House of Representatives
12 September 1972

27th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

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– I have to inform the House that, in reply to the Address of Condolence of this House on the occasion of the death of Prince William, Her Majesty the Queen has sent the following message: 1 am most grateful to the members of the Senate and the members of the House of Representatives for their kind message of sympathy on the death of Prince William. Elizabeth R.

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– I desire to inform honourable members that we have present in the gallery this morning the delegates attending the first Australian parliamentary seminar arranged by the Commonwealth and State branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The delegates come from branches of the Association in the Pacific and South East Asian areas and in the Australian States and Territories. I am sure that the House would wish me to extend to the delegates a very warm welcome and to express the hope that the seminar being held in Parliament House this week will be most successful.

Honourable members - Hear, Hear!

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Prime Minister · Lowe · LP

Mr Speaker, the outrage by terrorists at the Olympic Games in Munich is still very much in our minds.


-Order! Does the Prime Minister wish to make a statement by leave?


– Yes.


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


– The outrage by terrorists at the Olympic Games in Munich is still very much in our minds. We share the grief which swept the whole world at the barbarous acts of terrorism which led to the death of members of the Israeli team.

On behalf of the Government and the Australian people I have already sent a message of sympathy to the Prime Minister of Israel and to the Israeli people. It is with sadness and with heartfelt sympathy for those who have suffered so much that I submit to the House the following motion:

That this House expresses its horror and shock at the violence which was perpetrated upon competitors and officials at Munich and which threatened to destroy the spirit of the 1972 Olympic Games. The House extends its deepest sympathies to the families and relatives of the deceased, and calls upon all countries which participated in the Games to preserve this unique institution from attacks on its competitors and its ideals.

In doing this, Mr Speaker, I express the hope that acts of terrorism can be contained by constructive international efforts.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– In supporting the motion moved by the Prime Minister I want to express support for everything he has said. On the day of this outrage, as leader of a fraternal party, I sent to the Prime Minister of Israel the following message:

In this hour of horror and tragedy for Israel and the world may I express our deepest sorrow and sympathy to your Government and people.

On the same day I sent the following message to the President of the Jewish Board of Deputies in Sydney:

The madness and horror of this act will not hide the ultimate truth that the martyrs of Munich have died in the cause of Israel’s right to exist and for Jewish freedom everywhere as surely as if they had died in battle. On behalf of my Party, I express our deepest sorrow and sympathy to the Australian Jewish community in this hour of frightfulness for Israel, and for all Jews and for the friends of Israel around the world.

I merely wish to add on this occasion that it is to the peril of us all if we continue to delay in solving those problems of borders and dispossession which are increasingly aggravating relations in the Middle East and among people who have ties with the Middle East. Perhaps it is not unfitting also at this time to recognise that this is a very great tragedy for the German people also. The new Germany has made very earnest and sincere efforts at reconciliation and atonement. For this tragedy to occur on German soil and in such a way as to involve the German authorities so deeply cannot but be a frightful blow to German self-confidence and German hopes, as indeed it has been to the hopes of the world.


– I support the motion moved by the Prime Minister, and I thank him for moving it. I sent a telegram to him and to the Leader of the Opposition last week asking that such a motion be moved, and I am delighted that he has done so.

It is now 6 days since the massacre at Munich. It was an event unparalleled in its implications, unparalleled in its cowardliness and unparalleled in its ferocity. It is not the first time that so-called Arab guerillas have murdered and maimed innocent civilians. Airports, school buses, supermarkets, playgrounds and cinemas have become the new front line for these international cowards. It is doubtful whether any group of human beings has ever more justly earned the contempt of the world. The fact that this House is taking the unprecedented step of supporting such a motion is a measure of the universal horror at the enormity of this crime. Why did they do it? God only knows. What did they hope to achieve? Again God only knows. Did they really believe that Israel would surrender to their blackmail? Are they so stupid that they were not aware of Jewish history, of Israeli resolve? To choose Munich, so near Dachau where millions died, is a tragic irony. Arab nations, Jordan excepted, have disgraced themselves by their statements of support for this crime. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria and others must bear the blame for harbouring and breeding these vicious killers. The vitriol that has been poured out against Israel over the past 23 years has been the cause of this type of guerilla action. The tragedy is that others must die because of the increased conflagration that will occur in the Middle East.

I am one of those who believe that it is right that the Olympic Games should have gone on. Even though they continued in great sadness, I believe that had the Games been stopped this would have been the green light for any group of fanatics throughout the world to choose such an occasion, such a function, in the hope that their cause would gain even greater publicity. I understand the Israelis and those others who thought that the Games ought to have been cancelled. In soberer moments the world will agree that it was right that the Olympic Games should continue. It is so tragic that the Games at Munich should have been chosen for this act because of all the functions at which the nations of the world gather together, the Olympic Games are a function at which men and women of all the different creeds, nationalities and colours gather together in the hope that there will be greater peace. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion moved by the Prime Minister.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The Clerk:

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

Overseas Aid

To the honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:

That the undersigned believe . . .

That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.

That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.

That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.

That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that . . .

Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240m.

Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides ma’ximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.

Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Anthony, Mr Fairbairn, Mr Calwell, Mr Beazley, Mr Brown, Mr Dobie, Mr Fox, Dr Gun, Mr Hallett, Mr Jess, Mr Reid and Dr Solomon.

Petitions received.

Richmond Airport

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding districts respectfully showeth:

That due to an expanding passenger air travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people living in the vicinity of airports.

That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated so as to preserve the environment of populated areas.

That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in surrounding districts.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second, twenty four hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Armitage, Dr Klugman and Mr Luchetti.

Petitions received.

Parliament House

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

That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resuling in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.

That the fragmentation of staff at West Block and other offices in the City due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relationships.

That although the present patchwork extension system results in better accommodation for some sections of the working population in the House it has worsened the accommodation in other areas by shutting out light and ventilation.

That the older sections of the House, besides being cramped, are affected by extremes of heat and cold and quite out of keeping with modern office working conditions.

That the House lacks proper records storage facilities, and other facilities, especially related to staff comfort, a requirement highly desirable in view of Parliament’s extended working hours.

That the present extensions, as with past extensions have been costly to the taxpayer and economically shortsighted and will merely relieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of time due to the inevitable growth of the business of this Parliament.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that an early decision will be taken by the Government to build the new and permanent Parliament House which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to house the Parliament and which will, at the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity.

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

Petition received.

Lake Pedder

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

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.

That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Everingham.

Petition received.


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

Pre-school and after-school education facilities are in urgent need within the Australian community. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join the workforce.

In advanced countries pre-school and afterschool education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to provide the necessary finance to enable State education departments and local government authorities to establish:

  1. Pre-school centres.
  2. After-school centres.
  3. Facilities for training the staff for such centres.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Klugman.

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 yesterday to attend the meeting of the South Pacific Forum in Suva. He is expected to return to Australia on 15th September. During his absence, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, is Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and represents the AttorneyGeneral in this House.

I also regret to say that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has not yet recovered from his illness and will be absent for a further period. Dr Forbes will continue to act as Minister for Health.

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– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether it is a fact that a Philippines ship has dumped or contemplated dumping some 20 tons of waste oil in the sea between Sydney and Newcastle. The honourable gentleman will recall that the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible foi port development and marine matters in September last year decided that the existing maximum penalty of $2,000 for discharging oil from a ship into the sea was inadequate and should be raised ‘immediately’ - the conference used that word - to $50,000. He will recall also that on 7tb December last he promised that the amendment would come into the House in the autumn session along with other amendments to the Navigation Act. I ask: As the Navigation Act that he brought in last March did not cover this point and as the United Nations Conference on the Human Enviroment in June and the Australian Environment Council in July have stressed its urgency, how soon will this minute amendment to replace 3 words in existing Commonwealth legislation be introduced?

Minister for Shipping and Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– It is not a fact that the ship referred to by the Leader of Opposition proposed to dump 20 tons of oil off shore from Newcastle or Sydney. I am not sure of the tonnage involved, but there was an application for permission for the ship to dump a quantity of ballast 150 miles off the coast of Australia in accordance with the provisions of the international conven tion. The ballast in question was a tankful of water which had been put into an empty fuel tank, a practice which is permitted by the international convention. The Department approved of the dumping of the ballast because it was within the terms of the convention. The latter part of the honourable member’s question referred to an amendment to the Navigation Act. I suspect that the amendment he has mentioned is to be introduced during this session of the Parliament, depending on the business of the House. It is scheduled to be brought in this session. However, I shall check on that and let the Leader of Opposition know.

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Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister · COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware of recent Press reports that at least 20 babies have died in France following the use of a talcum powder which contains the wrong proportion of the chemical hexachloropene? In view of the great concern that this has caused in Australia, a concern which has been reflected in a very large number of inquiries from constituents in my electorate of Cook, can the Minister inform the House whether any importations of the powder into Australia have occurred and, if so, what steps are being taken to prevent their sale? Can he inform the House also whether steps are being taken to prevent its importation in the future?

Minister for Customs and Excise · HOTHAM, VICTORIA · LP

– I, too, have received many letters from parents who are concerned that some of this talcum powder which allegedly caused the death of 20 babies in France might have found its way to Australia. I have had my Department make inquiries into this matter. It has been established that none of this powder has been imported into Australia. I have given instructions for the Department to be on the lookout for it and, if any of it is brought in, it will be immediately referred to the Commonwealth health authorities for report.

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– I ask the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts a question. Will the Minister release the list of internees from various European countries who travelled to Australia in the transport ship ‘Dunera’ which sailed from Liverpool on 10th July 1940 and arrived in Sydney on 7th September 1940? When is it likely that the Government will be able to release the report of the inquiry which followed charges of irregularities and ill-treatment meted out to the internees by some of the personnel of the transport ship ‘Dunera’?

Minister for Environment, Aborigines and the Arts · CASEY, VICTORIA · LP

– The House will recall the circumstances in which the ‘Dunera’ brought these passengers to Australia in 1940. I gather that the interest of the right honourable member stems from a desire to the author Mr Cyril Pearl to write a biography of some of the people who were in the ship at that time.

Mr Calwell:

– You are 100 per cent right.


– I try to be well informed on some of these matters. As the right honourable member will know also, 2 lists are in existence, one held in Australia and one in the United Kingdom. Before making a decision on this matter I sought the attitude of the United Kingdom and I found that the United Kingdom Government has a firm policy on the nondisclosure of records that would cause distress or embarrassment to living persons, particularly individuals, and that this list falls definitely within that category. On this matter one has to seek a judgment between the value to historical research on the one hand and the wishes of individuals on the other hand. In these days of computers governments must be very careful about the kind of personal and private information that is disclosed. I think the remarks of the honourable member for Griffith at the time of the last census about the disclosure of personal information should be taken into account and we should remember to what extent personal opinion about this important matter has been affected. At any rate, having taken a great deal of judgment on this matter, the Government has decided that on balance there should not be a release of this document because there are too many individuals who would be personally affected. 1 hope that, having raised the matter, the right honourable member will draw the attention of all those people in Australia who may be interested to Mr Cyril Pearl’s project. This may be an opportunity to advertise the fact that they should get in touch with him because I am sure the project has a lot of merit.

Regarding the second part of the right honourable member’s question, as far as I can ascertain at the moment this report will fall within the general rule that has been announced dealing with the release of documents, but I hope it will not be many weeks before the whole of the wartime records can be made available for examination and this will, I expect, fall in line with it. However, I will make absolutely certain and let the right honourable member know.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry on behalf of shark fishermen at Stanley in Tasmania. In view of the evidence that mercury in sharks is not from industrial pollution and hence can be expected to te contained at fairly static levels, will the Government take the initiative to raise the legal mercury level for flake from 0.5 parts per million to 1 part per million? Is the Minister aware that the adverse publicity given to this matter has resulted in depressed prices to fishermen? Finally, will the Minister investigate ways and means by which a price subsidy can be given to restore to fishermen the return of 25c per lb, which was the average price in the Victorian market for the last 2 seasons, until such time as some stability and confidence are restored to the industry?

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

– I think it needs to be recognised that it is not really the province of the Government or of politicians at Federal or State level to take a decision on the minimal intake of any particular ingredients. In this instance the decision about mercury content in shark has been based on a level set by the National Health and Medical Research Council of which a subcommittee last week reconsidered the matter. The Australian Fisheries Council, which met in Sydney yesterday, was concerned that the sub-committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council should take into account all the facts that prevail in other countries where this 0.5 parts per million is established as the maximum permisible percentage. It seems that there are 2 variables, one being the percentage of mercury in fish and the other the amount of fish a person eats. In those countries where people are fish eaters to a far greater degree than in Australia there seems to be, in many instances, a higher acceptable standard. I understand that the World Health Organisation is expected to bring out a report on its analysis of mercury levels in fish some time next month. In addition the Commonwealth Government, per medium of the Australian fisheries research grant that I have authorised through the funds available in the Department of Primary Industry, has allocated to the Victorian Government some money specifically to look at this matter.

Of course there are 2 problems. One very real one, which I think all members of this House would accept, is that there must be a final responsibility for medical advice on which to set minimum or maximum percentages of injurious substances. The other real problem concerns the economics of the industry. In this respect the honourable member has suggested the introduction of a subsidy. I think it is probably more appropriate that we investigate to ascertain what other fishing can be undertaken to try to ensure that those who have been so dependent upon shark fishing for a market such as the Victorian market, where I understand that about 70 per cent of fish consumed has been flake or shark, may be able to divert from their present fishing into other areas. However I will look at the honourable member’s suggestion but I think it is preferable to allocate funds for research into alternative fishing rather than provide a subsidy for shark fishing jf, in fact, shark does contain above acceptable maximum limits of mercury.

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– I ask the Minister for Defence: What progress has been made in assessing Service attitudes to the proposed new defence forces retirement benefits scheme? What have been the main sources of objection, if any, to the proposals? Will the Government introduce legislation to provide a new defence forces retirement benefits scheme based on the recommendations of the Jess Committee before the endof thissession?

Minister for Defence · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– First of all, I point out that the Minister in charge of defence forces retirement benefits is the Treasurer, not the Minister for Defence. A considerable amount of work has been done on the recommendations of the Jess Committee. The 3 Services have given a full reply on all aspects of this matter and that is under consideration at present. The Government is shortly to consider the recommendations of the Services, the Jess Committee and the Treasury. Of course, this is a matter of policy, and as soon as a decision has been made it will be announced.

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– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the controversy now taking place at Boyanup in Western Australia, where live weight sales of cattle were introduced some time ago and where butchers recently have refused to buy female cattle over the age of 12 months and now are insisting on their right to buy these female cattle by appraisal? Will the Minister have this situation investigated with a view to determining whether the export inspection services within his Department or the Trade Practics Tribunal could take action with respect to this matter?


– I believe that live weight selling is a very valuable adjunct to the system of selling livestock. 1 find it difficult to understand why buyers should have taken the course of action the honourable gentleman alleges. I would have thought that visual appraisal could fit in very well with normal sale by weight methods and, for that reason, have been a help rather than a hindrance to buyers as well as vendors. As to the solutions the honourable gentleman suggests, I doubt whether there is any power within my Department or the Trade Practices Tribunal to take action with respect to the withdrawal of competition; but I suggest the buyers in Western Australia themselves might take note of the concern the honourable gentleman has expressed in this House as I am sure that they as well as the growers at this stage are the sufferers from the practice they are pursuing.

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– Can the Minister for Immigration give an assurance that security and screening processes will be applied to prospective migrants from Arab countries to ensure that Australia is kept free from the activities of Arab terrorists? Can the Minister give an assurance that such measures will be more effective against Arab terrorists than they have been against extremists or terrorist elements formerly in Croatia or other parts of Yugoslavia?

Minister for Immigration · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The screening methods are designed specifically to exclude from Australia, so far as is possible, extremists of both the Right and the Left. In that context I can give the honourable gentleman the assurance which he seeks in relation to Arab terrorists. I feel just as strongly about them as he does.

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– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the disquiet within the canned fruit industry throughout Australia at the past Victorian policy of issuing further water licences for the growing of fruit under irrigation? Will the Minister take up with the new Hamer Government the possibility of a reversal of this shortsighted policy which has consistently added to the industry surplus?


– The disposal of water rights by any State falls within its own responsibility. After all it is Victorian water and Victorian authorities are in a position to determine where it should be allocated. Nonetheless the honourable member’s question alludes to one of the real problems in primary industry, namely the progressive tendency to develop industries without a consciousness of market availability. Unfortunately there are quite critical problems facing the canned fruits industry, not only with existing markets but because of the potential entry of Britain into the European Economic Community. As this means that not only existing growers but new growers will be likely to find a contraction in available volume of sales and prices paid, I would think that the issuing of water licences with the idea of encouraging further production is a very shortsighted policy. Accordingly I will be happy at least to contact my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture in Victoria, and ensure that he is aware of the consequences of issuing water licences.

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– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister seen reports that last year on the Pacific route to the United States of America, Qantas Airways Ltd carried 36,446 passengers compared with 45,100 carried by Pan American World Airways Incorporated and 9,918 carried by American Airlines Incorporated, which represented a load factor of 40 per cent for Qantas and 55 per cent of Pan Am? Is this the first time since 1957 that Pan Am has carried more passengers than Qantas on the Pacific route? What is the reason for this serious loss of business by Qantas and what action is proposed to ensure a more reasonable share of the market for it?

Minister for National Development · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– 1 appreciate the information given by the honourable member, which I assume is correct.

Mr Charles Jones:

– I was sure you would. What are you going to do about it?


– I will take the matter up with my colleague in another place to ensure that the figures are accurate. Qantas is a major world carrier. If the honourable member wishes to make comparisons I suggest that he make them not only on the Pacific route but also on the Kangaroo route to Europe and the United Kingdom, because in that case he will find that Qantas has a very substantial portion of the traffic that is carried. The honourable member is aware that a statement was made last year in relation to the problems of Qantas and the viability of its operations, brought about by additional competition from United States international carriers. This certainly had an effect on the figures for last year. That situation was recognised and as a result Qantas has taken the lead throughout the world in reducing fares. That has had a very substantial effect on improving the figures during this year. I suggest that the honourable member contain himself until the figures come out at the end of the next financial year, when he will see a substantial improvement in passanger carriage not only on the Pacific route but also on all routes that Qantas operates throughout the world. I will certainly check on the figures and refer the matter to my colleague in another place.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. As there has been little information on the subject recently, I ask: What progress has been made in the building of the proposed Dartmouth dam? Can the Minister say when it is envisaged that this project will be completed and operative?


– A considerable amount of the preparatory work in relation to the proposed Dartmouth dam has been completed by the Victorian department concerned on behalf of the River Murray Commission and the governments involved. That includes a lot of the necessary earthworks, necessary access roads and clearing. We are now in the position where tenders for the major construction work will be called in the near future. As to the actual timing of the conclusion of the work on the main dam, it is not possible at this point of time to give an exact date. Of course the delay by South Australia in taking action regarding the agreement has, as the honourable member would be well aware, put the programme back at least 18 months. But, taking that into account, we hope that the reappraisal of a new time factor when agreement was ultimately reached, will work out without any further delay. I can assure the honourable member that the Commonwealth is as anxious as the other governments involved to ensure that this vitally important work is concluded as quickly as possible.

Mcmahon ministry


– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Has his attention been drawn to the use of Department of the Treasury personnel to draft letters for the Minister assisting the Treasurer thanking honourable members who have contributed to the debate on the Budget? Has his attention also been drawn to the use of departmental facilities by the Minister for Labour and National Service to circulate within his Department a condemnation of certain Australian Labor Party candidates, including the Leader of the Opposition? Without debating the merits of the material circulated, will the right honourable gentleman state what action he proposes to take to limit such partisan use of public resources?


– The answer to both questions is no. As to the first part of the question asked by the honourable gentleman, I can see nothing improper about it; in fact, I think it is wise that it should be done. As to the second part of the question, I will have a talk with my colleague about it.

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– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I ask: Is the Treasurer aware of a statement made last Monday week concerning the supression of migrant employment statistics? If so, will he investigate this serious allegation and inform the House of the result of his investigation?

