an opportunity to peruse the report. I merely at this stage draw the attention of the Senate to this very radical change which has been suggested- I use the word ‘radical’ with the greatest circumspection- to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It is something which should be closely examined by members of the Parliament before the recommendations are acted upon. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present an agreement between the European Space Agency and the Australian Government on the establishment of a space vehicle tracking station in support of that Agency’s space program. I seek leave to make a statement on the agreement and to have it incorporated in Hansard.
ESA is a consortium of eleven states of Europe: Italy, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland.
Under the Agreement, the Department of Science and the Environment is the co-operating agency of the Australian Government.
The Agreement prescribes the conditions under which space tracking facilities may be established and operated in Australia for a co-operative venture in support of ESA space vehicles and for civil space research and technology and their space applications.
Initially, the facility will be established at the site of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) Earth Station at Carnarvon, Western Australia, where it will be operated by OTC under a commercial contract with ESA. ESA will provide the specialised equipment, and OTC will provide the staff to operate and maintain the facility. The Agreement provides for the establishment of new facilities at a later stage if so desired.
The facility may be used, on a non-interference basis, for Australian independent scientific activities endorsed by the Department, and for other independent scientific activities as may be arranged between ESA and the Department.
ESA and the Department have agreed to provide each other on request with scientific data acquired through the activities and with the results of any consequent studies.
ESA shall bear the costs of establishing and operating the facility subject to the condition that ESA shall not be liable for costs arising from the use of the facility for independent scientific purposes.
Installation of the equipment for the first stage is expected to be completed in time to support the launch of Meteosat 2, an ESA meteorological satellite, in June 1980. Meteosat 2 will be launched by ESA’s ARIANE launcher, a three-stage vehicle designed to provide Europe with the capability of placing satellites of nearly one tonne in geostationary orbit.
If the Meteosat 2 launch proves successful, it will be the first time that a satellite has been placed in geostationary orbit by an agency which is not under the control of the USA or the USSR.
The Agreement provides that ESA shall utilise to the maximum extent practicable Australian resources in the agreed activities.
The term of the agreement is ten years, and thereafter will continue until terminated by ESA or the Australian Government with twelve months notice.
The Government welcomes the establishment of the ESA facility in Australia, and looks forward to close co-operation with ESA in civil space research and technology and their space applications.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and seek leave to make a statement relating thereto.
-This is the first annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to be subject to new reporting requirements introduced towards the end of last year by amendments to the Science and Industry Research Act 1949. Honourable senators will recall that those amendments were quite extensive, and among them was one providing that the Organisation shall include in its report a statement of its policies in relation to the carrying out of its research, and any developments in those policies which occur during the year. This new reporting requirement was introduced at a time of renewed interest within the Parliament in annual reports. Their importance has been emphasised in recent reports by the Senate Standing Committees on Publications, Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Finance and Government Operations, and Science and the Environment. A central theme in all of those reports has been the priority attached to principles of accountability. The Committees have unanimously emphasised the need for statutory authorities to present to the Parliament a realistic picture of their operations in terms which will enable the Parliament to carry out its obligations, including the obligation to maintain an oversight of the operations of statutory bodies on behalf of the people of Australia.
The independent inquiry into CSIRO included amongst its recommendations one that ‘CSIRO should define and present at appropriate intervals the main thrusts of its broad policies and more detailed objectives for Government, parliamentary and community scrutiny’. The Government adopted this recommendation, and introduced these amendments to ensure that the main policies of the Organisation would be presented in its annual report to the Parliament. In this first report subject to the new requirements, the Organisation has presented the framework of its basic policies together with a picture of the distribution of its research effort. It proposes in forthcoming annual reports to provide progressively a more comprehensive picture of its activities, and the policy considerations underlying the allocative decisions made by the Executive. The process of improving standards of statutory accountability is still very much in its early days. The Government, for its part, has committed itself to supporting moves in this direction, and I believe that CSIRO has made significant beginnings in the practical implementation of these policies in this report. I commend it to the Senate.
-by leave- I move:
Might I say, first of all, that I concur with much of what the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) said in his statement when tabling this report. I also appreciate his courtesy in making a copy of the report available at least a short time before it was tabled in Parliament. I do not want in any sense to sound churlish because the Minister has drawn attention to the fact that the report represents a new departure in the style of the report. The Minister has expressed some degree of satisfaction about the way in which that change of style has been represented, but I do want to make some comments about it just in the hope that in the next annual report there may still be some further improvements. As the Minister has pointed out, and as we note with approval, the Act now provides for a setting out of the research policy of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. That is referred to at page 12 of the document under the heading ‘Reporting Executive policies ‘.
