31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 176 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that the construction of a uranium enrichment plant in North Queensland and the mining of uranium on the Herveys Range area should not be proceeded with on the following grounds:
1 ) No safe method has yet been devised for the disposal of nuclear waste.
The mining of uranium ore exposes workers to considerable danger from radon gases.
The danger of poisoning chemicals seeping into surface and underground water supplies as a result of uranium ore mining and refining of uranium ore could pose serious health hazards for persons living in the Townsville region.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should take all possible steps to abandon or postpone indefinitely the mining of uranium in the Herveys Range area, and the construction of an enrichment plant in the Townsville region.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 5 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament assembled.
The petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth:
Their support for and endorsement of the national women’s advisory council.
We call on the government to:
Continue to maintain the national advisory council and increase Federal Government support for its activities.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 28 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of the Northern Territory of Australia respectfully showeth:
That it is acknowledged that it is reasonable for major sporting organisations to conclude agreements with individual commercial television networks for sole telecasting rights.
However, one of the functions which the ABC should be expected to perform on behalf of the Government is a service to enable all areas of Australia to receive telecasts of major events, irrespective of whether some parts of the country are serviced on that particular event by a commercial network.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members should:
Direct that the ABC should:
Give priority to its role as a community service organisation in preference to its commercial interests.
On behalf of the Government, provide a community service to those areas not serviced by a commercial network so that direct telecasts of major events are transmitted to all Australians.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament assembled.
The petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth:
Their support for and endorsement of the National Women’s Advisory Council.
We call on the government to
Continue to maintain the National Advisory Council and increase Federal Government support for its activities.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Peter Baume.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the Metric system and request the Government to restore the Imperial system. .
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Chipp.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore pray:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘Advisory Council’. by Senators Hamer, Melzer, Missen and Webster.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
-I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to an answer provided by him on 8 June this year to a question on notice from Senator Button concerning the incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction in the defence forces, in which the Minister for Defence stated:
There are no detailed statistics on the incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction detected by medical officers in any of the armed forces.
I ask the Minister: Is he aware that in 1 977 Air Vice-Marshal Jordan, the Director-General of Health Services, gave the Williams Royal Commission inquiring into drugs detailed statistics of cases of drug addiction in the three armed Services between 1975 and 1977? In view of the conflict between the Minister’s answer and the evidence presented by the Department of Defence to the Royal Commission inquiring into drugs, will the Minister investigate who was responsible for misleading the Senate on 8 June this year? Is this a further example of a Minister being totally unaware of what is going on in his Department, or is it an example of an attempt by the Minister to mislead the Parliament?
– I am aware of the reply which came through me to Senator Button. I read somewhere, probably in a defence journal, of evidence concerning this matter which I think Air Vice-Marshal Jordan gave to that Royal Commission, or gave even more recently. It had not occurred to me that there was a conflict between the two. 1 will draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to the suggestion by Senator Wriedt that there is a conflict and will seek the Minister’s reply. Certainly the Minister would not seek to mislead the Parliament.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. First I draw his attention to the fact that throughout Australia excellent facilities are available for pre-school and school-age deaf children. However, I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that no provision is made for deaf students at Australian universities? If that is a fact, what is the possibility of facilities being made available for them?
– The matter of providing facilities for the tertiary education of deaf children is an important one. Recent surveys conducted by the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee and the Australian Conference of Principals of Colleges of Advanced Education have indicated that there is a definite awareness of the needs of handicapped students, including those with impaired hearing, in tertiary institutions. The surveys have shown also that special facilities for deaf students are being provided by some universities and colleges of advanced education. It is hoped that the availability of such facilities will continue to increase within those two sectors. Certain recommendations made by the Williams Committee have also helped to focus attention on the problems associated with participation in tertiary education by students with various forms of disability. These, along with the Committee’s proposals, are currently under consideration by the Commonwealth Government. Although the provision of special facilities for handicapped students is essentially a matter for individual institutions, the Commonwealth Government encourages improvements in this direction. Its involvement in the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 will no doubt provide it with further opportunities to assist actively in the promotion of access by handicapped people to community life including, of course, access to tertiary education by deaf students.
-My question to the Attorney-General follows questions I asked of him last week and again yesterday on the attendance of officers from the Attorney-General ‘s Department and the Crown Solicitor’s Office at a meeting when a reward and the legal considerations of that reward were discussed. Can the Attorney-General now indicate not only the month but also the actual date in the month when that meeting took place? When did he first become aware of the meeting having taken place? When did he become aware that Mr Frank Mahony, a deputy secretary of his Department, had been in attendance? When did he become aware that Mr Barry Leader, of the Crown Solicitor’s Office, had been in attendance? Finally, has he yet given any further consideration to my request that he table the file of papers?
-Senator McClelland asked me a question yesterday, as he has on previous days, in relation to a meeting attended by two officers of my Department in August 1977 concerning matters which had arisen as a result of advice from Detective Chief Inspector Thomas that there was an unnamed informant. The actual date of the meeting was 24 August 1977. Senator McClelland asked me yesterday whether I was able to say that officers had attended any meeting at which both immunity from prosecution or pardon and the payment of a sum of money by way of reward were discussed. He also asked whether I would table the papers relating to the matter. I caused some inquiries to be made yesterday as to whether there was any discussion about immunity from prosecution. I was informed this morning that in the cross-examination of Mr Thomas questions had been asked about what was said at that meeting. Therefore, in the circumstances, anything further I say on that matter would be sub judice. Indeed there already has been considerable criticism about these questions by counsel in the case. The magistrate has also expressed his views. Therefore I have given further consideration to the matter. For the reasons I have given I believe that I should not say any more on this aspect.
As far as Senator McClelland ‘s question on the tabling of the documents is concerned, at least one of the documents on the file, or a copy, has been subpoenaed and produced in court. As far as I am aware it may well be produced in evidence. I do not think it has been as yet, but certainly it appears that questions are being asked in relation to material on the file. The document is now clearly in the court and likely to be introduced as evidence. Other documents in the file refer to matters which are in evidence and which have been discussed in the case. For those reasons I have decided that it would be contrary to the sub judice rule to table the file or any of the documents on the file.
asked me when I became aware of this meeting having been held. I became aware of it on Monday of last week- 12 November. During the previous week there had been the matter of Mr Thomas having been stood down and the questions that had arisen as a result. Also, documents were subpoenaed and we were responding to that. In the course thereof the documents were shown to me, the file was discussed and I became aware of the matters as to which Senator McClelland has been asking questions.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General a supplementary question. Am I to understand from his answer that he will not be responding to my request to table the papers until the question of sub judice no longer exists, which could well be after the people concerned are committed for trial and the trial in fact takes place?
-That may well be the case. I do not know how long the sub judice rule will apply here but I am determined to uphold it.
– Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of a petition from 344 adult citizens of the Yarrabah community, addressed to the Hon. Charles Porter, M.L.A., Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland, giving support to Yarrabah councillors, Messrs P. Neal, C. Formile, V. Schrieber, S. Connolly and R. Smallwood in their endeavour to negotiate self-management and secure land tenure? If not, I would be quite happy to let him have a copy of it. Does the Minister agree that this is a true indication of the sincerity of the people of Yarrabah in wishing to gain land rights and selfmanagement? Further, will the Minister continue to negotiate with the Queensland Government so that Federal Government policy in these matters will become a reality for my people of Yarrabah?
– I am aware of the petition that has been mentioned by the honourable senator, so he need not bother to provide me with a copy of it. In fact, by some odd process I have the original. The Chairman of the Yarrabah Council sent the original to me, although it is addressed to Mr Porter, and a copy to Mr Porter. I have had my staff check the petition and find that it does contain 344 signatures, which purport to be those of 344 electors of the community of Yarrabah. I welcome the petition because of the information that was put before the Senate by Senator Keeffe on 6 November. As some honourable senators will recall, he made a speech which indicated that a petition had been taken up suggesting that the Council at Yarrabah should be dismissed. I assume that the petition now referred to is something, of a counter to that. The petition to which Senator Keeffe referred was said to contain 417 signatures, 387 of which had been verified as being those of residents of Yarrabah. The petition that I have received has 344 signatures and carries a promise of more to come. The two petitions are a little confusing because I think that, in each case, they take in more than half of the electors. Presumably, there is some explaining to be done somewhere.
The sincerity of the Yarrabah Council is a matter of some importance. In January it petitioned the Commonwealth Government for support. It has shown a great steadiness and reasonableness in its approach to various matters. I suppose that its standing in the community was tested in June when at least one of the councillors, Stan Connolly, resigned. He was re-elected by a very substantial majority. I regarded that as an indication of community support for the Council. As far as the last part of the honourable senator’s question is concerned, I will continue to negotiate. I have undertaken to visit Yarrabah again next week. I anticipate doing that in the company of Queensland Ministers, as undertaken last September.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Was there a meeting of the Executive Council to approve the pardon of Mr Chris Nakis or was it done directly between the Attorney-General and the GovernorGeneral? If a meeting of the Executive Council was held, who were the Ministers present?
– The granting of a pardon is simply made on my recommendation to the Governor-General. There is no meeting of the Executive Council.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, concerns radioactive levels at the Nabarlek and Ranger uranium sites. Is the Minister aware that radioactive monitoring information provided by a company to the Department of Mines and Energy in Darwin cannot be made available to the public without the express permission of the company? Is he also aware that radiation levels at both Nabarlek and Ranger are monitored in the first instance by the companies concerned and not by an independent organisation? Will the Minister comment on these present practices? Is he concerned that they present the perfect opportunity for companies to cover up any high readings? If so, will he assure the Senate that every effort will be made to ensure that the monitoring of radiation levels is done by an independent organisation with the results being made freely available?
– My understanding is that the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy and Department of Health have joint responsibility for ensuring compliance with the code of practice for the mining and milling of radioactive ores issued by the Commonwealth Department of Health in 1975, under which radiation monitoring at both Nabarlek and Ranger has been carried out. I understand that the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy has a full time officer on site carrying out detailed measurements of exposure to radon and radon daughters. In addition the Australian Radiation Laboratory has carried out measurements as part of an independent research program. I am informed also that in both cases the measurements generally agree with the low levels recorded by the company.
My advice on the release of monitoring information is that the Northern Territory supervising authorities have advised the Commonwealth Office of the Supervising Scientist that Queensland Mines Ltd has agreed to make public a report concerning monitoring results covering the period of mining operations.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that in mid-November 1977, Mr Corrigan, from her Department, was negotiating with Mr Wunderlich, the solicitor for Mr Nakis, for the payment of a reward for the giving of evidence in the alleged social security frauds case in Sydney? If so, was Mr Corrigan doing this with the knowledge and approval of Mr Lanigan, the DirectorGeneral? If it is a fact, how does this tie in with the statement the Minister gave on behalf of Mr Lanigan to the Senate last week?
– I will need to refer those matters to the Director-General to have his determination on what has been stated in Senator Grimes’ question. I too am concerned about the statements that were made in court yesterday by the magistrate in regard to the pursuit of these matters in the Parliament. I will read from the statement of the magistrate in which he has complained of the way in which the Press reported these matters and the way in which they have been discussed in the Parliament. I think that we should take cognisance of these facts. He referred to the fact that:
There have been these various comments made by persons in authority whilst the matter has been proceeding and in relation to the very matters which occupy our time and which will eventually be the subject of my consideration and my consideration alone while the matter remains here for my determination. Those things that I ‘ve said are on the basis that they relate to the adherence to principles of independence of the Courts and indeed the criticism that I most strongly make is that it cuts across the time honoured principle, that not only must justice be done, but that it must also appear to be done. In my view that appearance is subject to clouding whilst those out of Court comments are made in relation to the evidence as it is given and indeed to some of the comments which do not relate to the evidence but to a distortion of it
I take this opportunity to refer to the question that was asked of me yesterday by Senator Grimes. It concerned a meeting which was held in the office of the Department of Social Security on 15 September 1977. 1 said that I would give consideration to the whole question. As I said on 15 November 1979 I am now aware of the meeting to which Senator Grimes referred and which was mentioned in the statement of the DirectorGeneral which I read to the Senate while replying to the question from Senator Grimes. I did not respond immediately yesterday, because I could not be sure from the terms of the question that Senator Grimes raised whether the meeting was the one referred to in the Director-General ‘s statement, particularly as Senator Grimes ‘ question mentioned a name that was not known to me. He and the Director-General do seem to be referring to the same meeting although Senator Grimes has mentioned the attendance of Mr Lang of the Department of Health. The name of the officer who attended is Mr Lane and not Mr Lang. That was a matter which I wished to check as well as the officers who attended from my Department and from Commonwealth Police.
In my reply on 15 November 1979 I indicated that I became aware in February of this year of an exchange of letters between my Department and Compol in September and October 1977. The Director-General briefed me on the details of the meeting of 15 September 1977 when he was preparing the statement which I read to the Senate on 15 November 1979. This statement was prepared on the night of 14 November and early on 1 5 November of this year. I advised the Senate about this matter on 15 November 1979. I have no other record or recollection that I am able to give of specific meetings at specific times. I am concerned, as I said earlier, and I think that Senator Grimes and others in this place should be concerned, about discussing details of this matter because of the proceedings in the court in Sydney and the application of the sub judice rule. I am very conscious of the statements that have been made. I propose to examine any further questions addressed to me on this subject at some length before deciding whether I should respond to them.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Education, concerns school buildings. Can the Minister comment on claims that the Government is neglecting the funding of capital works in government schools while at the same time increasing funds for non-government schools? What is the true picture of Commonwealth Government support for government school buildings?
– In round terms one could say that based on June 1 978 money values, in the last decade government schools have received over $4,000m-probably $4,500m-of capital works. A capacity applied to new schools to build from the ground was fixed at one-third to one-half altogether, whereas altogether the amount of government funds for capital buildings for non-government schools would be, from memory, about $284m or $286m. The nongovernment schools received something like 6 per cent of the money, having 2 1 per cent of the pupils. Demonstrably any claim that the funding favours non-government schools is absolutely wrong. I can only draw attention to the Schools Commission which, looking at the whole of the resources of government schools, indicated that by last year government primary and secondary schools in all States had reached and surpassed their Karmel targets of physical resources years ahead of time. Of course, great strides in this area were made in 1976, 1977 and 1978. A year ago some of them were 7 per cent above the Karmel targets and moving onwards. It is quite untrue to try to present a picture that government schools are disadvantaged compared with nongovernment schools. In fact, the Schools Commission shows exactly the reverse; that the physical resources of most non-government schools are something like 70 per cent of those of government schools.
– Has the Minister for Social Security called for a further brief from the Minister for Administrative Services on the conduct of the Commonwealth Police in the investigation and treatment of Australian Greek pensioners in 1977 and 1978, given the misleading information she was given on several matters which she appeared to accept without qualification during parliamentary debates last year?
– I have not called for a brief from the Minister for Administrative Services in connection with the matters raised by Senator Gietzelt.
-I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has seen reports that an oil exploration company is to spend some $13m on oil exploration in Queensland over the next two years, which is regarded as a very large scale operation. Is not this oil exploration project a further example of the success of the Government’s import oil parity pricing which among its many benefits has given encouragement and incentive to oil companies to spend large amounts of money on oil exploration which could result in Australia’s gaining greater self-sufficiency in crude oil supplies?
– I have seen the report as a major feature in today’s media and particularly in today’s Press that Esso Exploration and Production Australia Incorporated has undertaken in Queensland what must be the largest oil exploration venture in Australia. I understand geologists believe there is a considerable prospect of finding oil in that area. That must be first-class news for all Australians in a world in which we have great peril and a threat to the supply of petroleum products. The project demonstrates the success of the Government’s policies. Let me simply remind honourable senators that in 1 972 when the Liberal Government went out of office there were something like 22 oil rigs in Australia, 21 of them working. By the time the Whitlam Government went out of office I think there was one rig left and none working. That was the measure of the success of the Whitlam Government’s policies.
The fact is that it is necessary to price oil in terms of world parity so that it is profitable for companies to take the enormous risk of finding oil. For every oil well that comes on stream there are of course hundreds involving thousands of millions of dollars that are non-workable at all. The fact of the matter is that our parity prices have enabled wells in Bass Strait to be developed now into profitability, giving us some three years of extra oil reserves that we did not have and could not have had before oil parity.
Opposition senators interjecting-
– I hear the interjections of the Labor Party senators but they know that their leader, Mr Whitlam, in, I think, August 1975, when Prime Minister, indicated without qualification that the policy of the Labor Party was to bring the price of oil to world parity. Since then there have been all sorts of qualifications but in fact their then leader agreed with the policy now extant in Australia.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. It will not interfere with court proceedings. I ask: Could he give me some explanation of figures he gave to the Senate last Thursday in relation to the prosecution of Chris Nakis? Does he recall that fie stated that Nakis had been charged with defrauding the Commonwealth of sickness and other pension benefits between 1 July 1972 and 31 March 1978? Does he recall stating that he issued an indemnity for Mr Nakis that no proceedings would take place in regard to the payment of sickness benefit or invalid pension claimed for between 1 August 1975 and 1 Janaury 1977 and that he was charged for the offences- for which he had no indemnity- committed three years before and one year and three months after the indemnity was issued? Does he recall the answer that on his advice the Governor-General issued a pardon covering the period from 1 January 1975 to 31 March 1978? This was a pardon, on the Minister’s advice, covering a period of some 22 months more than the period for which he was prepared to give an indemnity. Do I take it from these figures that Mr Nakis has no pardon or indemnity for any offence he may have committed in the period prior to 1 January 1 975 and that he can be prosecuted?
– I have noted the question asked by Senator Cavanagh. It involves a number of dates and accuracy is important in these matters. I will give it consideration and let him have an early reply.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It relates to an answer he gave on 7 November concerning the possible sale of Nomad aircraft to South Africa. In that reply he said:
The invitation to tender involved the Nomad in its civilian configuration. It was stated that the aircraft would be used primarily for agricultural spraying and dusting and light freight work. The terms of reference set out by the company, however, also referred to possible coastal surveillance and police work.
Did the Government ascertain how many of the Nomad aircraft would possibly be used for coastal surveillance and police work? Did the Government request any guarantee from the South African Government that the aircraft would not be armed? If not, why not? Will the
Government once again consider the possibility of the sale of the aircraft to South Africa, provided they are not used for military or paramilitary work?
– Let me say at the outset that the Government is thoroughly keen to sell Nomad aircraft throughout the world, and I appreciate Senator Townley’s keenness that we do so. It is a first class aircraft, designed and produced by Australia. That is our incentive. I well recall the answer I gave to the question. Subsequently I have learned that although an approach was made, the approach was not a very detailed or definite one. It was fairly vague. I understood it to have some characteristics involving not purchasing but licensing arrangements to build the aircraft in South Africa which would, of course, alter the whole situation and would not be in the direct and immediate interests of the Commonwealth Government. My understanding is that the Department concerned is now pursuing the matter to see whether there is any concrete proposal, one that would not be in conflict with the Security Council’s covenant relating to this matter. I cannot answer specifically whether in any discussions there was any indication that a particular number of aircraft would be used for agriculture and a particular number for surveillance. My understanding is that the matter did not get that far, that the overall approach was still vague. I think the Department would be willing to harden the proposal if it could do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. It relates to a letter from her departmental Director-General regarding the social security fraud case. Since that letter was read into Hansard some ambiguities and anomalies have’ arisen. Does the Minister accept ministerial responsibility for the statement of the Director-General which she read into Hansard last Thursday?
– I accept ministerial responsibility in accordance with the Australian Constitution.
– What a bunch of crooks.
– Order! Senator Walsh, you will not refer to members of parliament as ‘a bunch of crooks’. You will withdraw that.
– I withdraw, Mr President.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. Has information gathered and held by the Bureau of Customs been supplied to the Trade Practices Commission? If so, in what circumstances? Have names of importers of particular products and details of particular import transactions been passed on to the Commission? Was some of this information supplied by businessmen to the Bureau of Customs in the first instance on the clear understanding that it would be treated as confidential? Will or can the Minister assure the Senate that information supplied to the Bureau in confidence will not be released to another agency in the future?
– I will refer that question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and ask for an early answer.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, arises from reports that the Australian Government is to withdraw recognition from the Pol Pot Government, which claims to be the Government of Cambodia. Whether these reports are correct or not, will the Government do whatever it can to ensure that an act of self-determination by the Cambodian people takes place before the Australian Government recognises any future government in Cambodia and will it refrain from recognising the present government in Phnom Penh until such time as it is satisfied that the people of Cambodia wish that government to be the government of that country?
– I acknowledge Senator Wheeldon ‘s quite sincere and keen interest in the area, as I do that of all honourable senators. One would devoutly desire that one would not carry out acts of recognition until there had been an act of self-determination by the people of Kampuchea. I think that would be the devout goal of us all. But, in a war torn place where, I think, something like 2 1 Vietnamese army divisions are at this moment relentlessly pursuing the Kampuchean people, it is hard to see, with even the most powerful telescope, that in modern times an act of self-determination can become a real thing, however sad that may be.
– Some pressure can be applied, though.
– Of course pressure can and should be applied. Indeed, what everybody should be advocating is the withdrawal of Vietnamese military forces from Kampuchea. I take it that the Australian Labor Party believes that there should be a withdrawal of those troops from Kampuchea. Nothing can happen to ensure peace and self-determination of the Kampuchean people before that. Since the matter is one of policy involving the Government as such, I will invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs to peruse Senator Wheeldon’s question and see whether he will respond.
– I have pleasure in drawing the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of a delegation from the House of People’s Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia, led by the Deputy Speaker, the Hon. Mohamad Isnaeni. On behalf of honourable senators, I bid the delegation welcome.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
-Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a report that Thailand is prepared to take half a million Kampuchean refugees and to set up camps for them? As a positive and practical step will the Government consider offering to the Thai Government aid in the form of food for these people? Will the Government also consider asking other interested governments to join in making an offer to the Thai Government of assistance for this worthy cause?
– I have seen reports that Thailand is prepared to accept large numbers of Kampuchean refugees. As I understand it, Thailand has already taken in more than 200,000 refugees and, with assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international agencies, has begun constructing large new refugee camps and moving refugees from the border area to those camps. The Thai Government deserves commendation and support from the whole international community for the way it has approached an extremely difficult situation. I believe it has set an example to the world by its civilised and dignified behaviour.
Australia has already given two cash grants totalling $ 1.25m to the Thai Government for its relief operations in the refugee camps. Additional assistance is also being considered following the Government’s decision to make a further $4m available for relief to Kampuchea. The Government has consulted closely with other governments and international agencies about the whole situation in Kampuchea, including the plight of Kampuchean refugees in Thailand. There has been already a high degree of co-ordination in the international relief effort and the Government intends to continue consultations to ensure that this is maintained.
I conclude by saying that last night I was very pleased to have from Senator Kathy Martin a detailed description of her unique experience, in company with Senator Ryan, in the Kampuchean situation. I have invited Senator Ryan to give me the benefit of her experience. I think what the two honourable senators have seen will be of immense interest to all Australians and confirms the general picture. I repeat: The Thai Government deserves very great credit for the way it is handling the refugees. As I understand it, it is now moving the camps back from the border. In itself that is a very courageous act in terms of Thailand’s internal security. It is doing so to protect the lives of the refugees against the imminent threat of destruction by war.
– In addressing a question to the Attorney-General I invite him to take his mind off telephone taps and informers for a moment and to focus on perhaps the most sensitive single issue in Australia- United States relations at the moment. I refer to the Dillingham Corporation’s claim against the Australian Government in respect of the Fraser Island sand mining operation. Is the Attorney-General aware that the former Australian Ambassador to the United States, Mr Alan Renouf, has stated in a letter to appear in the shortly forthcoming issue of the Australian Law Journal that in his view the Australian Government made an ‘error of magnitude ‘ in choosing to go to the International Court of Justice in this matter rather than to arbitration and that the Australian Government is quite likely to be seriously politically embarrassed, over time, as a result of this decision. Given the advice that one must assume was received from our Washington Embassy at the time, why did the Government choose to bypass the arbitration process in this matter? I further ask what is the general state of negotiations on the Dillingham claim, there having been in recent days, I understand, a visit by United States Government representatives to Australia to discuss the progress of this litigation.
– The discussions to which Senator Evans referred took place recently in Canberra between representatives of the United States Government and representatives of the Commonwealth Government led by the Solicitor-General, Mr Byers. American officials came to Australia to hear the Commonwealth Government’s point of view and the reason that we took the stand of denying liability to Dillingham. It will be recalled that we made an ex gratia offer which expired on 3 1 March this year. The Commonwealth Government took the stand that it was not prepared to enter into any further negotiations about a settlement at that or any other figure after the date of its offer had expired. So the object of the discussions held in Canberra was not to undertake further negotiations to reach a settlement about any other figure, but was simply to endeavour to convince the United States officials that the Australian Government was taking a firm stand in relation to the matter and was confident of the correctness of the stand it was taking. I do not think anything further can be said in relation to that aspect of the matter.
asked why we decided to take the matter to the International Court of Justice. As I recollect, it is up to the United States Government to decide whether to go to the International Court of Justice. Certainly, we have rejected any question of arbitration with the United States in relation to the matter. We have said that we will facilitate the matter going to the Court. The position is that the Australian Government took that decision after it obtained advice from an expert in public international law, namely, Mr Eli Lauterpacht. For some years he was a legal consultant to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra. The advice we obtained from him was obtained after he ceased to be in that position and had returned to the United Kingdom. As far as I am aware, Mr Eli Lauterpacht is a higher authority on public international law than is Mr Alan Renouf.
- Mr President, I ask a supplementary question on the subject of the political implications involved. It was that to which my original question was addressed. I ask the Attorney-General: Was that advice taken in the face of political advice to a contrary effect from the Australian Embassy in Washington?
– That aspect of the question will have to be referred to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– Order ! I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Andreas Andrianopoulos, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Greece, to whom on your behalf I bid welcome.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
– I ask the Minister for Science and the Environment: Is it a fact that the Bureau of Meteorology has offered to contribute a sum of $10,000 towards the maintenance of a manned lighthouse at Maatsuyker Island? As it appears that the Minister for Transport and his Department are not particularly interested in retaining any form of manning for that lighthouse, will the Minister for Science and the Environment endeavour to co-ordinate an approach involving the Tasmanian Government, the Bureau of Meteorology, the maritime services rescue coordination centre and the various other organisations which have been referred to in questions which have been asked in this chamber over a period of 12 months or more, in order to put together a plan which will enable that lighthouse to continue to be manned for all the purposes which have been made so clear so often in this chamber?
– This matter is obviously important to honourable senators from Tasmania. Senator Rae quite correctly has directed the attention of the Senate to a situation which became apparent some time ago, namely, that the lighthouse to which he referred is likely to be changed to operate automatically instead of its being manned, as it has been over the years. I have an interest in the matter because of my responsibility for the activities of the Bureau of Meteorology. Over past years there has been a change in the requirements of the Bureau to have people present to measure various parameters in certain areas. The installation of automatic measuring facilities means that so far as the Department of Science and the Environment is concerned the lighthouse need not be manned. However, other departments are involved. The honourable senator referred to the involvement of Tasmania and the various rescue services which may have a particular interest. I will take up the suggestion made by the honourable senator and see whether I can get other departments interested in continuing the manning.
-My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I will change from throwing some light on southern Tasmania to throwing some light in Canberra. Does the Minister recall my asking a question on 15 November concerning the apparent conflict between evidence or advice given to a Minister of the Crown and evidence given before a court, to which he said he would expedite a reply? I ask him now: Has he a reply?
– The short answer to that question is no. I have had a message from the Minister for Administrative Services today saying that he expects to give me a reply very shortly. I must say that having looked more carefully at the question asked by the honourable senator, it appears to me that it raises matters that go directly to evidence given in the case and may give rise to questions or arguments about credibility. I think the question is one which cannot be answered in any detail at this stage.
– I ask a supplementary question and remind the Minister that I asked for his colleague to provide factual information as to why there had been a conflict. I put it to the Minister that surely his colleague must be in a position to tell the Parliament his version of the information that was given to a Minister of the Crown. That need not have anything to do with the court. At least we should be able to get that much information. We are entitled to it before this Parliament rises. I put it to the Minister: Is it not reasonable for this Parliament to suspect that if that information is not forthcoming before we rise it is because it is being deliberately withheld?
– I would certainly want to give the honourable senator an answer to his question before the Parliament rises, and I hope that that is this week. That does not change the reply which I gave before the supplementary question. One can imagine a series of questions being asked which could parallel the whole of the evidence in the case which is at present before the court, and is likely to be before the court for some time. It is a serious matter. I certainly undertake to the honourable senator and the Senate to examine very carefully the answer that is given to me to ensure that, if the matter is one that gives rise to the sub judice rule, the answer gives that and no more.
-I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to an answer supplied by Senator Durack yesterday to a question I asked on 2 1 August regarding the legality of the small scale production of grain alcohol as fuel. In the light of evidence provided by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources last Friday that suggested that vegetable oil would be a more economical and more practical alternative fuel than grain alcohol or ethanol, will the Minister ascertain whether there are any legal restrictions to the small scale production and use of vegetable oil as a fuel? Will the Minister also ascertain whether an excise tax or similar tax would be applied to such a product.
-Both parts of the question asked of the Minister for Primary Industry basically could be directed to other departments. Excise would not be a matter for the Department of Primary Industry. Matters concerning legal restrictions that may apply to the production of alcohol would also fall outside that Department. However, the honourable senator is well aware of the interest of the Government and, indeed, of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources, of which he is Chairman, in the production of fuel. I noted recently that Mr Anthony expects to have discussions in Brazil on this matter. He may bring back information that will be of use to us. I think the way would be open for the Government to agree to any area of production of what might be either a synthetic or substitute fuel for some of the products that this country must import at present. If it can be demonstrated that there is some economy in the area of production which the honourable senator indicates, I am sure that it will receive the encouragement of the Government.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. Do you agree with an authority such as R. N. Spann, Professor of Government and Public Administration at the University of Sydney, who wrote in Government Administration in Australia that the legislative and administrative authority controlling the office of Auditor-General is designed to free the Auditor-General from ministerial control and enable him to report directly to the Parliament? In that connection I might mention also that Dr Coombs, in the report of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, expressed similar opinions. If you do concur with Spann and others, will you as an officer of the
Parliament ask the Auditor-General to table tomorrow the two reports on Asia Dairy Industries (H.K.) Ltd which the Auditor-General has prepared in the last 12 weeks and submitted to the Minister for Primary Industry, but which the Minister has declined to table in the House?
– Firstly, I must inform the honourable senator that I do not offer opinions. Secondly, that which is done in this place under my supervision is the will and determination of the Senate. I am here to preside over the affairs of the Senate, which itself determines those affairs.
- Mr President, can I take it from your answer that you are refusing to ask the Auditor-General to table a copy of that report in the Senate?
– I have advised the honourable senator that the Senate has the power to determine its own affairs as it desires. It is not the place of the Presiding Officer to make rulings of that nature. He is merely presiding over the chamber. The Senate makes its own determinations.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it a fact that Vietnam is today a much more significant military power than it was as recently as 1975? Is it also a fact that Vietnam currently has one million men in the regular army, two million men in the militia, 20 armoured or motorised regiments, 35 artillery regiments, 75 other regiments, 495 combat aircraft and 1,000 tanks? Does the Government agree that this growth has been uninterrupted and massive and, for a country in Vietnam’s economic shape and with its overwhelming needs for food, is as irresponsible as it is harmful to its neighbours? Is the Government concerned about this? Would the Government consider taking some action in the United Nations with regard to it?
- Senator Lewis has asked a number of questions concerning the present military and economic status of Vietnam. That status is vital to the peace, or instability, of the world and of our region in particular. Vietnam’s economic problems appear to have intensified recently as a result of numerous factors, but in particular because political and military objectives have been given priority over the demands of economic reconstruction. That is the crunch point. After the reunification in 1975, this Government hoped that Vietnam would adopt a constructive and co-operative role in the region, and indicated its willingness to assist Vietnam in that process. It regrets that, despite these hopes, Vietnam embarked on policies which have aggravated its own internal problems and those of its neighbours.
