House of Representatives
30 May 1972

27th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Lowe · LP

Mr Speaker, honourable members will be aware of the death of his Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor in France on Sunday last. He was 77 years of age. We mourn his passing, for he was widely respected and admired wherever he went. Honourable members will know that it was on 11th December 1936 that this Parliament gave its assent by resolution to the Declaration of Abdication by His Majesty King Edward VIII. By so doing the Australian Parliament became associated with a constitutional development of considerable magnitude and of great moment in the history of the monarchy. But today, Mr Speaker, the motion I am to move shortly has another purpose. It is an act reflecting the affection that we in this house hold for the Royal Family - and for the Duke whom we will remember always as a person of warmth, humanity and vitality.

Memories of the dramatic event of the abdication on 11th December 1936 stir the imagination and the heart. A choice of great difficulty had been made. The decision was attended by public candour, and debate without precedent, as the chronicles of those days record. The conflict between constitutional duty on the one hand and what King Edward VIII sought in human happiness was honestly faced and a brave decision was taken. It is a remarkable achievement that the monarchy emerged strongly from this testing time. To this His Royal Highness contributed a great deal by his dignity and the way he accepted the role of a private person always in the public gaze. At all times he showed care and consideration for his successors - his brother the late King George VI and his niece, our Queen.

I think, honourable members will agree, that our constitutional relationship is such that the monarchy and all it stands for distributes considerable benefit to the working of public affairs in this country. It was inevitable, however much the Duke of

Windsor would have wished it, that he could not be regarded as a private citizen with all the freedoms of a private citizen. His activities were attended by inquisitive international media, and it is to his great and lasting credit that at no point and in no way did this create any problems for the royal house.

The Duke of Windsor will be remembered in this country as one who wholly captured popular imagination. His personality could pierce the screen of formality, which in those days of his visit to Australia in 1921, was most formidable. He never lost the capacity to achieve a direct contact with the ordinary man. In his first broadcast as King Edward VITI he added a personal passage that referred to his opportunities to get to know people of almost every country of the world. His lively identification with his own countrymen in the workingclass areas hit by an industrial depression still grips the popular imagination. It stamped him as a leader of initiative and humanity. It was his desire that people should know that he cherished the memory of his direct contacts with ordinary people, and it was that experience that he wished to carry into the monarchy.

There is one aspect of his life and that of the royal house that I am sure will not have escaped honourable members. He was one of a family with the normal relationships of family. We are al) touched by the obvious affection that members of the royal family extend to one another. The Duke of Windsor enjoyed this personal standing with his brothers and their children in high degree. We respect Her Majesty the Queen’s personal sorrow, and I have sent a message to Her Majesty conveying the Government’s condolences in her bereavement. I have, too, sent a message of sympathy to his widow, the Duchess of Windsor, who shared all the years after the abdication with him in a spirit of great devotion and with a natural dignity. In inviting honourable members to support this motion, I should mention that the Queen will observe a period of court mourning which will end on Monday, 5th June, the clay of the funeral. 1 move:

That an address to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 in the following terms be agreed to: To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty: Most Gracious Sovereign, we, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, have received with profound sorrow the news of the death of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Windsor. On behalf of your people throughout the Commonwealth of Australia we express deep sympathy to Your Majesty and to members of the royal family in the loss that y,ou have sustained.’

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I support the motion which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has moved. On 10th March 1936 the House resolved:

On behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth we desire to convey its unwavering loyalty to the Crown and to the person of Your Most Gracious Majesty, and we, with confidence, hope and pray that, under divine guidance, Your Majesty’s reign may be a long and beneficent one, bringing happiness and prosperity to Your Majesty’s subjects, and abiding peace among the nations of the world.

On 11th December of that year the House, without division, carried a resolution assenting to the abdication of King Edward VIII. His had been the shortest reign in English history since that of Edward V. If he had reigned for the remainder of his life, his reign would have been exceeded in length only by those of Henry III, Edward III, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, George III and Victoria. As it was, King Edward VIII renounced the greatest hereditary position in history. He gave up the position of head of state of the most extensive political entity in all history and the most populous political entity in history to that time. He had been the most successful Prince of Wales in all the centuries of English history. He brought particular ease and zest to all his royal and imperial duties. The immense adulation shown to him over a quarter of a century’s service did not exceed the immense dedication shown by him. Who would deny the flair and style he would have brought to the monarchy during the Second World War? The aspirations of a Beveridge and the eloquence of a Churchill would have given direction to his own generous instincts. I quote the words of Churchill, with whom he was always very much in sympathy, in the debate in the House of Commons on 10th December 1936:

In this Prince there were discerned qualities of courage, of simplicity, of sympathy, and, above all, of sincerity, qualities rare and precious which might have made his reign glorious in the annals of this ancient monarchy. It is the acme of tragedy that those very virtues should, in the private sphere, have led only to this melancholy and bitter conclusion. But, although our hopes today are withered, still I will assert that his personality will not go down uncherished to future ages, that it will be particularly remembered in the homes of his poorer subjects, and that they will ever wish from the bottom of their hearts for his private peace and happiness and for the happiness of those who are dear to him.

In other days the conclusion might have been different. Indeed Henry II married a lady whose first husband was still alive. I quote the words from the debate in this House on 11th December 1936 by another generous spirit, the late Harold Holt:

  1. . had His Majesty chosen to select any woman, to whom he was legally entitled to be married, as his Queen, I, for one, would not have hesitated in my loyalty to him.

There have been constitutional developments since that time. The documents are still a closed book. It is enough to say that the book, ‘So We Take Comfort’, does not tell the whole story of King Edward VIII’s deposition. At least he was the only one of England’s 4 kings who have been deposed who afterwards enjoyed a full and happy life.

I particularly appreciate the wording of the Prime Minister’s motion. It is a generous one. For too long King Edward’s widow has been denied the recognition to which I have always believed she was entitled. In 1936 morganatic marriage was known to King Edward’s mother’s family, but not to his father’s. It was not acceptable to his Prime Minister in Britain or, we must assume, to most of the Prime Ministers with whom the British Prime Minister communicated at the time. If morganatic marriage was not permitted to a king, it should not have been imposed on a royal duke.

At this time we think of the whole of the Royal family. There are many who will remember in particular also the lady for whom King Edward gave up the throne, in whose company during their many years together he found the love and peace which his restless spirit had been denied as king and emperor. In recent years they were able to have a happy life together because of the generosity of the city of Paris. We in this House are passing now a resolution that I believe will give comfort to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Windsor, to the other members of the Royal family and to all those who remember the services that the greatest Prince of Wales rendered to his father’s subjects. We acknowledge that after those services were brought to an end he did enjoy peace and love with the woman for whom he gave up the greatest position in the world of his day.

Question resolved in the affirmative, all honourable members standing in their places.


– I thank the House.

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The Clerk:

– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:

Social Services

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:

That on 10th December 1948, Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’

Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.

We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for: Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.

Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.

Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide forthe building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domicilliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.

Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.

Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.

Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.

Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.

Royal Commission or other form of public inquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.

And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will every pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Les Johnson, Mr Robinson, Mr Scholes and Mr Webb.

Petitions severally received.

Postmaster-General’s Department

The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the Postmaster-General’s Department, Central Office, policy of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the Public, directly resultingin the closing of Post Offices which is detrimental to the Public interest.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

  1. Call a halt to all closing of Post Offices and reorganising within the Post Office, until full details of the proposed savings and all details of alteration to the standards of service to the Public are made available to Parliament, and
  2. Initiate a joint Parliamentary inquiry into the Postmaster-General’s Department, to assess the degree on which it should be run as a normal business undertaking and to what extent its unprofitable activities should be subsidised as a public service charged more correctly to National Development.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lucock.

Petition received.

Eyre Highway

To the honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the citizens, in so far as we request:

That the Commonwealth co-operate with all authorities to ensure the early sealing of the one east-west road link, the Eyre Highway, and that urgent consideration be given to increasing the maintenance of the road in the intervening period and endeavour to curtail the dreadful road toll, injury and vehicle damage.

That the Commonwealth consider this road as a defence measure for the whole of Australia and road link connecting the two coasts of the continent, and consideration to the sealing from the aspect of the increase of trade and tourism within Australia, thus encouraging the retention of the finance in Australia which is now going overseas. Consideration be given on the grounds of a better understanding between the people of all of the States of Australia, because of their improved ability to travel and meet one another.

That consideration be given to one of the most heavily taxed groups within the community, the motorist, and be given the opportunity to enjoy some of the tax fee as charged, by being able to travel with reasonable comfort and safety on the major highways of Australia.

That consideration be given to returning specifically for this purpose the increased revenue received from the increase in petrol tax. We, the petitioners, humbly pray that the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure provision of funds to provide for the all-weather sealing of this important highway, the Eyre Highway, linking east and west and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.

Petition received.

Australian Tourist Industry

To the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:

That we, the citizens of the Commonwealth, earnestly request our government to:

  1. Take cognisance of serious financial difficulty facing the Australian tourist industry.
  2. Give the industry financial aid in the forthcoming Federal Budget.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Robinson.

Petition received.


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

  1. That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiences in education.
  2. That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized classes and inadequate teaching aids.
  3. That the additional sum of $l,000m is required over the next 5 years by the States for these needs.
  4. That without massive additional Federal finance the State school system will disintegrate.
  5. That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970 should be amended to include all the country’s physically, and mentally handicapped children.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for 78 per cent of Australia’s children. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.

Petition received.

Ansett Transport Industries

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition ofthe undersigned employees of Ansett Airlines of Australia at Perth Airport respectfully showeth our complete support for Sir Reginald Ansett and the Board of Directors of Ansett Transport Industries and express our opposition to any attempt to wrest control of our company from the present Board of Directors.

Your petitioners humbly pray that the House will take all necessary, steps to prevent any takeover of Ansett Transport Industries.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Lowe · LP

Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr N. H. Bowen, left Australia on Saturday, 27th May, for discussions with government leaders in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. He is expected to return to Australia on 9th June. During his absence the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, is Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. I also wish to inform the House that the PostmasterGeneral, Sir Alan Hulme, is leaving Australia today to represent the Australian Government at the Tenth Anniversary Independence Celebrations in Western Samoa. He is expected to return to Australia on 4th June.

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– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. By way of preamble I inform the Minister that 1 have with me a bill sent to an age pensioner by the Central District Ambulance Service in Sydney for 5122 covering 2 return trips between Lidcombe Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital, a distance of about 12 miles. Is the Minister aware that this type of expense is completely beyond the capacity of any age pensioner to pay? Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health draw the attention of his colleague to this unnecessary drain on a pensioner’s meagre resources? Finally, will the Minister urge his colleagues in the Government to have ambulance services provided free for pensioners?

Minister for Immigration · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

-I will draw the honourable member’s question to the attention of my colleague, but 1 would remind the honourable gentleman that the control and provision of ambulance services have always been responsibilities of the State governments. I would have thought that, if concessions were to be made to pensioners in this field, it would clearly be the responsibility of State governments. Indeed, I know that in some States the State governments do provide those concessions. However, as 1 say, 1 will bring the matter to the attention of my colleague.

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– I ask the Treasurer: When does he expect to announce the personnel of the committee which is to review the overall tax structure of the Commonwealth?

MrSNEDDEN - The answer is: As soon as possible. I have given very great consideration to the possible personnel. I have every hope that it will not be too long before a decision is made.

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– I direct a question to you, Mr Speaker. Is it a fact that a letter addressed to members of this Parliament by Mr Gus Petersilka concerning Dr Germaine Greer and the publication ‘Playboy’, andleft at the House for distribution were returned to the sender by the Clerk, at your direction, because they contained matter which it was believed some reci pients could consider objectionable? Is it also a fact that if the letters had been posted, no action would have been taken? If so, will you indicate to the House your reason for the censorship of letters addressed to members in this case and how you decided or ascertained that the matter may be or may not be objectionable? Furthermore, as the letters have now been posted and received by all honourable members, no doubt including yourself, do you consider that the letter should be brought to the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise in order that he will be again reminded of the filthy literature being distributed and that many people in the community believe that it is time he took appropriate action to prevent its publication?


– The facts as enunciated by the honourable member for Grayndler are substantially correct. I think that the gentleman, whose name I have forgotten but who came from Braddon, brought to the House 124 envelopes. Having opened my own envelope I came to the decision that this was not matter which employees of the House should distribute to honourable members. It was then decided that the envelopes should be returned to the gentleman who then had the option of contacting honourable members in relation to the matter by way of the normal facilities of the Post Office. The other question relating to the Minister for Customs and Excise is not one upon which I think I should comment.

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– Does the Minister for Education and Science regard the Government parties as the only major parties totally involved in the education of all Australian children?


– The Government parties are the only parties that have accepted a firm commitment for all Australian schoolchildren, whether they might be in government schools or whether they might be in independent schools.

Mr Foster:

– I rise to a point of order. I consider that the question asked by the honourable member for Angas is insulting and purports that we on this side of the House do not in fact have the interests of our constituents at heart.


– There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

-The honourable gentleman’s interruption points to the accuracy of the question. While I am on my feet I would like to draw attention to one point because the statement that I have just made is lent credibility by a resolution which came from the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party to the Launceston Conference of that party and which I referred to in this Parliament some days ago. That resolution had in mind the building up of standards -

Mr Whitlam:

– I rise on a point of order. This has no relevance to the question which came from the assistant Whip obviously by arrangement. It is a matter which has already been dealt with in the House.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

Mr Speaker-

Mr Whitlam:

– You will remember that last Thursday, after I had sent for the relevant documents, I read them to the House. How often must this go on?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

Mr Speaker, may I speak to the point of order?


– Yes, you may.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– It is the events of last Thursday which in part lend force to what I wish to say. I will demonstrate, if I am given the opportunity to do so, the complete relevance to the question.


-Order! There is no substance in the points of order raised by either side of the House in relation to this matter. The question itself was in order. No honourable member has any doubt about its correctness. The Leader of the Opposition was in order in questioning the relevancy of the Minister’s answer. I ask the Minister to confine his remarks to matters which are relevant to the question.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

Mr Speaker, I shall do so. I seek to demonstrate that the Government parties are the only parties that accept a commitment for all school children. To do that, I refer to the substance of the resolution moved by the Queensland–

Mr Bryant:

Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. At what point will one be able to correct the mis-statement by the Minister?


– This can be done immediately after question time, if the honourable member claims to have been misrepresented.

Mr Bryant:

– Good. The point at issue is that the Minister is wrong when he states that the Government parties are the only parties which care for the education of all children. For instance, the Government’ parties make no provision for handicapped children.


-Order! The honourable member will not retrace the question.

Mr Whitlam:

Mr Speaker, this particular Minister is particularly prone to this as you-


-Order! Is the Leader of the Opposition taking a point of order?

Mr Whitlam:

– Yes, Mr Speaker. You have called this Minister to order probably more than any other Minister and have told him that if he wants to say something like this he, like any other Minister, can seek leave to make a statement after question time. As you know, Mr Speaker, in those circumstances leave has never been refused. I put it to you that what you have just said to the honourable member for Wills is no adequate answer. If a member of the House is identified in a reply he may make a personal explanation, although he may be under some handicap because the Minister has all his staff and his Whips to hamper an honourable member who is attempting to do so.


-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will not debate the question any further. He will state his point of order or resume his seat.

Mr Whitlam:

– If there is no specific reference to any member but just a reference in general terms, a personal explanation does not avail. Therefore, I urge you to follow the practice that you have so admirably adopted on several occasions of requesting the Minister to make after question time statements which are not directly related to a question.


– There is no substance for a point of order in the honourable member’s dissertation to the Chair. What I said to the honourable member for Wills in relation to a personal explanation was correct. If he claims to have been misrepresented, he may seek leave to make a personal explanation after question time and. of course, the Chair and the House will give him an opportunity to do so. I have already asked the Minister for Education and Science to keep his answer relevant to the question.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I shall certainly do so, Mr Speaker. The Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party had moved that government schools ‘be built up in standard, quality and number and that when that was achieved aid to independent schools be phased out. I took that as being evidence that the Labor Party wished to phase out state aid. Last Thursday the Leader of the Opposition took exception to the remarks that I had made and made a personal explanation in relation to them. When he made his personal explanation, he referred to one part only of the-

Mr Scholes:

Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The Minister is endeavouring to use question lime to make a personal explanation relating to a statement which he has made previously. That is completely out of order.


– I could not agree with that; that would be stretching it a bit far. There is no substance in the point of order. Again I suggest to the Minister that he confine his remarks to matters relevant to the question that has been asked and that he does not go outside that area.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– Finally, I want to record in this House that the resolution of the Queensland Branch of the Labor Party to which I have referred was discharged on the recommendation of the honourable member for Fremantle on the ground that it was already covered under existing policy. If the Leader of the Opposition wants his own document tabled in the House he can have it tabled. The last thing I would like to say is that it is the undue sensitivity of members of the Opposition on these matters that causes them to raise point of order after point of order to prevent the facts being made known.

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– Does the Minister for Social Services agree that the pensioner wife’s allowance of $8 per week payable to wives under 60 years of age is inadequate to enable them to live reasonably? Will the Minister take immediate action to increase this amount to a reasonable living standard to guarantee to all married pensioners an income that is at least equal to that paid to other pensioners so that there will be no discrimination against the younger wives? Does the Minister further agree that a wife who stays at home to look after a sick and aging husband instead of hospitalising him, which would represent a much greater cost to the community and the Government than the payment of a reasonable pension, is doing a service to the community and should be rewarded?

Minister for Social Services · MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The honourable member for Swan may be assured of the Government’s humanitarian outlook in this and other matters. The question he raises involves of course a matter of policy which will be considered by the Government in due course and at the proper time.

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– Has the Minister for Trade and Industry seen an announcement that General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd will close its assembly plant at Mosman Park in Western Australia in August, with the loss of employment to some 230 Western Australians? Does the Minister appreciate that this will almost certainly be followed by a similar action by the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd? As this will mean that Western Australia will lose the minimal benefits it was receiving from the very high rate of tariff protection given to the motor industry, will the Minister compensate Western Australia by devising a method whereby Western Australians can import motor vehicles duty free?

Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– It seems to me that the secession movement still lives in Western Australia. 1 have seen a report about the notice which General Motors-Holden’s, has given about the closing down of its plant in Western Australia, and the subsequent dismissal of some of its staff. I would imagine that this is part of a rationalisation programme that General Motors has to alter its existing plant by upgrading it or closing it down so that it can produce at maximum efficiency. This might have been brought about by the improvement of the Trans-Australia railway service whereby General Motors can ship the assembled vehicles to Western Australia cheaper than trying to manufacture them there. I have been told by some of my departmental officers, who immediately looked into this matter, that General Motors is doing everything possible to protect the interests of as many of its staff as it can, by giving them either employment opportunities in other States or financial assistance and fair notice of any dismissal that is likely to take place. Naturally we are concerned about people being dismissed and about unemployment. The Commonwealth Employment Service is looking for job opportunities for the people who might be affected. I think we have to acknowledge that it is a commercial decision by a largs company. The company’s objective must be to produce as cheaply as possible to meet competition from imported motor vehicles. I cannot entertain, for one moment, the idea that any part of Australia ought to be given preferential treatment as far as tariffs are concerned. We are one nation. We have to live and grow as one nation. If there are any difficulties we have to try to overcome them.

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– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Following the agreement, during President Suharto’s visit to Australia last February, were talks scheduled to begin in Djakarta today between representatives of Indonesia and Australia with a view to completing the delineation of the seabed boundary between the 2 countries? Have these talks been cancelled or deferred? If so, why, at whose request and till when?

Mr McMahon:

– The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs will reply.

Minister for Primary Industry · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The talks were deferred at the request of the Australian Government. As the honourable gentleman would know, the question of the law of the sea, including the law relating to the seabed, is one of some considerable complexity. The Government is anxious, in the development of what are today very close and amicable relations with Indonesia, to ensure that any discussions move forward to reasonable and progressive conclusions. As the honourable gentleman would know, already consultations are under way with the States on this matter. The Government hopes to advance these consultations and as a result of them we believe that in due course we may be able to come to more meaningful conclusions with the representatives from the Government of Indonesia. For that reason the talks have been deferred, they have not been postponed indefintely.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to the decision to revalue the Australian dollar slightly downward late last year, and the fact that tariffs, by permitting the maintenance of a higher external value for the Australian dollar, have disadvantaged exporters. Is it a fact that an appropriate combination of tariff cuts and currency devaluation would have helped our farm export industries and the taxpayers supporting them without threatening our external balance? Is it a fact that such an action would have favoured our more efficient over our less efficient secondary industries? Does he agree with this reasoning and, if so, will he initiate appropriate tariff amendments?


– After a long and close examination of the question of currency alignments the Government considered many alternatives. It came to a decision to make a slight devaluation in currency without any other major alterations to our existing tariff structure, and that decision stands. However, the Government does not rest idle, accepting existing tariff levels of protection. It has undertaken a continuous review of the tariffs starting with those of the higher levels of protection. Also, this year I have instigated an examination of a whole series of items which have been broadly banded together to see whether surplus protection is being given to 1,000 items, to see whether this might be reduced and also to see what bargaining value a reduction in tariffs would have in negotiations. I am sure that the Australian Government is not contemplating any alteration to the value of the Australian currency nor is it likely to be contemplating it.

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– I ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service on the same topic as that raised by the honourble member for Moore. What discussions, if any, were held between the Department of Labour and National Service and General Motors-Holden’s Ltd prior to yesterday’s announcement by the company that it intended to close its Western Australian assembly plant? If such discussions did take place, what was their purpose and what attitude did the Government take to the proposed closure? If no such discussions took place, does the Government accept that decisions of this nature should be taken without consultation either with governments or with the trade unions concerned? Finally, in view of the fact that Western Australia already has the highest rate of unemployment in Australia, what are the prospects of finding alternative work for the displaced GMH workforce?

Minister for Labour and National Service · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP

– Regarding the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I have not been involved in any discussions with the management of General MotorsHolden’s Ltd concerning the recently announced retrenchment, nor do I understand that my officers have been so involved. The first indication I had was a letter addressed to me, dated 26th May as I recall, which I received on arrival in Canberra yesterday. I understand that officers of my Department were advised yesterday. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the Commonwealth Employment Service is doing everything possible to assist those persons who are involved in the closure of the plant concerned, but I indicate that there will be some difficulties in absorbing metal trade workers at the present time because of the lack of opportunities for the total number of workers who in fact may be seeking work. Certainly the Commonwealth Employment Service will do everything that is possible.

In terms of general policy, I had already informed the House on an earlier occasion that I considered that there was a need to develop guidelines for redundancy situations of this type. This would certainly answer the point raised by the honourable gentleman. In relation to the question of consultation, this matter has been initiated by the National Labour Advisory Council and the Council now has it under consideration. I will let the honourable gentleman know exactly what progress is being made.

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– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Has he received a telegram from the President of Actors Equity Association of Australia protesting about the banning of the Australian Broadcasting Commission television series entitled ‘Our Man in Canberra’ and alleging that this was as a result of political censorship?


– I received a telegram and as a consequence I made immediate inquiries to find out whether there was any truth in the statement that had been made. In summary form, there is no truth in it. No member of the Federal Parliament, and that includes the Ministry, has been given a private screening. I have been informed through the PostmasterGeneral that the General Manager of the ABC informed him that the action was taken under section 116 f2.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act which honourable members opposite well know was introduced by a Labor government when it was in office.

Mr Hayden:

– But who is using it now? That is the question.


– If you had listened, and as you are a truthful man, you would have accepted the fact that the ABC has informed me that the accusations are false. I have to add that in 1956, of course, a Liberal-Country Party government did amend the Act in order to provide for television coverage as well as for broadcasting.

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– My question which is addressed to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that asked of him by the honourable member for North Sydney. Is it a fact that section 116(1.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act was applied to the

Australian Broadcasting Commission series Our Man in Canberra’ resulting in the series being suspended? Which Minister so lacking in a sense of humour and proportion objected to the series being screened? Did the Government seek legal opinion before suspending the programme? Does the Prime Minister not accept the proposition that if political satire can be produced and shown by the British Broadcasting Corporation with great success, the Australian Broadcasting Commission should be afforded the same fundamental freedom in our democratic society?


– First of all, the honourable gentleman is in error in saying that the Government intervened. As has been made clear, no member of the Federal Parliament asked for a private showing. It can be taken that I had never heard of the programme until I read in the newspaper the accusation made relating to myself.

Mr Hayden:

– Did you ask the AttorneyGeneral for an opinion on this?


– As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, it is clear that it was the ABC itself which decided to take action under section 116(2.) of the Act. I am not aware of the provisions of section 116 (1.) but I presume that it was a subject which would have been taken care of by the ABC itself and not a matter in which the Government would have directly intervened. I see no reason why we should, and consequently 1 have no intention of asking the Attorney-General to give me his opinion of whether or not the ABC was right in its interpretation of the law. I point out also that as we have not intervened and we have no intention of intervening, I cannot understand why the Labor Party is pursuing this problem in the way it is. We like to have freedom of the ABC but we like the right of protest, too. I can see no reason why members of the Opposition or any other persons should be deprived of the right of dissent or the right of objection if they felt that the ABC was doing something which was perhaps objectionable. It has not occurred in this case, but it is a good principle that there is no discrimination in this country. We are all treated the same, and we certainly do not discriminate against the ABC.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science. Can the Minister indicate the present position in regard to the establishment of a veterinary science school in Western Australia which the present State Government had proposed to defer?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

-The Minister for Education in Western Australia has told me that after originally contemplating deferral of the proposal, the Western Australian Government is prepared to proceed with the proposal as an integral part of the establishment of Murdoch University, but not on the basis as originally proposed by the previous Government and for which the previous Government had been prepared to make substantial sums of money available, in co-operation with the Commonwealth. Instead of having the veterinary science school virtually completed within the first triennium, as had been Sir David Brand’s intention, the objective now is to establish a veterinary school over 2 trienniums. This is what the Western Austraiian Government has indicated its support for. Of course, it means that the veterinary science school will not be able to make the contribution to Western Australia’s rural industries in the same time scale as had been envisaged by the previous Government in Western Australia.

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– I ask the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs: Can he confirm that in Noumea on Saturday Mr Pierre Messmer, the French Minister of Overseas Territories, said that Australia now seemed convinced that the French nuclear tests in the Pacific were necessary? If so, has he got or will he get in touch with the French Government to remove such a misapprehension?


– I understand that there has been a Press report about M. Messmer’s statement in Noumea. I am not aware whether the reported statement accords with his actual statement, but it is certainly not true that the Australian Government has not protested. On successive occasions the Australian Government has made it quite clear that it regards the

French nuclear test programme in the Pacific as detrimental to the interests of those who live in this area. I know that my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has made a formal approach to the French Government regarding this matter, in which he indicated quite strongly that the Australian Government is firmly opposed to the programme envisaged by the French.

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– Has the Minister for Trade and Industry seen an article in the ‘National Times’ of 1st May which tells of an unpublished ‘index of complexity’ prepared by his Department, which is said to comment unfavourably on the performance of the Tariff Board? Is he aware that the member for Lang quoted from this article in this place on 23rd May? Has his Department prepared such an index of complexity?


– The article was brought to my notice after it was published a week or two ago. My Department knows nothing of the index.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will a general reduction in the price of wine follow the reduction in the wine excise? Will the affluent society be the major beneficiary of that reduction? Does the Minister recognise that beer is by far a more popular drink within the lower-middle income community, and if so, will he take immediate steps to remove or substantially reduce the excise on that beverage? If not, will he explain why, with respect to indirect taxation generally, his Government continues to require those on the lowest incomes to bear the greatest burden?

Minister for Customs and Excise · HOTHAM, VICTORIA · LP

– All aspects, save one, of the honourable gentleman’s question, deal with matters of Government policy or matters which are the prerogative of other Ministers. I cannot and will not answer the questions on those matters. That part of the question which I can answer is the question whether there will be a reduction in the price of wine following a reduction in the wine excise. To the extent that I cannot anticipate what retailers and wholesalers will do, I cannot answer it, but 1 can give some factual information. From information I have received from my Department, the SO per cent reduction in excise, if it is passed on in mark-ups and so on, should result in a reduction in price of about Se a bottle.

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– Can the Minister for Primary Industry tell the House how the extension of the Yennora wool handling centre and all the necessary plant and equipment is to be financed? Will not the initial costs at Yennora be higher than those at Pyrmont? Would not regional handling be more efficient and in the interests of growers and all associated with this great industry, and would it not be a boon to decentralisation?


– I think we all hope that at some stage there will be quite radical changes in the way in which wool is marketed and handled. Certainly the introduction of objective measurement will produce new techniques which may well enable the establishment of regional wool handling centres. At this stage, unfortunately, the ability to handle wool through objective measurement is still somewhat restricted. Yennora is a development which, contrary to the implications of the honourable gentleman’s question, will enable, first of all, quite substantial savings in reduced freight charges payable to the New South Wales Government Railways. In addition it will allow, through the integration of all wool selling brokers in one centre - although one wool broking firm has indicated in recent weeks that it is not prepared to move to that centre - a greater combination of facilities than exists with the present spread of centres over a fairly wide area. If all the selling centres are in the one location it will mean that the buyers themselves will be able to concentrate their efforts on the one area. It will save them time in the still necessarily subjective appraisal of wool. It will enable all those who are interested in the wool industry to attend the one centre, and it will enable the many complex and related processes involved in the selling of wool to be under one roof and in one area, which, in the view of the Australian

Wool Board and my own Department, will be to the distinct advantage of the Australian wool growers. lt is true thai if the Yennora concept had been introduced perhaps 5 or 10 years ago the advantages of it might have been even greater, but it would be foolish to think, at a time of change, that there is still not a great deal to be gained from the Yennora type concept, lt is for that reason that the Government has indicated to the Australian Wool Board that it would be prepared to give a guarantee to the Wool Board in its search for funds to finance the construction to be undertaken at Yennora. Negotiations are still under way between the Wool Board and the private banking system in an effort to come to a satisfactory financial arrangement. The Government hopes that this can be done on a commercial basis. 1 believe that the commercial advantages to the wool grower and the wool industry are such that it is reasonable to expect the existing financial system to provide the necessary funds under a commercial arrangement satisfactory to all concerned.

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– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question. Is he aware that because of the growing proportion of the work force who are women - 40 per cent within this decade - 60 per cent of whom are married, a trend will emerge where the average home will be supported by 2 pay packets? Does he appreciate that this trend will lead to serious socio-economic disadvantages for families where the mother chooses to concentrate on her role as a mother, especially where larger families are concerned? So that motherhood and children in such circumstances will not be penalised, will he consider a scheme of making weekly cash payments to mothers, perhaps taxed away by a tapered means test related to any separate personal income of the mother?


– The simple answer that I can give is that the matter is worthy of consideration. 1 will refer it to my colleague, the Minister for Social Services.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport.

The Minister will be aware that the Bureau of Transport Economics recently made a study of the need for a direct rail link between Yass and Canberra and found that there was no case at present for this link. Will the Minister ask the Bureau of Transport Economics to make a survey of the need for a 4-1 ane highway to connect Yass to Canberra to facilitate the passage of goods and people, the present Barton Highway being totally inadequate to carry the increasingly heavy flow of both goods trucks and passenger vehicles?

Minister for Shipping and Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– Responsibility for the highway between Yass and Canberra is divided between my colleague the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Highways in New South Wales. I am unable to tell the House whether either my colleague the Minister for the Interior or the Minister for Highways in New South Wales has any plans proposed for the road between Yass and Canberra. However, knowing the interest of the honourable member for Hume in this problem, I will ask my Department to confer with the Department of the Interior and the Department of Highways in New South Wales to see whether a study of the position is desirable with a view to conveying more easily goods and passengers between Yass and Canberra. I am happy to do that for the honourable gentleman.

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– 1 wish to direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Last week the Minister attempted to dismiss my question about what he intended to do for the poorer state and Catholic schools to bring them up to the standard of the posh private schools. What does the Minister intend to do about the situation in most state high schools in Victoria, such as Kew High School, where, I have been informed in a note brought home by my 12-year-old daughter who attends that school, the Form I children may have to make do with a 4-day school week, just as many of the senior forms already have had to do? I ask this question as an outraged parent of a state school child, and I resent the suggestions the Minister has made in the past, that if I were more concerned, I would be prepared to pay more.


-Order! Comment is out of order in a question. The contents of a question must be based on fact.


– Despite the Minister’s suggestions in the past, I am prepared to pay more - to pay more tax. What I ask is: When will the Government direct more tax funds to raise the state schools to a standard approaching that of rich private schools instead of allocating funds to increase the discrepancy between the rich schools and the rest?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

-The Government has a number of programmes designed to support education in State government primary and secondary schools. The honourable member for Maribyrnong mentioned a 4-day week in one particular school. One of the factors that the Government has taken into account in recent times is its very substantial support for the teacher training activities of the States, and Government support for teacher training has been extended in a number of ways. We have provided tens of millions of dollars to established teacher training colleges within the States systems. We have enabled teacher training to be introduced into the colleges of advanced education, and we have reached the stage where there are now about 43,000 teachers in training at any one time in Australia. In some areas, especially mathematics and science, there are still shortages of teachers. I recognise that.

So far as the other side of the honourable member’s question is concerned, it is not only a question of teachers but also a question of capital facilities, as I well know. I have visited with State Education Ministers inner city schools where there is certainly a great inadequacy of facilities. The first step as a direct Commonwealth move to support the States’ efforts in these areas was the $20m unmatched capital funds announced by the Prime Minister before Christmas and made available to the States for primary and secondary schools. With Mr Thompson I have visited schools in the inner city areas of Melbourne, for example, that are to be pushed down and completely rebuilt with those funds. Translating that temporary once-off policy into a much more permanent policy which will enable the States to plan well ahead, the Prime Minister announced a short time ago that SI 67m would be made available to the State departments for primary and secondary school construction. It is hoped that this will add very significantly to the general level of school construction. The funds that will be made available for independent school construction in this area will be set against entitlements and priorities within those school systems. This has always happened in relation to capital expenditure. I am quite certain that the needs and entitlements of the independent school system in relation to the $48m in that area will be judged well by the independent school authorities themselves.

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– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the growing discontent among wool growers due to Government inaction on wool marketing and especially to procrastination in giving assurances that would enable them to plan for the coming wool season? Is the real reason for not at least accepting the lot building plan to replace the present inadequate price averaging plan, that l.b.p. would cover at least 50 per cent of the clip and is to all intents and purposes a form of acquisition - a solution which is desired by the wool industry but which for some unexplained reason is rejected by most of the Cabinet?


– 1 would contest the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question. For many years the wool industry has operated a wool selling season which goes from about 1st July to about 30th June. It does not always correspond exactly with the financial year but it runs on about that basis. This wool selling season is a period, the first month of which - in fact something over a month - is taken up with private sales. The auction sales do not commence until about the 14th or 15th August. I am not sure of the exact date in 1972. It is essential for the industry to know what is going to happen during the course of each wool selling season in advance of the opening of that wool selling season. But nobody in the industry - the wool grower, the wool buyer, the wool broker or any other interested person in the public - is in any way affected unless the industry itself begins the season and a change is made in the course of it without prior notification or without consultation in some way. The Government has already said that, in advance of the opening of the new wool selling season, the industry will be advised of the nature of the Government’s programme for the wool selling season. That is something to which I have referred in this House and the Government will be making a statement about its programme before the opening of the new wool selling season. I am sure that will answer the question regarding confidence.