It is a cause of regret to us, however, that a more comprehensive report could not have been produced on this occasion. It one looks at page 36 one sees that regular reviews are conducted by the Executive. Perhaps those reviews could be reported on as they are conducted. That would be of great benefit to the Parliament, if they were reported on in that way, and it would be of great benefit to the scientific community generally in terms of communication and understanding of what the CSIRO is doing in terms of its research program. It is gratifying that the priorities in energy research, for example, are set out quite clearly at page 43 of the report. It is perhaps a pity that in other areas the priorities were not set out in the same way as they have been in relation to energy research.
I would also draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Estimates committee report dealing with CSIRO indicates that fisheries and oceanography is one of the few areas to get a sizable increase in the CSIRO budget, an increase of about $ 1 m for fisheries research. Again, in relation to that, it would have been helpful to have in this report- I think it would have been possible even at the time this report was drawn up- some clear indication of and discussion of priorities and policy in the annual report as it relates to this area of fisheries. I just happen to believe it is a very important area, and it would have been helpful to have a discussion about priorities.
I turn briefly to organisational matters as they relate to the CSIRO, and again make the point, which has been made here often enough, that there is a great deal of concern about integrating CSIRO research effort with the needs of industry and the needs of flexibility of the various divisions and, more importantly, a need for staff mobility. There has been very little discussion of these matters in the organisation section of the report. I would have thought that the annual report would be a good place to air these matters. As anyone who has any knowledge of the CSIRO is aware, these are matters of constant discussion amongst the senior officers of the CSIRO. On page 57 of the report it is recorded that a consultative council has been formed, which has formed committees. These are set out in a list on page 57 of the report.
One would hope that the terms and conditions of service would be considered by that consultative council because, as I have said, they are matters of great concern to CSIRO officers at all levels. I would also hope that the consultative council would give some attention to considering the issues of early retirement, part time employment at a certain level of CSIRO research activity and at a certain age, and also the question of secondment in and out of the Organisation to industry, universities and so on. The Opposition thinks that these flexible policies are vital to the work of the CSIRO in explaining its policies to industry and in universities, and in arriving at a degree of mutual understanding about the work which is being done by senior research scientists and, more importantly, freeing up the scientific research community in Australia and encouraging more flexible and profitable relationships between those various communities, which are still very much allocated into separate boxes, as it were. That is a situation which the Opposition thinks highly undesirable and probably costly in the long term.
– Would the honourable senator allow me to break in so information in relation to his comment can be recorded in Hansard. He will be aware that the various divisions of the CSIRO- he mentioned Fisheries and Oceanography- individually report directly on their own activities during the year. He will be aware that the CSIRO produces a report known as ‘Research Program Objectives’ in which each research project is noted together with the resources in manpower and money, and the objectives of the division are noted and reported to Parliament. I defend the Organisation on the ground that it has the most excellent reporting system on all their work of any organisation that I know of under the Federal system.
– It would be more desirable to have explanations by the Minister at the end of the honourable senator’s speeches than to have interruptions such as the one just made by the Minister.
-Might I explain the circumstances. The Minister asked whether he could break in, and when he embarked on his rather lengthy discourse I assumed that he was breaking in with something relevant to what I was saying. In fact the Minister’s defence of the CSIRO was really related to a point that I made some eight or nine minutes ago and about which the Minister made a telephone call to get some information, following which he broke in during some comments which I was making about something altogether different.
– I made the telephone call to get some reports to show you that they had been handed in.
-The point I was making- I appreciate the Minister’s defence of CSIRO based on his telephone discussion- was about the flexibility and mobility of staff between the CSIRO and industry and the desirability of having the scientific research community freed up and made more mobile than it is now so that CSIRO is not seen as an organisation remote from industrial development policies, remote from research and development in industry and remote from research which is going on in universities. The Opposition makes that point, not as it were of its own volition, but because it knows that it is a point of concern to CSIRO officers at senior level. I have not had an opportunity to peruse the report in detail. I do not seek leave to continue my remarks at this stage because I believe that other honourable senators want to speak on this subject. However, I hope that the Senate will have an opportunity to discuss these issues further in due course.
-I commend the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) on the statement he has tabled. As chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment, I welcome the new thrust that apparently will emerge from the report. I have yet to examine the report in detail but my Committee will be doing that in depth and no doubt will come forward with an objective comment.