In regard to Senator Lewis’s suggestion that the Government take the issue to the United Nations, he will be aware that the United Nations General Assembly debate on the situation in Kampuchea concluded on 15 November and adopted an Association of South East Asian Nations draft resolution, there being 9 1 votes in favour, 21 against and 29 abstentions. Australia co-sponsored and actively supported the resolution, which dealt with both political and humanitarian aspects of the situation in Kampuchea. The resolution called for a cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Kampuchea and requested the Secretary-General to exercise his good offices to contribute to a peaceful solution to the problem. The Government suspended its aid program to Vietnam in January, in response to Vietnam ‘s invasion of Kampuchea and because of its role in the exodus of refugees from Vietnam. Senator Lewis asked me whether I was aware of the nature and size of the forces under arms. I cannot respond specifically to that question. I can say that the Vietnam military forces rank very high in the world after the great powers. In fact, after the great powers the level of Vietnam military forces probably ranks highest in the world.
– If you had a neighbour on your doorstep threatening to punish you every few years, what would you do? It is absolutely pathetic, puerile. It is an insult to the Parliament, that garbage.
-I note Senator Wriedt ‘s active help in support of Vietnam ‘s military aggressive tendencies. The Government holds the view that the Vietnamese military forces should be withdrawn from countries over which they have no territorial rights. We hope that Vietnam will return to local economic reconstruction.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. In the light of today’s announcement that Mr Murdoch of News Ltd will seek a controlling interest in the Herald and Weekly Times media group, is the Government now prepared to hold an inquiry into the concentration of media ownership in Australia? Given the refusal of the Minister to direct the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal to hold such an inquiry, is the Government prepared to appoint a royal commission to carry out such an inquiry?
– I think this is the third time the honourable senator has asked me this question. On the two occasions that I sought an answer from Mr Staley, his reply was that he has the matter under consideration. Since neither the honourable senator nor I has heard anything further, I can only assume that that is still the position. I have had no indication from Mr Staley that the news announced recently about the bid by News Ltd has led him to contemplate the action which was suggested by the honourable senator or indeed any other action that might be advocated- an amendment to the Act or whatever.
– During Question Time yesterday Senator Mulvihill referred to a statement made by Mr A. Pizir the president of the Croatian National Council in Victoria, during a demonstration outside the West German consulate, Melbourne, on, I think, the previous day. The honourable senator asked whether this gentleman had an Australian passport. I am informed that although Mr Pizir was naturalised on 9 June 1971, he is not the holder of an Australian passport. He has been naturalised, but he does not have an Australian passport.
– by leave- Certain news reports this morning have stated that the Australian Democrats failed to vote on a clause of the Human Rights Commission Bill last evening. I believe that this misrepresents our position for the following reasons: Firstly, Senator Mason was, and is, suffering from a severe stomach upset which he contracted in Darwin two weeks ago. He went home to bed after the dinner adjournment. He did so at my request. Secondly, I remained in the chamber until the conclusion of the debate on the National Companies and Securities Commission Bill. About then, 10.20 p.m., I had a brief conversation with the Government Whip, Senator Baume, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Chaney, in the anteroom adjoining the chamber. I asked Senator Baume about the Government’s intentions for the remainder of the evening. I understood him to say that the Government would proceed with the Human Rights Commission Bill for about half an hour that evening. I am not suggesting that he misled me or tried to mislead me, but that was my genuine understanding. In any event, there was no mention by him that the adjournment motion would be negatived. I naturally assumed from this conversation that the Senate would adjourn as scheduled according to the Notice Paper at 1 1 p.m. I listened to the debate in my room until seven minutes to 1 1 p.m. when it became clear that there would be no vote by the time of the scheduled adjournment. On arriving at my motel I heard on the parliamentary radio broadcast that the Government had negatived the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and was proceeding with the Bill. At no time did I receive any notice from the Government that it intended to proceed. I deeply regret my absence in the circumstances of this vote. I apologise to the Senate, but would respectfully ask that in future the Government might pay the Australian Democrats and the Australian Labor Party the courtesy of informing us if the rules and times of sitting are to be changed.
– by leave- Any assertion by Senator Chipp, however gracefully put- I must acknowledge that he did speak very gracefully- that his failure to vote in the Committee of the Whole last night was in any way attributable to me is incorrect The assertions contained in the Press release which was issued today and which the honourable senator read to the Senate contains some inaccuracies. At the time that Senator Chipp said he obtained what he called his understanding, Senator Chaney and I were discussing the evening’s program and whether we were likely to sit beyond 1 1 p.m. I do not recall giving Senator Chipp any understanding that the Senate would rise by 1 1 p.m. Senator Chaney and I were discussing the possibility that the Senate would or could continue beyond the normal adjournment hour. Senator Chaney advises me that he has no recollection of such an understanding having been given. On the contrary, he does recall my advice to him that it would be the Minister in charge of the Bill, Senator Durack, who would finally decide whether we sat on.
Senator Evans advised me today that he recalls telling Senator Chipp at about 10.30 last night in relation to the Human Rights Commission Bill- I am using Senator Evans’ words- ‘I do not think we can assume there will be no votes tonight’. The decision to sit beyond 1 1 p.m. was not finally taken by the Minister until very close to 11 p.m. Whilst there was no anticipation that there could be a close vote, two matters require emphasis. Firstly, one Australian Democrat vote last night- I think Senator Chipp said that there could have been only one Democrat vote because Senator Mason was sickwould not have affected the outcome of the division and, secondly, no honourable senator can properly blame any other honourable senator for his failure to vote in this place when this is occasioned by his going home to bed before the Senate adjourns.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Amendment Bill 1979.
Homeless Persons Assistance Amendment Bill 1979. Crimes (Aircraft) Amendment Bill 1 979.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report on financial assistance granted to each State under the States Grants (Schools Assistance) Act 1 977.
– For the information of honourable senators I present ‘The 1981 Census of Population and Housing’ together with the text of a statement by the Treasurer relating to the report.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a paper entitled Topic Evaluation and Proposed Questions ‘.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the text of a statement by the Treasurer relating to income tax trusts and other arrangements involving dependent children.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 1 1 5 of the Family Law Act 1975 I present the annual report of the Family Law Council 1 979.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 43(5) of the Criminology Research Act 1971 I present the annual report of the Criminology Research Council 1979.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 126R of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act I present the annual report of the Industrial Relations Bureau 1978-79.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 32B of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949 I present the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority 1978-79.
– by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 21 of the Commonwealth River Murray Waters Act 1915 I present the annual report of the River Murray Commission 1 979.
– by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I have not had the advantage of seeing that report, but 1 would like to pass a few comments. The River Murray Commission is very interested in the control of salinity. I had the privilege of attending just recently the opening of the Dartmouth Dam. I was very distressed to hear a State Minister say that arising out of the increased water supply there will be increased irrigation in certain areas of Australia. 1 hope that the River Murray Commission under its powers has a very close look at any extension to irrigation areas in Australia. The Senate Standing Committee on National Resources of which I am a member recently held an inquiry into Australia’s water resources. We were acquainted with some very alarming circumstances in the Riverina and Wakool area of New South Wales. If the Government is to go ahead with further irrigation I can only forecast that we are in for some very severe problems and perhaps will have
State governments calling on the Commonwealth Government to provide massive allocations of money to control salinity. That is all I intend to say at this stage. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the Industries Assistance Commission report on grapes and wine.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the Industries Assistance Commission report on spirits, spirituous beverages, et cetera.
-by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the Industries Assistance Commission report on tin ores and concentrates.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) Pursuant to section 10 of the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Act 1976 I present the Western Australian Local Government Grants Commission report 1979-80 on the distribution of funds under the personal income tax sharing arrangements.
– On behalf of Senator Guilfoyle and pursuant to section 42 of the Health Insurance Commission Act 1973 I present the annual report of the Health Insurance Commission 1977-78.
Motion (by Senator Rae)- by leave- agreed to:
That the Health Insurance Commission annual report for 1977- 78 being some 1 7 months after the close of the period being reported upon- be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations for investigation and report as to the reasons for the delay in its presentation.
– On behalf of Senator Guilfoyle and for the information of honourable senators I present the interim report of the Capital Territory Health Commission 1978- 79.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– On behalf of Senator Guilfoyle and pursuant to section 122 of the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971 I present the annual report of the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation 1978-79.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Department of Home Affairs for 1978-79.
– Pursuant to section 33 (4) of the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Supply Act 1962 I present the annual report of the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority for 1978-79.
– Pursuant to section 38 of the Australia Council Act 1975 I present the annual report of the Australia Council for 1978-79.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Department of Science and the Environment for 1978-79.
– For the information of honourable senators I present agreements with the Kailis Kaohsiung Fishing Company Pty Ltd relating to Taiwanese access to the Australian fishing zone.
– by leave- I move:
If it had not been for certain arrangements I have been able to arrive at with the Government about a specific inquiry into the fishing industry I would have had to say a lot about these agreements, just as I did about the other agreement tabled in the Parliament some weeks ago. I am happy that later on today we are going to have the fishing matter referred to a Senate select committee. That is all I need to say at this stage. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the Parliament House Architectural Competition Second Stage Document. Copies of the document are available for reference in the Parliamentary Library and in the Table Office. Copies of the document will be available to honourable senators upon request.
– On behalf of Senator Chaney and pursuant to section 28 of the Broadcasting and Television Act of 1942 I present the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for 1978-79.
– by leave- I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the first annual report of InterScan Australia Pty Ltd for the year 1978-79.
-I present the report and transcript of evidence from the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources of its inquiry into the adequacy of quarantine and other control measures to protect Australia’s pastoral industries from the introduction and spread of exotic livestock and plant diseases.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- I move:
On behalf of the members of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources, I present the Committee’s report on the adequacy of quarantine and other control measures to protect Australia’s pastoral industries from the introduction and spread of exotic livestock and plant diseases. During the course of its inquiry, the Committee held 1 1 days of public hearings, together with inspections of quarantine facilities in Canberra, Melbourne, Geelong, Darwin, Thursday Island and Cairns. The main submissions were from the State governments and Commonwealth bodies, and from trade, industry and producer groups. The submissions recognised the need to maintain strict quarantine procedures and covered a wide variety of aspects, including administrative arrangements and specific matters in respect of the importation of cattle, sheep, birds, semen, fish, forestry products, rice, honey, dairy products, plants, and cut flowers, and of refugee boats and the uncontrolled movement of people and goods in Torres Strait.
The increase in the scope and spread of air travel and the resultant greater movement of people and goods through trade have exposed Australia’s pastoral industries to an everincreasing risk of the introduction of exotic diseases and pests of livestock and plants. Whilst quarantine has been relatively successful, the advantages of being an island continent no longer exist. Recognition must be given to the changing nature of quarantine, which is now primarily concerned with preventing the entry of agricultural pests and diseases and not human disease, as was the case when the Quarantine Act was introduced in 1 908. Humans are now more important as vectors of animal and plant diseases than as vectors of human diseases. In meeting the new challenges facing quarantine, the Committee considers that steps should be taken to improve the status of the quarantine service and to increase public awareness of, and respect for, quarantine requirements.
The delegated role of the States in undertaking the operational role in respect of plant and animal quarantine has been very successful and should be continued. General quarantine should be incorporated as part of animal and plant quarantine and the operational aspects also should be delegated to the States. There are many aspects of plant and animal quarantine where very little is known about the range of pests and diseases that already exist in Australia. Research is required in these areas. Further attention also needs to be given to the preparation of control and eradication programs that involve veterinarians, police, civil defence organisations, primary producers and others.
The effectiveness of Australia’s quarantine service depends upon its legislative backing. The Quarantine Act is an old Act which has not been updated regularly and there are many deficiencies in the existing legislation. The Committee is particularly concerned that, in respect of animal and plant quarantine, doubts have been expressed about the legal basis for quarantine operations once a certificate of pratique has been issued. Another aspect of the Act that needs clarification is whether adequate powers exist under the Act to ensure that quarantine operations can be undertaken on Aboriginal reserves established under Commonwealth legislation. This is important in respect of monitoring, control and eradication measures in northern Australia. Other major deficiencies stem from the lack of definition of the powers of a quarantine officer and with reference to areas not specifically covered by the Act, such as itinerant yachts, birds, poultry, fish, pathogens and abandoned refugee boats. In order to improve the operational status of quarantine, the Quarantine Act must be amended to give quarantine officers the same powers of search as Customs officers so that quarantine is not seen to be in a position of lesser importance. Various suggestions were put to the Committee concerning the Act, ranging from the drafting of a completely new Act to piecemeal amendment of the existing Act. It was also suggested that the existing Act be supplemented by a new animal and plant import Act. Whilst the Committee can see merit in all of these suggestions, the continuity of quarantine operations must be ensured and the existing Act should be retained and amended as an interim step and the drafting of a new Act reflecting contemporary quarantine requirements should be undertaken as matter of priority.
In recognising the changed nature of quarantine and the increased importance of plant and animal quarantine, a more effective quarantine service providing more thorough quarantine surveillance at airports and seaports could be achieved by integrating quarantine procedures relating to the clearance of overseas passengers, passengers’ baggage, general cargo, containers and waste disposal into the animal and plant quarantine service. The operational aspects of quarantine should continue to be delegated to the State departments of agriculture. The Committee considers that the importance and status of quarantine in the eyes of overseas countries and the general public can best be upgraded by introducing an Australian quarantine service with a separate quarantine check undertaken by quarantine officers incorporated as an integral part of processing Australia’s overseas passenger and cargo arrivals.
The Committee envisages that the quarantine service would process a sample of incoming passengers for a separate quarantine check and make referrals to Customs officers on Customs matters. Customs officers would continue to refer quarantine matters detected in the Customs checks to quarantine officers. This means that twice as many incoming passengers would be checked without slowing the flow of passengers, with half handled by Customs officers for Customs purposes and half handled by quarantine officers for quarantine purposes. Representations should be made by the quarantine service to the Department of Transport for the provision of adequate quarantine facilities at all first ports of entry.
Further importance needs to be given to surveillance in northern Australia and. in particular. Torres Strait. Some aspects of the current surveillance program should be reviewed immediately, particularly the use of untrained observers on surveillance nights, the staggering of flight times and the provision of back-up facilities to respond to sightings. The Torres Strait area should be proclaimed as a quarantine area to preserve the traditional movement guaranteed under the Torres Strait Territorial Boundaries Treaty 1 978 while at the same time restricting the movements of animals and plant material south to mainland Australia.
The Committee is of the opinion that the location of quarantine within the Commonwealth administrative arrangements is not as important as ensuring that the status of the quarantine service is improved and that an integrated quarantine service is achieved. Nevertheless, in looking to the future the Committee considers that an Australian quarantine service should be located within the Commonwealth department that has responsibility for agricultural matters. The Committee recommends that an Australian agricultural health service be established as an independent unit within the Department of Primary Industry and have transferred to it the existing plant, animal and general quarantine divisions of the Department of Health and the Bureau of Animal Health and be supplemented by a new plant health or plant protection service. The Department of Health would retain responsibility for policy advice and treatment in relation to exotic human diseases and would provide advice to the quarantine service on the health documentation requirements of international travellers to be administered by that service.
The Committee has been concerned with many aspects of the current administrative arrangements and considers that many of the existing problems stem from the lack of attention and initiative paid to quarantine matters in the past by the Department of Health. The recently improved performance by the Department of Health has been noted but on balance the Committee considers that the future interests of quarantine will be best served by transferring quarantine from the control of the Department of Health to the Department of Primary Industry. Irrespective of where quarantine is located there are a number of aspects which need to be improved. The policy-making role can be strengthened so that policy formulation and review needs to be clearly seen as the responsibility of the quarantine service. The policy-making role should incorporate an input from industry groups and associations and the chief quarantine officers’ conference should be given a formal basis and developed to provide access to industry groups and organisations.
At present Australia is unable to import animals and birds from many areas of the world because there are no facilities available to enable safe importation. This situation will continue until such time as the new on-shore and off-shore quarantine stations are completed and become operational. The off-shore quarantine station at Cocos Island will not become fully effective until the new Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation national animal health laboratory at Geelong is completed. The Committee recommends that completion of this project receive priority. Representations were made to the Committee that existing quarantine arrangements are unnecessarily harsh in respect of both animal and plant material for research purposes. The Committee recommends that further investigations be undertaken into extending the licensing of laboratory facilities as quarantine premises and the relationship and access of research establishments to the high security facilities of the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory.
Although the immediate impact of plant pests and diseases is usually not as dramatic as in the case with animal diseases, plant pests and diseases have long-term significance as they reduce crop yields, add to costs of production and involve long-term control and eradication implications. The Committee considers that research on the wide range of plant sciences needs to be encouraged and increased. The Committee endorses the need for public education in plant quarantine matters to emphasise the reasons for Australia’s strict plant quarantine laws. We suggest that publicity material be distributed to all international travellers and intending migrants. There is a need for the systematic survey and listing of weed species present in Australia to be given increased emphasis and that the noxious weed list used by Customs officers and prepared by plant quarantine be updated at regular intervals. Plant quarantine’s role should also be extended to provide some involvement in coordinating insect monitoring and research programs. There should also be an involvement in co-ordinating entomological research aimed at compiling reference collections of potential endemic and exotic pests.
A large number of submissions were received in respect of the import of cut flowers. The Committee accepts the present quarantine view that cut flowers pose a low quarantine risk but is nevertheless very concerned at the undetermined degree of risk from hitch-hiking organisms. We suggest that a research project be undertaken over a year involving both search and dissection of representative samples from all sources of supply. This will not only result in establishing the risk involved but also give an indication of those countries which present a risk and the effectiveness of pre-export treatment.
The Committee is satisfied that the threats posed by exotic animal diseases are clearly understood and, generally, adequately guarded against. Specific anxieties with regard to the onshore and off-shore quarantine facilities, Torres Strait and port of entry inspection have been referred to elsewhere. The Committee considers that contingency plans for control and eradication of exotic disease should be discussed publicly to allow full debate, education and involvement of all persons in the community affected by such plans. The Committee observed that with regard to the import of aquarium fish, communication between industry groups and the various government bodies involved in producing a list of permitted and prohibited species has been very poor. The Committee considers that the reduction in the number of fish species approved for importation cannot be justified on quarantine grounds and recommends that further investigations be undertaken to establish the environmental issues involved. The Department of Science and the Environment should be responsible for producing and maintaining a list of permitted and prohibited fish species for use by the Bureau of Customs and the quarantine service.
I wish to thank members of the Committee for their assistance and co-operation during the conduct of the inquiry and to thank all the State governments, Commonwealth bodies and all the individuals, firms and organisations which made submissions and assisted the Committee in other ways. I wish also to record my Committee’s appreciation for the outstanding contribution made by our secretariat, Charles Edwards, Derek Abbott and Andrew Snedden. This report reflects the views of all members of the Committee and many meetings were held before the final draft was agreed upon, but a major reference such as this would be an impossible one to undertake in a meaningful way without a first class secretariat, which we are fortunate to have. I urge the Senate to recognise the important role played by the standing committee secretariat and to afford it as much support as possible.
I would like finally to comment on two important matters in relation to the production of this report by the Australian Government Publishing
Service. The first matter involves the priority accorded to Senate committee reports by AGPS. I would suggest that unless a priority is requested by the President all committee reports be accorded equal status by AGPS and processed in the order in which final manuscripts are received.
Secondly, I wish to comment on changes made to the approved Committee manuscript by the editing and design sections of AGPS. When a report is adopted by a committee it should not then be altered without the committee’s approval. With regard to this report certain specific instructions were ignored and changes made after the final proofs were returned to AGPS, an example being the alteration of the terms of reference in the title page. The use of bold type gives an incorrect emphasis to the Committee’s inquiry, which was into ‘the adequacy of quarantine and other control measures’. The recent disease outbreak in Tasmania clearly illustrates the importance of both aspects of the inquiry.
– I wish to speak briefly in support of the motion moved by Senator Thomas in respect of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. The reference referred to by Senator Thomas is of particular interest to me not only because I was a member of the Committee but also because the adequacy of quarantine and other control measures to protect Australia ‘s pastoral industries refers particularly to the Northern Territory. Might I just comment firstly on those aspects of particular interest to the Northern Territory and then make one or two other general comments? The report refers to surveillance. The need for surveillance has been established not only by this report but also by other recommendations to government. The report commented on a couple of aspects of surveillance. The first was the weakness of the timing of flights so that they came to the same spot at the same time each day. It did not take much to suggest that people who wanted to avoid surveillance would simply have to avoid being in that location at that time.
Attention was drawn also in the report to the value of Aboriginal people as observers. I am particularly happy to see that, as well over 12 months ago I made the suggestion that Aboriginal people might be used for that purpose. The report draws attention to the weakness in using non-trained persons; now we have suggested that Aboriginal people might be used. I extend that comment and reiterate the suggestion I made previously that observers might be placed, shall we say, in situ- in other words, along the coast- and might be equipped with small radio sets so that they could conduct surveillance in conjunction with aircraft. During the inquiry attention was drawn also to the strange situation of surveillance being conducted by aircraft controlled by a foreign company or even a foreign country. Comment has been made about that. Mention was made in the report also to feral animals, particularly pigs. The report stressed the need for research to assist the eradication of those feral animals. I urge the Government to look very closely at that recommendation.
I digress for just a moment to outline a simple situation in relation to feral pigs which pertains in the north of Queensland and in the Northern Territory. We know that the green turtle eats sea wasps. As a result of inquiries we found that the feral pigs eat the green turtle eggs; therefore, fewer green turtles are produced; therefore, at the present time we have larger numbers of sea wasps around the coast than we had previously and those numbers will increase. That is just one illustration of the ecology being disturbed. I refer honourable senators to page vii of the reportthe first page of the summary- which includes the following statement:
Diseases of economic importance to Australia’s pastoral industries need not be exotic diseases which cause death and destruction. Diseases which reduce output, increase costs and restrict access to markets are becoming more significant as competition in world markets increases. Many such diseases are already endemic in Australia and involve control and /or eradication measures at the State level. There should be greater involvement of the Commonwealth in pursuing nation-wide control and eradication programs, including control of feral animals, as an important component of an overall approach to quarantine.
While the Committee was conducting hearings in Darwin, attention was drawn to the oriental fruit fly and the problems created by that pest. I draw the Government’s attention to the appropriate recommendation in the report. While we were in Darwin we looked also at the abandoned refugee boats. Whilst some good work has been done by people in the Northern Territory in getting rid of those boats, by selling them and other means, they were a problem and they could be again. Perhaps the coming of the report should draw attention to something which was a great cost to the Australian taxpayer, as we have no way of making a claim against the owners of the boats. It is quite clear that the Government should have a firm policy on the matter of the control of the boats and on how pests on them should be controlled. The report deals with and Senator Thomas referred to the legality of quarantine measures taken on Aboriginal reserves. I make the point that no suggestion is implied in the report, and I am sure it was not intended to be implied by Senator Thomas or others, that there is a greater hazard on Aboriginal reserves, in Aboriginal communities and on Aboriginal pastoral properties than there is in other areas. There is simply a need for the legislation to be clarified.
Matters which were not mentioned specifically in the report but which grew out of the report and are of interest to the Northern Territory include the inspection of Taiwanese fishing vessels which have been licenced to operate in the waters off Australia. I asked a question about the staff available to do two things: Firstly, to make the initial inspection of these vessels; secondly to carry out an on-going inspection. I have not had a reply on that, but I hope the Government will see the need for more staff to ensure that the normal duties of the quarantine officers are not affected. The second point deals with the inspection of cruise vessels or the people from cruise vessels in Darwin. While we were in Darwin attention was drawn to the fact that when a large group of people come in there are no facilities for the inspections to be carried out. We have the totally unsatisfactory situation of the people being loaded into buses and taken off to one of the club rooms in town to be examined. It is fairly obvious that this is an unsatisfactory arrangement.
I stress, as Senator Thomas has done, the need for research co-ordination. The Committee has indicated in the report that it sees this as a role for plant quarantine. That research could well be followed by publication of reference collections of pests. There is also a need for the production of a manual of fish types. Attention has been drawn to this in the report. One other aspect which concerned us slightly is the differing standards between port A and port B. The Committee expressed concern about this and it is quite obvious that some people in the industry referred to- I do not want to be too specific about it- took advantage of this differing standard. We want to ensure that in future there will be no differing standards. I note with pride- perhaps I can be a little parochial- that the report states on the last page:
To facilitate the absorption of General Quarantine into Animal and Plant Quarantine the Committee recommends that a unified quarantine inspection service- similar to the new Northern Territory Quarantine Service- be set up in each State.
I commend the Northern Territory Government for that and take some pride in the fact that it is seen as an example which might be followed. I join with the Chairman in commending the members of the secretariat for their dedication and for the assistance that they gave in the production of the report. I trust the Government will follow the advice given by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), namely, that the appropriate Minister will react to this document within six months, and I certainly hope that there will be a reaction in well under that time. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- I table further additional information received by Senate Estimates Committee A and seek leave for it to be incorporated in the Hansard record of the Committee’s proceedings.
-by leave- The Joint Committee has decided on two new references for investigation. The first new reference is: . . to monitor the political, economic and strategic situation in the Middle East and peripheral countries, and report on any significant events and their possible effects on Australia.
The Middle East is a focal point of conflict of interests, with a potential for war and for upsetting the balance between the great powers. The region holds the major portion of the world ‘s oil reserves that fuel the industries of Western industrial countries and Japan- Australia’s major trading partner. The Arab oil states are also a major source of new investment in the Western world. That oil wealth is an additional means of diplomatic pressure and economic influence.
The current situation in Iran is a particular source of tension. The Middle East situation, which is always fragile, makes special demands on the United States’ diplomatic, military aid and financial resources. Therefore, Australia’s strategic environment is influenced to Australia ‘s disadvantage by any deterioration in the Middle East, with its uncertain effects on superpower competition in many areas of the world. The consequences of further serious conflict in the Middle East are almost unthinkable in their potential magnitude. The other new reference is: the changing power structure in Indo-China since 1975 and its effects on Australia and the region.
The Indo-China region is a major area of concern at the moment in that the situation may lead to further conflict between China and Vietnam and in turn may further involve the Soviet Union in this area. The repercussions of such an eventuality could be immense for the region and the world. The changing power structure in IndoChina, and more recently serious conflict in Kampuchea, has been accompanied by an appalling refugee situation. This has made special demands on neighbouring states and has at last attracted world-wide attention for the plight of the refugees.
Both those new references cover regions of the world which are delicately poised and have seen a rapid change in events in the past few years. With those references the Joint Committee, and through it the Parliament, will be kept abreast of changes in those volatile areas, and how those changes may affect Australia. The Joint Committee is continuing with its work on two other references on southern Africa and on defence. As a matter of fact, on Thursday a report entitled Australian Defence Procurement’ will be tabled.
-by leave- I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Gabon and the Sudan in June- July 1979 and seek leave to make a brief statement.
– The delegation visited five Commonwealth countries, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria, French speaking Gabon and the Sudan in a period of 26 days. The itinerary was particularly crowded. The delegation stayed in 1 7 different hotels and made 1 5 international flights. As well, it undertook ground travel internally within a number of these countries. This travel took place in conditions which ranged from frost in Zambia to 43 degrees centigrade in the Sudan. I think the itinerary was probably too strenuous. Because a parliamentary delegation had not been in Africa for 1 1 years the temptation to crowd the itinerary was something that none of the members of the delegation foresaw. One of the problems was the additional internal travel that took place in a number of the countries visited. The delegation made a number of recommendations concerning Australia’s representation in Africa. On page 84 of its report it states:
The delegation believes that Australia should be increasing its representation in non-Commonwealth Africa and Sudan is a case in point. In respect of Gabon, the other nonCommonwealth country visited the delegation recommends that, for the time being at least, the Australian High Commissioner in Lagos should also be accredited to Gabon. (The delegation recognises that there may well be more important French African countries, such as Senegal or the Ivory Coast where an Australian Embassy could be established in due course.)
The delegation further recommends that in view of the importance Zambia and its Leader are assuming in the southern African question as a whole, Australia’s representation should be visible and resident in Lusaka.
Nigeria clearly regretted the closure of Australia’s Trade Office in Lagos. It appreciated the reasons for it at the time but it would welcome a review of the decision. Nigeria also made a particular point of the expertise Australia has in areas of agriculture relevant to Nigeria ‘s planned development with a view to increasing the number of Nigerian students receiving training in Australia. The delegation recommends a review of the facilities Australia has with a view to expanding development assistance in this area, fitting in, as it does, into the technology transfer that Nigerians themselves see to be so important today.
The delegation made a recommendation about direct air links to Africa. On page 86 of its report it states:
The delegation believes that the opening of a direct air route to East Africa would be the single most important stimulus for the development of relations with these countries overall. A flight to London via Nairobi, for example, would open up East Africa’s game parks to Australian tourists. Qantas currently does not have landing rights to Nairobi, the most obvious point for a stop. Negotiations with a number of other countries would be involved. Nevertheless the delegation believes that the necessary negotiations should begin however difficult they might prove to be. To consider re-opening a service to Johannesberg and to ignore the tourist potentialities of ‘Black Africa’ would be inconsistent with our current African policy and do little to encourage more Australians to visit, enjoy and appreciate the African Continent.
It is too difficult for Australian tourists to get to Africa at the moment. The experience of this delegation was an example. The main bulk of the delegation had to travel to Nairobi via London. Senator Knight and myself, who left 24 hours later, had to go via Bombay, Aden and Addis Ababa over a period of two and a half days. Obviously Australian tourists would not want to travel the same route. The delegation believes that a direct air link by Qantas Airways Ltd to London through Nairobi would be very worthwhile. Qantas already has air links with Air Zambia. A number of Qantas pilots fly for that airline company and Qantas is training a number of the Air Zambian ground staff in Australia at the moment.
The delegation looked at Australian aid and dealt with it in detail in the report. We looked at a water supply scheme project in Kenya that is costing us $3.6m over three years, at a ground water scheme project in Tanzania and at an agricultural research institute in Nigeria. The delegation recommends an extension of development assistance in Africa. We realise that
Australia will never be a large aid donor in Africa; but if we look at the example of what we are doing in Tanzania, where only five Australians are involved, consider the benefits and the low cost, I think all honourable senators would agree that that is the sort of development assistance that we should support.
The timing of the visit was important because it was prior to the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government at Lusaka. It is probably because of this that we had access to a number of heads of State, including President Nyerere in Tanzania, General Obasanio in Nigeria and President Bongo in the Gabon, and officials at high levels in the other countries that I mentioned previously. The delegation kept the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) in touch with events as we saw them in Africa. All members of the delegation agreed on the advice we gave and on the position that the Government adopted at the Lusaka conference.
There are a number of important issues mentioned in the report that I think the Senate ought to debate: The situation in Uganda today; the role of the Tanzanian army in Uganda; the elections that have just taken place in Kenya and in Nigeria; the role of the Soviet Union in Africa; and the situation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia today. I hope that the Government will bring down a statement covering the southern African question and the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian question in the near future. Perhaps also we could debate this report at an early date when the Parliament resumes. I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I seek leave to make a statement concerning the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1972.
-Many honourable senators will be aware of the circumstances that led to the making of the report to which I have just referred. But in view of the time that has passed since the matter first arose I shall outline briefly the history of what has occurred. The Evidence Ordinance 1971 of the Australian Capital Territory was made on 18 February 1971 to introduce new evidence law in the Territory replacing the Evidence Act 1898 of New South Wales which until then applied. The Ordinance covered a wide range of matters concerning evidence in civil and criminal proceedings.
Following a debate in the Senate on 1 9 August 1971 the Ordinance was disallowed, the view being taken that legislation of such substance ought to have been made by Act and not by ordinance. One effect of disallowance was that the Territory was left without evidence laws for criminal trials. The reasons for this result are set out in the report. The situation was remedied for the time being by the passing of the Australian Capital Territory Evidence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1971 which preserves the provisions of the disallowed Ordinance in force. On 24 February 1972 the then Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, introduced the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1972 which, with some significant exceptions, is very similar to the Ordinance. That Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in April 1972. The Committee presented its report to the Senate in November 1977.
The Committee’s recommendations are in three parts. First the Committee recommends that a review of the whole of the law of evidence be undertaken by the Law Reform Commission with a view to producing a wholly comprehensive code of evidence for use in Federal and Territory courts and tribunals. On 16 January 1978 I wrote to the Committee’s Chairman, Senator Missen, informing him that I accepted the view that a review of the law of evidence was a matter appropriate for reference to the Law Reform Commission and I would consider whether a reference could be made.