Treasurer · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– I am aware of a statement by the Leader of Opposition in which he said that there was a suppression of information. That suppression of information was alleged to be a political direction to the Commonwealth Statistician. I can understand the honourable gentleman playing his politics rough and tough, but I cannot understand him making a deliberate attack upon a senior and independent public servant of impeccable reputation. The basis of the allegation was that in February material had been published about the incidence of unemployment among migrants but that that material had not been published in May. The Leader of Opposition made that a major plank in a quite unfounded allegation of some degree of deception to make unemployment figures look better. The facts are that there had been such a decline in unemployment among migrants between February and May that the Commonwealth Statistician decided that the sample was too small for it to be relied upon as a statistical device. Therefore, the Commonwealth Statistician took his own decision not to publish it. I believe that the allegation made by the honourable gentleman was even worse than the allegations made by Senator Georges and the honourable member for Lalor who made a deliberate accusation against the Commissioner of Taxation whose probity is beyond reproach. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition should forthwith make an apology humbly to the Commonwealth Statistician. If he fails to make an apology to the Statistician not only is he worsening an unfounded allegation designed only to harm the Statistician but also he is making what amounts to an attack upon the probity of the entire Commonwealth Public Service, and for that he has no warrant.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I preface it by assuring him that I have and always have had nothing but the highest admiration for the Commonwealth Statistician. It was the Treasurer who suppressed the figures, not the Commonwealth Statistician. I ask: Firstly, does the Treasurer recall that, in giving the statistics on the labour force for February last, the Commonwealth Statistician said:

  1. . corresponding information will be obtained each quarter in future and will be published in the regular quarterly- labour force bulletins.

Secondly, will the right honourable gentleman explain why in the following labour force bulletin, that for May, the following words are obliterated? I will read the sentence and then I will give those words that have been obliterated.


-Order! The honourable gentleman is reading from a document. As he knows, he is not allowed to do this in question time.


– I am directing the attention of the Treasurer to it.


– The honourable member knows that there is a time for him to do this if he claims that he has been misrepresented and that he will not be in order in giving information continually to the House. If he wishes to ask a question, he may do so. He may paraphrase the material.


– Can the right honourable gentlemen explain why the words ‘and for migrants year of arrival in Australia’ are obliterated from the Statistician’s document on the labour force for May? Finally, has he yet obtained the information which last Thursday he promised to obtain for me on this matter?


– The honourable gentleman said that the Treasurer suppressed the figures. That allegation is a total, unmitigated prevarication and a departure from the truth.

Mr Whitlam:

– On your part.


– On your part.


-Order! I suggest that this crossfire across the table cease.


– It is not parliamentary to use the word that is appropriate to describe that statement of the Leader of the Opposition. He well knows it. He has made an allegation against the Commonwealth Statistician. He cannot support it. The allegation against the Commonwealth Statistician is that he has suppressed something which it is his duty to make known if, in his professional judgment, it should be made known. The honourable gentleman’s allegation is that the Commonwealth Statistician, for reasons which he has not attempted to state, suppressed this information. When tested on that point, the Leader of the Opposition made a direct allegation that I suppressed the figures. I now say to the House and to the honourable gentleman that he has worsened his position by making that specific allegation. (Honourable members interjecting) -


-Order! If the House does not come to order I will be forced to take action which, I think, would be undesirable on the first day back after a week’s recess. I can understand the particular concern of some honourable members but I will not put up with a barrage of interjections from either side.


– I have not given any instructions at all to the Statistician. I was unaware of this matter until after the event - until after the allegation had been made by the Leader of the Opposition. I immediately contacted the Statistician, who expressed to me his strongest hurt and annoyance that such an allegation should be made. That night, I issued a statement which was communicated to the Statistician before it was issued. The Statistician strongly and properly resents any allegation that either he was the tool of suppression or that he did it of his own volition, unrelated to any technical matters relating to his professional competence as the Statistician. That the Leader of the Opposition further worsened the situation by a direct allegation against me just illustrates the calibre of the man.


– I seek leave to table a document showing the words obliterated.


– Is leave granted?

Mr McMahon:

– No.

Mr Snedden:

– What is the relevance of the words obliterated to the allegation?


– Order! The Treasurer does not have the call. Leave is not granted.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been drawn to the despicable action of members of the socalled Abortion Reform Society who paraded with banners outside St Christopher’s Roman Catholic Cathedral at all services on Sunday last, annoying worshippers who are opposed to abortion on demand or request? As the great majority of Australians believe in freedom of worship, will the Minister take action against these arrogant people who are prepared to parade and annoy people outside any place of worship?

Minister for the Interior · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– This matter has been drawn to my attention and I sympathise with the parishioners who might have been upset by the demonstration which took place outside the Cathedral. However, it would appear that there was no breach of the law. I have asked the Commissioner of Police to investigate the matter. I checked with my Department this morning and, as far as I am aware, no official complaint about the demonstration has been lodged with my Department or with the police. I can only regard the action by the people concerned as being in very poor taste and interfering with the rights of individuals to conduct their worship - in this case, Mass at the Cathedral throughout Sunday - and I hope that people who desire to protest in some way or another will respect the rights of people to worship in this country as they so wish, without this sort of impediment.

page 1128




– Is the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs able to give the House any information on the arrest and conscription into the Yugoslav Army of an Australian citizen who was visiting that country recently?


– No, but I shall treat the question as though it were on notice.

page 1128




– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister, who in a televised interview last night mentioned the 3 times when he acted decisively in the Cabinet. He mentioned his standing up to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister’s supporters in the Cabinet.


– Order! I understand that the honourable member is making a statement or is giving information. I have ruled other questions of this sort out of order this morning. In fairness 1 suggest that the honourable member should ask his question.


– I am asking a question. How can I ask the question if I do not-


– Order! That is your business; it is not mine. The honourable member will ask his question.


– Is it true that last night the Prime Minister, when he mentioned the 3 occasions on which he decisively acted in the Cabinet referred to his decisive action in refuting the Deputy Prime Minister and his supporters on the question of revaluation, wool acquisition and the election date? Does this attack on the Australian Country Party indicate a fear on his part that after the next election the Country Party will be the major Opposition Party?


– As to the last part of the question, it is unbelievable that any man could come to such a conclusion as the honourable member has come to. If the honourable member wishes I can make arrangements for him to go to Channel 9 where he not only could see a replay of the programme but also could have someone explain it to him.

page 1128




– Has the Treasurer taken recent action to end the use of Norfolk Island as what is known as a tax haven? Why was this done? Does this action apply to foreign and Australian companies?


– The use of Norfolk Island as a tax haven has posed a serious and growing threat to Australian revenue. The Esquire Nominees case alone involved

SI. 5m. This case was decided in favour of the Commonwealth but it was decided on an issue of fact rather than on an issue of law and therefore is still appellable. In looking for ways to stop the use of Norfolk Island as a tax haven the Government and its advisers bent over backwards in their attempt to minimise any disturbance of the present position of the genuine Island residents, individual or corporate. The simplest and technically cleanest solution would have been to make the Island wholly and unconditionally a part of Australia for income tax purposes. That solution was rejected in deference to the islanders’ known political and constitutional views, to obviate complications as regards social welfare benefits and to avoid imposing tax on the islanders in respect of genuine Island source income and foreign source income. The solution which was proposed is, I believe, the right solution. I have made a statement on the matter and it is available to the honourable gentleman. The legislation has not been introduced, but I will be glad to make details available to the honourable member in anticipation of the drafting.

page 1129



Mr Clyde Cameron:

– 1 ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the September unemployment figures already are available and will be released on Monday of next week. Has he seen them? If so, can be confirm that they have increased by another 10,000?

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

– It is totally irresponsible for the honourable gentlemen to raise in this House a reference to unemployment and expect me to answer him in a precise way which at the present time simply would add further confusion in relation to unemployment to that confusion which has long been sustained by honourable gentlemen opposite. Whilst the honourable gentleman is entitled to regard this as perhaps being a matter of mirth, the simple fact is that in recent months there has been among the ranks of front bench members on the other side of the House confusion as to the projection of unemployment figures. The honourable gentlemen will well recall that he, in company with the shadow Minister for Trade, has mooted the possi bility of an increase of 100,000 in the number of unemployed, bringing the total figure to 200,000. But, of course, his more moderate and more restrained colleague, the shadow Treasurer, has mooted an increase to 150,000.

I think that this matter does not lend itself to that type of speculation, because what these statements do - confused and divisive as they are - is simply to seek to destroy and undermine what is the critical question before the Australian economy, and that is the confidence of the business community and in particular of consumers in relation to their spending patterns. The Government’s position on employment has been made quite clear. We expect that in the months ahead there will be a fall in relation to the raw figures, but that will not occur overnight. I will not comment at this stage on the figures that will be released next Monday. The final figures are currently being compiled in the head office of my Department in Melbourne. The honourable gentleman, with his long experience, should know far better than to ask a question of that type at this time.

page 1129




– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen statements by the General Manager of the Australian Wheat Board and by the economic adviser to the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation advocating a reduction in the official price of stockfeed wheat to 125c and 120c respectively? As a reduction in the price -


– Order! The honourable gentleman’s preface is far too long. He is now giving information. I suggest that he ask his question.


– I ask: Will a reduction in price affecting a major section of the market seriously prejudice the ability to maintain a first advance of 110c at a time of increasing and high costs? If so, will the Minister make a clear and unequivocal statement in respect of this matter?


– I have always been filled with apprehension at suggestions that the prices of grains should be reduced unless there are to be compensatory advantages for growers and consumers. It is true that grain is becoming used to a far greater degree for stockfeed , purposes. It is equally true, however, that on world markets there is a firming trend, particularly for wheat. I think that the honourable gentleman’s first assumption, that were there to be a lower price set for sales of wheat for stockfeed purposes this could prejudice the present operations within the wheat stabilisation scheme, is quite correct. Moreover, as from 1st July next year there will be a necessary re-examination of the whole wheat stabilisation scheme. I think that, in the short term, any downward adjustment of this character could well prejudice any arrangements that might be entered into at this stage. For that reason I believe that the industry is best served by maintaining the present arrangements, which ensure growers a reasonable return and which help to compensate them for the constant escalation in costs with which they are faced.

page 1130



– i have been misrepresented in the report of an address by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn).


-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been personally misrepresented?


– Yes, I have been personally misrepresented in a report of an address by the Minister for Defence in Griffith, published yesterday, 11th September. This follows a similar misrepresentation in the well known radical periodical, the ‘Countryman’. The Minister is reported as having said:

Labor spokesman, Mr Grassby, has said that the Labor Party: ‘has drawn on experience of the U.S. S R. and other countries to prepare a programme for socialist agriculture for this nation based on national planning . . .’

This is completely and absurdly incorrect. What I said was:

We have drawn on experience in the U.S.A. with corporation firms and in the U.S.S.R. with collective farms to show the Australian Government that the policy of get big or get out has been tried in both these countries and has failed in its agricultural and social objectives.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)Mr Speaker, I have been misrepresented. I would like to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Labor and National Service (Mr Lynch) said that I had made the statement that there would be 200,000 unemployed, and the inference was that that would be the figure this month. What I said was that the number of unemployed would exceed 200,000 in February of next year. That is below the 250,000 prognostication made by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and it is in line with the information I have from the Minister’s own Department.

page 1130


Treasurer · Bruce · LP

– 1 have a document which is dated 4th September from the Bureau of Census and Statistics.


– I am going to ask for leave to table the document.


– ls leave granted?

Mr Whitlam:

– Yes.


– Leave is granted.


– This document is a copy. It is not an original. It is over the signature of J. P. O’Neill, Commonwealth Statistician. It is addressed to the Secretary, Department of the Treasury, for the attention of Mr C. R. Rye. It is dated 4th September 1972. There is on the document some writing. Underlined in paragraph 7 on the second page are the words ‘It was decided’. That underlining is in fact my underlining. I asked my private secretary, Mr Hutton, to ascertain who it was who had ‘decided’. Written in the column in Mr Hutton’s writing are the words ‘statistically by the Commonwealth Statistician’.

Mr Whitlam:

– Perhaps it would help the Treasurer if I were to allow him to table an unnotated edition which I have. I think it shows the obliterations more clearly.


-Order! The Chair has no jurisdiction over that. The Minister can table it at any time.


– The document I am tabling is not the document that the Leader of the Opposition has.

Mr Whitlam:

– Let me see the document that the Treasurer is seeking to table.


– Permission was granted for it to be tabled. Does the Leader of the Opposition want to table a different document?

Mr Whitlam:

– Let me see the document that the Treasurer has.


– The Minister does not know what document the Leader of the Opposition has.

Mr Whitlam:

– I realise that he does not, but he asked for it.


– What does the Leader of the Opposition wish to do?

Mr Whitlam:

– May I read it?


– You will have to seek leave if you wish to make a statement. I cannot delay the business of the House while you read the document. If after I have called something else on you wish to go ahead with the matter, I will give you the call.

Mr Whitlam:

– All right.

page 1131


Prime Minister · Lowe · LP

– Pursuant to section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922-1972,I present the annual report of the Public Service Board for the year ended 30th June 1972.

page 1131


Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– For the information of honourable members, I present an interim statement on the activities of the Australian Egg Board for the year ended 30th June. When the final report is available, it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.

page 1131


PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– Pursuant to section 28 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1972, I present the 24th annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1972 together with the financial accounts and the report of the Auditor-General on those accounts.

page 1131


Minister for Customs and Excise · Hotham · LP

– For the information of honourable members, I present a Tariff Board report on Phthalic Anhydride (Dumping and Subsidies Act) dated 30th June 1972. This report does not call for any legislative action.

page 1131


Assent to the following Bills reported:

Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1972.

States Grants (Pre-School Teachers Colleges) Bill 1972.

New Guinea Timber Agreement Act (Repeal) Bill 1972.

Papua New Guinea Bill 1972.

page 1131



Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I move:

It will be observed that I am seeking to have a debate and a vote on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill on which I made a second reading speech on 1 1th May, more than 4 months ago. The Bill is very short. Its sole purpose and consequence is to give the vote to 18 year old, 19 year old and 20 year old men and women in elections for either House of this Parliament. It now falls to this Parliament to decide this matter. I do not propose to speak on the merits of the Bill because honourable members have had in excess of 4 months to consider it. In the last few years many honourable members on both sides of this House and members in each House have expressed their views on the matter. There can be no doubt that people have made up their minds on this issue and, accordingly, they should be ready to vote on it.

It may be said that to debate this matter would delay the passage of the Budget. Therefore, I assert, as I have here and outside on several occasions in the last few weeks, that as soon as the Social Services Bill, the Repatriation Bill or any other Bills of that character are introduced into the House we will put them through that very day as we did at the time of the mini budget last April. There will be no delay in the passage of any of these Bills. We will support the Bills; they will go through immediately, the very day they are introduced. The other Bills, such as the taxation Bills, as far as we are concerned will be passed very promptly as soon as they are brought on for debate. Some are listed for debate today. They should go through today. Therefore, there can be no delay in implementing the Budget through a debate and a vote on this Bill.

It might be said also that there would not be time for people gaining the vote under this Bill to be enrolled for the House of Representatives election this year. There has been a great deal of speculation as to when the election will be held. I do not know why people need to be so coy about the date. We are happy to have the election as soon as the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) can make up his mind. The earliest date that has been suggested is 28th October. There is, on the Western Australian experience, time to get all the persons gaining suffrage under this Bill on the electoral rolls by that time. In Western Australia the Act to give the vote at 18 was proclaimed on Sth December 1970. The electoral rolls, closed on 20th January 1971. In that interval about 45,000 persons were enrolled. They would not all have been under 21 years of age. But, nevertheless, for a State of that population, a very targe increase in enrolment occurred and it was satisfactorily accomplished in time for last year’s election for the Western Australian Parliament.

Perhaps I should clarify the issue here. There are 2 other Bills of the same name on the notice paper. One is Government Business, Order of the Day No. 30 - Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1971 - in the name of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). He gave the second reading speech on that Bill on 31st March 1971. That Bill does not deal with the subject of votes at the age of 1 8 years. However, the long title of the Bill is such that it was open to any honourable member to move an amendment to it for the purpose of giving votes at the age of 18 years. My Party promptly announced at that time that it would be moving such an amendment. It might be thought that it is for that reason that the debate on the Bill has not been resumed in the ensuing 18 months. There is another Bill of the same name under General Business, Order of the Day No. 7 - Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1971 - in the name of the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) who gave the second reading speech on that Bill on 1st April last year. Therefore this Bill has been before honourable members for only 17i months. It provides among other things for votes at 18 years of age.

There is a fourth Bill dealing with this matter. It appears on the notice paper under General Business as Order of the Day No. 3- Adulthood Bill 1970- which stands in my name. I gave the second reading speech on that Bill on 4th June 1970. This Bill gives adult rights not only with regard to suffrage but also with regard to marriage. I have not to date sought to bring that Bill on because it would cover another subject on which honourable members may not have made up their minds. My motion covers the most recent of those 4 Bills which covers suffrage, or could be made to cover suffrage. It has been on the notice paper for 4 months. It need not delay any Government business in this session.

There are 2 concluding comments that I wish to make. The first is that the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), on the eve of the last election for the House of Representatives, forecast - I said earlier that he promised, but he pointed out that it was a forecast and not a promise - that 18-year olds would be voting in this year’s election. There is no question that the general expectation which has been entertained for nearly 3 years has been that 18-year olds would be voting in this year’s election for the House of Representatives. In fact it was thought that they would be voting in the last Senate election also. Be that as it may, however, there are now 2 States in which 18, 19 and 20-year old men and women have the vote for the State Parliament. They had it at the last State election in Western Australia and they will have it for the next election for the State Parliament in South Australia. A Bill to give them the suffrage has gone through the Tasmanian House of Assembly and is before the Tasmanian Legislative Council. A similar Bill has gone through both houses of the New South Wales Parliament but its proclamation has been deferred, I am informed, until the Commonwealth legislates in this respect. The Commonwealth has promoted suffrage for 18, 19 and 20-year old men and women in this year’s election for the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea. I imagine that we should not concede that our 18-year olds are less qualified to exercise the franchise for the Australian National Parliament than are the 18-year olds of Papua New Guinea to exercise the franchise for their legislature.

This year in the United States there will be elections for the presidency, House of Representatives, a third or more of the Senate, a great number of governors, State legislators and other officials. Everywhere in the United States the suffrage is now available at 18 - federally, state and municipally. At the last elections in the United Kingdom the vote was exercised at 18. In the next elections in Canada the vote will be available at 18. At the next elections in West Germany it will be available at 18. This year there will be elections in West Germany, Canada and the United States and in every case the vote will be available at 18. Of course it has been available in the Netherlands and in a very great number of other countries in eastern Europe and Latin America for many years past but in all the countries with which Australia compares itself the vote now is available at 18 and it should be possible for this Parliament to express its view promptly on this subject in time for 18, 19 and 20-year old men and women to have the suffrage at this year’s national elections.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the motion seconded?


– I second the motion. I will be brief since it is unnecessary for me to go over the ground as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has pointed out the urgency of debating item No. 18 on the notice paper and has given reasons why it should be debated. It is interesting that this Bill has been on the notice paper for 4 months. It seeks to give the right to vote to men and women citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age. The Bill should be debated immediately not only because of its urgency with the impending elections but also because it involves 600,000 to 700,000 citizens who are being denied their franchise - a franchise accepted already in 37 countries and supported in Australia by State Liberal governments and even by some members of the Parties which sit opposite in this House and the other chamber. For some reason or other the Government desires to evade debating this important issue as well as any legislation appertaining to electoral reform. Without in any way indicating or misconstruing the Government’s intentions, I have a shrewd idea that the Australian Country Party is very touchy on important questions relating to electoral reform. As the Leader of the Opposition has shown, the notice paper is cluttered with several Bills not only on this issue but also on other matters of electoral reform which the Government refuses to debate.

This matter must be debated independently because the Government will not bring forward other legislation on electoral reform which would pemit members of the Opposition to move appropriate amendments to provide votes for 18-year-olds. We cannot amend the legislation introduced by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) because it has remained on the notice paper since 31st March 1971. In the 17 or 18 months since its introduction we have had no chance to move an amendment. Subsequently I introduced legislation on behalf of the Opposition which would have enabled members to express their views on this point but that Bill has remained on the notice paper since 1st April 1971. When is this issue to be debated? Why will the Government not bring the legislation forward? Surely this is not a matter which should be political. Many of those who are denied a vote are engaged in the armed forces and have been called upon to fight. If they are denied this fundamental right to the franchise, it is something which is unforgivable, I believe, in the minds of the Australian people.

I can see no reason why we should not debate this matter immediately. Let us express our views and give effect to the necessary reforms whereby the vote may be available immediately to those 18-year olds in the electorate. This can be done, as the Leader of the Opposition stated. It is not a question of delaying it because it cannot be implemented. It certainly could be implemented, as has already been proven. I do not wish to speak at greater length. The earlier we have a vote on this to see where the Government stands the better for the Parliament and the nation. i second the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition to suspend Standing Orders and, with members on this side, I will be interested to see whethers the real fear of defeat in the minds of members opposite is such that they will deny 600,000 to 700,000 citizens the right to vote.