As to the lot building plan and the relationship between the present small bale handling system and any new small bale handling system, when the Government last considered this the problem was essentially that the broken required 2 months notice to adapt their soft ware within their computer programming systems and they advised the Government that unless a decision were taken by 1st May or thereabouts they would not be physically able to process any change other than the existing price averaging plan system. The Government took its decision only with respect to the small bale handling system. The decision was that the p.a.p. system would continue until 31st December this year - for one more pool period - and it would be without prejudice to the Government’s consideration on all the other natters related to marketing which are of concern to the industry and of equal concern to the Government. The Government’s continued responsibility in its attitude to the industry is amply demonstrated by the present market recovery which resulted to a large degree from the Government’s support of the industry through the Australian Wool Commission and through the establishment of the price support scheme and so many other measures designed to restore profitability to wool growing in Australia.

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– I ask leave to make a personal explanation, claiming to have been misrepresented.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


– The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his reply to a question said that at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party I had moved that an item be discharged from the notice paper on the ground that it was already covered by the Labor Party’s policy concerning a schools commission. There is no Labor Party policy concerning a schools commission which uses the expression ‘the phasing out of educational expenditure for private schools’. What it says is ‘educational expenditure according to need’. The minutes show that I moved the discharge of the item. A paper from the education committee of the Party does not constitute the minutes nor does having the name Queensland’ on top of it mean, as the Minister suggested, that the resolution was endorsed by the Queensland branch of the Labor Party. Alone among the 6 States of the Commonwealth, Queensland forwards to the Federal Conference of the Labor Party every Hem from every branch in Queensland. More often than not the Queensland delegation votes against them but takes the view that every branch has the right of access. When ray motion to discharge the matter was moved it was seconded by Mr Kane of the Queensland branch. The terminology used by the education committee, as I pointed out on the occasion, allowed the ambiguity of interpretation which the Minister has picked up. Consequently, without any qualification whatever, I moved that the item be discharged.

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-I do not think it can.

Dr J F Cairns:

– It is not a matter inside the House, it is a matter outside the House.


– That is not a point of order.

Dr J F Cairns:

– Then I seek leave to raise a matter briefly.


-Is leave granted?

Mr McMahon:

– No, Mr Speaker.


– Leave is not granted.

page 3215


Minister for Trade and Industry · Richmond · CP

– I ask leave to make a brief explanation of an incorrect answer I gave at question time.


– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


– The honourable member for Wakefield asked me about the index of complexity which was in the National Times’ and I said that my Department knew nothing of it. That is incorrect. I knew nothing of it; but I have just received a note advising that a paper had been prepared in 1967 by an officer of my Department and the matter has recently been updated as a matter of routine. I wanted to correct the error that I made.

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Tariff Board Report

Minister for Customs and Excise · Hotham · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present a Tariff Board report dated 14th February 1972 on the following subject:

Fabrics for use in the manufacture of bed mattresses, pillows, etc.

This report does not call for any legislative action.

Ordered that the report be printed.

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United Nations Report

Minister for External Territories · Kooyong · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the administration of Papua New Guinea for the year ended 30th June 1971.

Ordered that the report be printed.

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Assent to the following Bills reported:

Dairying Research Bill 1972.

Dairying Research Levy Bill 1972.

Dairying Research Levy Collection Bill 1972.

Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Bill 1972.

Butter Fat Levy Bill 1972.

Dairying Industry Bill 1972. Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1972.

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– I present the 18th report of the Publications Committee, sitting in conference with the Publications Committee of the Senate.

Report - by leave - adopted.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The continuing closure of industries with consequent aggravation of unemployment.

I call on those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -


– During the course of question time this afternoon the honourable members for Perth (Mr Berinson) and Moore (Mr Maisey) referred to the closure of the General Motors-Holden’s plant in Western Australia. The matter of public importance which I have raised does not apply merely to Western Australia. We have become increasingly concerned about the closure of works and the development of structural unemployment in Australia. Structural unemployment among other things involves the retraining of workers and means the disappearance of certain occupations. It may well be that what is needed if GMH is insistent on the closure in Western Australia is the retraining of many workers who may not be able to be absorbed in the car industry elsewhere. Structural unemployment is up sharply and ordinary stimulants do not seem to help. Job training seems to do more than monetary methods to solve the problems of structural unemployment. What was interesting, however, in the examples given by the honourable members for Perth and Moore this morning, was the lack of a social policy or a social conscience on the part of a firm which owes its existence to social action. One may regard the remedy proposed by the honourable member for Moore - that of exempting Western Australia from the tariff - as rather a drastic one. Nevertheless, it does focus attention correctly on the fact that GMH owes its business in Australia - and an extremely profitable one - to social action. Therefore one does expect to see in return some degree of social conscience.

I think the point which underlies both the questions of the honourable members for Perth and Moore is one that we would strongly endorse. There does not seem to be on the part of companies that can well afford it any deliberate expansion of activity as a means of stimulating confidence. We are constantly told that the issue really is not that the fundamental economy of Australia is unsound, but that there is a faltering of confidence. There is no doubt that there was a serious faltering of confidence after the false diagnosis made by the Government of the economic position in this country when it brought down a restraining Budget in August last year and has spent a very good deal of its time since in frying to reverse the Budget policy which it proclaimed ex cathedra with a voice of infallibility last August. Events like this in Western Australia have a tendency to escalate unemployment because, apart from adding to a crisis of confidence, it seems to effect some building and manufacturing in other areas. The magazine Progress’ of last March points out:

Several million dollars that is being spent by the Federal and State Governments to relieve unemployment in our Slate-

That is, Western Australia - is not proving to be the answer.

The answer is that there is no answer,’ contends a high-ranking government official.

They had been interviewing the Commonwealth Employment Service. The article continued:

No one has the right answer. We are feeling our way all the time in the economic management of the nation’.

He was pointing out that our unemployment rate is dependent on the economy - including mining investment, the rural sector, the building industry and general confidence. Huge Commonwealth grants will only fire further inflation, the official contends.

Those huge grants have not been forthcoming for this unemployment. But that may indicate the viewpoint. The article continues:

The governments have consequently, decided to take only the edge off unemployment. They are hoping that an upturn in confidence and the economy will be an added fillip.

Meanwhile the unemployed will suffer.

In WA the governments have decided to inject $3m to create 2,200 additional jobs before 30th June.

By late last month 1,150 men. were in the course of being employed or had been employed for greatly varying projects. Government spending to that date: $1.5m.

This .spending barely dented WA’s unemployment problem, which last month showed no signs of improvement on the January figures. Usually, a considerable seasonal drop is expected.

January saw 11,848 people registered as unemployed, the greatest number in 9 years. Thirty per cent of the unemployed were in country areas.

And it is the country people who have reaped the benefits of Commonwealth grants during the past 3 months.

The Commonwealth has provided S2.02m for the country area - and $840,000 for the city.

I am not suggesting for one moment that the $2.02m provided for the country areas was excessive. Tt happened to be $550 a head of unemployed. But the $840,000 for nearly 3 times as many metropolitan unemployed came out not at $550 a head but at $100 a head. Why it could be considered that an expenditure of $550 per capita was necessary to start picking up unemployment in the country and only $100 in the city, I do not know. But that was the position in Western Australia.

The matter, of course, has been raised before with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). My colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has asked questions of the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister said that unemployment was a lagging economic indicator, although he did profess to see encouraging facets of the tendency concerning unemployment. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports had asked him whether the unemployment figures showed any evidence of- buoyancy on the part of private enterprise and the ability quickly to absorb into active employment those seeking employment. The tragedy is that this has not proven to be so. Therefore it appears that we must expect from the point of view of Government policy that we will be living with a higher unemployment rate unless we can have clear statements from the Government as to what it intends to do. The fact is that power over the economy really rests here in the national Government and the national parliament in Canberra. The State Government of Western Australia can encourage investment; it can make representations to industries such as GMH which are not in any way indebted to the State Government but are very much beholden to the Federal Government and therefore very much subject to pressure from the Federal Govrnment while not subject to pressure from the State Government. All of the things that the State Government can do are secondary to what the Commonwealth can do.

Sums have been allocated to local government authorities in Western Australia to make up for the closure of enterprises. Minor jobs such as clearing up beaches and these sorts of things have been done. The most that any local government authority has received has been about $37,000 in the Boulder area. But elsewhere sums have been very minimal indeed and do not do very much. I am speaking now of the country areas and the efforts there to pick up unemployment. Of course, unemployment in the cities is not being reduced as ii should be. I know that the Commonwealth has introduced re-training schemes which, in a sense, are dependent on the goodwill of employers who are subsidised to employ people for re-training. However, we believe that, with the emergence of this technological unemployment associated with the closure of factories, there is need for much more positive Commonwealth action than we have seen so far.

Although I have confined my remarks to Western Australia, I am not contending that this situation exists in Western Australia only. That happens to be the State with which I am most familiar. What seems quite difficult to understand is the great disparity between Commonwealth per capita grants to solve unemployment in rural areas and its mere hopes that some upturn will solve unemployment in the city areas. So far the Governments optimism does not appear to have been justified by the facts. Certain questions were asked by the magazine ‘Progress’ from which I have already quoted. The magazine states:

And so, after all that talk of grants and interest-free loans, how much and what sort nf work is being provided for the unemployed? Is there any sign that there has been an unemployment drop? What caused the decline in the employment situation in the first place?

In answer to the first question the magazine states:

From the $2.02m Commonwealth grant for non-metropolitan areas, $477,036 was given to more than SO local authorities and about $900,000 to five State departments up until late last month.

This article was written in March 1972. The article continues:

No more than a third of the Commonwealth money can be spent on equipment and materials. In Western Australia, about a quarter has been used for this purpose.

When it comes to expenditure on equipment and materials, Western Australia must seek them elsewhere and the benefit in employment is therefore obtained elsewhere. The article continues:

Local authorities have been given an average of about $8,000 - enough for generally small projects; some lasting days, others weeks and months.

In Greenough, for example, $1,200 was allocated for cleaning up the beach . . .

I suggest that, if this is all that we can think of as a solution to unemployment in that area, it is rather a policy of despair. Work has been available in certain State government departments. In the Railways Department there was work for fettlers, and the Forests Department employed 51 men for unskilled work in the forests. Some have been employed by the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board, and so on. However, we feel that completely absent from Government utterances has been a positive adherence to the ideal of full employment. No clear statement has been made to indicate that this is the ideal of the Government. I realise that if one says that one stands for full employment, as a Labor government did back in 1945 - it said that at a time when it was demobilising a very large number of people from the Armed Services - one is committed very perilously to produce a result. If a government were to say that it stood for full employment and did not produce full employment, it would invite derision. But it would be a courageous statement. It is the sort of statement that a government which is concerned for the development of this country should be making.

I would be glad to hear the Commonwealth Government affirm without equivocation in the present situation in which about 100,000 people are unemployed that it stands for full employment. But I am afraid that constantly the Government gets back to a standard which is not nearly so exacting - the one that Mr Menzies, as he was in 194S, always sought to substitute for the Labor Party’s affirmation of an aim of full employment, namely, high levels of employment. If the Commonwealth Government committed itself to a policy of full employment, I am certain that there would be within Commonwealth Government departments the expertise to attain it. The answer to the problems that we have raised this afternoon is re-training schemes and a positive Commonwealth commitment to full employment. With that commitment, I am satisfied that the problem of returning 100,000 unemployed persons to work in the large Australia of 13 million people would not be nearly so great as the problem which faced the Labor Party when it was demobilising 750,000 people and seeing people transferring from the manufacture of munitions in a country with a population of only 7 million. The Labor Government attained that demobilisation without unemployment. It is for that reason that we have raised this issue for the Government to consider.

Minister for Repatriation · Indi · CP

– This discussion of a matter of public importance obviously has been inspired by the announcement that General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd will close its assembly plant at Mosman Park, Perth, Western Australia, over a transitional period. The House will appreciate that very little notice was given that this subject was to be raised and that, therefore, it has not been possible to obtain all the detailed information that one would have liked to have at one’s disposal. Obviously this is a commercial decision by a large company which has Australia-wide activities and ramifications. It cannot be proposed, nor do I accept, that the decision is a result of Government policies - at least, not the policies of the Federal Government. There may be some concern by the company about the Western Australian Labor Government and its policies in the future. No-one can say this for sure, but certainly it is worth some thought.

At the outset, I assure the House and the people of Australia that the Federal Government is most concerned that a commercial decision such as this could cause people to lose their jobs and, therefore, could cause them financial and other associated problems, even though such problems may be temporary only. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) stressed that companies such as General Motors-Holden’s should have a social conscience in this matter. The announced intentions of the company reveal that in fact it has a social conscience. GMH has stated that it will provide special financial assistance for some of its employees. It has said that special financial arrangements, depending on age and length of service, will be provided for those employees whose services are to be terminated and that they will be advised individually of the basis. Also, personal contact will be made with each of these employees to determine in what other ways the company can assist in finding them alternative employment. The company has also informed the Western Australian Department of Labour and the Commonwealth Employment Service in Perth that it will provide both Departments and Western Australian employer organisations with full details of the qualifications, experience and job preferences of those employees who want assistance in obtaining alternative employment. I am sure that GMH will obtain all possible assistance from the Commonwealth Employment Service. So, the reported statements of the company indicate that it is very conscious of its responsibilities to its employees who may lose their positions.

The honourable member for Fremantle asked for an affirmation of the Government’s stated full employment policy and its determination to achieve this objective. I do not think there is any need to restate this policy because it has been repeated time and again by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the relevant Ministers that the objective of this Government is to maintain full employment throughout Australia. Not all factors involved in this matter are within the control of the Federal Government, although a great many are. I think that, on the statistics available the Federal Government can claim that it has one of the best employment records in the world.

Mr Foster:

– I want to raise a point of order. The Minister has referred to matters being irrelevant to certain Ministers.

Would he, as Minister for Repatriation, consider the subject now before the House to be irrelevant to bis Department?


– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. There is no relationship between what the Minister has said and the point of order raised. I would think that the honourable member for Sturt has been a member of this House long enough to recognise that fact. I have warned the honourable member for Sturt previously about taking irrelevant points of order.


– I repeat what I was saying because it is a very important point. The Australian Government, for its part, has assisted the Australian people over the last 20 years to maintain one of the best employment records, on a percentage basis, of all countries and this includes countries with much greater populations, more job opportunities and greater potential than Australia has. So the Government has proved by its performance that it does in fact support the principle of full employment, and has achieved a very good record in the employment field. So far as I am aware from the information available, the decision taken by General Motors was in no way caused by any domestic or import policies of the Federal Government.

Over the past 22 years the activities and policies of both Genera] Motors and the Federal Government have been responsible for a dramatic expansion in the industrial output of Australia, with an accompanying increase in domestic production, export income and employment opportunities. The Federal Government, by various incentives and policies, has contributed tremendously to the comparatively dramatic improvement in Australia’s industrial capacity and has consistently maintained a Very high level of employment compared with the levels in other major industrial nations. Statistics relating to General Motors show that this company has achieved a magnificent performance for Australia as well as for General Motors itself. General Motors is too often the target of attack by members of the Opposition.

I would like to quote some figures to illustrate the point that I have just made. In t>he last 20 years General Motors has produced 2,527,000 units for both the domestic and export market. A few years ago it was exporting none at all. Last year it exported 184,310 units. The expenditure by the company on the purchase of land, buildings and equipment in Australia since 1948 - which is only 24 years - shows the staggering figure of $324,219,000. The amount paid by General Motors to suppliers for materials, components and services^ - thereby assisting the employment of Australians and other associated developments - shows the amazing figure of $3,3 10m. In 1950 General Motors had only 10,000 employees in Australia. Last year it employed 25,500 people. The company’s total payroll in 1950 was $12.7m, last year it was $ 123.1m. Since 1948 - in the last 24 years - General Motors has had a total payroll in Australia of $1,220,471,000, and the revenue from its exports has totalled $260m over the past 20 years. Whilst this company certainly is owned by overseas capital, it has played a major part in the development of the Australian economy since the company’s establishment and since its real development began in 1950 when this coalition Government was elected to represent the people of Australia.

In the particular case we are considering, General Motors has given no indication that, for example, Government decisions in the overseas trade sphere have been responsible for the announcement made by the company. If imports were the cause of the trouble, for example, then long established procedures are available to Australian industry, and these procedures have proved effective and valuable in the past in developing local industries such as the motor vehicle industry in which General Motors is engaged, and contributing to their ability to expand production and provide employment and to contribute in a very significant fashion to Australia’s earnings of foreign exchange.

The economy of Australia and the employment situation in Australia are inseparably tied together. The Australian economy is basically sound and strong, and of course the Government is interested in doing all it can to continue to maintain and improve this position. In this direction the Government recently has taken significant action to stimulate economic activity and thereby expand demand for industrial products. These actions include the lowering of interest rates, providing additional funds for the States, restoring the investment allowance for manufacturers, reducing personal income taxation and increasing welfare payments. These measures are starting to take effect and they will contribute towards improving the level of economic activity.

The level of economic activity is being kept under very close watch by the Government. The Government has shown it is prepared to take action to stimulate the economy when such action is warranted. The manufacturing industries of this country can look forward to continued support from this Government. Their importance to Australia, to the States and to the individual Australian is fully comprehended by the Government. The Government and the Department of Trade and Industry - and I speak today not only in the capacity of Minister for Repatriation but also as the Minister assisting I he Minister for Trade and Industry - will keep the whole of the manufacturing activity in Australia under keen and active supervision. We will do this with a spirit of co-operation.

I want to repeat to the House, and to the people of Australia, that it is a genuine concern of this Government that no-one should lose job opportunities. Of course we think it is unfortunate that this commercial decision has had to be announced by General Motors-Holden’s. I repeat the Government’s concern in this matter. I also repeat the pledge that the Government will do everything within its power to maintain an expanding industrial ingredient in the economy and to continue its record of encouraging the development and profitability of Australian industries. The Government will continue to play its part in this direction, working in partnership with the Australian people, in order continually to strengthen the industrial base of Australia, with the consequent maintenance of employment opportunities and the very high percentage of employment which we have maintained over a very long period of time. Our employment record compares favourably with that of other countries.


– Despite this Government’s denials Australia is still faced with a large pool of unemployment deliberately increased by this Government as has been admitted by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his statement to the consumer price index of 20th January 1972. He said clearly that the Government had deliberately increased the pool of unemployment as a measure against inflation. I have the statement in front of me. In it the Treasurer said:

Twelve months ago many of those who are now demanding ‘stimulation’ of the economy were equally strongly demanding vigorous action by the Government to deal with the inflationary situation. It should also be kept clearly in mind that the situation they were then concerned with was itself the product, in considerable part, of that very tight labour market the easing of which is now current. If the present position in regard to inflation of cost and prices is grim, it would have been much worse in the absence of the action by the Government which its critics now seek to have reversed.

No government desires to see unemployment increasing. Those who, like myself, have to play their part in the task of determining the Government’s economic policy are well aware of all the points that could be made in this respect, and also of the highly emotional language to which the subject lends itself. Yet there is another side to the matter, and it needs stating.

For the first time for many years, labour turnover is falling off in many areas; absenteeism and the rapid changing of jobs, with all the waste and costs to the economy they involve, are declining. Employers seeking labour can now more readily obtain it.

This is a clear indication that the Government deliberately caused this pool of unemployment. This was despite former denials that unemployment was being deliberately created. This policy was the cause of the fall in the purchase of cars which affected the motor industry and is now being felt in the recent announcement from Perth.

The decision of General Motors-Holden’s Ltd to close its Mosman Park factory at the end of August has come as a great shock to the Government of Western Australia. The managing director of GMH, Mr Gibbs has said that all vehicles for the Western Australian market would be produced at the company’s plants in South Australia and Victoria. Even so, this means that fewer workers will be employed. The excuse offered is that the facilities at Mosman Park no longer are adequate. But the economic financial squeeze is the real answer. If the facilities no lon»er are adeouate whose fault is that?

The company should have used some of its immense profits that were being channelled to overseas investors to see that its facilities were adequate. The company allowed its plant to run down and then used this as an excuse to close its plant at Mosman Park. Where is the loyalty to the State and the country that has given this company so much assistance in the past? Its loyalty lies only with its shareholders, and the overseas ones at that.

This closure is being carried out after assurances by GMH local representatives about 5 weeks ago to representatives of the Western Australian Government that there was no intention of closing the works. The Deputy Premier had repeated those assurances in the Western Australian Parliament. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) said that it was a commercial decision. Actually it was not a commercial decision at ali. It was a decision that has been made as a result of the economic policies of this Government. The motor industry has been in the doldrums ever since this Government introduced its illfated Budget in August last year. It hit all the States but now Western Australia and the motor industry are being hit harder than formerly, with 250 dismissals.

The McMahon Government has the unenviable reputation of setting out with the deliberate intention of creating a pool of unemployment. The Treasurer indicated that this was so in the August Budget if one reads his Budget Speech carefully. The policy has gravely affected the job opportunities of young people leaving school, so much so that many of them are returning to school rather than facing unemployment. A bad feature of our unemployment is that one in every 3 people out of work is under age 21 - just over 33,000 in all. I draw attention to a very important statement made in a ‘Graduate Careers Guide of Australia’ for March 1972. The statement reads:

For some time the Council has been concerned that within industry, commerce, government and universities and colleges of advanced education there is insufficient understanding of the factors which govern the effective use of graduates. Apart from this very little co-ordinated information for Australia as a whole is available and there has been no Australia-wide investigation or even discussion of the relationship between the output and use of graduates.

The Council fears that the recent emergence of difficulties of various kinds in the placement of graduates creates an undesirable uncertainty in the minds of students and recent graduates as to the value of tertiary education and its relevance to satisfactory employment.

This gives cause for concern. The Commonwealth Government is not treating the future employment needs of our young people seriously enough. Actual unemployment at the end of April was 93,000-odd while the number of job vacancies was 31,000-odd. The ratio was 3 people out of work for every vacant job. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits was over 36,000. The highest level of unemployment was in the area of the white collar worker where 26,750 were out of work; and 25,600 semi-skilled tradesmen were unemployed. This is a serious situation. Of course, as a result of last August’s Budget, the Government realised it had made a mistake and created a rod for its own back. There was such an outcry from all sections of the community that it had second thoughts, and tried to rectify some of the wrongs that it had done, not because it did not want unemployment, but because it was concerned with the effect unemployment would have on the Government’s electoral prospects.

The Government has not forgotten 1961 when it went within one seat of losing government, lt realises now that it is faced with the danger of losing government, which it surely will do. The skies are black with the chickens coming home to roost. Unemployment figures have risen everywhere in Australia compared with last year’s figures. Unemployment has increased in the building industry, which is a good barometer of the state of the economy. In Western Australia the building industry has been hit badly by unemployment. Without quoting in full, I draw attention to a headline in a Western Australian newspaper of 14th March 1972 which reads: ‘W. A. Jobless at new peak’. The article gives the number of workers in the building industry now unemployed. In case the Government tries to blame the Western Australian Labor Government I shall quote from the West Australian’ of 19th April 1972 which, of course, would be inclined to favour this Government rather than the Western Australian Labor Government, The editorial is headed: ‘Too few jobs’, and it reads:

Unemployment is highest in Western Australia. The Premier, Mr Tonkin, is right in blaming external factors. This State, more than any other. looks to a strengthening in the overseas demand for metals and wool, and to new investment opportunities for economic recovery. It has a strong case on these grounds for special help from Canberra to increase job vacancies till international trade is again flowing more freely. There are precedents for special Federal assistance to a particular State in this field.’

I draw the attention of the Government to that very important statement and hope that it will take notice. But I am not putting a case for Western Australia alone. I refer to Australia as a whole. This is a national issue. It is Australia-wide, but some areas have been hit worse than others. I cite an article in the ‘Australian’ of 30th May 1972. It reads:

Black outlook on jobs. Average figures 100,000 without work, researchers warn. An average of more than 100,000 Australians will be unemployed in 1972-73 despite an expected increase in business confidence and economic activity. This warning came yesterday from the University of Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research, only 2 weeks after the Federal Government announced a slight drop in the number of jobless in April to 99,433.

The article continues:

The Institute criticised the Government on the grounds that although it had brought in financial measures to stimulate the economy, it had failed to introduce an incomes and prices policy to combat inflation.

Inflation continues at an increasing rate, paring the apparent gains of some sections of the workforce, pruning the modest gains of others and lopping the incomes of pensioners and fixed income recipients,’ said the report.

But this Government does nothing about controlling prices, it wants only to control wages of those on the lower rungs of the ladder. In many areas there are 4 applicants for each job available. In some areas there are 5 applicants unemployed for each vacancy. The hard fact is that unemployment has continued to increase month by month in recent months and year by year in recent years. Unemployment has increased by 46 per cent over the comparable figures of last year.

We often hear about the number of man hours lost as a result of strikes, but the facts are that the number of man hours lost through unemployment is greater on a production basis than the man hours lost through strikes. It is about 8 times greater. The building industry is always a good barometer of the state of the economy. The economy continues to slow down and many workers have lost their jobs. Overall unemployment has been brought about by the August Budget of the McMahon Government and it is a tragic thing that without any thought to the welfare of the people unemployment should be created like it has been. An important factor that should-


– The honourable member’s time has expired.

Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service · Corangamite · LP

– This matter of public importance raised by the Opposition has provided an excellent opportunity to expose the essential fallacies and contradictions inherent in the Opposition’s employment and industrial policies. According to the wording of the subject proposed for discussion, it seems that the Australian Labor Party apparently assumes that if no industry ever closed there would be no unemployment problem. What the Opposition has completely failed to realise is that in an expanding economy, such as Australia’s, with many new industries and enterprises opening all the time, of course there will be constant shifts in labour demand. If this were not so, we would have a completely stagnant economy with very little prospect of improving employment opportunities. The ALP apparently refuses to acknowledge that many new industries and enterprises are starting and that others are expanding. 1 think it would be appropriate for the Opposition to give some thought to why some industries are either having to close or to shift their locations in recent months. It is only a week or so ago since in this place we had a major debate on the Australian system of conciliation and arbitration and the effect on our economy of wage increases and industrial troubles. It was pointed out by many speakers on this side of the House that we cannot expect employment opportunities to keep on increasing at an ever rising rate if w.ige and salary increases greatly exceed the rate of productivity gains. The inevitable result will be to price our products out of the market, and if this happens it will no longer pay to produce them. If it no longer pays to produce, then you will not get employment opportunities. This is where the Opposition refuses to face realities.

You cannot go on pushing wage and salary claims beyond the economy’s capacity to pay and still expect a continuation of unlimited employment opportunities.

When you add to irresponsible wage demands - I emphasise the word ‘irresponsible’, because I am not talking about fair and just wage demands - the extra costs and loss of production caused by strikes, bans and other industrial measures, you compound the problem. Cannot the Opposition realise the fact that one of the basic underlying causes of the recent slow down in our rate of development, and consequently in our ability to provide employment, is a combination of these 2 factors? I suspect that the ALP knows this very well but is just not prepared to face up to it. lt is universally agreed that all forms of industry are going through a period of very rapid technical change and in the circumstances there are bound to be shifts in demand for one product or another. This does impose on employers an increasing obligation to make provision for the possibility of redundancy, and there is no doubt that many employers are conscious of their obligations, as is demonstrated by the fact that in the cases of Broken Hill South Ltd and General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd in Perth, the companies concerned have made some provision for this sort of situation. But the Opposition apparently thinks that an industry could, and indeed should be prepared to keep on producing in areas or under conditions in which it is no longer economic to do so. In such circumstances it is inevitable that costs and eventually prices will rise. Yet the Opposition is constantly critical of rising prices. I point out to the Opposition that it just cannot have it both ways.

We should start to assess the magnitude of the problem with which we are dealing today in the terms expressed in this matter of public importance. The numbers involved in retrenchments are comparatively small in relation to our total work force and amount to some hundreds in a labour force of over 5i million. I do not say that retrenchments even of that number are to be brushed aside as socially insignificant. That is not so. They entail real hardships to some individuals and their families, and it is incumbent on industry and on governments - State and Federal - to ease these hardships to the maximum extent possible. But the fact remains that we are dealing with only small numbers, certainly much less than one-quarter of one per cent of the work force.

So far as unemployment generally is concerned, I refer to the recent April release on employment statistics which showed a decline of 4,500 in unemployment. That is a small decline but it is very helpful. There was a decline in the unemployment rate on the seasonally adjusted figures from 1.80 per cent to 1.78 per cent. There was an improving trend in job vacancies, and a small increase in the level of overtime worked. Secondly, to the extent that some of the current unemployment problems are caused by the temporary slow down in economic growth, and especially manufacturing growth, the Government has already acted vigorously in taking decisive remedial measures. It will take some time for those measures to take full effect but I am confident that as the rate of economic growth picks up, the level of manufacturing employment will resume its more normal trend. Some of the difficulties being experienced by a few industries can be traced simply to the slow down in economic activity and cannot be attributed to any deep seated structural problem of a long term character.

A third point is that some structural changes in employment are unavoidable in a complex growing economy such as ours. I mentioned that earlier. They are not a new phenomenon that has just emerged. They will occur even in the most buoyant economic conditions and they can occur for a multitude of reasons, such as technical change, rationalisation of plant operations, shifts in the pattern of world demand for our products, shifts in the structure of domestic expenditure, the exhaustion of economic reserves in particular mines, industrial upheavals and cost price pressures affecting the viability of a product and 1 have no doubt that many others could be mentioned as well. When such shifts take place some industries may be forced to cut back and some people may be retrenched. The problem will become serious when these retrenchments occur in relatively remote isolated areas, in areas offering a limited range of employment opportunities or in areas temporarily affected by adverse economic conditions. In such cases, the task is one of redeployment and retraining of labour. This is a task which the Government is facing up to, through the activities of the Commonwealth Employment Service and through its wide range of training schemes. At the same time the pattern of Commonwealth expenditure is influenced by the pattern of demand for labour. The non-metropolitan unemployment relief scheme is an example of this.

There may be a need for more to be done in this field and without in any way forecasting future Government policy or initiatives, I mention just 2 of them. There may be a need in the future for some increased assistance for decentralisation and perhaps some increased assistance to encourage the mobility of labour. It is not a settled but an ever fluid area of policy which is under constant Government examination. This Government will not shun its responsibilities but I think it should be emphasised that a good part of the responsibility for dealing with regional unemployment rests squarely with the State governments concerned.

Another point to be made in connection with this matter is that while there are undoubtedly retrenchments occurring here and there in the economy, it is equally true that some employers are at the same time adding to their work force. For example, not many people might be aware that within the last couple of months GMH recruited an additional 400 people to its Port Melbourne plant work force. Other examples of this sort could be quoted.

The final point - and I emphasise it again - is that in many cases the shut downs of particular plants could have been avoided if they had not been faced with exorbitant cost pressures and industrial unrest. Instead of presenting matters of this sort to this Parliament, the Opposition should be doing all it can to exercise moderation on trade union leaders, for the brutal fact is that the root cause of the present economic troubles we face is to be found in excessive wage increases of the order of 12 per cent to 13 per cent as against a normal productivity growth of only 2 per cent. Structural problems have always been evident to some extent in Australia, although they are much less serious here than in most overseas countries. As in the past, this Government will be ready at all times to cope with problems as they arise.


– Because of the Opposition’s concern for the growing number of unemployed throughout Australia, it has again raised the question of employment, the movement of industry and the unemployment that flows from it. For this reason we have moved for the discussion as a matter of public importance of the continuing closure of industry with consequent aggravation of unemployment. One of the things that concerns me is that this important matter has not been regarded by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) as of sufficient importance to induce him to give in this Parliament an explanation of what his Department is doing to overcome the problems that have been outlined by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), followed by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), who referred to what is happening in Western Australia. I had hoped that he would give some explanation of some facts that f shall bring to the attention of the Parliament this afternoon.

The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) quoted at length from the annual report of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd as if the Opposition’s attack this afternoon were based purely and simply on actions taken by General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. It is not. It is based on the general attitude of industry and the failure of this Government to come up with solutions and with a statement of what it proposes to do about the situation. To summarise the Minister’s speech, virtually all that honourable members got out of him was that restructuring is unavoidable. We agree that restructuring is necessary, but what is being done by the company and this Government to alleviate problems created by restructuring? General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd has decided to close down its plant as Mosman Park in Western Australia and to throw 230 employees on to the industrial scrap heap. They will have to find employment wherever they can. Incidentally, the company’s reason for closing that plant is in direct conflict with the reason given by John Lysaght (Australia) Limited for displacing some 600 of its employees at Newcastle by November this year. I shall deal with that aspect in more detail later. Probably Government members, including the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury), who is to follow, will give some indication of what the Government is doing in this case and also what it intends to do in regard to the closing by the Chysler-Rootes group of its plant at Fishermen’s Bend in Victoria, where some 300 men and women have been thrown out of employment. That industry was closed down there and transferred to South Australia. That is satisfactory for South Australia, but what about the people who have been displaced in Melbourne? What work will they find?

General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd has also closed its Frigidaire manufacturing operations, having transferred them to New Zealand. What is the Government doing about issues like that? Another matter to which I would like to draw attention is the action of the American-owned company, Clutha Development Pty Ltd in closing South Clifton and North Bulli No. 2 coal mines on the South Coast of New South Wales. Why has the company taken this action? It is because of the loss of a contract to the Italian market, which in turn lost it to Goonyella, in the Bowen basin in Queensland, which is 90 per cent owned by an American company, Utah Development Co., in a joint venture with a Japanese company, Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd. These foreign-owned companies are using Australia’s assets with complete disregard for the men and women they employ. I might as well mention in passing that in the past week I have received 2 letters from members of trade unions involved in the Australian stevedoring industry, who have been expressing concern about what is happening in that industry. The Government will not even tell its own employees of its intentions.

In my opening remarks I mentioned that the reason for the closing of the General Motors plant in Western Australia is the opposite of the explanation given by Lysaghts at Newcastle for laying off 600 men by the end of this year. Lysaghts stated that the cost of transporting the completed article had forced the company to take this action. By contrast, General Motors Holden’s Pty Ltd announced that it intends to transport the finished article from South Australia to Western Australia. The 2 reasons are contradictions.

The main thing to be borne in mind is that all the industries I have mentioned this afternoon have either a substantial overseasowned component in their make-up or they are totally overseas owned. Directors overseas are making decisions that affect employment opportunities in Australia. My understanding of the Lysaght case is that the local management favoured unanimously the retention of the industry at Newcastle rather than to fragment it all over Australia. The overseas component of the management made the decision to fragment the industry among the capital cities of Australia and to close down operations at Newcastle. The opposite procedure has been followed by General Motors, the Chrysler-Rootes group and a number of other companies that could be mentioned.