After careful consideration of the terms of reference I referred the matter to the Law Reform Commission on 18 July 1979. The reference requires the Commission to review the law of evidence applicable in proceedings in Federal and Territory courts with a view to producing a wholly comprehensive law of evidence based on concepts appropriate to current conditions and anticipated requirements. The Commission is to report to me whether there should be uniformity, and if so to what extent, in the laws of evidence used in Federal and Territory courts and the appropriate legislative means of reforming those laws and of allowing for future change in individual jurisdictions should this be necessary.
The terms of reference draw the Commission’s attention to the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee’s report. They do not require the Commission to produce a code of evidence. Such a requirement would have been too restrictive. But they do not prevent the Commission’s doing so. The reference is confined to courts. Tribunals under Federal and Territory laws are not normally, as a matter of policy, required to observe the strict rules of evidence. Their procedure is usually left within their discretion.
Secondly, the Committee recommends that the 1 972 Bill should be enacted with a number of changes suggested by the Committee. Having decided in principle to refer the law of evidence to the Law Reform Commission, I felt that enactment of the Bill would be inappropriate. A good deal of time would have been taken up in drafting the revised Bill, some of the revisions would have reverted to the provisions of the disallowed Ordinance which are already in force and, to a certain extent, enactment of the Bill would preempt the work of the Commission. Although the present position is not satisfactory, I think it better to await the Commission’s report before any substantial legislation is made. The Commission’s terms of reference do not contain a deadline but I have been assured by the Chairman, Mr Justice Kirby, that the Commission will endeavour to produce the report without delay within the availability of Commissioners, staff and resources.
Thirdly, the Committee suggested certain guidelines to be applied in considering whether legislation for the Territories should be made by Act or by ordinance. This is a question of considerable importance for the making of Territory legislation. In my letter to Senator Missen I informed him that I intended, in consultation with other interested Ministers, to seek the approval of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) for the establishment of an interdepartmental committee to consider the recommendations. The interdepartmental committee was established. It has met and it is expected to report to Cabinet shortly, the report being already substantially drafted.
– by leave- As the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, I welcome the response that the Government has made to its report on this subject. This whole procedure has occupied quite a long time. The controversy over the matter really occurred in this Parliament in 1971. Although it was referred to my Committee in 1972, the Committee discovered when it was reconstituted in 1 976 that no submissions had been made on the subject and that very little progress had been made. Subsequently, the matter was taken up again and the report submitted to the Senate in November 1977. The response of the Government has taken well beyond the accepted six months period. Indeed, some two years have elapsed. However, it is of value that we can now see from the statement of the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) that positive action is now being taken. This could result in effective measures being taken at some reasonably early date concerning the law of evidence of the various Territories.
The fact that the Government has accepted the recommendation of the Committee and has referred the matter of evidence laws to the Law Reform Commission is highly satisfactory. The Commission is in a position to take up the question of uniform laws of evidence for the various Federal and Territory courts. The resulting comprehensive laws of evidence would incorporate the various changes which have been found necessary in recent years,
I understand the decision made by the Attorney-General that in the meanwhile Parliament should not re-enact the Bill. The Committee ‘s report went to some length in discussing the various reforms of the laws of evidence that it felt ought to be re-enacted in a new Bill but, obviously, this will be subject to embellishment and change by the work of the Law Reform Commission. Obviously, it is not desirable that too frequently great changes should be made in the laws of evidence. Rather, we should settle on uniform laws. Mr Justice Kirby expects to be able to produce a report with reasonable speed and that would seem to cover the situation.
We are pleased also to see that the question of setting down guidelines to determine whether legislatibn for the Territories should be made by Act or ordinance is to be further considered. The Committee put forward its views concerning the circumstances in which matters should be dealt with by laws of this Parliament or by ordinance. Apparently we need not fear that the interdepartmental committee will consider the subject at length and cause delay. An indication has been given that it will report to Cabinet shortly. That being so, we could expect a further report to be made to the Parliament so that it would be possible to resolve the question as to when, and in what circumstances we need an Act of Parliament or an ordinance.
In general, may 1 say on behalf of the Committee that we thank the Attorney-General and the Government for their response. We believe that the day is coming closer when the laws of evidence of this country affecting Federal courts can be rendered uniform. In that process the Federal Government can lead the way and demonstrate that it has caught up with the times, instead of lagging behind as it is at present. In those circumstances, and with the undertakings that have been given by the Government, I welcome the Attorney-General ‘s statement.
– I seek leave to make a statement on the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Trade and Commerce entitled ‘Tax and the Wine and Grape Industries’ and to have the text of the statement incorporated in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
The recommendations of the Committee have had wide circulation in the industry, the Parliament, Government departments and the community at large. There is continuing interest in taxation and other matters affecting wine producers and grape growers and it is appropriate for the Government to make known its views on the report. The terms of reference given to the Committee were that it should examine ‘The effects on the winemaking and grapegrowing industries of variations in the tax structure’. However, the Committee also addressed itself to a number of other related aspects including the restructuring of industry organisations, assistance to the Australian brandy industry and the Riverland region of South Australia, the grape surplus, promotion, quality control and the alcoholic content of wine. The Committee’s report contains 27 recommendations; 26 are brought together in pages 4 to 6 of the report and a further one appears on page 103. The first nine recommendations relate to Commonwealth responsibilities such as taxation, assistance to the brandy industry, accuracy of labelling of brandy and certification of French brandy. The remaining recommendations concern mainly State or industry responsibilities.
The Government sees merit in most of the Committee’s recommendations. However, it is unable to accept its first recommendation by which a commitment is sought that no excises or sales taxes be imposed before the transition period for repayment of the deferred tax arising from the repeal of section 3 lA of the Income Tax Assessment Act has ended for most of the industry. Questions as to whether taxes should be imposed on the wine industry are matters which should be decided in the Budget context from time to time. In the last Budget, of course, no tax was imposed on wine; and honourable senators will know that following its review of the Industries Assistance Commission’s report on grapes and wine it was decided not to vary the customs duties that apply to wine, grape must and fresh and dried grapes. It will also be known that following its consideration of the IAC report on spirits, spirituous beverages, et cetera, the Government decided to reduce the excise duty of brandy by $2.75 to $ 16.00 per litre of alcohol.
In announcing its decision on the IAC report dealing with potable spirits, the Government pointed to the commitment that exists under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for Australia to maintain the margin between customs and excise duties for brandy at no more than 19c per litre of alcohol. Given this commitment, the Government is thus unable to adopt the seventh recommendation of the Committee, which called for the margin to be increased from 1 9c to 54c per litre of alcohol. The Government endorses the remaining recommendations of the Committee that deal with taxation. The other two recommendations bearing mainly on Commonwealth responsibilities deal with accuracy of description of contents of brandy and certification of French brandy. Accuracy of labelling of brandy is a matter that is kept under continual review by departments and the Australian Wine Board. With respect to imports of French bulk brandy, the Committee proposed that a particular French taxation gathering organisation be the certifying authority. The Department of Business and Consumer Affairs advises that that organisation is already the certifying authority.
With regard to the wide range of matters raised by the Committee which are primarily the responsibility of the States and industry, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) will be contacting State governments and industry organisations on those matters which warrant their attention, bearing in mind the developments which have occurred since the report was tabled in the Senate. A matter of widespread interest to the industry is the recommendation of the Committee that an organisation combining the Australian Wine Board, the Australian Wine and Brandy Producers Association Incorporated and the Federal Grapegrowers Council of
Australia should be formed. The form of the institutional framework of the industry has recently been considered by the main organisations and the consensus is that there is a continued need for a statutory organisation. In view of this the Government has been reviewing the structure and operations of the Australian Wine Board and hopes soon to be in a position to announce the results of that review.
– by leave- I move:
I would like to speak briefly to the motion. I refer particularly to that part of the statement which reads:
The Government sees merit in most of the Committee’s recommendations. However, it is unable to accept its first recommendation by which a commitment is sought that no excises or sales taxes be imposed before the transition period for repayment of the deferred tax arising from the repeal of section 3 lA of the Income Tax Assessment Act has ended for most of the industry. Questions as to whether taxes should be imposed on the wine industry are matters which should be decided in the Budget context from time to time.
I wish to make two points which arise from that statement. Firstly, although it might be stating a quite defensible position to state that matters of taxation should be decided in the Budget context from time to time, that principle, if it is a principle of the Government, did not deter the former Minister for Primary Industry from giving last December an unequivocal guarantee to the wine growers in the Riverland region that no tax would be imposed on wine. That must lead one to the conclusion that the Government speaks with at least two tongues on this matter. Perhaps after today’s experience one should question whether it speaks at all. Secondly, there is quite clearly in that statement of Government policy an implicit warning that a tax could be imposed on wine in any future Budget, including next year’s. The statement reads further:
In announcing its decision on the IAC report dealing with potable spirits, the Government pointed to the commitment that exists under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for Australia to maintain the margin between customs and excise duties for brandy at no more than 1 9c per litre of alcohol. Given this commitment, the Government is thus unable to adopt the seventh recommendation of the Committee, which called for the margin to be increased from 19c to 54c per litre of alcohol.
As a member of the Committee, I recall very clearly that the reason for the Committee’s making that recommendation was that at present there is a disparity between the level of purely protective duty which applies to brandy imports and that which applies to whisky imports. It seemed to the Committee that there could be no rational justification for applying a different level of purely protective duty to brandy and whisky. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the protective duty component of the tax on imported brandy be lifted to that on whisky- 54c per litre of alcohol. I accept the Government’s statement that such a change would have required the variation of an agreement already entered into under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Nevertheless, there remains an anomaly - albeit perhaps fairly insignificant- in regard to the level of protective duties which apply to imported brandy and whisky respectively.
In that context, I wish to clear up another point concerning protection. The Government did not misrepresent the situation, but some sections of the agricultural Press have misunderstood its decision, as announced on 25 October, to reduce the excise on brandy by 275c per litre of alcohol.
The Government stated:
An equivalent reduction would be made on the rate of customs duty on brandy -
So the tax reduction for imported and domestically distilled brandy would be the same. This was misunderstood by some sections of the media as a decision which increased the protection for Australian brandy. In fact, it was a decision which reduced the level of tax applying equally to Australian produced and imported brandy. I quote from the same statement by Mr Nixon on 25 October:
In the next paragraph he refers to an IAC recommendation that the assistance should be:
In the following paragraph he said:
I mention these points to make it quite clear that the changes to the level of excise applying to brandy in Australia do not differentiate in any way between domestic and imported brandy although this has been misunderstood in some quarters. Finally, I turn to paragraph 3 on page 2 of the Minister’s statement. He says:
The Government endorses the remaining recommendations of the Committee that deal with taxation.
One of those recommendations was that section 3lA should not be reinstated. So that definitive statement of Government intent or the promise given by the then caretaker Treasurer, Mr Lynch- I think that would have been his title- in 1975 to the grape growers in South Australia that section 31A would be restored has finally been definitively buried or repudiated by the Government.
I wish to speak briefly to the motion that the Senate take note of the paper. I refer to page 2 of the Minister’s statement which states:
However, it is unable to accept its first recommendation -
He is talking about the inquiry by the Committee-
By which a commitment is sought that no excises or sales taxes be imposed before the transition period for repayment of the deferred tax arising from the repeal of section 3 1a of the Income Tax Assessment Act has ended for most of the industry.
Senator Walsh has mentioned briefly the promise given by Mr Lynch prior to the 1975 election at a dinner given by the wine and grape growers in the Barossa Valley. I have a copy of that promise in my office. I think it was also referred to by people who gave evidence to this Industries Assistance Commission inquiry which I attended in Adelaide. Mr Lynch had made the promise that if the Liberal and National Country parties were returned to office, one of their first actions would be to restore section 31A to the Income Tax Assessment Act. Of course, we all know now that that promise was never honoured. During the election campaign great play was made about that promise and the Labor Party was severely criticised for repealing that section of the Income Tax Assessment Act. At that time no doubt many votes were won because of that promise in the Riverland and the Barossa Valley.
We now have the Minister’s statement that the Government cannot agree to the recommendation by the Committee until such time as section 31A of the Act is repealed, thus affecting most of the industry. As I have said, that is one of the promises that has not been carried out. Another point he mentioned in his statement is that:
Questions as to whether taxes should be imposed on the wine industry are matters which should be decided in the Budget context from time to time.
Mr President, you and I and many other people who have a great interest in the welfare of wine grape growers, know that the Gorton Government imposed the 50c a gallon excise on wine. It was due only to very strong pressures from people in the industry, supported by the Labor Opposition, that the Government of the day saw fit to halve that excise. When Mr Whitlam was elected to office in 1972 one of the first things that he did was to honour Labor’s promise that he would abolish the wine excise. This was one of our first actions on assuming office. We thought then that the wine grape industry would be able to steadily get back onto its feet. But in the last Budget handed down in this Parliament we found that the Government of the day, which is still in office, saw fit to levy a brandy excise of the magnitude of 83 per cent which dealt another crippling blow to the wine grape growers. I refer to the Minister’s statement where he says:
It will also be known that following its consideration of the IAC report on Spirits, Spirituous Beverages, etc the Government decided to reduce the excise duty on brandy by $2.75 to $ 1 6.00 per litre of alcohol.
I recall that when this announcement was made, the newspapers carried headlines to the effect that the Government had made a magnificent gesture to the industry. All the Government did was to remove a very small percentage of the excise which was imposed on the industry in the last Budget. A lengthy debate took place in this Parliament and I, as a member of the Opposition, was responsible for moving an amendment to leave the brandy excise at its pre-Budget level. The Government refused to accept that amendment and the brandy excise of 83 per cent was imposed. Since the industry has had time to analyse the reduction of $2.75 it has realisedone has only to read the Press, particularly in the Riverland to know this-that the Government has not given it any great assistance. The excise still remains at $16 a litre which is a very large impost.
The surplus of wine grapes has been a matter of great concern to the previous South Australian Government which came to the assistance of the growers on many occasions. In one sense the terrible storm that went through the wine grape areas a week ago may have some effect on reducing the large surplus in the coming harvest. No doubt, in one respect that will be a relief to the Government of South Australia as it will not have to fund another surplus harvest. On the other hand, it now has to come to the financial assistance of the grape growers, and rightly so, and try to restore their livelihood in many cases. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
-by leave- I welcome the Government’s action in this respect. The industry has suffered over the years as a result of successive government action, particularly when the Labor Government was in power. It imposed tremendous penalties on the industry. I believe that this measure will considerably help the industry. However, I issue a warning that it will have to be very careful about new plantings. I think that Senator McLaren mentioned the dangers of increasing irrigation areas in New South Wales particularly as South Australia depends so much on the River Murray for its water supply. It is also important that the industry, having regard to this concession, does not encourage an increase in plantings to any great extent.
Also I have been concerned about discounting in the retail area of the industry. This presents problems which will also have to be watched by the industry. However, I welcome this statement. The Government has recognised the industry’s problems to a degree and I support the action that it has taken.
Discharge of Order of the Day
Motion (by Senator McLaren)- by leaveagreed to:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 1 1 5, relating to a proposed reference to the Standing Committee on National Resources, be discharged from the Notice Paper.
Motion (by Senator McLaren)- by leaveagreed to:
That the following matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Trade and Commerce: The Commonwealth’s responsibility for the development of the Australian fishing industry following the declaration of 200 mile off-shore sovereignty.
– by leave- I give notice that on the next day of sitting Senator Carrick will move:
Thursday, 22 November- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 2.15 to 6 p.m.; 8 to 1 1 p.m.
Friday, 23 November- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 2.15 to 6 p.m.; 8 to 1 1 p.m.
Debate resumed from 6 November, on motion by Senator Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I speak quite briefly on the first reading of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1979-80 to express my dissatisfaction or to protest at the Government ‘s intention to deal with the rest of the business before the Senate rises for the summer recess. Today 37 Bills are on the Senate Notice Paper. A number- I am not sure how many- of further Bills will be transmitted from the House of Representatives before the end of this session. Twelve Bills were passed yesterday. It is the Government’s intention, as conveyed to the Opposition, that something like 50 Bills will be pushed through the Senate in one week. That number of Bills exceeds the total number dealt with by the Senate in the preceding, I think, 1 1 weeks of this session. Moreover, among the 50 Bills which the Government intends to push through the Senate this week, is the Wheat Marketing Bill and its associated Bills. This legislation has been the subject of prolonged discussion, debate and a fair amount of controversy outside the Parliament. It is quite unacceptable that the Government should be pushing Bills of that nature into the Parliament so late in the session. This legislation, after all, only comes up every five years and yet the Government is proposing to deal with it in the peremptory manner I have mentioned. Also the vital Appropriation Bills are included in those 50 Bills, which the Government intends to ram through before the end of the week. The Senate is supposed to have a responsibility for exercising some scrutiny over the expenditure of something over $8m which is proposed in these Bills.
– It is $8 billion.
– I am sorry, I meant $8 billion. I wish to raise at least five matters in the Committee stages of these Appropriation Bills in a genuine search for information on matters, pertaining to the expenditure of money, which have not been made entirely clear by the Government. I do not know how long it will take to clear the matter up, but I estimate it will take 30 minutes at the very minimum for all of those matters to be dealt with. I know that a number of honourable senators on the Opposition side and, quite conceivably, on the Government side, would like to have further clarification of some of this proposed expenditure. I fear that if we are given the opportunity to do that, other important Bills, such as the wheat marketing legislation, will be pushed through, perhaps even, guillotined, on Friday.
The supreme irony of all this is that the Government has proposed to deal with the business in this way and many honourable senators who support the Government in a different context have the audacity to extol the virtue of ‘he Senate as an alleged House of review. It must be an extremely efficient House of review if honourable senators think it can adequately deal with that number of Bills of that importance in the time which the Government proposes to allot. It may have been excusable if it were a month or even three weeks later. If honourable senators look back over the last 10 years as I have done, at a period which covers both Labor and nonLabor governments- with the exception of last year when the Government introduced this practice of lifting the Senate very early, well before the end of November- they will see that in all of the other years, excepting years when elections were held, the Senate sat until at least 10 December. In 1 97 1 , under what was by that time the McMahon Government, it was 10 December; under the Whitlam Government in 1973 it was 13 December; again under a Labor Government in 1 974 the Senate sat until 1 1 December; in 1976, which was the first year of the present Government, the Senate sat until 10 December. Of course, 1977 was an election year. In 1978 the Government lifted the Senate on 24 November.
The Government intends to repeat that practice this year. I think we are entitled to some explanation and justification from the Government, or at least an attempt at justification, for the action it proposes to take in lifting the Senate at least two weeks earlier than in the past. It has been lifted under comparable circumstances but in so doing, of course, it is required that this amount of largely quite important legislation be dealt with in the very short time which is available. One can see that given the present political and even the present legal position of a number of Ministers, the Government has a vested interest in closing the Parliament down as soon as possible so that the actions of numerous Ministers of the Government can escape parliamentary scrutiny. It is not supposed to be the responsibility of the Senate to collaborate in that sort of exercise.
I have a personal interest in the proposed program in that last week I was granted leave to move the first reading of a Bill pertaining to the opportunity for Aboriginal people in Western Australia to enrol for State elections. The Opposition was given, not a promise, but an assurance by the Government that it would endeavour, before this session ended, at least to allow the second reading speech for that Bill to be delivered and possibly even the entire second reading debate. Under the circumstances, I submit that the
Government ought to allow the entire second reading debate of that Bill, or allow time for the entire second reading debate of that Bill to be finalised, and for a decision to be made on it, even if that means that the Senate sits next week. It would be no great sacrifice to do that. I submit that the Senate has a duty to sit next week if it has important legislation to deal with. If the Government does not comply with the request to finalise the second reading debate of that Bill before it lifts the Senate, then it will have given both the Opposition and the Aboriginal people in Western Australia a fair indication of how important it thinks the voting opportunities of the Aboriginal people are in Western Australia. But in the judgment of the Government and the senators who support it there is more importance in the Senate going into recess a fortnight early than having the Senate consider a piece of legislation of such importance to Aboriginal people.
– My purpose in rising to speak to the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ) 1979-80 is that we of the Australian Democrats do not want this session to end without a reiteration of our view on unemployment. We believe that in spite of what we hear about the pressure of time and of Bills in this place, we do not hear enough about the positive actions that could be taken or matters that could be considered by the Government to deal with what has become an urgent major social crisis in this country. We believe that there are things that can be done about it and that they should have been commenced long ago. Obviously that cannot happen now. Because of that we believe that time cannot be allowed to elapse, certainly not a matter of months, before these things are brought to the light of day. Our intention is to bring them to the light of day.
I will not extensively canvass the effects of unemployment, especially youth unemployment. They have been discussed in the Senate. From a variety of surveys it is now fairly definite that suicide, crime and prostitution among young people are very much higher than they have been in the past. This has been directly related to youth unemployment by people far better qualified than I am to do that. I suggest to honourable senators that such conditions are now beyond doubt. Because of that the Government’s attitude of regarding unemployment as an unfortunate area of some son of fiscal or financial problem is utterly unrealistic. It has looked at one narrow aspect of a problem which is looming all around us. It is perhaps like people in a ship who try to plug one small leak and become preoccupied with it. Then they do not notice that the ship is sinking because of other leaks that they have not yet noticed. Other people have noticed the leaks. That is the point 1 would like to make.
The Australian Democrats have some positive suggestions to make on ways to overcome this which particularly concerns the appropriation of public revenue. So we are not entirely inappropriate in our use of the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill to raise this matter. We think the Government has to start to get its priorities right. It has to end its preoccupation with keeping the deficit down as if that in itself will achieve anything of value when other factors are not being controlled. I would have thought that it would be obvious that one must control all the factors in a situation. To take one and concentrate on it in a narrow way may give some sense of satisfaction, but that certainly will not achieve anything of value for our society. Why has the Government got its priorities wrong? In particular we ask the question: Why is it taking more than $2,000m in energy taxation? Unlike the Labor Party we approve of and do not disagree with the crude oil levy. We think it is right and proper that it should be imposed. However, it should be used not merely in a negative way, as opposed to the deficit, but in a positive way.
Why has the Government got its priorities wrong? There are those who suggest that the Government is lazy, that it is completely indifferent to the problem of unemployment and that it is even wicked. Some people have suggested that the Government has ignored the problems of the unemployed; that it has taken the cold political judgment that the unemployed are not the people who will vote for it in next year’s election anyway and that the people who will vote for it in next year’s election anyway are a selfish group of our society who have work and are prosperous. In this rationale, this framework of reason- which I do not necessarily subscribe to- it is said that those prosperous people do not give a damn about the unemployed; therefore it is better for any party that wishes to either regain power or gain power to forget about the unemployed completely. I have not seen any body of evidence to justify or prove those views but I think it is worth pointing out to the Government that these things are being said. Sad though as it may seem to be, the appearances of things are often much more important in deciding public issues or even elections than the actual facts. I suggest that if the Government feels it will go on any longer regarding unemployment as a matter of no importance or something that the majority of the community can be relied on to ignore, it is in for a very rapid shock and some very rapid disillusionment.
I would like very briefly to quote my friend Professor Charles Birch. He made the point better than I could when he said that the things that are being done now are too negative. In short he said: ‘They are a rearrangement of the chairs on the deck of the Titanic’. I think that is worth repeating here because it indicates that there are at least some Australians, as well as eminent Australians, who are thoroughly sick and tired of a lack of leadership and a lack of even an approach by the Government to the concept that we must start to move towards a society which we can in this country sustain over a period and which at the same time does give us an opportunity to make reasonable contributions to parts of the world less fortunate than ours. We believe that a first step should be genuine recognition that the crude oil levies are not a cow that can be milked forever. As our oil reserves are cut back more of our oil must be imported at full world parity price. At present the crude oil levy is bringing in something more than $2,000m a year, a large sum of money which could very effectively be used in this community. We say- I have noticed that the Institution of Engineers and others also say now- that this money should be used for energy replacement substantially and preferably in labour intensive industries.
Definite proposals which the Australian Democrats would put forward- hard, practical and pragmatic proposals which could be carried out tomorrow and should have been implemented a month or a year ago because they are being carried out overseas- are these: Removal of sales tax, which of course has happened, on solar heating devices. I give the Government credit for at least that. Beyond that we suggest the granting of important and significant tax concessions which would encourage the greater use of solar devices not only in houses but in Australian industry. The evidence overseas has been that there is a threshold of price, and unless one approaches it people will only regard solar energy as an expensive toy. Once one gets to that threshold there is an enormous increase in demand. Because of this, West Germany, France, the United States of America, and New Zealand now are using taxation to encourage the use of solar devices, insulation and anything else that could be a reasonable energy conserving method. The fact that we happen to have what we think is a generous supply of hydrocarbon fuels does not mean that we have the right to use them all ourselves, deprive the world of them and take our time over making this sort of decision.
The United States offers the buyers of solar, geothermal or wind generated equipment a tax credit of 30 per cent on the first $2,000 spent and $2,000 on the next $8,000 spent. That is a total deduction of $2,600 in $10,000. That is the sort of encouragement that would probably mean that young people building homes now would put solar installations automatically into their houses. Every one of those installations put into our houses would begin to solve permanently some of our and the world energy problems. In America there is also provided a tax credit of 1 5 per cent on the first $2,000 spent on insulation, storm windows and similar energy conservational equipment. It is almost impossible to cost such a program in Australia since to assess the demand is hard. Obviously a method of controlling it is by the rate of tax concession. I suggest that the Government ought to start this concession fairly generously and then take control of it if it thinks the scheme is going on too rapidly or not going on rapidly enough. We of the Democrats want something practical done. We are sick and tired of Government senators referring matters to committees again and again. They again referred the question of methanol conversion to a committee whereas the technology for it has existed for years. There was no need for them to do that. What is needed now is for them to do something positive and the sooner the better.
The question of manufacturing solar plates and panels in order to make a twofold attack on energy problems and unemployment already has its precedents overseas. I mentioned a year ago in the Senate- it must be as long ago as that or perhaps not- the solar coal program, a major program that the State of California is carrying out. It aims to reduce by half unemployment in that State by the year 1990 while also fitting every possible building with solar heating by that date. It is doing just as we have suggested. It is using labour intensive small industries to do it and reducing the numbers of unemployed. I mentioned this important program in a question here some months ago. Some Minister- I have forgotten which one- answered that the Government would look into it. There is no evidence that the Government has done this. I, however, wrote to Governor Jerry Brown of California and he sent me the material on this matter. It can be organised and got together by the Democrats if the Liberal-National Country Party is too lazy to doit.
I note more recently that the same idea has been canvassed by the Massachusetts energy policy office which has said that if by 1985 one half of all the buildings in Massachusetts were to use solar appliances for hot water heating only, 32,000 new jobs would be created. It is my understanding that the Government of that State is to proceed with those matters. It was also concluded that the State would save 600 million gallons of fuel oil a year. Massachusetts has six million people but these figures cannot be referred directly to the Australian situation. Massachusetts is a much colder place than Australia. If these figures were referred directly to the Australian situation they would indicate that we could create more than 70,000 jobs in that one area alone. I suggest that that is the possibility that could result from that area. The point is that manufacturing and installing solar panels is highly labour intensive, and likely to remain so. It also involves at present the use of copper, a metal which we produce, and plan to produce in much larger amounts. Indeed, copper is one of the most promising resources at Roxby Downs. I think this overseas experience is important and therefore I would like to mention what is happening in Japan. I will quote from an article in the Australian of 22 October. It states:
Programs for the development of solar energy, terrestrial heat and coal liquefaction will open an $86,000 million market and create jobs for 1 .7 million people in Japan, according to a report released today.
The report by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said the three untapped energy sources would account for about 5 per cent of Japan ‘s total supplies by 1 990.
Japan has all the disadvantages we do not have. It is almost an arctic area, it has a bad sunlight record and so on, yet it is still going ahead with this enormous spending. The point has been made that the Japanese are creating employment while they are doing it. They are solving two problems in the same way. I quote again from the Australian of 22 October:
Predicting that the price of oil would continue to rise in the 1980s the report said the Japanese Government planned to spend $6,000m for research and development of these energy sources over anil -year period starting in 1 980.
Which, of course, is next year-
The report said discussions had been held between the Government and some 70 companies interested in the government-sponsored development.
That too makes a point that the Australian Democrats would make. Australian industry needs work and its gets nothing from this Government except constant cries that it must make itself more efficient; that it must do this, that and the other thing. But the Government does not do anything to provide our industry with something it could do and at the same time create employment and assist this country. Other countries create employment but Australia does not. The article continues:
It predicted that Japan had to invest $37,900m -
An enormous sum of money- in plants and other projects to obtain 5 per cent of the nation’s energy supplies . . .
Yet Japan considers these methods to be worthwhile. It continues:
The report specifically called for an expenditure of $23, 700m to turn 8 million of Japan’s 30 million homes into solar units -
I want to stress that point. Almost a third of Japan’s homes are going to be converted to solar heating. The article continues: and to equip another 900,000 houses with solar batteries.
Another $6,470m would be spent on construction of 10 250,000 kilowatt terrestrial-heat power plants across the country and other $7, 700m for construction of coal liquefaction plants in foreign countries.
I found this extremely interesting. In the AM program of the same day Walter Hamilton, the Australian Broadcasting Commission correspondent in Tokyo, pointed out that every minute Japan spends $80,000 on oil. She depends more on oil than any other country. Seventy-five per cent of her energy needs are met from petroleum. But Japan’s plan- the one referred to in the Australian- will cut this dependence to 50 per cent by 1990. That is the sort of initiative that we would like to feel our Government would come up with instead of all the nonsense we hear in the Senate day after day, with scrapping, in-fighting and confrontation. Why can we not get something done here?
The second point I want to make is that we should get going soon- some of the money from crude oil might be used in this way- on the early use of established technology to build 10 agroindustrial complexes to produce fuel alcohol in the form of ethanol from established and new crops, but especially from cassava in the tropical areas, possibly sugar beet in Tasmania and Victoria- I do not think that is a particularly good option- and wheat in the temperate zones of this country.
I would remind Government senators, through you, Mr Deputy President, that the research and work being carried out by Dr MacLennan and the biotechnology group in Sydney on the use of wheat as an alcohol feed stock is enormously important. When I first heard about it I did not like it. I said: ‘Why are you going to use wheat?’ I was talking to the biotechnology group. I said: ‘This is a food crop.
Why do you do this?’ They said: ‘We are only going to use the carbohydrate from the wheat; the protein will be a byproduct’- I think this is important- ‘which will provide protein food for literally millions of Asian people’. In other words, by allowing from now on a reasonable go-ahead program, which might include concessions to farmers for opening up new countrythe country is there; we have got it- we could not only start to solve our own increasing fuel problems but provide an enormous amount of gluten protein of value to the Asian countries around us who need it so desperately. The Australian Democrats believe we have a duty to do that sort of thing. Until we start doing it we cannot be seen as credible or as having any kind of leadership or initiative in this region.
Ten regional plants would cost $200m only and they would produce 4 per cent of Australia’s motor spirit fuel requirements in the form of an additive to petrol. They would produce half a million kilolitres a year- our present consumption is 13 million kilolitres- and they would provide a useful supplement. As well, they would constitute a major pilot program- we see it as that- which would assist the viability of a larger project to follow aimed at the production of 20 per cent of Australia’s motor spirit, at an eventual total investment cost of $ 1,000m. I stress that figure. For half of what the Government is getting now from the crude oil levy we could set up ethanol plants alone that would produce 20 per cent of our current usage of motor spirit. These re not my figures; they are the figures of people who have checked this out over and over again. In addition, we could provide an important new rural industry in Australia and a positive incentive for industrial decentralisation. It might be said that more time is needed for research in these areas. We say no; the time is not available for such a leisurely approach. Brazil is already producing and using its first ‘gasohol’, which is 20 per cent ethanol with 80 per cent petrol, and we should be doing so as soon as possible.
We believe even more urgently that there should be incentives to Australian industry, perhaps totalling $200m or as close to that figure as possible, to work, especially with the Northwest Shelf consortium, to ensure that there is rapid construction of at least one plant, possibly two 5,000 tonne a day plants, based on known technology, to produce methanol and other forms of alcohol useful as a motor spirit from the North- West Shelf natural gas fields. It is a factthis can be established from the figures and paperwork- that these plants could be installed for the meagre cost of $2 58m and that they could be on stream in two years ‘ time.