Minister for the Interior · Gwydir · CP

– 1 oppose the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a debate to proceed on this issue, particularly in view of the fact that there is a fairly extensive legislative programme ahead of the Government. Quite clearly for political motives we are seeing a situation develop within the ranks of the Opposition whereby this issue has been raised within a few weeks of an election campaign. It is one of those instant coffee type situations that can arise, and certainly have arisen, on the eve of an election campaign. It is quite obvious from speeches that have been made in this House on several occasions that the Government has stated its position very clearly, namely, that to lower the franchise age without taking into account all the other related issues, such as the age of legal responsibility and the age of marriage, is unwise.

The Government has been considering for some considerable time a report that was prepared by the various departments on this whole question. I believe that to introduce a Bill to lower the franchise age before the States as a whole have finally resolved to introduce this measure is to rush the issue at a ridiculous pace. Admittedly, South Australia and Western Australia have legislated to introduce the 18, 19 and 20-year old franchise.

Mr Whitlam:

– And New South Wales.


– New South Wales has introduced legislation but it has not been proclaimed. I gather that that applies to a number of other States; indeed I think there is one State which has not yet made a decision on this matter. Why are we rushing this measure? Has there been a great clamour by 18, 19 and 20-year old people to exercise the franchise? I have spoken to a great number of young people on many occasions at various meetings. Whilst some may have expressed the view that there is an argument for lowering the franchise age, the question often has been asked: Should they be forced to enrol? These are the issues that I believe any government should take into consideration. We have to determine whether in fact the 18, 19 and 20-year-olds want the vote and, if a body of them does, whether we should make it compulsory for them to enrol. I do not think we should be stampeding the young people, who have enough pressures including education pressures on them at this time, into a situation in which they are forced to vote.

I believe that far too often members of this House - indeed parliamentarians generally - are inclined to think that the whole world revolves around them and that the whole community is interested in what we are doing in this place. In many cases parliamentarians feel obliged to try to impose upon people an obligation to vote for them. I wonder whether that is a right and proper thing to do at this time. I suppose that there would be political reasons why a party would want to try to stampede this issue on the eve of an election campaign, thinking that there could be short term political gains in the form of support at the polls from the youth of Australia. But the whole spectrum of the age of legal responsibility has been debated in this House on several occasions. As I said in an earlier debate, the issue of the age of legal responsibility and the age of marriage has a relevance to the question of adulthood. Indeed, the High Court of Australia unanimously decided that under section 41 of the Constitution people under 21 years of age must be regarded as not being adult for the purpose of the franchise. My Department and the Government certainly are studying that High Court judgment. I appeal to the House not to try to rush something through like this on the eve of the election, as it were. Even if we did go ahead with this Bill, even if both sides of the House agreed that there should be a lowering of the franchise age. there would be enormous and very serious technical difficulties facing the Commonwealth Electoral Office in trying to effect the enrolment of 18. 19 and 20-year-olds on the eve of an election.

This matter should be thought through. I believe that there has been good reason for debating the issue; I think it is a good thing if society considers the issue. However I do not think it would serve any purpose to suspend the Standing Orders and to put aside other business which the Government deems to be urgent in order to deal with this matter on the eve of an election. I believe that the Opposition’s move is nothing more than a political sham.


– I believe that the speech just made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) has to be shown up for its illogicality. The best I can say for him is that he did not have his heart in it and that he had a difficult brief. I will not detain the House for long, but I want to point out that this came through rather clearly. He mentioned that the House was being stampeded into this. I want to point out that far from that being the case, people in the States of South Australia and Western Australia - the Minister mentioned them - studied the legislation that went through their own Parliaments and there is overwhelming support for simitar legislation at the Commonwealth level. I do not know whom the Minister has been talking to, but let me assure him that in my urban seat I meet as many people as anybody in this House during the course of my work in the electorate. To give one example, last Saturday morning I was out at a shopping centre which is my usual forum on Saturday mornings and a number of people came up to me to speak about this very issue. They said: ‘Is it really a fact that this Government will allow us to go away and fight for our country at the age of 20 yet we cannot have a vote?’ The Government does that with the 20 year olds. The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) is interjecting, but I cannot hear what he is saying. It would be interesting to know where he stands on this issue. I hope that he will get up and tell us.

Mr Brown:

– They get the vote in the war zone, as you know.


– Yes, but what about when they come home? What about the ex-national servicemen or those who joined the Army at 18 years of age? I know that these people get a vote when they are in a war zone, but there are a lot of other people who do not. The Minister spoke about the difficulties of bringing this in. Far more difficulties face the Commonwealth Electoral Office right now because in South Australia and Western Australia its officers have to make the distinction between people who can vote in State elections and those who can vote in a Federal election. They face far more difficulties than they would if the Minister did the proper thing and acceded to the overwhelming feeling in the country and allowed 18 year olds to vote.

The other great argument he put forward was also put rather insincerely, I feel, because, I repeat, he did not seem to have his heart in the brief he was giving to the House. His argument was: Fancy making voting compulsory. He said that we over estimate what we are doing in this House. If he believes that what we do in this House is not important, let me tell him that all of us on this side do not agree. We are disgusted that the reformation of the House that is needed has not been carried out. The House should be reformed in so many ways, and this is not being done though it accords with the wishes of the people. We do not believe that by downgrading what we are doing here is to follow the proper course or, indeed, follow the wishes of the people. The Minister may believe that such a vote should not be compulsory, but why does he not allow it to be at least voluntary?

Mr Whitlam:

– If he were to put forward an amendment to that effect it would be carried.


– Exactly. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out so correctly that the Government could agree to the Standing Orders being suspended to enable the debate to continue - I notice that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) has the call - and a quick vote could be taken on the Bill. In the meantime the Minister could bring forward an amendment which would enable his wish that the vote be voluntary to be implemented. The Minister said that this matter has not been thought through. I believe that-


– Order! The time allotted for the debate has expired.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Whitlam’s) be agreed to.

The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr P. E. Lucock

AYES: 48

NOES: 53

Majority . . . . 5



Question so resolved in the negative.

page 1136


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 31 August (vide page 1 101), on motion by Mr Snedden:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


– I apologise to the House for speaking twice running on 2 separate matters. But I am filling in for an honourable member supporting the Government who is not yet in the House as it is the Government’s turn to put forward a speaker. This morning we are continuing a debate Which was adjourned last Thursday week on 2 Income Tax Bills. The first Bill is the Income Tax Bill 1972 and the second Bill is the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972. The first of these Bills introduces the new personal tax scales. Opposition members rejoice with those who are benefitting under these Bills. However, let me remind the House that if we were in power, we would find much that we would do to improve the Bills. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden), in introducing the Bills, was preaching to the converted when he said that the inter-action of money incomes rising with inflation and the progressive rates scale have led to income taxation becoming too heavy a burden on some sections of the community. This was the reason why the Treasurer proposed to alter the taxation scales.

To put this point into perspective, I draw attention to table 1 - the Summary of Commonwealth Expenditure and Receipts - particularly to those figures relating to the estimate for 1972-73 which appears on page 64 of the document which contains the Treasurer’s Budget Speech. I point out to the House that the income tax which it is estimated will be collected from individuals in Australia in 1972-73 under the pay-as-you-earn system will amount to $3, 278m and that this amount is an increase of $389,453,000 over that which was collected from individuals under this system in the previous year. In other words, although these adjustments have been made, $389,453,000 more will be collected from individuals during this financial year than was collected in 1971-72. Under the heading ‘Individuals’ it is estimated that the income tax to be collected in the financial year 1972-73 from ‘other’ sources will be $929,800,000. In the previous year the amount collected was $880,037,000. Therefore, it is expected that this figure will increase in this financial year by $49,763,000. The point that I want to make is that the Government is not being as generous as it would like to seem to be and that nearly $500m in extra tax is to be collected from individuals during the current financial year.

In order to put the change in the tax rates into perspective, another aspect which should be drawn to the attention of the House - I have already done so during my speech on the Budget - relates to the impact of the tax changes on the various income groups. I have a table drawn up by Professor Hogan, Professor of Economics at Sydney University, which I incorporated in Hansard during my speech on the Budget and on this occasion I will merely draw attention to the table and point out that the impact of the tax adjustments is more beneficial to the higher income groups than it is to the lower income groups. I shall refer to just one column of the table. For a man with a wife and 3 children and a taxable income of over $15,000, the percentage rise in after tax income is 5.3 per cent. This percentage rise reduces to 4.77 per cent if he has a taxable income of $12,000 or more. However, for the great majority of taxpayers, who are in the lower range of taxable incomes, the rise is not as great. The percentage rise in after tax income for a man on 82,800 per annum is only 2.24 per cent.

It is interesting to note that even Adam Smith, when he wrote on taxation matters, pointed out that the ability to pay should be one of the cardinal principles on which taxation is based. This is certainly not being applied in the alterations which we are debating today. I wish to quote from a work by T. S. Adams entitled ‘Ideals and Idealism in Taxation’. Mr Adams stated:

The reformers who preached progressive taxation, when the weight of authoritative economic opinion was against them, have exercised a powerful practical influence upon the tax systems of the world and I have no doubt that they won in part because they were right, because their proposals were sound. But the true explanation of victory is found in the fact that they were playing the game of democracy.

I believe that that is an important quotation and we ought to bear it in mind whenever we deal with taxation matters. I doubt whether it can be said that democracy is being applied in the changes that are now before us.

The next aspect of the Income Tax Bill 1972 is the lifting of the minimum taxable income from $417 to $1,041. Certainly we do not quibble with this change other than to say that it does not go far enough. 1 do not want to go over the ground that was covered by my colleague, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), in the speech he made on this Bill last Thursday week. On that occasion the honourable member pointed out so rightly - I think I am quoting him correctly from memory - that a man on $55 a week with a wife and a child and sometimes 2 child’ ren or more-

Mr Crean:

– I was referring to a wife and 2 children.


– The honourable member interjects and corrects me. He said <that he was referring to a wife and 2 children. The income of a man on $55 a week with a wife and 2 children should not be taxable. How many people in our country would disagree with that? The Australian Labor Party looks forward to the day when very shortly we will be able to apply our own principles to taxation tables. I am sure that one of our starting points will be that statement of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports who is the Labor Party’s shadow Treasurer.

The second Bil] to which we are applying our minds today is, as I have said, the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972. This Bill has 2 main impacts on taxation. The first is to increase dependants’ allowances. The dependant’s allowance, for instance, for a wife of $312 has been increased by $52 to $364. Similarly the dependant’s allowance of $208, the most common being for the eldest child, has been increased by $52 to $260. The dependant’s allowance for the second child and additional children equally has been increased by $52 from $156 to $208. Once again this is a move in the right direction. I must confess that I have not taken out a table showing the impact that these changes will have and how they relate to the value of the deductions at the time when the maximum deduction was increased to $312. But I venture to guess that even after these changes are made the family man with dependants will still not receive the same benefit from his dependants’ allowances as he did in earlier days. In fact, I am one who commends people such as the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) for drawing attention to the fact that the committee of inquiry, for instance, that has now been appointed to look into the whole taxation structure should have a close look at the greater equity that could and probably will toe brought about by converting dependant’s allowances into a rebate or child endowment system. It is ridiculous that a man with a taxable income of $15,000, whose marginal rate of tax is so much greater than that of a man with a taxable income of $3,000 or $4,000, receives a greater benefit from the $312 concessional deduction for his wife than the person on the lower tax rate receives.

The other impact of the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) concerns selfeducation expenses. I do not want to go over the ground covered by my colleagues the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) but I want to draw attention to the difference between ‘education expenses’ as they apply to the deduction allowed for educating oneself and as they apply elsewhere in the Act. The definition in this Bill is much narrower. Perhaps the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland) who is at the table and who is no doubt in charge of this Bill will say more about this. If I have read it correctly, the definition in the Bill we are now debating relates to those expenses necessarily incurred by the taxpayer for fees, books and equipment as they relate to a prescribed course of education. The other definition in the Act relates to those expenses necessarily incurred by the taxpayer for or in connection with full time education at a school, college or university or from a tutor. I think that a little more should have been written into the Treasurer’s second reading speech. I would now like to hear a little more from the Minister assisting the Treasurer as to the impact of this difference in definition. The difference was alluded to in the second reading speech without any detail given.

The Minister was a tax consultant, as I was before I came into this place. He knows that fares to and from school are allowed as an education expense under the other definition of ‘education expenses’ in the Act. Am I right in thinking that fares to and from the place of education will not be allowed in relation to self-education expenses as the definition provides in this

Bill? A reference to ‘tutor* is included in the main Act but is excluded from this Bill. I seek guidance on other changes. What other differences are there? I would be glad if the Minister would tell the House about this and about any difficulties he foresees in relation to this matter. However, it is not only these matters of commission but also matters of omission to which I would like to allude today. So much has been excluded from this Bill. This is one of the few occasions in the parliamentary year when we can talk about tax matters. This was a time to bring in tax reforms of note. The Government has let this occasion go by.

Let me remind the House that the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), who was an investigating officer with the Taxation Office, has pointed out many times the anomalies in the Act. He has also told me - I believe he has said this publicly - about the amount per investigator that is brought in and about the shortage of investigators in the Taxation Office generally. We know that our own taxation legislation is a patchwork of problems, and we know that for years people we would not perhaps expect to be reformers have spoken strongly in favour of a new start being made on our taxation legislation. May I quote one of these. Mr R. F. Hughes, at the conclusion of his most interesting paper on taxation reform delivered at the first national convention of the Taxation Institute of Australia in Canberra on 26th May 1969, over 3 years ago, had this to say:

The final conclusion that I have drawn in preparing this Paper, is that the time is long since past when we can go on patching up our tax legislation. We do not have a proper tax system; it is a hotch-potch of law fundamentally written for another generation, which has been for too long worked over, together with sundry imposts now used for general revenue purposes, but introduced originally for a specific reason long since forgotten, the whole overlaid or shot through with provisions not related to the raising of revenue. The most essential reform that is needed is the constructing of a proper system.

Our general system of taxation, and the equity, coherence, drafting and administration of the taxing acts would benefit greatly from having available to Government the services of an independent Tax Foundation, and as well, a select committee of persons skilled in taxation, of high professional standing and integrity.

At last we have a committee of inquiry to fulfil the last of those hopes raised by Mr Hughes.

I must draw attention to the fact that the Labor Party policy has 3 arms to it. It envisages not only a committee of inquiry but also this taxation foundation to which Mr Hughes alluded. There is a tremendous amount of talent in the legal profession, the accounting profession, the universities and the community generally which should be brought to bear on the continuing problem of taxation. At the moment most of the research is going on within the Taxation Office, and of necessity it has to be private to the Taxation Office. I am sure that it would be of tremendous value to the Taxation Office to have the stimulus of outside research. I believe that we ought to have an Australian taxation foundation continually reporting on these matters, as the Canadians have. The third arm, of course, is the talent that is within the Taxation Office itself. I believe that that talent is just waiting to be unharnessed by a change in government. As so often happens, we come back to this matter of having had to suffer for 23 years the one Government in the Federal sphere. I believe there is talent in the Public Service to close a lot of these loopholes. We cannot wait for the report of this committee of inquiry. It will set the course for 10 years. I believe it will take a couple of years to report, but there is so much more that ought to be going on to improve the taxation legislation.

I believe an opportunity has been let slip once again to bring in, in the Bills we are debating today, some of those reforms. I can let the House know about only a few of them such as income splitting and the farm development deductions which are allowed to Pitt Street farmers against their professional income. A capital gains tax is badly required. There are many other matters, but unfortunately 1 have not time to deal with them now. I welcome the appointment of a committee of inquiry. I regret that the Government has not seen fit, as I indicated in a question in this House, to confer with the Labor Party in choosing those who will sit on that committee.

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

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.


– I desire to express my appreciation to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and to all those who were connected with the preparation of this Bill which declares the rates of income tax. It will be remembered that I was the first in this House to make representations in regard to the incidence to taxation on the middle income group which has increased considerably in numbers over the past 5 or 6 years. In regard to the incidence of taxation on the lower income group, especially those with young families and more especially those families in which there is only one income earner, the average reduction overall is 10 per cent. The additional levy will be dispensed with. The application of the provisions of the Income Tax Bill 1972 will reduce income tax payments by $480m in a full year. Taxation has been too high; it has become a burden. It is right and proper that some alleviation should be granted forthwith, and this is what this Bill will achieve. In granting this alleviation emphasis has been placed on people with incomes of about 32,000 per annum. Primary producers will benefit under the averaging plan.

The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) made much play of the actual revenue that will accrue because of higher incomes which are now being earned in the community, but he failed to point out that the Government is responsible for the payment of incomes to about one-third of the Australian work force. The Government has to find money for the salaries and wages of this section of the work force and the increased cost of all the services that it provides.

The second Bill which we are now debating, the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972. increases the concessional allowances for the maintenance of dependants and provides for a tax deduction in regard to expenses paid by taxpayers in improving their educational standards in relation to their employment. I think this provision should go further. It is just possible that it does and I would like the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland), who is seated at the table, to inform the House on this point. Because of technology and automation people are finding that job opportunities are diminishing, and they should be encouraged to take up new studies to fit them to obtain positions in other spheres of employment.

I congratulate the Government upon the alleviations which have been made. We all would like to see them go further. I feel that the time is long overdue for a fuller review of taxation. Indeed this has already been promised. To do as the Opposition suggests, that is to make certain further amendments to the taxation laws, would only add to the increased tax work we are now doing. The whole taxation position should be reviewed and a new Bill brought in to cover the whole spectrum of taxation.


– I will not detain the House for long; I will speak for only a few minutes. I refer to the income tax concessions insofar as they apply to blind people. I think that this is a matter at which the Government might look. The whole matter of taxation concessions requires a full and complete investigation. Without being political I say that the Government has been in office for so long that it has forgotten to review many laws, including those relating to personal taxation, sales tax and other matters of particular interest to the people. On 22nd June I received a letter from a sheltered workshop manager of the Royal Blind Society of New South Wales. He referred to my visit to that workshop. The letter dealt with expenses of travelling to and from work incurred by handicapped workers in a workshop of this nature.

This is the situation: One man is deaf, dumb and blind and another man is deaf and blind. These handicaps make it impossible for them to avail themselves of a travel pass for government transport as they are unable to seek a guide on transport and crossing roads. This means that their only reliable means of transport is by taxi. I was told that it is most important for persons like these to have employment to occupy them mentally. One man spends most of his income on taxi fares just for the therapeutic value of being occupied. The manager asked me whether I would see what could be done. One of these gentlemen receives a gross wage of $40.70 a week, which is a lot of money. His taxi fare varies with traffic but the average is $3.40 each day. For 49 weeks his taxi fares would cost approximately $733. Honour able members can see that he would not have much left out of his $40.70. He is going to work merely to be occupied because of the grave disability which he suffers. The other gentlemen who, by the way, is a non-European, receives a gross weekly wage at this workshop of $16.90. His taxi fare averages $2.46 each day, so for 49 weeks it is $612.70. To be quite frank, we can say that these people are actually travelling to work and drawing their wages to be occupied and they are spending practically all their wages in getting there because of their inability to use public transport. I wrote to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) about this matter and subsequently recived a reply in which he states:

The Commissioner, who was asked to comment, has confirmed that, under the present law, your request is one for consideration under a general provision which authorises a deduction for expenditure incurred in gaining or producing assessable income or necessarily incurred in carrying on a business for the purpose of deriving such income, except to the extent to which it is of a capital, private or domestic nature. In this connection, the courts and taxation boards of review, whose decisions must be taken into account in the administration of the law, have held on a number of occasions that expenses incurred by a taxpayer in travelling to and from work are expenses of a private nature and thus not deductible for income tax purposes, even when incurred by a person whose physical disabilities preclude him from using public transport.

It is nearly time that decision was reviewed because such a person has no other way to get to work. If honourable members had seen these gentlemen they would realise the grave difficulties involved. The Treasurer goes on to state:

Although the cases of the 2 employees concerned have been sympathetically considered, it will be appreciated that the Commissioner is obliged to confirm that their costs of travelling to and from work are not deductible as the law now stands.