When reference is being made to unemployment, let us not forget this Government’s dithering with the Tariff Board’s report on shipbuilding. The inquiry into that industry commenced in August 1969 and the report of the committee of inquiry has been on the Minister’s table since 12th June of last year, but still no report has been presented to this Parliament. Surely it must be obvious to Government members what effect this is having on employment in the shipbuilding industry and the development of that industry. Recently I delivered a speech in this House in which I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry for the promised reply to a query raised on 18th May in regard to negotiations by the Australian Gaslight Co. with Japanese steel firms to manufacture and supply 120,000 tons of steel pipes to carry gas from the South Australian gas fields to Sydney. I have not yet received a reply from the Minister.

Since 1968 more than 18 firms have been completely closed down in my electorate. Either they have failed or they have been transferred to Sydney or to some other place. These close-downs have had a serious effect on employment opportunities at Newcastle. As a result, for every registered unfilled position there are 18 male persons registered, and for females the proportion is 1 to 10. Also, the Government is doing nothing to overcome a problem in my electorate associated with the wool industry. In 1969, 785 men and women were engaged in wool merchandising at Newcastle. The figure is now down to 385. A similar comment may be made about wharf labouring. In 1950 there were between 1,500 and 1,600 men engaged in this work, but in January 1970 there was a port quota of 600 and in April of this year the figure had declined to 372. That situation is attributable to the introduction of containers on Australian ships and to the method adopted for handling wool. The Government has no answer for these problems. Certainly it has made no attempt to find an answer by seeking ways and means to overcome them. The Government is entitled to ask the Opposition to state its attitude on this matter. On 17th May I moved this motion in this House:

That this House is of the opinion that a parliamentary select committee should be appointed to investigate and report to the Parliament upon the closing down of particular sections of industry with consequent loss of employment.

At least the Government should permit the members of this Parliament to become involved in trying to find a solution for these problems. If Cabinet cannot find a solution, at least the Government should let the Parliament try to find a solution by investigating the situation and trying to come up with solutions for the major problem of displacement of labour and associated problems. After all, men who are committed to the education of their children, to the upbringing of their families, suddenly find themselves out of work. This applies not only to the labouring class but to everyone in the whole structure of a company. The decision by Lysaght’s affects every person working for that company. Men who have had 30 and 40 years in the industry now find themselves on the unemployment market irrespective of whether they are staff men or labourers. It appears that people do not count and the Government does not care.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– What gave rise to this discussion originally - the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) made this quite clear - was the decision of the management of General Motors-Holden’s Ltd to close its Mosman Park assembly plant in Western Australia. This plant was built in 1926 at a time when the Australian motor car industry consisted of a series of assembly plants for putting together parts imported from overseas for sale to the Australian public. At that time it cost about as much to send parts from the overseas sources to Fremantle as it did to send them to Sydney or any other main city in Australia. The remarkable thing about this plant is that, despite the great changes that have been taking place, it is still in operation. As I understand it, it is only a small plant in the midst of a large industrial area. Therefore in itself it is intrinsically unsuited to expansion, and considerable extra accommodation has had to be hired by General Motors-Holden’s for both parking and storage purposes. When we consider that the Australian motor car industry is so radically different - it is concentrated in a much fewer number of plants in which components are transported from one part of the assembly to another by a highly elaborate system - it is really remarkable that the Mosman Park plant should still be in existence at all. Maybe there are reasons why it is. I suppose that General Motors-Holden’s, like any other company, has always been rather hesitant about closing down plants that have been operating, thus throwing out of work those who are employed there. In 2 months time we should examine what has happened to those people who have been displaced. The company itself has offered jobs to a good many, particularly the more skilled ones, in other places. It is endeavouring to get into contact with the Government. It has put the Department of Labour and National Service on the job. If the 230 people who are now displaced are not substantially reabsorbed into the economy within 2 months I personally will be very surprised.

The honourable member for Fremantle might have mentioned one or two other things. One is that the population and the work force of Western Australia have for some years been expanding at twice the Australian average rate. Although, like every other industrial State, Western Australia has had its vicissitudes, there has been a powerful, underlying, continuous story of expansion and of absorption of new people into the work force. The matter of public importance we are now discussing is, as several speakers subsequent to the honourable member for Fremantle have emphasised, in these terms: ‘the continuing closure of industry with consequent aggravation of unemployment’ throughout Australia. The evidence in support of this proposition is very much weaker. In fact it was weak in relation to one or two aspects of the case based on the decision by General Motors-Holden’s.

It was suggested that one of the reasons General Motors-Holden’s is in its present position is that it owed a lot to social action taken on its behalf, including the extending of tariff protection to this company. As far as my memory goes, one thing that General Motors has never asked for is a tariff to protect its operations in Australia - far from it. In its early days it made it clear that it did not need protection and would not seek it. In fact tariffs were not applied to the motor car industry at the request of General Motors-Holden’s but were applied to keep alive other sectors of the industry which otherwise would not have been able to withstand the overseas competition. Blame certainly cannot be laid at the door of General Motors. In a large industrial structure such as Australia has, hundreds of firms each year can go bankrupt and out of operation, but fortunately even more come into business, start operations and increase their employment. This is always happening. The Mosman Park closure is surely one of the most minor ones to bring up. Of course it is important to Western Australia and to the electorates of Fremantle and Perth. The honourable members for Fremantle and Perth (Mr Berinson) have drawn attention to this. But they have dragged out of perspective the general growth in the economy and the new growth that is always taking place.

Honourable members on the Opposition side have suggested that unemployment is increasing and that economic conditions are becoming more depressed. This was particularly the theme of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). In fact the opposite is the case. It could have been said until some considerable time ago, for the better part of a year now, that the aim of the Budget was to combat the very serious problem of inflation, but surely any fairminded member must realise that for the better part of a year these policies have been swept under the carpet and that everything is being done now to increase employment, stimulate business and so forth. That the Government has been creating unemployment is not a charge that could fairly have been laid for some months now. In fact a number of other features could be pointed to, for instance the very big increase in the wages bill. One thing that does not seem to be recognised by honourable members opposite is the effect that tremendous and sudden increases in wages in so many industries have on employment in those industries. There is no doubt that in a good many cases sudden wage increases have led to much of the labour force pricing itself out of the market. This trend has been followed in Britain, quite clearly and vividly, until unemployment there has reached a very high level. It is now happening here. The theory which honourable members opposite continually put forward is: Increase wages and forget all about the costs, and if wage increases result in higher costs they can be eased by clapping on price control to force prices to stay where they are. Apart from the fatuity of it, this process has been tried and has put a good many people out of work. There are so many demands still operating that unfortunately and undoubtedly many more people will be put out of work in the near future. This process does play its part.

Until we can get stability in wages, costs, prices and so on and a general spirit of greater contentment in the community about these matters we will continue to face very serious problems, and amongst these serious problems will be increasing unemployment for a good many industries and a good many trades and individuals quickly pricing themselves out of the market. This gives any government a difficult problem to handle, and no Western country has yet been able to handle it any more successfully than has Australia. But until we recognise these phenomena, and the general community recognises them, these things will happen. It is certainly not true at the moment to say that there is an increasing closure of industries and aggravation of unemployment. At the present moment more employment is opening up, and more firms are starting than are closing.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order 1 The discussion is now concluded.

page 3228


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 19 April (vide page 1 803), on motion by Mr Swartz:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


– This Bill relates to agreements between the Commonwealth and the States in connection with softwood forestry. The Bill consists of 4 clauses, which are concerned with the execution of the agreement, and a schedule, which is the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. The main purpose of the Bill is to make provision for expansion of softwood plantings in Australia in accordance, one can assume, with arrangements which have already been agreed to by the States and the Commonwealth. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill, but it does intend to move an amendment. I move:

The first point I want to make is with respect to the agreement itself. Normally one would expect that some indication would be given that the States had agreed to the conditions laid down in the agreement. Usually this is an agreement which has been signed formally by the Prime Minister, or somebody acting on his behalf, and by the Premier or Premiers of the State or States concerned, or their representatives. One can only assume in the first instance that this agreement is in fact the final agreement. The only assumption we can make if we are to debate this Bill intelligently is that the respective Parliaments will give full backing to the Ministers represented on the Australian Forestry Council to enter into the agreement contained in the Schedule to this Bill.

The other point I want to make is with regard to the timing. This Bill makes provision for a second 5-year programme, to commence from 1st July 1971 - almost 12 months ago - and to be effective until 1976. This is somewhat similar to the Act of 1967, which made provision for the first 5-year agreement to commence from 1st July 1966. One puzzling aspect of this is that in his second-reading speech when introducing the first plan, the Minister stated that there would be a review of this scheme, obviously, to make provision for any further arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. What I want to know is this: Why did it take so long before the Parliament was informed of the second agreement? Why was not the review finalised before the expiry of the first agreement? Why was not the second 5-year plan brought into this Parliament before the commencing date - in other words, before 1st July 1971? Why has it been brought in later? One must assume that a lot of arrangements are being made between the Commonwealth and the States unknown to this Parliament. After all, who up to this point of time has authorised the expenditure that has taken place in the past 12 months with respect to this programme?

Members of the Australian Labor Party are not opposing the Bill. We are simply raising certain key objections with respect to the measure, particularly on how it is worked out in practice. Usually, before money is made available for any development project, the proposal has to run the gauntlet of this Parliament; it has to be debated and subjected to any criticisms or amendments that may be thought necessary. It took almost 12 months from the expiry of the first 5-year plan for this Bill to hit Parliament. This seems to be the type of arrangement in which the Government is becoming more and more involved. It is waiting till the death-knock before making decisions. We have the same problem arising now with the beef roads programmes. There have been 2 of those programmes and it is high time another decision was taken with respect to their continuation or otherwise. Already men, with their machines, are facing uncertainty in respect of their movements and employment because no public decision has been taken on the continuity of that development project.

We see the same thing with water resources. Although we have a Si 00m programme to develop water resources, it is almost 2 years since a decision was taken with respect to further projects. Surely that is not the way to run a government: a government should run smoothly and decisions should be taken. Here is an example. A Bill is introduced in the Parliament in May 1972 to make provision for an agreement that started on 1st July 1971. As 1 asked before, what has happened in the intervening period? Who has authorised the finance between the Commonwealth and the States? What would happen if the Parliament threw out this agreement? All these objections are relevant, and I have raised them because I think this is not the way to run a government properly. A decision should be taken before the expiration of an agreement, and not 12 months later.

The objects of the Bill are quite common and acceptable as development criteria. They are, firstly, to expand a project - in this case softwood plantings - in an attempt to decrease our dependence on other countries for imports of the relevant timber products. The second criterion is the development one - to bring about development of a resource that will provide balanced development and decentralisation. These are the twin criteria adopted in almost every federal development project; either the earning of export income or the substitution of our own products for imports, and the encouragement of development and decentralisation. As I will show, reafforestation is in fact one of the most intensive forms of rural development. This might surprise many people, but statistics disclose that the average employment in reafforestation projects is approximately one person to 40 to 50 acres. There are not many primary industries apart from market gardening and similar types of horticulture - that can match that figure. Apart from being an intensive rural industry, reafforestation is making an important contribution to development and decentralisation; it is building up the population in rural areas.

Because of this agreement the States have been able to increase the area of government softwood plantings from approximately 528,000 acres in 1966 to approximately 793,000 acres in 1971. The total planting programme for this second 5- year plan is approximately 273,000 acres, which is a little higher than what was achieved in the first 5-year period, despite the fact that the rate of planting per annum will be lower than the acreage actually planted in the last year of the first 5-year programme. The area to be financed by a Comomonwealth contribution will be approximately 125,000 acres. During the last 50 years there has been increasing concern about the slow rate of growth of Australia’s timber resources and development, particularly in the types of timber which we are forced to import. Under the Constitution forestry is a State matter except in the Territories, including the Australian Capital Territory, lt would seem that for many years it did not rate as an important industry. Nationally it soon became clear to the Treasury and people concerned with the preparation of budgets that we had here an industry which we must develop otherwise this nation would be faced with substantial imports of timber. We had resources in terms of labour, land and capital. It was a question of the application of those resources to achieve the desired results over time.

The Opposition’s principal objection in the amendment is that there is not enough time or effort being given to some of the problems which may not be of great importance to the developers. I refer to the problems of conservation - the effect of reafforestation programmes on the environment, the ecology, the flora and fauna and associated matters. Although I am quite certain that nobody in the Opposition believes that foresters are not conservation minded - we believe that they are and we know that it is a basic part of their training - we believe that not enough emphasis is being given to forest management in Australia, particularly in relation to our hardwood forests. Also, to what degree will the increased plantings of softwoods encroach on commercial hardwoods. These are points which my colleague, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and my Tasmanian colleagues will draw out in more detail.

There have been a number of overseas conferences in this field. I suppose that no arm of applied science has produced more literature than forestry has produced. One is amazed at the amount of literature in Australia and overseas regarding forest resources and their development. World forestry congress under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organisation are frequently attended by Australians, and studies prepared by FAO in consultation with other countries have been made to the degree that reasonable estimates can be made of the levels of supply and demand with respect to particular forest products up to, say, the year 2000. The evidence assembled in the FAO studies points up the rapid rate at which the industrial wood sector is growing. In the 10 years to 1961 the quantity of wood used for industrial purposes grew by about 25 per cent. It is estimated that up to 1975 the quantity used will grow by 45 per cent. So there seems no doubt that there will be a substantial increase in consumption of these products. The structure of wood consumption is rapidly changing, with demand shifting from unprocessed to processed wood products and, among the latter, from solid to reconstituted wood products such as particle board and paper. According to FAO, this steady shift in the pattern of requirements means that different dimensions, different qualities and different wood properties will become important in the future.

Another point is that geographical distribution of demand and of growth in demand is causing important changes in the pattern of supply. The studies have found that about 70 per cent of the additional industrial wood which will be required in the immediate future will be needed in the advanced, high income countries. In many of these high income countries the volume of industrial wood used is growing faster than it did during the first half of this century. In some of these leading wood consuming regions domestic wood supply is no longer keeping pace with this expanding and changing demand in terms of either quantities or types of wood. The change in the type of wood product demanded is evident in Australia as well as in overseas countries. This has been brought out by the various annual reports of the Forestry and Timber Bureau and the various reports of Australian delegates to overseas conferences, and it is in keeping with the changing technology throughout the world.

In the light of information from overseas and in Australia forecasting the deficiencies and the surpluses in various areas of the world, it would seem that certain general conclusions can be reached based on the best evidence available. Many studies have been made by the Forestry Council and by world authorities with respect to the world supply and demand of softwood products in relation to hardwood products. Forecasts have been made as to the probable movements of these products in world trade. One interesting point is that the Forestry Council has estimated that Australia will require a softwood resource of about 3 million acres of plantations by the year 2000. lt is estimated that such a resource, together with improved production from the native forests, would be likely to make Australia reasonably self sufficient as to the total requirements for wood for the Australian population expected at that time. Of course, one can argue about the estimates because the increased rate of migration could change materially from the projections that have been made.

Similarly, technology could change. There have been various moves - for example, in my own area of north Queensland - to establish the manufacture of paper from the by-products of sugar cane. I imagine that this type of technology will increase in the future, particularly if the price of softwoods increases on world markets through any major deficiency. As foreshadowed in the 1967 Act, a review of the 5-year programme was undertaken. The Economics Branch of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, in collaboration with the Treasury, undertook a benefit-cost analysis of the Australian States’ softwood afforestation programmes, and the Joint Consultative Council on Forest Industries - that is the Australian and New Zealand body - prepared a report relating to supply and demand and other factors up to the year 2010, which was published. So with all the evidence available to the Government and to the expert authorities there is a strong case for a continuation of this programme of plantings.

The recent meetings of the FAO Advisory Committee and others concerned with world forest resources, particularly on pulp and paper, have illustrated again the need for sound planning with respect to increased production of our timber products. The general conclusions reached at the conferences, such as those of the International Union of Forestry Research Organisations and the International Academy of Wood Science, through the FAO Advisory Committee, have shown that on a world wide basis the production potential of forests is hot greatly in excess of present utilisation rates and in certain areas such as Japan and Europe the wood deficit is increasing steadily. The FAO advisory committee on pulp and paper met in Rome in May 1971 when its secretariat presented its annual survey which reviews pulp and paper capacity production and consumption and provides forecasts for the years ahead. What this survey apparently shows in broad terms is that there could be a surplus of softwood timber products in North America by the year 2000 providing programmes are maintained or accelerated. One has to talk in time terms like this in regard to timber because this industry is not the same as, for example, the wheat industry in which production can be expanded in a matter of months. The year 2000 is the standard year used in these studies.

Although it is anticipated that there will be a surplus of softwood timber in North America all evidence suggest that there will be severe deficits in Europe. The literature that I have had supplied to me on this subject suggests that Russia could be a major deficit country in terms of timber products. Another major deficit country will be Japan/This, of course, is understandable. As we all know, Japan is extremely worried at the moment about where its timber products, whether they be used for construction or making paper, are to come from. These arguments have been put forward in respect of the development of the wood chip industry in Australia. New Zealand, providing that there is an acceleration of plantings, should have a surplus. We know that there will be a deficit in Australia. If we marry all of these supply and demand figures it could be argued, for example, that New Zealand could supply all of Australia’s requirements. But let us remember that we have in Australia a resource from which we can produce timber just as cheaply and in some instances a lot more cheaply than other countries can. The law of comparative advantage is quite clear: When one has that advantage one should go ahead and use it. This, of course, is what this Bill is about.

Although it could be argued - and I know that my friend the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) who comes from Tasmania will comment on this aspect - that perhaps the production of timber could slow down and we could increase our imports of timber from New Zealand. The view that I have always taken is that if we have a resource we should develop it providing that this can be done efficiently and economically. We can certainly do that. We want to expand the production of our softwoods. We want to do this to provide employment in all areas of Australia that are capable of growing more timber and developing timber resources. Therefore, although New Zealanders could argue that they could supply our requirements, the fact of the matter is that unless firm arrangements were entered into it is more than likely that New Zealand would be flat out meeting the requirements of Japan in the year 2000. However, the policy should be - and I have always subscribed to this - that if we have a resource which can be developed economically it should be developed. That of course, is what the Bill is doing.

From the figures it would seem that the Asian-Pacific region by 1975 will have a deficit of softwoods which could be of the order of $1 ,900m per annum. This deficit will apply principally to Japan. All evidence and figures from official reports suggest that there will be this deficit, with reservations in mind as to the unknowns of technology, the substitution of other materials for timber and so on. A basic criticism which the Opposition makes as regards the volume of planting is that iiic Parliament is entitled to know more about conservation matters in regard to this legislation. Those of us who have seen reafforestation and development along these lines know the effects that it can have on the environment, the ecology, the flora and the fauna. We have moved the amendment because we do not have sufficient evidence. There is nothing in this agreement, for example, which states the responsibilities of the States and the Commonwealth with respect to the environment. We want to know more about this. We want to know what are the qualifications with respect to plantings, for example, in terms of erosion and the encroachment, if any, that would take place on commercial hardwoods. These are questions which we want to raise. This is the reason why the amendment has been moved.

Obviously there are tangible benefits to be derived in terms of production and sales of timber from reafforestation. However, there are also a lot of other benefits to which the Parliament ought to have more access. One benefit relates to management. lt is well known that where planned afforestation policies have been put into effect great efforts are made in the control of fires. 1 think it is accepted that the incidence of fires has been minimised in areas where these policies have been introduced. I am not speaking here about areas under afforestation: I am speaking more in respect of our commercial and noncommercial hardwoods. Where patrols are carried to minimise the incidence of fires, particularly in association with afforestation, one also has better management. As one who lives in the north I might say that a lot of damage is done year in and year out by uncontrolled fires. Most of the land in north Queensland is in the hand of beef producers and firing is part and parcel of pasture management. Therefore, it is a question of trying to balance one versus the other. The owner of a property which has, for example, black spear grass, knows full well that he may have to burn in many seasons to reduce the dry matter and to get the greenpick peak. By doing this he often does damage to the flora and fauna of the area. Therefore it is a question of the balance between the management of hardwoods and the need to increase productivity in an area. I am well aware, of course, that the Forestry and Timber Bureau of the Department of National Development takes all of these matters into consideration in respect to its programmes. But we in the Parliament ought to know more about these matters. 1 have covered the main points that I wanted to make. The principal one is the need to increase the plantings in Australia in view of all the evidence available on the supply and demand position in the south east Pacific and throughout the world. We have the resources which we can develop efficiently and economically. We know that this is the case and that this should be done. As a matter of fact, in some areas development should be accelerated, provided that in the management of our hardwood forests sufficient emphasis is given always to conservation of flora and fauna and the environment. lt is a question of balance between these factors.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Davies:

– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.


– This must be one of the most frivolous amendments to be put before the House for a very long time. I cannot understand what the Opposition is trying to do. Members opposite seem to be crazy about having a plan for this and a plan for that, to believe that we must have a national inquiry and goodness only knows what. If only members opposite knew something about the subject about which they talk. They are entitled to have their views, but forestry planning, conservation, ecology and all those sorts of things are, in general terms, separate altogether from the terms of the Bill that is before the House. When honourable members consider these aspects they should bear in mind the efforts that are being made by foresters to ensure that the environment will be improved by the culture of forests. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said that he recognised that the foresters were very conservation minded. Of course they are; the whole of their training is directed towards conservation. If members of the Opposition had any understanding of this subject they would know that by their remarks they have cast a slur not only on officers of the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau but also on officers of the State forests departments.

The honourable member for Dawson raised a couple of side issues. He asked how far softwood plantings could encroach upon the hardwood forests. I am a little sorry to see that the Bill is concerned only with softwood forests because in Victoria a great number of plantations are devoted to hardwoods. There are certain areas where hardwoods are the most suitable variety to plant, whereas in other areas pines are more suitable. These are matters which constantly are being taken into account. The honourable member for Dawson spoke about erosion. Erosion is one of the main reasons why anyone plants trees in an orderly fashion, rather than allow nature to run wild and create problems with black spear grass, of which the honourable member spoke, wild rushes and everything else that makes so much of our forest areas unattractive. That is why I complained that this is a frivolous amendment which should not have been moved. Members of the Opposition seem always to want to amend everything that they can see. Time after time we have seen this. They never give reasons for adopting this approach. They merely want to interfere.

The Bill is designed to continue for 5 years assistance provided to States in order to expand the rate of softwood plantings. There is no doubt that our requirement of softwood products is growing constantly. As we achieve greater industrialisation we will require much more paper for wrapping and packing. All paper products will be in greater demand. As the nation’s building requirements grow we will need more timber. Two very important products of softwood are pineboard and particle board. They have given modern living a great lift because it is so easy to obtain marvellous finishes for the linings of houses. These boards can be used with marvellous ease to provide cupboards and other conveniences throughout the house. This is one of the most rapidly developing areas of need for building materials and consideration should be given to production to provide for the future use of such materials.

When considering forests we must look many years ahead. From 1966 to 1971. the States increased their area of planting by 265,000 acres. That is a quite considerable increase. Under this Bill the Commonwealth Government will make available another $21m and, with this assistance, the States expect to plant a further 273,400 acres. The finance to be made available will be from loan funds which will be offered at very favourable terms. It will be free of interest for the first 10 years and repayable over 25 years. The sum made available is geared to the cash flow from plantings, but it must be born in mind that there is no return from plantings until trees are 15 years old. It seems a little hard to understand why there is provision for two periods of 10 years when the States will not begin to receive a return from their plantings until the trees are 15 years old.

Under the provisions of the Bill the Commonwealth will finance 25,000 acres a year and the States will finance the balance of 29,680 acres. However, the States will decide where the plantings will take place. Naturally, they will be in State forests which often will be quite remote and considerable distances from the mills. The private plantings are expected to remain constant, as they have been for some time, at about 15,000 acres.

Mr Davies:

– Why do you not give them a few bob, too?


– The arrangements seem to be based on quantity - how much the States can plant - but no one seems to care whether the trees are so far away from the point of treatment that they might as well not have been planted. I join with my friend the honourable member for Braddon in saying that it might be a much better idea if some of this money were to be made available to private enterprise so that the people who want to plant trees around their mills and to have them easily accessible will be able to do so. This could increase the amount of private planting from 15,000 acres to, perhaps, 25,000 acres and would be of great help to the industry as a whole. It would encourage decentralisation of industry.

Mr Davies:

– It is strange that a free enter, prise government will not do that.


– Yes, I agree with that. If the idea is to provide for our needs in softwoods, one would expect some consideration of how the needs will be fulfilled to ensure that the wood can be treated when it is ready. I hope we will be looking at this point in the next 5 years.

The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) in his second reading speech said: ‘This scheme’s final objective is to ensure timber is available for the forest industries. . . . This scheme will provide raw material for expansion and growth of Australian industry … it will provide . . . employment opportunities in rural areas.’ I want to emphasise the point I was making, that it does not seem to have occurred to anyone - it was not brought out in the speeches that have been made - that the economics of using forestry products are related directly to the distance of haulage to the mills. Private enterprise could not operate in the same way as State projects do. I question whether government plantings have been located in areas best suited to the mills. We have an example in the Australian Capital Territory where trees were planted with no sign of the timber being used because there was nowhere to take it. So somebody has had to come in and start a mill in order to use the timber. But in order to get the utmost benefit out of the work that is put in, the chips must be hauled long distances to another mill, and this is not really economic. Transport costs are a vital factor in the economy of this industry.

It is not generally known that forest products are Australia’s biggest single import item after petroleum. We are reducing our dependence on petroleum with discoveries of oil in Bass Strait, and I hope that before very long oil will be discovered in other places. But unless we provide assistance to private enterprise engaged in the forestry field we will be up against it in trying to plant sufficient areas to meet our requirements. The use of forest products is growing so rapidly that I doubt that our present rates of plantings will keep up with demand unless we give the industry further encouragement. It is a matter of integrating the whole industry - Commonwealth, State and private enterprise forest services. I emphasise that most of the world’s manmade forests are owned and controlled by private enterprise - but this is not the case in Australia. I should like to see the present policy in Australia reversed. The world pattern shows that full economies can best be achieved by private enterprise.

Paper industries grow up and pulp can be obtained from suitable species. Industries can work out the quantities of pulp they require, and in most cases they can obtain the necessary pulp within 40 to 60 miles of a mill. Chips are obtained near the port of shipment. Material for board is found near the factory. A mill can extend its operations into the forest to obtain timber for sawmilling. The first essential is to have the resources established close to the point of usage and market opportunities. For maximum profitability the entire crop must be available to a full range of wood using industries capable of turning it into pulp, chips, particle board, veneers and finally timber. The cost of growing the pines, from planting to harvesting, is a relatively minor cost compared with the total cost of wood delivered to the factory.

I have mentioned that insufficient thought is given to the establishment of State controlled forests close to the point of marketing of the crop, but of even more consequence is the fact that government plantings have not been co-ordinated with private plantings. The actual cost of establishing a plantation is comparatively low. The major costs are in transport and harvesting. Private enterprise is disadvantaged because of capital outlay on land purchased, interest, payment of shire rates and various taxes. Sometimes the leasehold of Crown land can be arranged, but this is still a greater cost than the cost of government plantations, and the incidence of shire rates is very heavy. Governments usually carry their own insurance, but private companies have responsibilities to shareholders, and because of this it is necessary for private companies to introduce better fire protection measures. So they are required to spend more money per acre.

Extensions of plantings have occurred where the States have made a small amount of money available to people so that they can plant trees on their farms, and this is a very profitable and useful exercise in farming if it can be done. But again these plantings are inclined to get too far away from a mill. I will take what happens in Britain as an example of what happens generally overseas. In Britain it is the practice to make grants to private entrepreneurs on the basis of the area of plantation, and I believe that this policy could be introduced in Australia. In the electorate of McMillan is the Maryvale Mill which is owned by the Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. It was first established as a pulp mill and pioneered the production of eucalypt pulp. Today 2 paper machines have been added to the company’s plant, and the pulp requirement is 14 million cubic feet of eucalypt and 5 million cubic feet of pinewood. A third machine is desirable for scale of operation economy.

Pulp output could be expanded enormously if the raw material could be obtained within reasonable haulage distances. This company is going ahead with its planting, and I hope that the next step which the Government takes in relation to this forestry legislation will be to make money available to private enterprise.


– The House is debating the Softwood Forestry Agreements Bill 1972, which provides for the continuation of financial assistance for a further 5 years from 1st July 1971. I join the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in criticising the Government for introducing this measure through the back door, so to speak. The Government did not acquaint us with its proposals last year so that the matter could have been debated before the legislation became effective. The purpose of the Bill is to expand the rate of softwood plantings. The first Softwood Forestry Agreements Bill was passed in 1967. An amount of $18m was provided by the Commonwealth under the first 5-year plan, and the current programme is expected to cost $21m. Under the Act each State is allocated a base year area of softwood plantings which is financed by the State governments. According to the Schedule to the Bill before us, the base year plantings for the 6 Australian States amounts to 29,680 acres, with the figure for my own State of Tasmania being 2,100 acres. This area is to be financed by the State of Tasmania. There is a scheduled area in excess of the base year figure, with the excess being financed by the Commonwealth.

The scheduled or net area for the 6 States for each of the next 5 years is 54,680 acres. This means that the Commonwealth will assist with the planting of the area in excess of 25,000 acres, and in the case of my own State of Tasmania, we will receive Commonwealth assistance for 2,500 acres each year, over and above the initial 2,100 acres which will be financed by the State Government. I simply point out, by way of comparison, that under the first Agreement we received Commonwealth assistance for 12,400 acres as against 12,500 acres planted under this new Agreement - an increase of only 100 acres over a 5-year period - despite the fact that the Commonwealth’s contribution has now been increased by $3m for the same period.

I strongly support the Bill because the State governments could not possibly go beyond the base year planting figure if it were not for finance from the Commonwealth. But again, as I did in 1967, I raise the problem of the private forest owners who are unable to obtain finance from the usual sources because the banks will not lend money over the lengthy period required for forestry. Over the periods of 10 years or so for which the banks are agreeable to lend money, they require a rate of interest which forestry is unable to earn. As a result of the non-availability of finance, at least 2 industrial companies have had to reduce their annual plantings considerably, to zero in one case and to one-third in the other case. This has been brought about in order that they may have the finance required for other more essential works such as the installation of very expensive machinery needed to process the rapidly expanding forest production in their developing forests.

I refer briefly to one big industrial concern that commenced reafforestation 20 years ago in 1951. After 10 years it achieved an annual planting rate of 500 acres and 5 years ago it reached a peak of 1,700 acres each year. This figure was within 200 acres of the base year planting of softwoods financed by the Tasmanian State Government for the whole of the State. I maintain that this private company certainly was playing its part with its own funds. However, heavy capital commitments with a duplication of its paper plant brought about a reduction in the funds available from company sources for reafforestation and now there is a drastic reduction in the acreage planted for pines.

I personally believe that cheap money should be made available for private industry for plantations on the same terms as it is made available to the States. In making funds available to the States for housing, the Government ensures that a percentage goes to the private sector in the form of terminating building societies, so why not apply the same principle to the forestry agreement? Not only do the State forest services have the advantage of obtaining the use of Commonwealth and State moneys for the purchase of land and the establishment, management and protection of their softwood forests, but also they now receive Commonwealth money free of interest and free of the need for any repayment of principal for 10 years - a concession estimated to be equal to a 38 per cent grant of the investment. In addition, the State forest services do not pay income tax, land tax, or local government rates, all of which have to be paid by the private forest owner and these, especially municipal rates, are increasing steadily. Industrial forestry receives some income tax concession but I believe that all calls on the capital afforestation companies should be allowable deductions for taxation purposes - not just the one-third as is at present allowed. If it is good enough for the oil industry to benefit 1 00 per cent it should apply to afforestation also because by this activity we are providing a crop to reduce our reliance on the importing of forest products from overseas.

I make it quite plain that I have great admiration for the work done by the respective State forest services, especially that in Tasmania, but I believe as I stated in 1967, that industrial forestry, subject to certain conditions that I have not time to elaborate on now, also should benefit from Commonwealth financial assistance. In his second reading speech the Minister said that the scheme will provide employment in the forest and in forest industries, thereby stimulating employment opportunities in rural areas. Because of rising unemployment, especially in rural areas, this Government has spent millions on rural reconstruction and on proposals for retraining rural workers, with little, if any real, success.

I suggest that the Minister should confer with his colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) and instead of encouraging the drift of population from small country towns and hamlets he should investigate the wonderful success that the Forestry Commission in Tasmania has had with retraining retrenched workers thus saving whole communities, as has been done in the case of the Fingal Valley in the electorate of the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), and at Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania. There is now no unemployment in the Fingal Valley as there was late in 1961 when the coal mines closed down. As with people in small communities all over Australia, the miners had no desire to abandon the homes they owned. State and local government authorities wanted to safeguard the capital spent on streets, water supplies, schools, medical services, stores and power reticulation and to protect the homes of the people. So the Forestry Commission moved into the Valley and began to train for forest work men who had worked underground for years. This is an excellent example of the ability of the forest service to meet the challenge of unemployment in a rural area.

I have a table of the area planted over the last 10 years together with another table showing the annual level of employment engaged on this scheme in the Fingal Valley. I have discussed this with the Minister and have his approval to seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows):

Table 2 shows the annual level of employment at Fingal since 1962-63.


– I thank the House. I would like to explain that the reduction in employment from a peak figure of 109 6 years ago to 66 this year has been due to the normal wastage, such as age retirements, sickness, resignations to take up other work, and so on. I repeat that no unemployment has been evident in the main towns in the Fingal Valley - Avoca, Fingal and St Mary’s - since the scheme began 10 years ago. The retrained men have built hundreds of miles of roads and fire breaks and dams for fire protection and have done a magnificent job.

The Forestry Commission undertook a similar scheme at Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania. Here it began training waterside workers when they were thrown out of work when the Port of Strahan closed in 1969. The gang commenced with 12 men In 1969, increased to 20 in 1970-71 and now stands at 18. All unemployed waterside workers have been employed and the reduction to 18 men is due to normal wastage and to the efficiency of the gang. 1 pay a tribute to these men. I was in the area a few weeks ago and watched them at work. They are extremely efficient. They have proved capable of handling the annual establishment of 600 acres of plantation, in addition, the Forestry Commission has built 18 miles of roads and 5 miles of fire breaks during the 3 years of the scheme. Dams for the provision of water for fire fighting have been provided and a fire lookout tower has been built, radio coverage has been provided and forest staff has been increased. This is another very fine example of the forest service meeting the challenge of unemployment - this time amongst waterside workers.

Many conservationists tend to criticise re-afforestation, claiming that the countryside is first destroyed by bulldozers or fire prior to regeneration or planting. But these people will be pleased to know that those plantations to which I have referred were established in the first instance on ancient stabilised sand dunes and on land carrying little to no merchantable timber at this point of time. We hope, of course, that these ventures will be profitable in the years to come.