The cost of that methanol, which could be used for Ml 5, the additive fuel used elsewhere, would be something like 1 lc a litre. That 1 lc a litre is already less than the present landed cost of Middle East crude. Why are we not doing this? Is it because somebody in the North- West Shelf consortium or the Woodside group is coy about it? If they are being coy about it, it is time the Government got stuck in and saw that something was done. The expenditure of a sum of $258m is comparatively modest compared with the cost of one coal to oil plant which would achieve the same result. The lowest figure I have seen for such a plant is between $4,000m and $5,000m and the lowest cost of oil produced in that way, from the people who are advising me, is 50c a litre. We hear a lot of garbage talked about shale oil. Shale oil might well have a future in 20 or 30 years’ time when we get fusion or some enormous source of energy. One gets shale oil by taking a very hard rock and literally smashing it up by other energy reserves to remove the oil. There is no way in the world that that idea is any more than a piece of window dressing. The real goer here is methanol from our natural gas. lt is a crime and a sin that we are going ahead with the exporting of it. I am advised that what we propose to export, if turned into methanol, would provide us with something like 60 per cent of our total motor spirit requirements. I think it is time the Australian public realised this. When they do find that the Government is selling them out on something which they could have obtained cheaper than Middle East crude they will not be very pleased. I leave that point at that.
At the same time, there should be greater control over the Australian motor industry. If necessary, it should be assisted to fall in with that kind of program so that initially it can plan for a lightweight, low fuel consumption motor car which has an engine type which is definitely a full methanol or ethanol user. This would not be very difficult. The Australian Democrats say that it would be possible for us to get to M 15 within two to three years if we started now. We could then have higher consumption of methanol as we built more plants on natural gas fields. I think we could then rely on the industry to have in four or five years, as part of the world car sold in this country, at least one vehicle which is capable of using methanol straight out of the pump. We cannot expect people to be switching backwards and forwards, and putting special tanks in their cars. That should not be necessary. We believe that there is an obligation on the Australian motor industry to stop building cars which have a petrol consumption as low as 8.5 miles to the gallon. This is the story now with the ranges of nearly all the big manufacturers. I do not think there is one that does not have a car that uses around 8 to 1 4 miles to the gallon as its average petrol consumption. I suggest that that is a disgrace, and it has to stop. We say that this program should be associated with major disincentives to be applied quite soon to the making and selling of cars which cannot achieve at least 20 miles to a gallon of fuel. The Australian Democrats would see those disincentives as involving high annual taxation on such vehicles, on a sliding scale, in addition to a fairly hot supertax at the time of first sale, so that if one wants to have a car like that one will have to pay through the nose for it.
In the same package, we would suggest pilot manufacture of devices of an innovative nature for the conservation or production of energy, including electric and petrol-electric commuter cars, wind and tidal electric power generators and more efficient solar cells capable of direct generation of electricity with special reference to the ‘doped’ plastics now being researched in other countries for this purpose. Australia is far behind in regard to modern technology. I do not believe we even understand it. I do not think our energy advisers really know what is going on. One hears constantly criticism of wind generators. I heard that criticism as recently as yesterday from one of our top people in the nuclear energy field, Professor Titterton, who said that a decent wind generator had not been built anywhere. In fact, one has been operating for quite some time at Jutland in Denmark. It was built by amateurs at a cost of only $720,000. 1 am speaking of the Tvind mill, about which Professor Titterton ought to know. It produces two megawatts of power. It is a small power station but the cost is also small. It works out slightly cheaper relative to the costing for the nuclear power house proposed also for Jutland. This prompted the Danish Government, immediately these people finished their machine, to allocate $ 1 1 m to wind machine research. We are advised that such big generators could be located slightly offshore in batteries of 20 to 30 machines and feed into State electricity grids. There are enormous possibilities for Australia in these areas. The technology is there. It is interesting that this work is not being done by the big energy companies. They have apparently brought forth mice in an attempt to persuade the world that there is nothing in wind generators and things of that sort. They have spent huge sums of money on bringing out abortive devices, or something small or hardly worthwhile. It has been left to a group of amateurs, a group of schoolteachers in Denmark, to blaze the trail with a thoroughly efficient machine which is fully computerised and highly sophisticated and which certainly does the job very well.
The Australian Democrats suggest also in this package that there should be a major public relations and advertising campaign based on the Life. Be In It’ campaign to encourage Australians towards conservation and the acceptance of new and unusual energy forms. We suggest that this would be a much better program than the one running now- I cannot use the word I would like to describe it- to persuade Australians to be patriotic. People are not persuaded to be patriotic by being told something on television. They are persuaded by being given decent leadership and by being told that their country has a future. I suggest that Australians would accept a campaign towards conservation and the acceptance of these new and novel energy forms, in which there is already tremendous public interest, a lot more easily than they would accept the garbage that is now being shown at great expense. We feel that if a total of $950m were committed at once to the things I have mentioned- the figures I have stated add up to that- and that if a consistent pattern of development were maintained after that, it might be the most important factor in Australia’s national life and future.
The final point I make is that most of this money would return to public revenue quite soon. For instance, in the case of solar panels we would like to see the Government go to the unemployed and offer them some training in the technology of installing this equipment. Some incentives should be given to the people who want to use them in their houses and businesses. In Queanbeyan, the Coca-Cola company uses solar panels for hot water for its processes. Young people could be offered the chance of training. They could be given some low risk capital and turned into small businessmen. There is nothing we would like better. That is the philosphy of the Australian Democrats. Let them get out and do this work and give them a chance in the world. This way, they would not be paid the dole. Within a short time that money would be coming back in a reasonable way to public revenue due to the increased employment created, and business confidence would be promoted by a program which indicated that the Government had some sense of leadership. Additional payments in income tax and reductions in dole payments would be dramatically greater within two years of the start of a program like that. There is no doubt that it could be got going quickly. There would be enthusiasm and public support for it. There is no way in the world that it would not be a goer.
Can this be done? Yes. The technology exists and all the opportunities are present. There is nothing lacking. The money is there. The Government has made sure of that with the crude oil levy. That was a brilliant idea but apparently it was devised in somebody’s brain as a way of getting down the deficit. It should have been devised- we suggest that this a change of policy that is needed- to take this new line on energy. All that is needed is a government with vision, integrity and a dedication to go ahead and give the necessary guidance and encouragement to Australian industry. I wonder whether we will see this happen.
– I take this opportunity of the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ) 1979-80 to take part in what is a continuation of the Budget debate. It is unfortunate that so many honourable senators did not get the opportunity to speak at a more appropriate time; that is, directly following presentation of the Budget. It is of no credit to the Government that the debate has been so severely limited. A colleague of mine spoke on this matter earlier. There seems to be an unseemly haste for Parliament to rise, with no justification. Nevertheless, it would seem most appropriate to present the material I have as if I were giving it the day after the Budget Speech. This is the approach I intend to take. So I will be referring to the Budget. Obviously the discussion will centre on the Federal Government’s monetary and fiscal policies for the Northern Territory. The Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Bill Hayden, in a debate in the other place, summed up the general attitude to the Budget- that is, the general attitude except for those who must support by party allegiance the Budget as it is presented and I suggest, looking at the Budget, that that is a fairly high price to pay for being a member of the Federal Government- when he stated:
This Budget will bring more hardship, more unemployment and more suffering to the great majority or Australian families. It means higher taxes, higher inflation and another major contraction in the living standards of the ordinary people. It spells out in quite stark terms the total failure of the policies that the Government has followed for four years. Worst of all, it insists that these policies of failure will continue.
A similar comment came from the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, which stated:
In 1977 we stated that the Budget was ‘a recipe for continued recession’. The steady rise in registered unemployed and the significant increase in hidden unemployment since has confirmed that prediction.
This Budget takes Australia further along that recessionary road. It makes further cuts in the public sector and provides additional concessions to the private sector. It refuses to face the realities of the Australian economy which depend on a healthy, expanding public sector.
The Budget will increase unemployment, inflation, taxes and interest rates- despite Government promises and rhetoric to the contrary.
My colleagues here and in the other place have made broad criticisms and have pointed out the effects of this disastrous Budget. For my part, I want to look at the effect of the Budget on the people of the Northern Territory. I make it quite clear that I am not talking about the money which has been made available to the Northern Territory Government- that is satisfactory- but about the effect of the total policy decisions made by the Government, as exemplified in the Budget and as carried on since. Of course, the Northern Territory will suffer the same as the rest of Australia. There will be an increase in unemployment. There will be an increase in the rate of inflation and in the attendant cost of living, which is already high in the Northern Territory due to other government activity and inactivity -the result, one might say, of the political sins of omission and commission of the Federal Government. There will be increased taxes. There will be a decrease in Government spending, a further contraction of the economy and the lack of stimulation that has been referred to. There will be a decrease in education spending and a continued attack on those least able to bear it; that is, the 75 per cent of unemployed people who are single. I will deal with those aspects with particular reference to the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory, like other special places, has special problems, and I want to look at some of these. Again I make a point that we are looking at the Budget as part of the continuing Government policy which to the present has brought stagnation to the Northern Territory. Let us look first at unemployment. When we look back over the past 12 months, we see that uranium was to be the panacea. It is interesting that Roxby Downs prompted the same sort of comments, that is that it would solve the unemployment problem. I would like to read a few quotations from the Northern Territory News. In January 1978 that newspaper reported Mr Paul
Everingham, the Leader of the Government, as saying that uranium: . . will take up the slack in the transport and construction industries and should lead the Territory into one of its busiest periods of expansion yet.
In May 1978 Mr Tony Grey, Chairman of Pancontinental Mining Ltd, was reported to have said:
One of the most significant benefits will be the provision of jobs.
In July 1 978 the President of the Master Builders Association of the Northern Territory, Mr Ernie Hall, was reported to have said:
Uranium can take up the slack. Each construction job meant another three jobs in the NT.
Mr Tuxworth, the Executive member responsible for mining and health- that most unusual combination- said:
We all know that Ranger is going to be mined, that as a result the unemployment situation is going to be eased, equipment suppliers are going to be assisted and the Territory and Australian economies are going to get a boost at a time when this is sorely needed.
The only note of caution, which unfortunately came to be prophetic, came from me when under the heading ‘Lure of uranium threat to jobs’ in February 1 979 the following was reported:
Labor Senator Ted Robertson has forecast a worsening unemployment situation this year because of what he calls the ‘lure of uranium’.
This has occurred and has brought with it all the problems that are associated with unemployment. Because uranium was to be the answer, no attempt was made- nothing else was done- to stimulate the economy and the Government has continued its sorry record of total disregard of the problems of the Northern Territory.
What is the present situation? Let us look at the unemployment figures from the Commonwealth Employment Service. In February 1978 the Northern Territory unemployment figure was 9.67 per cent and in February 1 979 it was 1 1.27 per cent, a rise of 1.6 per cent. The Australian figures for the same time were 6.73 per cent in February 1978 and 7.54 per cent in February 1 979, an increase of 0.8 1 per cent. The increase in the Northern Territory figures was nearly double the increase in .the Australian figures. It is rather interesting to notice that the Nabarlek agreement was signed in December 1978 and the Ranger agreement was signed in January 1 979. There is nothing in the Budget or in the policies to redress the fault. There is nothing to prevent an increase in unemployment. There is no stimulation of the economy and there are no public works, and the situation has been exacerbated by the Budget which does, nothing to assist those unemployed in the Northern Territory. A single person without dependants and under 18 gets $36 a week- that amount is unchanged. A single person without dependants and over 25 years of age gets $51.45 a weekthat amount is unchanged. All benefits are unchanged in that there has been no allowance for inflation, no rent or travel rebate and no zone allowance for the Top End. The situation is extremely difficult for those large numbers of unemployed people in the Northern Territory.
It is interesting, almost macabre, to compare the unemployment benefit with the allowance given to provide food for prisoners in Northern Territory gaols. This is for food only because accommodation is provided free. In Alice Springs $42 a week is given to provide prisoners with food. In Tennant Creek the figure is $46 a week, in Katherine it is $58. 10 a week and in Darwin it is $77 a week. In other words, the Government recognises that the unemployment benefit is not enough and yet callously does nothing about it. There is another factor in the situation in the Northern Territory which is not often recognised. I am looking at the July 1979 figures provided by the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs which show that in the Northern Territory there is a higher number of unemployed people who do not receive the unemployment benefit than there is anywhere else in Australia. These figures for July 1979 show a total of 5,342 people unemployed with a staggering 2,29 1 not receiving unemployment benefit; that is, 43 per cent of those people who are unemployed are not receiving unemployment benefit.
Who are these people? They are the itinerants who are coming to the Northern Territory in the hope of finding work, and we assume that most of them are unskilled. They are perhaps attracted by the lure of uranium which I mentioned earlier. Of course, there are no vacancies. What happens to these 2,29 1 people who do not get unemployment benefit? We must ask these questions: What do they eat, where do they live and- the obvious social consequence- what is the potential for crime amongst these people if they have no money to buy food, clothing and the other things they need? I suggest that the Government does not know and does not care about these people who are unemployed and who are not receiving benefits.
Another problem of the same magnitude is the Aboriginal unemployed. Officers of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs say that Aboriginals will not register for unemployment benefit because they do not want sit down money. This has been mentioned previously by my colleague from the Northern Territory. So 1,500 to 2,000 Aboriginal people are unemployed and not registered. If we add to those the number of people who are unemployed and registered we will see the magnitude of the problem: Approximately 7,000 people are unemployed, of whom 4,000 do not receive unemployment benefit. It must be said, of course, that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) is conscious of the problem; but cuts have been made. Employment projects have been cut by 9.6 per cent in real terms. There has been a decrease in grantsinaid. There has been an increase in Commonwealth Development Employment Project schemes, but the increase is still not enough. At this stage let me commend the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for the interest he has taken in trying to meet situations that have been drawn to his attention by those of us from the Northern Territory, but he cannot do this without money. I am suggesting that insufficient money has been made available.
Unemployment obviously will increase as school leavers enter the job market. There are particular fears about this. Each of the Aboriginal community settlements that I visit in Arnhem Land has great fears about the effect, on young people, of coming out of school with no work prospects. Despite the predictions that I read out earlier, uranium has done almost nothing to help in the situation of Aboriginal unemployment. If we look at Ranger, where most work is done by contract, we see that Ranger says that it has no control over contractors and that it cannot insist that the contractors employ Aboriginal people. The latest figures that I have from the CES show that seven Aboriginal people are employed at Ranger. At Nabarlek the company does not directly employ Aborigines but it has proposed the establishment of a company to give contracts to Aborigines much along the lines of what happened at Gove. So far nothing has been done, but I commend this approach. Obviously something needs to be done and should be done. Training programs are the obvious solution as long as we create jobs at the end of them.
To sum up, it is fair to say that there has been no upsurge in the Northern Territory economy despite the fact that Nabarlek has commenced mining and Ranger has started construction. The Northern Territory Government’s capital works Budget is devoted almost entirely to road works with very little construction work which, of course, is labour intensive and which is conducive to apprenticeship training. Uranium has not taken up the slack, as predicted by Mr Paul Everingham and. by the Federal Government.
Let us look at some other areas. One is related to training, which I have already discussed. The National Employment and Training Scheme has been cut by 47 per cent and the Special Youth Employment Training Program has been cut by 69 per cent; that is, provided all the money is spent. Last year we know that NEAT was underspent by $34m. What was the reason for this? Was it bad administration, shortage of staff or what?
I turn briefly to the Aboriginal situation. The Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have been hit by the Budget in many ways. In housing, the $405,000 grant to the Northern Territory Housing Commission in last year’s Budget was unspent and has been reallocated. One must ask the question: Why was it unspent? It is fairly obviously because the Federal Government has abrogated its responsibility to the Northern Territory Aborigines. The Federal Government has reneged on its condition of self-government that it would retain responsibility for the Aborigines. That condition was welcomed by the Aborigines who had justifiable doubts about their treatment under a Liberal-Country Party Government.
The money available for Aboriginal health purposes is down 1.5 per cent on last year in real terms, despite the appalling conditions in which most Aboriginal people live and the horrendous infant mortality rate of Aboriginal children. A Third World exists in the Northern Territory; it consists of the Aboriginal communities. The Commonwealth handed over responsibility for health to the Northern Territory Government in January 1979. Yet in May 1979 we saw the newspaper headline: ‘Aboriginal Camps Shock for Assembly’. A comprehensive report provided for the first time base line data about the conditions facing many Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. It is based on a survey carried out during 1977-78. 1 remind the Senate that that is when the Federal Government was responsible for health.
Let us look at some of the findings of that report. It shows an alarming degree of neglect. In the southern region of the Territory white settlements have 100 per cent access to taps, showers, toilets, laundries, electricity and refrigeration. On the other hand, Aboriginal communities have been sadly neglected. We find that 22.9 per cent of them have taps, 19.9 per cent have toilets and showers, 17.7 per cent have laundries, 20.3 per cent have electricity and 1 1 .7 per cent have refrigeration. The northern and East Alligator areas have better facilities, averaging 64. 1 9 per cent in the northern area and 52.3 per cent in the east Arnhemland area. But that is still unsatisfactory when compared with the European average of 100 per cent. There is no indication of any improvement.
I made the point earlier that what I am saying must be read in conjunction with the Northern Territory Budget. The funding is on the basis of continuing present programs. There is no reason to believe that the present Northern Territory Government will be able to achieve that objective without significant Federal assistance. That assistance should be substantial, with the provision of special purpose funds to clean up the mess which the Federal Government created. My colleague in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly was reported in an article which appeared in the Northern Territory News to have had this.to say:
The Federal Government should not have reduced its appropriation for health care in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs . . .
The health care problems among Aborigines are still as acute as ever.
Malnutrition, venereal disease, and alcohol related illnesses are still prevalent.
Many of these diseases are associated with the squalor and bad environmental conditions which many people endure while bureaucratic procrastination replaces positive housing programs.
Overall, the DAA budget increase of $9.2 million has not kept pace with inflation.
Later in the same article he was reported to have stated:
This suggests that the battle against sickness has been won and that there is room for complacency . . .
That’s simply not true.
Black babies are still dying at a higher and alarming rate than white babies. The still-birth rate is still not going down.
I move on now to make a few comments on other general areas. As I have stated in the Senate on many occasions, Territorians miss out with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Northern Territory News of 5 September stated:
The Northern Territory’s days of live sport telecasts may well and truly be over. Territorians will not see this year’s VFL and Sydney Rugby League grand finals or the Melbourne Cup. And it is unlikely we ‘11 see the Moscow Olympic Games or even this month ‘s first test in the Australia India cricket tour.
The General Manager of the commercial station NTD-8 said:
We have access to all the programs material but can’t get it on the screen because the ABC won’t let us have the bearer.
The ABC Manager said, in turn:
If the commercial interests want to pay huge amounts that the ABC cannot match then it’s not our fault that a direct coverage is not able to be provided.
But the point must be made, as other speakers have made it here, that the ABC has let the Northern Territory down. The British Broadcasting Corporation has overcome this problem by designating some programs ‘national events’. That is a simple solution which might be adopted by the ABC to make sure that territorians can see the Melbourne Cup, the test series and other major events. Why can we not have a similar scheme? Funds simply are not available to enable the provision of those sorts of programs, according to the ABC. Also, there are no funds for the coverage of local events. We are still unable to get coverage of Northern Territory sporting events. Funds do not allow for adequate local content in news broadcasts. We are still taking Queensland news. Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin in December 1974; that is coming up to five years ago. We still have not solved the problems of that time.
In the school broadcasts area, once again we are still taking Queensland broadcasts. I have spoken of that in the Senate before. There are not enough funds to record programs so that when the Queensland and Northern Territory holidays do not coincide- they do not coincide, Queensland being what it is- the Northern Territory misses out. In the same way, holiday programs are not available to the young people of the Northern Territory. A shortage of staff in the Northern Territory means that we get adultonly programs at 7 p.m., which is in ‘G’ viewing time. I refer now to Radio Australia and the Cox Peninsula. The Melbourne Age in August 1 979, referring to the allocation in the Budget for the ABC, stated:
Of the $ 10.9m . . . $500,000 will be devoted to rehabilitating Radio Australia’s Cox Peninsular facilities.
It is estimated that that will be completed by 1982, eight years after Tracy. The Controller of Overseas Services for the ABC said that he was delighted that the building project was now definitely going ahead. I have to say, with some cynicism, that the people of the Northern Territory are still waiting to be delighted. We are still waiting for the domestic short-wave or mediumwave service we were promised before the cyclone. It was supposed to be finished before the cyclone, not started. I have told in this place the story of how the transmitter was whipped away and used at Shepparton.
We are getting inadequate services in the Northern Territory. It would be wonderful if the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley) would forget his toy of the moment- his satellite- and give the Northern Territory adequate radio services. Aboriginal groups and other people in remote areas are still missing out. There is still no ethnic radio service, although the proposition of providing it was put up 10 years ago. We have no access radio. The Milingimbi project should be operating. Many honourable senators will know of that project; certainly the Minister knows about it. It has not yet started. There has been one frustration after another.
On the matter of the National Estate, we applaud the increase in grants to Northern Territory projects, but we note the almost total neglect of the past. I suppose it is easy to increase the allocation if we got nothing before. The allocation to the National Trust to support administration remains the same- $30,000 for other people and $ 1 5,000 for the Territory. We had hoped that the Northern Territory would get the same as the States. We might have fewer people than the States, but we certainly have no less history and no less a need for preservation.
The impetus given to tourism in the Budget is welcomed. It has been welcomed in this place and in others. Unfortunately, the situation in the Northern Territory is that the Budget gives with one hand and takes away with the other. We have increased navigation charges. There will be annual increases of 25 per cent over each of the next three years. Travel to the Northern Territory is by air. The Northern Territory relies heavily on air transport for freight. Travel on roads is difficult- on the southern road it is impossible, despite pleas to the Federal Government to accept it as a national road. I make the point that, despite the fact that Mr Sinclair promised the road, it was denied us. It is interesting to see that the new South Australian Government has decided to build the road from its normal allocation of funds. I suggest that the figures we have indicate that that will be an impossibility, that more Federal assistance will be needed. We have a rail service only to Alice Springs- at least, it will be through to Alice Springs shortly. It is interesting to see the petitions being presented by the Government’s colleagues in the Northern Territory, members of the Country-Liberal Party. I will not go into that.
The Top End has a vast tourist potential, but we will not attract tourists without further support. We need a new air terminal. We still have the same hangar we had when I first went to Darwin in 1948, 30-odd years ago. Certainly, it has been timed up a bit, but it is the same building with the same lack of facilities. We need to look at new incoming routes from overseas. They do not all have to come through southern ports. We need to accept that northern Australia is part of Australia and not some extended green belt between the south and Asia. In the pension area, indexation has been regained, but no allowance has been given to make up for the money that has been taken from the pensioners. There is still no zone allowance for the Northern Territory, no acceptance that old-timers cannot afford to live there. The philosophy seems to be to build up the Territory and get out. One is almost tempted to make the comment: Prisoners fare better than pensioners in the Northern Territory.
Much favourable comment has been made about the generosity of the government grant to the Northern Territory. This is a good gesture from a government which favours grand gestures; a government which enables its CountryLiberal Party colleagues to endeavour to try to buy votes in a futile attempt to retain government. But we must look beyond this single item. All Budget decisions will affect territorians, and I have highlighted just a few. Unemployment will increase in an area where it is the highest. Taxes will go up. Inflation will go up. The standard of living will go down. The economy will remain stagnant. Public services will deteriorate further due to shortages of funds for staff and resources. The lot of the disadvantaged will be further eroded. It was clear at the time of the presentation of the Budget and in the two weeks that followed that the Government had been exposed not only by Risstrom but also by impartial economists. The exercise to hoodwink the public was foiled. It was called an election Budget but it backfired. If it had been an election Budget it would have assisted the Australian Labor Party and not Fraser. It seems to me that the total thing was an exercise in cynical disregard of the real needs of the Australian people.
– I should like to make a few remarks about the aid to developing countries which we and other nations are providing. We are giving this year $485m in overseas aid. The world total is a staggering $US6 1,000m. It may not be as much as some people, particularly the recipients, would like, but it is still very substantial. I recently visited a number of developing countries as a representative of this Parliament and had the chance to see some of our aid projects on the ground. I mention three of these aid projects- two of them favourably, one doubtfully.
The first of the satisfactory projects was PADAP- the Philippines-Australian Development Assistance Project- in Zamboanga Del Sur in Mindanao in the southern Philippines. The area is very backward. It is populated by immigrants who have arrived chiefly since the Second World War. There are virtually no roads. There is subsistence farming and fishing and a substantial insurgency problem. We have invested in this area a relatively modest $ 1 8m over five years but the project has been brilliantly successful. We have provided roads, bridges and irrigation and technical training for the Filipinos so that they can maintain these things. The gratitude of the locals to Australia is very moving. Of course, when we were there it was orchestrated, but it is still obviously underlyingly genuine. Thousands of school children were waving banners and Australian flags. They took the opportunity for a little propaganda, too. ‘Thank you Australian Ministers’, said one sign, ‘Thank you for our roads’.
– And give us some more.
– ‘But what about a footbridge over the river near our school?’ Senator Bishop, who just interjected, was present on that occasion. I think that he would agree with my comments. The second excellent project we saw was in the northern Thai province of Ching Mai. As the population has outgrown the irrigable river flats single crop rice growing has spread to the hill slopes. These areas have been farmed by the very inefficient slash and burn system. Under an Australia-Thai project, with the consent and co-operation of the villagers, the land is being cleared and ploughed and soil and water conservation is being organised. This project, too, is working well. These two projects are, I believe, successful because they build on what there is now and help the people to live just a little better. They are not socially disruptive like so many aid projects have been.
One of our aid projects in Thailand seems to me to have the seeds of such destruction. I refer to an irrigation and hydro-electric dam on the River Kwai. However economically worthy the project, it will involve the flooding of four-fifths of the arable land in the river valley and the destruction of 43 villages. No satisfactory arrangements have been made for relocating the villagers. This seems to me- although I admit we did not see the project on the ground- to be an example of the destructive sort of aid which has been a feature of much of the aid from the World Bank and countries such as the United States: The bigger is better approach, and be damned to pilot studies and the social consequences. This approach gained its first monument with the illfated British post World War II ground nut scheme in East Africa, but there have been many similar monuments since then.
On the whole, I think we can say that Australia has avoided most of the aid pitfalls and rackets.
We have gone in for pilot schemes before embarking on major projects. We have generally tried to consider the social consequences. Our aid has been freely given; it has not been in the form of interest bearing loans, which is the way some other countries provide their aid. We have not used aid as a means of economic exploitation by tying the recipient into the economic order of the donor. We have, I think, given our aid wisely, on the whole. This is far from the pattern of world aid. I think it is time the Western world thought about what it is trying to achieve in its aid program for these under-developed countries. I am worried about the way in which much of the developed world is trying to remake the underdeveloped world in its own image- in other words, trying to turn those countries into industrialised nations.
Over the last few years there has been a series of international conferences, including the seventh special session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and the so-called northsouth dialogues, about how we can provide the Third World countries with more money, better technology and access to Western markets. Not much has resulted. The attempts to get the industrialised countries to give development assistance of as much as seven-tenths of one per cent of their gross national product as aid to the poor countries have been largely unsuccessful. Our percentage, which a few years ago reached the target, has now fallen back to just over fourtenths of one per cent.
There have also been attempts to declare a moratorium on the debts of developing nations. Some countries have responded by wiping out the debts of the very poorest countries. This was not really very generous because there was no prospect whatever of the debts being paid anyway. It is true that most of the rest of the debts are not likely to be called in, but this is really because the default would hurt the lenders more than the borrowers, while rolling the debts over maintains the profits of the Western banks and the solvency of the entire system. It has been suggested that the prices of primary products should be indexed to the prices of industrial goods. There has not been much success with that idea either. In fact, since 1 973 the trend with most primary products has been for prices to slump while the finished industrial goods which the Third World has to import have gone up in price. A common fund to stabilise some primary products was also proposed, but not much of the money has been pledged. The poor countries that produce the raw materials really have no more control over what happens to them now than they did in 1973. Only in the case of oil have the producers been willing to combine to control output and thus price, and this was a near thing. It was made possible only by the unanimous detestation of Israel by most of the producers. Even then there was a division between Saudi Arabia, the main producer, and other more radical states.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m. (Quorum formed).
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was discussing overseas aid and was pointing up the dilemma that the beneficial types of overseas aid are those that help people in a community to live a little better without destroying their social structure, but that this is a very slow method of improving the standards of the Third World. The one question to which we must address ourselves is: Why are some states rich and industrialised and others not? The usual explanation implies that it is some sort of accident of history, a mixture of available resources, climate or history. This is a very superficial explanation, except in the sense that everything which happens in human affairs is in some way an accident.
When the legendary James Watt observed the lid of his mother’s tea kettle lifting and deduced that therefore there was harnessable power inside the kettle nothing much would have happened if the intellectual conditions which made the exploitation of this power possible had not already existed. After all, many another tea kettle had boiled in many another place over many centuries with no other result but tea. The industrial revolution happened, and could only have happened, in a society that had developed a theoretical intellectual system, natural science and a pre-industrial technology of a high order. It is worth remembering that James Watt- that is, the real James Watt, not the legendary onewas a maker of mathematical instruments for a university.
Another essential condition was an appropriate moral climate- religion if you like- which was activist and believed that human activities could have a purpose. But this, of course, only explains the origin of the industrialised society. Once the system is set up, the machinery invented, the division of labour established, surely anyone can copy it. In fact, up to a point this did happen. Europe became industrialised. So did North America and, for that matter, Australia. But the most phenomenal change occurred in Japan. Fifty years after the famous opening up of Japan by Commodore Perry in 1853 its feudal society had become not only an industrialised nation but also a prominent naval and military power in the Far East, able easily to defeat the Russian colossus. This Japanese model is worth thinking about very carefully because those who believe in what they call the new international economic order firmly believe that the Japanese experience was not exceptional; that it could be the norm. They remember the conscientious band of Japanese who, in the 1880s and 1890s went out to bring back the best of Western technology- to Germany to study the army and medicine; to France to study law; and to England to study naval science, railways, telecommunications and housing.
It is argued that development is a matter of techniques to be learned and equipment to be provided and that that is something that any country can receive. The Third World lacks money, trained people and technology. Supply them, so the current argument goes, and economic development will automatically follow. But will it? Certainly, we would like to think so. It is difficult not to feel guilty about the gross imbalance of living standards, to contrast a child growing up in a Calcutta slum, or dying of starvation in Cambodia, with our own affluence. It would be nice to believe that the problem of the poor could be solved by the transference of men and machinery. Some critics accuse Western countries of greed and exploitation. Of course, sometimes, by no means always, they are right.
That is not the real problem. The problem is that most people do not think the whole concept of Third World development is quite serious, believing that it cannot and will not work in the way in which it is supposed to work. But if the developed world could be convinced that this is not true, that this type of aid will achieve the results claimed, surely we would provide it. After all, the United States willingly devoted 1.67 per cent of its gross national product to the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Western Europe because it was clear that the job could be done and was being done. There can be no such confidence in conventional plans for the industrialisation of the Third World, but people do not like to say so because they have nothing else to offer that might have a serious effect on the world’s poverty.
What then is needed for a country to become industrialised, if what we have to offer is not enough? To run a factory requires workers and managers who want economic prosperity badly enough to spend a major part of their working lives doing things that are often boring, exhausting and unpleasant. Generally they need to be able to read and write, to understand machinery and to feel at home with it. But above all there must be generally accepted social assumptions about the meaning of their lives- about exploitation of the environment, the desirability of material possessions, the value of knowledge, the value of work. Perhaps it could all be summed up in the old-fashioned and rather inaccurate expression ‘Protestant work ethic’. This is a bad name because the attitude is not essentially religious at all and certainly not exclusively Protestant. It is to be found in societies that are both nominally socialist and nominally Marxist, but it is confined to Europe and America and their white cultural dependencies, and to China and its cultural dependencies- Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
Is it reasonable to expect other countries to adopt this model and accept these standards? It requires a complete restructuring of their societies. Christopher Dawson has remarked that the great non- Western civilisations are ‘ways of life in a much more definite and conscious sense than that of any national Western culture’. He added that each of their ways of life ‘is penetrated from top to bottom by the same system of ideas, so that a man can give theological or metaphysical reasons for the way in which he cooks his dinner’. I am not saying that these non- Western civilisations are simple. They are of great subtlety and complexity. These Asian and African civilisations are, in fact, far more coherent than ours. Although this is a strength, there is also a wall of resistance to industrialisation and everything else that is included in the notion of development on the Western model.