– It goes without saying that a committee of yours will be investigating in depth.
– Bearing in mind the personnel involved, we are very incisive in our examination of such reports. I think that that is one reason why the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has chosen to change the thrust of its reports in the future. I commend the Organisation for that. It is necessary to bear in mind that these annual reports are the only way in which the general public as well as members of Parliament can make an assessment of the work that is being done by important bodies such as CSIRO. I hope that within the body of the report we will gain some idea of its future policy thrusts, the direction in which it intends going in the future and obtain more information concerning future activities of the Organisation.
I agree with Senator Button’s reference to staff mobility. Our recent report on industrial research and development pointed to the need for more interchange between government research organisations and industry. I support that view. I hope that in response to our report on industrial research and development the Government may well take those ideas to heart and act upon them. I look forward to the Government’s response on that report. I also look forward to examining in detail the annual report before us at the moment. I will say more about that at the appropriate time. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 16 of the Pig Meat Promotion Act 1975 I present the fourth annual report of the Pig Meat Promotion Advisory Committee 1 978-79.
- Senator McLaren is not here.
– There would be more than one on your side who could deal with that.
-by leave- On behalf of Senator McLaren, I move:
I am tempted to take advantage of the interjection of the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) to speak about Animal Farm, but I will not. I am certain that Senator
McLaren will have something to say on this report when he returns from his duties overseas. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the Australian Telecommunications Commission Service and Business Outlook 1979-80.
– For the information of honourable senators I present an interim statement of the Department of Administrative Services 1978-79.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-I present the report from the Committee of Privileges relating to the quotation of unparliamentary language in debate which was referred to the Committee on 29 May 1979.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- The Senate may recall that on 29 May last a ruling was made by the Acting Deputy President to the effect that it is not permissible for an honourable senator to quote during debate words which he would not be permitted to use in direct speech. Objection was taken to this ruling on the ground that it restricted the right of free speech during parliamentary proceedings which every senator enjoys under section 49 of the Constitution. The Senate agreed to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee. The Committee, having carefully considered the matter, believes that there is no question of privilege involved.
The report I have just tabled makes two main points. Firstly, there is no inconsistency between the freedom of speech in Parliament, that is, the freedom from question or interference by any court or other authority outside Parliament, and the rules of order which each House imposes upon its members in relation to the language they may use. The report quotes authorities to support this proposition, in particular the following extracts from Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice under the heading ‘ Restraint of Speech in Parliament’:
Speech and action in Parliament may thus be said to be unquestioned and free. But this freedom from external influence or interference does not involve any unrestrained licence of speech within the walls of the House. . .
The quotation continues:
The cases in which Members have been called to account and punished by the House for offensive words spoken before the House are too numerous to mention. Some have been admonished, others imprisoned, and in the Commons some have been expelled.
Secondly, the report notes that the ruling in question was consistent with previous rulings by various Presidents of the Senate, and expressed the established practice of the Senate. It is a long established rule, and is well expressed in the following quotation from Erskine May:
A Member is not allowed to use unparliamentary words by the device of putting them in somebody else’s mouth.
The Committee recommends that if the Senate considers that the possibility or desirability of altering the well-established rules of debate in relation to this matter should be examined, such examination should be undertaken by the Standing Orders Committee. I commend the report to the Senate.
-by leave- I was in the chair at the time of the incident that is the subject of that report. I am pleased to see that the Committee of Privileges brought in the report that it has. I hope that on similar occasions honourable senators will not test either my patience or my ruling on similar matters. I hope that all Acting Deputy Presidents will always help to enforce the Standing Orders in this chamber in such a way that we will present to anybody who is visiting us or listening to us over the air a picture of a chamber that earns respect, unlike the other House, as today’s Age points out.
-by leave- It is necessary for the Senate to debate fully the report that has been brought down and to agree to the recommendation set out. Having listened to what Senator Jessop said, I am not clear that that analysis is essentially correct or, if it is correct, whether we should continue to follow those precedents. We had a rather emotive debate- I was going to say hectic- on this matter when Senator Townley was in the chair, and it did seem that there were substantial restrictions on many honourable senators. Having investigated the precedents, the Privileges Committee has presented a report, and I think that at an opportune time the Senate should examine the report and voice either support or disapproval.
– We suggest that it should be a matter for the Standing Orders Committee. I think you will agree when you read the report.
– Yes. Perhaps that ought to be moved formally. I do not know what the procedure is.