The amendment moved by the Opposition aims at the conservation of hardwoods and this naturally entails regeneration of our hardwood forests. I believe that a case currently is being reviewed by officers of the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Treasury for financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government because there is no doubt that an additional flow of money will be required, especially in Tasmania. No formal work in regeneration was carried out by the Forestry Commission in Tasmania until 11 years ago. In the past 11 years some 22,200 acres of high quality dense understorey forest has been regenerated by the Commission. In addition to this many thousands of acres have been regenerated by private paper companies such as Associated Pulp and Paper Mills in the area south of Burnie and by Australian Newsprint Mills Pty Ltd in the Florentine Valley. I must emphasise that the areas treated were limited and are still limited by the availability of funds. Now that APPM’s chip mill is about to commence operations in the Tamar River area and the other chip mill at Triabunna is in full operation, it is obvious to all that a very rapid increase in the acreage of regeneration established each year will occur, especially as the areas cut out for saw logging will be re-worked to provide pulp wood. As I have indicated the Forestry Commission regenerated 22,200 acres in the past 1 1 years. With both woodchip plants in operation we will have to regenerate that area each year because it is estimated that both plants will cut, in all. over some 25,000 to 30,000 acres every year. Certainly, not all of this is of the dense understorey type of myrtle forest that is found south of Burnie, especially in the Parawee district. Some of the areas on the east coast will regenerate naturally following a light slash reduction burn or from the seed available on seed trees which are retained in the area, or from cull trees not suitable for pulp wood production.

To obtain successful regeneration, we must remove competition and let in the light for the seeds to germinate. Finance beyond the resources of the State is needed to bring about these conditions. It will cost money to do this, whether the burn method is employed or the bulldozer with its special attachments such as was imported by APPM from America some years ago. The Forestry Commission alone has spent an average of $58,000 a year over the past 1 3 years on regeneration of hardwoods in Tasmania. Now it is faced with completing each year, what it has very capably carried out over the last 13 years at a total cost of approximately $750,000. Finance of this magnitude is clearly beyond the resources of the State. Commonwealth assistance must be given. This is terribly important to the State of Tasmania. There are 44 country municipalities in the State. The timber industry, from the point of view of both employment and the value of production, is the No. 1 industry in 29 of them, No. 2 industry in 9 of them, No. 3 industry in 5 of them and No. 4 industry in the remaining one. Out of 44 municipalities it is either No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 from the point of view of both employment and the value of production. In the cities, it is No. 3 in Launceston and No. 5 both in Hobart and in Glenorchy.

It will be of little use to expand the use of Commonwealth funds to build up forest resources if, on the other hand, the Government continues to allow imports of paper and timber to flow into this country thus endangering employment in these industries. What is the use of building up our forests if New Zealand timber and paper manufactured in other parts of the world are allowed to come into Tasmania? There was an increase of 50 per cent in the quantity of banks and bonds imported in the December quarter of 1971 compared with the December quarter of 1970. To emphasise my point I repeat that there was an increase of 50 per cent in the quantity of banks and bonds imported in the December quarter of 1971 compared with the December quarter of 1970. The paper being imported is similar to the paper being produced by APPM at Burnie in Tasmania, and again I ask the Government to take urgent action to restrict imports. The wellbeing of APPM, which employs about 4,000 people, is of tremendous value not only to the north west but also to the whole northern area of Tasmania and the economic welfare of that State. It is of no use to continue expanding our forest resources if the end result will mean unemployment in the finished products sections of the industry. I again ask the Government to please do something about imports. I have taken up this matter on many occasions with the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) but the answers I have been getting have not been satisfactory. I think the only way to gain some protection for this industry is to refer the matter immediately to the Tariff Board.

In regard to timber products, chaos and the closure of the timber mills would result if timber imports ever rose by 4 per cent or 5 per cent above the present level. 1 realise that efforts are being made now by the New Zealand Government to have mouldings included in Schedule A for the immediate removal of duties instead of waiting for the phasing-out period under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. We have already lost a market of up to 20 million super feet to imported dressed timbers. We export 90 million super feet each year to the Australian mainland and in recent years there has been the change in emphasis to which the honourable member for Dawson referred. Our market for scantling for timber frames for housing in Victorian has grown to 20 million super feet but our overall export figure remains at 90 million super feet. So we have lost about 20 million super feet to imported dressed timbers and, as I have indicated, the industry is traditionally vulnerable in a very sensitive market and any sudden pressure from more imports would cause unemployment on a grand scale.

I simply repeat that in the case of the finished product of dressed timber and also in the case of paper products, it is not the slightest bit of good to spend $21m, which it is proposed to spend over the next 5 years, unless we do something to ensure that the people who are employed now will have their jobs protected. We do not want this field to ourselves. I know very well people in this industry in Manjimup in Western Australia, in Penola and Mount Gambier in South Australia, and in the Dartmoor district in Victoria, on the tablelands along the eastern coast of Australia. These are efficient people. This is an efficient industry. They put out a first-class finished product. The same applies in the paper industry. But why should we allow imports to flood in? Why should we allow the New Zealanders to try to get more favoured treatment under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement and thereby put people out of work? This is something which the Governmust must face up to.

I support this Bill and the amendment moved by the Opposition which seeks to protect the environment because irrespective of what the honourable member for McMillan says, this is an important phase of the timber industry. We must always keep an eye on environmental aspects. I repeat that I maintain that industrial forest owners should have access to Commonwealth funds. If this Government is one which believes in so-called liberal enterprise, then surely some part of the $21m should be made available at the very attractive interest rates to the private forest owners so that they will be looked after because, as I indicated earlier, these people cannot make enough out of forestry to meet the interest rates required by the banks. In many cases these people have to turn company money with which to build mills, to increase mill output, to provide paper plants and so on to deal with the increased raw material which they gain from increased forest resources. This Government should look after them in the same way as it looks after State forest services. 1 believe that there should be financial support for hardwood plantings.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I support this legislation but with certain reservations. I feel that the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), while it refers to certain factors and emphasises others, does not have a great deal of relevance to this legislation. There is a need for a national plan, a full use of Australia’s forestry resources and the carrying out of the necessary conservation work. In my opinion this is a completely different subject from the one now under discussion and does not have any relevance to this legislation. This is important legislation because it covers so many facets of the Australian economy. It covers our overseas balance of payments. It covers the situation as far as rural employment is concerned. It can make a contribution towards decentralisation, a subject about which we have been talking for a long period. I confess that I agree with certain of the criticisms that were made by the honourable member for Dawson in his opening remarks. He asked: Why is this legislation coming before this Parliament only at this stage?’ Perhaps this explains some of the complexities and some of the problems related to this factor in Commonwealth and State agreements. I said at the outset that I support this legislation. I do so because this is an agreement, and as a result of that agreement certain factors have been followed and certain action has been taken by the various State forestry departments. As to the agreement and the discussions between New South Wales and the Commonwealth, I feel that there have been some misunderstandings on both sides. I accept what the Minister said in his second reading speech about the reasons for it, the assistance given by the Commonwealth, and the terms of the agreement. I agree with him that the terms are indeed favourable. After all, the funds which are repayable over 25 years are free of interest for the first 10 years after the date of each advance. Repayments are geared to the cash-flow pattern of a forestry investment, where there is no financial return until the first thinnings. These, too, commence 10 years after each advance. It is estimated that during the second 5-year programme the Commonwealth will make available some $21m to cover the proportion of State Government planting that it has agreed to finance up till June 1976. These loan funds will be provided on the same generous terms and conditions as the first programme. This contribution by the Commonwealth will be of tremendous assistance to the States.

I accept also that in regard to assistance given to achieve the plantings, New South Wales has received favourable treatment. For example, in respect of the total planting of 18,510 acres the area financed by the Commonwealth is 9,730 acres, and the percentage of total plantings by New South Wales financed by the Commonwealth is 52.57 per cent. As I said earlier in my remarks, I believe there has been a degree of misunderstanding between the Commonwealth and the State in regard to this. However, I should like to emphasise that due to this agreement it has not been possible to give effect to certain of the plans prepared by the Forestry Commission. lt has been said that the Commonwealth has been generous in giving this form of assistance to the States. I do not deny that.

However, members will find in this legislation that the annual planting in New South Wales in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 is to be 18,510 acres. In other words, there is to be no basic increase in acreage. This is where I would be slightly critical of the Commonwealth Government. On 10th May 1967 the Minister for National Development, who was then the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), said in his second reading speech on the Bill to give effect to the first 5-year agreement:

Following my statement to the House on 9th March 1966, Australian forestry, including this proposed programme, was thoroughly debated both in this House and in the Senate for the first time since Federation. The discussion was conducted at a particularly high plane. There was general support for the programme. The main critical comments made were that the proposed terms were not generous enough. . . .

I suppose that is understandable, because I should imagine that the terms of an agreement would never be generous enough lor those concerned. However, the Minister went on to say: the Commonwealth had failed to take a more active part in resource development in Australian forestry at an earlier stage. I should point out that in effect, the remission of interest for 10 years is equivalent to a grant to the States of about 38 per cent of final costs. Honourable members will be aware that when the Constitution was adopted control of Crown lands in the States remained with the States. These State Crown lands include the greater part of Australian forest land of good quality. Apart from forests in Commonwealth Territories, the direct control of Australian forests is a State matter.

The Minister said further:

As can be seen from the schedule attached to the proposed agreement-

I am now speaking of the first 5-year agreement:

New South Wales plantings are expected to increase to 19,600 acres in the last year of this S-year programme from the base year acreage of 8,100.

Then the Minister went on to mention the other States. I believe that this is the point on which there has been misunderstanding between the State and Federal governments, and has led to difficulty over not being able to proceed with certain areas set aside by the State Government.

At this point in the Minister’s speech to which I have referred, reference is made to an area of 19,600 acres. However, in each of the next 5 years there is to be a planting of only 18,510 acres. As I understand it, this is the point about which there is some confusion and will have some adverse effect in the form of reduced work opportunities. What I am concerned about in this respect is that in some areas plans have been prepared by the local people. I appreciate that the areas chosen for planting are the responsibility of the State Government, but my concern is for the local people. In some areas the Forestry Commission has cleared the ground and has machinery ready to go ahead with the job. If there is any lengthy delay this machinery will be transferred to another site. As a result, the ground that has now been prepared will return to its former state and the planting programme for the area will be delayed, perhaps indefinitely. People are willing to accept some delay and some alteration to the programme, but they want to know how soon the plantings will be made in their districts. It is not unreasonable for them to have this desire.

As 1 said earlier, this is one of the ways in which we can contribute to rural employment. The Government is making some money available to assist unemployment in certain areas. One of the ways we can help is by ensuring continuity of purpose, which will benefit the economy of the nation. At one stage certain proposals were placed before the Australian Forestry Council. The Commonwealth endorsed the Council’s proposals that Australia should increase the rate of softwood planting from 40,000 acres a year to 75,000 acres a year for the next 35 years. Over the first 5-year period plantings by private enterprise averaged about 18.000 acres instead of 10,000 acres as suggested by the Council. I think that this factor has also contributed to the reduction in planting. I appreciate that other factors have adversely affected the softwood programme but I do not believe that any good will come from an argument between the Commonwealth and the State over who was to blame for what was done or not done. I hope that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) and the State Ministers will further consider these circumstances in the very near future

There will need to be further discussions about planting. I understand that there will need to be further discussions at an early date if the plan is to be continued for a further 5 years or some other period into the future. I hope that at further discussions these matters will be seriously considered so that there may be a continuity of planting. I think that the State has to accept responsibility in this area as well. There should be a continuity of planting so that advantages may flow not only to particular areas but to the Commonwealth as a whole. I have had discussions with the Leader of my own Party, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), and the Minister for National Development about this matter. I have spoken also to my State colleagues and to the responsible Minister in the State Government, Mr Fife. I understand that there will be further discussions so that this programme, which is of great importance to us, may be able to operate to the advantage of our economy and particularly the rural areas, and to assist the progress of Australia as a whole. I promised the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) that I would conclude in time to allow him to conclude his speech before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. I do not want to labour the point. I have made the points I feel I should make, and I support the legislation.


– I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), which reads: whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill this House deplores the Government’s failure to prepare and publish, in consultation with the States, a national plan for (a) the full use of the development of Australia’s forest resources and (b) the conservation of the existing hardwood forests and associated flora and fauna in relation to softwood plantings.

This Bill seeks to help the States establish extensive softwood plantations. About $21m over the next 5 years will be made available to the States by way of loans to enable softwood plantings at the rate of about 75,000 acres annually. The loans will be interest free for the first 10 years. With the exception of the hoop pine plantations in Queensland and the northern

Cyprus pines in the Northern Territory these softwoods will be almost exclusively true pines. The Monterey pine or pinus radiata, the slash pine or pinus elleotti and the maritime pine or pinus pinaster are all exotic species. This Bill, from the environmental point of view, is highly irresponsible. Last week the Minister for the Enviornment (Mr Howson) when making a statement said that his Department would examine the environmental aspects of all legislation before being passed through this Parliament. There has been no consideration of the environment in this legislation. In terms of the economics of growing softwod at home and in terms of Australia’s trade with other countries, particularly those in the southwest Pacific region, the Bill is highly questionable. It represents a classic case of national development designed and financed on the narrowest of economic considerations and based on very speculative future projections of Australia’s population and per capita consumption of wood. The Bill contains not one word about the large environmental impact of the policies contained in it. Unlike the afforestation projects in most other countries, pine plantations in Australia in the main are being established on Crown lands already occupied by native hardwood forests. In Melbourne on 7th September 1971, Dr R. F. Dusman, senior ecologist of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, stated:

I don’t like to criticise foresters because they are doing a better job than most others. Yet it seems slightly mad to see them knocking over the few remaining areas of natural forest to create exotic plantations of pinus radiata and other species. Surely this is the time to set them to work planting up the lands that have been cleared as a result of past misguided policies.

My colleague, the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), stated clearly that the responsible department in Tasmania has adopted a progressive policy in planting both softwood and hardwood forests in places where there have been no previous plantings. I am not criticising all the States. In fact Queensland has a particularly good record. New South Wales has a bad record. The present policy is worse than ‘slightly mad’. If we need 3 million acres by the year 2000, which the Australian Forestry Council says we need - later I will show that there is a great deal of doubt about that - let us have it, but not by knocking over and burning one of our precious resources, our hardwood forests. Let us plant pine forests on already cleared agricultural land. We are destroying trees such as those on the Boyd Plateau in New

South Wales to grow more trees of a different kind. I received a telegram today from the Colong Committee representing 170 conservation societies. It reads as follows: . . seeks amendment of Softwood Agreement Act to (1) generally protect native eucalypt forests from destruction for pine plantations and (2) specifically exclude Konangaroo State Forest on Boyd Plateau New South Wales. Plateau is an integral part of Kanangra Boyd National Park and should not be destroyed with Commonwealth funds. We support use of redundant grazing farmlands for plantations.

That seems a commonsense argument to me. By our present policy we are creating habitats in which our wildlife cannot survive. We are causing major erosion problems. We are growing great forests, under monoculture, which sooner or later, for basic ecological reasons, will become, susceptible to pests and disease. The New Zealanders are growing their softwoods on land which has already been cleared or land which was naturally devoid of trees. If we were doing the same in Australia, plantings of pines would be environmentally responsible. I said earlier that what is being done in Tasmania is environmentally responsible, and the same should be done in New South Wales in particular. The time has come when we must stop blindly saying yea to each proposal of national development which is put before us. Every proposal of national development has environmental consequences, and it is about time we did our sums to measure those consequences. In some cases the environmental damage is so great that the whole proposal becomes very questionable. The Australian Forestry Council has not given one moment of consideration to these consequences.

A sound environmental policy would ensure that with the passage of this legislation the loans will be used primarily for buying up farm land first. A sound environmental policy would ensure that wood demand was reasonable and not excessive; for example, that packaging was minimised rather than maximised. A sound environmental policy would tolerate the permanent alteration of natural ecosystems only after much thought about the very great ecological consequences. A sound environmental policy would see that taxation deductions were no longer given for further land clearing on private land but be given for re afforestation of already cleared land. Many graziers would welcome the opportunity to use their holdings for silviculture as a means of staying on the land. There are some problems associated with planting trees on cleared land. The Government would have to finance, up to 40 years ahead, the purchase of such land to enable the establishment of one complete rotation on adjacent land areas. Also, the land would have to be managed to prevent grass from competing with pines in the first couple of years. However, these costs would be minute compared with the tremendous cost to the Australian environment of the present programme.

Apart from the obvious conservation issues, there are several more outrageous aspects of the present policy. The value of the hardwood timber bulldozed and burned is assessed at zero, but in fact, it costs a considerable amount to destroy. In 40 years’ time when the pines mature apparently they will have some value, for the belief is that a timber industry will locate itself nearby, but in 40 years’ time hardwood timber on the same site might have equal value. The value of the Crown land used is set at an artificially low level because it does not have to be purchased on the open market. Unfortunately, at present, only on Crown lands do the various forestry authorities have the guarantee that they need of land for future plantings, lt is worth noting in passing that establishment of a timber industry in particular areas on cleared land can have additional economic benefits. Timber production is a greater employer of rural labour than is grazing, and the long growing times ensure longterm stability. The effect of the pine plantations on the economy of the Mount Gambier area of South Australia is an excellent example of good land-use planning for previously cleared land.

This Bill is not only environmentally irresponsible, it is also economically bad. Its basic value seems to be national security. The Bill will also exclude considerable trade with other countries. The object of the measure is to have 3 million acres of softwood plantations in Australia by the year 2000. This is based on the assumption that by that time Australia will have to be almost self-sufficient in softwoods, with the exception of certain timbers such as Oregon.

The projection of population upon which this goal of 3 million acres is based is much too high. It assumes a population of 21 million in the year 2000, and 24 million in the year 2010. In other words, it assumes the existing degree of fertility and virtually no change in our migration intake. These assumptions are shown in the fifth report on the New Zealand Australia Free Trade Agreement in regard to timber resources, which was released in May 1970. However, if one looks at Australia’s population in the year 2000 and beyond, one sees that it will be 20 million at the most, and most likely 19 million. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table on population projections for Australia to the year 2000.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -


– One notes from the first column of the table that assuming an average annual growth rate between 1975 and the year 2000 of 1.796 per cent, and net migration at the 1966-70 level of 88,300 per annum, by the year 2000 we will have a population of more than 21 million. I emphasise, it is net migration. If the net migration were only 50,000 per annum, and the average annual growth rate were 1.547 per cent, the population by the year 2000 would be about 19 million. If the net migration were 50,000 per annum and there were a reduction of 10 per cent in fertility, with an average annual growth rate of 1.360 per cent, the population would be 18 million. If there were no net migration gain and a 10 per cent fertility reduction with an average annual growth rate of 0.982 per cent, the population would be nearly 17 million in the year 2000. I believe that in the coming years there must be a complete re-examination of our population position. This country cannot continue to bring in migrants as it has been doing. It cannot continue to develop in the same way with a growth rate of 2 per cent. We need a growth rate near 1 per cent: we do not need and cannot cope with a growth rate of 2 per cent.

The pine planting programme in new areas looks up to 80 years ahead because of the 40 years taken for maturity of the first trees, and a further 40 years to establish a full rotation. The entire plantation, therefore, is aimed at wood needs in about the year 2040, not in the year 2000, as the pines will barely all be planted ‘by the year 2000. If, for good reasons, a clover pasture were planted between pine crops - to restore fertility - for 10 years, the planting would be over 90 years, equivalent to planting for now back to 1882. We must look at our population trends in the future, for they influence not only total consumption, but also per capita wood demand. A rapidly growing population needs more new houses and thereby uses more wood than a stabilised population, which needs only the replacement of houses or the building of new houses at a slower rate. If our population were stable, we would have to build fewer homes than we do at present.

It would appear to me that there is considerable doubt whether the Bill in its present form is in the public interest on both environment and economic grounds. It is probable also that the policy is based upon erroneously high projections of population per capita wood consumption. 1 submit that we must investigate carefully what are the basic values of the present policy, and ask whether they are still relevant; what will Australian’s population be in the next 50 to 100 years and how fast, if at all, will it grow; what is the likely regional production of softwood and production in the world generally; how can hardwood forests be better utilised and managed; what are the potential markets for Australian hardwoods, and how can the proportion of hardwood used in paper and other products be increased? In Japan manufacturers are using 50 per cent hardwood in paper and other production; in this country we use only 20 per cent. It seems to me that we should start making an examination of that aspect.

We must inquire as to what taxation and financial policies can be used to prevent further forest clearing and encourage reafforestation on private land; what are the implications in terms of pest infestation and disease of present planting policies, and what is the potential in Australia for expanded forestry in terms of rural reconstruction? We must ask what are the implications for the conservation of flora and fauna, water catchments, conservation of soil in respect of present policies; what basic environment guidelines in terms of forestry policy should be laid down to ensure the wisest management of the Australian environment? These are important questions. We must know the answers if we arc to plan sound policies for the protection and productivity of Australia’s natural resources. This Bill does not deal with these questions. It is on these bases, planning and the environment aspect, that the Opposition has moved its amendment.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– I rise to support strongly the amendment that has been moved by my colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on behalf of the Opposition. I support particularly the call for a national, co-ordinated timber development programme. During the course of the debate there has been reference to a disagreement - I think the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) referred to some misun derstandings - between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth of Australia in relation to this measure. I would describe it as more than a misunderstanding. There is no doubt, if we are to believe the various references that have been made by honourable members on both sides of the House, that there has been a considerable rat and indeed a considerable clash on this matter.

The measure before us is the Softwood Forestry Agreements Bill. In his secondreading speech the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) said:

  1. . by comparison with the last year of the first programme -

That is, the first 5 year programme - the annual rate of planting will be reduced from 58,300 acres to 54,680 acres.

We must take note of that effective reference. The Minister went on to say:

  1. . following discussions with the Slates a base-year acreage of 29,680 acres was agreed to by the Stales and the Commonwealth raised its level of assistance to 25,000 acres.

The major point there is that it gives the impression of sweet, reasonable unanimity on this matter. It also gives an impression of Commonwealth generosity. I suggest that the timber industry is important to the nation, and particularly to the Commonwealth Government, which is responsible for the nation’s trading. I draw attention to the fact that the Minister pointed out the major concern we must have for the nation’s accounts in relation to this industry. He said:

It is estimated that in the financial year 1970- 71 Australian consumption of forest products was in excess of S900m and domestic production was $650m.

That represents a considerable gap which the Opposition would like to see filled.

When one looks at the effect of the programme which has been announced - I have referred to the disagreements with New South Wales - the main thing to notice is that it means an effective cut back in plans in various centres in New South Wales. As my friend and colleague from Tasmania, the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), pointed out, this industry means jobs and opportunties. Indeed it means the whole of the basic existence of country centres. I represent some of them, so I speak in relation to this matter with some fervour. But let me come back to the disagreement in relation to the programme that has been referred to by honourable members on both sides of the House. In a letter to my former colleague in the Parliament of New South Wales, Mr Don Day, the member for Casino, the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales, Mr W. C. Fife, said;

The cut back in the programme has forced the Forestry Commission to review its plantation projects and, as a result, one of the areas which has been affected is the small project at Whiprie State Forest in Casino district.

The indication there is that there has been a cut back in the programme, lt might be said that overall there has been no cut back but that there has been a change in the pace of development.

Let me point out what the change in the pace of development actually means. Under the original Commonwealth-State agreement on softwood planting programmes, the Commonwealth provided loans to New South Wales, as to the other States, to meet the additional annual cost of new plantations over a base area of 8,100 acres each year. That agreement, which began on 1st July 1968, was to run for a period of 5 years. In anticipation of similar arrangements continuing after 1971, the New South Wales Government was planning to achieve an annual rate of new plantation development of 25,000 acres a year by 1975-76. The Commonwealth put a ceiling on this. It reduced it. The effect of the policy that the Commonwealth has adopted and which it has dictated to the States is that in New South Wales the Tumut planting programme has been reduced by 3,000 acres, the Bathurst programme has been reduced by 1,000 acres, the softwood plantation programmes in the Casino and Coffs Harbour districts have been stopped completely, the Glen Innes programme will not be expanded and the commencement of the Barrington Tops programme in the Gloucester district has been deferred indefinitely by the New South Wales Government. Thus cut has brought a considerable number of protests from both sides of the political spectrum - from Mr Don Day, the State Labor member for Casino, Senator Douglas McClelland and the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) in the Federal

House. The honourable member for Lyne is quoted in the ‘Gloucester Advocate’ of 8th February as saying:

We will not allow it to go against what was a Party policy on decentralisation.

He was saying that the cuts mean that there is an accentuation of rural unemployment. This is a matter of real concern. I am pleased to say that the honourable member for Lyne associated himself with criticisms made by the Opposition. He made references to them, as well he might, as a Government member. I suggest that he should have done more than just mildly criticise the measure, because the whole of the needs of the countryside at the moment have been overlooked in the planmn

The Commonwealth has said: ‘This is the rate of expansion which we have determined is optimum at the present time’. I ask: Optimum for what? I would like the Minister to explain that to me, because obviously at the moment there are unused labour resources in the countryside. There is a need to inject some confidence, some job opportunities and some hard cash into the countryside. This is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. I want to know why it was considered that this was the optimum rate at this stage. Surely it cannot be in relation to production. I know that there is always a need to plan nationally so that we do not have too much of this or too much of that. I think the emphasis should be on having too little of some of the products which we need. In the matter that is before us, judging from the Minister’s second-reading speech, we obviously have too little, overall, in terms of timber products.

If we want to look ahead the major point that must be made is that at the present time we have a serious backlog of housing. In the State housing commission in Sydney there is a 3-year backlog. We have a lot of leeway to catch up. I suggest that we should not be planning as if the nation were going to come to an end tomorrow and that progress - such as it is - were just going to stop where it is. Our progress is not very impressive in economic terms or in real terms. Surely we should be planning for a movement forward. If we do that in regard to the timber industry we should be making sure that in the present situation the programme of timber development - the softwood project particularly - is accelerated. I want to point out that the misunderstanding that was referred to by Government speakers is a very real one. I would like the Minister to reply to the matters and the doubts that have been raised by the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales who obviously is unhappy with the programme and with the agreements. In fact, the summation could be that there is less money immediately available, so the softwood planting programme has been reduced.

There are other considerations to which we must have regard. Of course, we have to look ahead at the trading patterns which will appertain. I would say that in relation to timber we have to make sure that we are in a position of some independence and strength. It would be the height of stupidity for this country to neglect to have the raw materials that it needs for housing and other purposes, relying perhaps on other areas outside the nation which may want to trade with us and be involved with us but in fact may not have an adequate programme to supply us. This reliance must be rejected because it is the business of the national Government to look after the national interest now and in the future. This is the reason for the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition. We do not think that the planning goes far enough. We certainly do not think it is adequate. We do not think that a proper agreement has been reached with the States. The honourable member for Braddon made the point very well in relation to Tasmania. I have tried to indicate the serious disturbances in the minds of people in New South Wales.

Therefore there are answers that are demanded here. But looking ahead we have to ensure that we have an adequate supply of this valuable raw material. We cannot go ahead on the basis that we will be relying on someone else to meet our own needs. Indeed, if we had too much timber it would be a blessing and not a curse. I might say that there are across the nation many scalded and overgrazed areas as well as many areas which have been fire cleared, blasted by bush fires. Other areas have been cleared irresponsibly by people. A great many such areas need to be re- timbered. This is an aspect which has not been given enough attention. Far from wanting to slow down the programme, I believe there is a need to accelerate it perhaps in new directions. Quite recently I raised with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) by way of a question on notice the proposition whether he would initiate action to encourage private forestry as a means of rural reconstruction. I asked whether the Minister would examine the New South Wales Forestry commission practice of developing a plantation by paying the entire development costs, meeting the interest for the 13 years during which no return is received and recognising that the compile outlay plus accumulated interest will not be recouped until the final cut 45 years, in some cases, from commencement. I also asked the Minister whether an application of similar principles to the private farmer would cost no more than the present system and assist in establishing much needed pine plantations while giving new opportunities sorely needed by farmers at this time. In his reply the Minister admitted that there was no specific provision for moneys to be used for the encouragement of private forestry. He said that no doubt the State authorities were considering them.

Obviously this is a matter which comes very much within the purview of the Commonwealth. Again, it comes back to our amendment and request that we plan nationally in this regard because obviously there should be an integration of public planting programmes with private planting programmes. Certainly it needs special attention. I might say that it needs some special assistance because of the long term nature of the project from the Commonwealth. It is true, too, that the Commonwealth has a responsibility to have a look at some projects. I refer here to chip mill projects particularly, which have been approved by State authorities, sometimes doubtfully, and where there could be despoliation of the environment. I asked the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) not so very long ago about Australian participation in a chip mill project at Twofold Bay in New South Wales. There has been serious concern that the undertakings that were given that the environment would not be unduly interfered with, that the scenic beauty of the headlands would be retained or at least restored to some degree do not seem to have been honoured. I am still seeking ministerial replies to queries on that.

There is no doubt at all that there has to be some balance between a progressive planning programme of the type we are discussing tonight in regard to softwood plantations and the conservation -of areas that would be better left alone. There is no doubt that in certain localities this applies. It also means that in certain other localities we should be seeing to it that there is not undue disturbance of valuable and unique environments which we want to preserve. But basically in our planning and thinking we have applied ourselves to the fact that there is at the present time a cutback in the rate - and I am not talking about the overall total of development. This seems to me to be wrong and short sighted in view of the situation in the countryside. I would ask the Minister for National Development when he replies to this debate to think again about the rate of expansion that he has approved - the rate of expansion which the Commonwealth has dictated to the States, especially to the States of New South Wales and Tasmania which have been mentioned tonight. Certainly the Minister should have in mind the creation of new jobs and certainly the preservation of present ones in the hard pressed countryside, particularly in the areas where we can undertake these most desirable developments from the national point of view.


– The debate on this Bill is a very worth while one. The legislation is a very worth while contribution from the Commonwealth to help the States in their softwood forestry programmes to the extent of $21m over the next 5 years. In my short address tonight. I will try not to cover the matters already raised by preceding speakers. A conference which will be held in April 1974 in Canberra could be a milestone in the co-ordinated development of forest based industries in Australia. This conference will be attended by 500 people including representatives from private industry, from the State forest services, Commonwealth organisations, research bodies and conservation groups. The conference will consider forest resources, multiple use of forests, the economics of for estry, development based on this economic survey and also research and training of personnel. The initiative for the conference has come from the Australian Forestry Council and private enterprise. I commend the conference to the House and to the country. The conference could bring about what the Opposition desires in its amendment. One section of the Opposition’s amendment is that the Government should bring forward a national plan for afforestation in Australia with the help of the States and the full use and development of Australia’s forest resources. This sort of conference, which is the first of its kind, could go a long way in starting the ball rolling towards fulfilling the desire expressed by members of the Opposition in this debate tonight.

I would now like to come to some of the facts about Tasmanian forestry. The wood chip industry is the latest development of forestry in Tasmania and 3 wood chip companies are now operating there. The Associated Pulp and Paper Manufacturers wood chip enterprise at Long Reach on the east Tamar river is to sell 900,000 tons of wood chips per year to Japan. Northern Woodchips has contracted to supply 700,000 a year. This means that a total of 1,600,000 tons will be sold by these 2 companies each year. The third company, which started first on the east coast of Tasmania at Triabunna is exporting about 800,000 tons each year. Regeneration of the forests from which this timber is coming is the concern of everyone who loves trees. The Tasmanian Forestry Department is assisting in most of this work in respect of the company stationed at Triabunna which is obtaining 85 per cent of its timber from crown land. But we are very concerned about timber which is coming from private property where there is no such programme of regeneration as there is on the Crown land divisions. We believe that a lot of work has to be done in this field across the private sector.

There are approximately one million acres of productive private forests in Tasmania of which pulp and paper companies own 230,000 acres to grow timber for their own requirements. The Tasmanian division of the Institute of Foresters is concerned that private forests cannot sustain cuts at the level at which the wood chip companies are seeking to meet the Japanese demands. They argued that if 770,000 acres of private forest were managed for pulpwood production on a rotation of 40 years the annual sustained yield would be as low as 770,000 tons. The Institute said that it guessed that the present total volume of pulpwood on the same area would be 30,800,000 tons and that, at the proposed level of exports, this resource would be cut out in IS to 20 years. It said that a cut-out-get-out policy for private forests would have several undesirable consequences: Firstly, a sudden drop in employment when the contracts expired; secondly, the elimination in 40 to SO years of the possibility of the establishment of a pulp mill based on this resource; and, thirdly, the discouragement of the regeneration programme for private forests due to the uncertainty of future markets. Of course, forests have more important uses than the mere provision of woodchips and building timber. Forests provide also water catchment areas, wildlife habitats and recreational and scenic attractions. They are a priceless heritage of any country. They must never be destroyed haphazardly without thought, planning or regeneration programmes.

This Bill provides for money to be loaned to the States for the planting of softwoods. Such a loan scheme could give State governments a chance to help in a private forest regeneration programme. Mr Reece, who is the new Premier of Tasmania, made a statement at his first Press conference after his re-election as Premier. A report on this Press conference stated:

The new Labor Government may legislate to control reforestation on private land.

At his first Press conference since taking over the Government, the Premier (Mr Reece) yesterday was asked to amplify a statement in his policy speech about reforestation.

The statement said: ‘The co-operation of owners of forest resources on private land will be sought and appropriate legislation introduced to achieve proper economic use and restoration of that section of the forest asset.’

He was asked if this meant that the legislation would control reforestation of private land used for such things as woodchips.

Mr Reece said:

The intention is to do this.’

But he added that the whole question of the use of forest resources would have to be thoroughly examined before a decision was made on what form the legislation, if any, would take.

There are a number of uses to which private lands can be put,’ he said.

Some of it may, well go to agriculture while it would be appropriate for other sections to be preserved for forestry purposes.

What we will be hoping to do is to ensure that the general forest assets are not depleted by lack of reasonably controlled reforestration

This will have to be examined by the Minister and will be the subject of consultation with the officers of the Forestry Commission to see what the best course is to be and the manner in which legislation, if it is introduced, should be drafted.’

Mr Reece said he envisaged that if such legislation was introduced, it would require farmers using land for woodchips to have a proper reforestation programme.

We do not want the tourist aspect to be completely disputed’, be said.

Proper control of forest assets was essential from a national and economic viewpoint if Australia was not to be saddled with tremendous imports of forest products.

A statement such as that is to be commended. We are worried that the Tasmania private forest sector, which is linked to the woodchip industry, could be a disastrous side of the entire enterprise. Crown land is being and will continue to be reforested, but there is no control over private land. The State Government of Tasmania is looking at the possibility of introducing legislation to make it obligatory for private farmers selling timber to woodchip companies to have a proper reforestation programme, unless they intend to use the cleared land for agricultural purposes. Of course, no one would object to that. However, if the private landowners are not using the land for agriculture it must be resown as forest. A government could step in here and help them in several ways.

I shall conclude by referring to a statement from Mr Paul Jones, who addressed a real estate investment symposium in Sydney on 7th February last year. Mr Jones said:

Australia would be spending S700m a year to import timber by the year 2000 at the present rate of planting and consumption. . . .

Timber had recently displaced oil as Australia’s largest single import.