Nothing could be a greater contrast to the Protestant work ethic than India’s Hinduism, a religion of natural order, of predestination manifest in fixed castes, with a transmigration of souls in union and reunion with the absolute spirit. It is hardly an accident that so many of India’s modern entrepreneurs and industrialists are Parsees, that is Zoroastrians not Hindus. The Buddhism of Burma and Thailand is deeply nonmaterialistic. In the words of the Lord Buddha himself, ‘man must renounce the craving for prosperity’. This is scarcely a religion for technicians, to say nothing of capitalists. Even Islam, a religion of surrender to the will of God, is basically more passive than Christianity. The Middle East and North Africa have had a long and close association with Western technology and organisation, both in pre-industrial times when Islam, at the peak of its power, colonised most of southern Europe and also in modern industrial times when Europeans controlled countries such as Egypt and Iraq. Yet there has been little spontaneous development on Western models and it is difficult to be optimistic about the industrialisation on the Western model.
– How do you explain India’s steel industry, Senator?
– I will come back to India in a moment. India’s steel industry is controlled by Parsees, not by Hindus. The recent revolution in Iran is a clear example of the difficulties and dangers of trying to impose the Western model on an Islamic society. It is true that some of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries- Saudi Arabia, for instance- are trying to use their oil revenues to build an industrial base. But will this survive the decline of their oil revenues or will their machinery then disappear back into the sand?
We must recognise that societies whose fundamental structure is alien to the values and practices of industrialism cannot be changed merely by the injection of money, machines or technical instructors. For these societies to develop in the sense that that term is used at United Nations conferences would require a radical and destructive re-making of life and society and a reinterpretation by them of the meaning of existence. What is often put forward as a simple transfer of resources, techniques and information is, in fact, a revolution of the most momentous consequences.
Of course, the elites of the Third World are committed to development. They have assumed the role of agents of progress. They may call themselves socialists or marxists, but the former Shah of Iran is their archtype. Their people are their victims. Describing the arrival on a Greek island of a few British technicians to build a radio relay station, Laurence Durrell, wrote that the intrusion destroyed:
The tightly woven fabric of this feudal village, with its tense blood relationships, its feuds and archaic festivals.
Its wholeness will dissolve under these alien pressures. It was so tightly woven, so beautiful and symmetrical like a swallow’s nest. We are picking it apart like idle boys. It seems inescapable, the death we bring to the old order without wishing it.
The complex interrelationship of the natural ecology is gradually being accepted. But human society is no less complex. We cannot tinker with one perhaps minor aspect of it, without being led inexorably into other aspects, until we have remade the whole society in our image, or more likely a corrupted version of it. What then are we to do about our overseas aid? This country has a commitment to Papua New Guinea. For better or worse we set its people on their development path and we have the responsibility of helping them along it. This we should not and cannot evade.
The affluent world also has an obvious duty to provide humanitarian aid to those in need. Much of the world is starving and it would be a barbarous act if those countries with food surpluses refused aid to those in need. The arrangements for this type of aid and the encouragement of food production need much development. It is an economic and humanitarian outrage to see developed countries deliberately cutting back on their food production while people in other countries are starving. But what about so-called development aid? For reasons that I have advanced I am very sceptical of the value of much of it which seems designed to salve the consciences, and sometimes increase the wealth, of the donors rather than to help the Third World countries.
We see in this country the effects of a combination of repression and misplaced aid in the destruction of the tribal life of our Aboriginal people and their consequent detribalised degradation. It seems that those who tried to help them the most did them the most harm. The connections are slight between high-minded public discussions at international conferences and what people really think, not to mention what really happens. The report last February of the United Nations Preparatory Committee on the New International Development Strategy, for instance, had among its objectives the transfer of technology to developing countries and increasing the share of developing countries in total world industrial production to at least 25 per cent by the year 2000. Not only will this not happen but also it would probably destroy many of the societies concerned if it did. It is high time that the developed world thought about what it is trying to do and what it is actually doing to the Third World countries. We, with our recent experience of the destruction of a primitive society in Australia, at least partly through misdirected assistance, should play a leading part in this agonising reappraisal.
-The debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1979-80 gives honourable senators who did not debate the Budget the opportunity to speak. Senator Hamer gave us quite a lecture on what power is all about. People who have it can increase their power and those who have not cannot do so. The haves have always looked after themselves and the have nots have always been condemned, and so it is in this country. The 1979-80 Budget has been described by reputable economists as the most contractionary Budget ever produced by any government in the last 30 years. The Department of the Treasury has estimated that in 1979-80, wages will rise by nine per cent, inflation will exceed 10 per cent and probably will go to 12 per cent in the coming year. The total tax collections from individuals will increase by 18.2 per cent and profits, oil taxes and levies are expected to yield almost $3, 000m in the next year. This represents an increase of 42 per cent over last year.
With almost half the retail prices of petrol going to the Federal Treasury, every petrol pump has become a tax collection office. An average driver now pays more than $8 a week more in fuel tax and levies, which represents almost $430 to $500 a year paid into Federal coffers. When honourable senators consider this and take into account the fact that there was a 1 5 per cent increase in customs duty over the past year, and the savage increases in health insurance costs, the outcome is quite clear. The purchasing power of families has been reduced sharply, resulting in a tightening of demand for goods and services. Accordingly, there will be fewer and fewer jobs in the next year. This is a fact which the Department of Employment and Youth Affairs confirmed in a recent report to the Government. The report estimated that under present policies unemployment is expected to increase by 50,000 to 60,000 up to 1 983.
If honourable senators look at what this Government has done to petrol prices in this country and what effect they have had, they will see that the poorer people in our community are the worst hit. The people who have the least resources have been forced into the outer suburbs. Consequently, in many of our cities public transport is inadequate or virtually non-existent. People who live in outer suburbs are forced to use their vehicles to travel to and from work. These are the people who can least afford the petrol taxes that are imposed by this Government. With $3,000m extra in revenue coming into the Federal coffers, one would expect that a government which is planning for the future would look to our energy and transportation needs. Transport costs in Australia have always been far in excess of those of many other countries.
Virtually nothing is planned to supplement our fuel supplies and to increase our public or country transport systems. With this increase in revenue it would be expected that a reasonable government would do much more research than has been done. Fuel will become scarcer and dearer. The days of cheap fuel are finished, whether we like it or not. At this time if we do not start planning to supplement our fuel supplies, we will be in desperate trouble. Communities will become isolated. Rural areas will not be able to get their crops to the seaboard unless there is proper planning in transportation. It is well known that ethanol is a fuel that can be produced from a vegetable product. We have taken no steps to do this, and yet we should be. Our fuel supplies can be extended well past the year 2,000 by increasing ethanol production. The only ethanol production at the present moment is in Queensland. It is produced from sugar cane, but ethanol can be produced from any vegetable matter. Petrol can be mixed with ethanol to the extent of 20 per cent without any effect and without having to alter the present internal combustion engine. Diesel fuel can be mixed to the tune of 40 per cent without altering the diesel motor. If this were done our oil supplies could be extended. We should be doing this. It is estimated by scientists that it will take 50 years to come up with a permanent alternative fuel supply. This country which depends on fuel does not take any heed of this situation. It has no long term planning in this regard. I believe that that is unforgiveable. A government has to be condemned for taking that attitude.
Let us get back to the 1979 Budget just to see how discriminating it is. The young married people of this country have been severely discriminated against. Let us take into account the fact that there will be an increase in wages in the next year of 9 per cent and that people on very low incomes will pay extra tax. If we take as an.example a person on a salary of $5,750 we see that that person ‘s income in 1 979-80 with an increase of 9 per cent will be $6,267. This year, a person on a salary of $5,750, will pay $25.09 in taxation. Next year, that is 1979-80, that person will pay $188.24. That person’s purchasing power will not increase one per cent. It will remain the same. Yet a person’s effective tax increase for that year rises 588.31 per cent. I am speaking of a married couple, where the breadwinner has just a dependent wife. If one takes a person earning a salary of $6,000 in the year 1 978- 79, with a 9 per cent increase in wages in 1979- 80, that taxpayer’s salary will rise to $6,540. In the 1978-79 tax income year that taxpayer paid $108.84. In the year 1979-80 that same taxpayer, having virtually the same income and the same purchasing power, will pay $278.36, which gives an effective tax increase of $134.63 percent.
Let us take an example of a person on the top income scale who earns $50,000 a year. In 1978-79, if that person with a dependent wife earned $50,000 , he would pay $21,873.48 in taxation. In 1979-80 he will pay $24,423.37. The effective tax increase for a person on $50,000 with a dependent spouse will be 2.44 per cent against a person on the lower income scale of $5,750 whose tax increases will be 588.31 per cent. The lower income earners are forced to live in the outer suburbs. People with an income of $6,000 should not be paying tax. It is impossible for a man, keeping a wife, to live with any reasonable security on $6,000.I believe that such tax increases are totally unjustified. I ask honourable senators to look further at what is happening with the added petrol taxes of which I have spoken and with the increases in hospital and medical insurance.
The increase in the family allowance scheme means that the low income earner with a dependent spouse will pay a greater increase in taxation than the high to very high income earners. Also likely to be caught in the tax grab are pensioners. Because of tax increase exemptions, the limit of $3,892 has not been adjusted upwards in accordance with the pension increases. When the family allowance scheme was introduced in 1976, the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, promoted it as a great breakthrough for the families. I shall go through some of those contentions just to show people who feel that they have been well dealt with by this Government, what the true position is. The scheme replaced the system of tax deduction allowances for dependent children. The cost of each scheme from public revenue was about identical. All that happened was that the allowances were paid to supporting parents instead of tax deductions being allowed to the family breadwinner.
Because family allowances have remained frozen since the 1976 levels, their value has become sharply reduced by inflation. The weekly loss to a family with one child is $2.50; with two children it is $3.40; with three children it is $4. 10; and with four children it is $5.20. That was the scheme that Mr Fraser said was a great breakthrough for the family. People on low incomes have been continually robbed by this Government. Every time we on this side of the House have asked questions, especially of Senator Carrick, the only answers that we have received are that the Whitlam Government was a high tax government. This Liberal Government has remained a high tax government but the people of this country have received no benefits for the tax that they have paid. We have heard a great deal from Mr Howard about his stopping the tax dodgers. That has not happened. It has just been words. The lower to middle income groups have footed the Australian tax bill. They are the main contributors to the tax purse of this government. The $6,000 to $15,000 income earners are the main contributors to tax revenue. I believe that that is unjustified.
The people who control the great wealth of this country are virtually paying very little for the privileges that they receive. Many wealthy international combines have come to this nation to exploit it and very few plums or benefits have been given to the Australian people. All that we have is unemployment with its misery and insecurity that are continually destroying the family structure in this country. I do not believe that it is reasonable- it is just unbelievable- that a government would allow such a position to prevail. When one considers that this country with its great mineral resources, has a very small population- we probably would not be able to get more than seven million people in to the work force- and that the population is reasonably well educated and healthy it is clear that this country should not have the problems that it is facing today. One has then to look at why the problems are being faced by an increasingly large number of Australians.
This Government makes the claim that it has been in government for 27 years. A Labor Government was in office for little over three years during the last 30 years. To point to the Whitlam years and say that the Whitlam Government destroyed the economy of this nation does not do this Government any credit. Liberal governments in this country have progressively given away this country to foreign investors. They have betrayed the heritage of the Australian people which I believe in itself is a disgrace. I want to point to a few illustrations of what this Government has done and how unfair it is to the small people. I would draw attention to a report of what Mr Howard said on 27 August. The report states:
The Treasurer, Mr Howard, has proposed a joint FederalState approach to end the loading in industrial awards.
He told a businessmen’s breakfast in Brisbane yesterday that the loading was a ridiculous impost and an over-indulgence.
I am one of the people in Australia who helped to get holiday and long service loadings for employees in this country. Going back some 20 years when I was associated with the Waterside Workers Federation I put forward the suggestion that workers in this country should be paid a holiday loading. I also believe that Federal governments should establish holiday centres throughout Australia. I did a lot of research not only of people in my union by also of people across the spectrum of society in Australia. I found at that time that some 50 per cent of Australians did not go on annual leave. I was amazed by what I found from my narrow investigation. It could only be described as a narrow investigation although I did it as thoroughly as I could. I found that families broke up because they could not afford holidays. 1 found that deliquency and social ills arose out of families not being able to afford an annual holiday. I believe that governments and employers should look at this problem in a progressive light.
I think that if research was done into this area a lot of the ills in our country could be overcome. People who continually do not have a break from the humdrum of our society cannot survive. We are prepared to build hospitals and to provide all other services but we do not look at what is happening to the structure of the family. I believe that it is important for a family at least once a year to get away and have a break from what they have been doing for the rest of the year. I believe they would then be better employees and better citizens in the community. One day that will come.
I believe that a 100 per cent holiday loading should be given and that Federal governments should set up holiday centres throughout Australia so that people can enjoy a break. This would not only benefit the working people of this natin but also would create a new industry which we desperately need so that we can employ the young unemployed people. They are well worth considering. I do not think that simply to criticise some of these systems out of hand without looking deeply into the pros and cons of them does Mr Howard or anybody else on the Government side any credit. I believe that holiday loadings are needed. The trade union movement will not tolerate the doing away with them. One day workers will have a 100 per cent loading and I hope that day is in the near future.
Another question that I want to raise at this moment shows just how tough this Government makes life for little people and how miserable it can be. On 13 August I had an inquiry from a Mr Roy Baynes, the Secretary of the AustraliaChina Society in Adelaide. He contacted me about a Chinese seaman from the People’s Republic of China who came to Australia on a ship called the Fujin Hai. It was tied up at Berth 20 in Port Adelaide. Customs officers went aboard this ship, as is their normal practice, to search for drugs or contraband, for which I give them full credit. In my experience they do a magnificent job. On the ship they came across a small computer that was used by a cadet on that ship. They confiscated the computer but later returned it when they found that it belonged to the cadet. All seamen who come into Australian ports have to declare any watches or other personal possessions. A seaman on this vessel, Mr Yong, failed to declare one Seilo watch that he had bought in Japan for, I understand, about $50. He also had another watch that he wore and which he had declared. He had the new Seiko watch quite openly in his drawer and made no attempt to hide it; it was simply that he failed to fill out a very complicated form. I have those forms here. An English speaking person would want to be a Philadelphian lawyer to fill out the forms. I find it hard to believe that no compassion was shown towards a Chinese speaking person who spoke no English. The upshot of it was that the customs authority took possession of this watch. I might point out that $50 represented some three months work to a seaman from China. It is a substantial loss to that seaman.
I wrote to the head man at the Customs Bureau, a Mr Cody, and he admitted that no attempt had been made to hide the watch but said that he could not take it upon himself to return it. Consequently I wrote to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife). I presented the whole case, together with a letter from Mr Cody. I also asked that the customs forms be better explained, that in Chinese and other foreign languages be used, so that seamen coming into this country would understand them. I am concerned because Mr Fife refused to give that watch back. He also said that he did not think it was practical to inform the Chinese authorities of the requirements. He said that the forms are laid down and it is up to the Chinese seamen to decipher them. The Chinese Embassy got in touch with me about this matter in the early stages. It was very concerned that one of its nationals would break an Australian law. I assured them that the seaman, Yong, did not deliberately attempt to break that law; that it was simply a mistake on his part.
I and a number of people have been trying to build up trade with China and many other countries yet in this case we have virtually stolen a watch from a seaman who will have to work for three months to recover the cost. Mr Fife refused to return the watch to him. This shows the attitude of this Government. It has no compassion for people on the lower structure. This Government considers anyone who has not got a million dollars or the prospect of getting a million dollars as guilty. One is guilty of a crime unless one is wealthy. With the Government taking that attitude one day the people will rise up against it. The Government cannot continually subject people on the lower structure of incomes to all the injustices that have been going on.
There are many injustices that one can point to. We should look at what has happened in many other countries. In Harlem in the United States there was a ghetto where people were deprived and depressed. No action was taken by the Government to alleviate that situation. Today Harlem is one of the great hell holes of the world. Violence, corruption and rot erupts from there. If we want our society to be free of violence, if we want a free and good society, we should have compassion for people who are not wealthy. Unless we take heed of those things Australia as we know it will disappear. I believe that is a bad thing for this country. People who have power should exercise it with compassion. Unless one considers other people ‘s rights in this country, or anywhere in the world, people with power who use it as a weapon will lose that power one day. There are many other aspects I could raise. I said I would not speak for very long but I notice that I have been speaking for 30 minutes. I condemn the Budget. I condemn the attitude of this Government for not taking into account people in the lower strata of our society. I believe that this Government is failing in its duty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.
The speech read as follows-
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate amounts required for expenditure in 1979-80 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, other than those amounts provided by special appropriation and those included in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1979-80. The amounts sought for each department are shown in detail in the second schedule to the bill, and total $9,034,971,000; an amount of $125,000,000 is also included in the Bill for the Advance to the Minister for Finance.
This Bill seeks authority for the Minister for Finance to issue $5,098,369,000, the balance of $4,061,602,000 having already been authorised by the Supply Act (No. 1 ) 1 979-80. The expenditure program of the Government was outlined in the Budget Speech and the Schedule to this Bill is the same as that contained in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending on 30 June 1980 ‘ which was referred to the Senate Estimates Committees on 1 1 September for examination and report. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
-The Appropriation Bill (No. 1) puts into legislative form the proposals of the Budget. The Government has shown its capabilities of maintaining a policy of inequity, injustice and deviousness. It is hoaxing the people of Australia. We believe that the motion for the second reading of this Bill should be amended and therefore I move:
Earlier tonight, as Senator Hamer took honourable senators on an esoteric visit through the various sections of cloud-cuckoo land, the thought was running through my mind that if the Ayatollah Khomeini were running this country the eyes of the members of the Government would be taken out because of their blind sins of commission, their tongues would be cut out for the lies and half truths that they have told the Australian people and their hands would be cut off for the way they had dipped into the pay packets of the wage earners through increases in living costs and inflation. The obsession of this Government, in its sticking-plaster philosophy of action, accentuates and exacerbates the trend towards deepening recession. On every hand we see evidence that the further this Government goes, the worse the economy becomes and the more rapidly our resources fall into the hands of foreign owners. Takeovers are the order of the day. Big money, big capital and big companiesmultinationals are astride this country, and there seems to be no end to their activities. This Government encourages this type of activity.
This legislation highlights the true philosophy of the Establishment and of the capitalist system- double-talk and double standards. It is a blueprint to lock us into a depression, which is the classic way that the manipulators of the capitalist economic system can discipline and, in turn, turn to their advantage the savings, equity, jobs and security of the broad masses of the people. The cynical and immoral attitude of individual members of the Government, many of whose parents saw the heartbreak, suffering and hardship of the last depression, may think that, as long as they are on the lifeboat, others can sink. Greed and selfishness stalk this land and are enshrined in the policy of this Government and in this Budget. One after another, Government members have sought to justify and to rationalise their performance, knowing full well that they have gained a majority in this Parliament by pledges to the people to decrease inflation and to reduce interest rates, unemployment and taxes, but all of these pledges have been deceptive and dishonest. Instead, there has been and will be further increases in inflation and interest rates, growing unemployment and increases in taxation.
It has been indicated by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research that by January of next year there will be 550,000 people unemployed. As inflation increases towards the level of 10 per cent, there are ludicrous attempts by the Government to explain the reasons. We hear the excuse that petrol price rises by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries have been one of the major causes. The truth of the matter is that 85 per cent of the increases in petrol prices have arisen solely from the actions of this Government. As Senator Elstob has just observed, every petrol station in Australia has become a tax collector for this Government in a snide, underhand way. Yet the average Australian is being led to believe by the propaganda and claims of the Government that this is caused from outside. It is a direct tax on the people and the motorists of Australia to finance the subsidies and handouts that are being given to the bigger business people of Australia. As I have mentioned in my amendment, further taxes this financial year on the income paid by wage and salary earners will add to the declining living standards of the people. To add insult to the injury of these policies, there has been a heavy cut in the employment-producing areas, bringing about reduced employment prospects, particularly in the service industries and in industries dependent on government contracts. The spleen of the Government has been vented on the public sector and the Public Service. For the life of me I cannot understand why the Government continues to get support from members of the Public Service of this country when time after time the Government makes promises to them and then makes them the object of its bitter cuts and its negative policies.
To point up the differences between the concessions that are made to industry and the taxes that have been imposed on the ordinary wage and salary earner of this country, company taxation has been increased 8 per cent and contributes 6.3 per cent to the increase in taxation revenue, but 40.5 per cent of the increase in taxation revenue will come from pay-as-you-earn taxation. Excise on oil and liquefied petroleum gas will provide 2 1.5 per cent. This is consistent with the Fraser Government’s policy of replacing a still greater burden on wage and salary earners. Over the past four years the taxation concessions to big business have amounted to 33 per cent. In the same period the tax burden on wage and salary earners has increased from 39 per cent to 44 per cent. The treatment by the Government of the unemployed provides a stark example of the Government’s priorities. Funding for unemployment and training of the unemployed have been cut. In contrast, assistance to industry for research and development has been increased by 50 per cent to $32m and grants for export development have increased by 300 per cent to $2 15m. There has been a reduction of nearly $350m in health expenditure. This includes cuts of SI 80m in medical benefits, at least $45m in hospital expenditure and $24m in pharmaceutical benefits. Members of the public will be paying an extra $180m directly from heir pockets due to the abandonment of the 40 per cent government rebate.
If ever there was an example of government by stealth, we have it here. The charge that the Fraser Administration is the highest taxing government in Australia’s history is being well borne out. When the historians look back at the period of office of the Fraser Government they will describe how the rich got richer and poor got poorer. The decline in real living standards of Australian families will be seen as a factor in the upsurge in the demand for a change in the stupid, wasteful boom and bust system- the on and off, give and take away promises and hedge system. People are heartily sick and cynical of a living and continuing hypocrisy which is personified by this Government of stealth. For a second year in a row this Government has brought in a Budget designed to make people’s incomes and living standards fall behind the rate of increase in the cost of living. The Government admits that this year’s inflation rate will be over 10 per cent and that the rate is increasing largely as a result of the Government’s policies, but at the same time it engages in an unremitting campaign against wages.
As I have pointed out, a major inflationary factor has been the decision to move immediately to import parity pricing for Australian crude oil. This could quite easily have been brought about by gradual steps if it was necessary to encourage oil exploration. A very interesting situation has developed in that immediately the multinationals are able to get encouragement from this Government, they are not only moving rapidly to exploit our oil and other mineral resources, but also they are finding opportunities that have been kept secret and very much away from public knowledge. It could be said that this is an encouragement to develop our natural resources, but the whole situation rests on the fact that the Government is allowing our resources to be pillaged by people whose interests are overseas. If we examine the structure of most of the major companies in the takeover business in Australia, we find that by fair or other means they are using Australia as a quarry. We find that year by year the great advantages that should be flowing to the Australian people by way of expanding standards of living and greater employment opportunities are being skimmed off and are going into the pockets of people who reside overseas and who have a continuing vested interest, as long as we are locked into the capitalist economic system, to sit wherever they wish in the boardrooms of Geneva or of New York and to manipulate the colonial or developing countries so that their resources will flow into such a small area. The Government policy which is making it so much harder for Australian families to maintain their living standards on their present wages is that which brought about the added cost of health insurance. This Government promised that Medibank would be maintained, but in the whole history of this country there has never been a greater shambles than the present situation with respect to our health and medical services. Mr Fraser seems to be turning the clock back to the era when people who needed help with respect to health costs would stay away from hospitals and doctors because of the cost involved. They were led to believe that in a country such as ours, with such wealth available, everyone should be entitled to the best possible health service. We have seen frittered away a system which gave hope to them by building such a service into our standard of living. There seems to be no attempt to come to terms with the medical profession which is continuously increasing its fees. Only recently in Tasmania the Minister for Health officially cited examples of part time practitioners in public hospitals earning $90,000 to $100,000 a year. I suppose that in a system of getting in for one’s cut and of saying ‘Blow you Jack, I am fireproof, that is quite good business; but it all adds to the momentum which is building up.
I feel quite certain that this Government is instrumental in accelerating the growth of a frame of mind in the people of this country such that they will not suffer that sort of thing very much longer. Unless some lead is given by the Government towards a better attitude to health services and to the maintenance of the various social amenities in this society, it will pay very dearly for it. I would like to quote from a publication that was launched today by the shadow Minister for industrial relations in the other place. I think it describes the situation very clearly. On page 136 of Mick Young’s book entitled / Want to Work he said:
Nothing tends to confirm the view that Canberra was a mistake more than working in Parliament House. All around on the other side of the lake and in the southern suburbs there is one of the worst unemployment problems in Australia; but you would never know behind the closed doors of parliament. The Fraser government has full control; it can evade questions. No parliamentary committees, joint or party, have any real impact. A cynical government can ignore not only the unemployed in Canberra, but also the hundreds of thousands beyond Canberra. Even when the government appoints committees like the Norgard and Myers inquiries, it simply ignores their findings when they are inconveniently honest and shelves them. The Fraser government doesn’t want serious discussion or debate. The level of argument is typified by Malcolm Fraser’s gibe that Labor’ policy is to pay dole-bludgers so that they can go surfing. To sit in the House of Representatives over the past few years and listen to the speech-making from the government has been an embittering experience for me.
I think that paragraph highlights one of the cankers that exist in our community. It shows the cynicism of a government which has achieved power and holds power for power’s sake. This Government is assisting in the disintegration of the traditional parliamentary system of government in this country. We have seen a move away from participation by the Parliament in the ordinary activities of this country into an enclave comprising the Executive and the bureaucracy. I mentioned earlier the big majority that had been achieved by virtual stealth and by the use of the power of the media. As we witnessed today, that power is becoming greater as a result of a further monopolisation of the very essence of democracy- the dissemination of information. In combination with the media, that enclave of bureaucrats and the Executive is bypassing the normal democratic processes of this country.
– That is not true.
-It is true and the honourable senator will have to admit it when he realises what a rubber stamp the Parliament has become. At every level of parliament, both State and Federal, parliament has become only a condoning instrument. The honourable senator could quite easily have a button in his home which, when his leader’s finger went up he could press to register his vote, for all the influence he has on the affairs of this country at the present time.
– As the Father of the Senate, what responsibility do you accept for that?
– As the Father of the Senate, I have seen that influence being exercised more and more over the years I have been in this Parliament. When I came to this Parliament it had a tremendously important role to play in fulfilling the destiny of our democratic country. I have seen the full cycle. I think that this Government would welcome, as would the whole system, a way out of the difficult situation it is in. Governments in the past were always able to find an escape through war. The capitalist system, which is perpetuated by this Government, has to have the complete cycle of boom, bust and war. But the nuclear capacity of nations makes it impracticable to complete that cycle. The Government now finds itself in a position in which it has to find an alternative to war. All it can see ahead is a depression. The activities of people overseas and their influence on business activities here are reflected in the violent fluctuations in business activities reported in the Press from day to day, an indication that this Government has learnt nothing from the examples of the past.
I go so far as to say that the Parliament of this country has been reduced in stature not only by the events of 1 1 November 1975 but also by the activities of the present Government in maintaining its power by deluding and misinforming the people in our democracy. I place a lot of the responsibility on the individual members of the Government because they have not measured up to their responsibilities. They promised their electorates that they would come into the Parliament and perform their functions with a measure of independence. They are as ciphers who follow blindly the lead given by their leader. Their leader has assumed a dictatorial position, with a threat to Government members that any of them who do not follow the lead will have their candidature opposed at the next general election. That power is exercised in a subtle way by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and people who are close by him.
I believe also that the Government works closely in concert with influences similar to the Dirty Tricks Department’ of the Nixon Administration in the United States of America. The way in which the Government can manipulate State elections, the way in which it can manipulate preselections within the Government parties, the power and the fear it can impose on individual members of the Government parties, constitute a denigration of the whole democratic spirit. This Government has a lot to answer for. History will show that its negative and cynical approach has done such grave harm to the great hopes and the progress of this country that it will be condemned by generations to come.
– I wish to speak to Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1979-80. (Quorum formed). The proposed amendments which have been circulated by the Opposition cannot be justified or supported. It is not my intention to speak about them, as they do not face up to reality. One must remember that when this Government came to power the inflation rate was running at nearly 18 per cent per annum. Under this Government it was reduced to some eight per cent per annum and now it is running at about nine per cent per annum. Not so long ago Australia’s inflation rate was one of the highest of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries; now it is one of the lowest. We can think ourselves fortunate when we look at the financial troubles which the United States of America and Great Britain are in today. We could easily have been in a similar situation had we still been in the hands of the previous Labor Government. The rapidly increasing interest rates, going hand in hand with the high inflation rates, of America and Great Britain must be causing absolute turmoil in those countries. We are a very lucky country.
The Treasurer, Mr John Howard, has indicated that on 1 December people’s takehome pay will be increased. We realise that that follows a promise made in the last Budget. From that date, for instance, a taxpayer with a dependent spouse and receiving average weekly earnings will receive an extra $4.45 a week. Taxpayers right through the income scale will receive an increase. The abolition of the income tax surcharge will mean that the Government will have restored to all wage and salary earners the standard rate of tax introduced in the 1977-78 Budget. The standard rate of tax will apply to some 90 per cent of personal income taxpayers. I believe that the Government has done the right thing by everyone. As I have said before, on 1 December the Australian wage earner will feel the full effect of the changes I have mentioned.
This evening I wish to speak on two subjectsthe Northern Territory and Timor. The subject of Timor has been raised in the Senate on numerous occasions, but particularly in the last fortnight. I have been concerned- that is to say the least- at the situation that has developed there, particularly in the last week. I wonder whether more can be done for the unfortunate people of Timor. As I indicated in the Senate last week, I have asked the Government to take certain measures to bring relief to the Timorese. Senator Carrick, representing the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), has indicated the various things that Australia is doing. He referred to taxation concessions, an allocation of $2m to the Red Cross, assistance to the Australian Development Assistance Bureau and so on. This will alleviate the problem to some degree, but the Timorese need immediate attention. I will read a telex which I have received from a barge operator in Darwin. He refers to food aid to the East Timorese and states:
Press statement Thursday 15th stated that maize was available for shipment out of the east coast but no ship was available.
As a result there will be no shipment until January when Timor wet season will make internal transport difficult.
He goes on to say:
We understand Red Cross have requested deliveries to south coast of Timor where no port facilities are available. Therefore a foreign coasting vessel would be completely unsuitable and could only deliver to Dili.
The telex goes on to advise:
There are 4 landing craft working out of Darwin all Australian owned and manned and very short of work.
That means that the vessels are available immediately. The telex continues:
These vessels are ideally suited for working onto beaches or into Dili, and can carry 4 wheel drive trucks for distribution purposes.
Also, as I have indicated before, 600 tonnes of rice from Kununurra is available in Darwin at present but it is likely to be shifted to the southern pan of Australia in the next 10 days. This barge operator has suggested a very good way of getting immediate aid to East Timor. These barges can go from Darwin to Dili, or to the beaches along the island, and deliver much needed food in the form of rice within 36 hours. By using the equipment that the barges could carry, rice could be delivered within two or three days to the very isolated people who are suffering from famine.
We must realise that the wet weather is coming. If we dilly dally around for too long we will not be able to get support into Timor. The roads will be out. They are in poor condition. We have only a few weeks in which to deliver the much needed food. We know full well, from reports that we have received, that the people who are in the most desperate situation, those who are starving, are in the mountains. I do not have to repeat myself, but if we do not move quickly and get supplies into Timor the wet weather will arrive and these people will continue to be in poor circumstances without food during the mon.soonal months. Goodness knows how many more will die. No one knows how many have died. The guess is that the figure is from 100,000 to 200,000. I urge that everyone who has some say in the matter should move quickly and ensure that the barges are used as an emergency means of getting this rice in. The rice can be in the mouths of the people in Timor within 72 hours.