One cannot live on sympathy just as one cannot live on love. Consequently this is a matter which should be reviewed. I think that all fares to and from work should be an allowable taxation deduction. After all, a company director travelling in his car charges this cost against the profit and loss account of his company. He is one of the fortunate persons in the community. But here are 2 people who are working for the purpose of being occupied because of the disabilities which I have mentioned. I know that honourable members on both sides will realise the conditions under which they live, the darkness of their lives and the fact that they must be engaged in some form of activity. I suggest to the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland) who is at the table that he have a look at concessions of this nature and see whether something can be done, particularly to make an exception in relation to those in sheltered workshops. If anybody is earning his living the hard way it is he who is engaged in the workshops I have mentioned. I bring this matter to the attention of the Minister and ask that something be done in relation to it. At a time when the Government boasts of its great contribution to the taxpayer, such as the 10 per cent reduction in personal taxation which it has given, it is tragic to think that a matter of this nature has escaped the Government’s attention. I hope that it will give special consideration to this in order to relieve the distress, suffering and financial loss to these gentlemen who, as I say, are engaged merely for the purpose of being occupied.

Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer · Curtin · LP

– I would like to thank honourable members for their contributions in this cognate debate on these 2 income tax Bills. 1 will see, even if the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) does not like this procedure, that those suggestions that have been made on specific matters receive a full reply in writing. I would like to make some remarks in reply on behalf of the Treasurer because this legislation is of such importance and is a fundamental part of this Government’s Budget proposals.

The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) emphasised in the Budget Speech that in the Government’s view personal income tax was too high as it existed last year, and that the average family man in particular was being hit too hard. The Bills that are being considered include a number of provisions designed to remedy this situation, which has arisen largely as the result of the interaction of rising monetary incomes and the progressive nature of personal income tax rates.

The most important of these provisions is the new personal income tax scale which will reduce the tax payable by individuals by an average, as has been said, of 10 per cent. Although the average reduction is 10 par cent, taxpayers on low incomes will have their tax reduced by a greater percentage while those on high incomes will have their tax reduced by a lesser percentage. For example, on a taxable income of $2,000 the reduction will be over 14 per cent. The new rate scale which is already being reflected in reduced tax instalment deductions in respect of those on salaries and wages will reduce income tax payments by $480m in a full year. Other measures to be introduced by the Bill will have the effect of increasing concessional deductions for the maintenance of dependents and authorising a deduction for the expenses of a taxpayer in obtaining educational qualifications connected with income producing activities in cases where expenses are not deductible in present concessional deductions under the existing law.

The amendments to the dependants’ allowances will mean that the maximum deductions available under the. law for the maintenance of a spouse, parent, parentinlaw, housekeeper or daughter-housekeeper will each be advanced from $312 to $364. Similarly, deductions available for the maintenance of a student, an invalid relative and for one child under 16 years of age will each move from $208 to $260. A special concessional deduction for self education will apply in respect of fees, books and equipment associated with a course of education a taxpayer undertakes for the purpose of acquiring qualifications for his employment or career. This new concession will not be subject to any age qualification and will be available whether a course of education is attended on a full time or part time basis or is carried out by correspondence. The maximum deduction will be $400, as will the other concessional deduction. Another important feature of the Bills is the provision for increasing the minimum taxable income of individuals from $417 to $1,041. This change will free some 600,000 taxpayers from tax liability and will reduce personal income tax payments by S14m in the current year and Si 8m in a full year.

The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who said that this was an important debate but who is not now in the House, made a number of critical remarks which ought to be taken up. Those of us who heard his speech listened to him struggling to find some derogatory remarks to make. His speech disclosed that that was a little difficult to do because of the reasons I have mentioned which included the increasing of the exemption from tax level which so helps the lower income group and the overall reduction in income tax that is payable at all levels, particularly the lower levels. But he did say that the Bills did not embrace Labor’s own principles - without telling us quite what they were - and said somewhat broadly that Labor would do much to ‘improve on the Bills’.

In the course of his remarks - and he had quite some time - he made a number of generalised statements and quotations. He told us at one time that he regarded himself as a bit of an expert in these matters. But he did not really get down to tintacks. I suggest that anyone who reads his speech will see that his remarks do not bear any analysis by those who are in search of practical solutions. I suggest that that may be because he did not wish to spend too much time in preparation of his speech and that his real aim was denigration.

He spent a good deal of his speech criticising the Government and the Government Parties in a most general way. In the last minute of his speech he mentioned 3 matters of some substance, namely, income splitting, taxation deductions for primary producers and his support for a capital gains tax. But then he had to say quickly: I have not any more time’, implying that some unnecessary restriction was imposed on him. I make it clear that if he had wished to be positive and analytical about taxation laws he could have commenced on those concepts and devoted the time available to him to dealing with them. I make this observation because this is the second occasion on which I have heard the honourable member take that attitude. If he wished it, he could make a statement in substance on specific matters. He prefers to fritter away the time available to him on general abuse which does not do any good and which, I can assure him, does not affect the Government.

The honourable member did make the point in the course of his remarks that he had considerable confidence in the advisers to the Government. He mentioned, I think, the abilities of Taxation Office officials. The Government and I would agree with that comment. But the honourable member seemed to assume in the course of his remarks that the Government takes no notice of their advice. Of course, this is absolute nonsense. What he would find - and I repeat that he is qualified by his previous experience to understand these matters in some depth - would be, if he sought a practical solution, that the problems are more difficult than he would have us believe and that to find alternatives which are truly equitable is a very large job and one which the Government has decided to refer to a committee of public inquiry to review, not merely in relation to income tax matters but all taxation matters. The committee will consider these matters in context. The committee will consider any suggestion that anyone wishes to make as to how the law can be improved but also will study the consequences of making any specific change and will review these matters in the broad and not just take out one small element which may be something that is very desirable and try to build a whole case on it.

The honourable member did put to me specific questions, and, as I said earlier, I will provide written answers in detail on those matters raised directly in connection with the Bills before the House. I wish to make one or two remarks on one specific point. The honourable member referred in particular to the new concession to provide a deduction for education expenses incurred by a person on his own behalf, as referred to in the Budget Speech delivered by the Treasurer. The honourable member tried to make a comparison between the existing concessional deductions for education of dependants and self education expenses. Self education expenses are expected to be claimed for the most part by working adults and the inclusion of those types of expenses recognises the different class of student involved. It must be remembered that the proposed deduction for self education expenses is more liberal in several respects than the present deduction for education expenses. For example, there is no age limit and part time studies are included for self education purposes whereas the present deduction for education expenses for dependants carries an age limit of 25 years and is available for full time education only. Therefore, I suggest that direct comparison is not entirely valid.

I thank the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) both for his support of these measures and for the specific suggestions which he made. I will see, as I said, that he receives a reply to them. I also thank the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) for his remarks which, perhaps one could say, in the main were meant to be constructive but perhaps not. In any case I assure him that the matters to which he referred did not escape the Government’s attention. It has to be recalled that the Government receives thousands of suggestions each year as to what it should incorporate into the Budget measures, and a lot of them relate to income tax. Indeed, volumes of these suggestions are prepared. I only wish that it were possible for a larger number of people to see the quantity, the quality and the category of these suggestions because only by seeing them all together can one get the picture of just what is asked for and can one clearly see that it is not possible to grant all the requests.

The honourable member for Grayndler referred to the costs of people travelling to and from their work being made a tax deduction. I make the point that that is a matter which has received Government attention each year for a long time. It is not true for him to say that company directors receive a deduction for the use of company motor vehicles in which they travel to and fro. That has been made perfectly clear in this year’s income tax returns. A company director receiving a private benefit to himself from the use of assets of the company which employs him must include that in his taxation return as income. This requirement applies to a wider scope than merely motor vehicles. The honourable member for Grayndler made particular reference to handicapped people. These are certainly matters on which I will obtain a specific answer for him.

In concluding this debate on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) I draw out 3 points which have been commented upon and which have relevance to income tax measures. First is the implication, indeed I believe the statement, of the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) and certainly of other Labor spokesmen that under a Labor administration there would be a reduction in income tax. How can one really believe this? Here is a Party which in an election year goes around Australia agreeing, for obvious reasons, to practically every request for funds in practically every area. Who can doubt that such an administration, even to honour a fraction of those promises, would have to increase greatly the receipts of revenue and the rate of taxation? Indeed, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) who is at the table was, I think, straightforward enough to say in a recent television interview that at somewhere above the level - I do not want to misquote him and I think I am being accurate- of income of $4,500 to $5,000 a year he would expect income earners to have to pay more income tax in order to finance the sort of programmes which he envisaged the Labor Party would want to introduce. I ask honourable members: Is not it only a matter of common sense that this would be the result of a Labor administration because of the many promises the Labor Party has made in so many fields around the country? The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has not contradicted my interpretation of what he said and I think that it is a fair representation of his statement. That is the first point I wish to make.

The second point, upon which I have touched already, is the Government’s appointment of members of a taxation inquiry to investigate the whole field of Commonwealth taxes to try to see whether there are ways of improving the equity, the administration and the collection of those taxes in order to finance the justifiable needs of Commonwealth expenditure .and demands by the people of Australia. That is a wide ranging inquiry and I hope that no-one imagines that it will be an easy one. It will take time, of course. Yet the honourable member for Adelaide invites the Government, before this inquiry is made or before evidence is collected and sifted, to make changes. The honourable member does not make any specific suggestions but says only that the exemption level is too low and the deduction should be increased.

One can make a plea for a reduction of tax or for a concession to be increased and build up a very convincing case. I have seen this done many times - all honourable members have seen it. One hears cases made and suggestions put to show how desirable a certain course is, and when that matter is considered in isolation it seems that the suggestion should be followed. The honourable member for Grayndler made such a suggestion this afternoon. But in framing a budget the Government has to look at the situation as a whole. It must consider the total amount to be expended and the total amount that will be raised from revenue in order to keep the economy on an even keel. Within each category it has to consider how it will settle the priorities among the demands for finance. A budget is necessarily a compromise between competing types of expenditure, a compromise between the amount of tax reduction that a government would like to see and the amount of expenditure that it feels it must make. One is quite easily able to pick out a few items from the Budget and to make a moving speech for 20 minutes or so about a particular matter that has been omitted or that should be changed.

In preparing its Budget for 1972-73 the Government considered many thousands of proposals. Many of the proposals were for new or extended taxation concessions. These were all considered when the Budget was being prepared. In the event the Government decided that, with relatively minor exceptions, it should concentrate the taxation concessions in the field of personal income tax. It did this because it viewed with concern the considerable increase in the relative burden of personal income tax in recent years and the effect that this had had on our economy and society. In particular the single income family, the typical suburban family, had been hard hit. The proposals announced in the Budget Speech to provide for the allowance of deductions for self-education expenses, the increase in the minimum taxable income and in dependants allowances, and the reduction in the rates of personal income tax, which will average 10 per cent per annum, will provide substantial reductions in the total income tax payable by all persons, but especially those with families.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Garland) read a third time.

page 1144


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 15 August (vide page 145), on motion by Mr Snedden:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

The Bill.

Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer · Curtin · LP

– I refer to clause 1 of the Bill which reads: 1.- (1.) This Act may be cited as the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 4) 1972. (2.) The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1971,* as amended by the Income Tax Assessment Act 1972. by the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 2) 1972 and by the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 3) 1972,§ is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act. (3.) Section 1 of the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 3) 1972 is amended by omitting subsection (4.). (4.) The Principal Act, as amended by, this Act, may be cited as the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1972.

I move:

Omit the clause, insert the following clause: - “1. - (1.) This Act may be cited as the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) 1972. “(2.) The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1971,* as amended by the Income Tax Assessment Act 1972, by the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 2) 1972, by the Income Tax Assessment Act(No. 3) 1972§ and by the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 4) 1972,¶ is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act. “(3.) Section 1 of the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 4) 1972 is amended by omitting subsection (4.). “(4.) The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1972.”.

This clause formally declares the short title and citation of the amending Act, and of the principal Act as amended. Another income tax measure has been enacted as the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 4) 1972 and the proposed amendment to the Bill now before the House is necessary to catch up with that event. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report - by leave - adopted.

Third Reading

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

page 1145


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 15 August (vide page 145), on motion by Mr Snedden:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Melbourne Ports

– This amending Bill alters only very slightly the sales tax provisions; it removes from the sales tax schedule imported works of art when the value of a work of art exceeds S50 Previously works of art bore sales tax. The reduction in the total yield will be slight: $480,000 this financial year and $600,000 in a full year. This is the only adjustment to this tax which this year, it is estimated, will yield $736,520,000 and which in the previous year yielded $682,801,000. As one of my colleagues pointed out recently, when the aggregate of the sales tax revenue is divided by the total population of Australia it emerges that every man, woman and child bears a burden of about $60 in sales tax. This is an indirect tax, the impact of which often is not known by the person who bears it because the tax is concealed in the price of the product. The wholesaler includes it in the charge that he makes to the retailer, and the tax becomes simply part of the price, be it for a motor car, cosmetics or any other article. In his annual reports, the Commissioner of Taxation does give some indication of the various categories of goods on which sales tax is levied. There are a great number of exemptions from sales tax. Most foodstuffs are excluded from sales tax, quite a lot of clothing is excluded and so on, but the tax itself is divided into 4 categories - 2i per cent, 121 per cent, 15 per cent and 27i per cent. The tax on the highest category yields nearly half of the total tax collected. The other major group for the purposes of this tax contains those articles which bear tax at the rate of 15 per cent.

The supplement to the 49th report of the Commissioner of Taxation titled Taxation Statistics’ shows these figures in some detail at page 190 and I do not intend to quote them in detail. But, like so many other things in the community, there is not a great deal of logic used in deciding what should bear tax and what should not bear tax. The Opposition has quoted often enough in this house - almost ad nauseam at times - the fact that there is a tax on toilet soap but not on dog soap. I think that is the prime example of the lack of logic in those categories. We have had substantial representations from the toilet goods manufacturers seeking total exemption of their goods from sales tax because the products that they sell could hardly be regarded as being in the category of luxuries. They are what the female of the species believes is necessary for her adornment. They give her pleasure and, apparently, they make her more pleasurable to others. Of course, even the males nowadays seem to want to smell nicer than they apparently used to smell.


-Order! Although it is very interesting to hear about soap and how the male might want to smell, I think the honourable member is a little far from the subject of the Bill. The sole purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the proposal announced in the Budget to exempt from sales tax imported works of art.


– I take your point, Mr Speaker. However, I suggest that sales tax itself is a matter of some significance and I was merely trying to show that there could well have been added to this Bill a number of items other than works of art. If the removal of sales tax on works of art has to do, as I hope it might, with the promotion of culture, 1 point out that there are some other aspects of culture that still bear the penalty of sales tax. Among these, of course, are many of the requisites that are used in schools by school children. What kind of chop logic is it that removes sales tax from works of art but leaves it on shool exercise books? I think that this defies the imagination. The view of my Party is that this tax should be progressively removed so that finally it falls only upon those articles that are described as luxuries; otherwise, there is no doubt that the effect of the tax will be to add to the price of goods and services that are regarded as essential by those who use them. If the price of goods is higher because of sales tax is must add to the cost of living.

The Opposition had hoped that, in this Budget, the Government might have seen the logic of the mistakes of its last 2 Budgets, when indirect taxes were increased. At least, on this occasion, indirect taxes were not increased. However, the only decrease in sales tax proposed in this Budget is that applying to the item which we are now considering. I think that when the committee to investigate the taxation system gets under way, this should be one of the fields to which it should pay attention. On this occasion, the Opposition is not offering any objection to removing sales tax from the sorts of items concerned. We would simply like to take the opportunity of saying that many items which are still subject to sales tax should not be subject to sales tax and I would hope that a later government would at least consider some of those items with more concern than is shown on this occasion. In view of the limited nature of the debate on this Bill I do not intend to take up any more of the time of the House. I took the opportunity to tread as closely as I could within the rules laid down by the Standing Orders.


– I want to speak for a few minutes about sales tax. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said, this is a very limited Bill. It deals only with a very special section of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act. Like other honourable members on this side of the House, I regret that the Government did not adopt a more extensive view and provide for relief on many other items. When all is said and done, I suppose that sales tax is the most iniquitous of any tax imposed in this country because it is levied at the same rate on all persons irrespective of their income. A person who is dependent upon a pension pays just as much for an item that carries sales tax as does a man who earns SI 00,000 a year. It is a most inequitable tax and one which the Labor Government of 1949 was in the process of eliminating from the taxation schedule when unfortunately it was defeated at the election. At that stage only one section of the Sales Tax Act applied and I think the rate was about 8i per cent on a very small number of items. Had Labor been in office after that date people would not have been suffering under an Act like this with all its injustices.

A few moments ago I mentioned the case of blind persons in regard to indirect taxation and the need for concessions for blind people who have to travel to work. I have details of similar circumstances relating to the imposition of sales tax which I received from the same source, the sheltered workshop which is involved. Unfortunately I do not have the papers with me as the details that I received were sent to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). The fact is that certain sales tax is still levied on some of the necessities for blind people. It might be interesting for people to know that the white stick which blind people use to guide themselves along streets and other places carries 111 per cent sales tax. If one looks over the range of items necessary for the welfare of blind people in the community one finds that they carry a certain amount of sales tax. 1 do not know what the income is from this section of the Sales Tax Act but it must not be very large.

The only reason that it is still imposed, in my opinion, is as I mentioned when speaking to the previous Bill, namely, that the people have been forgotten. There are many aspects of legislation like the Sales Tax Act which should be investigated fully because much is being overlooked. I can see no reason whatsoever why there should be any sales tax on many items. Under no circumstances could I justify the imposition of sales tax on necessities for blind people. I suggest to the Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland) that his heart might be touched and that he might carry to the Treasurer this message from those of us who believe in justice and equality: We believe that blind people should be exempted from the tax imposed on certain items that they use. This is not an unreasonable request. I am sorry that I do not have the details with me. I sent them in booklet form to the Treasurer, together with a letter. From memory, I believe that all he told me was that the matter was being reviewed but .as everybody knows, that is a flash way for this Government to pigeonhole any sensible or reasonable suggestion. As there is nothing in the Budget about this subject and this Bill covers only a couple of works of art and things of that nature, it certainly has not received favourable consideration.

I suppose that there is much to be said about paintings, drawings and pastels, original engravings, prints and lithographs, original sculputures and statuary and so on, but 1 cannot see why they are any more important than relieving the sales tax on necessities for blind persons. Therefore, whilst I am in sympathy with what the Government proposes to do to the Act as it now stands, and one must be grateful for any small mercies or morsels that fall from this rich Government’s table, at the same time I would have been more pleased if the Government had bothered to relieve the sales tax on the items I have mentioned. I submit that suggestion to the Minister and, speaking generally, I hope it will not be very long before the Government removes completely this iniquitous and unjust tax. Sales tax is indirect and applies to all people irrespective of income. Under a government which in 1949 promised to reduce taxes, both direct and indirect, I know that the Treasurer of a couple of months ahead will agree with me that indirect taxation has never been higher in the history of this country since the present Government was elected on a promise to reduce it. At the risk of saying that they have thrown away their promise, I hope at least they will reduce the indirect tax a little by agreeing to the suggestion I have made in regard to the requisites of blind persons.

Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer · Curtin · LP

– I must thank the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) for the implication contained in his last remarks in which he advised the Government what it ought to do in these matters. Clearly these are matters which come up from Budget to Budget and I think we can take it that he has satisfied himself that the Government will be returned at the coming elections. Therefore he is giving us some advice - no doubt he thinks this is good advice - about what we ought to do in the future.

As has been said in passing by both honourable members who have spoken during this debate, this is a relatively simple Bill. The works of art that at present are taxable are those produced overseas by other than Australian or New Zealand artists and imported by private collectors or commercial organisations. Imported works of art are largely exempt from customs duty. The proposed sales tax exemption will apply to those works which are exempt from customs duty. Works of art that will remain taxable are imported paintings, drawings and pastels by other than Australian or New Zealand artists which are valued at $50 or less. I again formally advise the House that those specific matters which have been raised in this debate by the 2 Opposition members will be considered and I will provide written, detailed answers in regard to the specific points.

During his remarks the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) queried why sales tax over a wider field was not reduced. I do not wish to go into all these matters because the scope of the Bill is narrow, but I do point out that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) made it clear in his second reading speech on this Bill that the Government, having taken all these matters into consideration, came to this conclusion. Again, without traversing the whole question, I mention that the honourable member asked why, if sales tax could be reduced on works of art, it could not be reduced on school books. I will obtain some comment on that for the honourable member. There is substantive reasoning behind the Government’s decision on that category. This may not be the reasoning that the. honourable member would accept - perhaps he would - but in any case I will see that he gets the reason.