It is tragic that Australia should now be importing more timber than oil. Mr Jones is agencies manager for New South Wales for Plantation Management Pty Ltd, which is managing 4 forestry developments on Queensland’s Gold Coast. He knows what he is talking about. He continued:

It’s time private enterprise showed initiative by investing capital in, and developing forestry which is Australia’s fifth largest industry.

Government largely controls forestry but funds available to it are not enough for adequate afforestation, even for present requirements.

Mr Jones went on to say:

Softwood plantings of 75,000 acres a year are needed to keep pace with Australia’s requirements as outlined during the 1960s.

Yet in 1968 the annual plantings were only 62,500 acres.

The price of softwood limber which has risen by nearly 300 per cent in 20 years will rise even higher because of world-wide shortage.

This point was outlined by my colleagues the honourable members for Dawson (Dr Patterson), Braddon (Mr Davies) and Riverina (Mr Grassby). Mr Jones continued: . . timber price rises, the world-wide shortage, inadequate Government spending on afforestation, and listed companies’ return on capital from integrated forestry were reasons why private enterprise should involve itself in forestry development.

Some investors avoided investment in forestry because of the 20-25 years needed for trees to mature for use as sawn timber.

However, some trees were ready after 10 years.

Of course, that is true. Trees mature faster in certain types of soil than in others. In pinewood plantations in Tasmania, the trees are ready in 10 years. In Tasmania, the old, isolated, twisted timber has been bulldozed from tens of thousands of acres of sparse hill,ides and beautiful pine plantations have been planted in their place. Mr Jones concluded his speech by making some suggest ions and be mentioned incentives which could be provided by governments. These included:

Tax rebates through deductibility for one-third of calls on shares for approved afforestation.

The rebate provided an immediate return on capital of between 8) and 22 per cent depending on the tax rate of the investor.

Ownership of the forestry land.

Capital growth from conversion of the land to real estate.

There are other ways in which a government could help private enterprise reforest. It is about time that the Government examined this aspect instead of merely forming out to State governments large sums of money which is used to assist not private enterprise but government controlled enter prise. I think we could greatly help the rate of reforestation if the Government could devise a taxation rebate scheme to encourage investment by private enterprise in reforestation.

Finally, I would just like to mention what happened in New Zealand. In 1935 New Zealand Forest Products Ltd was formed to plant radiata pine, which is not a native of New Zealand but of California. It was found that the soil types in New Zealand were the same as those in California. The company sold bonds and undertook to plant one acre for each bond sold. I remember when I was living with my father on a farm in the Wimmera district of Victoria in the 1930s that we had agents from New Zealand selling these sorts of bonds to the Wimmera wheat farmers. Some bought them but others did not have enough money to invest in that sort of a venture because they were just struggling out of the depression. But at that time I can remember quite distinctly these men selling bonds for acres of forest in New Zealand. Many of us thought that it was a haywire dream, but what happened? Later the bond holders were issued with shares in the company in exchange for their bonds. Today a giant enterprise has been established in New Zealand which has total annual sales of nearly $100m. An area of 320,000 acres are under forest, and plans are in hand to incrase it to 400,000 acres. This is an example of what can happen when men with vision start to plant trees. I hope that this Government will go on and provide asistance to private enterprise to enable it also to participate in the reforestation programme.


– I rise to support the amendment that has been moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), and in doing so I will acquaint the House with the main parts of it, which refers to: . . the Government’s failure to prepare and publish, in consultation with tho States, a national plan for (a) the full use and development of Australia’s forest resources and (b) the conservation of existing hardwood forests and associated flora and fauna in relation to softwood plantings.

The State of South Australia could be said to have pioneered afforestation by the planting of softwood forests many years ago. As 1 have given an undertaking to restrict my comments on this Bill, I will come quite quickly to the point by saying that the people in the south east of South Australia were most disturbed quite recently, as the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) knows, because of the fact that South Australia was suffering from some form of discrimination as a result of a direct reduction in its acreage and the assistance provided for the planting and maintaining of the acreage which had been sought and agreed upon at a conference of the Australian Forestry Council in about March of last year. It came as a considerable shock to the appropriate Minister in South Australia, Mr Casey, when he learned that in fact there was to be, as he understood it, a reduction of approximately 67 per cent in what he had been led to believe would be the situation following the conference of the Forestry Council. He was most alarmed about it, and he sent a letter to all Federal members who represent South Australian electorates. One of the reasons why I am on my feet is to point out that there was no response from the member who represents the Federal Division of Barker in which, by and large, a large part of the softwood forest in South Australia lie. He is the only Cabinet Minister from South Australia-

Mr Giles:

– That is not true. He is not a Cabinet Minister.


– I thank the honourable member for Angas for the correction. He is only a Minister. He is not in the Cabinet. It is apparent that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) does not consider that the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) has sufficient material for him to be in the Cabinet. Like the honourable member for Angas, who is interjecting and who has not taken up the cudgels on behalf of his electorate in regard to the imposition of the wine tax, his colleague the honourable member for Barker did not-


-Order! I think that the honourable member is getting a little away from the contents of the Bill and I suggest that he should come back to the Bill.


– The honourable member for Barker did not take up the cudgels on behalf of his electorate. The fact is that there is a necessity for a great expansion of the softwood forest industry. Of course, I can understand what other honourable members in this debate have said is happening in some States. Good Australian hardwoods are being bulldozed out to make way for softwood plantings. Such is not the case in South Australia. The industry in the south east of South Australia has developed to the extent that now it can supply to the building industry the types of timber that were previously imported. I suppose that 70 per cent of the people employed in that region rely for their employment on the softwood industry. The industry in that area of South Australia is now able to produce by a lamination method, if I may use that term - and those who are conversant with the timber industry will know what I mean - all the types and sizes of softwood necessary to replace the Oregon or douglas flr, that was previously imported from American and Canadian forests. Flitches of Oregon were about the only ones available for certain building requirements. Laminated softwood flitches are now being produced in the mills in the south east of South Australia. They can be 40 feet, 50 feet, 60 feet or perhaps 70 feet long, and they can be as thick and as wide as required by the industry. This is a very important development in the industry in the south east of South Australia. It has met the requirements of the building industry in South Australia. These timbers have been used particularly by the Public Works Department in building what are referred to as open unit type teaching and educational facilities. It is quite pleasant to see local timbers being used in this way.

The timber industry in the south east of South Australia will be required to grow in accordance with the increase in the population in that area. Whilst the Bill provides for some sort of assistance to be given to the softwood industry, the amendment provides, as the Bill has not spelt out, that there should be a further 5 year agreement. We on this side of the chamber are somewhat concerned about this matter, and I will be very pleased if the Minister for National Development, when he replies to this debate, will give some indication to the House as to whether it is the Government’s policy to continue with this agreement covering a specified period of time, to lay down proper aims and guidelines. and to make available to the States the necessary finance to maintain this industry at a steady growth rate.

In addition I draw the Minister’s attention once again to the fact that we ought to increase plantings wherever it is possible to do so. It could be said that it might be necessary to buy land which at the moment could be considered to be rural production land. Perhaps this land has been used for some form of rural production, but with rural industry facing crisis after crisis, the Government ought to consider giving a larger grant to the States to enable them to purchase this land for forestry purposes. I have already referred to the need to acquire land to increase the planting of forests. I in no way detract from the submissions put forward by my colleagues in regard to the preservation of existing forest areas.

I should also like to refer to the fact that where a direct request is made by a State Minister to a member of this House whose electorate is concerned with the matter which the Minister has raised - and, Mr Speaker, I believe that I am not going wide of the Bill we are discussing - it is a dereliction of duty on the part of that member if he fails to do anything about the matter raised by the Minister.

I conclude by stating that the forestry industry in the south east of South Australia has a record of achievement second to none in the Commonwealth. The industry in that area is expanding. If sufficient finance and understanding are given by the Federal Government, further industrialisation could take place in the south east of South Australia. This would provide an opportunity to decentralise industry from the main metropolitan area of the State. This would be a good thing, and it ought to be considered by the Government. The Government ought to accept the amendment which is before the House because it provides for a study to be made in that area in the south east of South Australia. I am pleased to be able to state that, in fact, the Minister listened with some degree of attention and to some benefit for South Australia, to the argument and the submission put forward by Mr Casey, the South Australian Minister for Forests, who was able to persuade the Government and the Forestry Commission to review the situation that existed at the time the South Australian Minister directed his correspondence and our attention to the fact that South Australia was being discriminated against. The Minister for National Development has, in some way, rectified his earlier decision in regard to the matter of discrimination against South Australia.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– As we have 2 other Bills to consider tonight I will be brief. However I would like to refer to one matter that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) raised in relation to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). The Minister for Immigration did raise with me the question of the allocation to South Australia and, in fact, wrote to me about it on behalf of South Australia. The South Australian Minister for Forests (Mr Casey), who is a very good friend of mine, also has been closely in touch with me and has had several discussions with me about it as have a number of other members of this House. But the discussion that the honourable member refers to did not take place in the Australian Forestry Council; it was a discussion between officers representing the various States on the Standing Committee of the Forestry Council. It did not make a decision. The allocation to South Australia that was eventually recommended by the Forestry Council was above the allocation that should have been granted under the new programme. We did review the allocation in view of the case put by the Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Sturt, the South Australian Minister for Forests, the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) and others and we managed to get an additional allocation granted by the Treasury as a special grant to assist South Australia in view of the splendid record it had in the field of forestry during the last programme. It was a special grant above the allocation made to the other States. I mention that all the other States actually agreed to this course when we put it to them.

I refer very quickly to 3 points relative to the amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). Firstly, the softwoods programme is one which is recommended by the Australian Forestry Council, of which I am Chairman. The Council is representative of the Commonwealth and the States. There was a first 5-year programme in which an amount of$1 8m had been allocated. During the second programme, which we are approving now, an amount of $21m has been allocated, so there has been an increase in finance. I mentioned in my second reading speech that there has been an increase in acreage from 256,800 to 273,400. The acreage directly financed by the Commonwealth has increased from 113,100 acres to 125,000 acres in the second programme. I quote these figures merely to indicate that there is a substantial increase not only in the financial allocation but also in the acreage which can be covered at this time. This, of course, was agreed to by the State governments.

I refer secondly to the reference to indigenous forests. The amendment refers to hardwood forests. The Forestry Commission has undertaken a study in relation to this matter and, in fact, on Thursday of this week I was to chair a meeting of the Forestry Council in Darwin. I arranged for the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) to act on my behalf as I arranged for him to act on my behalf at the Minerals Council meeting in Mount Newman today. Honourable members know the reason why I must be here. But this question of indigenous forests and a programme proposed by the Australian Forestry Council will, I believe, come forward during the next 12 months or so for consideration by all the governments concerned.

The third point I make is that a forestry and wood based industries development conference has been planned for 1974. The recently established executive committee, of which I also have the job of being chairman, appointed a number of panels which, I must say, will do most of the work. These panels have been working very extensively on this matter in conjunction with the Standing Committee which had previously been set up as an interim committee. But this will be one of the biggest things that has happened to the forestry and wood based industries in Australia and the work that will be done in the interim before the 1974 programme will be substantial. This indicates the very substantial work that is being done by the Australian Forestry Council in this particular field. The Opposition’s amendment is not necessary because the proposals which the Opposition has in mind already are in train and the work in these particular fields is being carried out by the Australian Forestry Council. Therefore, the Government cannot accept the amendment.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)

AYES: 51

NOES: 46

Majority . . . . 5



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

In Committee

The Bill.


– In the second reading debate I referred to the Schedule to this Bill. The Schedule purports to be an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. I have not yet received any explanation of the actual working of the Schedule. Normally in development projects an agreement is signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier or their respective representatives. This is some type of open-ended agreement and one can only assume that it has been agreed to by the States and the Commonwealth. Let me illustrate my point by a practical example. Last Saturday a State election was held in Queensland. Paragraph (c) of the Schedule to this Bill reads: the Commonwealth and the Stales have agreed to implement the further programme. . . .

That is a statement of fact. It says that the Stales have agreed to do something. A State election was held a month ago in Tasmania and there was a change of government. 1 assume that the new Labor Government in that Stale has agreed to this proposal. A State election was held in Queensland last Saturday. If there had been a change of government in that State how could anyone say that the new Government-

Mr Birrell:

– There should have been a change.


-I accept that, but in view of the blatant gerrymander in Queensland how can we expect it? The point I make is that if there had been a change of government in Queensland how could one assume that there has been agreement? Normally before a Bill comes into this

Parliament agreement reached between the Commonwealth and the States and the Bill then comes before the Parliament for ratification of the agreement. There has always been some doubt about whether the Parliament has the right to ratify agreements. 1 referred to this matter, as 1 recall, about 5 years ago and asked whether this Parliament could alter the agreement. This is an agreement between the Commonwealth and the Slates, between the Prime Minister and the respective Premiers. It is not an agreement made between the Parliament and the States. This Schedule defines ‘the State Treasurer’ as the Treasurer of the State. If there were a change of government in a State there would be a change of Treasurer. I believe these are practical questions and honourable members are entitled to know the answers. First of all, why has this agreement not been agreed to by the Slates? Secondly, what would have happened had there been a change of government last Saturday in Queensland? Thirdly, has the new Labor Government in Tasmania agreed to this Schedule? These are important questions. This Schedule commits the Commonwealth to an agreement with the States and it can only be assumed that all States have agreed to it. If it had been signed by the Premier of Queensland some time before last Saturday. 1 would assume that it would be valid.

It is not often that there is an open-ended agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. It is essential for the House to have some information on this matter. I raised this point in the second reading debate. Assuming there was a change in a State government, what would happen if an amendment to the Schedule was made by the incoming government? Would it have to come back to this Parliament. These are all practical problems which I have never noticed previously when dealing with development projects involving agreements between the Commonwealth and the States. Agreements are reached between the Prime Minister and the Premiers before they reach this Parliament.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), of course, is right in raising these matters but I point out to him that paragraph (c) of the Schedule states- the Commonwealth and the Stateshave agreed. . . .

The honourable member referred to that part of the Schedule. It refers to the 5-year programme commencing on 1st July 1971. I assure the honourable member that agreement was reached. In fact it dates back to that particular date, and plantings that have occurred in the interim, between July 1971 and now are covered by the special Treasury vote as the honourable member is quite aware because this procedure was probably followed in his time when he was in the Department of National Development. Agreement has been reached between the Commonwealth and the States for this scheme, just as it was in respect of the first programme, by an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the Premier of each State.

That procedure was concluded some months ago. The Bill could not be introduced until all States had agreed to the scheme. The Bill has been somewhat slow coming forward. Perhaps it should have been before the House a few months ago. As the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) pointed out, South Australia was the last State to agree to it. There had been a problem there and eventually it was overcome. When South Australia agreed to it, all States had then agreed by letter from each Premier to the Prime Minister, which is the normal method of agreement. That method has been followed on this occasion just as it was followed previously, and as it applies to other things. There has been an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the Premiers. The proposal was agreed to some time ago.


– I wish to raise with the Minister a question that I asked this afternoon. If this is a Liberal Government that believes in free enterprise, why does it not, as it was requested to do in 1967, provide for a proportion of the funds to be allocated under this measure to private foresters? After all, the Government recognises this principle in relation to housing agreements. A proportion of housing funds for the States is set aside for free enterprise, for the terminating building societies, with the largest proportion going to the State governments. Surely a similar principle could be applied to the private foresters. Therefore, in Committee, I simply ask the Minister whether the Government, in relation not to this agreement but possibly to future agreements, will make some provision for private forest development. The banks will not make funds available to these people at interest rates as attractive as those for which this measure provides. The banks are unable to lend at interest rates comparable to those that the Government can permit. Surely the people to whom I have referred are entitled to some consideration. I ask the Minister to intimate why private industrial forests and people who have private forests are not covered by this agreement.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– I shall answer the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) quickly. The matter he raises has been discussed by the Australian Forestry Council. Certain taxation concessions were recommended and had been approved. Indeed, there are 5 different items in the taxation schedules that axe of assistance in the field of private forestry. In New South Wales and Victoria loans are made available to private individuals to assist them to establish plantations. All State forestry departments and the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau give advice and also make concessions in the provision of plants for plantings. Indeed the various governments give assistance to the private forests in a number of ways. This matter is brought up regularly before the Forestry Council and what the honourable member has suggested will certainly be kept in mind.


– Following upon the point made by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) about the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the State Premiers, I agree that this is the usual practice. However, there is still the problem that a Premier of a State can agree to the proposal on behalf of his Government, and in most instances that action will be ratified by the particular State Parliament. In Queensland there is an extraordinary situation, where Parliament sits for only a few months of the year. Parliament went into recess there last December and members will not appear on the scene again until next August. Had there been a change of Government last weekend I assume that the letter signed by the Premier of Queensland would not bind the new government, for the agreement would not have been even debated or discussed in the Parliament in order that it could be ratified. That is my point. I recognise the problem created by the Constitution, that it is necessary to have this drawn out process of requiring the Premiers to agree on behalf of their governments and, in turn, for the agreements to be ratified. There could be a situation like the one to which 1 referred earlier, where the Premier of Tasmania agreed to the proposal and later there was a change of government. The new Premier might not necessarily reach a similar conclusion to that of his predecessor. The same could have occurred in Queensland had there been a change of government. Therefore, my original point holds good. I still wonder why it has taken so long for this measure to get into Parliament.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Third Reading

Bill (on motion by Mr Swartz) - by leave - read a third time.

page 3255


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 10 May (vide page 2309). on motion by Mr Anthony:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


– The Industrial Research and Development Grants Act of 1967 has been almost completely rewritten by the Bill that is being debated. However, the industrial strategy that it still reflects is open to severe criticism. A variety of motives for the Government’s move to introduce the Industrial Research and Development Grants scheme in 1967 were mentioned by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) when as Minister for Social Services he proposed the second reading of the Bill in this House in May 1967. The basic motive was a desire to encourage increased industrial research and development in Australian manufacturing and mining industries. This motive was related by the Minister to the Government’s aim to ensure continued economic growth and full employment as well as to achieve and maintain national security. The Minister expressed concern about the dependence of Australian industry on technology developed overseas and in particular about the consequences to Australia’s ability to produce goods to compete with imported products. It was hoped that greater dependence on Australian technology would earn this nation additional foreign exchange. An expected benefit would be less reliance by Australia on sources overseas for its defence equipment requirements. Other motives for the scheme that were mentioned in passing included the building up of a pool of technically skilled manpower and a reduction in the drift overseas of top Australian graduates. The Act stated its object simply as to encourage increased industrial research and development in Australia. However, the object of the legislation has now been amended to read: ‘To promote the development of Australian industry by encouraging increased industrial research and development in Australia.’ This amendment suggests to me that the Government is not entirely satisfied that the original Act achieved the success that was expected of it. It would, therefore, have been anticipated that the strategy of the Act would have been altered. Except in a few minor instances this has not been done. The Opposition believes that, whilst these amendments will improve the Act other major amendments still need to be made. I hope to substantiate this belief during my speech.

The provisions whereby grants can be made to manufacturing and mining concerns in respect of industrial research and development they are carrying out are complicated. The eligible expenditure of a company for research and development, where it does not exceed $50,000, can attract a maximum grant of 50 per cent of that amount. From July 1970to July 1972 the maximum grant has been set at 35 per cent. It is increased in this Bill to 50 per cent for the financial year 1972-73. Where eligible expenditure exceeds $50,000 a grant may be made which does not exceed 50 per cent of that additional amount. The first mentioned type of grant is usually referred to as being a general grant. The second is usually called a selective grant. Selective grants are made subject to the discretion of the Minister and the Australian

Industrial Research and Development Grants Board (AIRDGB) created by the Act. Selective grants are made according to the ability of the research and development to contribute to the attainment of certain objectives outlined in the Act. They are:

  1. the development and use of Australian physical resources,
  2. the expansion of exports,
  3. import saving and improvement of the ability of Australian products to compete wilh imported products,
  4. the improvement of productivity and reduction of costs in Australian industry,
  5. the development of the Australian economy in a manner conducive to the defence of the Commonwealth.

What constitutes eligible industrial research and development expenditure is set out principally in section 25 of the Act and this section has been widened in the Bill before us. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) spelt out the expenditure now eligible in his second reading speech. These amendments apparently are designed to increase the amount of expenditure of smaller fully Australian companies on industrial research and development. However, a selective grant can still only be made where eligible research and development expenditure of the applicant company exceeds $50,000, and where it appears that the subject of the industrial research would aid in the achievement of certain national objectives. The implication of this provision is that, for amounts of eligible research and development expenditure of less than $50,000, the achievement of these objectives is not important because, irrespective of the nature of the subject of research a general grant will be awarded where there is an increase in research and development expenditures, and other conditions are fulfilled. In effect the Act means that especially important work, according to its own terms, will be given help only if increased expenditure on it exceeds $50,000. Work which is important according to the criteria of the Act will attract the same amount of grant as work funded to the same increased amounts but which is not important in such terms.

Two criticisms follow from this. Firstly, in this aspect, the Act reflects little consideration in as much as it does not discriminate between what is important industrial research and what is unimportant, so long as the increased expenditure on that research does not exceed $50,000. Secondly, the Act discriminates against highly innovative but under-capitalised companies. Consider the case in which a small sciencebased firm carries out research on which it expends $20,000, $10,000 of which is counted as eligible research and development expenditure under the Act. The company is therefore eligible to apply for a grant and can receive a maximum of $5,000. If the research that that company is carrying out has potentially valuable benefits for Australia, no note may be taken of the fact under the Act. The maximum grant payable is $5,000 irrespective of whether the research produces a valuable result or a useless one, from the viewpoint of the achievement of Australian objectives that are written into the Act. If that company has such an invention but is not able to proceed further because it cannot attract private capital the project will lapse. Thus the company has no incentive in the first place to perform research in that area. The argument that this will always happen in any system of industrial research grants is incorrect. Canada, for example, has operated several selective grant schemes with the motive of ensuring that no worthwhile research and development projects are abandoned for lack of financial support. These are supplementary to the general incentive provided under the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act of Canada. Thus in Canada it is recognised that incentives for industrial research and development must include selective incentives to reinforce general grants. This, the Australian legislation outstandingly fails to do.

Yet another criticism follows from this last. Under the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act, the Board is empowered, at its discretion, to make selective grants for any of the purposes mentioned in section 27. Clearly the Board has been very narrow in its interpretation of these provisions and has in the past tended, in its own words, to pay particular attention to ‘the potential for export and for reduction of imports’, and import saving generally. This of course is an important objective, but by implication it demonstrates the generally narrow framework in which the Act was conceived. As

Australian economist Tisdell points out, the objective of a favourable balance of payments is not necessarily achieved in an optimum way by simply favouring exporting companies or import-saving companies because industries which are involved directly in neither export nor import may nonetheless have a significant influence on balance of payments. Tisdell quotes as examples sulphuric acid, which is vital to fertiliser production and other processes the products of which enter exports, and caustic soda, which is important in alumina production. I ask: Is Industrial research construed to be an activity which simply increases profits or creates a favourable balance of payments, or does industrial research also include the development of processes to improve the quality of life? The Act seems to me to reflect the former philosophy.

The question as to which companies have benefited the most and the least under the

Act is of some interest. The table that I have in my hand shows the relationship between grant-size group, and the extent to which that group benefited relative to other grant-size groups. The relationship appears as follows: Over the 3 years of complete operation of the Act, the approximately 50 per cent of companies that received a grant of $10,000 or less, received about 10 per cent of the value of all grants disbursed under the scheme. By contrast, over that period fewer than one per cent of all companies receiving moneys under the scheme obtained more than 13 per cent of such moneys. I ask leave of the House to incorporate the table in Hansard, and I apologise to the Minister for not having shown it to him before hand.


– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The table read as follows):


– On the whole it appears that the bigger the company, the larger the grant it received. The significance of this needs to be assessed carefully. It might be argued that the relationship is to be expected, that the larger a company, the more it spends on research and development. I admit, so it is. But in that event, surely the Government should be attempting especially to enourage smaller firms to carry out research. The Act reflects no such strategy and it has been pointed out that it discriminates particularly against the small, highly innovative science-based company which has been a significant factor in science-based industry in other countries.

The Board is sensitive to this criticism. In its third annual report it publishes statistics to illustrate that its grants in the past have constituted a higher proportion of eligible expenditure for the smallest companies than for the largest companies. Although the point of the Board has some validity, it in no way meets this criticism. The smallest companies may have received a higher rate of grant on their eligible expenditure but such grants would not have been very useful. The average grant for the 10 smallest companies was about $3,600 in 1968-69, an amount, I suggest, that would not pay a trained researcher for 6 months. The figure for the next 10 smallest companies was about $8,700. again hardly a useful figure. In research and development, economies of scale operate, and it could well be argued that, rather than paying small companies a higher rate of grant, it would be better to help them achieve that scale at which economies could be made. But here again the Act is remiss as only the big companies have the resources to set up separate research organisations. This entitles them under the Act to a higher level of grant, and the Board has admitted that such companies get preferential treatment. Thus the Act makes no allowance for the need of smaller companies to be helped to achieve economies of scale. The anomalous nature of the selective type of grant helps perpetuate the process by which small companies, however innovative, find it difficult to get help to develop and market useful inventions.

This criticism has overtones of a familiar theme: The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. The criticism to be offered now also makes reference to a familiar theme, that is, the propriety and utility of direct overseas investment in Australia. The fact from which the criticism is drawn is that of all grant payments authorised from 1970-71 funds, a minimum of 13 per cent went to overseas firms operating in Australia, and the true figure is certainly higher. The Board’s fourth annual report shows which companies were involved and the amount of moneys received by them. A quick selection indicates the following:

It may be that the pattern of grant disbursement in respect of the year 1970-71 represents a departure from the Board’s normal practice. I suggest that this is un likely in view of the figures presented in the table incorporated in Hansard, which showed that the pattern of grants over the past 3 years has remained stable. It is thus likely that the relationship established for 1970-71 funds with respect to overseas companies has been the relationship over all years of operation of the Act. Once again the question of justification arises: Why should overseas companies receive such grants? These companies would undoubtedly perform industrial research and development irrespective of whether they received grants from the Australian Government, as their market position depends to some extent on their research. Otherwise stated, these companies are the last to need such encouragement. It would seem that Australia is paying such companies money to create technology which they are supposed to be importing, and is supposed to be benefiting the host country. In effect, these overseas companies are being paid additional money to carry out research, which, owing to their size, they would probably have carried out anyway. The money paid to them could have been employed far better were it used to encourage Australian firms, particularly small ones, to carry out more research and development of relevance to Australia. Why should the Government pay money to overseas companies operating in Australia which are already earning large profits from their Australian operations?

Now the Bill has. as one of its avowed aims, to lift the level of industrial research and development expenditure in Australia. The new provisions concerning what is in effect a rolling base-year may well have an effect opposed to what the Bill sets out to do. The new base-period expenditure provision - that is, the average of expenditure in 3 consecutive years with a lag of one year between the final base year and the grant year - clearly is intended to force industry to raise its industrial research and development expenditure constantly in order to obtain further aid under the industrial research and development grant scheme. But in fact, much of industry will be unable to continue to increase industrial research and development expenditures constantly. This is of some significance as far as the Australian industrial structure is concerned. The companies that will drop out of this race earliest will be the smaller companies. Thus this Bill once again will discriminate against the smaller companies which, in the greater proportion, will not be able to afford these increases. Only larger companies will be able to afford to continue increasing research and development expenditures. Thus the result of this Bill may well be actually to decrease the level of research and development expenditure in Australia, by taking away incentives from the smaller companies. I suggest that this is not an idle criticism. Influential sections of Australian industry have already demonstrated concern over this provision.

The philosophy the Bill reflects is a formalistic approach to the matter of research and development. The Government feels that by attempting to force up the level of research and development expenditures, more research and development will be done. The formalism of the Bill extends into other areas. The IRDG scheme, as it has operated in the past, reflects the idea that if ‘professionally qualified’ researchers are employed to supervise research and development, the research and development performed will certainly be better for such supervision. It may well be, but the scheme does not recognise an elementary fact - that in industry, and especially in the smaller firms, there are many brilliant but so-called unqualified persons who possess the skills and motivation necessary to the performance of fruitful research and development. The scheme, in effect, subscribes to the notion that a Ph.D. researcher, no matter how inexperienced, will always be better qualified to supervise research and development than another person, no matter how experienced and brilliant. The scheme should take into account the fact that high academic qualifications are not always a good qualification for industrial research, and the Government should devise a scheme which would allow smaller firms performing research and development without professional assistance to be supervised by professionally qualified and experienced people recognised and licensed by the Board, if need be.

The criticisms I have expressed relate not only to the effects of the last scheme, some of which have been undesirable - I said in my opening remarks that the Act has been almost completely rewritten - but also to the internal contradictions of the last scheme which are actually to be perpetuated and exacerbated by the proposed new scheme. The formalism of the scheme may lead to unexpected effects such as an actual decrease in research and development. This formalism also reflects itself in the provisions regarding professional qualifications. But in particular - this is the most worrisome and serious aspect of the issue - the scheme actively discriminates against smaller companies, no matter how fruitful their research and development endeavours may be. This scheme, if it does lead to increased research and development expenditure, is not likely to lead to the performance of more and better research and development. Its emphasis is on quantity rather than on quality, and the smaller companies will be the losers. This means on the whole that the Australian operated and owned industries will suffer.

The Government seems not to have consulted with small industry in particular on this Bill. I suggest that the Minister would be well advised to postpone this Bill until such time as industry has had an opportunity of seeing what the recommendations of the interdepartmental committee were. In conclusion, the provision of more and more money for industrial research and development can never be a substitute for careful planning and careful formulation of criteria on the type of research and development which is required by and in the best interests of Australia.


– This Bill, from the point of view of national budgets and expenditure by governments, is quite small in impact, but its usefulness to the Australian nation, and to manufacturers more particularly, is of great importance as the then Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) said when he introduced the legislation in 1967. There is a feeling in the manufacturing industry that it has not been consulted to the extent it would like to have been consulted. Today I received a telegram from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures which reads as follows:

Victorian Chamber of Manufactures gravely concerned at proposed new method of calculation of eligible industrial research and development expenditure inherent in moving base year proposals in current Bill. Request that passage of Bill be deferred to allow sufficient time for new proposals based on the findings of interdepartmental committee to be critically examined by all sections of industry.

This was signed by ‘Mawdsley, President, Victorian Chamber of Manufactures’. I am informed that a telegram was sent also to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) as well as senators.

As 1 have said, as far as costs are concerned the Bill is not of great importance. I am surprised that we can find in the legislation this alteration in the base conception, because it is in this area that the smaller companies are vitally concerned. I believe that the amendment should have the same reflection in industry as the original legislation had. The original motive of the Government should remain the same in this amendment. That motive was to increase research and development in industry in Australia so that we could continually compete within Australia and compete with overseas manufacturing industries which desire to export their products to Australia. It was clear in 1967 when the Bill was introduced - the position is much the same today - that if industry does not innovate or carry out research and development procedures it will fall by the wayside. It would be impossible for Australia to go back to the bad old days when Australian manufacturing and mining companies felt that they had to go overseas at all times to look for these new processes, these new products, and pay heavy royalties for obtaining these processes and these products. Whilst in the manufacturing industry we still pay royalties, there has been a diminution of these payments in recent years.

I would have hoped that the Government when introducing this Bill would have given greater incentives to the industries that have used the research and development grants in the past and would not have lessened the opportunity for these industries to qualify. I mentioned earlier that the base period is the matter which is causing the manufacturing industry most concern. I will try to expand on it a little later. It is true, of course, that prior to the encouragement given to the manufacturing industry in 1967, research and development was encouraged by the Government, but only by income tax concessions. It was found then, and it is realised now, that these concessions were not great enough to encourage the research and development that was required.

It is interesting at this stage to point out to the House the increase in research and development in industry that has occurred since 1967. I refer to the last report of the Grants Board of 1970-71 which I have before me. The report indicates firstly that in 1967-68 51 companies participated in this form of assistance by the Government. I believe that because of the legislation that was introduced in 1967 the number was increased to 286 in 1968-69. The number of companies that received these grants increased to 531 in 1969-70 and 801 in 1970-71. So it is obvious that the initial assistance given by the Government encouraged the manufacturing and mining companies to do more about research than had been done hitherto.

The total costs which include general grants plus selective grants are not as high, as I said at the outset. In 1967-68 the amount involved was $8. 296m; in 1968-69 it was $ 10.376m; and in 1969-70 it rose to $1 2.274m. In other words, there was a genuine increase in the assistance given to the industry because industry had assisted itself. In many cases, of course, private enterprise had set up laboratories and employed highly trained and qualified personnel to look after these facilities. In 1 967 the Government expressed concern about the royalties that were paid by Australian companies to overseas companies. It gave several reasons for introducing this form of legislation. First of all it said that it wanted to increase research and development so that we could compete with exports coming into Australia and also so that we could export to those areas near Australia where our export production would be acceptable. Another reason was that if the legislation were passed we would not have to depend on research and development from overseas and thus pay royalties. There was also a need to build up technically skilled manpower which was being trained in Australian universities and colleges and some of which was being driven overseas because opportunities were greater in overseas countries than they were in Australia. More particularly, the legislation was introduced to assist Australia in its production of defence equipment. I do not know whether this latter area has been explored to the full extent to which it ought to be explored. The Government should fully pursue the needs of Australian industry to produce our defence requirements. At the moment I am in touch with the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) about certain limitations that the defence Service impose on Australian manufacturers, not because they cannot produce the goods - and the Minister for Defence is nodding in agreement - in quantity and quality but because of certain limitations. I am sure that the Minister for Defence will get me the answer to this problem very shortly.

Therefore, the aims and objects of this Bill are very similar to those of the original legislation. But it is perhaps the calculation of eligible expenditure for research that creates the anomalies. I say that the method proposed in this Bill will curtail research and development which was encouraged by the original legislation introduced in 1967. The Minister in his second reading speech said that 808 companies had qualified for industrial research and development grants by June 1971. Of these 440 had performed no research during the original base year of 1965. The Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board in its report estimated that there has been a 64 per cent increase in highly trained technical personnel now being used in research and development and innovating within Australian companies for the benefit of Australia. The figures I have quoted, and particularly the increase in the number of companies and personnel involved, indicate the effectiveness of the original legislation.

As I see it, the important part of the amendment indicates that research and development will now be averaged over 3 consecutive years, lt will be a rolling programme so that the Board which disburses the grants will be able to divide the 3 years expenditure by 3 and say to an individual company: ‘This is the average you have spent over the last 3 years’. The original legislation used the base year 1965 as the base for calculations. The 440 companies which I have mentioned which had no research expenditure in 1965 always qualified for grants in some form or other. No matter whether their expenditure was increased in a given year or reduced in a given year they always qualified for some assistance by the Government through this industrial research and development grant. In future it will be impossible for the smaller companies particularly, and those companies that had reached a stable level of expenditure on research, to qualify.