– Seek leave to move a motion that it be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– If the Government is prepared to accept that, I seek leave to move a motion.
– I move:
– I have indicated that that seems to be an appropriate course of action, which some of us would want to support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement relating to the Federal Narcotics Bureau and to move a motion that the Senate take note of the statement.
The statement read as follows-
The Government earlier this year decided that there should be a review of the organisation and lines of control of the Fedeal Narcotics Bureau and its relations with other arms of government. I had proposed to ask the head of my Department to seek the assistance of the Public Service Board in this review, but I was aware that the Federal Narcotics Bureau falls also within the terms of reference of the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs and that the Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice Williams, therefore could be making recommendations in relation to it.
The Royal Commission report is not expected until towards the end of the year. Rather than wait until then, I raised with the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) whether we might seek Mr Justice Williams’ views on matters relating to the organisation and control of the Narcotics Bureau ahead of his final report. The Government raised the matter formally with His Excellency the Governor-General and with the Royal Commissioner with the result that Mr Justice Williams agreed that he would provide an interim report dealing with these matters. The interim report was received by His Excellency yesterday. Because it is an interim report and the subject will be fully covered in the final Royal
Commission report, and because the Royal Commissioner has included in the interim report a number of matters of confidential evidence and observations which ordinarily would not be made public, Mr Justice Williams has preferred that this interim report be treated as confidential.
The Government proposes to abide by this indication of the Royal Commissioner’s wishes. I simply inform the House therefore that the interim report has been received. It will be made available to those immediately concerned with the review of the Bureau; and the recommendations of the Royal Commission will be taken fully into account by the Government in any decisions that are made, The Royal Commission’s final report, including whatever recommendations there may be relating to the Narcotics Bureau, will be tabled in the Parliament when received and will be open to debate in this House. The Government appreciates very much the assistance and co-operation that it has had from Mr Justice Williams in this matter.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
– I advise honourable senators that Estimates Committee D will meet in Senate Committee Room No. 1, Estimates Committee E in Committee Room No. 6, and Estimates Committee F in the Senate chamber at 2.15 p.m. Prior to the sittings of the committees, the bells will be rung for two minutes. Honourable senators are reminded of the meetings of Estimates committees tomorrow, Friday, 2 1 September, and on Monday, 24 September, at 10 a.m. Tomorrow Estimates Committee B will meet in this chamber, Estimates Committee D in Committee Room No. 1, and Estimates Committee E in Committee Room No. 6. On Monday, Estimates Committee A will meet in this chamber, Estimates Committee C in Committee Room No. 1, and Estimates Committee F in Committee Room No. 6.
Senate adjourned at 12.17 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce the following question, upon notice, on 23 November 1978:
What powers within the Minister’s jurisdiction have been transferred to the States since December 1 975.
– The Minister for Industry and Commerce has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs’ answer to question No. 1074 in Hansard of 2 I August 1979.
Subsequent to the Minister’s reply, I announced to Parliament, on 22 August 1979, that although the promotion of domestic tourism is primarily a State and industry responsibility, there is a need for co-ordinated action at the national level. The Australian Tourist Commission is the appropriate body to undertake such umbrella promotional activities.
Consequently the Government has decided to provide $500,000 over the next two years for domestic tourism promotion with $200,000 included in the 1979-80 appropriation of the Australian Tourist Commission.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 23 November 1978:
What powers within the Minister’s jurisdiction have been transferred to the States since December 1975.
– The Minister for Productivity has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs’ answer to Question No. 1074 (Ilansard. 21 August 1979, pages 48-51).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 10 May 1979:
What action has the Government taken to reintroduce measures to encourage oil and gas exploration, thereby enabling a reasonable assessment to be made of fuel resources on the Australian mainland.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has introduced a number of measures to encourage exploration for both oil and gas in Australia. These include taxation incentives, import parity pricing for new oil’ discoveries, movement of Australian crude oil prices for producing fields towards world levels and clarification of the foreign investment guidelines. (See the Prime Minister’s statement on Energy Policy of 27 June 1979). In addition as announced in the recent Budget Speech the Government has decided to provide further encouragement for oil and gas exploration and development by extending the scheme of tax rebates for capital subscribed for offshore petroleum exploration and development to subscriptions for onshore exploration and development and by extending the period within which capital subscribed must be spent in order to qualify for the rebate from two to four years.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 29 May 1979:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: 1(a) and 1(b) The required statistics are provided in the tables shown below. In these tables the NT and ACT have been regarded as States.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 30 May 1979:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 7 June 1 979:
– The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Public Service Board has advised that the information in the form sought is not available. The statistical records of the Board show the age of staff on permanent appointment but do not indicate whether the persons attended school immediately before joining the Public Service. Records are not maintained on age and qualifications of part-time and temporary staff, nor on educational qualifications of Fourth Division staff appointed before 1979.