I conclude my comments on the honourable member’s remarks by emphasising that the reason why the Government has not reduced sales tax, apart from the particular reason that the Treasurer gave - namely whether in fact that reduction would in reality be passed on to the consumers - nevertheless the Government decided to concentrate on reducing the level of income tax in the community at a cost to revenue of $480m. As i said earlier, there is an average reduction of 10 per cent rising to 14 per cent in relation to the lower income groups, including concessions for dependants.

The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) commenced his speech by telling us that he would not make any political comment. He then told us that the Labor Party, when last in power in 1949, was in the process of dismantling sales tax. My colleague the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) could not resist interjecting: ‘You must be joking’. I do not think that any more comment than that need be made in reply. The honourable member for Grayndler pointed out an item which attracted sales tax. For the sake of the record let me indicate that sales tax covers a wide variety of materials - it affects tens of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of items. The sales tax list is a very complicated one and there are very real difficulties in defining the catetories. It is always possible for anyone to point to an item on a particular page, to compare it with one many pages later and to point out a seeming anomaly or inconsistency. This can be done fairly easily. I do not say that in the sense that any criticism of a sales tax item ought not to be considered and taken seriously. I will have examined the item to which the honourable member specifically referred and give him a reply.

I conclude by saying that many hundreds and thousands of suggestions in regard to sales tax are received each year. They are recorded and examined at the time the Budget is formulated. I say to the honourable member that the Government will be happy, in the preparation of the 1973-74 Budget, to give his suggestions and others full consideration.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

The Bill.

Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer · Curtin · LP

– I propose to move amendments to clauses 1 , 3 and 4 which read:

  1. – (1.) This Act may be cited as the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1972. (2.) The Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1970, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1972.
  2. The First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1970 is amended by adding to item 68 the following subitem:
  1. The First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1970 is amended by omitting item 69c.

I move:

Omit clause 1, insert the following clause:

– (1.) This Act may be cited as the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act (No. 2) 1972. (2.) The Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1970* as amended by the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1972, is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act. (3.) Section 1 of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1972 is amended by omitting sub-section (3.). (4.) The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1972.’.

In clause 3, omit ‘Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1970’, insert ‘Principal Act’.

In clause 4, omit ‘Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1970’, insert ‘Principal Act’.

In each case the amendment is of the drafting kind and does not change the intended effect of the Bill. Another sales tax measure has been enacted as the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1972 and the proposed amendments to the Bill now before the Committee are necessary to catch up with that event. Clause 1 formally declares the short title and citation of the amending Act, and of the principal Act as amended. The amendments to clauses 3 and 4 relate only to the principal Act being amended. I commend the amendments to the Committee.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.

Third Reading

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

page 1149


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 24 August (vide page 661), on motion by Mr Anthony:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Melbourne Ports

– As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) indicated in his Budget Speech, the purpose of this measure is to increase by $4m or double, the capital of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation which was established, I think, in 1956 and which has been a highly successful undertaking in its comparatively short life. The Corporation has worked since its inception to extend the variety of Australian trade overseas and last year, according to its nicely presented statement of annual accounts, it was successful in earning quite a substantial profit, although basically the purpose of such an organisation is not to make large profits but to render a service to those who call upon it at near enough to the cost of the service thereby provided. I am not quite clear about the reason for the doubling of the capital. Basically, I have no objection to the capital being doubled, but when one looks at the balance sheet and sees that some S8m worth of Commonwealth securities at cost are tied up in the organisation, one sometimes wonders why the extra capitalisation is necessary. In many respects it seems to be a bit of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. About S8m of Commonwealth securities are held as an asset and the Commonwealth, out of its funds sometimes acquired from taxation and loans, pays a further $4m capitalisation. I have no doubt that it makes the balance sheet look somewhat more prestigious and I suppose it gives a larger underwriting reserve than otherwise might be the case.

We have had this measure before us for amendments of one kind or another. I can recall at least half a dozen debates on it in this House, and I think I have taken part in most of them since this worthy institution was set up. Usually the purpose of the amendments has been to diversify the range of risk that the Corporation was able to undertake. Let us consider how infrequently losses are incurred and the sorts of reasons why they are incurred. The annual report on page 11 shows that there were 32 exchange transfer losses in the category of ‘political losses’. According to the notation, political losses aggregated $52 1,860 and arose from delays in transfer of funds to Australian exporters after buyers had paid their debts in local currency. The report says:

Turkey accounted for the bulk of these claims and the balance involved Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Chile and Syria.

In all of those countries unforeseen political events took place. The report continues:

In addition to exchange transfer blockage, the following political and economic risks are covered - import restrictions, cancellation of import licences, war, civil war and other catastrophic events occurring outside Australia.

I do not know why war and civil war are separated, but they are separated in the text of this report. Then there were further kinds of loss described as ‘buyer losses’ which amounted to about $400,000. The report says:

Protection is afforded by the Corporation against losses of a commercial nature which arise from buyer insolvencies, default of payment by solvent buyers and repudiation of contracts.

The principal cause of loss was the protracted default of solvent buyers which accounted lor $336,426. Payments due to insolvencies were 366,416 whilst contract repudiation payments totalled $14,382. In all, 52 claims were paid for S4 17,224 involving 23 markets.

No doubt symptomatic of the downturn in the woollen manufacturing industry throughout the world, claims paid on wool exports represented 80 per cent of the total and were particularly heavy in South Korea with defaults also occurring in Italy, Mexico, Taiwan and the United States of America.

Had it not been for this sort of undertaking and the knowledge that somebody would underwrite the loss, other ventures that were successful in those countries might not have been undertaken. For that reason at least, I think that the organisation serves a very useful purpose.

It seems to me that the provision of long term credit to overseas buyers of the sorts of goods in Australia that might be described as capital goods should be extended. I have in mind such things as Australian commercial aircraft or other sorts of aircraft which could be sold to other countries. Here Australia seems to be at a disadvantage. This applies also with regard to earthmoving equipment and other mechanical pieces that can be made in Australia. Because other countries are able to offer better terms of credit, those other countries get the order. It is not because the product is superior but because the terms for financing the sale are more satisfactory. Over a good number of years we have noted in this House that when Australia purchases aircraft via loans to Qantas Airways Ltd or via the assistance that is given to Ansett Airlines of Australia, many of the transactions are assisted in the United States of America by a body known as the Export Import Bank. That Bank enables a transaction to take place that in other circumstances might have to be finalised within a period of, say, 18 months to 2 years. It allows the payment to be made over a period of anything from 8 to 10 years and the money is advanced at rates which in these days are low - about 6 per cent.

I would suggest that, in view of the apparent abundance of liquidity in Australia at the moment, a little more imagination might be used to create in Australia something similar to the Export Import Bank of the United States. This would assist Australian trade particularly with countries like Indonesia, India and Malaysia where we could be of great assistance in providing the capital equipment that is so necessary for those economies to expand and to improve their function. A number of business people have spoken to me about this deficiency. As I said earlier, it seems that there is nothing wrong with the products we have but there is a lot wrong with the terms of credit that we are able to extend. I have raised this matter before in this House on similar occasions. At this stage it is not a function of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation which is a different kind of body and does not have the financial resources of the magnitude required. We would need something that could mobilise capital in terms of sums like $50m to $100m and perhaps even more on some contracts. We would be able to pay off the manufacturer in Australia. He would be able to get on with his other activities of producing more capital goods and would not have to worry about the finance, which would be carried by somebody else. The interest involved would not be exorbitant. These are the sorts of things that ought to be given greater consideration in Australia.

We talk about the invasion of our country by foreign investors and so on. I think that sometimes we do not do enough to increase our own export earnings in this longer term kind of capital sale. That would be of benefit to our industry and would also be of benefit immediately to our foreign exchange position. It might even help us to become less reliant upon these unwieldy flows of excessive overseas capital that we are experiencing at present. I hope that in 1973, when there will be a new government in this country, attempts will be made to bridge what I feel is a very real gap at the moment in the credit structure for financing this sort of transaction.

As I said earlier, we do not oppose the measure that is before us, but we applaud the success of this socialised, Government owned and Government operated undertaking which is able to assist private enterprise to do business that otherwise it might not be able to do. It simply shows that in a systematic economy there is room for public activity and private activity to function alongside each other. There are some people, of course, to whom any kind of public activity is anathema. But the whole history of Australia’s economic development, particularly in the transport field, is that a lot of the development that has gone on would never have taken place had it not been for the availability of public capital. This is so even with airways today, despite the talk about private enterprise and the rather curious jest recently that the public’s company should have public shareholders. That seems rather a contradiction of terms to say the least. But even the private company in Australia could not function without government assistance of the kind I have mentioned to allow it to buy its aircraft on a long term basis, a pay-as-you-earn type of approach.

What I am suggesting now is that since that system has been successful internally a little bit of imagination might be turned in the direction of promoting further external trade by offering credit on more satisfactory terms to potential buyers who are satisfied about the quality of the Australian product but dissatisfied about the terms of payment currently offered. We wish this Corporation further expansion in the future in the good work it is doing. I hope that it will be able to expand its activities considerably by reason of the doubling of its capital provision.


– I also on behalf of the Opposition support the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill. The Australian Labor Party has consistently supported legislation relating to the Exports Payments Insurance Corporation from the inception of the organisation through all the amendments to increase the contingent liability and the capital of the organisation. The capital has been increased only once before. That was in 1965, when it was increased from $2m to 54m. Now this Bill has been introduced to increase the capital of the organisation from $4m to $8m. The Labor Party has been particularly pleased with the Exports Payments Insurance Corporation. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said, the legislation under which it operates is very much a piece of -socialist legislation. Nevertheless, over the period since the Corporation’s inception it has grown considerably. In the 10 years from I960 to 1970 the face value of its policies increased from $52. 8m to $343m. Since then the face value has increased from $343m to $622m in 2 years. The contingent liability of the Corporation was 524.2m in 1960. It was $190m 10 years later. It is now $375m.

These figures give some idea of how the organisation is progressing. It is charged to be self-supporting. It operates like any other insurance company. A premium is paid for insurance given. The insurance in most cases is an insurance against nonpayment to Australian exporters. The type of cover is normal risk insurance, particularly against the type of risk which arises from buyer insolvency or default in the case of solvent buyers or political risks such as non-payment by overseas organisations in which investments have been made by Australian companies either because of the policy of a government or because of political disturbances. The overseas company can take out a cover against that.

The last report of the organisation, that for 1971, shows that the net premium income was $1,024,849. Against this, operating costs were $585,246. The operating costs are still very high. This means that the organisation has operating costs equal to 57 per cent of premium income, which in any language is particularly high. When I spoke on the last amendment to the legislation I incorporated in Mansard a table which shows that in 1958, at the point of the Corporation’s inception, operating costs as a percentage of premium income were 172 per cent. In 1959 the figure went down to 50 per cent, naturally because in the first year of the operations of the organisation its commencement costs were very high considering that it had very little business to transact. Unfortunately, operating costs as a percentage of premium income moved from 50 per cent up to the high 80s. They were 87 per cent in 1961. The figure fluctuated from about 70 per cent to the mid-60s and then settled down at about 60 per cent or 57 per cent, which is the figure at the moment. It is still fairly high. I do not know the reason for this.

I know that the organisation provides other services such as an export rating facility so that exporters may check on the creditworthiness of organisations overseas. The expense of this service would naturally have to be met by the organisation, but operating costs are still fairly high, being 57 per cent of premiums. This is a very high price to pay to run an organisation. Offsetting that, the organisation ought to be congratulated upon the fact that in 1971, as shown by the 1971 annual report, there were claims totalling $939,000. Against this, recoveries of $693,000 were made. The report indicates that losses arose in relation to wool transactions with South Korea. The losses were so high that EPIC obviously took legal action in that country, and it has recovered $693,000 of the $939,000 claimed, which I think was commendable indeed.

As I said earlier, the Bill increases the capital of the Corporation from $4m to $8m. Like the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, I cannot really see why this is occurring. Suffice it to say that in his statement in the annual report the Commissioner states:

Capital remains intact at $4m. Thus, the financial resources immediately, available to the Corporation total $6,997,038 and these relate to outstanding contingent liabilities of $301,060,555.

He mentions that the Corporation’s engagement in a number of the developing countries is now well in excess of its capital and reserves. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports said, perhaps it might make the balance sheet look a little more acceptable, but an increase of $4m to $8m really does not offset contingent liabilities of up to $301m. It seems to be pretty much a case of window dressing.

I take up the theme which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned and which I also mentioned the last time I spoke on this subject. This organisation could be expanded in a number of areas. Firstly, it could be extended into the area of marine insurance, which is a very lucrative business in Australia. The latest figures available show that premiums on marine insurance in Australia paid to companies, most of them overseas owned - most of them British owned - was $46m. The premiums paid to EPIC total only $1.2m, so obviously there is a lot of business to be done in that area. Consistently the Labor Party has put the view that EPIC ought to be expanded to move into the field of marine insurance. Consistently the Government has rejected that view. I think it ought to be recorded here again that the former Minister for Trade and Industry, Sir John McEwen, had said that he had a lot of difficulty in even setting EPIC up in opposition to the views of the Liberal Party. He said:

The birth of EPIC was delayed many years-at least 4 - by the barrage of criticism and opposition raised against it from inside and outside government. Interests representing private institutions such as banks, insurance companies, associations and elements even within the governmental structure, attacked, criticised and blocked the provision of this new facility by a government corporation for at least 4 years.

He went on to say:

I was told with monotonous regularity and with singular unanimity by the opponents of the facility that there was no need for it - worthwhile and soundly based Australian exports should need no assistance of the type other countries had; it would merely provide at government expense a hidden subsidy to prop up ‘lame duck’ export ventures; it could not possibly work - the premiums would be too high, the losses too great, and exporters would prefer to take their own risk; it was a duplication of existing banking and insurance facilities which were willing and able to afford all the assistance needed; such a corporation was a Socialist conception and an unwarranted intrusion by government into private business; such a corporation would provide unfair competition to private enterprise institutions, and so on.

They are the words of the then Leader of the Country Party and then Minister for Trade and Industry in referring to the frustrations expressed by members of the Liberal Party in defence of their friends in the marine insurance field and in the field of insurance generally. The remarks are just as valid today. The Government will not expand the charter of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation into the area of marine insurance. Australia is an island continent. We are an exporting nation and we export mostly by ship. It stands to reason that we ought to have a government facility to provide marine insurance - a very lucrative type of insurance - and to assist our exporters through lower premiums. Any profits made by such an authority would go to the Commonwealth of Australia rather than to British insurance companies as happens today.

The honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to an export credit facility, a matter that requires a lot of close attention. On this subject I asked Sir John McEwen when he was Minister for Trade and Industry:

Will the Government set up an export credit facility to provide finance at better than commercial terms to assist the export sales of Australian manufactured military equipment and other high value commercial exports?

He replied:

It is true that lower interest rates are provided by the governments of some countries that are competitive with us. It is quite clear that certain governments from time to time seek to give their exporters a competitive advantage by providing funds at lower interest rates. I have never felt that this Government could engage in an interest rate war in these circumstances.

That is a rather ridiculous viewpoint in the light of the fact that our exporters have been chopped to pieces in the marketplaces of the world when competing with exporters from other countries who are backed by import-export banks. I have in mind exporters of all the major trading countries such as the United States of America, Great Britain, West Germany and Japan. In contradiction to the attitude of this Government to an export credit facility is that of the Commissioner of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation as expressed in his annual report for 1971. In that report he said:

The use of credit in foreign trade has, over the last decade, progressively become a vital factor is winning business. The need to concede credit b fust as much a characteristic of trade with the advanced countries as it is of the developing countries where the reasons are usually more evident. Concurrently with the expanding volume of world trade conducted on credit terms, there is occurring a persistent relaxation in the duration of the credit conceded for all types of goods.

International concern is being more frequently expressed as to the long-term implications of these developments, in particular the possibilities of a credit race worsening which could act against the best interests of the major exporting nations as well as aggravating the existing heavy debt servicing burdens of many developing countries. The Union d’Assureurs des Credits Internatlonaux (Berne Union) and, more recently, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are actively engaged in efforts torationalise credit-giving. Some success is accompanying these endeavours but so strong are the competitive forces operating, that Australian exporters are not infrequently faced with the alternative of either meeting the credit competition or foregoing the business. It is in this situation that the Corporation sees its duty to give them all possible support to retain existing business and win new orders.

They are the words of the Commissioner of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation on the need to provide our exporters with a marginal competitive advantage in relation to credit. His organisation cannot provide finance over extended periods of time at an interest rate of 5 per cent or 6 per cent, or even lower, as is done in other countries. Last year or the year before last Australia tried to sell Macchi aircraft to New Zealand. The assembly line manufacture of the Macchi aircraft is still operating in Australia. We did not get an order because New Zealand purchased from Great Britain aircraft not chosen on their merits but because the terms of credit offered by Great Britain were more acceptable. On high value military exports and high value manufactured exports it is often found that no payment is needed for 4 years and that the interest rate payable after that time is only about 4 per cent or 6 per cent.

We are competing on the export markets with goods which are not marginally better priced, on which we require one-third deposit and interest rates applicable immediately at the normal domestic overdraft rate of 74 per cent. We are not in the race in trying to sell our secondary manufactures to other countries when competing with exporters from Europe, North America and Japan who have the benefit of the backing of import-export banks and private banks offering extended credit at low interest rates.

Therefore there is a growing need to set up an export credit facility in this country. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has mentioned that need for as long as I have been a member of this House and the Labor Party has supported that proposition. There is a crying need for that sort of facility to be created. Much to the consternation of the Liberal Party the Export Payments Insurance Corporation has proved that it can provide decent insurance services for very low rates of premium. Its premium rates have dropped consistently over the years. The same thing could happen in the field of marine insurance and an export credit facility. It is partisan and un-Australian to limit the Corporation to its present charter. It has to provide insurance against non-payment to Australian exporters for the goods they export to other countries. I personally and the Labor Party support the proposed amendment. We have always supported the principle it contains. We believe that the Export Payments Insurance Corporation is a very valuable organisation and when the Labor Party is in government next year it will extend its charter along the lines I have indicated in my speech.

Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister · Cook · LP

– I have been interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) on the availability and desirability of various forms of export finance and export credit. I hope I will not offend him when I say thatI believe that the matter of export credit is not as simplistic as he has described it to the House. It is not just a matter of what the Government will do; it is not just a matter of what the trading banks have done or have not done; it is not just a matter of who finances marine insurance; and it is not just a matter of saying to traders that the credit is available and therefore trade shall flow. I believe that the establishment of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation many years ago was one of the significant moves in the growing sophistication of the credit market of Australia.

I have debated this matter with the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) on several previous occasions in this House. I was pleased to hear that both he and the honourable member for Blaxland support the principle of the Export

Payments Insurance Corporation. There can be no denying that the Corporation has achieved its initial goal. One of the problems of financing exporters of goods from Australia is to provide them with an incentive to go beyond the domestic market, although we have had such facilities as forward exchange cover available for many years.

The cold, hard truth of the matter is that Australian businessmen, irrespective of whether they bank with private trading banks or with the Commonwealth Trading Bank, still do not like to utilise forward exchange cover. I believe that more businessmen could in that way establish sound financial relationships with their overseas traders but the fact remains that the Export Payments Insurance Corporation remains the only practical form of protection against variations in exchange rates. This is what EPIC was formed for. This is what EPIC is all about. Fifteen years ago people were shy of moving into export markets and I believe that the 2 previous speakers from the other side of the House, were they to become informed on the export market, would find that people today are equally shy about it.

It is not my intention to speak for very long on this matter as the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is to make a statement directly, but one point I would like to make relates to what is the Labor Party’s policy with regard to this type of finance. The honourable member for Blaxland was pleased with the general thought of export finance we provide under this legislation. The shadow Treasurer for the last 18 years, our good friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, has long said that he views it favourably but we have not heard from the Labor Party what it will do or to whom it will make this insurance available. We have heard in recent weeks the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) declare firmly and without any doubts - although we are told that this is his personal opinion only - that he will go for a qualitative control of insurance company investments. We know that it is part of the Labor Party’s policy to have qualitative control of bank advances.