I have a letter from one of the manufacturers concerned of which I think I ought to read part to indicate what this company feels about this sort of change in the legislation. The company has attached a financial statement which I will not read. The company states:

  1. . that an organisation which has reached a stable level of expenditure of $50,000 by 1971 will receive no grant for the year ended 30th June 1975 if it continues to have expenditure at stable levels.

To achieve the maximum grant, namely $25,000-

Which is 50 per cent of the $50,000 allowed - from 1973 onwards, it would be necessary to increase eligible expenditure from $50,000 in 1972 to $95,000 in 1973 and eventually in progressive rises to $152,778 in 1977.

The company points out in the substance of its letter that if it does not achieve this expenditure it will not qualify to the extent that it would like to qualify. 1 contacted Mr Scrivenor, the Chairman of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board. After having seen the letter from one of my constituents he wrote:

I confirm that, based on the proposals contained in the amending Bill recently introduced into Parliament, the calculations submitted by the company in relation to expenditures and grants are correct . . .

The Chairman went on to make a minor correction to something which was incorrect in the company’s letter. Therefore I feel that I am really on stable ground when I talk about the fact that this base period is the one that is causing a good deal of discussion today in industry, and more particularly in manufacturing industry. This is the reason why the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and copies of that telegram to other personnel in the Parliament. I would like the Minister concerned to have another look at the reasons why this alteration has been made in the base period.

Let me say that I come from manufacturing industry and that I was a trained engineer many years ago and a member of the Institution of Engineers (Australia). I feel that this legislation - as the honourable member for Lang has said - will help large companies considerably because whilst they do budget research and development they can meet the needs of this amendment of the Bill by adding to their expenditure year by year. However, it must be borne in mind that if a smaller company endeavoured to increase expenditure year by year, concurrently it would also have to increase its organisational expenses and its tooling. It could well be that the whole basis of many medium and smaller companies would not allow them to meet such organisational expenditure or the costs involved in tooling and the like. Furthermore, the markets available to them, not only in Australia but also for exports, would not justify this increase in research and development that we want carried out in Australia. Once again I ask the Minister to examine these two aspects, namely, the base period and the reasons for the change, and to ensure that we are not endeavouring to encourage all companies to spend much more on research and development than is justified by the size of the company or by the opportunity it has for marketing its products.


– The Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board allocated grants of $16,250,000 from its 1970-71 funds. These grants were broken up into various groups: Food, beverages, tobacco, natural materials, ores and metals, metal manufacturing, mineral fuels, animal, fish and vegetable oils, fats and waxes, chemicals, textiles, buildings and building materials, machinery, transport, electric and electronic apparatus, measuring and controlling apparatus, and miscellaneous. The Australian Labor Party supports any proposal that will increase the quantity and quality of industrial research and development in this country. It does so because Australia’s record in this regard, prior to the introduction of this Act, was quite deplorable. 1 would like to have more details of the distribution of these public funds. I do not know of any other Act of Parliament that permits public moneys to be expended without public scrutiny and an evaluation of the results of that expenditure. The Government has argued that in this case industrial secrecy is the excuse, but I suggest that that is not good enough. The speech by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on 1st March 1972 gave us no indication of the value of this expenditure to the nation, other than to say:

The Government’s examination of the situation has shown that the present scheme has achieved a good deal of success. Many companies have been induced to begin or to increase research and development activities and there has been a marked increase in employment of qualified research staff.

The Prime Minister went on to say: lt is estimated that grants under the present scheme over the 5-year period of its operation will be of the order of $60ni.

How can this Government give away such substantial amounts of public money without any scrutiny by the Parliament or at least by some parliamentary committee, meeting in camera if that is desired, which can evaluate the worth to the nation of those grants and assure the taxpayers and the Parliament that the grants are being made correctly.

What order of priorities do we have in allocating these grants? Are they made in order to attain some long term national objective? Are they to enable us to achieve some desirable social objective? Are they to assist in aiding our ailing rural sector or perhaps to develop our mineral resources? Are they to encourage export and to discourage import, to combat pollution or to improve the nation’s health? It seems to me that if, due to the risk of commercial piracy, we cannot have detailed results, at least we should have a general evaluation of the research programme and its results, instead of vague assurances that more research is being carried out, that this is a wonderful thing for Australia and remarks of that kind.

I mentioned earlier the different categories to which these grants were allocated. Let us consider the subject of food. In 1970-71, $909,089 was allocated to this category. Is the question of the country’s health and nutrition involved in such research? I do not know. We are just told what the bald figure will be. For beverages, which includes beer - Tooths and Tooheys - an amount of $146,241 was allocated. That amount did not go entirely to breweries, but I think I am right in saying that some $95,804 went to breweries or for beer during that year. The reason why we should be spending this sort of money on producing beer, which is one of the great vices of our community, is lost to me. I notice that tobacco was allocated $4,058. This is not a large amount, but was this money spent to improve tobacco or was it spent to try to eliminate lung cancer or heart disease resulting from smoking cigarettes? Was the grant provided to these companies for the purpose of trying to cure an ill in our community?

In the mineral fuels section I notice that $53,348 was allocated for petroleum and petroleum products. How much of that money was spent on eliminating gases or undesirable effects of automobile exhausts? Canning and packaging also received a large contribution. How much of that grant was used to eliminate problems caused by modern packaging and waste disposal? Need we look at the amount allocated for transport? I shall return to this subject later, but I merely mention now that a total amount of $2,025,997 was allocated to transport. How much of that money was spent on making safer automobiles? We have no way of evaluating this expenditure. I have asked a lot of questions simply because this report is meaningless in any terms other than amounts of money. It does not tell us how the $ 1 6m which was allocated over the past 12 months was spent.

Textiles are listed as one of the categories. I have no objection to that. I think that it is a good thing if we are spending money on textiles, but for what purpose is the money being spent? Let us at least have some summary of this expenditure. Is it to improve the quality of our wool? I would like to know and I think that most other honourable members also would like to know. We do not need to know the details of the expenditure, but let us have more information about it. Perhaps then we could say whether it was desirable or undesirable. Under the category of textiles the area of yarns and threads received $82,636, fabrics received $20,139, apparel received $12,351 and other areas received $30,514, making a total of $145,640.

Another item which is listed is chemicals. This category, which is made up of a number of elements such as chemical elements and compounds, dyeing, tanning and colouring materials, was allocated a total of $1,728,877. That is a lot of money. If it was spent to eliminate pollution by improving the chemicals that are poured into our rivers and the gas that is released into the air it would be a desirable social objective; but if it is just going to some very large overseas corporation to make its operations a little more profitable, I am not so sure that I would be in favour of it. I think that the Parliament and the taxpayers of this country have a right to know. I would argue that the achievement of these desirable social objectives that I have mentioned is the responsibility of manufacturers and that manufacturers should be forced by law to pay for the research necessary to eliminate the excesses of carelessly designed products and the filth that exudes from the manufacturing process. But if we are to give grants to large manufacturing corporations let it be with the object of combating the most undesirable consequences of their productions.

I spent quite some time the weekend before last - the debate on this Bill was supposed to take place last Wednesday or Thursday - studying the publication titled Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing Industry 1971’, plus the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board report. I did a bit of extrapolating myself. I will not claim that it is highly accurate, but I spent many hours on that weekend trying to work out how much of this money was going to overseas companies. Perhaps I should have got the Parliamentary Library to do it, it would have saved me a lot of work - but I did it myself. On my calculations - and I admit that they may be a little inaccurate, but I did spend quite a lot of time on them - out of $16,250,000, about Sim goes to companies that are less than 25 per cent overseas owned, about $500,000 goes to companies that are between 25 per cent and 50 per cent overseas owned, and $8,500,000 goes to companies which are between 50 per cent and 100 per cent overseas owned. That means that more than one-half of the amount of money is going to overseas corporations.

I also went back over figures for the last 3 years to ascertain how much the biggest companies had received over that period. I found that in the last 3 years General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd has received $1,486,639, Sulphide Corporation Pty Ltd $1,238,808, Chrysler Australia Ltd $823,684, Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd $706,820, British Leyland Motor Corporation of Australia Pty Ltd $479,258 and MasseyFerguson (Aust.) Ltd $351,942. I think that those figures are fairly accurate. As I say, I carried out the research, not the Parliamentary Library. It seems incredible to me, and I am sure it is incredible to the Australian people, that money of this order - approximately $1.5m to General Motors, approximately $ 1.25m to the Sulphide Corporation and almost Sim to Chrysler - is given away and the Australian Parliament receives no report, no details and no evaluation. I do not think that I need to repeat the sort of profits that are being made by companies such as General Motors. If this Government can afford to give these companies this money, then I think that General Motors can afford to give a report to this Parliament, if not in public, at least to an evaluating committee sitting in camera, so that this country can get some information on the value of the research being carried out in this country.


– A number of queries have been raised about the Bill before us, and some of them, 1 think, were properly raised. But I find myself in disagreement with some of the views expressed both by my colleague the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) and by honourable members opposite. Let me take, first of all, the query concerning the base year expenditure which is being modified from a single base year to 3 consecutive years in a rolling fashion. That seems to me, on the face of it and as far as I can see below the surface, a sensible proposition. In the economic field it is well known that to take a single base year may be very misleading and may bring about undesirable effects for the person or company or organisation being judged on that single base year. So to me it is entirely constructive that we should convert one base year into 3 and average out the situation for those 3 years.

It is true that it implies continuing expenditure by the company under con sideration; that is to say, if it drops out at some stage of the proceedings it is likely to damage its capacity to attract further grants for its industrial research. But that seems to be fair enough because, as has already been stated, the purpose of this Bill is to continue or better to provide incentive for industrial firms in Australia to conduct research and development - known in brief as R and D. Whatever qualifications or hesitations or problems confront the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures or any other organisation of that kind in respect of this proposition, 1 do not yet see why they should fear it.

Another point which has been made on a number of occasions, particularly by honourable members opposite, is the one which was put by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart), that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That proposition deserves cautious examination whereever it might be advanced. But in this field I think that we might well say that there is a prima facie case for bigger firms to attract bigger grants and for smaller firms to attracts smaller grants, for the simple reason that the large industrial firm or corporation is quite clearly well known, throughout the Western world at least, to have the kind of operation which can keep going in a continuous fashion a research team or even teams which improve not only its own product but sometimes also incidentally somebody else’s product.

While it may be the exception to the situation, let me take one case of which I happen to know. The firm happens to be one of those which attracts rather larger grants than most others. I refer to the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. Over the 4 year period 1967-1968 to 1970-71, it received more than $300,000 in research and development grants. This is a firm, one of the few firms of which I know - there may be others - which over a period of years has conducted in the field of solid state physics and related fields of which I know a little, what might be regarded as pure research. I happen to know the person who ran - probably still runs - this firm’s research team. In fact, he is a part time academic. He is one of those people, of whom there are few in Australia - in contradistinction to America and other countries-who move from the field of industry to the academic field and back in regular fashion. In fact he bestrides the two.

This is a firm which conducts research and pays for research, on the basis that something decent may come out of it. It is true that some of the research will help that firm in its commercial enterprise in due course, but the research, in the past at least, has not been conducted purely because it can be seen to have a direct application to the firm’s own operations. Even if it is exceptional, that is the sort of thing which has not been identified by honourable members who have spoken on this subject and which, on the contrary, tends to be suspected by them as not existing. I take it that to them that firm would represent one of the bigger operators, which do not need to be supported by this Government.

Because I must not speak for too long, on the instructions of my Whip, let me make a pertinent comment on the difficulties that beset us in this field. This does, in part, touch on what honourable members opposite have said, but it certainly shows that the situation is a little more complex of assessment than I think they suggest. I shall quote a paragraph or two from a book entitled ‘Science, Technology and the Australian Economy’ by D. M. Lamberton, published in 1970. He stated:

The Government expressed the hope that the positive stimulus of the grants will reach eligible firms of all sizes.

He was referring to a hope expressed in a second reading speech in 1967. He continued:

But there is good reason to think that an effective industrial research and development programme needs to be of some minimum size. This threshold’ level deterrent, combined with lack of information, lack of adequate records, and, more importantly, the difficulty of conducting research and development as a separate department, may inhibit many firms from entering upon the expensive activity of research and development. It seems likely that the industrial research and development activity of Australian firms is highly concentrated, as is the case in the United States. It also seems likely that smaller firms will be reluctant to research in areas where large firms have already established ‘research leadership’. In such circumstances the dominant firms may tend to devote their research efforts to the maintenance of established oligopolistic or monopolistic positions. Their research laboratories may become major sources of minor innovations and minor sources of major innovations. In a situation like this, there is a danger that grants will become supplements to quasi-monopoly incomes.

That is true. The article continues:

Nor does there seem to be adequate safeguards against the inefficient use of research and development funds including the grants made under the Act. The grants might encourage firms to engage in research and development even though they lack the capacity to do so.

And so it goes on. It does raise some of the problems. There is probably a threshold below which it may be inefficient, possibly even totally wasteful, to supply moneys for the purposes of research. I point that out bearing in mind that it is certainly not the intention of the Government to prevent small companies from profiting by the benefits of this Act. As the Minister pointed out in his second reading speech, an official survey of some 13,000 companies in machinery and manufacturing fields in Australia recently received only 10 per cent - 1,320 - replies and, in fact, I think the number of firms currently profiting by this legislation is something like 800 out of the total of 13,000 or so which might be eligible. So it would appear to be somewhat specious reasoning or at least that the fear is misplaced that there are people being by-passed because they are too small. There is, in fact, no lower limit. Firms merely have to provide evidence of compatability with certain criteria.

I mention the point raised by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) who said that there may be brilliant but unqualified people in smaller industries. I agree that that may be so but, as I think has been said on other occasions, it is likely to be a good deal less so than it was in the past, given the development of our university education programmes. The fact that there have been people who were not qualified to some basic level in science and technology does not mean that they would be employed by firms these days. It is unlikely these days that the brilliant scientific mind as yet untrained will suddenly appear in a small firm which otherwise has been unable to show itself any sort of a competitor for these larger people in a similar field. I leave the matter at that, although a good deal more could be touched on here because I believe it is an important field. Just as research is important to universities and their teachers so research is basic to the development of industry. The fact that we have only had secondary industry of any consequence since the Second World War is part of the explanation for Australia being a little bit laggard in this field. I believe, taking aboard certain of the qualifications and hesitations of certain members who have already spoken in this debate, that in quite specific terms this Bill is designed, as it reads, to foster the initiative in firms large and small across Australia towards further research in their own interests and ultimately, of course, in the interests of the economy at large.


– There can be no doubt that manufacturing industry will welcome most of the changes being made to the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act in encouraging increased research and development in Australian industry. To a great extent the changes have been advocated by industry itself, practically ever since the scheme began in 1967. If ever there is to be any criticism it must be to question the fact that the Government felt it necessary to let the current legislation run its full course of 5 years before introducing changes that industry has been advocating for at least 3 of those 5 years.

The Opposition also welcomes the changes. They do not go far enough in at least one respect which I shall come to later, but as far as they go they are satisfactory. There is no question that industry must develop a considerable concentration on research and development so that products will be improved, new products developed and new technology established. These things are important to the welfare and the living standards of the Australian people. Good products of Australian manufacture will hold their place in the Australian market and safeguard employment. If good enough they will break into export markets, where innovation and new technology can bring important rewards.

There is some urgency for Australian industry to make headway in innovation and technology, because we are at present, and have for the past 25 years or so, been paying people in other countries quite handsomely for doing it for us. The fact that we have been buying the results of the efforts of others is now costing us in excess of $60m per year. This is a lot of money and I would hope that we will soon see evidence of some return for the public money now being spent in these grants, by way of that payment ceasing to grow and eventually shrinking considerably. Further evidence must be looked for by way of a growing return from the sale overseas of the results of our own innovation and our own technological development. On this question of results for the money we are spending I think that it is worth asking the Government that it pay close attention to this. I know that the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board in its annual report does, from time to time give some indication that results are being achieved. In Appendix D of the report of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board for the year ended 30th June 1971 details of improved products and processes have . been given. But I wonder whether these, represent only the success stories that people are anxious to tell the Board. Outside- of this, it could well be, as it appears to be to me, that if one matches the rules- the main rule being that one should spend, more money on research and development than one gets as a grant irrespective of what work is done - what results does one get?.

I am not suggesting that the scheme be converted into one of payment by result. To the contrary, there is no doubt that there is a lot of value in having a simple administrative arrangement- and one that leaves to a company the decision as to the best avenues and best prospects for it to pursue in research and development. What I am asking for is some better information in the future on the results being achieved - on the gains that are being made in return for the very large outlay. The impression I have at the moment is that the success of the “scheme is being measured only by the amount of money it is costing without some proper concern for more meaningful results. In saying this I do not object to the amount spent for this purpose. Indeed, I deplore the somewhat surprising action of the Government in making an overnight decision’ to cut general grants from 50 per cent to 35 per cent of eligible expenditure as . compared with that of a couple of years ago. I think that it is worth while looking into the question of whether we are spending enough. We know that in Canada, for example, in not dissimilar circumstances to our own, the government spends many times more money per year than we do. I think that the figure for grants of this kind - government payments to industry - is somewhere in excess of $80m per year in Canada, whereas we are contemplating something like S80m over 5 years.

I suggest that the Government, when this Bill is passed, should not then rest on its laurels for another 5 years as it has done in the past. This is an issue which should be thoroughly investigated to determine whether the policies now being followed are sufficient. It could be that additional policies are warranted and with this I agree. 1 understand that in the United States of America more than half of the research and development carried out within industry is, in fact financed by government. We are only at the beginnings in this country of having the Government’s own research and development needs - defence, communications and other areas - carried out within industry. There are great advantages in having this work done in the same area which will in due course be manufacturing the eventual products or equipment.

One of the aspects of the present scheme in which the Government has made some change - in my view not sufficient change - is the requirement that research and development should be in charge of a professionally qualified person. I note that some flexibility has been introduced into determining whether a person is professionally qualified, but this, in my view, does not go far enough.

The honourable member for Lang recently quoted a letter from a manufacturer whose company has a good record in innovation and in technology development, but which cannot obtain grant assistance because its efforts are based on practical experience and know-how, without the need for professionally qualified control. I would like to quote from another letter received by me and which is also germane to this subject. The letter reads:

As you already know my major concern with this legislation is for the area covering the qualifications of the person in charge of the I R and D-

That is industrial research and development - for a company. I therefore refer to paragraphs 25, 26 and 27 of the Right Hon. J. D. Anthony’s second reading speech.

I think that Parliament must decide whether the Act is aimed at encouraging worthwhile research and development effort in industry, or at full employment for qualified technical people, and on the strength of these three (3) paragraphs it does read like a ‘qualified technical people’s protection’ Bill.

I add that I agree with this comment from my reading of the Bill. The letter continues:

For the point I make is this, that the best person to direct I R and D in some areas is not necessarily, and I stress that word, an academically qualified person.

If I may make this small point at this stage, I once heard it said of a university degree that a university degree does not of itself make an ordinary person superior but it should make a good person better. With those sentiments I wholeheartedly agree. The letter goes on:

The type of I R and D undertaken by this company-

The writer is referring to his own company - requires fairly intimate knowledge of, amongst other things, gearing in all its usual forms.

The average university graduate would spend no more than about 120 hours, three (3) industrial weeks, studying this subject. I think you see how ludicrous it would be for Parliament to assert that such a person is more fit to direct I R and D in this company than I am with my years of informal study and practice. It is somewhat akin to asserting that a person who has learned the alphabet at university is, simply because he learnt it at university, a better playwright than William Shakespeare who never attended university at all. To be perfectly frank I regard a university graduate as having only a very basic understanding of this specialist field and would very much doubt whether such a person would have a knowledge of this field to the same depth as the most junior detail draughtsman in our office, simply because he has not had the same exposure to the subject I know this from two points of view. As I have told you before, I have attended university, and, while I did not complete the course, I do know something of the extent of curricula in these places. Secondly, I have many times been able to inform and teach university graduates in the field in this particular subject, so that I know my knowledge to be superior to that imparted by universities.

I don’t want you to think I despise university graduates: I don’t. I simply point out that their courses of study are necessarily very much general purpose affairs, touching many, many subjects at no very great depth - no man can be an expert in all fields. Industry on the other hand is tending more and more specialist. So that a man having completed a university course and having chosen a specialist field very often finds he still has years of study and practice ahead of him before he becomes in fact a specialist. Now it would be absurd to imagine that only university graduates are capable of such specialist study and practice and it is for this reason, that I assert that the Government’s chosen measuring stick of academic qualification for recognition under the act is, or could be, quite artificial and inaccurate.

A fairly obvious solution to this dilemma presents itself to me. The Government has set up a board to administer this act and, because no changes appear to be proposed for it, seems happy with this administration. Surely the board could be given discretionary powers in this area such that qualified people could be admitted as now without question. However, where a company feels that, although their I R and D director is not qualified, he is a fit and proper person for the task, they could request that the Board examine their director, calling on, qualified examiners as necessary, to establish his suitability. By this means worthwhile I R and D could be encouraged, while worthless, or potentially worthless efforts could be discouraged.

This seems to be a self-defeating exercise in the case of a company which has demonstrated its ability to make gains in this field and which wishes to expand its efforts. It stands oddly against the fact that a company having a professionally qualified person in control can, without question, get a grant even though there eventually may be negative result from its research and development effort. I suggest that there should be some way of giving discretion to the Grants Board in dealing with cases of the kind I have mentioned.

I note that a recent report of the Board said that 32 companies had been denied grants because of the lack of professionally qualified control. It seems to me that a commercial result is the important thing in this whole effort, and that while quality of research has importance, it should be kept in proper perspective. It may be that maintaining a high level of quality in research and development will in the long run give the best returns. But the thing to be emphasised is that it is the returns that are the objective, and not the creation of employment for professionally qualified staff. If returns can be increased in some instances without the need for professionally qualified staff, then there should be provision in the scheme to assist in increasing the effort of those firms. I ask the Government to look very closely at this aspect.

Perhaps the Grants Board could be given discretion to approve grants in cases where a company is already in research and development, does not employ a professionally qualified person, but can pro duce a proven record of success. I am not talking about a company which wants to move into research and development for the first time, and says that in its judgment it does not need professional people. Neither am I talking about a company which already carries out research without professional people, and which has no record of success. What I am putting is simply that there should be provision for a company whose success record bears out its argument that it can achieve success in this field based on its own practical experience and know-how. It seems ludicrous to me that such a company should not be assisted to expand its efforts, while others automatically are given assistance for an effort which could well lead to nothing. It should not be beyond the capability and judgment of the members of the Grants Board to use their discretion in approving grants in those cases.

Minister for Trade and Industry · Richmond · CP

– in reply - I was pleased to listen to the comments of the various speakers in this debate tonight on the Industrial Research and Development Grants Bill. I think it has been a wellinformed and helpful debate. There has been some criticism by members of the Opposition and by members on the Government side in regard to some of the proposed amendments in this Bill.

First I should like to answer the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), who felt that the industry had not been sufficiently consulted before amendments were made in regard to the alteration of the base period. Let me assure him that there has been wide consultation with a range of industry, including many industry associations, such as the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia and the Victorian chambers of manufactures, which are associates of that organisation. The Government has taken cognisance of many of the remarks of the industry organisations, and they are reflected in the new arrangements in the Bill.

The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) in a well documented speech criticised the Government on the basis that there is a bias in this legislation towards large companies. If there is a bias it is only because of the magnitude of their operations. But there is in reality a preference or an advantage to small companies. There are 2 types of grants, the general grant and the selective grant. The general grant has a ceiling qualification of $50,000. After that a selective grant is used. Naturally large companies, which would be looking for a grant larger than $50,000, would then have to come under examination by the Research and Development Board.

Mr Stewart:

– With the criteria laid down?


– That is so. It would apply the criteria, but the proportion of funds allocated for both purposes is largely weighted in favour of the smaller companies. With the alteration this year to 50 per cent of research and development funds being available for companies, the smaller companies must get first call on the available . funds. The Government has made also quite a wide ranging change in eligibility for expenditure. These changes are mainly geared towards helping the smaller company. The factors now taken into consideration include the technical information services, the hire of industrial research and development facilities, patent searches, repair and maintenance of plant, computer charges and work conducted on a part time basis. These factors were not allowable before, and it was the smaller company that was penalised as a result of those factors.

Mr Stewart:

– I granted the Minister that.


– I accept that, but the honourable member’s general comment, if I may say so, sounded as though he was stating that there was severe discrimination against the small companies. This is not correct. Small companies may contract out research and development, which will be eligible for grant purposes, and this again is another factor on the side of small companies. There has been some talk also about the professional qualifications necessary before companies can qualify. I can speak of personal knowledge of companies that have suffered from the difficulty of not qualifying because they did not have this type of personnel. They have now made these appointments and they are indeed pleased that they have professionally qualified people on their staff. As a result their companies have been modernised and streamlined and have become much more efficient.

In this respect I am able to refer to 2 companies in my electorate, one a saw milling operation, a family concern, and the other, a builder of sand mining equipment - a small, family unit specialised in magnetic separation of materials. Both companies felt that if they wanted to benefit from research and development, they would have to employ university qualified people. They have done so and both companies have been delighted with the result. Where previously there was lack of knowledge in their operations, now they are reaping the benefit from people with outside experience. Although there has been criticism of the proposal on the grounds of arbitrariness and the unreasonableness of the reference to academically trained persons, the professional qualification requirements in this legislation provide an important assurance that industrial research and development undertaken by companies receiving grants can be generally expected to ‘be of satisfactory standards.

A detailed technical and commercial assessment by the grants board of the merits of each company’s industrial research and development would seem to be the only alternative way of providing equivalent assurances. However, this would be contrary to the essential nature of the grants scheme, which is the provision of a general incentive to all companies provided they conform to a few simple rules. Any departure from this system would require major changes in the present administrative arrangements. A small staff of non-technical public servants have administered the scheme, which encompasses more than 800 applicant companies. Under the responsibility of assessing the technical existing Act the board is absolved from the merits of each application. The present constitution of the Board is not intended to cover the making of such judgments.

The requirement of the Industrial Research and Development Act is that for eligibility purposes the employees of a company must be either professionally qualified or be working in direct assistance to a professionally qualified person. This provision aims at upgrading industrial research and standards of work. It is expected that this encouragement to industry to employ more of Australia’s professionally trained technicians will help to promote the future development of Australia’s technological capacity. The results to date are most encouraging. It is estimated by the Grants Board that between 1965-66 and 1968-69 there was an increase of 64 per cent in the number of professionally qualified persons engaged in industrial research and development. Australian industry and the community in general cannot afford to lose too many of its professionally qualified people to other industrialised countries.

To overcome some of the problems that have arisen in this area it is proposed to modify the definition regarding professional qualifications and to allow the board to accept either suitable qualifications granted by a tertiary or technical institution or, alternatively, to accept appropriate membership of an approved professional institute. I have mentioned this aspect because the Government has made modifications in order to try to make it easier for smaller companies to obtain the necessary recognised personnel. I believe that this is a major step forward. To remove this qualification opens the door completely, and it would make it very difficult for the Board to determine who should qualify and who should not. I am pleased to find such general support for the Bill, and I am sure that the small criticism that has been offered by members is indeed relatively insignificant.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Motion (by Mr Anthony) proposed:

That the Bill be now read a third time.


– I draw attention to an inadequacy in the Bill which has not been touched on and which I am entitled to raise at this stage. There is no provision in the Bill for a proper and continuing assessment of the value of the expenditure to the nation. There is no provision for proper integration of research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Indus trial Research Organisation, State Government departments and universities. The Bill does not have written into it any means of assessing the position which arises when international corporations that have local offshoots benefit from public expenditure or receive public expenditures and then apply the results of those expenditures to their parent companies overseas.

I suggest that there has been an omission not considering this aspect. It is a matter that has arisen in Canada particularly, and it has thrown into doubt the value of such grants in Canada. The domination of our industry by multi-national corporations is a matter that arises regularly. I think this is a matter that should have. been dealt with. I think the Canadian experience was well worth noting. I feel that the Minister could well have guided the House onthis matter. Public expenditure in our country is being applied to research that could well be referred overseas to other people’s benefit through other people’s head offices, and we may very well not be receiving the results of research that we have paid for under this Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

page 3270



– I present the nineteenth report of the Publications Committee.

Report - by leave - adopted.

page 3270


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 24 May (vide page 3007), on motion by Mr: Swartz:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I shall not detain the House for long. The House is being asked by the Government to go through the motions once again on this matter, for about the fourth or fifth time in the course of 6 months. The Government does not expect the Parliament to pass this latest Bill. The objection which the Government expects to the Bill is that it is to make retrospective payments for 2 dozen or slightly more public servants at the cost of some $40,000 and further retrospective payments for lay members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at a still greater cost. The Bill is sufficiently complicated on its face, but to understand it properly I have to draw the attention of the House to about 4 Bills.

First of all, on 12th November last year the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) obtained the first reading of the Salaries Bill (No. 2) 1971. The schedule to that Bill increased the salaries, allowances, remuneration of some statutory office holders. On 2nd December 1971 the Bill came on to be read a second time. The Leader of the House moved that the order for the second reading be discharged. He then moved the first reading and the second reading of the Salaries (Statutory Officers) Adjustment Bill 1971. The Schedule listed several times as many statutory office holders as the Salaries Bill had listed. The Bill passed this House without division. In the Senate it was amended very substantially. The Senate amendments came back to this House on 9th December. The number of statutory officers affected was reduced to the number in the original Bill, the Salaries Bill (No. 2), and the amount of the salaries in the Schedule was reduced very considerably also. On the 24th of this month the Leader of the House read for the first time the present Bill, the Salaries (Statutory Officers) Adjustment Bill 1972, and moved for a second reading. The Schedule to this Bill has the full range of statutory office holders fisted in his former Bill, the Salaries (Statutory Officers) Adjustment Bill 1971, as introduced into and passed by this House last December.

The Government has a fair degree of effrontery in bringing on this Bill. It is asking the House now to provide salaries for the full range of people mentioned in the previous Bills at the rate originally proposed; that is, we are being asked to sanction back payments amounting to $80,000 or $90,000 for about 3 dozen statutory office holders. Most people in Australia who depend on arbitration tribunals for their incomes or who depend on Acts of Parliament for their incomes would be delighted - in fact they would be aghast - at such retrospective generosity. The Government does not expect this Bill to get through the Senate. It knows that it will not, but we are being asked in this House to go through the motions of this elaborate protracted charade.

The Bills I have mentioned do not give the full story. This Bill provides, as did the Salaries (Statutory Officers) Adjustment Bill 1971, for the salaries of lay officers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to be increased. The Government knows quite well that the Senate rejected the increases provided for the conciliation commissioners and conciliators in the earlier Bill. It accepted the exclusion of them from the Bill in the Senate. The Government adopted the Senate amendments on 9th December 1971. On the 12th of this month the Government introduced a new Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which provided for increases in the salaries of commissioners, both arbitration commissioners as conciliation commissioners are now to be called, and of conciliation commissioners, as conciliators are now to be called. There is to be a very large increase in the salaries, in particular, of the conciliators. Conciliators were in receipt of a salary of $9,650 a year. Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced on 12th May this year the conciliators were to become conciliation commissioners and their salary was to be $16,250 a year.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– It was Christmas.


– I would say a decade of Christmases in one fine, careless rapture. I do not recall anybody on the Commonwealth payroll enjoying such an immense increment in so short a time. They went up by more than $1,000 a month. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the Senate has already been amended on this point. Nevertheless, the Government, through the Leader of the House, persists in seeking the same amendment in this Bill. The Government introduces salary provisions in the present Bill, for the lay members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the same terms as those provided in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill already passed by this House, and it perseveres with those increases in this Bill after the Senate has already rejected them in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The Government is trifling with this House. It knows that the Bill will go through this House, but that <&io provision will again fail in the Senate. There is no prospect of the Senate next Thursday changing its opinion of last Thursday. So we are just being asked to go through these motions: the Government does not expect the Bill to go through.

Our objection is, still more, that the Government is persisting with increases in salaries to a very small number of public servants. It is resisting the claims for the Public Service as a whole. Honourable members will remember that at the Premiers Conference on 14th February last the Prime Minister was particularly incensed at the increases in salaries of the Victorian public servants. He stated:

I am not concerned to canvass the circumstances in which that increase came about, although I note and welcome the subsequent announcement by the Premier of Victoria that he proposes a radical overhaul of the wage-fixing machinery in his State designed to ensure that such a chain of circumstances could not occur in future. We should be glad to hear further from him on that matter should he so desire.

What I am concerned about now is to ensure that the increase is ‘quarantined’ to that particular State, as far as our own actions and policies may make that possible, and that this increase does not spread generally to white collar workers throughout the economy.

Mr Bryant:

– Who said that?


– The Prime Minister said it at the Premiers Conference on 14th February. The increase of 9 per cent granted to Victorian public servants was to be quarantined within that State. The national wage cases came on. The Commonwealth intervened in them. The Commonwealth was represented by Mr Keely, Q.C. I quote, as I have done previously in the House, the summary of Mr Keely’s submissions on behalf of the Commonwealth in the national wage cases:

The Commission should not award an increase in the total wage. The Commonwealth does not oppose some increase in the minimum wage consistent with the submission we have just made.

Then when the Commonwealth Public Service unions applied to the Public Service Arbitrator for an increase in the salaries of their members comparable to those already awarded to Victorian public servants, the Commonwealth moved to have the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission direct that a Full Bench of the Commission should hear the case, obviously to delay the hearing. The Presi dent refused to take the matter out of the hands of the Public Service Arbitrator. At every step the Commonwealth has resisted the increases in Commonwealth Public Service salaries. It has sought to quarantine to Victoria the increases granted to public servants of that State. It has sought to minimise or, in fact, to deny any increase in the national wage which flows on to the statutory office holders under the Bill we are debating this evening. It has sought to delay the application to the Public Service Arbitrator by having it referred to the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

The Commonwealth has wanted to quarantine Victoria’s increase; it has wanted no increase in the national wage: it has wanted to resist by every means any general increase in Commonwealth Public Service salaries. Yet, Sir, the Government now, through the bland personality of the Leader of the House, is asking us for a fourth time in 6 months to consider the top salaries. The matter will go through this House; it will not go through the Senate. Who does the Government think it is convincing by this action?

Mr Cope:

– I think the spider tried 7 times.


– Time is running out for this particular spider. I move:

That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House is of opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until the Public Service Arbitrator has determined the applications by unions and associations for a 9 per cent increase in salaries throughout the Commonwealth service.


-Is the amendment seconded?


– I second the amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has outlined clearly the history of this legislation. Let me reiterate it and say that it provides for increased salaries for certain statutory office holders. As the Leader of the Opposition has stated, an amendment covering this legislation was carried in the Senate in 1971. Now the Government proposes to go through the sham of presenting to this Parliament legislation which it knows will not be supported in another place. What is more, the Government is on this occasion making the legislation covering the statutory office holders retrospective to 4th November 1971. Retrospectivity in legislation has been opposed vigorously by this Government from time to time. Many a time in this Parliament the Opposotion has moved that increases of pensions be backdated to 1st July, and just as adamantly the Government has lined up and voted against a 50c pension increase being backdated. Today it is seeking to backdate increases of $84 a week, giving to the occupants of those positions $2,000 in a bonus - a total under this legislation of about $80,000 or $90,000. And this is the Government that refuses to backdate increases of a miserable 50c a week in pensions.