Timorese on the mainland of Australia are greatly concerned because of the fragmentation of families. Many Timorese have been able to get into Australia. I forget the exact number. It is probably some 2,000; perhaps not as many. The Timorese wish to be re-united. We are not treating the Timorese as refugees although I think we should. We are treating them as migrants. They have to go through the system laid down by Indonesia. So, they are brought in through that scheme. (Quorum formed). I did say I would be brief tonight. I am trying to be brief but two quorums have been called on me already and that means the loss of eight minutes or so. As I was saying, there is concern amongst the Timorese people because families have been fragmented. I and other members of the Senate have indicated in the last week or two that under the Indonesian-Australian scheme only some 280 people have come to Australia instead of 600. For many reasons we will never reach that figure. People have disappeared. People have died. A re-organisation is required now. I would only hope that Indonesia, now that it is showing a change of heart, will allow more people to come to Australia.
– Was not the number much greater than 600 originally?
-I understand from the arrangements that 600 people would come to Australia in the first group. Now, only 280 have come out. I have a letter from Mr J. Costa-Alves of Darwin which gives an indication of how the Timorese people feel. In the letter to me he discusses the problems of getting his brother Jose out. His brother Roberto, who is a resident of Darwin, is endeavouring to obtain permission for Jose and one other sister, Zelia, to come to Australia. The letter is well worth listening to. He wrote:
As you will be aware, the Indonesian Government has decided that residents of East Timor not opting for the Indonesian nationality would no longer be eligible to maintain or gain employment or carry out any sort of commercial activity. This policy came into force on the 1 st August ultimo, according to my sources, and as many others, Jose Aravjo was affected by it. Until then he had been employed by the Indonesian Civil Aviation authority as airport manager in Dili. Another one affected by this decision was Henrique Simoes who lost his job with the Department of Finance and whose application to immigrate to Australia also did not meet the requirements laid down by the so called ‘family reunion ‘policy.
The reference is to Australia’s policy. The letter continues:
Indeed that is a designation that is causing a certain amount of confusion. The Timorese wonder whether, when the Government decided on the present criterion, they based it on an Anglo-Saxon concept of ‘family ‘ whereby family ties do not appear to be as binding and complex as they are in the more traditional ways of these people.
The reference there is to the Timorese. The letter continues:
Time and time again I have the question put to me as to whether, in accordance to Australian custom, once married a person is expected to consider as family the spouse and children solely, forsaking all other relatives. They find it extremely difficult to relate the ‘family reunion’ bit to the Government’s attitude of consistently refusing to allow precisely that.
That is a reference to Australia’s immigration policy, which applies to all peoples of the world other than refugees. I read further:
And knowing that some of these parents, brothers and sisters they want to bring over are actually starving to death only tends to augment their perplexity and compound the feeling that the plight of their relatives appears to have been forgotten. A great emphasis is currently being placed on the tragic circumstances of refugees in other areas to the detriment, it would appear, of the ones at our doorstep. If consideration is to be given to the fact that the Timorese have always regarded the Australian people in high esteem, as friends to be trusted and protected, as vastly demonstrated during W.W.2 when many were tortured and killed by the Japanese because of their loyalty to the Australian commandos, one can not help but sympathise with the resentment that is beginning to surface. The feeling is that if people who may have shot at Australian soldiers or were at one stage or another considered the enemy, are now being allowed into the country by merely knocking on the door, others who actually sacrificed their own to protect Australian lives should be entitled to at least the same amount of courtesy.
All I can do is once again ask: Can we please do something for the Timorese to whom we owe so much and who are our very close neighbours?
I wish now to refer briefly to matters which relate to the Northern Territory. (Quorum formed). I wish to refer specifically to what has happened in the Territory since the transfer of powers occurred. We are not seeing in the Territory an upsurge in development and in all matters relating to finance. I believe that the arrangements made between the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government in respect of its first Budget have been very good. The sum of $442m has been handed over as a one-line Budget appropriation. This has given the emphasis to development in the Northern Territory. It was very interesting a fortnight ago to take part at Broome in the Northern Australian Seminar. Those who attended included Sir Charles Court, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Treasurer of the Northern Territory, and some 200 other people who gathered there to discuss the development of the North. The Treasurer of the Northern Territory, the Hon. Marshall Perron, a very able young person, delivered a very interesting paper. He informed one and all of certain very interesting facts, including the fact that the Northern Territory’s mineral production has earned $249m, tourism some $85m and its cattle industry $70m and that fisheries production has continued to grow. He went on to say that the capital commitment in the Northern Territory for major projects is today running at around $600m, double that of South Australia and six times that of Tasmania. I suggest that any State or Territory which can produce such figures must have an economy that is running very strongly. Also, it should be noted that the Territory’s population is increasing at a faster rate than that of any other part of Australia. I seek leave to have that statement incorporated in Hansard.
The statement read as follows-
The Northern Territory has become an important factor in the challenge to develop Australia’s North. I think it fair to say that we have made an aggressive turnaround. The talk that we were the forgotten one-sixth of Australia is being relegated to legend. The Territory is now an exciting, progressive region attracting keen interests from investors across our borders, and from the Asian region as well.
The scene is set for economic advance: a statement borne out by a quick review of the Territory balance sheet after one year of self-government:
In 1 978-79 the top four sectors of the Territory economy registered a staggering one-third increase in production value. Increasing world prices for raw materials, greater production volume and widespread enthusiasm and initiative all contributed. Our mineral production earned $249m, tourism some $8Sm, our cattle industry recorded $70m, and fisheries production grew by more than one quarter to make us Australia’s top fish producer in per capita terms.
Capital commitment to major projects is today running at around $600m, about double the South Australian figure and six times that of Tasmania.
These brief indicators reflect how the Territory is changing. Internationally we have sent trade delegations to South East Asia and recently we had an exhibit at the Singapore Trade Fair. Our trade with Asia includes minerals and prawns shipped to Japan and beef and buffalo to Singapore and Malaysia. Samples of mung beans, trepang and vegetables have been or will be sent north for evaluation. In turn, vehicles, timber, processed foodstuffs, furniture and other goods are imported direct from Asia.
There can be no doubt that North Australia is the region of Australia’s future. It has enormous reserves of raw materials. It has major deposits of iron, bauxite and zinc. It has enormous energy resources of uranium, and coal. It also has oil and gas.
The territory ‘s part of that picture is significant: 18 per cent of the world’s known uranium reserves- 330,000 tonnes; equivalent in energy terms to the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait;
With an estimated 5 million tonnes of manganese at Groote we supply 1 0 per cent of the world market;
The world’s largest lead-zinc deposit- 227 million tonnes, located at McArthur River;
In the Centre, estimated recoverable reserves of 60 million barrels of oil and 20,000 million cubic metres of gas at the Mereenie and Palm Valley fields;
Offshore significant potential exists as well. Several shows of oil and gas have already been encountered in the Bonaparte Gulf area.
Our neighbours in Northern Australia share this mineral bounty. And like the Territory they also share rich fish and pastoral resources and unique scenic attractions which will help the North capture an increasing slice of the world ‘s biggest industry- tourism.
In the long term Northern Australia has development potential unique in the world. In the short to medium term our very location dictates how well we are placed to aid those vast populations and growing economies to our north to meet their demands for minerals, energy and food.
Scope for regional economic growth is limited only by the imagination of those involved.
– Perhaps the keynote of the statement is to be found in its final sentence, which reads:
Scope for regional economic growth is limited only by the imagination of those involved.
The Northern Territory Government has that degree of imagination and in the Territory things are booming. When one talks of things booming one thinks of the uranium industry. Some 1,250 people employed in the Jabiru area are directly involved in the building of that town and the development of mining. That does not include the people who are servicing that group. When one considers the matter carefully and recalls the servicing that is required to support 1,250 people in the front line- mining, building towns and so on- one can multiply that figure by six. That is similar to the scale that was used in speaking of the army- for every man at the front there were six behind him. The result is that there is now considerable employment in the Northern Territory. Industries are booming. There is no room for depression. The Northern Territory Government, for instance, has brought in a home sales scheme which is very interesting. The lowest interest rate under it is some 4 per cent. In this way the Northern Territory Government is encouraging movement to the Northern Territory and is encouraging home building. Also of note are the road works that are proceeding. The Darwin port development is to be on such a scale that by 1 990 Darwin is expected to be a major port. Private enterprise is moving also. The Peko organisation is spending $35m at Tennant Creek in rehabilitating the smelter and the mine at Warrego. One could go on and on.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) also is creating employment for Aborigines through the Community Development Employment Project. The Aboriginal people certainly applaud this Project. It is their wish that they be given work rather than receive, as they call it, ‘sit down money’. This community development in the Aboriginal settlements will provide additional employment there. The Northern Territory is booming. It is boom time now and there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to feel that the Territory is in a depression.
As a member of the Senate Estimates Committee C, I wish to refer briefly to the Hansard report of proceedings of 24 September. Mr Searle, First Assistant Director-General, Quarantine Division, Department of Health, appeared before the Committee. He is a dedicated person and has done much for the security and surveillance of the North. During the discussion regarding the work that was carried on, he indicated that he could not say at that stage that his men, in an emergency, could go on to Aboriginal land at a moment’s notice. That is not what land rights is all about. This situation is extremely dangerous for the welfare of Australia. The matter has been referred to Senator Chaney who is sure that the lack of legislation was a mistake. It has recently been found that the legislation does not cover officials of the Commonwealth. Action will be taken to ensure that the matter is corrected so that Mr Searle and all those other men who protect Australia through our quarantine laws, in the case of an emergency, can go to any part of Australia whether or not it be Aboriginal land. (Quorum formed).
On the same day, 24 September, Dr Travers, First Assistant Director-General, Medical Services Division, Department of Health, also appeared before the Committee. He is another person who has a lot of knowledge and experience in the North. When discussing uranium mining in Rum Jungle some 25 years ago, information was given that the Department of Health had checked many miners in those days to see whether the mining of uranium had had any effect on them. The check indicated that information relating to this situation possibly existed in archives. Despite the fact that four quorums have been called in the 30 minutes that I have been speaking, I will not hold the Senate. I have a letter dated 2 November from the Minister for Health, Mr Ralph Hunt, who described the search of the archives for results of examinations of people who worked in the uranium field and how he sees the situation at present. It is a very heartening letter because it shows that if proper safeguards are implemented in the mining of uranium, there is no doubt in my mind, having considered the information that is available, that uranium mining can take place without ill effects on those employed in the industry. I seek leave to have this letter incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows-
Minister for Health Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 2 November 1979
My dear Senator,
I refer to the question you asked in the Senate on 26 September 191 9- (Hansard, page 9SS), a similar question asked by you at the Senate Estimates Committee and your letter of 5 October 1979 concerning the examination of uranium miners who worked at Rum Jungle some 25 years ago.
You will recall that officers of my Department undertook to search archives for results of examinations of uranium in urine of these miners and this has now been done. Samples of urine from the miners were sent on a monthly basis to the School of Public Heath and Tropical Medicine, University of Sydney for estimation of the uranium and the archival records of the School have been examined.
From 1956 until 1968 there were examinations of urine of 103 different individuals and the total number of examinations ran, as you would expect, into many hundreds. A careful scrutiny of all examinations done has shown that on no occasion the School expressed any concern on the uranium found in the urine specimen although, on some occasions because of what appeared to be contamination of the containers and wide variations in readings in a particular individual from month to month, some queries were raised. These appear to have been satisfactorily resolved when the next specimen was submitted for that individual.
No addresses for any of these individuals were given as the samples were submitted by the employing authority, Territory Enterprises Pty Ltd, to the then Department of Health in Darwin and, as previously stated, forwarded by them to the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Oversight of the results was undertaken by the Occupational Health Section of the School and some copies of their reports back to the employing authority were also forwarded to Central Office. It has not been possible to locate these in the Canberra archives.
As mentioned in the Depanment’s reply to the Secretary, Senate Estimates Committee C, the Department of Health in the Northern Territory has some further results of tests conducted up until January 1971 but again these do not show any abnormalities. Because of the absence of the original addresses of the miners it would be almost impossible at this time to undertake further health checks of them. To do so would involve going back through the records of the employing authority and then to search the electoral roll and registration of deaths in all States in Australia. This epidemiological research would probably take at least six months and occupy the full time of an officer in the duties. The information likely to be achieved from such research would not now prove of any significance as in the 23 years since uranium mining began in 1 956 a great deal more scientific knowledge has accumulated on the ways of measuring exposure of miners to radiation hazards.
The Australian Radiation Laboratory of my Department has developed a personal dose meter which is now being worn by all uranium miners in the Northern Territory and the results of these are read each month. This gives a more accurate determination of the exposure and will prove to be a greater safeguard in protecting the health of all those employed in the industry. The Laboratory is also developing a further type of device which will be worn by the miners and which will give a more accurate result of exposure to radon gas which is the main concern in determining whether an individual has had over exposure. It is hoped that these devices will be available early in 1 980.
All the results obtained up to September from the miners working in the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory have been within normal limits and I can assure you that if any further tests show that the limits set out in the Code of Practice on Radiation Protection in the Mining and Milling of Radioactive Ores are being approached, urgent advice will be provided to the employing authority and to the Department of Health in the Northern Territory.
Yours sincerely, RALPH J. HUNT
Senator B. F. Kilgariff, Parliament House, CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600
– I thank honourable senators for their comments relating to the Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ) 1979-80.I suggest that you, Mr Deputy President, put the question on the amendment to the motion: ‘That the Bill be now read a second time ‘.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator O’Byrne’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator Webster) agreed to:
-The Committee will now proceed to the consideration of the votes in Group A. Is it the wish of the Committee that we take the votes in Group A together? There being no objection it is so ordered. The question is:
That the votes contained in Group A be now passed without requests.
Proposed expenditure $ 1 7,602,000.
Proposed expenditure, $444,973,000.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Proposed expenditure, $52,343,000.
Department of the Treasury
Proposed expenditure, $272,026,000.
Proposed expenditure, $572,957,000.
– I would like to speak on a couple of items that arise in Group A relating to Parliament and to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. I would like particularly to refer to some items that were raised in the report of Estimates Committee A. The first matter I shall deal with briefly because it has been commented on very recently in the Senate. That is a matter which arises under the vote for Parliament. I would like to draw the Senate’s attention once more to the opinion expressed by Estimates Committee A on the subject of parliamentary appropriations and staffing. I do not want to add a great deal to what has been said, except to say that on a number of occasions Estimates Committee A and other committees of the Parliament have reported their views on the matter of the staffing of Parliament. On each occasion they have put the view that the staffing of Parliament is not something which should be subject to Executive Government. I think that the resolution of the House Committee in May 1972, which is quoted in the report, puts the view very well. I shall quote it again: It states: the proper course is that the appropriation by Parliament for such staff and other faculties for the Senate, its members and office bearers, should be administered by the President acting, where necessary, with the advice of the Senate House Committee and subject to any direction of the Senate; and that insofar as it may be convenient for such staff and facilities to be provided by Departments or Branches of the Executive Government, such agencies should act purely as service agencies on the authority of and in accordance with arrangements made with the President.
This expression of sentiment by the Senate is becoming almost a pious resolution. The difficulties which the Parliament and the working of the Parliament is encountering at the moment are becoming more and more marked. At present we have a situation where we ought to have a certain agreed staffing of the Parliament, but because of Public Service Board staff ceilings, the Parliament is not allowed to employ people in those positions in which there is no dispute that there is a need. I think that all of us are aware in one capacity or another in our work as senators that it is alleged that the operations of certain committees are affected in terms of their staffing and that the operations of certain departments of the Parliament are affected. This matter was raised in an Estimates committee in the House of Representatives recently and a suggestion was put that parliamentary appropriation should be a oneline appropriation, so that the Parliament can decide how the money is to be spent. Of course, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are the critical people in that issue.
I would just like to say once again that I think this Senate should endorse that sentiment which has been expressed many times, as I have said, by Estimates Committee A and by other committees of the Parliament and is now being expressed more and more by individual honourable senators. I hope that those outside the Parliament who take an interest in this item would not suggest that members of Parliament are trying in any way to escape proper scrutiny of how money is spent on Parliament and to what effect but would understand very clearly that it is basic to our system of parliamentary government that the way the Parliament administers itself is no business of Executive Government. In fact, there is an inherent clash of interest on occasions between those two issues. To be controlled, as we are at the moment by Executive Government in an arbitrary fashion on the question specifically of staffing, is very seriously to threaten the future functioning of Parliament. I do not suggest that the present situation is in any way sinister, but I do suggest that it has a potential always for denigrating the role of Parliament and indeed may be seriously spoiling its role.
Much is heard these days about public concern for the operations of Parliament. Much is heard about how the public thinks that the Parliament could do a much better and more active job in representing the people and in carrying out the functions of democratic government. If the Parliament does not have such basic things as its essential staffing then it cannot. I would hope that the public would respond to the sentiments of that issue which has been raised and which I touch on just very briefly. Another item arose while matters were being considered by Estimates Committee A in the estimates of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The first issue is one that has arisen many times in the past in different ways and from different angles, and that is the matter of the Special Air Force Fleet, usually referred to as the VIP fleet. I would like again to draw the Senate’s attention to comments that were made in the report from Estimates Committee A and the historic situation in regard to VIP flights.
This year the Estimates Committee had available to it an outline of expenditure made under the Advance to the Minister for Finance. In checking through that certain figures occurred in relation to costs for VIP flights. In looking through the actual expenditure for 1978-79, the proposed expenditure for 1979-80 and proposed and actual expenditure for a series of previous years the Committee found that there is a very consistent pattern relating to estimates of expenditure for VIP flights. Put very simply it is this: Each year Estimates committees and the Senate are asked to approve an estimate provided to it of expected expenditure on VIP flights for the following year. Each year that estimate is wrong. Each year it is lower than the actual expenditure for the previous year. So we now have a history of expenditure in successive years: In one year we have a certain expenditure on VIP flights; in the following year an estimate made which is significantly lower than the expenditure for the previous year, but an actual expenditure by the end of the year which is significantly higher than the expenditure for the previous year. The pattern is clear that there is always an under estimate of the cost of VIP flights. There is always an expenditure much higher than the previous year.
One could draw a very simple conclusion, one would think, that one could expect the cost of VIP flights in any year to be at least as high as the actual expenditure for the previous year. In fact, in all the years the Estimates Committee went back through one could expect it to be higher. One would expect it to be at least as high as the actual expenditure for the previous year. A number of questions were asked in the Estimates Committee and some bases of estimating expenditure were given. I cannot accept that we really got a full explanation. Some information was given as to the basis of estimating expenditure on VIP flights. Non-recurring events such as royal visits, elections and referenda were referred to. The expenditure for these events is taken out when estimating for the following year. I would like to refer to additional information that was given to the Senate in the form of a letter from Mr J. G. Hinton, Assistant Secretary, Services Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Right at the end of that letter, which replied to questions on the subject of estimating the costs of VIP flights, it is stated:
Use or funds from the Advance to the Minister for Finance resulted from an unforeseen increase in usage of 34 Squadron aircraft attributed to VIP operations. ( Quorum formed).
I have not spoken on the Appropriation Bills because I have respected the pressures of time and the sacrifices that other senators have made in relation to their speaking opportunities in this session. I would just like noted for the record that the speech I give, having taken the opportunity of speaking in Committee, is limited to 15 minutes. I intended to raise three points which I thought would have been of concern to the Labor Party. The points are: First, the matter of how Parliament runs itself; secondly, VIP flights; and thirdly, expenditure on the GovernorGeneral’s establishments. Some of my time has been used up by the calling of quorums which of course members of the Opposition are perfectly entitled to do. It is their absence from this chamber which means that extra time is used up. I will not use more than my 1 5 minutes. If I do not manage to cover all the topics, I am very sorry that I have not been able to give justice to these subjects in the Senate. I certainly try to do my best. Returning to the letter that I was quoting, it states:
When the 1978/79 Additional Estimates were prepared by the Department of Defence VIP hours were assessed on the basis of the pattern of flying between the first and second halves of the year would be the same as occurred in the previous year. On this basis total VIP hours were expected to be 2670. In the event 2999 hours were charged.
There is then another comment. No explanation was given as to why the extra hours were charged. There might be a very good reason. I am saying that I do not think the Senate has been given either in Estimates committees or by additional information a proper explanation of why VIP estimates are consistently so low and why the extra money has to be taken from the Advance to the Minister for Finance every year. We have had some debate in this place on the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance. We have recently had a report from the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations on the matter which did not make it final. The Estimates Committee did not make a stronger comment in its report because it was awaiting that report from the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. However, the Estimates Committee indicated its concern over the consistent use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance for meeting additional costs of VIP flights which we think on a long basis of history could quite reasonably be estimated rather higher than they were and continue to be.
The third item that I wish to raise, and I think time will probably run out on me to do it proper justice, is the matter of the allowance to the Governor-General which appears under the estimates of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Curiosity was aroused by the fact that the accounting seemed to be very particular in this case. In the questioning of officers from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and in additional information received after the Committee had reported we were told:
Expenditure under appropriation items for the Official Establishments, other than the Allowance for the GovernorGeneral, are totally auditable under the Audit Act.
Because the funds are provided as an Allowance, the Governor-General is not required to refund any balance of the Allowance unspent at the end of the financial year and any such balance is applied to official expenditure in the following year, with the appropriation being adjusted accordingly.
These accounts are audited privately. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with the audit. I am not suggesting there is anything improper about the way the allowance is being used by Government House. I do suggest, however, that it is nonsense to put to the Senate an estimate which pretends to add the figures up to a certain amount when we are told in evidence that in fact that may not have been the total. If there was some money left over- we do not know whether there was any money left over because that information is not available to anyone other than the Auditor-General on a private basisthen it is applied to the next year. Under those circumstances the Senate can make no proper scrutiny of that item. We have made the comment in our report that if we are not to be given information relating to the allowance to the Governor-General so that we can make any sensible sort of examination of the expenditure of those public funds then those estimates should not be part of the Appropriation Bill. The money should be appropriated in some other way, under some special Appropriation Bill or some suitable device. We should stop playing ‘let us pretend ‘ with the subject of the allowance to the Governor-General for upkeep of the GovernorGeneral ‘s establishments. Questions were asked of the Auditor-General about whether this proposal, that is, a special Appropriation Bill, had ever been considered. They were also asked of a representative of the Department of Finance. I report to the Senate that the answers were curt and to the point. The Auditor-General said:
This is a matter on which the Auditor-General has not expressed, and would not wish to express, an opinion.
I am obliged to the Auditor-General for telling me that he has not expressed an opinion. He does not explain why he would not wish to express an opinion. If the Senate ever asks him to express an opinion in the future, as the Senate would be entitled to do, I hope he will give a proper explanation of that comment. The Department of Finance said in the last sentence of its letter:
I now confirm that there is no indication from this Department ‘s records of the Auditor-General’s having indicated a view on the matter raised.
That is not an answer to the question asked. We asked whether the Department of Finance had a view on it. That matter is not settled. This is not a matter of great moment in a sense because it is not a large amount of money. As I have said, I am not suggesting there is anything improper. However, I think the Senate should be clear on what it is doing when its Estimates committees are considering the Estimates, and when those committees are reporting and recommending that estimates be approved. We should be able to discuss these things sensibly. I suggest to the Senate, and the Senate can make of it what it will, that in the case of the allowance to the Governor-General the Senate has no information on which to form a conclusion.
– I want to direct my remarks to the estimates of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I refer first of all to the staffing of the passport office in Sydney. I speak with some knowledge of it because when we had the sudden increase in air travel because of package deals I personally intervened and sought additional staff. I think that an additional six staff members were appointed. Therefore I cannot be accused of asking for an impossible output from the passport office. We had a very dedicated officer in charge, a Mr Hanna, and it was a pleasure to do business with him but I am taking a dim view of the matter I raise because this Government talks a lot about productivity. A Sydney boilermaker took two hours off to travel to Sydney from Cabramatta. He has a difficult problem. He has a Korean wife and one child born in Korea and one child born in Australia. My secretary asked that that matter be given priority appointment within those two hours and she got a semi-lecture about the system.
It is not my place to indulge in unnecessary battles with members of the Public Service unions but I have never been backward in taking on the Public Service Board in relation to inadequate staffing. Does the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) keep a watch on the Sydney passport office and ensure that there is enough staff to meet reasonable demands? Secondly, I have the quaint viewpoint that a senator or a member of the House of Representatives is primarily an Ombudsman. If somebody gets two hours off work to come into the city to deal with an intricate passport issue, I do not want my staff to be lectured by any senior officer at the passport office in Sydney. Without trying to get into a dispute on the battle of the sexes, it is remarkable that a member of Senator Martin’s sex has found herself as a senior officer in that place.
I have come to the opinion that some women feel they have to be more militant about a Public Service screed than a man. I am not going to have my staff lectured by any senior member, whether they be female or male. I hope that information will be conveyed to the Sydney office because I am the person who obtained the additional staff
While I am on the question of passports I want to correct the record. I refer to the Age of Monday in which there appeared threats made by a group from the Croatian community about a dispute between the Government of Yugoslavia and West Germany over a former Australian resident, a Mr Dragoja. There is some obscurity as to whether he is an Australian citizen. When I raised this matter with Senator Carrick on Monday the name of the president of the particular Croatian group in Sydney was raised inadvertently. There is no question that he has Australian citizenship. If a trade union leader speaks a bit militantly a Minister rebukes him but I have waited 72 hours and I have not heard any Minister, much less the Foreign Affairs Minister, give some overdue advice to the effect that a dispute of this nature is not sufficient to justify threatening allegations to the Australian public. If this particular man overseas has an Australian passport, and he may have, he may well have some claim for mediation by the Australian officials in West Germany. But if he has only used Australia for transition purposes I think we should say so and tell him, frankly, that if he has got into trouble and has not got an Australian passport he need not expect anybody here to try to get us in a three way dispute with the other two countries.
There are two other matters I wish to raise. I know that Senator Sim, who has a vast knowledge of foreign affairs, would say that Backgrounder is an excellent publication, plus others. The “Department seems to be a little slow off the mark. I know of these numerous coups d’etat that occur in Latin America. I have in mind the situation in Bolivia. In recent times, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, we have gained fairly large Latin American communities. Irrespective of their political affinities, they are highly motivated politically. I am at a loss to know why, in view of the La Paz scenario, we have not had up to date statements via Senator Carrick in this chamber. I say that because I have had telephone calls from Bolivians in the trade union movement. Considering all the paper work that comes into this chamber each day I cannot see why we could not have had a day to day bulletin on what has been happening. Speaking as a trade unionist, trade unionists of the Federation of Bolivia were butchered in the streets. The situation there has become very confusing. Senator Wheeldon would be more knowledgeable than I. There are degrees even of Leftism; there are Trotskyites, other types of left, social democrats- a whole gamut. The statements we get in the papers are not too clear cut. To get me on side with Senator Martin, probably she has noticed that at last a member of her sex is now the President of Bolivia. If I am critical sometimes, I pay tribute at other times.
While I am talking about Latin America, I know that two of our senators have just come back from South East Asia. I do not question the story they tell about destitution there but I believe we are entitled to information as to what to do in relation to economic aid and general medical services for devastated Latin American countries. I ask in particular about Nicaragua. In Sydney and Melbourne there have been appeals for milk for the children of Santiago. I simply say that I would like to know just what aid we give those countries. I am not one of those altogether enamoured with the United Nations refugee officials. They have a phobia one way and not the other. Some of them do not believe they should have a policy of even-handedness. I hope that I can get fairly speedy answers about the matters I have itemised tonight.
– May I say at the outset that I fully support the comments made by Senator Martin regarding the appropriation for the Parliament and her criticism of the administration of the Advance to the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson). When I was chairman of Estimates Committee A, as Senator McClelland would well remember, we had some very strong comments to make about the improper use of that fund. I regret that this battle is still continuing. I would express the view that unless some satisfactory solution is reached the responsibility will rest upon the Senate to take some action to bring home once and for all to the Minister for Finance that this fund should be acted upon in accordance with the rules and not some ad hoc decisions which are reached from time to time.
I rise tonight to defend the officers of the Senate. My attention has been drawn to some comments made by Mr Scholes, the honourable member for Corio, at a meeting of House of Representatives Estimates Committee A. I have a very high regard for Mr Scholes but his comments could certainly be construed as questioning the dedication of officers of the Senate in servicing joint committees. Obviously he was referring to the servicing of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I have great knowledge and experience of that Committee. I believe it is true to say that, despite pressures, the Senate staff have always serviced that Committee efficiently and adequately. I am aware that there are pressures but of recent times, despite those pressures, every request has been met. I would not like it to be thought that there should be any criticism which questions the dedication of the officers.
There are problems in regard to the staffing of joint committees, but to imply that because some of the members of the joint committees come from another place there is less dedication, which implication one could draw from the remarks of Mr Scholes, is, I believe, to be completely unfair. He said that the staffing of the joint committees by officers of another House leads to those committees being involved in the internal politics of the administration of one House or the other. I have never experienced that. I do not believe that it is true to say that the members of the committee from the other House are placed in a disadvantageous position. I have never heard that comment made about any of the joint committees on which I have served. I believe it is fair to say not only that the officers of the Senate have acted with dedication in the servicing of joint committees but also that they have acted with great integrity. I do not want to be unfair to Mr Scholes but I must say that I have never heard from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence or any of its subcommittees, despite the pressures of staff, any comment which could be construed in any way as criticism of the staff of those committees. I rise tonight merely to place on record my fairly long experience of these committees and my appreciation of the services of the officers of the Senate.
Senator Martin raised the question of staffing, which I believe is a serious matter. I do not believe the Parliament should be constrained in the proper exercise of its functions by a shortage of staff. It is a matter for the Parliament. I do not believe it is proper for the Executive to involve itself in such a way that the Parliament cannot operate effectively or efficiently. There is a problem but, as I said at the outset, the Senate officers have always responded to any request of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I do not believe that any of the Committees has not been adequately staffed. Also, the officers of those Committees show no favouritism to members of one House or the other.
– I rise to speak to the estimates for the Parliament because of the reference which has been made in the report of Estimates Committee A and by honourable senators to matters on which 1 wish to make some comment. I have not had the benefit of having seen the remarks of my colleague Mr Scholes and therefore anything that I say is in complete ignorance of what he has said. I want to pay a tribute to the staff of the Senate for the excellent way in which they serve the Senate and the needs of various honourable senators.
– You would also include the support of the committees?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDCertainly the committees of which I have been and am a member and those with which I have had an association. I refer particularly to the work of those in the Senate Records Office, who work in most impossible and trying conditions. I feel that this Parliament is not doing the right thing by them in that it is not standing up to the Executive in the way in which it should be. Yesterday I spoke to the Remuneration and Allowances Bill, which made payments according to an executive decision to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives which were, in the terms of that Bill, much less than the amounts that had been recommended by the Remuneration Tribunal. On that very day, this Parliament agreed to the passage of the High Court legislation which virtually gave the High Court complete independence as to its financial operations. 1 was always under the impression that Parliament was paramount, that there was the Parliament, the Executive and then the judicial arm of government. Here we have the situation where yesterday the Senate approved an amount of some $48m being made available to the High Court to give it complete autonomy in its operations but the Executive was telling us that in its opinion the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be paid an amount much less than the amount recommended by the Remuneration Tribunal. We now find a Senate Estimates committee coming up with the statement, with which I completely agree, that any Parliament which claims or aspires to accountability of an executive government to the Parliament must make such arrangements for its own resources and facilities as are necessary to achieve this constitutional relationship in practice as well as in theory.
I say at the outset that I know that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have fought tooth and nail to get Parliament the right to be the master of its own destiny insofar as its financial arrangements are concerned. But the staff of the Senate and indeed of the Parliament must be a little cynical about it all when they hear, if my recollection is correct, of a suggestion that certain sections of the Parliamentary Library should be removed from the Parliament House- sections that serve the interests of members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives- that the Executive could not make available West Block to the Parliament and that the nearest place that could be made available for the servicing of parliamentarians is the old Kurrajong Hotel. Yesterday the Senate was approving for the building being erected across the road $48m to provide for its own financial autonomy, and here the Senate is talking about shoving out of this building essential members of the Parliament.