I venture to say to the House today that I believe it is the policy of the Labor Party to bring in the same qualitative control over people who go for policies with EPIC. If it does not like you as an individual you will not get insurance under this scheme if Labor ever becomes the government. So when I heard the honourable member for Blaxland move into this area and say that he thought the Government should take over marine insurance I thought: ‘Here we go again. The Labor Party is once more moving into the field of nationalising all forms of credit in our country.’ Together with everybody else on this side of the House I strongly support the Export Payments Insurance Corporation and what happened 18 years ago. It will be interesting to see whether in 18 years time the honourable member for Blaxland relates what he has said today. This is a fine measure. It is helping Australian exports. I commend it to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative. - Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Holten) read a third time.

page 1154



Ministerial Statement

Prime Minister · Lowe · LP

– I ask for leave to make a statement about the 35-hour week.


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


– I do so because it is a matter of national importance about which the facts should be made clear, and because the campaign for its widespread introduction throughout industry threatens to damage confidence in the economy and in the Government’s programme to secure full employment, industrial stability, economic growth and price stability, and a better quality of life for all people.

The Government is opposed to any extension of a 35-hour week at this stage of Australia’s development, either on an industry by industry basis or as a maximum working week to replace the standard 40-hour week of the past 2 decades for the whole of the Australian national work force. The Government has already demonstrated its opposition by its intervention in wage cases which include claims for a reduction in hours to 35 a week, and by frequent ministerial statements designed to warn the community of the price it would have to pay if the Labor Party and the trade unions had their way. The Government wishes to have this matter freely debated in this Parliament now so that the people of Australia will be alert to what is happening, and so that the reasons for the Government’s attitude are better understood.

At the outset, I want to state that the Government is not opposed to the concept of more real leisure for the Australian working man any more than it is in any way opposed to the concept of increased real wages for the work force of this country. It applauds both concepts, and by its progressive policies over many years it has worked steadily to achieve both objectives. But it also believes that in moving towards them the gains made must be genuine and can be supported by the resources of the country without undue strain on the economy. If they cannot, there will be an inevitable wastage of those benefits through crippling costs, runaway inflation and economic instability. Then full employment will be a myth and more leisure a mirage.

This is not the time for a 35-hour week. I repeat that we are opposed to it at this stage of the country’s development. I stress that point - at this stage of the country’s development. The country cannot afford it now or in the immediate future. Before 1 tell you why, let us look at the facts as they are known. The present position is that a 40-hour week is worked generally in industry throughout Australia although a shorter working week applies in some areas of employment. These include some Commonwealth, State and local government employees; some white collar workers in private industry; certain mining industries, and stevedoring and container depots associated with the waterfront. However, it is sufficient for me to say, in this context that a standard working week of 40 hours applies widely throughout the country for most of the work force. And on that standard the nation’s business, industrial and commercial activity has been based. It would be folly to upset it now.

As a point of history, the movement over the last half century or so has been from 48 hours to 44 hours, and then to 40 hours in 1948 at which point it stabilised until recently. Obviously, there cannot be a continuing downward progression in hours because theoretically we would be moving towards the absurd position of no work at all. A whole complex of factors has dictated the level of the standard working week over the years but today the overriding consideration has to be the capacity of the economy to bear the cost - in truth, the capacity of the citizen himself to bear the cost of new concessions. That is the position we are facing now.

The campaign for a 35-hour week has been stepped up in the last two or three years. The Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress declared for it in 1969 and again in 1971, and the official policy of the Labor Party lays it down and it was confirmed at the Launceston Conference of the ALP last year. Spokesmen for both organisations have stated the case for it, in a variety of forms, on many recent occasions. In some industries trade unions have succeeded in their claims before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the most recent being in certain container depot unions. In other industries, claims have yet to be resolved and strikes, stoppages and limitations on work have taken place in an effort to apply duress on government and employers. The Government cannot stand aside idly while such a buildup is taking place, especially when new pressures on the economy have to be avoided and when there is abundant evidence from recent polls that a majority, a sizeable majority of Australians, is opposed to a 35-hour week at this stage.

I have noted that in recent public statements Labor Party and union spokesmen have sought to justify claims for a 35-hour working week on the grounds that it would increase job opportunities, and give more leisure to the work force as a whole. Both are assumptions without any basis in fact and both, in real terms, are far more likely to be wrong than right. So far as job opportunities are concerned, a shorter working week would be more likely to involve overtime at penalty rates. This would inevitably mean more wage-cost pressure and more inflation. Increased leisure, for the minority who might want it and get it, would mean a costly personal sacrifice in material benefits. The simple fact, Mr Speaker, is that as a nation, we cannot have it all ways. We cannot expect and get increased social welfare benefits, reduced taxes and other concessions - be paid more and then work less.

In the national context, a shorter working week must be set against the wishes of most people for improvements in social services, housing, education, health, and other services of a practical kind affecting the individual and the community. The national acclaim given to last month’s Budget which concentrated on these matters, while the polls said ‘No’ to a 35-hour week, shows where the public preference lies. The cost of a 35-hour week, whether it comes piecemeal or as a whole, would be staggering. It is more than the economy could bear at this stage as it is emerging from a sluggish period with inflationary pressures still at work.

Let us look briefly at some of the effects if a shorter working week was introduced. The critical factor is the impact on unit labour costs and prices. What would the effect of a 35-hour week be to the national wage bill and to inflation? The increase in the wage bill would be something of the order of $2,500m to $2,600m and, in some circumstances, could exceed $3,000m a year. Add these figures to the known effect of recent wage increases on our inflationary problem and all the danger signals start flashing.

The ramifications of such a huge increase in the national wage bill would be felt right through the economy. The surge in labour costs would force prices up, compromise employment prospects in some areas, create inequalities in income distribution, and add new burdens to our manufacturing and rural industries, our transport services and our trade. My colleagues directly concerned with various aspects of the economy will have more to say about all these problems later. The sum of it all would be a serious assault on our standard of living. It would mean a cutback in real purchasing power, that is, in our capacity to buy material goods and services. This capacity is, of course, fundamental to achieving a desired standard of living.

Honourable members may fairly ask: Will not increased productivity help to absorb the increase in unit labour costs? Will not the incentive of more leisure improve work performance?’ There is no evidence at all that it will. It is appropriate here to look at figures relating to wage increases and productivity. In the decade or so prior to 1971, the trend of average earnings showed an annual increase of 5.4 per - cent. Productivity, in the same period, showed a growth rate of 2.6 per cent. But in the year to the December quarter 1971, average earnings went up 11.5 per cent, and in the year to the March quarter 1972, they went up 9 per cent. That is roughly double the rate for many years prior to 1971.

Productivity in 1970-71 was down to 1.4 per cent, almost half what it had been for many preceding years. So what we have been tackling in the last year has been an abnormal rise in wages and a downturn in productivity. Are we going to compound that problem just at a time when we are turning the corner and getting the trends on the right track again? Everything the Government has done has been directed to keeping the economy on an even keel and to getting it moving forward in an orderly way. A 35-hour week would punch a hole in our policies at a critical time. There is little evidence, as I have said, to suggest that a shorter working week would have any real influence on productivity. The evidence in other countries on the effect of reduced working hours on productivity shows that any gains in productivity from a 35-hour week are not likely to offset to any substantial extent the inevitable decline in output from the shorter week.

One of the most comprehensive studies available is that carried out by an American research scholar, Dr F. J. Poper of New York University. Dr Poper made a critical evaluation of the empirical evidence underlying the relationship between hours of work and labour productivity. He concluded that at a level of about a 48-hour week, a 1 per cent decline in hours tended to be offset by an 0.33 per cent increase in productivity, but he also expressed the view that at around 40 hours per week decreases in hours are not likely to bring significant hourly productivity gains. There is also evidence that once the working week is reduced generally below 40 hours, the factors on which a (campaign for reduced hours was based ceased to apply. In other words, the pressures for increased leisure ceased and were replaced by the financial attraction of taking a second job.

Mr Speaker, let me summarise briefly what the effects on the nation would be if the 35-hour week came about, bringing with it the extra leisure which its advocates claim as a primary objective. Presumably they would set their faces against increased overtime, and presumably they would expect industry to engage more labour, irrespective of its fitness for the work to be done and whether it was qualified. If this happened - that is, a reduction in hours, no overtime, and more leisure - then there would be a drop in material standards, no matter what money there was in the pay-packet. That money just would not go so far. Prices would be higher, because labour costs would be greater, and all sorts of inequalities would arise. There would be no benefit from increased leisure for the persons on fixed incomes and on superannuation. There would be disturbance in industries, costly readjustments to make and a general disinclination to plan for growth and expansion.

It is an act of responsible government to warn against the dangers of a 35-hour week at this stage of Australia’s development. I am satisfied that the Australian people are not ‘time-servers’, concerned only with the pursuit of leisure. Nor do they include idleness in their aspirations for higher standards of living and a genuine improvement in the quality of life. They do not want to pursue a 35-hour week when they know it is only there to be bought at a price which the community as a whole has to pay. This is a time of great opportunity for all Australians and we should use it well. It is not the way to a better life to sit back and say: ‘Let us do less and ask for more’. Let us be practical. Let us be realistic. Let us not put the brake on progress just when we are moving forward to a period of growth and increasing prosperity for all people in the community. I present the following paper:

Thirty-five Hour Week - Ministerial Statement, 12 September 1972.

Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

I would like to have more than 15 minutes in which to reply to the speech just made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). I hope that when the time comes the Prime Minister will honour his statement that he wants a full and free debate on this matter by not having me gagged when I am just about in full flight. That is what he usually does. I want to begin by reminding the Prime Minister that there was so little interest in this subject when he rose to commence his speech that there were only 12 members of the Liberal Party present in the chamber. Then the Whip got to work and brought in the balance of the number we now see, but until a few minutes ago 4 were asleep and woke up only when I rose to my feet. So much for the interest shown in the 35- hour week on the Government side. The Prime Minister has put on quite a remarkable performance, if one can use the word remarkable’ to describe his speech.

Sir Winton Turnbull:

– I rise to order. I have been in the House watching what has been happening. What the honourable member for Hindmarsh is saying about the numbers of the Liberal Party present is completely incorrect.


-Order! There is no point of order.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– This is the most pathetic performance of any Prime Minister in this Parliament. I would almost think that the Prime Minister wrote the speech himself, it is so poor. It is like a first grade primer, and I am sure that there is nobody who would qualify as a speech writer who would be able to perform so poorly, unless he is on this side of the House and wants to goad the Prime Minister into making the kind of speech he knows everybody will ridicule; and I will ridicule the speech that has just been made, for the good and sufficient reasons that I will show as time goes along. The Prime Minister said that the Government’s programme is to secure full employment. It has had this programme presumably for 23 years.

Mr McMahon:

– You must be-

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– The Prime Minister should not interrupt me; he knows that is rude. The result is that every month for the past 2 years almost, with the exception of 2 months, the number of unemployed has been steadily rising. It has already reached the figure of 112,000 and my information, right from inside the Department of Labour and National Service itself, is that on Monday we will be told that there are at least an additional 10,000 unemployed. The figure is more than 10,000, but I will leave it at that so that it will not be possible to trace the source of my information. This situation is serious. The Prime Minister talks about industrial instability. What a wonderful record of industrial stability this Government has! Last year the Prime Minister and his Ministers announced that we had our worst year of industrial instability for 25 years with 3 million man days lost. So much for industrial stability and so much for full employment under this Government’s regime.

The Prime Minister said that this Government is opposed to any extension of the 35-hour week at this stage of Australia’s development either on an industry by industry basis or as a maximum working week to replace the standard 40-hour week of the past 2 decades for the whole of the work force. Nobody has ever proposed that there should be an across the board 35-hour week introduced in this country. The Labor Party has never said it; the Australian Council of Trade Unions has never said it. The ACTU has said that this year it proposes to try to secure a 35- hour week for the oil industry and also for the power industry and then later announced that it would -postpone for another 9 months its application for the 35-hour week in the oil industry. So there is only one industry out of all those which no doubt can afford it that has been chosen so far this year for the introduction of a 35-hour week. The Prime Minister is too cunning and crafty to say that he is opposed to the introduction of a 35-hour week ever. He keeps saying that we are not ready at this stage for it. Of course, people like those in the Government said that when the 48-hour week came in. ‘We do not mind the 48-hour week’, said the political grandfather of the Prime Minister, but not at this time’. Then his father said: *We do not mind the 44-hour week but not now’. Then the Prime Minister as a young fledgling coming up through the university was making speeches against the 40-hour week. ‘Not now’, he said. He is shaking his head now, but of course, his son will shake his head when somebody reminds him in 20 years time that his father, away back in 1972, said that we were not ready for the 35-hour week then. It is never the time, according to people on the other side of the House who represent big business.

The Prime Minister said that this Government has always demonstrated its opposition by its intervention in wage cases. Yes; it has demonstrated its opposition but it has demonstrated also how out of date it is, because each of the two times it intervened in a court case to oppose the 35- hour week the Arbitration Commission has said that the Government was bonkers and that the 35-hour week was something that should apply in the mining industry, the stevedoring industry and the containerisation industry. But in spite of the fact that stevedoring output had more than doubled in 10 years this Prime Minister had the cheek to send somebody into the Arbitration Commission to say: ‘We do not care, whether the output per man-hour has gone up 100 per cent in 10 years, we are still opposed to the 35-hour week’. The Government said the same thing to the coal miners, who increased their output by more than 100 per cent in 20 years, when they applied for the 35-hour week. It seems to be a logical conclusion that more productivity demands greater leisure, but this Prime Minister applauded the previous Prime Minister for sending the most expensive counsel that money could buy to oppose their application in the Arbitration Commission.

This Government, the Prime Minister has said, has already demonstrated its opposition by its intervention in wage cases. Of course it has. It always opposes increases in wages but never does anything to oppose increases in profits. Oh no, increases in wages are opposed, as is any reduction in the standard hours, but never does the Government do anything for the great bulk of the 4.5 million wage and salary earners who are relying on their labour for their bread and butter. This Government cannot guarantee that there will not be a 35-hour week, any more than a Labor government could guarantee that there will be a 35-hour week, because it is beyond the power of government by statute to fix the standard hours of industry through the Commonwealth Parliament, and the Prime Minister knows that perfectly well. The final decision will rest always with the Arbitration Commission and not with the government of the day. All the government of the day can do is either reveal the facts, as a Labor government would do, or conceal the facts, as this Government has done for the last 23 years.

The Prime Minister said that he had decided to bring this matter forward so that the people of Australia will be alert to what is happening. They are alert to what is happening, my dear Prime Minister, without you raising this matter in the Parliament this afternoon. There are 113,000 of them out of work and another 10,000 have joined their ranks. By February next year there will be more than 200,000 out of work. Nearly one million people are trying to eke out a living on $51.10 a week, which is the national minimum wage this Government told the Arbitration Commission it had no right to award. It does not need this pathetic attempt, through this miserable little speech in large typing that the Prime Minister has read out, to alert the people of Australia to what is wrong and what Ls happening. They know all too well what is happening, and while the Prime Minister is on his knees praying to win the next election the people of Australia are praying that the Arbitration Commission will wake up to the fact that they cannot live on $51.10 a week.

The Prime Minister in his speech went on to say:

At the outset J want to state that the Government is not opposed to the concept of more real leisure for the Australian working man.

Let me put this proposition to him: A 35- hour week worked over 48 weeks represents a total of 1,680 working hours a year. This could be worked at either 35 hours a week for 48 weeks or 40 hours a week for 42 weeks at ordinary rates with 6 weeks additional leave at the end of the year making a total of 10 weeks leave. There would be no difference at all in the costs of these 2 proposals but the latter would certainly give more leisure. Now let me tell the Prime Minister something about people who work overtime. The only reason people work overtime or take a second job is that they cannot afford to live on one job. While we have a government like this in office, which tells the Arbitration Commission that it should not award even $51.10 a week for a man, wife and children to live on, these people will always need a second job to get sufficient money to live on. Then the Prime Minister said that he applauded the concepts both of increased real wages and decreased standard hours. But what has be done? If he applauds them he has not given any indication of it in this Parliament He has never uttered one word of protest against the very low level of national wages that we have at the present time. He has closed his eyes to the fact that during the 23 years that this Government has been in office the share of the gross national product which goes to wages has fallen since 1948-49 rather than increased in spite of the fact that the size of the workforce has increased by nearly 2 per cent.

The Prime Minister talked about crippling costs, runaway inflation and instability. These are 3 things for which this Government is solely responsible, it being the Government in power for the last 23 years with control of both Houses. The Government is responsible for these 3 things and it cannot even blame the 35-hour week for them because we do not have it yet. We have something which is infinitely worse - a Prime Minister who does not even understand what it is all about The Prime Minister said that this is not the time for the 35-hour week, the inference being that he is not against it but that Australia is not quite ready yet. That is what the Government said, I repeat, when the 48-hour week, the 44-hour week and the 40-hour week were introduced. Now, members of the Government parties again say: ‘Not at this stage’. Of course, nobody is proposing that there should be a 35-hour week for all industry at this stage. I now read from the official platform of the Labor Party’s policy. From 1965 until 1971 the Labor Party’s platform said:

A working week to consist of not more than 5 consecutive days, with a maximum of 35 hours and with a progressive reduction to 30 hours.

At the Launceston Conference the Labor Party deliberately struck that plank of the platform out of the rule book and incorporated the present plank, part of which I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard because of the shortage of time.


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


Excess profits and managerial inefficiency must not be permitted to deprive employees of the Australian workforce of the progressive improvement in the quality of life which modern science and technology can provide. Public interest, therefore, demands that the Commonwealth play a positive role in cases before the Commission concerning -

  1. provision for increased leisure time for employees in a manner which is appropriate to a particular industry and which will not affect the objective of ensuring that there is an increase in real wage and salary standards. These provisions may include -

    1. a 4, 4½ or 5 day working week,
    2. a 9 day working fortnight,
    3. a 35 hour working week, according to the circumstances of an industry, including the history of the industry, the degree of automation and mechanisation and other relevant factors. The ultimate aim is to secure a 35 hour working week in circumstances which will ensure fair treatment of all sections of the community,
Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I thank the House. It is quite clear from the plank of the platform, which the many people who read Hansard will be able to see, that we no longer say that we believe in a 35-hour week across the board. We say that it shall go to those industries that can afford it and to no others. This is a position which we have made perfectly clear all the way along. Never before have we said anything contrary to that. The Prime Minister said that obviously there could not be a continuing downward progression in working hours because theoretically we would be moving towards the absurd position of no work at all. That is the position that 113,000 people are in already - no work at all. Is it not better that we have everybody working 35 hours a week than have some working 40 hours a week and paying taxes to feed those who cannot get any work at all? Is that not the sensible thing to do? I notice now that the Prime Minister cannot stand it any longer and is leaving the chamber. He never can take it. He can dish it out but he can never take it. I quote now from the official statement of the Opposition which I made in Adelaide. (Extension of time granted). I said:

The current campaign for a 35-hour week is designed to increase job opportunities for those who cannot get any work at all and to improve the quality of life for those who are in employment by increasing their leisure time. If the 35- hour week doesn’t increase job opportunities for the jobless, and provide more leisure for those who have jobs, it will have failed to reach its most laudable objective.

The Commonwealth Parliament has no constitutional authority to legislate for a 35-hour week for persons who are privately employed. The Arbitration Commission is the only body that has power to award a 35-hour week for employees covered by federal awards. Sixty per cent of all employees work under State awards and their standard hours cannot be reduced except by decisions taken outside the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Commonwealth should play a positive role in cases before the Commission concerning such issues as the 35-hour week. A Labor government would do exactly that. We will gather the facts, reveal the facts and let the Arbitration Commission determine what decision should be made on the facts that are put before it. We will not conceal the facts, as is the case at present. We will have regard to the circumstances of the particular industry, including the history of the industry, the degree of automation and mechanisation and other relevant facts. Where those relevant facts support a union claim a Labor government would, of course, intervene to give its full support for the claim and it would rest with the Commission to determine what should be done after hearing both sides. But the ultimate aim of a Labor government would be to secure a 35-hour working week in circumstances which would ensure fair treatment to all sections of the community.

One of the ironies of the recent amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is that the Government’s decision to force every agreement and every consent award to go to a full bench for approval has had the effect of forcing the bench to place its official imprimatur upon 35-hour week ageements so that they can be used as a stepping stone for other industries. This has occurred because the Government did not understand enough about the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to know what it was doing at the time it introduced the amendments. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) looks innocent, and he looked innocent at the time he introduced the amending Bill because he is completely innocent of what it is all about. I do not blame him and I do not even blame the advisers because I know of one particular case in which his advisers told him not to touch one proposition with a 40-foot pole. He took it to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister said: ‘Never mind about whether the thing is proper or not. It has political mileage in it so let us go for it - secret ballots against strikes. We know it will not work but it sounds good.’ So the Minister had to bow out as gracefully as he could.