In addition, to make certain that these statutory office holders are in line with the workers to whom was granted a $2 a week increase in the national wage case, they are to receive not only increased benefits at the rate of $84 a week, or $4,400 per annum but also are to be given $104 a year, backdated to the effective date, 1st June 1972. I hope that when legislation in respect of social welfare benefits is before this Parliament the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) will remind his colleagues that those who can well afford to put up with the hardship of living on the salaries that they receive today are being granted huge increases which are to be backdated. Everybody knows that this legislation is doomed in another place. Senator Withers, Senator Laucke and another Liberal senator have announced that they will not support it in that chamber, so why has the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) brought it into this Parliament tonight? As a matter of fact, it is just sham fighting, because the Government knows full well that it cannot be passed and is endeavouring to curry favour with the public servants and Public Service organisations by saying that Labor is stopping their salary increases. As the Leader of the Opposition said, nothing is further from the truth. The Liberal senators in another place whom I have mentioned know that that is not the case because, for the same reasons as the Australian Labor Party, they will vote against these proposals.

We believe that the increases are given to some who might well carry on with the salaries they are getting while others, much in need of them, are denied them. I refer to the middle section of the Public Service. Let us look at the struggling people we are assisting tonight under this Government that practises wage restraint. The salary of the Chairman of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education goes from $18,973 to $22,012, the Deputy Chairman of the Australian Universities Commission goes from $16,528 to $19,148, the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board goes from $17,947 to $20,810, the full time Member (other than the Chairman) of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board goes from $15,370 to $17,792, the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation goes from $14,727 to $17,043, the Chairman of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission goes from about $17,000 to $19,000, the Senior Commissioners go from about $12,000 to $17,000- all backdated to 4th November. The salary of the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology goes from $15,370 to $17,792, the Commissioner of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation goes from about $17,000 to about $20,000; and so it goes on right down the line of these office holders.

Is it any wonder that even the Liberals in another place - hard to move as they are - have rebelled against this legislation? That is why the Labor Party has moved the amendment. It knows full well that the legislation is unjustified at this time of wage restraint. Every day the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has been telling us that there has to be wage restraint. Do honourable members remember what he said when the Arbitration Commission gave workers a $2 pay rise? He said:

The Aribtration Commission’s national wage case decision was responsible and would have long term benefits for the Australian community. By exercising moderation the Commission has given the economy a real chance to make some headway against inflation.

To prove his sincerity he is increasing the salaries of office holders by huge amounts, at the same time adding that $2 a week to the salaries of those people.

If the Government is fair dinkum on this issue and not sham fighting, why does it not bring forward the Salaries Adjustment Bill 1971 which has been on the notice paper since 8th December 1971? I will tell honourable members why. It is because the increases that I have mentioned fade into insignificance beside those in the Salaries Adjustment Bill where salaries rise from $22,000 to $29,250. In other words, they go up $6,000 and $7,000 per annum. This is the Government that is preaching wage restraint that has brought this Bill before the Parliament and criticises the Labor Party for opposing it. As you know, Mr Speaker, the Government realises that at this time this measure is a complete contradiction of its stated policy of wage restraint It has intervened in every wage case in order to stop wage increases. In the national wage case the Government went to the court and said that workers were not entitled to increases in wages because increases were causing inflation. The waterside workers have just received a 35-hour week and certain wage increases by negotiation. The present Government has announced that it will intervene and upset the agreement if it possibly can when it comes before the court for ratification.

In other words, there is one law for those who have very little to live on, whether they be public servants or others, and there is another law for those who have the influence, the power and the money to carry on and make ends meet. The Labor Party believes that increases, in the Public Service and in other places, should go to those that need them. If it is good enough for people who have families to keep and who have to do so on $52 a week, to receive a $2 a week increase it is good enough for the tall poppies to make their contribution by taking significantly less at a time of wage restraint. The introduction of this legislation is scandalous in the extreme. That is why we on this side of the Parliament reject it and have moved the amendment.

It would be bad enough if that was all the increase that was given, but every one of these office holders under the legislation that the Government wants to have passed receives travelling expenses. They have the use of aeroplanes and Commonwealth cars and they have national superannuation schemes. These are the people to whom the Government is toadying. Is it not tragic that at the expense of the vast majority of public servants and others a small section of the community is receiving huge increases running into thousands of dollars per annum. What is given in increases to judges amounts to $6,000, $7,000 and $8,000 a year extra each time. When 64 per cent of the work force receive less than the average weekly earnings of about $90 a week some people are receiving increases of between $20 to $80 a week. When the men who fix the wages are to be given increases of $4,400 or $84 a week and some workers who come before them get only $2, is it any wonder that public opinion is turning against this Government for its wage restraint against not those who have money but those who really need it in the lower income group.

How do honourable members opposite justify the increases that they are suggesting at a time of wage restraint? Every speech made by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in this Parliament tells the people of Australia that wages are causing inflation. We on this side of the Parliament are expected to take this point of view, we are told, because it is in the national interest. Did you ever hear of anything more hypocritical than the Prime Minister coming to this Parliament and telling the nation that we had to have wage restraint, that recommended salary increases from $9,500 a year for members of this Parliament were to be reduced by 26 per cent because the nation could not afford to pay them, and the next day bringing in legislation giving increases of $6,000 to $7,000 a year to public servants. Not one cent was taken off. I think that is complete hypocrisy.

The people deserve the government they get. They have a Ministry that is overpaid and they have back bench members not worth as much as Qantas flight stewards. If the Government has that kind of supporters the people of this country deserve the government that they have. But why does the Government recommend percentage reductions on one side and the next minute say that public servants and others who are getting $22,000 to $29,000 a year must make no contribution whatever? This is a phony government; it is not sincere. The people it wants to see get the incomes in this country are those in the $20,000 to $30,000 wage group. Those on $52 to $60 or $70 a week who are struggling to keep body and soul together are given nothing by this Government because the Government believes they are entitled to only $2 a week. I wonder what the pensioners must think - pensioners who received miserable increase of 50c and 75c a week from this Government.

A pensioner is expected to live on $18.25 a week when the Government is giving a $84 a week increase to people now getting about $12,500 or $13,000 per annum. What must pensioners in the community think when judges are given $6,000 and $7,000 a year increase by the Government, when public servants’ salaries are to be increased by up to $7,000 and when this will take them not to $10,000 or $11,000 per annum but to $29,000 and $30,000 in some instances? When the maximum wage is about $52 a week, is it not scandalous to think that the Government will bring in legislation of this kind? So far as I know the address of the Prime Minister is the Lodge. When he goes home to sleep, eat, work, talk and enjoy his family life at his home in Bellevue Hill they give him $42 a day to sit there. Here is a Government that at this stage is asking workers to take $2 while the Prime Minister gets about $290 a week to be at home each day of the week - by way of travelling expenses alone. The Prime Minister came in and said that he would not take a salary increase unless it gave him $1,000 a week. He would be dear at a quarter of that price. Yet, today we are told $2 a week is plenty for some people to have. The salary of the Treasurer of this country, who preaches constantly in this Parliament on wage restraint, some time ago was recommended to be $34,650 and he would not take a penny less. When we rejected that proposal in the interests of justice and as a contribution to the economy and the stability of nation, he said: ‘Unless I get the $34,650 I will not support the legislation’. These are the people who speak of wage restraint today and who ask the workers to take less.

When we on this side of the Parliament oppose this legislation honourable members opposite say that we are stopping public servants from getting the flow-on. Nothing is further from the truth. What the Labor Party objects to is that a small select group in the Public Service is getting all of the benefits from this Government - the conciliation commissioners and others - while a huge number of public servants at lower levels are refused increases in keeping with what they should get to keep body and soul together. We on this side of the Parliament realise that large sections of the community - 64 per cent was mentioned by me a moment ago - exist on levels below the average income and they in turn can get only $2 a week when their case goes before the national wage fixing authority. To make it worse, this Government goes in and says: They are not entitled to more’. Is it any wonder that the people are fed up with the Government and believe that we are right on this side of the Parliament in opposing this legislation.

I do not want to detain the House long and I do not want to re-hash what has been said again and again. This legislation has been debated so often that everybody almost knows it off by heart. But’ the Government has proved that it is sham fighting by bringing this matter in, again, knowing full well that it cannot pass its own members in the other place; knowing full well that sections of this legislation have been amended in. another place and if consistency counts the legislation cannot possibly pass through that place. It knows full well also that it must try to get it through because it has put the Conciliaion Commissioners’ increases not only in this legislation but also in the Conciliation and Arbitration. Bill. The Government missed on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill but has brought these increases back under the statutory offices legislation. That is a subterfuge which everybody in. this Parliament should realise is being put over by this Government in an endeavour to compromise the Opposition or to put this matter forward on a take it or basis.

I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I hope it will be carried in this place. Whether it is carried or not I know full well that across the hall the amendment will be carried by the members of that place who realise the value of the arguments put up by this side of the Parliament. I just say to the Government that it is nearly time that it woke up; it is nearly time that it gave wage justice to everyone in the community from the lowest to the highest. But if the Government extends its patronage at the expense of those who want it, it cannot expect the people on this side of the Parliament to support it because our policy is to support those in need and to give to them the money necessary to maintain their families in security and happiness in this age of inflation under Liberal-Country Party governments.


– I support the amendment. I do so because of the fact that this Government has double standards so far as wage structures and wage justice are concerned. This is a Government that has listened to a debate this afternoon in regard to a number of workers who are becoming redundant in Western Australia but has offered nothing by way of constructive debate so far as those unfortunate people in the community are concerned. This is a Government which deals with a wage structure on the basis that people who are closest to it will be supported, on the basis of discrimination and - I would tend to think- of hypocrisy. The Government knows full well the attitude of members of this side of the House but hopes to go out on the hustings and say that members of the Opposition denied a wage increase in certain areas in which the Government has responsibilities by way of legislative measures. This is a Government that we on this side of the House say is dealing in double standards. This is a Government that we on this side of the House say is denying proper wage justice and wage fixation to those people in the Public Service who do not rely upon measures to ge through this Parliament to be given their salaries and wage increases.

This is a Government that does not give a damn about the 10 per cent of workers in Broken Hill who have been declared redundant. This is a Government which in the last few minutes passed legislation involving millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money for the benefit of industry. I have no quarrel at this time with this action at that particular level. But this is a Government that is not prepared in any way, shape or form, to recognise that there is a human element to technological change in industry and that readjustments and rationalisation in industry have affected in one fell swoop some 600 men each of whom has an average family of 3 or perhaps 4 persons. Yet, the Government does not give a damn about the manner in which they are going to live. It is a government bereft of any plan, a government that has denied completely the type of inquiry that should surround what is happening in Western Australia and in Broken Hill, what has happened in South Australia in the durable industries and what has happened in the rural sector. Its only action has been to finance the sweeping of a few gutters in the mab streets of country towns. In fact, only the other day in South Australia I heard that the Government, as part of its aid programme to provide employment in rural areas, was opening up tracts of land in the rural areas of South Australia, areas that were put down-


-Order! The honourable member is covering fields which are not relevant to the Bill and he is completely out of order. I suggest that he return to the Bill.

Mr King:

– Finish on that note.


– No, I will not. I shall remain on my feet and I shall come back to the Bill, as Mr Speaker has suggested. This Government is guilty of quite open and blatant intervention in areas where agreements have been made between unions and employers. An examination will reveal that the Government has no right of intervention in the matter to which I refer and which affects a large number of people in a maritime industry, namely, the waterside workers and shipowners. However, it does perhaps have some influence with regard to country ports, although I have not heard members of the Country Party speak on this subject.

Tonight on a national television broadcast an attitude was expressed by representatives of employers’ organisations - people whom the Government says it represents - virtually indicating that they were sick and tired of the attitude of the Government towards wage fixation. Honourable members probably will read about this tomorrow in the daily Press. They said that they were quite prepared to accept wage fixation - I should think that the matter now before the House most certainly deals with wage and salary fixations - on a basis proposed by representatives of the University of Melbourne who indicated that they were prepared to look very seriously at the concept of a national economy standard, although that is not the exact phrase that they used. However, this is the thinking of both employer and employee groups. Is it the Government’s intention to intervene in this matter and say that this cannot be done? If the Government does this - I have no doubt that it will more or less confirm what I have said tonight, that it is a government of double standards which is prepared to see the higher salaries increased to go higher and higher. 1 have not seen any recommendation before this House or heard anything from any Minister who has been asked a question from this side of the House to suggest that the Government would perhaps make some reference to the Public Service Arbitrator to lift the lower rungs of Public Service salaries. Members of the Public Service still rely on their industrial organisations, to put their case, but immediately those Public Service organisations attempt to do something of this nature in order to gain a percentage increase, as was instanced by the honourable member for Grayndler a number of Ministers go clamouring to the Press making all sorts of statements that there must not be a flow-on. Why is it then that the Government, with its hypocritical attitude, keeps wheeling this measure before the House, endeavouring to give the tall poppies a salary increase? Ministers and other honourable members opposite will not convince me that any one of the number of people who, under the provisions of this Bill, will have their salaries increased from $18,000 to $22,000 a year need that amount of money on which to live.

However, I do know that people making up a large percentage of the Australian community are on a minimum wage level which places them just SOc a week above the poverty line, according to the adjusted figure for the poverty line which was established at the end of last year. The recent increases which they received and about which this Government bleated so much put them just SOc, at a maximum, above the poverty line. This Government has done nothing to lift the standard of the welfare structure, including child endowment. It has done nothing under its subsidised medical health scheme to lift the burden of health costs from the low and minimum wage earners. This section of the community requires some action. The gap between their wage and the higher salaries is getting wider and the concept of a total wage increase based on percentages which was established early in the 1960s and which probably goes back as far as 1957 has meant that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is a matter about which we in this place should be concerned. Nobody is going to convince me that the people referred to in the Bill require an extra $70 or $80 a week on which to live.

Mr Barnes:

– Take it out of the taxpayer.


– The previous Minister for External Territories says: Take it out of the taxpayer.’ If the honourable member were to look at the taxation schedule and equate what the low wage earner was paying in taxation in, say, 1947 with what he is paying now he would get a hell of a shock.


-Order! I have already suggested to the honourable member that he speak to the Bill before the House.


– Well, Mr Speaker, I thought that this did deal with salaries.


-The honourable member has been referring to tax schedules and other irrelevancies. If he does not return to the Bill I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.


- Mr Speaker, 1 apologise for my transgression, but the very wealthy honourable* member interjected and I thought I should say something about it. I have expressed the Opposition’s attitude to the Bill. If the Government were to put before this House a policy that would provide an adequate and proper living standard for the 60-odd per cent of the people whom it says it represents, it would find no opposition from this side of the House. But if the Government wants to deal with the matter in bits and pieces and wants to give a salary increase to the tall poppies only, it will find that objection will be raised.

I will not go along with the argument that has been introduced by some honourable members opposite - perhaps not in this debate - that unless the people who are affected by the Bill now before the House receive the salary increases provided for in the Bill, the wage fixing structures which provide increases to the lower levels within the Public Service or anywhere else will be inhibited. If that were true, one would find oneself as an advocate for a trade union making an application for a wage increase before the court arguing that the managing director or the board of directors should receive an increase first and that only after they received their increases could some attention be paid to those who were at the factory floor level. The attitude of the Government is that it will look after a select, privileged few and that it will give money to people who do not need it. Probably the Government will not get this money back by way of taxation until such time as these people pass on. Then, as I have said before, the Government might get it back by way of death duties. Are these people going to spend this increase for the benefit of the economic situation of the country? They will not spend a zac of it, and the Government knows it.

I have said nothing about the people who are kept down under our social welfare structure. I refer to the invalid pensioners, other people at various pensioner levels and those who are now joining the dole queues. In this country the Government is denying people the right to earn a fair and satisfactory living and an opportunity to educate their children or to allow that education to be continued. This Bill pays no attention whatever to that particular area of need. There are 100,000 people presently unemployed m this country and, when one takes into consideration that each of the 100,000 people who is unemployed would have an average of at least 3 dependants, there would be 500,000 people on the dole. It is all very well to say that the figures to which I have referred are seasonally adjusted. Are honourable members opposite going to tell me that the salaries proposed in the Bill are seasonally adjusted figures? The recent one per cent increase in the popularity of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) might also have been a seasonally adjusted figure. The Bil] does not pay even some form of lip service to the fact that people are justified in receiving wage justice today. That is why we on this side of the House have adopted this attitude to the Bill. We are entitled to take this attitude, as the honourable member for Grayndler said, with the full knowledge that the measure will not receive a passage through the Senate.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– In making my comments brief and to the point, I must say that when one considers a parliamentary salary of some $9,000 and looks back at the contributions that have been made in this House by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), one can only draw the conclusion that we get what we pay for. As the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) said, parliamentary salaries are very low. I suggest that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on behalf of the Australian Labor Party is laden with insincerity. The actual wording of the amendment to the Bill has been so framed as to capitalise to the best possible advantage on the majority of the people. Honourable members opposite see that this present Bill is designed to cater for a handful of people, so they have gone to the other extreme of opposing the Bill because they think that that will appeal to the majority of the people. It is purely a political stunt on the part of the Australian Labor Party. But on the other hand, the figures set out in the Bill represent a sizeable increase in the existing salaries of the officers concerned.

On this occasion I want to express my concern about the system under which increases in pensions, parliamentary salaries and other salaries are paid from a date in the future, while the increases to be paid under this Bill are to be made retrospective. As far as I am concerned, what is good for one is good for the lot. If increases in pensions cannot be paid retrospectively, why should increases in the salaries paid to officers of the Public Service be paid retrospectively? In fact, why should increases in anybody’s salary be paid retrospectively?

I think that the honourable member for Grayndler was unfair in what he said tonight. He presented what could almost be described as a Press attitude. When I listened to him tonight making a hero of himself in the minds of people who may have been listening to him, I could not help thinking that that is the way in which newspapers talk about us. The honourable member for Grayndler has a smile on his face now. Knowing the way in which he puts away in a filing system everything that goes on, I am quite sure that he prepared his speech tonight from some articles written around the time of an announcement of proposed increases in parliamentary salaries, because what he said and what the newspapers have said were exactly the same.

I see that the honourable member for Grayndler is more than smiling now; he is laughing - laughing heartily. On occasions when people have criticised increases in parliamentary salaries, the honourable member for Grayndler has said to me: “They are forgetting that we are still making a full time contribution to the Parliament and to the nation of Australia, and it is not quite fair to make a comparison with pensioners’. Yet tonight he did that very thing himself. In conclusion, it was unusual to hear this man, who is respected on occasions, making what was purely a political speech. We expect alot more from him than we heard tonight.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– in reply - Again I will be very brief in my reply, in view of the hour. I did not think that I would ever feel sorry for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) but I am afraid that I did tonight when he had to respond to this Bill, knowing full well that the Public Service Board and the staff associations have been pressing this case very strongly in recent months. Knowing the justice of the case, the Leader of the Opposition, very cleverly I thought, skirted around it and at the last moment introduced an amendment which does nothing other than to negative the Bill. As has been stated, this matter was brought before the House on a previous occasion. The point that has not been brought out clearly tonight is that this is not the start of a new round of salary increases; it is the end of the round following the decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the case which concerned comparable officials in the Second Division of the Public Service. In other words, it is a flow on to a small number of statutory officers who traditionally have always had their salaries allied to those of officers in the Second Division of the Public Service but who, on this occasion, have been prevented from obtaining a flow on by action taken in the Senate.

Of course, we know that it is completely inequitable and inconsistent with past practice to continue to deny these increases. The Government considers that honourable members opposite should be given a further opportunity to grant salary justice to this group of statutory officials. We feel that rather than oppose the increases, as honourable members opposite have done on this occasion by proposing the amendment which they have, they should speak to their colleagues in another place in an endeavour to persuade them to pass this Bill on this occasion. I believe that this measure will be passed by this House; I believe that we will support it in this House, and support it quite strongly because it is only giving wage justice to these people. But if it is again rejected in the Senate, I think the staff associations should clearly understand exactly where the Opposition stands in this matter.

I suggest to the Opposition in this chamber that it should rethink its stand in relation to the amendment which, of course, we will not accept, and that it should not only support the Bill in this chamber but also should endeavour to persuade its colleagues in another place to pass the Bill. I close on that note. I indicated the position quite clearly in my second reading speech when I introduced the measure. I will not refer again to the various matters which have been raised, except to say that we strongly suggest to the Opposition that it should support the Bill in this House and that it should try to persuade its colleagues in another place to support it. The Government rejects the amendment.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)

AYES: 49

NOES: 43

Majority . . . . 6



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

In Committee

The Bill.

Grayndler (11.47

– I take up the time of the Committee for a few minutes only in order to correct some statements by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) in respect of the attitude of the Labor Party on this question. The Minister implied that the Labor Party was the only party opposing the legislation. I remind him that 3 Liberal senators, the Democratic Labor Party senators and the Independents in another place opposed the principles of this legislation. So effective was the Senate opposition that the Government withdrew a clause from the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and accepted an amendment. I think that in order to put the record straight I should read what was said by Senator Withers - not exactly a militant radical I would say, but a member of the

Liberal Party. At page 2197 of Hansard of 26th May 1972 Senator Withers, speaking to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in regard to the salaries of conciliation commissioners, said:

I should just like to indicate that I, too, will not be supporting this clause. I believe that there is a responsibility on government to set an example in respect of wage increases. I have always supported the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in their calls for wage restraints. I think that it is necessary to get hold of inflation. I think that wage push has been a very important factor in inflation and I fail to see how the Government can be critical of the private sector of the economy when the Government, in many respects, with its own servants and officers has been one of the greatest offenders in this area. It is time Parliament called a halt to that. For far too long within the public sector the Government has been the pace setter. I think that the increases which have been handed out to public servants and servants of the Crown over the last couple of years have been too great. As I said, it is time to call a halt. There is no need to say anything further, but I indicate that I will not support clause 12.

This clause concerned statutory officers - conciliation commissioners. Even the Democratic Labor Party members were roused from their reverie. Senator Little said:

I wish to indicate that the Australian Democatic Labor Party will not support clause 12.

Another distinguished Liberal senator, at least one of the brighter ones, Senator Laucke, of South Australia, said:

I wish briefly to express my opposition to this clause.

Senator Laucke showed common sense on this occasion. He went on:

I believe that it is absolutely essential that inflationary pressures in our economy be countered. There is an imbalance in our wage structure generally which I think is unhealthy and unfair, with big percentage increases being granted to people in the high salary bracket. They are receiving increments far beyond those to which they are justly entitled. At the other end of the scale wage increases could well be considered in the interests of facilitating and providing decent living standards for the whole community. That is what the Labor Party is saying - We should be prepared to go further than pay lip service to an attitude of opposition to the pressures within our economy to which I have referred, and really get down to tin tacks and in practical ways ensure a better balance of productivity with wage increases.

I know that we cannot have complete paralleling of lines at that point, but I object to a situation - the expression ‘pacesetter’ has been used this afternoon - in which increments to people in Federal circles set a pace for other areas of governmental administration which have an impact in the private sector. An imbalance is created and a fair thing overall is not achieved. For those reasons 1 will not be subscribing to the clause in its present form,

I think that completely explodes the arguments put forward by the Leader of the House in this place when he said that the Labor Party is responsible for the complete defeat of this legislation. Thank heavens we have found a couple of Liberals who are fair and sincere on this issue. They have seen the injustice of the proposals being put forward at a time when low wage earners, particularly those in the low income group in the Public Service, are not receiving justice. I hope that the Minister takes notice of what I have said because he is condemned, not so much by the Labor Party on this occasion but by members of his own Party who sit in another place tonight waiting for this legislation to come before them so that they can reject it as they rejected the clause to which I referred in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.

Minister for Labour and National Service · Darling Downs · LP

– I would like to quote one or two very brief extracts from the debate in the Senate on 20th April 1971 on the Salaries Bill 1971. In referring to this Bill Senator Murphy said:

No-one here is suggesting - certainly I am not suggesting - that anything is wrong with the salaries being paid, but 1 am a little surprised at the paucity of some of them. The responsibilities of some of these officers are very great indeed. I wonder how the Commonwealth can retain the services of some of them at the salaries and allowances provided, in view of the amounts offered in private industry.

Mr Kelly:

– Who said that?


– This was said by Senator Murphy. He sain”:

I am a little surprised that those salaries are not very much higher than they are. . . .

In the debate on this very Bill in the other place Senator Willesee had this to say:

I assure the Senate that its purpose is merely to say that for the time being, at any rate - because this Bill can be brought up again in the new year-

That is, 1972- we ask the Senate to inform the House of Representatives that we are extending what the Government did yesterday and are freezing these salaries at their present level.

Senator Byrne of the Democratic Labor Party said this:

We do hope . . . that these men . . . will have restored to them very quickly wage and salary equity …. We trust that the necessity for this action will not be of long duration and that very quickly what these men are entitled to in terms of work value will quickly and fully be restored to them.

All we ask is that Opposition members now persuade their colleagues in the Senate to undertake what they said last year.


– I make one brief comment. I do not think there is any better commentary upon the Liberal Party and Country Party members than the fact that this coalition Government is putting a Bill such as this through this House at the same time as it is opposing an agreement between waterside workers and their employers in regard to salaries. Nothing demonstrates more completely the utter hypocrisy of the Government parties.


– I understand that we are now dealing with the Bill as a whole in Committee, is that correct?


– Yes.


-I would like to refer to clauses 4 and 5. Clause 4 deals with retrospectivity. I hope that the honourable member leading for the Opposition in this debate will move for the deletion of clause 4 to give the honourable . member for Griffiths (Mr Donald Cameron) the opportunity to put his vote where his mouth is. The honourable member indicated a few minutes ago that he objected strongly to the retrospectivity clause. I urge the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) to move for the deletion of clause 4 to enable the Opposition to call for a division.

I point out to the Minister that the Attorney-General agreed in the Senate to withdraw the Government’s proposition in regard to clause 12, I think it is of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which is now before that place. It refers to exactly the same thing as does clause 5 of the Bill we are now discussing. It seems ridiculous to me for the Government to be prepared to withdraw that clause in the Senate while at the same time it is prepared to pass clause 5 of the Bill now under discussion in this place. I urge the Minister to reconsider the proposition as far as clause 5 of this Bill is concerned. It seems to me to be ridiculous to invoke this provision when the Senate has already indicated that it rejects a similar provision in another BilL


– The question now is that the Bill be agreed to. Those in favour say Aye, those against say No. I think the Ayes have it.

Mr Daly:

– The Noes have it.


– Is a division required?

Mr Daly:

– Yes. (The bells having been rang)-

Mr Duthie:

– There will be no more divisions tonight.


– The Opposition having indicated it does not want a division, the question is therefore resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Third Reading

Bill (on motion by Mr Swartz) - by leave - read a third time.

page 3282


The Parliament: Distribution of Correspondence- Censorship

Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn. .

Dr J F Cairns:

– I want briefly to draw the attention of the House to an incident which occurred this morning when you, Mr Speaker, notified the House that on opening a letter you found that it contained certain material in relation to a circular advertising a publication containing an article by Germaine Greer, and you decided that it should not be distributed by the House attendants. Several things disturbed me about this. It seems to be in conflict with a letter that you, Mr Speaker, wrote to me two or three weeks ago after I had drawn your attention to the fact that some material from a person called Russell in Queensland which had been circulated through the House attendants, in my opinion contained some objectionable racial propaganda. I received a letter from you, Sir, saying that it was not your function to interfere with this correspeondence and it was in order for it to be distributed. It then came to me as a considerable surprise to find that, after opening a letter which referred to certain sexual matters, you decided that it should not be distributed. I wondered at the contrast between your standard in relation to racial propaganda from Mr Russell and your standard on some reference to sex in relation to Germaine Greer. I wondered what standard of censorship was in fact being applied to corespondence being distributed through the House system and whether it was desirable to have such a system of censorship at all.

Are members to assume that in the future if you open, a letter that is to be distributed through the House system and you find it to be objectionable, you will then take action to ensure that it is returned to the person who brought it here? Do you have assistance in this? Will you arrange to have matters drawn to your attention by members of your staff, or just what system will you use if this precedent is followed? I find the whole thing disturbing. It seems to me that we have a system of distribution and . we take whatever is brought to it, within reason or not. I think that some kind of. censorship by yourself, I say with all due respect, will prove unworkable. At any rate, I believe that it has proved unworkable in this case for it is my recollection that there was no interference with the matter that I brought to your attention. Yet in this one in relation to Germaine Greer there is undue sensitivity, I suppose, to matters pf sex which one does not always find in relation to racist propaganda. I find this very worrying and disturbing.

Wednesday, 31 May 1972


-I would like to inform the House, and particularly the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), that I took action after receiving advice in relation to these matters. For several years it has been the custom that should propaganda come into this House that is unseemly, could cause objection or be obscene, it has not been distributed to the members of this House. In this case, I believe, it was extremely obscene. It contained words in an article which have not appeared in any other propaganda that 1 know has come into this House. I think that it would prove offensive not only to the members of Parliament but also to the female secretaries who handle this type of matter. One thing that I do not want to do is to set myself up as a censor of morals of propaganda that people may use. Of course, in the past there has been a tradition that no propaganda at all be sent to members in this House, that it be put through the normal channels, that it be posted and not distributed by the staff. If the House wishes me to do that, I am quite happy to do it, but in this particular case I stand firm on my decision that this particular article should not have been distributed to members for the reasons that I have stated.

Melbourne Ports

– With all respect to you, Mr Speaker, I think you are making very difficult decisions if you believe you can decide what is and what is not obscene.

Dr Mackay:

– Do you think no-one should decide?


– I am not arguing. If the honourable member can decide what is obscene, fair enough. There are many legal cases on what is and what is not obscenity. With all respect, I would think that this is not a satisfactory solution of the problem. Like you, Sir, sometimes I would prefer that much of the mail we receive was not received. However, the question is to determine whether certain material shall be received or not. If you like to say that nothing will come to this House unless it is posted, that is a different matter. However, if you, Sir, open a letter first and decide that it is too bad for members to receive, I think you are making a very unwise decision. I suggest that at least the matter ought to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee, or whatever is the appropriate committee, to determine what procedure should be followed. I submit that you should not make a firm decision on this matter. After all, when it is all said and done, we are legislators and if something is too horrible to be received we are making censors where censors should not be applied. Therefore, with all respect, I think that you ought to reconsider this decision, and refer it back to a committee. I think that is all that my colleague the honourable member lor Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) was trying to suggest. Much material we receive would be better not received. But if you are to be the one, rather than the postman, to decide whether or not we will get it, I think you are taking a difficult stand.


-In further elaboration of this matter may I say that I do not want to set myself up as a censor. This would be the last thing I would want to do. Immediately this decision was made, or within just a few hours, this letter was sent back to the gentleman who sent it and he was informed that if he wished to use the postal facilities to distribute the matter he might do so. So there was no attempt to stop it from reaching members; it could reach them by another means.


- Mr Speaker, I should like to point out that when that great overseas entertainer, Liberace. was in Sydney he wrote me a letter that I never received in this House.


– Well, I know nothing about it.


Mr Speaker, I should like to join in this discussion on whether you decide letters are obscene. It is obvious to me, and I hope that it is obvious to every member of this House - even the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) - that it is not an easy decision to make. There is obvious disagreement on the Government benches. As I remember it, that letter contained an extract from ‘Playboy’ magazine. Mr Petersilka, who sent us the letter, complained about the fact that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) had admitted ‘Playboy’ magazine into this country, in, I think, January or February this year, thereby declaring it not obscene. Obviously, at least one Government department or one Government Minister has decided that it is not an obscene publication. The second point I want to raise with you, Mr Speaker, is that you have just suggested that, although you considered this particular extract to be obscene, you arranged for all of these letters to be returned to Mr Petersilka and suggested to him that he should post them to the House. As I understand from legal advice that I have received, you have committed conspiracy to break the law, the Post and Telegraph Act. If, in fact, you believed that this mail was obscene, by suggesting that it should be sent through Her Majesty’s mail you were suggesting to a person that he should break the law. As you are no doubt aware, a section of the Post and Telegraph Act makes it quite clear that obscene material, or whatever the terminology is, should not be carried by the Post Office. If you have done what you said you did, obviously you have conspired to do just that. I suggest to you that this makes it all the more obvious that this is an extremely difficult position to deal with. It is not an easy decision to make. If you are one who believes that certain things should be censored - I am not one of those - it makes it an extremely difficult decision. There is obvious disagreement, probably on both sides of the House, but we are aware of it only on the Government side of the House. We have a position in which you are taking a certain stand on ‘Playboy’ magazine and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), is taking a different stand. The Minister for the Navy takes a certain stand on ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’ and the Minister for Customs and Excise, amongst others, takes a different stand on that piece of literature.

Mr Speaker, I suggest to you that, apart from anything else, if Parliamentarians are to make certain decisions, surely they should be informed on what decisions they should make. If we are to make a decision on whether ‘Playboy’ magazine for February or January 1972 is an obscene publication, we should be not only entitled to see it but encouraged to see it so that we can make a decision. Otherwise we will finish up with the ridiculous situation that occurred earlier this year when a group of Parliamentarians came out with a statement about “The Little Red Schoolbook’, and when interviewed by the Press a large number said that they had not read the publication but that they had come to the conclusion that it was offensive. I am sure you would not like us to come to decisions without having had a look at the relevant material. So I suggest to you that in future it might be reasonable to let Parliamentarians themselves decide whether certain material is obscene so that we do not finish up in the situation of certain others who make decisions about a piece of literature without reading it.


– No attempt was made to decide whether the matter was obscene or to stop it from getting to Parliamentarians. In fact it was suggested to Mr Petersilka that if he wanted to put this material in the hands of honourable members he could do so and we would not interfere. The question is how it should be distributed to honourable members. If we are to use the Parliament for the distribution of all sorts of material I do not know where we will finish up. It is not a question of censorship or endeavouring to stop material reaching members. We returned the letters quickly to Mr Petersilka so that he could post them and they would be in the hands of honourable members before we adjourned last Thursday.

Dr Klugman:

– But they would be delivered in exactly the same way by the same people to the same rooms.


– But there has teen talk about conspiracy. We said that the letters could bc posted and addressed directly to individual members of Parliament at Parliament House, in which case they would be delivered immediately without question. In my letter to Mr Petersilka I stated:

As you may wish to seek other means o! having the envelopes forwarded to members I am accordingly returning to you the envelopes addressed to members of the House.

I did not actually say that he should send them by post, as the honourable member suggested when talking about conspiracy.

Dr J F Cairns:

– This did not apply to Mr Russell’s racist propaganda.


– This is one of the reasons we have decided to tighten up on this matter.