I am delighted to see that Senate Estimates Committee A has said much the same as a former Senate Estimates Committee A to which Senator Sim and I have alluded and of which my colleague Senator McLaren was a member. If the Parliament does not stand up to this encroachment of Executive control over it, frankly this place will have a short-lived future. There has been a constant downgrading of the authority of this Parliament since the present Government came to office. There is the situation today where we are completely in the grip of the Executive and of the bureaucracy, notwithstanding the attempts that have been made by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate to grab back for the Parliament some of the powers that Parliament should have. For instance, we have Ministers coming in here and sheltering under the protection of advice from their senior bureaucrats. Ministers of the Crown do not make statements here in their own right by being answerable to the Parliament and by accepting their responsibilities as Ministers of the Crown, but adopt the attitude that the advice of their bureaucracy has been of such and such a nature. The Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations has stated in that Committee’s report to this Parliament that roughly two-thirds of the statutory authorities that are answerable to the Parliament, not to the Executive but to the Parliament -
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:
That I do leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I was alluding to the fact that the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, of which Senator Rae is Chairman, has reported that two-thirds of the statutory authorities that are answerable to this Parliament have been late in tendering their annual reports to the Parliament. We have a situation in which the Executive has downgraded not only the salaries of the President of the Senate and of the Speaker of the House of Representatives but also, by the very same Bill, those of the officers of the Parliament. The Executive has control over the staff of senators and members because it sets the amount of money that will be made available to them.
I think that we should be looking at what has happened in the House of Commons. As from 1 January 1979 there has been a new procedure under the House of Commons Administration Act, which was carried in 1978. Under that Act the Clerk of the House of Commons prepares the Estimates for the Parliament. The House of Commons Commission, which was created by that Act and which consists of members of the House of Commons, then examines the Estimates that have been drawn up by the Clerk of the House of Commons and approves them. The Estimates are then referred to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who introduces them, as approved by that House of Commons Commission, as a financial Bill. Then the Parliament deals with the legislation through the normal procedures.
It is about time that we as a parliament had a very close look at the procedure that exists in the United Kingdom because if we allow the present situation to continue, with the Executive’s having complete power and control over the legislature and over the legislative process, this Parliament will come to be regarded by all and sundry, particularly by the younger generation in the community, as merely in the nature of a rubber stamp. In August of last year the Speaker of the House of Representatives presented to the Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers a paper entitled ‘Is the Role of the Legislature Being Submerged by the Executive Government?’ His conclusion was as follows:
Clearly, the Executive is submerging the Australian legislature to a significant degree, particularly in the House of
Representatives, and it has the potential to go further. Standing orders, established practice, the Constitution and the media provide the Executive with the means to maintain a stranglehold over the legislature, especially if Members are prepared to be bound by party solidarity. There is increasing evidence, however, that Members and supporters of the Parliament in the community at large are beginning to question the Executive’s increasing dominance over the legislature and that there is a groundswell of opinion favouring reform. I believe the debate will continue to develop in an intelligent and rational way and that the end result will be reform which enhances the power and stature of the parliamentary institution in Australia.
Having quoted that passage, I again commend all members of Estimates Committee A for the remarks made in the Committee’s report. The Committee stated:
It is therefore opportune to remind the Senate of the Resolution which was agreed to by its House Committee in May 1 972. It states, in part, that: the proper course is that the appropriation by Parliament for such staff and other facilities for the Senate, its members and office bearers, should be administered by the President acting, where necessary, with the advice of the Senate House Committee and subject to any direction of the Senate; and that insofar as it may be convenient for such staff and facilities to be provided by Departments or Branches of the Executive Government, such agencies should act purely as service agencies on the authority of and in accordance with arrangements made with the President.’
I appeal to Government back benchers to realise the responsibility they have to the Parliament and to the nation in this regard and to demand of the executive Government the right for Parliament to determine its own financial destiny.
-I call Senator Jessop. ( Quorum formed).
-I wish to refer to a matter which has been highlighted by the report of Estimates Committee A and which has been supported by Senator Douglas McClelland and by other honourable senators. It is beginning to sound a bit like a broken record. Recently honourable senators would have read and heard a lot about the need for Parliament to be reformed in a number of ways. Most of the matters which have been mentioned refer not to reform of the Parliament but to much needed reforms for the House of Representatives. There is one matter, however, to which the Senate should now turn its attention. This matter was raised by a committee of Government senators as long ago as 1965. Some honourable senators will recall that a separate appropriation for Parliament was proposed in 1965 by a committee of Government senators chaired by the then Senator Cormack. The silence of governments with regard to that proposal since then has been deafening.
Senator Murphy, as he then was, was the next to raise the matter when he pointed out that the Appropriation Acts, which presently embody the provision of expenditure for the Parliament, are Acts which in all other respects authorise the expenditure of moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. He told the Senate that the Parliament could never be considered an ordinary service of the Government. He stated:
It may be ordinary; it may be annual; it may even be regarded as a service; but it is not a service of the Government.
The Senate again had the matter before it when the Senate House Committee put down a report in 1972. That Committee was chaired by Sir Magnus Cormack, as President of the Senate, and Senator Guilfoyle, Senator Laucke, Senator Milliner, Senator Murphy, Senator O ‘Byrne and I were members. Senator Douglas McClelland referred to the report which was presented to the Senate at that time; I will not repeat what he said. The matter was referred to again in 1 974 by Senate Estimates Committee A. It was referred to again in May 1978 by Senate Estimates Committee A. It was referred to again in November 1978 by Senate Estimates Committee A. It has now been referred to again by Senate Estimates Committee A in its latest report. So honourable senators can see what I mean when I say that it is like a broken record.
The Committee comments that it is very much aware of the efforts of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to achieve greater control over the expenditure and staffing of the Parliament. However, in view of the long history of inaction by governments towards these matters and, seemingly, the complete disregard which governments have had for the resolutions and opinions of the committees to which I have referred, it is now time for the Senate to look at the matter specifically by making a reference either to a select committee of the Senate or to the Senate House Committee. Honourable senators will be aware of the widespread feeling throughout this Parliament and the country that the performance of the Parliament in ensuring that governments are fully accountable for their actions has deteriorated. Many calls for reform have been made. Yet the most significant and effective reform in the history of the Parliament- the establishment of the Senate’s legislative and general purpose standing committees and its Estimates committees- is becoming endangered.
In recent years, specialisation has increased enormously, particularly with the advances made in science and technology. More and more, governments rely on advice from experts and the Parliament, for its part, needs financial and staffing flexibility and a capacity to inform itself. Yet what has been the response to the President’s efforts to supplement the staff of the Senate? Because governments will not submit to the Governor-General in Council any staffing proposals of the President unless they first have the concurrence of the Public Service Board, the President is forced to go cap in hand to the Board to seek its advice. In Public Service circles it may be argued that the Board possesses the expertise and advice on appropriate staffing structures for Executive departments; it cannot be argued that the Board has the knowledge, expertise and understanding to advise the President on the staffing of the Senate. When the effects of those constraints upon the President are combined with an Executive-imposed staff ceiling (,n the Senate, the result is a most insidious form of Executive-domination of a parliament that has yet been devised.
I give as an example the sorry history of the present attempt to provide Senate estimates committees with research assistants in response to directions by the Senate. The Public Service Board magnanimously agreed to the creation of five research assistant positions in response to directions by the Senate. The Public Service Board agreed to the creation of five research assistant positions to service the then five Estimates committees. It told the President, in effect, that to fill those positions he would have to make five other positions within the Department vacant because the Board could not agree to an increase in the departmental staff ceiling. As a result, as we all know, Senate Estimates committees have had to struggle on by the arrangement of procedural officers and standing committee officers doing two jobs. Considering the duties which have to be performed by the Senate committee staff, it is quite incredible that that staff is loaded with that duplication of work.
Last May the President sought the creation of a number of positions at the middle range to alleviate the very severe work load imposed upon a number of areas of the Senate Department. The Board’s response was that the President of the Senate should engage management consultants to undertake a total review of the departmental organisation. As a result, the intolerable strain placed upon certain officers of the Senate will continue until the consultancy review is finished in about the middle of next year. Assuming that the consultant is able to see the problems which exist with the staffing of the Senate, no doubt a further period of some months will elapse before any relief is achieved.
As we are in the dying hours of this period of sittings, I will go no further on this subject, other than to outline the points which I propose to bring before the Senate in the autumn sittings of the Parliament. The first is the need for the Senate to set up a committee charged with the responsibility of considering the annual estimates for the Senate and for the President of the Senate then to submit those estimates to government as the Senate’s requirements. Senator Douglas McClelland indicated that the House of Commons adopts that practice. I can see no reason for our not doing so. The second matter is whether those estimates should be submitted to government and then to the Parliament in the form of a parliamentary Appropriation Bill for consideration in the sittings prior to the commencement of the financial year to which they refer. The third point is whether government should make provision for parliamentary expenditure by means of a fixed percentage of an average of government expenditure for the preceding three years, or whether the current situation of estimating from year to year should remain. The next point is the need for an advance to the President of the Senate, similar to that which operates as the Advance to the Minister for Finance.
A further point I propose to bring before the Senate is whether the committee appointed to examine the estimates for the Senate should be charged also with a responsibility to advise the President of the Senate on the creation and salary levels of positions for the Senate Department. That is another system which exists in the House of Commons under the Administration Act 1978 in the United Kingdom. The final point is whether the President of the Senate should and could be made an Executive Councillor to advise the Governor-General on staffing matters relating to the Senate. I am sure that those matters deserve serious consideration and, in the autumn session, I will raise them and probably will move a motion along the lines of the need to establish a select committee to look quickly at those issues.
I am sure that honourable senators will agree that the situation which has been brought to our attention by Senate Estimates Committee A has been allowed to remain unresolved for far too long. If it be thought by any honourable senators that I am seeking carte blanche for the Senate, they are mistaken. No honourable senator concerned with the role of the Parliament would suggest that the Parliament should be provided with unlimited resources. Just as there are restraints on the spending and staffing of government, so too should there be restraints on the spending and staffing of the Parliament. But for the Parliament properly to fulfil and maintain its function, it must make such arrangements as are necessary to achieve its proper constitutional relationship with the Executive, in practice as well as in theory. I finish my speech by reminding honourable senators that the Parliament is the supreme governing body of this country. The Executive is responsible to the Parliament, not vice versa.
– Earlier in the night Senator Martin spoke very briefly about the use of VIP aircraft. No doubt many honourable senators on the Government bench would be pleased to hear her speaking about that matter rather than my speaking about it. It is one of the issues in which I have taken a reasonable amount of interest over the past few years. One of the things I have noticed on looking at the costs of VIP aircraft is that quite often large aircraft are used; in other words, BAC- 1 1 1 aircraft are used when Mysteres quite easily could be used. I think there is justification to presume, from the figures I have looked at, that the use of the larger aircraft will increase, whereas the use of the smaller aircraft will decrease.
Before I say more about that, I think it might be appropriate, as today is 20 November, for me to remind honourable senators that on 22 November last year I asked a question without notice on a meeting in Sydney regarding VIP aircraft. That question is recorded at page 2352 of the Senate Hansard. I seek leave to incorporate the answer to that question. I assure the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster), who is at the table, that it consists of three straightforward pages suitable for incorporation. It contains no words that the Minister would not approve of.
The document read as follows-
LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE AND MINISTER REPRESENTING THE PRIME MINISTER
Use or Special Purpose Aircraft (Question No. W/N)
-On 22 November 1978 (Hansard, page 2352) Senator Townley asked me a question without notice, concerning which, if any, of the Heads of Government who were in Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional meeting in Sydney in February last year arrived or departed in a VIP type jet, and whether the Government has.considered hiring a suitable aircraft, when needed, rather than buying two aircraft for VIP use. The
Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
An assessment by officials of aircraft safety on international visits, based on a security assessment indicates that the security risk for a Prime Minister travelling on foreign owned commercially scheduled aircraft or by privately owned charter aircraft is unacceptably high. The assessment was tabled in the House of Representatives on 4 May 1978. The risk envelops other passengers. Inconvenience is also caused to other passengers on commercial aircraft because of additional security checks and security in respect of aircraft fuelling, loading and servicing. Travel on RAAF aircraft would eliminate or reduce such inconvenience and risks.
Similar advice was given to Prime Minister Whitlam and led to the use of RAAF aircraft and Qantas charter aircraft on overseas visits.
Qantas commercial services in limited circumstances and chartering of Qantas aircraft for VIP travel were assessed by officials as involving acceptable risks. The fact is that, whereas Qantas B707 aircraft had been used for charter by the previous Government, Qantas has now replaced its B707’s with B747-100 jumbo jets. The option of chartering B707 ‘s for overseas travel is therefore no longer open to the Government.
Officials discussed with Qantas various options for hiring suitable aircraft and the option- which proved to be unacceptable- of Qantas continuing to operate the 707 ‘s. Purchase of the 707 ‘s by the RAAF was the most practicable option to retain these aircraft in Australia and have them available for official tasks.
Although the decision to purchase B707 aircraft primarily satisfies the need for security on inter-continental VIP flights, the actual usage of the aircraft in the VIP role will be small and the main usage, will be on normal RAAF work.
The B707 aircraft are to based at Richmond- the home of the RAAF transport force. Present plans are based on the two aircraft together flying about 1,400 hours each year. Of this total, it is expected that about 20 per cent will be used for VIP tasks, 20 per cent for crew conversion and combination training and the remaining 60 per cent for Defence tasks. It is expected at this stage that the only VIP overseas task this year requiring use of a B707 will be in respect of the Prime Minister’s visit to Nigeria and Zambia at the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Present plans envisage four general categories of Defence tasks: changeover of personnel and dependents at Butterworth (as many as 40 return flights each year conveying 2,500 passengers); movement of Defence personnel (mainly Army) on overseas exercises; movement of Defence personnel within Australia; and other personnel or cargo tasks.
For many years the RAAF has chartered Qantas aircraft on a regular basis to repatriate RAAF and Army personnel and their families from Butterworth. The acquisition of B707 aircraft will now allow the RAAF to undertake, from within its own resources, the task of conveying changeover personnel to and from Butterworth and, on the same flights, to other destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. The cost of chartering aircraft to convey personnel to Butterworth and those other destinations was $870,300 in 1976, $1,201,500 in 1977 and $1,043,180 in 1978. The first B707 uplift of personnel took place on 22 April 1 979.
The Defence tasks so far planned for the B707’s in the financial year 1979-80 include the movement of Army personnel on international exercises. The exercises involve personnel of the defence forces of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States.
Some of the movements planned were previously undertaken by RAAF Hercules (e.g. Exercises Longlook, Tasmanex and Reindeer). Others were undertaken by transport aircraft of the RAF or USAF, or by commercial aircraft. For example, Exercise Northern Star/Southern Cross involves the exchange of UK and Australian Army sub-units for one month. In the past, the RAF has provided air transport for the 120 personnel of each nation. With the introduction of the RAAF B707s, Australia can now bear a more equitable share of the transport commitment. As similar opportunity applies in the case of Exercise Pacific Bond, which is an exchange of about 1 70 personnel between Australian-based and Hawaiian-based units; previously these moves were undertaken by USAF aircraft. In the case of US Army 25th Division command post exercise, Australian Army personnel deploy to Hawaii; previously similar deployments to Canada and the US have been undertaken by charter of commercial flights.
There are other international exercises with the defence forces of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and others in which the RAAF B707s could be used for personnel movement. However considerations of sharing the transport commitment equitably between the nations involved, together with practical considerations of limited aircraft and crew availability in the RAAF B707 case, determine the actual number of deployments to which the RAAF can commit itself.
For the financial year 1979-80, tasks already planned include about 20 Butterworth flights, about 12 flights in support of overseas exercises (to Singapore, Hong Kong, Hawaii and New Zealand), and about 10 flights in support of the Military Tattoo being staged by the Defence Force for the Western Australian Sesquicentennial Anniversary. The total hours involved in those Defence tasks already planned amount to about three-quarters of the annual authorisation.
I also refer the honourable senator to the statement by the Minister for Defence on 13 December 1978, in which mention is made of the many other factors taken into consideration by the Government in deciding to purchase the aircraft.
In relation to travel by Heads of Government to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sydney in February 1978, Prime Minister Desai of India travelled on an Air India exclusive use jet aircraft. At the Heads of Government meeting in Jamaica in December 1 978, only the national leaders of Australia and Norway did not travel by special purpose aircraft. It is very usual now for leaders of governments overseas to use Air Force or specially chartered aircraft from their national carriers.
– I received a reply about July of this year, some six or seven months after I had asked the question. It was a fairly straightforward question but I do not think it was answered. I had to admire the way in which the Government had attempted to do everything except answer some of the questions I had put to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick). The answer can be looked at in Hansard. I would also like to incorporate in Hansard some replies I received on 3 1 July this year from Mr Killen, the Minister for Defence, to questions I asked of Senator Guilfoyle. The replies, which were sent to me, are straightforward answers to questions. I seek leave to incorporate the letter containing those replies.
The letter read as follows-
Minister for Defence Parliament House Canberra, ACT 2600 31 July 1979
Dear Senator Townley,
You will recall that during the consideration of Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1978-79 Senator Guilfoyle undertook to obtain information on matters you raised regarding the Boeing 707 aircraft recently purchased from Qantas.
The following information is provided in answer to the questions you asked.
Did the Department of Transport have anything to do with choosing and purchasing the B707 aircraft that are to be used by the VIP fleet?
The Department of Transport was involved in the considerations which culminated in the Government decision to purchase B707 aircraft. It was not involved in the actual purchase of the aircraft. The contract for purchase was arranged by the Department of Administrative Services.
Who will fix the motors of the Boeing 707 aircraft we have now?
Qantas Airways Ltd will maintain the engines of the B707 aircraft under contracts similar to those under which they now maintain the engines of the RAAF C130, P3B and P3C aircraft.
Question Who will do the training?
Qantas Airways Limited were contacted to undertake initial aircrew and ground crew training. Any further training requirements will be undertaken by the RAAF.
Question Who will own the simulator?
It is understood that Qantas has arranged for the sale of the simulator to another operator of B707 aircraft. Because of the comparatively small number of aircrew involved, the RAAF does not have a requirement for a simulator.
Why were two aircraft chosen?
It was decided to purchase two aircraft to ensure regular availability of aircraft while at the same time allowing for necessary and unforeseen maintenance of each aircraft and to provide the capacity for the regular training of aircrew.
I would like to ask for the cost of operating the 707s. Answer
In February 1979, the Acting Minister for Defence advised you that the annual costs of operating and maintaining the aircraft (including personnel costs) were estimated at $4.500m.
Since that time this estimate has been refined, to accommodate a more comprehensive operating plan which calls for extensive use of the aircraft on personnel and family movement and allows for the progressive assumption of maintenance responsibility by the RAAF in the long term.
Based on these developments of the project the current estimated direct annual costs of operating and maintaining the aircraft are $4.940m and the annual long term indirect support costs are estimated at $0.440m.
The use of the aircraft, for the movement of personnel and families to and from Butterworth, in lieu of commercial chaner, is estimated to reduce Defence outlay in travel by approximately $0.800m a year.
Is it correct that the RAAF asked for a long range 727-100 series before it asked for 707s?
In May 1978, the Minister for Defence announced the Government decision to purchase two B727-100 series aircraft. This Government decision accorded with RAAF advice that a multi-engined aircraft provided greater safety margins for long overwater flights than did the two-engined aircraft in the RAAF 34 Squadron. Suitable B727 aircraft could not be acquired and modified in the time scales desired. The Government, in looking at alternative aircraft to the B727-100s, concluded that B707s could provide transportation for national leaders as well as having defence capability. The B707s are superior to the B727-100 series both in range and payload for overseas transport/special purpose flights, even if the B727-100s were fitted with longrange tanks at a cost of $ 1 .2m per aircraft.
As the B707s are to be used primarily for Defence tasks, one of the major requirements of the RAAF was for the aircraft to have a multi-role capacity. The B707s can be readily convened for use as a cargo or troop carrier, and are in fact being used regularly to transport Defence personnel to RAAF Base Butterworth, Malaysia. This diversity of use of the B707s, which is not possible with the B727-100s, was a consideration for the Government in coming to its decision to buy two B707s from Qantas.
Does the RAAF intend to change the motors, and if so at what cost, to alleviate the noise and pollution that the present motors cause?
The RAAF has not proposed engine replacement as a means of reducing the noise level of B707 aircraft. Engine replacement is one option B707 operators may have available to them. Another option is an engine noise reduction modification kit which is under development. The Department is maintaining a close watch on the cost and development of this option.
How many hours a year will these aircraft be in the air? Answer
The planned flying rate of effort is 700 hours per year, per aircraft; 1400 hours in total.
How many hours a year is it intended that the RAAF will use the aircraft?
The present planning indicates that of the planned rate of effort of 1400 hours per year, 1 120 of these hours will be available for Defence tasks, crew conversion and continuation training.
Senator M. Townley, Parliament House, CANBERRA. ACT.2600
-One of the questions I asked during the consideration of Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1978-79 regarding the Boeing 707 aircraft recently purchased was: Who will own the simulator? The answer which I received and which is contained in the letter which has just been incorporated reads:
It is understood that Qantas has arranged for the sale of the simulator to another operator of B707 aircraft. Because of the comparatively small number of aircrew involved, the RAAF does not have a requirement for a simulator.
I hope, because of the sale of the simulator, we will not be sending Royal Australian Air Force air crew overseas to be trained in simulators or aircraft. Later in the night I expect to be talking about the Department of Transport which sends some of its officers overseas to be trained to examine air crew. I hope that the Department of Defence will not now use that philosophy in relation to its VIP fleet. I hope that we will not see the use of the larger aircraft, particularly the 707s, in preference to the smaller aircraft. When the decision to purchase the 707 aircraft was being considered we were assured that the aircraft would be used only for international flights. I think that if members of the Government or people who are entitled to use VIP aircraft within Australia start to use the 707s within Australia this Senate should take heed of what Senator Martin said earlier tonight.
In my estimation the cost of our VIP flight is increasing more rapidly than it should. The VIP fleet contains three Mysteres, two BAC-11 ls two HS-748s and two Boeing 707s. During last financial year- before the two 707s were in usejust under 3,000 hours of flying were logged. That worked out to about 400 hours a year for each aircraft. That is not really enough to warrant the retention of all those aircraft. I think that I have said before that Air Niugini at one stage had one 707 aircraft that did 4,000 hours a year. I am not for one moment suggesting that one of our 707s should do 4,000 hours a year, but I think it is about time that the whole VIP fleet is rationalised. I think it is time that all the costs of the VIP fleet are put together so that they can be easily looked at by members of Parliament. It is very difficult at the moment to work out the cost of operating these aircraft. Different costs are contained within the estimates for different departments. I think it is time that we tidied up this aspect. If we have to have these aircraft their cost should be made clear to us.
The other matter I mentioned briefly relates to the Department of the Treasury. Page 194 of the Budget Paper No. 1 for this year shows that taxable income from $1 to $3,893- this has occurred due to tax indexation and the tax scales of the last few years- attracts no tax. The paper then sets out other tax scales. I think it is about time that all these scales were rounded off. A figure of S3, 893 seems crazy to me. It should be rounded off, as should the next figure of $ 16,608. This is only a small point but if the figures were rounded off it would make a little easier the arithmetic of the people who have to fill in tax returns and who do not have the use of one of the little things which light up when pushed.
-I wish to ask some questions which actually overlap between the appropriation for the Joint House Department and the capital expenditure on the Parliament of the Department of Housing and Construction. I will proceed and hope that the questions will be answered if the information is available. The matter concerns the new front entrance to Parliament House. I ask: Will additional staff be required to police the new entrances? If so, has additional staff been appointed? Does the estimate for salaries and payments in the nature of salary in the vote for the Joint House Department allow for additional staff to man the front entrance? It seems to me that such additional staff and expenditure, if incurred, would be recorded under the estimates for the Joint House Department. The issue overlaps with the capital expenditure on Parliament in the estimates for the Department of Housing and Construction. It looks as if the new entrance is finished, and I have been unofficially informed of that. I put those questions on the assumption that the entrance has been finished. Will additional staff be needed? Have they yet been appointed? Does the estimate cover their salaries and other expenses? If the additional staff have not been appointed, when are they likely to be appointed?
– In discussing the report of Senate “Estimates Committee A, Senator Martin earlier in the evening made some reference to the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance and the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations in relation to the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance. That latter report arose as a result of a reference by the Senate to that Committee which followed the May 1978 report of Senate Estimates Committee A. So, it was part of the follow-up procedure of the Estimates committees which led to the Finance and Government Operations Committee considering this question and making a report to the Senate.
I believe that it is relevant for us to consider for a moment, in the light of Senator Martin’s remarks, the contents and recommendations of the report.- Basically I think that the most important point to make is that before an Estimates committee or this chamber can really criticise the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance we have to somehow clear up the rules. The Finance and Government Operations Committee found, when it looked at the matter, that there are in use, in various ways, a whole lot of different criteria with different meanings in relation to the use of the Advance. The term ‘unforeseen and extraordinary expenditure’ was used in 1906 in the second reading speech of the then Treasurer during the passage of the Audit Act under which this was first introduced. We then find, in Finance Direction No. 29, the use of the term urgent or special circumstances’. We also find that the Public Accounts Committee has used the term ‘urgent and unforseseeable requirements’. The Department of Finance’s parliamentary handbook on Commonwealth financial affairs dated 1977 refers to ‘urgent and unforeseen expenditure’. The letter of the Treasurer (Mr Howard) in 1978 to the Chairman of Senate Estimates Committee A, which was part of the response to that Committee ‘s criticisms and which led to the reference to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, spoke of urgent or unforeseen needs ‘.
It is clear that this Parliament has not yet sorted out what it is talking about when it talks about criteria in relation to the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance. Although it may be good enough for the Parliament to approve happily something like $250m for the use of the Minister for Finance as an advance to help him deal with such situations, it is perhaps appropriate that we consider the report and recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations with a view to clearing up what the criteria ought to be. I believe that before there can be any serious consideration or criticism of the way in which the Advance to the Minister for Finance has been used one must determine the rules as to how he is to use it. This is why the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, in its recommendations, did what Senator Martin described as being perhaps a little disappointing. It found that Estimates Committee A, in proceeding upon the basis of criticising because it did not regard expenditure as falling within the category of urgent and unforeseen expenditure, had omitted to refer to the other criteria which it may be argued are also applicable. So we are saying: Let us clarify the criteria. Having determined the criteria, let us go ahead and look at how the Advance has been used. With that in mind, the
Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations recommended:
I pause to say so that it has some statutory backing and that it is clear that it is set out in the Finance Regulations and is to be altered only with the knowledge of the Parliament. The third recommendation states:
The amount appropriated to the Advance in Appropriation Acts No. 1 and No. 2 be limited to 2.3 per cent of the total of the previous year’s general Appropriation Acts. If the amount is exceeded, then the matter should be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure.
Again I would interpolate that the purpose is to prevent the sort of growth which has proceeded unchecked in recent years and to limit it to the amount which in the last couple of years has been regarded as a necessary but maximum sum, so that it will not be left within the power of the Executive to put before a Parliament any amount that it may choose, without at least the Parliament having a specific opportunity to say: ‘No, this has gone too far. The amount that you are wishing to appropriate for the Advance to the Minister for Finance is excessive’. The figure of 2.3 per cent was recommended in the light also of what prevails in the States, and in other countries of a similar nature to Australia. The fourth recommendation states:
The explanations accompanying the Appropriation Bills, which are examined by Senate Estimates Committees, be accompanied by a separate section for each Department showing the funds which have already been provided from the Advance.
I believe that is self-explanatory. The fifth recommendation states:
A statement of approvals of expenditure from the Advance be published at the end of each calendar month and then tabled in Parliament at the earliest opportunity. The statement should indicate into which category each item of expenditure falls, i.e., whether it is expenditure to fund payments pending the issue of Governor-General ‘s Warrants, to make advances which will be repaid within the financial year, to make moneys available for supplementation of existing appropriations for specified purposes or to make moneys available for new services for which no specific appropriation has been made. The statement should show all expenditure which requires the creation of a new appropriation item, but only expenditure above $30,000 for the other categories.
Those recommendations were made by the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations after having inquired in depth concerning the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance and having received a considerable amount of evidence thereon. I believe thatbefore the Senate takes further its consideration of specific items such as those that were raised by Senator Martin it should consider what the rules ought to be, should lay down certain rules and should then move on to an examination of the Estimates and the use of the Advance to the Minister for Finance in the light of those rules.
I take this opportunity to support what has been said by Senator Douglas McClelland, Senator Jessop and others in relation to the question of a parliamentary appropriation. I do not wish to go into it any further than simply to indicate that there are in this chamber other honourable senators who agree with the sentiments that have been expressed in relation to that.
– It may be appropriate if at this stage I make reference to one or two of the comments that have been made by honourable senators. Certainly, the advent of the Estimates committees has cleared up many of the questions that honourable senators would otherwise wish to ask. Indeed, many of the comments that have been made by honourable senators represent an endorsement of some of the things that have emerged from the answers that have been given. I can assure honourable senators that their comments will certainly be noted by the various Ministers. Probably the most important matter, as Senator Rae has indicated, was that raised by Senator Martin, who was followed by Senator Douglas McClelland, Senator Jessop and Senator Rae, in referring to the actual financing of the estimates for the Parliament itself.
The basic point in that regard which the Senate will have to face is the question of what is an ordinary, annual service of government. That has long been recognised as a matter for the Parliament to decide. I imagine that the Parliament is prepared to regard a particular set of fundings as the ordinary, annual services of government. Those honourable senators who have been in the Parliament for some time will recall that the currently-accepted interpretation of ordinary, annual services- those to which we may address ourselves- are those which resulted from the 1965 compact between the then Government and the Senate with respect to the content of the annual appropriation Bills. That will be one of the major matters to which those honourable senators must address their questions.
The compact did not vary the then existing practice of seeking appropriations for the parliamentary departments under Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ), which provides for the ordinary, annual services of government. I understand that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has replied to formal representations by the Presiding Officers concerning the estimates for the Parliament. The matters raised are still under consideration by the Government and by the Presiding Officers, but the comments and concern of honourable senators have been noted and will certainly receive attention at the earliest opportunity.
Senator Walsh raised two queries. I believe that the points he was making and perhaps that which Senator Rae was making in relation to the Advance to the Minister for Finance concern matters which arise under other groupings. As I understand it, at the moment we are dealing basically with Group A. We are not dealing with all the Groups. The points that were raised by Senator Walsh covered one or two departments, namely, the Joint House Department of the Parliament and the Department of Housing and Construction. I state in answer to Senator Walsh that work was completed on the front entrance to Parliament House on 24 July 1979. 1 have been advised that recently the employment of additional attendants was approved for the staffing of that facility. Perhaps at a later stage I will be able to quote the numbers for the honourable senator.
Senator Mulvihill, who I notice is to speak again, questioned whether the Government was sensitive to emergency situations. Large scale assistance to emergencies in the region this year has basically been in relation to refugees in Kampuchea and East Timor. We have concentrated aid mainly in Asia and the Pacific. South America is not a region of priority because of its distance from our country. We have monitored the situation in South America and have given small scale assistance on occasions to the Dominican Republic. It is very expensive to provide emergency aid to South America. Prompt assistance is usually provided by the United States of America and Canada. Obviously, those countries are in that region and can perhaps give it more attention than we can. Many other matters have been mentioned by honourable senators.
– What about the passport staffing in Sydney?
– I think that the honourable senator made the point that he had taken some part in achieving extra staffing for the passport office. I understand that the honourable senator went on to say that even though that had occurred, there was still some criticism of the two hours that his friend had to take off from work to obtain a passport and was still unable to get sufficient attention. The honourable senator then directed his comments to the fact that there was a relationship between another person-
– I said the officer acting in charge was very authoritarian.
– I note the point that the honourable senator has made. I do not know whether it calls for a comment from me. I will see that the appropriate Minister is advised.