It is not true to say that no industry now can afford a shorter working week. As I said before, the same thing was said when the 48, 44 and 40-hour working weeks were introduced. But there will be very serious consequences in Australia if the 35-hour week is delayed too long. There is no doubt that we could, I suppose, reduce costs by returning to a 48, 50 or 60-hour working week, but how would we find enough customers for the increased output if 900,000 of our present customers were out of work, because that is what would happen? It is axiomatic that if hours are increased to 48, the unemployment number is increased by 900,000. Excessive profits and managerial inefficiency must not be allowed to stand in the way of the employees in the Australian workforce enjoying the benefits of progressive improvement in the quality of life which modern science and technology can provide. Why does not the Government have a look at excessive profits? Why does not the Government look at the rackets which are going on in tax evasion? Why does not the Government do something about restrictive trade practices? Why does not the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), who is sitting sucking his pencil, bring in a Bill to give effect to some legislation which will give us some relief from the overseas control that we now suffer from - multi national conglomerates that come into our country and fix arbitrarily the price of the things we have to buy?

I am personally convinced that employers are overstating their case against the 35-hour week when they say that this reform will merely increase the amount of regular overtime. To the extent that it is true, this is an indictment of 2 bodies: One is the Government for not retraining those who are out of work to take jobs that are available, and the second is the Arbitration Commission for fixing rates of pay that are so low that people are compelled, in order to eke out an existence, to take a second job. As I have already mentioned, it was not true to say that the stevedoring industry costs were increased as a result of the 35-hour week. The stevedoring industry reached a point in the end where something like 600 or 700 people faced unemployment unless they had a reduction in hours. There is not really much hope for anybody who feels that he is on the verge of the unemployment queue, because he is well and truly headed for it.

Before I sit down, 1 want to deal with the contradictory statements made by the Prime Minister about the cost of a 35-hour working week. On 10th August, the Prime Minister stated that the introduction of a 35-hour working week would increase costs by 18 per cent. Then the Minister for Labour and National Service said that the increase would be 12 per cent. In another statement, the Minister said that it would be 9 per cent. The Minister then said that the Prime Minister’s estimate of an 18 per cent increase came from a report by a committee of senior officers drawn from departments concerned with economic and related matters. Let me tell the Minister for Labour and National Service who is at the table that 1 know all about the committee. The committee did not say that there would be an across the board increase of 18 per cent in all circumstances because of the introduction of a 35-hour working week. The committee said that there could be freak situations in which an increase of 18 per cent could occur.

So, this freak who passes for a Prime Minister decided to pick up the freak situation that was described by this special committee and say that 18 per cent represented the real cost. How are we to expect any stability? How can we place our confidence in a Prime Minister who recklessly declares in the Press that the cost of introducing a 35-hour working week will be an 18 per cent increase when his own Minister for Labour and National Service said that it will be only 9 per cent and then to try to make his Prime Minister not look too silly, decided to settle for 12 per cent?


– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Labour and National Service · Flinders · LP

– What this debate really demonstrates is that the Opposition in this House is compelled to toe the line drawn by the trade unions outside the House. Let me say at the outset that the general propositions which have been put by the Opposition would considerably exacerbate our present inflationary difficulties. They are naive because they totally ignored the whole concept of flowon throughout industry if a proposition of this type were to be adopted in particular industries. It is also interesting to observe that the propositions put by the Opposition are discriminatory and lacking in equity because they confer on some employees a benefit which they would continue to deny to others. Finally, the propositions are contrary to the egalitarian traditions of industrial relations in this country. They certainly are contrary to the expectations and aspirations of the Australian people as consistently stated in recent gallup polls. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) could certainly be regarded as the grey eminence of the Opposition.

Mr Dobie:

– Or white eminence?


– Well, there may be some debate on the term, but I am prepared to consider the term which the Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister has put forward. But whether he is a grey or a white eminence, the simple fact is that the honourable gentleman representing in this House the shadow ministry of labour and national service is certainly not eminent in resisting the demands which have been made by the trade union movement. What we heard from the honourable gentleman was not a speech which, in its totality, was concerned with the question of a 35-hour working week but rather a tirade on unemployment and on restrictive practices legislation with extensive reference to secret ballots and to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. One could be excused for believing that the honourable gentleman was very light on when it came to material concerning the introduction of a 35-hour working week. It is not my intention to refer at length to the question of unemployment because that is not part of this debate.

Mr Foster:

– Why do you not debate it here?


– However, 1 want to say to the honourable member for Sturt, who consistently in this chamber ignores the facts and, particularly, to the honourable member for Hindmarsh that any suggestion in this chamber that unemployment will increase during the period covered by the next employment summary, which information the honourable member for Hindmarsh said during question time this morning came directly from an officer of my Department, is totally unfounded. If the information is accurately given by the honourable gentleman, he has the wrong informant because that information is very inaccurate and he cannot rely upon it.

Of course, at this stage, I do not seek to make any precise comments simply because the unemployment figures will be released next Monday. But I take the deliberate opportunity of saying to the honourable member for Hindmarsh that he is wrong in his forecasts as he has been wrong before. The simple fact is that the various interpretations of the employment projections given by the honourable member for Hindmarsh, the shadow Minister for Trade, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), and the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), are different and divisive and, in fact, create no other impression in the Australian community than one which is contrary to the general concept of the psychology of confidence at present.

Union demands for a shorter working week cannot be considered in a vacuum as Opposition members have suggested in this debate. They must be seen against the background of other union claims, particularly claims for wage increases, and in the setting of the current economic climate. In recent years, the most persistent and intractable problem in the economic forum which this country has faced certainly has been inflation. The evidence points strongly to wages and salaries as the mainspring of this inflationary upsurge. Clearly, if one looks at the facts - I challenge Opposition members to raise this matter during question time if they have a different point of view - rising unit labour costs have played a predominant and a pre-eminent role in the present inflationary experience. But, not satisfied with the current bout of wage-cost inflation, many trade union leaders are now intent on adding further to inflationary pressures by the introduction of a 35-hour working week. If their demands are successful, the economy will be faced with inflationary pressures of intolerable proportions.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Opposition have, by their actions, stimulated union demands for a reduction in ordinary time working hours. In fact, what some of the unions are seeking and what the Opposition is prepared to join in is a simple proposition of more and more for less and less effort. There is no doubt that this is totally contrary to the aspirations, socially and economically, of the Australian people at this time. In pursuit of a reduction in working hours, unions have engaged in direct action and threats of direct action. Honourable members will recall that during May and June members of metal trades unions employed in the oil industry engaged in strikes and other limitations on work particularly in Victoria and Queensland because oil industry employers insisted that their claims for a 35-hour week were properly a matter for consideration by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

In June of this year, metal trades unions employed by contractors engaged in building the Yallourn ‘W power station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria imposed a 35- hour week limitation on work in support of claims for a new agreement covering wages and conditions including the introduction of a 35-hour week. Furthermore, members of the Federated Shipwrights and Ship Constructors Association of Australia and the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia employed in shipbuilding and repair work on the Melbourne waterfront only recently returned to work after a 5-week strike in support of a log of claims which included a claim for a 35-hour working week.

Unions have also been seeking to shorten working time by the grant of increased annual leave. Honourable members will recall the stoppages of employees of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria that occurred earlier this year in support of claims for an additional week’s leave. Some 11,000 workers were directly involved in the stoppages and in excess of 200,000 employees in several States had to be stood down by their employers as a result of the strike.

There are also at present unresolved claims for a shorter working week in other industries including the metal trades industry, the building industry, the airlines industry and industries associated with the packing and unpacking of containers. No-one in this House can seriously claim that this is not a proposal which will certainly flow on throughout the general community. What the Opposition has in fact put forward is the naive view that one can contain the introduction of a 35-hour working week to particular industries. Of course, any one in the industrial jurisdiction who has had even a most fleeting experience in that area knows that full well, although the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) conveniently seeks to ignore the question of flow on. If he had more concern for the primary producers in his area he would pay some attention to. the impact which this proposal, if carried throughout industry, would certainly have upon the rural producers. This is one of the disadvantaged groups who are unable to pass on their costs in the general community. If the honourable gentleman made some passing association with men on the land he would pay some attention and indicate his bona fides in the area by making his position very clear indeed. It is obvious, therefore, that this is one area which is of critical concern to the Australian electorate.

Members of the Opposition have said in this debate that they would be prepared to go before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in regard to those industries in which they believe a 35-hour working week could be introduced. But I challenge Opposition members to answer in this debate, if they believe that the concept of 35 hours ought not properly to be introduced in certain industries, the following questions: Would they go before the Commission, would they be prepared to fight the great trade unions of this country, would they be prepared to stand firm in resisting trade union pressure? During the whole period of this Government, particularly during the course of the past 2 to 3 years, there has not been one occasion on which honourable gentlemen opposite - the honourable member for Riverina, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), the shadow Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the shadow Treasurer - have been prepared in this House to be critical of just one proposal which the trade unions have brought forward. Of course, the implication of this is a clear one - that is, that a Labor government would take no action whatsoever in these circumstances because in fact the Labor Party is captive to the trade unions outside this chamber.

I challenge the shadow Treasurer to say something in this debate which his colleague the shadow Minister for Labour has not been prepared to state simply because he knows full well the problems which are created on the Opposition benches when the Opposition is critical of certain aspects of trade union policy.

Significantly the policy of the Australian Labor Party does not indicate how the twin objectives of increased leisure and increased real wage and salary standards can be achieved. It is not just a question of a 35-hour working week in a vacuum. The trade unions, supported by the Opposition, are moving on all flanks. It is a question of seeking more and more for less and less effort. This is a policy which is contrary to the aspirations of the Australian people at this time. It is about time the honourable member for Sturt was prepared to apeak out because he knows in his own heart that one cannot take out of the gross national product more than one is prepared to put in. But the honourable member is prepared to bleed the Australian community dry in simple support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He is not prepared in this chamber to speak his mind because he knows full well the type of reaction which would be generated by any criticism of that type by the honourable gentleman against certain areas of the trade union movement.

What is put forward is a policy which is industrially naive. It is a policy which is far more than that in terms of its impact upon the wage earners of this country. It is not simply naive; it is also inequitable. Honourable gentleman opposite would seek to confer on some wage earners benefits which at the same time they would deny to others. Where is the sense of egalitarianism, which is the so-called plank of the

Opposition’s policy? What the Opposition is putting forward is contrary to that sense of egalitarianism.

Mr Cohen:

– Is that your sense - working 60 hours a week?


-Order! The honourable member for Robertson will cease interjecting.


– The honourable member has not had great experience in this area. If there is a feeling that the 35-hour week should be introduced, let the Opposition consider putting forward a test case by the unions, and not simply an application here and there because the Opposition knows full well that the application in one major industry will be used as a point of leverage or a point of pressure to seek in terms of the classic concept of flow-on the application of this concept throughout industry. If this year to the Opposition is not the year for the introduction of the 35-hour working week, 1973 would be that year if they were in government because the Opposition lacks the will, the sense and the courage of standing for what we know the Australian community requires at this stage. The Opposition’s approach smacks of trade union elitism. It is self-evident that the Opposition seeks to act contrary to what I have called this sense of egalitarianism.

Is this what Australia wants at this stage? Does the community put a reduction in the working week above all other priorities? The Government’s strong view is that the answers to these questions are unequivocally in the negative. The community believes, as does the Government, that the future of this nation cannot be built on a philosophy of less work for more money, and that conviction has been clearly evidenced in successive gallup polls. Reducing working hours at this stage of Australia’s development is no way to build a nation. It is one way of seeking to destroy the benefits which have been built in recent years. It would exacerbate the inflationary spiral; it would be contrary to the real interests of the Australian wage earner; and it would impact itself upon those groups disadvantaged in the general community. This is not the time for the introduction of that concept throughout industry or in particular industries.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Melbourne Ports

– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), who is normally a rather pleasant sort of fellow, seems to have fallen into the bad habit recently of thinking that because he says something twice as loud as necessary he is twice as impressive. I hope that he will learn. He chided one of my colleagues for making a statement when he had been long enough in this place to know the facts. I think that the Minister has been here long enough to do better than this. It would have been nice had we been able to have a debate in this House around the merits of the 35-hour week. All that is being done, of course, is a very sordid attempt on the part of the Government - and I see that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) has entered the chamber to take part in the debate - to take the minds of the community off the state of the Australian economy by talking about what might happen when something that we do not have comes about.

The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in the second sentence said of his ministerial statement:

I do so because it is a matter of national importance about which the facts should be made clear, and because the campaign for its widespread introduction throughout industry threatens to damage confidence in the economy and in the Government’s programme . . .

I ask honourable members to listen to what is in the Government’s programme. The Government’s programme is to secure full employment although unemployment in Australia today is higher than it has been for 10 years. The Government is to achieve industrial stability, when the only stability we have is that of industry standing still. The Government is to promote economic growth and price stability although last year the gross national product increased by 3 per cent, the population increased by 2i per cent and prices rose by 6 per cent. Finally he said: ‘We want to secure a better quality of life for all people’. Tell that to the million or so pensioners who are merely existing, and to the 250,000 wage earners with dependent wives who live on incomes of less than $60 a week, which is the case in Australia today. A lot of nonsense is spoken particularly by members of the Australian Country Party. Are the ills that assail the rural industries in Australia today anything to do with the 35-hour week? I believe, if you want my opinion-

Sir Alan Hulme:

– We do not.


– Maybe honourable members opposite do not like to hear it, but those who favour shorter hours are, in my opinion, on the side of history. What is the nonsense we heard from the Prime Minister? He said:

As a point of history, the movement over the last half century or so has been from 48 hours to 44 hours.

If he had gone back a half century before he would have realised that it went from 60 hours to 48 hours. Before then the idea was that factories could not work unless small children crawled into holes that bigger people could not get into. The Prime Minister went on to say that the standard working week went to 40 hours in 1948, at which point it stabilised until recently. Then we had the nonsense that followed. He said:

Obviously, there cannot be a continuing downward progression in hours because theoretically we would be moving towards the absurd position of no work at all.

We have at present the absurd position of no work at all for over 100,000 people. If 100,000 people who could have been working 40 hours a week are not working, what difference is there if 800,000 people work 5 hours less? That is putting the thing purely on the plane of nonsense arithmetic. I ask the Prime Minister how he worked it out. He went on to say:

The increase in the wage bill would be something of the order of $2,500m to $2,600m and, in some circumstances, could exceed $3,000m a year.

He chides honourable members on this side of the Parliament when somebody talks about 150,000 unemployed or when somebody else talks about 200,000 unemployed. The Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia refers to 250,000. The Prime Minister ranged all the way from $2,500m to $3,000m. How did he arrive at any of the figures? I think he arrived at them by a crude sort of index. Did he say that there, are now roughly 5 million people working, at $500 a head? Did he say that the total wage and salary bill last year was $20,000m and it rose during the year by over $2,000m? Did he arrive at his figures simply by saying that 35 hours instead of 40 hours means a reduction of one-eighth and therefore an increase in total cost of one-eighth? Is that the sort of crude arithmetic with which this question is approached?

The whole history of industrial development has been the replacement of sheer manpower by horsepower - the putting in of machines instead of men. In the next 10 or 15 years it will be physically possible to produce all the goods and services that the Australian economy wants with a lesser component of labour than is currently the case. There are different ways of facing the social equation. Maybe some people should work a lot of hours and other people should not work at all, but somehow everybody has to have an income. All that is reflected in the Prime Minister’s attitude is that in an age of technological change - this is what the gentleman from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures pointed out - we are not yet prepared to face the fact that many of those people in Australia who are unemployed are unemployable in today’s context. This is implicit in the growth of unemployment. What is the Government doing to retrain those people to go somewhere else?

I do not believe that the answer to the problem of people out of work today is sharing the hours among those out of work and those in work. I think that is a antediluvian approach to the problem. What we face in Australia is a shortage of skilled manpower. We are using skills badly in Australia. One of the difficulties about picking up unemployment quickly - this was adverted to by the Reserve Bank of Australia - is that more people will not be employed in the factories but that the same people will be made to work longer hours, and the unemployed will not be absorbed in that kind of process. The sort of people who are unemployed at present will become employed only as the Australian economy is stimulated. The Government is blithely ignoring this. It will pick up anything out of the rag bag that will take the eyes of the people of Australia off what is actually happening. In a month - certainly in not much more than 2 months - there will be an election in Australia. That election will not be fought on what will happen if we get a 35-hour week in 12 months, 2 years or 3 or 4 years time. The election ought to be fought on the Government’s performance in relation to the economy. Honourable members opposite should judge themselves by the sort of things to which the Prime Minister referred. Let me mention them again. He referred to full employment. Does anybody on that side of the House believe that full employment exists in Australia today? The Prime Minister believes it.

He said that he wants to secure industrial stability. Does he mean by ‘industrial stability’ that there will not be any strikes? I mean by ‘industrial stability’ that there will be a growing and expanding economy. Last year, private fixed investment - the things that go into factories to make them work faster - actually fell in real terms. The Prime Minister referred to economic growth and price stability. This has been the worst year for 10 years as far as per capita growth is concerned, and the worst year for many years as far as inflation is concerned. He talked about a better quality of life for all people. I suggest that these are some of the things on which the election will be fought. No longer will it be possible for motor car manufacturers to make motor cars only in the way they want to make them. No longer will it be possible for those in industry to make emissions and cause pollution without having some public restriction placed upon them.

From looking at the unemployment figures one realises that schools are still turning out people with talents apparently developed that no-one wants. At the other extreme, industry still has demands that are not being provided for by the system. The kind of thing that will be required in this economy in the years ahead is the planning of the total activities of the economy, not just letting things drift hopelessly along, hoping that something will turn up. Modern economies do not function on hunches. Modern economies function best when there is a sense of purpose behind them and when all the skills, talents and technological advantages are being utilised. They owe a lot to the quality of education in the long run. The economy expands when those sorts of things are looked at comprehensively and not in bits and pieces. That is the besetting sin at the moment of the Australian economy. It is not anything to do with the hours that may be worked in the future if we orientate our resources properly, which we have not done for the last several years at least. The argument ought to be about the Government’s record. Why other than for sordid political reasons is the question of the 35-hour week intruded into this House in the form of a Prime Minister’s statement? As my colleague the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) said, governments can legislate for their own employees only. It is not within the province of this Parliament to adjudicate upon industry as a whole, standard hours, minimum wages and that sort of thing unless we amend the Constitution. Perhaps that is what the Prime Minister, in his blind way, is suggesting. Perhaps he is suggesting that we should give more power to the Commonwealth Parliament to do this sort of thing. But at the moment he knows, as he knows so many other things upon which he is trying to mislead, that it is not within the competence of a Labor government or any other government to grant a 35-hour week. It is within the province of governments to go in and argue on its behalf if they want to.

The sort of thing that typifies this Government is that in the default of doing anything about the regulation of prices or solving the inflation problem, it goes into the courts and argues against the justice of workers getting higher wages. I can assure the House that this is one thing that will change tinder a Labor government; we will not go into a court and say that because nothing has been done about prices the worker is not entitled to get some additional increment by way of higher wages As my colleague pointed out, how could we take off the market the goods that the farmers produce or the goods that the factories produce unless there is adequate real purchasing power in the hands of the 90 per cent or so of the people who are classified as wage and salary earners who are losing out in the equation because prices are rising faster than are wages and because real consumer standards are declining and being reflected in the ill health of the economy.

Minister for Trade and Industry · Richmond · CP

– The debate this afternoon has been useful in that it has clearly illustrated what the Australian Labor Party’s policy is. It is to pursue the objective of a 35-hour week. It shelters behind the Constitution in saying that the Parliament cannot legislatively introduce a 35-hour week, but it makes it quite obvious that it will pursue the matter in any way possible to make it a reality. I would like to see the 35-hour week campaign retitled so the people know what it is. It should be called a campaign to reduce spending power. It is the Labor Party’s failure to understand the impact of shorter hours that makes it necessary for the Government to try to explain the situation to the Australian people. None of those who are suggesting a 35-hour week, however fine the motives they put forward, are suggesting that people should get less than 40 hours pay for it. If people are to work 35 hours for 40 hours pay they will find, broadly speaking, that when they want to buy something worth $35 they will have to pay $40 to get it. Whenever the worker, the housewife or the farmer wants something that takes 35 hours work to produce he or she will have to pay the value of 40 hours work to get it.