– I think that the points taken by honourable members this evening are completely irrelevant to your action, Mr Speaker, and the reasons for it. I think, quite frankly, that the point has been lost by honourable members who have raised certain points. The major factor is that you are responsible in this House for deciding whether letters shall be distributed as a matter of privilege by members of the staff. If these letters were sent back and were delivered by post against the law certain action could be taken. I think the Parliament would be extending a parliamentary privilege if material was just handed in and delivered by members of the staff. I think the points raised in regard to censorship and other matters are irrelevant in this instance. If members wish to send material out by the attendants those members accept that responsibility. In this case the material was submitted for distribution by somebody outside the Parliament. I for one support completely and absolutely what you did, Mr Speaker. I think your action was the correct one and I think it will be supported by most right-minded thinking people not only in this House but in the country.


– I make one point. I think it is important that people have ready access to members of Parliament by whatever methods it is possible to distribute material to them. I regard that as a fundamental principle on which this place ought to operate. If someone wants to get something through to the 185 of us I cannot see that we can justify charging him 7c for each member to do it. I only presume from the ruling that has been given that obscenity is not obscenity unless it is free.

Minister for the Navy · Evans · LP

– I just add a word because my name has been mentioned. I was glad to receive this material for one reason.

Dr Klugman:

– Do you like reading that sort of stuff?


– That is hardly worth commenting on. I was glad to receive it because I think it is important that in our position as members of Parliament we should know something of the type of material which is being circulated in this country and is associated with this type of activity. But at the same time I completely uphold your position as Speaker of the House in deciding that you did not consider that you should be made a party to the distribution of such material. It is one thing for a person to take on himself the distribution of this material by the means that are publicly available through the public postal services and by that means deliver a document to us. The responsibility and the onus for the distribution or publication of that material is then entirely in the hands of the sender, but I think that you, Sir, have a perfect right to decide, on looking at the material, whether you your self should be a party to the publication and distribution of that material. I believe that the standard you have set for the publication or distribution, whichever word you wish, throughout this House to honourable members is a proper one. I repeat what the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) has said. I believe you were perfectly correct, and it was in keeping with the dignity of your office that you should not regard yourself as necessarily bound to distribute that type of literature. That we should see it is another matter. I make no quarrel with the motives of the person who sent it to us. I personally repeat that I was glad that I was informed of this type of material being circulated in the country, but at the same time I fail to see why any censure should rest with you, Sir, for having not associated the Parliament and the staff under your jurisdiction with the distribution of this material. I believe that your decision should be upheld.

Mr Donald Cameron:

Mr Speaker, I endorse your action because I do not consider that as Mr Speaker you have the right to decide the type of material I should see. I consider any decision on whether we should receive material as going to the core of censorship. The argument against censorship is that if people do not wish to see something they can avoid it. As members of Parliament we are subjected to the views of the population, and as a member of Parliament, I welcome public views at all times. Mr Speaker, I uphold your decision on this matter on the base that you as the Speaker have no right to decide whether members of Parliament will be subjected to this type of material. I am positive that some members of this House found the material in question quite offensive.


– I do not think the point has not been made clear enough by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). The fact that somebody brings to this place an envelope, a note or any sort of missive or message with a member’s name on it should be sufficient reason for the member to receive it. I think all other arguments are irrelevant. The point at issue has nothing to do with censorship or whether a man spends money to put a stamp on an envelope address to a member. We have attendants in Parliament House who are at the service of members to see that the House works smoothly and that members can communicate not only with each other but with any person who makes the effort to bring himself or his message to this place. I think it is enough of a burden on people in a land of free speech that they have to pay for the paper and the ink and have to arrange for delivery of the material into this House, without the added burden of having to pay postage. I am not arguing for or against the case of the man who had to pay postage for a particular matter that he wanted to send. I am simply raising a matter of principle, that the transfer of information to members of Parliament should be free, so far as that is possible.


– Could I ask a question? What puzzles me in this case is that apparently these letters were addressed to all honourable members. That would be the only way in which you would be aware of the matter, Mr Speaker. I cannot see how else you would be aware of it. I do not believe that the attendants would be opening our mail and censoring it. I assume that the only way you could learn about this message was as a result of a letter being addressed to you as Speaker or as the member for Phillip. Assume that one was not addressed to you, but that 100 such letters were addressed to other honourable members. I take it that we would get those letters without any interference?


– Yes, I would not open any other person’s mail.


I think honourable members ought not just sit down and listen to this debate without stating what they feel very strongly. You, Mr Speaker, received a bundle of letters that you felt should not be distributed by the staff. Most of us agree with your decision. This material then reached us by means of the postal system. What lies behind this is that the national Parliament is now really discussing what are the standards of morals in this House and in Australia. There are people in Australia who can be affected by what we decide, by what we say and by what we think. I want to say very definitely that at some point there must be standards of morals and standards of material that go into this community.

The young people of Australia are now involved - not just members of Parliament, but the sons and daughters of many mothers and fathers. No matter what they are subjected to in the schools, when they go along the street or wherever they go, at some point there must be some discipline. At home they expect discipline. However, there is no hope of families having discipline in the homes if we, by administrative action, by parliamentary action or as a result of an action by you, Mr Speaker, do not indicate at some point that this sort of thing ought to stop because these children have to grow up in a community where morality is not destroyed. This kind of thing -‘The Little Red School Book’ and other material - that honourable members on the other side of the House have appeared to be wanting to see, is not good for Australian society, or for the new society when the young people likely to be affected by it grow up. I protest emphatically against any of this kind of discussion of obscenity that appears to mean that we agree with it. We do not agree with it in any shape or form. I would like to see established an expert committee of people able to decide what are the standards, the morals and the conventions of this society so that it might survive with its morals, its conventions and its disciplines.

One day I was in a situation where I asked the Department of Customs and Excise: ‘What is obscene and what is art?’ I was told by a member of the Department that if material came in printed on cheap paper it was obscene and if it was printed on art paper it was art. If we are that primitive in this society then the time has been reached - this type of discussion also means that the time has been reached - when somebody ought to lay down a set of standards for the people of Australia in order to protect Australian society against some of the people who feel inadequate and who want to bring down our society because of their feeling of inadequacy. That is the position that we must reach in a discussion of this kind.

Let us have standards. Let society in Australia survive. Let the young people be protected from people of this type who, I understand, are having ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’ printed and are giving it to children. This should not go on. A discussion of this kind highlights the fact that something ought to be done about the standard of morals in Australia.

Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 12.26 a.m. (Wednesday)

page 3288


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Federal Unions: Legal Status (Question No. 3528)

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the legislative steps taken by the British Parliament to protect trade union officials from liability in the kind of situation created by the Rookes and Barnard case.
  2. Does he propose to take any action to protect officials of unions registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act from the kind of action which was deemed to be available against union officials in the United Kingdom.
  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. I refer the honourable member to my answer to question 3543.

Unions: Tortious Liability (Question No. 3543)

  1. Is it a fact that in all States with the exception of Queensland most unions are wide open to civil actions for tortious liability committed by their servants or agents during the course of a strike.
  2. If so, would he make an effort to persuade all other State Governments to follow the Queensland example and the English lead by prohibiting all actions in tort against trade unions generally.
  3. In any case, will he examine the feasibility Of using Commonwealth powers to prohibit actions in tort against registered federal unions.
  1. An action against a trade union, including an industrial union registered under this Act, or against any members or officials thereof on behalf of themselves and all other members of the union in respect of any tortious act alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of the union, shall not be entertained by any court.’

No other State has legislated in this manner and in the United Kingdom the Industrial Relations Act 1971 removed the total prohibition of actions in tort against trade unions as from the 28th February, 1972.

Instead of resorting to direct action, registered Federal unions may use the machinery provided by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the settlement of industrial disputes to which the Act applies. Thus the possibility of the tortious liability of such unions or their servants or agents for acts committed by them during the course of a strike need never arise.

So far as liability for all actions in tort is concerned, I see no reason for granting immunity from the law applicable to the community at large to State or Federal trade unions (whether registered or not) or their servants or agents.

Social Services: Beneficiaries (Question No. 4355)

  1. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a comparison between the figures in table 25 of the 1970-71 report of the Director-General of Health listing the number of unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries enrolled under the subsidised medical scheme in a medical benefits organisation as at 30 June 1971 and the figures in table 25 of the 1970-71 Report of the DirectorGeneral of Social Services listing the number of people receiving these benefits as at 30 June 1971.
  2. If so, do these figures indicate that the percentage of beneficiaries actually registered with a medical benefits fund varies from ‘15.5 per cent in Queensland to 19.3 per cent in New South Wales, 24.7 per cent in Victoria, 57.7 per cent in South Australia, 88.1 per cent in Tasmania and 99.3 per cent in Western Australia.
  3. How does he account for the great variety of percentages.
  4. In view of the large numbers of beneficiaries enrolled in medical benefits organisations in Tasmania and Western Australia, can he say why similar levels of enrolment are not reached in other States.
  1. Yes.
  2. As indicated in the reply to the honourable member’s question No. 4625, the figures shown in the reports of the Director-General of Health and the Director-General of Social Services are not strictly comparable because of the fact that unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries are provided, under the National Health Act, with an additional 28 days free entitlement to medical and hospital benefits after their Social Services entitlement expires. An allowance must be made for this factor when comparing the enrolment figures of organisations with the eligibility figures for Social Services benefits.

An adjustment for this factor was made in the figures supplied in the answer to question No. 4625. Percentages of Unemployment, Sickness and

Special beneficiaries enrolled with medical benefits organizations as at 30 June 1971, prepared on the same basis, are as follows:

In addition to the adjustment made above, there were a number of qualifications made to the figures provided in the answer to question No. 4625 which must also be made to the figures provided in the present answer. The relevant qualifications for the present answer are -

  1. the figures for eligible persons as determined by the Department of Social Services are as at 26 June 1971 and may not coincide with the enrolment figures as supplied for the end of the quarter by health insurance organisations; and
  2. some health insurance organisations do not maintain detailed membership records and the membership figures which have been supplied are, to some degree, on an estimated basis, e.g., some organisations do not take into account changes arising from lapses in individual membership until some time after a lapse has occurred.

The percentages quoted above cannot be taken as indicating the success or otherwise of the arrangements because while all persons in receipt of unemployment, sickness and special benefits are automatically eligible for assistance under the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan, those persons who were uninsured at the time benefit was granted would normally approach a health insurance fund only when medical or hospital expenses are incurred.

  1. and (4) Notwithstanding the above, the percentages of enrolments with health insurance organisations have been a matter of concern to those concerned with the operation of the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan. To date, the principal avenue through which eligible persons have been advised of the assistance available has been Departmental publicity programmes, but it has now been recognised that action to support those programmes is desirable in assisting eligible persons to participate in the Plan.

This approach has been tested by my Department in a pilot project where the co-operation of persons and organisations actually in contact with potential beneficiaries was obtained and did result in an increase in the number of applications received. It is now planned to do this on a national scale.

Public Servants: Visits Abroad (Question No. 4941)

  1. How many visits abroad have been made by departmental officials in each year since the commencement of the 27th Parliament.
  2. What was the (a) purpose of each visit,

    1. name and department of the officer concerned,
    2. destination, (d) countries visited and (e) total cost in each case.
  3. On how many occasions has the wife of an official accompanied the delegation and what were (a) the names of those concerned and (b) the separate costs to the Government in each case.
  4. What is the total cost of all these overseas visits during the 27th Parliament to date.

I am informed that it has not been found economical or necessary to maintain centralised records of overseas visits in the comprehensive detail envisaged by the honourable member’s question. In response to the question however inquiries were made to see the extent to which information was available. I am informed that this has indicated that the extraction of the detail in the form requested would involve a major research exercise.

As the honourable gentleman would know the resources of Ministers and Departments are now fully taxed and I am unwilling to authorise the further time and expense which would be involved in obtaining a complete answer to the honourable member’s question.

I add that the Government has always insisted that no departmental official may .proceed abroad on a visit wholly or partly at the expense of the Commonwealth without the closest scrutiny being given to the proposal. In considering each request specific regard is given to- (0 the necessity for economy in Government expenditure;

  1. the safeguarding of vital Australian interests;
  2. the efficiency of the Service;
  3. Australian representation in the area;

    1. common representation of various departmental interests.

Furthermore, expenditure on any overseas visit must, of course, be authorised in the proper manner and in accordance with the appropriation by the Parliament.

Health Insurance (Question No. 5025)

  1. In the year of initiation of the Government health insurance scheme, what was the cost of (a) single and (b) married rate contributions to the most popular medical benefits scheme in each State which ensured maximum refund to the patient.
  2. Will the Minister supply similar details for each subsequent year when increases were made in the contribution rate.
  3. Will the Minister also supply similar details in regard to hospital insurance, with contributions ensuring maximum benefit, for (a) public ward, Cb) intermediate ward and (c) private ward treatment

Br Forbes - The Minister for Health has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s question:

  1. The weekly single and family contribution rates to the major medical benefits funds in each state at the commencement of the Medical Benefits Insurance Scheme on 1st July 1953 and which ensured maximum refund to the patient were as follows:-

Residents of the Northern Territory, generally contributed to either New South Wales, Queensland or South Australian funds.

  1. The changes made since 1st July 1953 and the dates of these changes to the maximum contribution rates were as follows: -
  1. Prior te the reconstruction of hospital funds which occurred during 1971 the registered hospital benefits funds did not operate hospital tables which were equivalent to the various levels of charges made by public hospitals. A multiple table structure was operated by each fund and each table provided fund benefits which may have either been more than the hospital charge or less than that charge, depending on the table to which the patient was a contributor. Generally, in cases where the contributor was over-insured he was able to receive the excess fund benefit as a personal gain, since no rule limiting benefits to the hospital charge was applicable.

Further, a contributor could belong to more than one fund and thus could obtain further fund benefits for that additional cover.

Hereunder are details of the weekly contribution rates levied by the largest fund in each State at the inception of the scheme, for benefit tables corresponding to the various levels of hospital accommodation charges.

Hospital Fund Contribution Rates (Question No. 5026)

Will the Minister bring up to date the information supplied in answer to question No. 3362 (Hansard, 7th October 1971, pages 2128-9) in the light of recent changes in hospital fund contribution rates.

  1. The information supplied in the answer to (1) of Question No. 3362 is unchanged.

Current family contribution rates per week to the organisations mentioned in the answer to (1) of Question No. 3362 are as follows:

  1. On the basis that the taxable incomes quoted by the honourable member relate to taxable incomes alter allowing all concessional deductions (including those for dependants and contributions to medical and hospital funds), the net cost of weekly medical and hospital contributions at family rates would be:
The honourable member should note that there are significant changes in the marginal rate of tax at taxable incomes of $10,000 and $20,000 and some variation in the results would be obtained if the honourable member were to interpret the taxable incomes quoted as those before the insurance deductions were made. {:#subdebate-36-6} #### Health Benefits Scheme (Question No. 5100) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has any research been undertaken by the Department of Health, by any other Government body, or by any body commissioned by the Government into the reasons why so few people enrol in each section of the subsidised health benefits scheme. 1. If so, what are the findings of this research and what action is being taken on these findings. 2. What sum has been (a) allocated and (b) spent on advertising the subsidised health benefits scheme since a review of the scheme was ordered as reported in The Age of 23 September 1971. 3. Will he itemise the way in which any money has been spent on advertising the scheme since 23rd September 1971. 4. Has any other action been taken to enrol more eligible people in the scheme; if so, on what dates was this action taken. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) I am concerned that the number of persons who have been enrolling in health insurance organizations so as to receive the benefits under the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan is markedly less than the number estimated to be eligible for enrolment. I have directed my Department to review the detailed administration of the Plan with the aim of simplifying enrolment procedures. At the same time, it must be appreciated that the Plan provides benefits towards the costs of medical and hospital treatment and a large proportion of those eligible for its benefits only apply for assistance when they fall ill and seek medical or hospital treatment. It follows that the section of the population that is eligible for benefits is very much larger than the number who have actually joined health insurance funds so as to receive benefits. In promoting the Plan, it has been found that it is desirable to support paid advertising and the distribution of publicity pamphlets and posters by other measures and it is now planned to do this on a national scale by seeking the co-operation of persons and organizations actually in contact with potential beneficiaries. This approach has recently been tested by my Department in a pilot project which ran for four weeks in the Wollongong area. The campaign involved extensive advertising in all media, coverage in news bulletins, editorials, T.V. programmes, etc., and the voluntary support from a large number of Wollongong people and organisations, in contact with migrants and low income earners, was enlisted. These measures resulted in a 200 per cent increase in the number of applications lodged in Wollongong for subsidised health benefits and I feel that a permanent residue of awareness has been left with the people in the area which should ensure that the number of applications received in future will be higher than before the campaign. No outside body has been commissioned by the Government to undertake research as to why more people are not being attracted to the Plan. However, recommendations and ideas put to the Department by interested organizations are being studied closely and, of course, my Department conducts its own inquiries. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. No specific amount was allocated for publicising the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan from 23rd September 1971 to date. An amount of $32,000 was allocated for the 1971-72 financial year. Expenditure on publicity for the Plan from 23rd September 1971 to date has been $9,110 and other advertising and publicity commitments have been undertaken to the level of the 1971-72 allocation. 1. Money so far spent on advertising the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan since 23rd September 1971, wasfor: {: type="1" start="5"} 0. Arrangements are being made with the Department of Social Services so that within the next few months a printed insert, outlining the Plan in simple terms, is included with child endowment cheques sent out by that Department. Discussions are continuing with the Department of Immigration which has been developing arrangements aimed at increasing migrants' knowledge of the facilities provided and, in consequence, increasing their participation in the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan. My Department is currently considering, in conjunction with the Australian Council of Social Service, specific ways in which both bodies might co-operate in further publicising the Plan, particularly through the dissemination of information to social workers. Within the next few months it is planned to: {: type="a" start="a"} 0. offer a series of articles to each State Council of Social Service for newsletter publication; 1. ask each State Council to arrange seminars on Subsidised Health Benefits, probably during lunch hours; 2. prepare a Subsidised Health Benefits information kit, containing pamphlets, a poster and a comprehensive list of questions and answers, for circulation to member organizations of the Australian Council of Social Service. Other action being taken by my Department includes the production, in ten foreign languages, of the pamphlet'Help With Health Benefits' which is at present only available in English. Action has also been initiated to advertise the Plan in 36 foreign language newspapers which circulate throughout Australia. {:#subdebate-36-7} #### Ministers for Health: Meetings (Question No. 5252) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Where and when have there been meetings of the Health Ministers since 25th June 1971. 1. What were the names and portfolios of the Ministers who attended each meeting. 2. What requests or suggestions were made at each meeting for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States. {:#subdebate-36-8} #### New South Wales- The Hon. A. H. Jago, {:#subdebate-36-9} #### M.L.A.- Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-10} #### Victoria- The Hon. J. F. Rossiter, M.L.A. - Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-11} #### Queensland- The Hon. S. D. Tooth, M.L.A.Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-12} #### South Australia- The Hon. A. J. Shard, M.L.C. - Chief Secretary and Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-13} #### Western Australia- The Hon. R. Davies, M.L.A. - Minister for Price Control, Consumer Protection, Health and Fisheries and Fauna {:#subdebate-36-14} #### Tasmania- The Hon. N. D. Abbott, M.H.A.- Minister for Health and Road Safety As the honourable member is aware, Health Ministers have decided that public information concerning discussions at these annual Conferences should be limited to the texts of any press releases issued by the Ministers. Press releases issued by the Ministers who attended the 1972 Conference dealt with the following subjects: {: type="a" start="a"} 0. All-inclusive fee system for public hospital inpatients' accommodation; 1. The Commonwealth's Subsidised Health Benefits Plan; 2. The costs of treatment of pensioners in public hospitals throughout Australia; 3. Services for the mentally ill and intellectually handicapped; 4. Controls relating to therapeutic goods; 5. Alcoholism. I shall forward to the honourable member copies of those press releases. In Sydney on 2nd May 1972, I also had discussions with the following State Ministers: {:#subdebate-36-15} #### New South Wales- The Hon. A. H. Jago, M.L.A.- Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-16} #### Victoria- The Hon. J. F. Rossiter, M.L.A.- Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-17} #### South Australia- The Hon. A. J. Shard, M.L.C. - Chief Secretary and Minister for Health {:#subdebate-36-18} #### Western Australia- The Hon. R. Davies, M.L.A. - Minister for Environmental Protection, Health and Fisheries and Fauna The discussions were in connection with the Commonwealth Government's recent decisions to implement a national health education programme on the dangers of smoking; to require that cigarette advertisements on television and radio include a health warning; and to seek uniform Commonwealth and State action concerning health warning labels on cigarette packets. On 2nd May I issued a press release outlining the results of those discussions. Ministers forLabour: Meetings (Question No. 5254) Labour and National Service, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Where and when have there been meetings of the Labour Ministers in the last 2 years. 1. What were the names and portfolios of the Ministers who attended each meeting. 2. What requests or suggestions were made at each meeting for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) (a) 2nd October, 1970, Melbourne. {:#subdebate-36-19} #### Chairman- The Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C., M P., Minister for Labour and National Service {:#subdebate-36-20} #### The Hon. E. A. Willis, M.L.A., Minister for Labour and Industry, New South Wales {:#subdebate-36-21} #### The Hon. J. A. Rafferty, M.L.A., Minister of Labour and Industry, Victoria {:#subdebate-36-22} #### The Hon. J. D. Herbert, M.L.A., Minister for Labour and Tourism, Queensland {:#subdebate-36-23} #### The Hon. G. R. Broomhill, M.H.A., Minister of Labour and Industry, South Australia The Hon. D. H. O'Neil, M.L.A., Minister for Housing and Labour, Western Australia. {:#subdebate-36-24} #### The Hon. K. O. Lyons, M.H.A., Deputy Premier and Chief Secretary, Tasmania {: type="a" start="b"} 0. 19th February, 1971, Sydney. Attendance as in (a) except for the following: The Hon. D. H. McKee, M.H.A., Minister of Labour and Industry, South Australia. **Mr H.** A. Jones, Secretary, Department of Labour, Western Australia, represented the Hon. D. H. O'Neil, M.L.A. {: type="a" start="c"} 0. 6th August, 1971, Sydney. {:#subdebate-36-25} #### Chairman- The Hon. Phillip Lynch, M.P., Minister for Labour and National Service {:#subdebate-36-26} #### The Hon. F. M. Hewitt, M.L.C., Minister for Labour and Industry, New South Wales {:#subdebate-36-27} #### The Hon. J. A. Rafferty, M.L.A., Minister of Labour and Industry, Victoria {:#subdebate-36-28} #### The Hon. J. D. Herbert, M.L.A., Ministerfor Labour and Tourism, Queensland {:#subdebate-36-29} #### The Hon. A. D. Taylor, M.L.A., Minister for Housing and Labour, Western Australia **Mr L.** B. Bowes, Secretary, Department of Labour and Industry, represented the Hon. D. H. McKee, M.H.A., Minister for Labour and Industry, South Australia. **Mr J.** L. Berry, Assistant Secretary, Department of Labour, represented the Hon. K. O. Lyons, M.H.A., Deputy Premier and Chief Secretary, Tasmania. {: type="a" start="d"} 0. 25th February, 1972, Melbourne. All seven Ministers referred to in (c) attended, the Hon. A. D. Taylor, M.L.A., as Minister for Labour, Price Control, Consumer Protection and Tourism, Western Australia. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. These meetings enable regular consultion and an exchange of views on matters of mutual interest in the labour area generally. Discussions at these meetings are confidential and, unless there is agreement to do so, no public statement is issued after meetings. Such a statement was issued after the first meeting. Following the second meeting a joint statement in the form of a paper on major issues involved in the development of training for industry and commerce in Australia was issued and I am arranging for a copy of these documents to be sent to the Honourable Member. {:#subdebate-36-30} #### Medical Fees and Benefits (Question No. 5271) Health, upon notice: >What specific changes were made recently to the Queensland schedule of medical fees and benefits of the Medical Benefits Schedule Advisory Committee. >Arising from recommendations made by the Medical Benefits Schedule Advisory Committee, the Schedules to the National Healthcame into operation on 1 February, 1972. > >Details of these amendments are as follows: {:#subdebate-36-31} #### Commonwealth University Scholarships (Question No. 5272) Education and Science, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What percentage of undergraduate students in (a) each State and (b) Australia were in receipt of a Commonwealth university scholarship in each of the last 10 years. 1. What percentage of first year undergraduate students in (a) each State and (b) Australia wero in receipt of an open-entrance Commonwealth university scholarship in each of the last 10 years. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The following table shows the total number of Commonwealth university scholarship holders as a percentage of all bachelor degree and diploma students enrolled at Australian universities 1962-.1971. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The following table shows the number of of Bachelor degree courses expressed as a percentCommonwealth University scholars in the first year age of new bachelor degree students:'" {: .page-start } page 3302 {:#debate-37} ### NOTES - {:#subdebate-37-0} #### Family Planning (Question No. 5287) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Can the Minister say whether the New South Wales Chief Secretary has informed the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties that no objection will be raised by his Department to (a) the dissemination by the New South Wales Family Planning Association of information generally as to its objectives and the distribution to consenting recipients of books and other publications which advocate in a responsible way family planning and birth control procedures and (b) the advertising of the times and places of the family planning clinic conducted by the Association. 1. If so, will the Minister give a similar undertaking and approval to the Family Planning Association activities being conducted in the Australian Capital Territory. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Any communication between the New South Wales State Government and the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is entirely a matter for these two bodies. 1. Not applicable. See (1) above. {:#subdebate-37-1} #### National Health Scheme: Approved Pharmacies (Question No. 5293) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many pharmacies were approved pharmacies for the purpose of dispensing National Health Scheme prescriptions in (a) the Commonwealth and (b) each State and Territory in each of the last 3 years. 1. How many (a) approvals were granted to new pharmacies and (b) approvals were withdrawn or expired due to the closure of pharmacies in (i) the Commonwealth and (ii) each Slate and Territory in each of the same years. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The number of approved pharmacies for the purpose of dispensing National Health Scheme prescriptions in (a) the Commonwealth and (b) each State and Territory in each of the last three years is as follows: {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The number of (a) approvals granted to new pharmacies (b) approvals withdrawn or expired due to the closure of pharmacies in (i) the Com monwealth and (ii) each State and Territory in each of the years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71 is as follows: {:#subdebate-37-2} #### Northern Territory: Price Control (Question No. 5295) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Did **Mr T.** A. Bell, a Labor Member of the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory, in March and September 1970, introduce into and have passed by the Legislative Council, Bills for Ordinances to control some prices in the Northern Territory. 1. Did the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the Commonwealth Government, withhold assent to both Ordinances, the latter occasion being on 2 December 1971. 2. If so, why did the Government give this advice to the Governor-General. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. Yes. 2. A statement of the reasons for withholding assent to each Ordinance was tabled in the Parliament on 1 September 1970 and 7 December 1971. These statements are available as Parliamentary Papers No. 146, 1970 and No. 269, 1971. Subsidised Medical Services Scheme (Question No. 5308) **Dr Klugman** asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the cost of administering the subsidised medical services scheme in 1970-71. 1. What is the estimated cost for 1971-72. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) Details of administrative costs directly incurred by the Commonwealth in respect of the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan are not available. However, Commonwealth payments to registered health insurance organisations in respect of their costs of administration of the Plan totalled $397,000 in 1970-71 and will total an estimated $705,000 in 1971-72. {:#subdebate-37-3} #### Oral Contraceptives (Question No. 5310) >Who performed the survey which enabled the Department of Health to estimate in part B of the answer to question No. 4715 (Hansard, 7th March 1972, pages 665-7) that an additional 824,000 Australian women would use oral contraceptives if they were available free as pharmaceutical benefits. >There was no survey, as such, made in relation to the use of oral contraceptives. The estimate provided in part B of the answer to question No. 4715 was a reasoned estimate made in the light of the available statistical information. {:#subdebate-37-4} #### Northern Territory: Hospitals (Question No. 5314) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many bed days were provided in Northern Territory approved hospitals in 1970-71. 1. What is the estimated number of bed days for 1971-72. 2. What was the total cost of Northern Territory hospital services in 1970-71. 3. What is the estimated cost of these services in 1971-72. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 210,098 1. 203,000 2. $6,785,413 3. $8,626,000 {:#subdebate-37-5} #### Australian Capital Territory: Hospitals (Question No. 5315) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many bed days were provided in Australian Capital Territory approved hospitals in 1970-71. 1. What is the estimated number of bed days for 1971-72. 2. What was the total cost of Australian Captial Territory hospital services in 1970-71. . 3. What is the estimated cost of these services in 1971-72. >Notes - There are 3 approved hospitals in the Australian Capital Territory one of which is conducted by a public company. The information requested in respect of parts (2) and (4) of this question is not available for this hospital. The answers to parts (2) and (4) of this question, therefore, cover only the Canberra Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth 11 Coronation Home. > >212,921 > >220,645 > >$7,054,848 > >$8,116,955 {:#subdebate-37-6} #### Hospital Services (Question No. 5338) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the total cost of hospital services covered by voluntary health insurance and how much was met by (a) the Commonwealth Government, (b) fund benefit and (c) patient charge in each of the last 10 years. 1. Will the Minister also express these amounts as proportions of the total. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) The total cost of hospital services coming within the scope of voluntary health insurance is not available. Consequently, the percentage of total cost met by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) fund benefit and (c) the patient, is also not available. The following payments have been made by (a) the Commonwealth and (b) the registered hospital benefits funds in each of the last 10 years, in respect of both public and private hospitals, for hospital treatment which attracted benefits under the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme - {:#subdebate-37-7} #### Citizen Military Forces: Efficiency Payment (Question No. 5340) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Do the Citizen Military Forces make a payment to a serviceman who has proved himself efficient. 1. If so, what is the amount paid and what conditions must he satisfy to be eligible. 2. Do some companies of the CMF adopt an efficiency year from July to June andothers from January to December; if so, would a serviceman be disadvantaged by transferring from one company to another. 3. Would absence on approved leave disqualify a serviceman from receipt of an efficiency payment. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. A grant called the CMF Efficiency Grant is made to male members of the CMF for the training years in which they fulfil the requirements listed in (2)(b) below. 1. (a) The first grant is made on completion of two such years and grants continue thereafter on completion of each subsequent year. The rates are: On completion of 2 years - $20 On completion of 3 years - $100 On completion of each subsequent year- $40 {: type="a" start="b"} 0. Normal conditions of eligibility require the member to have been classified efficient' in the terms of Australian Military Regulations 503 or 507 and to have: {: type="i" start="i"} 0. rendered a minimum of 33 days service, 1. qualified at a range practice with one of the small arms weapons with which his unit is equipped, and 2. been certified proficient in his rank, appointment or posting. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. (a) Training years, for the purpose of assessing eligibility for the CMF Efficiency Grant, are common to all CMF units and commence annually on the first day of July. 1. The requirements for a member to render a minimum of 33 days service and to be certified proficient in his rank, appointment or posting are mandatory but an application to waive the other requirements may be approved in appropriate circumstances. A member could be disadvantaged by transfering from one unit to another if, by so doing, he found it difficult to complete the requisite period of service with his new unit. However, such service may be aggregated in any unit and arrangements can usually be made for attendance at alternative training activities to meet this condition. {: type="1" start="4"} 0. Absence on approved leave does not disqualify a member from receipt of a CMF Efficiency Grant, provided he fulfills the above requirements. Ample opportunities usually exist for a member to attend alternative training activities to offset the effects of short periods of leave. {:#subdebate-37-8} #### Official Overseas Visits (Question No. 5394) >When may I expect an answer to question No. 4940 which was placed on the Notice Paper on 9 December 1971. >Question No. 4940 was answered on 23 May 1972 (Hansard, pages 2938-9). {:#subdebate-37-9} #### School Cadets (Question No. 5465) >Will he bring up-to-date the information on school cadets which his predecessor gave on 6 May 1971 (Hansard, page 2925). {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Updated figures for cadet posted strengths in each State and Territory are as follows: {:#subdebate-37-10} #### Uniform Building Codes (Question No. 5520) >Will he bring up-to-date the information on Uniform Building Codes which he gave on 5 May Series 6 of the Australian Model Uniform Building Code, a schedule of metric conversion figures for the Code, and a part dealing with Fire Resistance of Structural Members have been issued to State and Territory administrations. This completed the basic framework of the recommended Code; but work is now proceeding on the preparation of material for items that were deferred pending research and on items that are required to keep the Model Code up-to-date. {:#subdebate-37-11} #### Commonwealth Grants Commission (Question No. 5629) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many persons are employed in the Commonwealth Grants Commission. 1. What positions do they hold and what are their qualifications in each case. 2. Has his attention been drawn to proposals by the Australian Labor Party that the staff of the Grants Commission should be expanded by the employment of more highly qualified personnel to enable the Commission to deal with increased applications for Commonwealth assistance. 3. If so, what consideration has the Government given to these proposals. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) 1 am informed that currently eleven persons are employed by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, four of whom occupy positions of a junior clerical or typing nature. The occupants of the other seven position were all regarded as suitably qualified when selected for the staff of the Commission. 1. and (4) 1 am not aware of any specific proposals. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition and other Members of his Party have in general terms suggested the widening of the functions and responsibilities of the Grants Commission but so far as I am aware without being clear as to the implications for the staffing of the Commission. {:#subdebate-37-12} #### New Motor Vehicles: Warranty (Question No. 5766) Shipping and Transport upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Are all new cars covered by a manufacturer's warranty. 1. Do these warranties give (a) the car owner full protection against faulty workmanship and any consequences, (b) limit the manufacturer's liability and (c) seriously erode an owner's rights under common law. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Generally speaking, yes. It is normal for new cars to be sold under warranty. 1. Warranties given in connection with the sale of motor vehicles contain differing conditions as between manufacturers and models of motor vehicles. As it would be necessary to undertake an examination of warranties issued by manufacturers and seek legal opinion, I am not really in a position to provide a more specific answer to this part of the question. {:#subdebate-37-13} #### Election Proposals: Cost (Question No. 5770) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Why did officers of the Treasury cost the election proposals put forward at the 1969 House of Representatives Election and 1970 Senate Election by the Australian Labor Party but neglect to do so in respect of the proposals of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. (Question 5019, Hansard, 20 April 1972, Page 1968.) 1. Will be now arrange for a costing to be made of the election proposals put forward at those two elections by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. 2. If not, why is he prepared to spend taxpayers' money in respect of the Australian Labor Party's election proposals but not in respect of those of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. It is a proper function of any Government to be adequately informed on details (including costs) of policy proposals being advanced by individuals and groups in the community, including political parties. 1. and (3) Little point would now be served by devoting resources within my Department to costing past proposals such as those requested by the honourable member. Consequently, I do not propose to accede to the honourable member's request. {:#subdebate-37-14} #### Railways: Evaluation of Proposed Lines (Question No. 5823) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has the Bureau of Transport Economics made or is it making an economic evaluation of any proposed railway lines other than that between Canberra and Yass (Hansard, 9 May 1972, page 2263). 1. If so, which proposals (a) have been and (b) are still being evaluated. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) The Bureau of Transport Economics is evaluating some extensions to existing suburban railway lines as part of the Urban Public Transport study. In addition the Bureau's resources were used to assist in the A.T.A.C. study of railway problems, including upgrading of existing tracks.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.