The Board has, however, provided an indication of the numbers likely to be involved and set out below are the estimated numbers, to the extent that estimates can be made with a reasonable degree of reliability.
Estimates* of permanent appointments to the Australian Public Service during calendar year 1979 of the following categories of recruits who completed their studies in 1 978 are as follows:
asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 22 August 1979:
What action does the Minister propose to take in conjunction with responsible State Ministers to ensure that the use of
the pesticide DDT does not result in the ultimate extinction of the peregrine falcon, in view of the contention expressed in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation environmental research magazine ECOS.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth and State wildlife authorities are aware of the controversy surrounding the use of DDT, particularly the possible effect on the eggshells of birds of prey like the peregrine falcon.
The Commonwealth is involved in the development of national policies on the use of pesticides through its participation on committees, such as the Co-ordinating Committee on Agricultural Chemicals and the Technical Committee on Agricultural Chemicals, which report to the Agricultural Council. The Council is currently interested in new developments in synthetic pyrenthrins which are biodegradable and could replace DDT.
The Commonwealth Government has provided funds for a study of the ecological effects of pesticides on non-target organisms in the Namoi Valley, northern NSW and the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service has assisted the Victorian Fisheries and Wildlife Division in sponsoring a study of peregrine falcon populations in Victoria.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:
Has the Export Developments Grants Board ever been called upon to adjudicate on entitlement to grants between companies which produce and ship goods.
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In assessing any claim, the Board is required to establish who is the principal in the relevant export transactions as only the principal is entitled to receive an assessed grant payment under either the Export Market Development Grants Scheme or the Export Expansion Grants Scheme. In that context, the Board may be required to adjudicate on entitlement to grants.
Section 12 ( I) of the Export Market Development Grants Act 1974 requires the Export Development Grants Board to consider every claim duly made and determine whether the claimant has a grant entitlement and, if so, the amount of that grant entitlement ‘.
Similarly, Section 1 1 ( 1 ) of the Export Expansion Grants Act 1978 requires the Board to ‘consider every claim duly made and determine whether the claimant has an incentive grant entitlement and, if so, the amount of that incentive grant entitlement’.
In both Acts (section 3 (2) in each), there is the further provision, namely, ‘for the purposes of this Act, where an act is done by an agent on behalf of this principal, it shall be deemed to be done by the principal and not by the agent ‘.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:
– The Minister for Trade and Resources has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Aid to Papua New Guinea
– On 21 August 1979 Senator Watson asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that Sir John Crawford is currently conducting an investigation into the nature and extent of aid to Papua New Guinea. Because of the close ties between the two countries, the importance of this assistance to the Papua New Guinea national budget and the need to assist in the development of parliamentary democracy, and for strategic purposes, will the Minister assure this House that there will be no reduction in the overall quantum of assistance to Australia’s nearest neighbour?
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In March 1976 as the result of an agreement between the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments, Australia undertook to provide Papua New Guinea with a minimum annual grant of $A 180m for each of the five years commencing 1 July 1976. The agreement also provided for the payment of annual supplements to take some account of inflationary and other factors, while in the longer term lessening Papua New Guinea’s dependence on Australian aid appropriations. Supplementary payments of $10m, $20m and $35m were made in the first three years.
In 1978 I appointed Sir John Crawford to advise Australian Ministers on the appropriate means for determining the level of the supplementary payments for the final two years of the current aid agreement. After consideration of Sir John’s report, the Government decided that the supplementary payments for 1979-80 and 1980-8 1 would be $43m and $52m.
The purpose of Sir John ‘s current investigation is to advise Australian Ministers on the aid arrangements which might apply between Australia and Papua New Guinea after June 1 98 1 . Sir John ‘s appointment as independent aid adviser to examine this question reflects the importance which the Government attaches to the continuing close relationship between the two countries.
It would be inappropriate for me to speculate about the likely outcome of Sir John ‘s investigations or the Government ‘s decisions which will be taken following consideration of his report. However, the honourable Senator may care to know that it is the stated objective of the Papua New Guinea Government to reduce its dependence on Australian aid in order to achieve its goal of self reliance.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 September 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1979/19790920_senate_31_s82/>.