– I join with the previous speakers in the debate firstly in congratulating the parliamentary officers and staff for the wonderful work that they do for members of Parliament. I include staff members from the top level through to those at the lowest level. They all do a wonderful job and deserve our grateful thanks. Senator Jessop said in his remarks about the Parliament that if certain actions were taken he would move in the autumn session for a select committee to inquire into the financing of the Senate. I hope that over the Christmas recess Senator Jessop can persuade enough members of his Party to support him so that that matter can be referred to a select committee and that it will not be just an empty promise which is made tonight. We look forward to Senator Jessop moving that motion when we return in the autumn session. If he does not, he will be promptly reminded of his promise.
Before I continue my remarks, I would like to make a suggestion. Group A of departments includes the Department of Education, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was decided that in debate we could roam over all these departments in this Group. But I think that in fairness to the public servants who are sitting in the gallery we should deal with the Group B of the departments on a department by department basis. When I look across the chamber tonight, I see parliamentary officers, officers from the Department of Education, officers from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and officers from the Department of the Treasury who have to sit here waiting. It may be good enough for the Government to keep the Parliament sitting after 10.30 p.m., but I do not think it is good enough to keep all these officers away from their families until late at night. Some of them may not be required to give any advice. If we had dealt with the estimates of the Parliament first, those parliamentary officers could have done their job and gone home to bed. The same situation could apply to the other departments in the Group. I hope that when we come to deal with the Group B of departments the Government will take this suggestion into consideration.
When Senator Martin spoke tonight she criticised honourable senators on this side of the chamber for cutting down her speaking time because quorums were called. There were insufficient Government members in the chamber to provide a quorum. Senator Martin had ample time to make her speech. She is not in the chamber now but she had no need to cut short her remarks. She could have spoken for 1 5 minutes and there has been ample opportunity for her to speak for another 1 5 minutes. Her argument does not hold. She criticised the costing and the appropriation for VIP flights and rightly so. She mentioned the fact that each year when we go through the Appropriation Bills and the Estimates we find that the costs of operating VIP aircraft is underestimated. She wondered why this happened. In my view there is a very simple answer. It is the overuse by this Government of VIP aircraft. I raised this matter when I spoke in the Budget debate on 29 August. I referred to a Press statement in the Sydney Daily Mirror on Monday, 27 August. The article was headed $3,498 tax slug for PM’s trip’ and stated:
Taxpayers are slugged $3,498 every time the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, flies from Canberra to his Victorian country property Nareen in BACIII VIP jets.
That is where some of the extra cost is incurred. Unlike the previous Prime Minister, who only had a journey to the Lodge or to his home in Sydney, we now have a Prime Minister who is costing the taxpayers of Australia $3,500 every time he goes home to Nareen. I stated when I spoke on the Budget Papers that we were not aware- perhaps the officers can answer this question tonight- whether these costs included the cost of a government car coming from Melbourne to Mt Gambier to pick him up and to ferry him over to Nareen. The car then goes back to Melbourne and when the Prime Minister wants to go back to Canberra it has to go to Nareen, take him to Mt Gambier and then go back to Melbourne. In my view, this is a deliberate, blatant waste of taxpayers money. That is one of the answers to Senator Martin’s question about why VIP aircraft costs are so enormous under this Government. The honourable senator may also recall a speech I made when the VIP manifests were tabled about the people travelling on VIP aircraft. It was shown in the manifest at that time that Senator Martin was flown around Queensland with the Premier of Queensland, Mr Petersen, the Deputy Premier, Dr Edwards, and some of the Federal members of Parliament in Queensland. I said at the time, and it has not been denied since, that it was just an election jaunt around Queensland. That is where the taxpayers’ money is going on VIP aircraft. I think that the taxpayers ought to be made aware of this.
We heard the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his policy speech of 1975 say that he was going to be a moderate Prime Minister and that he would not waste taxpayers’ money. When we look at the Estimates each year since 1975 we find that members of this Government have spent money on themselves as though it was going out of fashion, but not on the people who really need it- the needy people in our community. I raise another matter which comes under Division 505, Official Establishments. I have repeatedly asked that there should be a separation of the costing of the Prime Minister’s establishments- the Lodge, Kirribilli House and I think two others occupied by the GovernorGeneral. I am not so concerned about the costs of the present Governor-General because I think that he has made an effort to cut the cost of running those establishments, unlike the previous occupant of whom I was critical almost every time I rose to speak on this line in the Appropriation Bill. I think that the present GovernorGeneral is much more economical in the expenditure of money and in the carrying out of his office. I would like the Minister to tell me tonight the individual costs of the Prime Minister’s residence in Sydney and of the Lodge. I would like the answer in two separate amounts. I would like to know the cost of those residences over the previous i2 months. My other question may not come under this appropriation. I may have to ask it when we deal with the Department of Administrative Services. However, I have to ask the question now so that I do not let the matter slip through and then be told, when we deal with the Department of Administrative Services, that I should have asked my question in relation to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. My question is: If the previous GovernorGeneral, who now resides in the United Kingdom, is provided with a free telephone service, what has been the cost of that service to the Australian taxpayer since he took up residence in England? That is a question I would like answered. I have some other matters which I would wish to pursue, but I think I will wait until I receive the answers from the Minister on the three questions which I have put.
– I just want to add a postscript to my earlier remarks under the appropriation for the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding passports. I think Senator Webster does not understand the full thrust of the point that I am making. I repeat that if a person came into the office of the Department with the normal passport requests, and if he was not leaving Australia for six to eight weeks, his application would receive the normal processing. I emphasise again that it was good enough for the previous senior officer, Mr Hanna, that when one discussed a complex case he agreed that the applicant should be sent to the office immediately so that the matter could be unravelled. That is the point that I am making. I am not asking for any special favours. My staff and I are quite capable of evaluating what is a complex passport case as distinct from the case of the normal traveller. That is the message that does not seem to have got through to Mr Hanna ‘s successor. I notice that the Minister for Science and the Environment, Senator Webster, nods his head. I hope that there is an officer somewhere in this galaxy of talent from the Department of Foreign Affairs who can take the message through to the Department. I do not want a third department to carry the ball, so I assume that will be done. I am quite happy that someone will be responsible for this matter.
In view of the difficulties we had with Torres Strait Islanders and the boundaries between Australia and New Guinea, I understand that we are appointing what are called border observers. I do not expect an answer now, but perhaps the Minister can tell me how many border observers will be appointed and what are their duties. I find myself in a similar position to my illustrious South Australian colleague, Senator McLaren. I do not know whether I am on the right wavelength in relation to the particular department or Ministry when I deal with these appropriations. I would like to know whether a conference has been held with the Papua New Guinea Government and mining interests about the recruitment of expatriate workers. I am interested to know whether the Department of Foreign Affairs is engaged in negotiations with private employers and the Papua New Guinea Government. I raise this matter now rather than find, if I wait for the departments for which Mr Tony Street or Mr Viner are responsible, that I have missed out. Perhaps I can get some information, not necessarily tonight, but tomorrow or on a succeeding day on whether such discussions are taking place. A lot of the work force in Bougainville is made up of people who have Australian trade union membership. If the answer is in the affirmative I would like the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union and other unions to be kept conversant with what flows from that Government to Government discussion.
– I have only one or two points which I wish to raise. I am prompted, firstly, by the previous reply of the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) and, secondly, by the remarks of Senator McLaren. The people working in the control tower of the aerodrome at Mount Gambier were much concerned about the expenditure of public money on the occasions that the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, has journeyed in a VIP aircraft to the Mount Gambier airport. When this occurred it meant that a light aircraft had to fly empty from Melbourne to pick up the Prime Minister and land on his landing strip at Nareen and then return to Melbourne. It seems an extravagant expense when one considers that he could travel to Melbourne and take the aircraft to Nareen without this additional trip to Mount Gambier. All his trips are not made by car from Mount Gambier to his homestead. When he is in a hurry and is in need of a light aircraft, this will probably create an additional expenditure.
I do not know whether I misinterpreted the remarks of the Minister, but I am much concerned at the fact that he said that ordinary annual expenditure must have the approval of the Parliament. I do not think the situation stops there. This is the distinction we want to make, especially in view of what Senator Rae has said. All public money spent must have the approval of the Parliament. The ordinary annual expenditure is contained in a Bill which we cannot amend. The Senate can make recommendations in relation to money Bills. We cannot amend those Bills that provide for the ordinary annual expenditure. Because we used to have only one appropriation Bill for the annual expenditure of the Government a complaint was made in 1965. There was a long debate in the Senate pointing out that it was not a proper way to put the expenditure of the Government to the Senate insofar as we could not amend the Bill. There were some items which we should have had a right to amend. After lengthy discussion, the Prime Minister at the time agreed that in future he would place two Bills before the Parliament. We now call those Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ) and Appropriation Bill (No. 2). One Bill would group the ordinary annual expenditure which we cannot amend. The other Bill would group expenditure, which would be capital expenditure, and which we could amend at any time and send back to the House of Representatives. That is the difference.
The question that Senator Rae raised may well be a question of whether that agreement is being honoured and whether we vote a payment to the Minister for Finance to make unexpected payments without stipulating that those payments can only be covered by the ordinary annual expenditure. Senator Rae says that we can either approve or reject. But we cannot reject if provision is contained in Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ). If the expenditure is contained in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) we can amend it. We have no knowledge of whether that expenditure appropriated to the Minister for Finance is, in fact, an expenditure of an ordinary annual service nature. It may well be that we should have a right to look at that appropriation and amend it. Many other questions are raised. For example, should we have a right to say whether an allowance to a GovernorGeneral comes under the heading of ordinary annual expenditure or whether it comes in another sphere. The Constitution which binds us more- than any Act of Parliament states:
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
That is the only thing that we cannot amend. Section 54 provides:
The proposed law which appropriates revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation.
It may well be that we are outside the constitutional power in including in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) some of the appropriations that we make. When we are dealing with the points which Senator Rae has made, I think we should look at the constitutional position and at the expenditure of the Government. If we adopt Senator Rae’s proposal and put the provision under Appropriation Bill (No. 1) we could well restrict the reasons for which money is appropriated. The money could not be spent on other than ordinary annual services. It certainly could not be spent on the purchase of VIP aircraft. The purchase of a VIP aircraft does not come under ordinary annual expenditure. When an appropriation is made out of the Advance to the Minister for Finance that is something that is not ordinary annual expenditure. In accordance with the Constitution, it should not be dealt with in this appropriation. If anyone can legally justify that, I would like to hear him on the matter. When we consider Senator Rae’s proposal, the constitutional position and the agreement reached with the Prime Minister and the Senate in 1965 on what we should deal with we see that this matter is something that will have to be tested at some time. I do not think this is the first time that a protest has been made. At some time we will have to take some action to see that this matter is cleared up.
– Firstly, the comments made by Senator Cavanagh do have weight although perhaps the question of what is the legal situation is not a matter for debate this evening. I think that Senator Cavanagh is quite correct in raising the matter. I suggest that the appropriate Senate committee might care to give its attention to his points to decide whether they have merit for the Senate to discuss in relation to future Appropriation Bills. I do not think it is possible for me to debate it with him this evening. I will leave it at that. Senator Mulvihill again requested that I give some assurance about the situation he raised. Officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs have assured me that his comments have been taken into account and that they will look into the special case that he raised to see whether anything can be done to solve the situation. I am unable to give him the number of border observers who are there at the present time. I will get an early response from Foreign Affairs and attempt to give that information to him. Senator McLaren and Senator Cavanagh mentioned the cost of VIP flights. I think the comments can be taken on board by all those who have the responsibility for the operation and cost of the aircraft Traditionally certain individuals within the Parliament and outside of it have had available to them the use of the transport by that method. As senators we know and members of the House of Representatives know that there is an entitlement to members of parliament to travel which perhaps is not subject to debate in this place. Perhaps senators or members of the House of Representatives or Ministers are responsible to the public purse for the type of travel that they undertakeindeed, for the expense they may be to the public. In relation to the transport of the Prime Minister, he has an entitlement as have previous Prime Ministers to accessibility to Air Force aircraft.
My understanding of the situation is that, whilst a cost is related to those aircraft, the flying time of pilots or observers, whoever they may be, in getting up their hours is taken into account in the use of VIP Royal Australian Air Force aircraft in these estimates. I know that some of the VIP aircraft- even the models mentioned by Senator McLaren- in certain instances have done very few hours even in the work that they do. If there is a cost associated with the flights of the Prime Minister I do not know how we would get a comparison of those costs with other costs. I heard the comments of Senator McLaren. All I can suggest is that they will be directed to the proper source to be taken note of or rejected.
In relation to the request he made, at this time I do not know whether he has taken up with the Estimates Committee that question relating to the separation of costs of the various residences, but he brought this matter into the Senate tonight. That matter has been raised previously. I remember his raising it some years ago. I am advised that Mr Whitlam, when he was Prime Minister, said that he would not break up the cost of those residences. The present Prime Minister has apparently continued that decision. Senator McLaren’s request whether the costs could be broken up into individual residences has been noted. I will certainly see that it goes through to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for evaluation.
I am unable to gain for Senator McLaren the cost that I think he wanted on the overseas telephone used by Sir John Kerr. Again I can recall that request coming in on a number of occasions. I had somewhere in the back of my mind that I had seen that cost listed. I do not know whether that is correct. I think I may be tangled up between that cost and the cost of the telephone that was required for one of the individuals in Sydney about whom the honourable senator inquired. However, the cost of telephones for people outside the Parliament may be the subject of further discussion. I know of several prominent individuals who are no longer associated with the Parliament but who apparently have their telephone costs covered. Perhaps an all-embracing question relating to the costs of individuals who are outside the Parliament and who have their telephone costs covered by the Government could be laid down. I am advised by officers who are with me that they are unable to give the figures for which Senator McLaren has asked.
– I thank the Minister for the answers he has given. One particular answer he gave was just the answer I expected that he would give and I will deal with that. He said that the travel I asked about was not subject to debate. When Mr Whitlam became Prime Minister never at any time did he criticise the travel facilities available to or used by any of his predecessors. But leading up to the 1975 election the incumbent of the Prime Minister’s office continually criticised Mr Whitlam in regard to travel and that is why I raise the question. That is why the abuse and high costs of VIP aircraft for this Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) are repeatedly raised. One cannot fairly make a comparison by saying that these facilities have been available to all Prime Ministers. As I said, on no occasion did Mr Whitlam criticise Mr Gorton, Mr McMahon, Mr Holt or even Mr Menzies for the costs which they incurred to the taxpayer in the use of the facilities which were available to them.
One can go through Hansard, Press statements or policy speeches and wherever one looks there is a continual accusation against Mr Whitlarn that he was abusing the privileges of the Prime Minister’s office. When members of the Labor Party Opposition not only in this chamber but also in the other chamber criticise this Prime Minister for his use of the facilities we are told that they are the facilities that are available. The precedent was set by this Prime Minister. He has to be challenged over it. Of course, we will not get the answers. I am very pleased that Senator Cavanagh joined with me tonight in again pointing out the abuse of VIP travel by this Prime Minister.
Coming next to the cost of various residences, I received the same answer that I have been given many times when I have raised this matter. Mr Whitiam has been quoted. The same answer was given to the House of Representatives Estimates Committee A by Mr Viner. He said that Mr Whitlam made a statement.. Mr Whitlam might have made a statement but there again the precedent has been broken. I want to show the double standards used by this Prime Minister when it comes to the breaking up of the cost of various facilities. All Ministers of this Government who are given an opportunity to speak on this matter, whether it is to Estimates Committees or to the Committee of the Whole, fall back on the stock answer that Mr Whitlam could not break up the cost and so they will not depart from the precedent or ruling that he put down. But let us look at what this present Prime Minister has done. He was able to break up the cost for cheap political purposes. I want to quote from page 936 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 24 March 1976. Mr Porter, a South Australian member- he succeeded the present president of the Liberal Party in South Australia, Dr Forbes- asked a question without notice and it is headed ‘Official Residences of the Prime Minister’. He said:
My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Can he inform the House of the cost last year of running the Lodge and Kirribilli House?
Mr MALCOLM FRASER; I do not have the figures for the whole of last year but I have them for the last part of the year for both places. In the last 6 months of last year the Lodge cost the Australian taxpayer $64,941, running at an annual rate of $129,882. Kirribilli House, where perhaps the then incumbent spent a somewhat greater part of his time, cost $75,379 for that same 6 months, running at an annual rate of significantly over $150,000. The total annual rate paid by the taxpayer for both the honourable gentleman’s houses was $280,000 or a little more. The fact that both residences were being paid for by the taxpayer for the benefit of one particular person-
I will quote the whole of the answer. Mr Innes then interjected:
Tell us about Manila. Tell us about Singapore.
Mr MALCOLM FRASER; Honourable gentlemen opposite do not like the facts of life about their Leader. That is why they keep on trying to hide them. But I think that a few people have a right to know and a few people have a right to be able to understand. Both places were costing the Australian taxpayer $280,000 and, since I thought that this was much too great a subvention by the Australian taxpayer to house the Prime Minister of this country, it is one of the significant reasons that Kirribilli was returned to its proper purpose as a residence which can be used by distinguished overseas guests who come to this country and not as a second house provided by the taxpayer for the Prime Minister.
Mr Speaker intervened and said:
I call the honourable member for Maribyrnong.
Mr Innes; If you want to declare it on you will get it, right over the top of you. Tell us what happened in Manila.
-Order! The honourable member for Maribyrnong will resume his seat. The honourable member for Melbourne is making too much noise and is making threats by way of interjection.
Mr Innes What about the Leader of the Government?
-The honourable member for Melbourne keeps speaking while I am addressing him. I would ask him to remain silent through the remainder of question time.
Now we find these Ministers told repeatedly by the officers of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet that they cannot break up the costs of these two residences. We have only just mentioned the extra cost to the taxpayer of this Prime Minister flying to Nareen. Every time he goes there it costs the taxpayers $3,500. Yet he was quite prepared, for cheap political gain, to go into the House of Representatives on 24 March 1 976 and break up the costs. Why cannot we, as elected representatives of the Australian taxpayer, be given the costs of those two residences so we can compare what this Prime Minister is costing the taxpayer with what he claimed the previous incumbent of the Prime Ministership was costing the taxpayer? Why can we not get those figures? What is the good of having appropriation Bills before this Parliament? What is the good of having Estimates committees when we are told repeatedly that we cannot be told the cost to the Australian taxpayer but not told why we cannot be told. That is what we want to know. We do not want to be fobbed off year in and year out. Every time we ask these questions and every time we are given the same stock answer the Government is proving that this Prime Minister is a man of double standards. He was prepared to criticise and make cheap political gain out of the cost of those two residences when they were occupied by Whitlam but he is not prepared to divulge what it is costing the taxpayer for his occupancy, quite apart from what it is costing the taxpayer every time he journeys to and from to Nareen. That is the question we are asking.
– What did he do in Singapore?
– I do not know what he did in Singapore. He has to answer for that. I am concerned about what he is now costing the taxpayer. He refuses to answer to the Parliament. He refuses to answer to a Parliament elected by the people of Australia. Why is he covering up? We want to know and we should be given an answer. Surely we are not going to be fobbed off year in and year out by the Government saying that it cannot determine those costs. Why is this so? Are we not here to look after the interests of the taxpayer? If the Prime Minister is running these establishments at a much cheaper cost than Whitlam, he ought to be proud of it. If he is running them at a far greater cost the people of Australia ought to know about it, just as they ought to know about this other matter which I have raised and about which I cannot get an answer- the cost of Kerr’s telephone calls between England and Australia.
Kerr must have a free telephone because if he has not the question I asked in this Parliament on 22 February: ‘Did he, in fact, have a free telephone?’, could have been answered simply by saying no. Of course, we did not get that answer. I asked the question on 22 February, the day that Parliament resumed this year: When did I get the answer? Senator Webster well recalls my prompting him about it. What did he say to me when I prompted him just before the Parliament got up? He said: ‘I understand that the Prime Minister is drafting a reply for Senator McLaren’. I got the answer to my question on 9 July long after the Parliament got up. The Prime Minister did not answer by saying: ‘No, he has not got a free telephone’, so I must assume he has got one. Senator Withers told me once here, when I was pursuing matters of cost, that I hounded Kerr out of the country and ought to be satisfied. If I am to be given the credit for hounding him out of the country that is one thing of which I am very proud in view of the way that he treated the Labor Government in office in 1975. If I am the person who hounded him out of the country that is something I will take joy over for the rest of my life. These were Senator Withers words, not mine, when he was the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am concerned as to whether this man has a free telephone and what it is costing the taxpayer. Just for the information of people who are interested I want to repeat the question I asked in the Parliament. This is the answer I received to question No. 1 325:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister upon notice, on 22 February 1979:
Is the former Governor-General . . .
Of course they include his title here. I had a bit of a row with the people who draw up the Notice Paper because I did not use his title. I never use titles. I think anyone who has one, after what happened in the United Kingdom in the last few days, ought to hand it back. I did not use the title. I objected to the fact that it was printed. You will recall that I raised that matter. I am not going to use his title here, so I will just say:
Is the former Governor-General of Australia . . John Kerr, provided with a free telephone service between his country of residence, England, and Australia; if so: (a) what was the cost to the Australian taxpayer of the telephone calls made to Australia by . . . John Kerr during the writing and compilation of his book Matters for Judgment; or (b) if these particular costs cannot be separated, what is the total cost of all telephone calls to Australia by . . . John Kerr since he took up residence in England.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is not the practice to make public the telephone accounts of current or ex-holders of Vice Regal or Parliamentary office, and I do not propose to institute such a practice.
This should be a matter for investigation by the Auditor-General. Here again we have the use of taxpayer’s money which cannot be accounted for.
Honourable senators will well recall that I put a series of questions to this Government as to what taxpayers were having to pay for Harry M. Miller when he was appointed by the Government and the cost of his telephone. We got the cost of his telephone. It was $33,000 for the jobs he was appointed to by Mr Sinclair. Who was Harry M. Miller? He was none other than the entrepreneur who launched Kerr’s book here in Australia. I want to find out how much to-ing and fro-ing there was between these two gentlemen, at a very high cost to the Australian taxpayer, in the writing of that book and the launching of it in Australia. Surely we can be told what the Australian taxpayer is paying. That is all I am asking. I am not asking whether we are paying the rent for Kerr’s residence or what we are paying for his victuals, his motor car and everything else. All I want to know is what it is costing the Australian taxpayer in the way of telephone calls since Kerr went to England. That is a question which I think the officer behind the Minister should be able to get the answer for because it is not something that has been popped on him like a question without notice. He has had that particular question since 22 February. The Prime Minister says he will not institute such a practice by divulging it. One harps back that he would not give us the breakdown of costs for Kirribilli House and the Lodge. But he has already done that to suit his own political purposes. He did it in answer to a Dorothy Dix question from one of the Government members. That precedent having been set, I see no reason why honourable senators cannot be informed of what those two establishments are costing the Australian taxpayer and why we cannot be informed what Kerr’s telephone calls between England and Australia are costing the Australian taxpayer. Is it a pay-out by this Government for the services he rendered on 1 1 November 1975?
As Senator Walsh has said- it has been published in the newspapers- the Labor Government was sacked because the Appropriation Bills had not been passed by this Parliament by 1 1 November 1975. It is now nine days after 1 1 November and they still have not been passed. If there was an economic crisis in 1975 because the Government of the day did not have the money to provide services, such a crisis must equally apply today. As Senator Walsh said in his Press statement, the present GovernorGeneral ought to be following the action of the previous Governor-General and installing Mr Hayden in government as a caretaker Prime Minister until there can be an election and this Government answers to the people. I would like to have answers from the Minister to the questions I have put.
– I hope that Senator McLaren will bear with me at this very late hour. I would not like him to repeat those questions yet again. He put them to the Government when he first rose and I indicated to the honourable senator that we do not have the figures with us this evening. It is regrettable that Senator McLaren was not here during the consideration of these estimates by Estimates Committee A. I think it would be as well if in this session he were to forsake it on this occasion and let the business of the chamber flow along. As the honourable senator knows from a question he placed on notice in February, we do not have the figures relating to Sir John Kerr’s telephone expenses. I am unable to give that information to him this evening.
– In view of the statement of the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) that he is unable to give me those figures this evening and owing to the lateness of the hour, perhaps the Committee should deal with the four other departments in Group A still to be considered and tomorrow the Minister might have the answers to the questions I have asked. I will be satisfied to a degree when I get the answers. They might lead me into further criticism of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government. I will take the Minister at his word in that he said that he will endeavour to get those answers. I am quite happy to leave further consideration of the estimates in relation to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet until tomorrow.
– Sit down then.
– I will sit down when I feel free to sit down, not when an honourable senator tells me. When I get up to make a speech in this Parliament I do not have to read some poem about superphosphate. About all Senator Archer has done in here is to read the poem that someone on the north-west coast of Tasmania wrote about superphosphate. I am speaking on behalf of the Australian taxpayers, who want answers to questions. As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by that fellow from Tasmania, I will take the Minister at his word when he said that he will attempt to provide me with the answers tomorrow. Perhaps he will have them before the Committee completes its consideration of Group A. We still have areas involving the Parliament, and the departments of Education, Treasury and Foreign Affairs to consider and I am sure that other honourable senators have many questions to ask on those matters before the Senate adjourns at 12 o’clock.
– I wish to speak about the AuditorGeneral’s Office, which comes under the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. According to the remarks of Senator Martin earlier tonight, questions asked at Estimates Committee A on 24 September and the written answer to those questions by the Assistant Auditor-General suggest that the only Auditor-General’s reports which remain confidential are those relating to the Governor-General and his establishment. I ask whether all other Auditor-General ‘s reports, including reports arising from special investigations conducted by the Auditor-General, are normally tabled in Parliament. If the AuditorGeneral has submitted a report to a Minister, is the Minister obliged to table that report in Parliament? If a Minister fails to table such a report, can the Auditor-General report directly to Parliament?
– I am advised by the officer with me that the audit for the Governor-General ‘s Office is a private audit; it is not carried out under the Audit Act. I do not expect that Opposition senators will want to complete these items tonight. Basically, these are questions which can be directed to Estimates committees. The reason for having Estimates committees is to enable questions like those to be answered. Perhaps the final parts of any points can then be endorsed back in this chamber. I suggest that the Committee should press on to Group B, if that is acceptable.
– I have no objection to moving on to Group B, providing there is an assurance that the questions I have asked regarding reports of the Auditor-General other than the private reports concerning the Governor-General’s establishment, can be returned to at a later time tonight or tomorrow. Will I be able to return to and receive answers to the questions I have asked if the Committee now moves on to Group B?
– I would not like to give Senator Walsh that assurance. I will look at Hansard, as will my officers, to see the wording that the honourable senator has used. Looking at the end of the Appropriation Bill, I will attempt to get an answer for him before we rise, but it certainly will not be at the end of the consideration of Group A.
– The Minister for Science and the Environment has suggested that the Committee should pass on to the consideration of Group B.
– Excellent idea.
– It might be an excellent idea. Apparently Senator Evans does not have any interest in Group A, but I do. Mr Chairman, will the Committee be taking a vote on Group A or can we come back to that later?
– I propose to have the vote taken on Group A before moving to Group B.
– I have other matters to raise. Under division 500, there is an appropriation for advertising and media productions this year of $58,000. Last year the figure was $29,195, which means that there has been an increase of $28,805.I would like some explanation of what that advertising involves and what the increase is to cover. There is also an amount of $10,000 for the provision of surveys undertaken by the information task force. I well recall that in Estimates Committee A last year it was found that a large amount of money was expended by the Prime Minister’s Department on behalf of the Taxation Office in advertising the so-called reductions in taxation. The Estimates Committee was told that that was the first time that that had occurred. Is this amount of $28,805 for the similar purpose of advertising some policy which the Government has undertaken?
– I wish to preserve the questions raised by Senator Walsh. The way to get over the situation in accordance with Senate practice is to adjourn further consideration of Group A until after the discussion of Group B. That would permit the Minister for Science and the Environment then to supply the answers. If there is some doubt about any question, it would be wrong for the Committee to agree to Group A if it does not think that it is desirable to do so. Senator McLaren has raised another question, but I think we are now only seeking questions in an endeavour to give the Minister time to get certain answers. He has said he will try tomorrow and there is only one minute to go until his deadline is reached. If the Parliament and the Government want to sit on to consider Group B, we should adjourn further consideration of Group A until after the discussion of Group B. I move:
Wednesday, 21 November 1979
– I do not know whether the motion moved by Senator Cavanagh creates any action.
– I am in the hands of” the Committee as far as the adjournment is concerned.
-On 24 September 1979 during the hearings of Senate Estimates Committee A Senator Wriedt, as reported at page 399 of the Hansard record, asked the following question:
In relation to item 06, Incidental and other expenditure, there is provision for advertising and media productions. What exactly is that?
I wonder whether that would be Senator McLaren’s question.
– Advertising and media productions, yes; an increase of $28,000.
– I wonder whether the honourable senator might look at page 399 of the Hansard record of Senate Estimates Committee A so that we can agree to this Group. Senator Wriedt apparently raised that question during the hearings of the Committee.
-If he has the answer to it, I am happy.
SenatorWEBSTER-Ifthatisthe item, it really was pursued by the Leader of the Opposition during the hearings of Estimates Committee A. Perhaps the honourable senator will look at that page of Hansard to see whether it contains the answer to his questions. I suggest that the question with regard to Group A be put.
– I am not certain about the actual question I asked in respect of that matter. I do not recall asking the same question as Senator McLaren has asked. I was asking about various publications that were being subscribed to by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and about related matters. I do not think my question included advertising. As far as the proceedings this evening are concerned, I think it is upon the Minister for Science and the Environment (Senator Webster) to indicate now what he proposes to do. I think it should be made clear that the question with regard to Group A should not be put just because it is midnight and because there is some suggestion that the Senate is to adjourn. There are obviously other matters with regard to Group A which some honourable senators wish to pursue further. I put it to the Minister that, if he wants the Senate to adjourn, he should move the appropriate motion and we can continue with consideration of Group A tomorrow. I certainly take the strongest objection to any suggestion that we put the question on Group A now without any option to come back to it tomorrow. That would be most improper and I do not think it would augur well for our proceedings tomorrow.
Motion ( by Senator Webster) proposed:
That the Committee report progress and seek leave to sit again.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, do you insist on your motion?
– No, Mr Chairman, I withdraw it.
Motion- by leave- withdrawn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.4 a.m. (Wednesday)
The following answers to questions were circula
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice, on 30 August 1 979:
– The Minister for Home Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am advised by my Department on the basis of information provided by the Department of the Treasury relating to parts ( 1 ), ( 3 ) and ( 4 ), that:
1 ) Sales tax payable in respect of sales of sports goods other than boats or vehicles is estimated at about $30m per annum.
2 ) , ( 5 ) and ( 7 ) No official statistics are available.
and (4) The information sought is not recorded separately and income statistics that would enable the amounts of income tax revenue involved to be estimated reliably are not available.
Total expenditure on sport and recreation in 1978-79 by my Department was:
Australian Borrowings Overseas (Question No. 1973)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, on notice, on 20 September 1979:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the Budget context the meaning of ‘borrowing excessively ‘ depends on the general state of the economy.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 20 September 1979:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 10 October 1979:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 25 October 1979:
Why is the Department of Defence not aware of any stability problems associated with the fitting of masthead radar on the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Lake Class patrol boats, as was stated in the answer to Senate Question No. 1816 (see Hansard, 12 September 1979, pages 65 1-2).
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The matter raised by the honourable senator has been pursued with the Royal New Zealand Navy. Its advice is that masthead radar is not fitted to its Lake Class Patrol Boats but a radar is fitted on a platform some two metres above the upper bridge. Furthermore it has advised that the Lake Class has a large reserve of stability and therefore no problems have been experienced in this respect.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 25 October 1979:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Expansion capacity in various contingent situations is a function not only of numbers of equipment in the inventory. Potential operating activity rates are an important contributing element. We could, for instance, markedly increase our maritime surveillance cover for limited periods at short notice if necessary. In low level contingencies of limited duration we would give priority to re-allocation of resources to support increased activity rates i.e. in the supply support and manpower areas.
-On 25 September 1979 (Hansard, page 896) Senator Button asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Public Duty and
Private Interest. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question: - I refer the honourable senator to my answer to a question without notice asked in the House of Representatives on 9 October 1 979 (Hansard, page 1725).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 November 1979, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1979/19791120_senate_31_s83/>.