That is really what the Government has been saying when it has pointed, out that a 35-hour week would add from $2, 500m to in excess of $3,000m to the national wages bill. That $2,500m plus will not come from any fairy godmother; it will come from the people of Australia. It works out at about $200 each, or about $800 for an average family. Everyone will contribute. People will not be asked whether they would like to contribute. They will simply find that prices have gone up. They will have to contribute, some a bit more, some a bit less, on the average $200 a year for each person. This is what the unions and the Labor Party are intent apparently to thrust on the Australian people.

The only explanation I can think of is that the Labor Party completely misunderstands what is in the national and the community interest. When we look at some of the statements of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on tariffs and on the value of the Australian dollar, we can understand Labor’s misunderstanding of the implications of a 35-hour week. Are the national interests and the community interest best served by pushing up costs, by increasing the cost of living, by making our exports dearer and less competitive on overseas markets, by raising the spending power of the workers’ weekly pay packet? Is it in the interests of Australians to add to the costs of local government so that rates are even more of a burden than they are now? Do we want food prices to go up even faster? Do we want the cost of building homes pushed up at a faster rate? Or are the national and community interests better served by people who are responsible enough to take the unpopular course of speaking out against the things which would lead to a worsening of the individual’s economic position? I think that this misunderstanding by the trade unions and the Labor Party of the national and community interest, that is the interest of all Australians, represents a betrayal of those who have supported them over the year, and I think it is Labor’s misunderstanding of this whole question which has made it very clear that it does not like being picked up and having its policies exposed.

I made a statement in Perth a few weeks ago and I think it is important that I repeat it now, because the versions presented by the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) have not been accurate. I said that our efforts and our hopes to make significant progress in curtailing inflation have been seriously jeopardised by a strategically planned attack on industry by organised labour. I said that this attack was apparently aimed initially at forcing a 35-hour week on highly capital intensive industries in which labour costs might be small in relation to total costs. I pointed out that many of the industries on which his attack was being made were capital intensive industries dominated by international corporations. I said - and I make no apology for it - “The Government will be looking to these corporations to resist the demand for a 35-hour week’. Australians as a whole will see the response of these corporations as a real test of how much they are concerned about the welfare and the stability of the Australian economy and the Australian community.

This statement brought an hysterical reaction from the Labor Party, as it is waken ing some of its ranks now. Its supporters accused me of all sorts of things. They accused me of selling out the Australian worker and they demanded that I resign. I did not resign. But on the next night 1 made another speech in which I commented on the Labor Party’s reaction. 1 repeat now what I said then because I believe it puts into a few words the heart of the whole question. I said that I had been attacked because I had drawn to the attention of the Australian public a campaign by the Labor Party and by trade unions that was against the national interest and against the interests of the Australian people. It seems to me that the very real tragedy in this is that it is not just a campaign; the Labor Party and the unions cannot see or will not admit the damage they can do to the living standards of people they say they represent. This is the core of the argument. It is very clear that the Government sees the national interest and the interest of the Australian people differently from the way the Labor Party sees them. Inflation is the most serious problem this country faces. If the Australian people are consistently to seek higher pay for less work, living standards will suffer. (Quorum formed.) The calling of a quorum is a tactic to try to stifle what I am saying. If the Australian people are consistently to seek higher pay rates for less work, and if they are to demand pay increases in excess of productivity increases, the standard of living will not be improved; it will be damaged. We are not doing the wage earner any service at all by encouraging him continually to seek higher pay or to press for shorter hours when all it will do is undermine his standard of living, push costs up and up and reduce the volume of goods his pay packet can buy.

When we speak out in this way against a 35-hour week we are not trying to set employers against employees. We are trying to protect the interests of the employee. We are trying to dissuade him from being taken in by the illusion or mirage of change which he thinks will be good for him but which really can do him only harm. Some people may be quite happy to make a bargain to work 35 hours a week and to accept the fact that the money in their pay packets will not go as far as it now does, but they should have it made quite clear that this is the bargain. It is the task of a responsible government to make clear to everyone the 2 sides of the bargain.

Most Australians enjoy the standard of living that this country provides. Most of them want to raise that standard of living through better social services, greater development and more of the good things of life for themselves and their children. They are prepared to work 40 hours a week or even a little longer to achieve those results. I think that the Labor Party underestimates the Australian people when it seeks popularity by talking of reducing working hours. The Labor Party misunderstands the needs of the Australian people and its responsibility to them when it proclaims the 35-hour week as a policy objective. When people say that the real aim of the 35-hour week is more leisure they should remember that if they get that leisure it will be achieved at the cost of a corresponding cut in spending power. They will find themselves no better off. They will get the shorter working week at the cost of damage to the economy of this country which, when selling its products, has to compete with overseas countries.

It is hard, of course, to determine the exact impact of a 35-hour week in particular areas, but it is clear that the problems raised by shorter working hours will extend throughout primary industry, secondary industry and various service industries, as well as to consumers, and particularly to people on fixed incomes. In some ways people engaged in primary industries are in the same position as pensioners and other people on fixed incomes. They have minimum scope to influence their incomes. The incomes of farmers are largely set in overseas markets. They are unable to pass on higher costs and this alone can mean a fall in their living standards as prices rise.

Primary producers are in a worse position than other people in that their income is not their cash receipts but what is left after they have paid their costs of production. If costs rise and export prices remain the same the actual cash income of primary producers will be lower. The introduction of a 35-hour working week or the reduction of all weekly working hours by five would have a drastic effect on the farming community. If, for example, the standard working week were reduced by 5 hours throughout the com munity a substantial increase in costs could be expected. About 80 per cent of a farmer’s production costs represent purchases from the non-farm sector of items such as fertilisers, transportation, equipment and so on.

As has already been indicated in what I have said and in what my colleagues have said in this debate, the introduction of reduced working hours would have significant effects on the costs of farmers. Unit labour costs on the farm would also rise. Industries which sell their products on export markets are unlikely to be able to pass on increased costs without loss of sales. On the domestic market, any increase in prices could serve to reduce the consumption of farm products although with some farm products consumers will be forced to absorb price increases which result from increased farm costs.

For the rural sector as a whole, taking into account the possible impact on costs and returns, a reduction of 5 hours in the standard working week could reduce the aggregate farm income by as much as $200m, or a reduction of 20 per cent on last year’s figure. As much as $200m less could flow into country communities which are already finding the going less than easy. This would create an impossible social and economic situation for rural communities as against other sections of the community. This is of course an estimate based on a number of assumptions and it is possible that it could be altered by such factors as the phasing in of a shorter week over- a period of years or the constraint of wage rises over that period. To expect this attitude to wages seems to be not to face up to the realities of life.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Corbett)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


– In the history of this nation and this Parliament every man who has appeared on the side now represented by the Government - the Liberal-Country Party side, the United Australia Party side, the Nationalist Party side - back to the early part of this century has always opposed every move that has ever been made for shorter hours or for higher wages. When it was first proposed in the national Parliament to introduce an age pension of 10 shillings a week, people on that side opposed that pension. Their slogan has always been that lt is not the time. Now, as on every other occasion, they say that it is not the time to prepare for the introduction of a shorter working week, of a 35-hour week.

The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) today made his statement on the 35-hour week solely in the belief that it would help his very desperate Government in its election campaign. Government supporters believe that if they can create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the community about the consequences of a 35-hour week they will help to get themselves elected. They do not mind how they distort the evidence. They do not mind how false an impression is given as long as it will help them to win the election. The’ Prime Minister told us that a gallup poll showed that the people do not support a 35-hour week and therefore it is intolerable. What does that logic prove about the Prime Minister, who was shown by a gallup poll to have the approval of only 29 per cent of the people questioned? Does that prove that the Prime Minister is intolerable and ought to be rejected, following his argument that the 35-hour week ought to be rejected because it did not receive majority approval in a gallup poll? From beginning to end it is a political exercise.

The Prime Minister and the Right Honourable the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), who has just finished speaking, have put forward a completely misleading and false story to the House. I would not say that they know it to be false. I would not say that the Prime Minister knows that what he said about the policy of the Labor Party or the ACTU is false. If he were almost anyone else I would be inclined to think that be would know, but I do not think that of the Prime Minister. What has been said by these 2 senior Ministers with some full sense of responsibility is that the Australian Labor Party would thrust the 35-hour week upon the people. Everything the Prime Minister has said assumes that it would happen in a few weeks. This fantastic cost estimate of from 82,500m to $3,000m assumes that it would be done in less than a year. Everything that they have said assumes that the Labor Party and the ACTU have some kind of plan to bring in a 35-hour week by one sudden quick action. They know that is falsa or at least I would expect them to know, but that does not concern them.

The thing that most disgusts me about politics is how people continually assert what they know to be wrong in the face of the evidence purely for the political gain they imagine that they will get out of it. I have not seen a better example of this than the Right Honourable the Minister fo: Trade and Industry who in asserting that the Labor Party would thrust a 35-hou; week upon the people knows that it is contrary to Labor Party policy and contrary to possibility and that it is also contrary to the policy of the ACTU.

In order that the Government can face the evidence I will give it now. The policy o.’ the Australian Labor Party is obtainable for everybody to see. It is on page 23 of the Party’s ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’ as approved at the 1971 Launceston Conference. This is the policy that 2 Ministers have just said will thrust a 35- hour week onto the people in less than a year. The Labor Party cannot legislate for a 35-hour week except for those who have already come pretty close to this under the present Government, such as Commonwealth public servants who for years have had a 36i-hour week. If this Government is so much opposed to a 35-hour week for workers in the oil industry and the power industry why did it consent to a 36±-hour week for Commonwealth public servants? This is part of the humbug of the situation.

The Australian Labor Party is to support demands in and before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. First of all. the decision depends upon the Commission. The Commission has to be convinced. That is the first brake on the situation. The Commission has to be convinced. Therefore the granting of a 35-hour week would not be an immediate thing. It is not thrusting the 35-week upon the people, as the Right Honourable the Minister for Trade and Industry tried to mislead the House and everyone else into believing. It would mean putting a case to the Arbitration Commission. The Commission would make the decision, not a Labor Party government. That submission would be put to the Commission under these provisions:

  1. provision for increased leisure time for employees in a manner which is appropriate to a particular industry and which will not affect the objective of ensuring that there is an increase in real wage and salary standards. These provisions may include -

    1. a 4, 4i or 5 day working week,
    2. a 9 day working fortnight,
    3. a 35 hour working week, according to the circumstances of an industry, including the history of the industry, the degree of automation and mechanisation and other relevant factors. The ultimate aim is to secure a 35 hour week in circumstances which will ensure fair treatment of all sections of the community;

The 35-hour week is an ultimate aim. The policy of the Labor Party is that it should be introduced by the Arbitration Commission in each industry according to the circumstances of each industry and when the Commission considers that an industry can afford it. Now that is the position that has been so distorted before the House for political reasons this afternoon by 2 right honourable gentlemen. What does this term ‘Right Honourable’ mean? Is the word ‘honourable’ simply a convention? Is it a meaningless word? Does the word honourable’ have some meaning when the Prime Minister can come into the House and so distort something that is available for his examination? I would not suggest that be even looks at the facts; you only have to listen to his speeches to be convinced about that. But the facts are there if he wants them. For political reasons he either knows them and ignores them or he has not even gone to the trouble of finding out.

That is the position of the Australian Labor Party. The position of the Australian Council of Trade Unions also has a clarity about it that the 2 speakers on the other side who preceded me have completely ignored. The introduction of shorter working hours in this country has been a very long and arduous process. A 48-hour week was introduced in 1856 and if the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Industry had been in this House at that time they would have opposed its introduction for the stonemasons in Victoria. In 1856 it would not have been the time, according to them; but it did not become general until 50 years later, and it took another 30 years to reduce the working week from 48 hours to 44. It took 11 years to reduce the working week from 44 hours to 40 and members of this Government opposed it every inch of the way.

They and their political fathers and their political grandfathers opposed it every inch of the way and it was never the time, just as it is not the time now. It took 11 years to get it down from 44 hours to 40.

The first decision the ACTU made about a 35-hour week was not made recently. It was in 1963 - 9 years ago. Yet the Government says that Labor will thrust it upon the people. The ACTU Congress decided in 1963 - 9 years ago - to begin a campaign for a 35-hour week in 2 industries, the coal industry and the power industry. In 1965 the ACTU Congress confirmed that there should be a campaign. In 1967 and in 1969 it spoke in terms of a general campaign. It did not mean a general campaign to get it in all forms of industry at the same time; it meant a general campaign among all workers to get it wherever it could be obtained. Yet that will be misinterpreted no doubt by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), if he follows the notes that he already has prepared. The ACTU decisions in 1963, 1965, 1967 and 1969 were to try to get workers involved in a general campaign to get a 35-hour week wherever it could be procured according to the conditions of that industry and what was possible in it. In June 1971 - 8 years after the campaign started - a 35-hour week was given by the arbitration authorities in New South Wales to the coal miners in that State. Who is going to be worried about thrusting it upon the workers?

On 23rd February 1971 the ACTU Executive resolved it’s policy on the 35- hour week. Nobody has gone to the trouble, including the Right Honourable the Prime Minister and the Right Honourable the Minister for Trade and Industry, of telling us what ACTU policy is before they attacked it. They immediately gave their own distorted version of it and then attacked it. This is ACTU policy:

To call meetings of unions employed in the power industry and the oil industry for the purpose of devising and approving appropriate methods of achieving reduced working hours in these industries.

That is, the power industry and the oil industry. This concentration upon 2 industries is ACTU policy. ACTU policy, as well as ALP policy, is for the gaining of greater leisure. I think that if the Australian people are asked to vote in the coming election on the alternatives of the Labor Party policy or the policy of the Prime Minister they will be inclined to vote for the Labor Party policy. Workers and citizens always have wanted leisure even more than money. Advances in getting that leisure have been very slow. It took 50 years to get the working week down from 48 hours to 44 hours and 30 years to get it down from 44 hours to 40 hours; and since 1963 the ACTU has been making statements about a 35-hour week. It is 8 years later and we have not got much of it. It is a very slow process. If the people have the choice between this situation and Labor Party policy, I am satisfied which one they will choose. The Government opposes the introduction of a 35- hour week, either industry by industry or by a reduction in the standard working week. The Government is opposed to any reduction in the working week. I would be satisfied to have the people vote on that policy as compared to the Labor Party policy. Again I quote the Labor Party policy: provision for increased leisure time for employees in a manner which is appropriate to a particular industry . . . according to the circumstances of an industry, including the history of the industry, the degree of automation and mechanisation and other relevant factors.

There is nothing frightfully dramatic or thrusting about that policy. I suppose that if it could be criticised at all one could say that it does not go far enough. But, if the Government wants to have an election on the issue of the 35-hour week and if the people can see the facts as to the policies of the Government parties and the Opposition party, I am confident that they will support the Opposition party-


– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Treasurer · Bruce · LP

– The Government does not stand by on this issue which has immense ramifications for the wellbeing of this country. Whatever may be said today to be the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions or the Australian Labor Party - whichever is chosen for the purpose of the day - the fact remains that the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who led for the Opposition in this debate, is recorded quite clearly as addressing members of the Vehi cle Builders Employees Federation in these terms: ‘The policy of the Labor Party in government would be to make available to the unions all the resources of the Department of Labour and National Service; it would intervene in all cases before arbitration tribunals for the purpose of achieving a 35-hour week in industry’.

The Government believes that it is not right for a government to stand by and allow the issue to be fought out between powerful unions and the employers. The combination of the powerful unions, of course, usually renders them far more powerful than an individual employer. The Government believes that, wherever it can, it should intervene for the purpose of putting before the tribunal concerned and before the public the public’s own interest, because it is the duty of the government to make sure that the public interest is heard in these matters.

I believe that the key to this issue is responsibility. The Government is determined to act responsibly in this matter and will continue to do so. This statement has been made today so that the issues may be raised with the Australian people. If responsibility is the key to this issue, then it is against that criterion that we can measure the Australian Labor Party policies in the broad, because this is a criterion. The Australian Labor Party has no responsibility whatsoever on this issue. If it has none on this issue, how can the people of Australia put any reliance upon any policies which it may enunciate for the purpose of appealing to people?

The honourable member for Hindmarsh, who led for the Opposition in this debate today, made a speech which did not do him credit because of the manner in which it was delivered. However, he gave 2 reasons - 2 reasons only - why the 35-hour week should be introduced. His reasons were these: Firstly, it would increase job opportunities and, secondly, it would increase the quality of life by leisure. As to the first reason, a method of increasing job opportunities is to enable people to be trained more adequately for the jobs that are available so that they can create a greater productivity effort in this country. The individual man, well-trained, does not work harder to increase productivity; he works more efficiently by reason of better management. There has been a great reluctance on the part of the trade union movement in the past to share in Increased job opportunities among workers in industry by enabling them to get better training.

As to the second point made by the honourable gentleman - the increase in the quality of life by leisure - I assure him that there are many ways in which the quality of life is improved other than by leisure. For instance, the quality of life is improved very greatly if there is an increase in income in Teal terms and not merely in money terms. There is an increase in quality of life for pensioners if inflation does not erode the increase. There is an increase in the quality of life for the fixed income earner if inflation does not erode the increase. And so one can go through the list of people whose quality of life is improved and who are looking for this improvement.

There was no mention by the honourable member for Hindmarsh or those members of the Opposition who followed him in this debate of any grand design for Australia’s future. There was no mention of the policies which they had been speaking about at every opportunity or of trying to reconcile the achievement of those policies with the inflation which a 35-hour week would induce and with the reduction of standards of living which a 35-hour week would induce. Indeed, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, after failing to justify a 35-hour week in any way or putting up any contrary arguments, went to extraordinary lengths to put up a straw doll to knock down. He said that if there were a reversion to a 48-hour week there would be 900,000 unemployed. Has anybody heard that put as a proposition? Only a man with an imagination such as that of the honourable member for Hindmarsh could put forward such a proposition.

There is economic cost in a 35-hour week. The economic cost would be a reduction in material standards and increased inflation. I believe that Australians understand this when it is explained. Many of them already understand it. That is why so many of them are opposed to a 35-hour week. They are not prepared to suffer decreased material standards and increased inflation for the sake of marginally increased leisure. A threat was implied in what the honourable member for Hindmarsh said today. He talked about 10 weeks annual leave. Is that the next claim to be made by the Australian Labor Party and by the powerful unions? He certainly spent some time talking about it. We cannot be precise as to the costs which would flow from a 35-hour week, but we do know that they would be very great. The average hours worked today are 38.4. To reduce that figure to 35 hours means a 9 per cent reduction. That is not arguable. It is mathematically certain. The cost which would be induced by that reduction would be equal, just to put it in some measure, to all the Government spending this year on social services and repatriation. That would be the cost of a reduction in working hours to that level. If there is this reduction it will mean less production, and as the living standard of a country depends on the goods and services produced and as there will be a 9 per cent reduction in the goods and services produced there will be a 9 per cent reduction in the standard of living of this community. It is as clear as day. Nobody has talked about any reduction in wages, and I certainly do not want to hear of that; but if the 35-hour week came in and wages remained the same it follows that costs would not go down, production would. Costs would remain the same and prices would go up. So there would not only be a reduction in production but also an increase in prices which is the joint cause of inflation and the loss of material standards.

Imagine the work force of this community having a wage cut of 9 per cent right across the board. How would it react to that? Inflation would occur, production would go down and unit costs and prices would go up. There would no doubt be attempts to maintain production by working overtime, and that sounds a reasonable proposition. But it so happens that if production were maintained by working more overtime, inflationary pressures would be even worse because overtime is a more expensive cost of production than standard rates. The result would be that prices would not go up by 9 per cent or 10 per cent but by 12 per cent or 15 per cent. This would be disastrous at a time when we are battling inflation. We managed to get inflation down from 7 per cent in the 1971 calendar year to 6.1 per cent in the year that ended on 30th June last. Those who would suffer from the inflation are those who are retired, those on fixed incomes and pensioners. Savings, superannuation payments or entitlements and insurance policies yet to mature would be reduced in value. It would be a crippling blow to the people concerned. The powerful unions are trying to advantage themselves at the expense of the community.

It was said today that my Party represents big business. It does not, as it turns out, because the details of electoral spending are clear. What are my Party’s funds compared with the Labor Party’s funds. The Labor Party is spending all this money on trying to build a charisma for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The Opposition is a party spawned by the Unions and still controlled and owned by the unions. The unions will provide all the money that will be spent on beautifying the Leader of the Opposition. It was said by Opposition speakers that there were no dire effects on the economy when the standard working week was reduced from 44 to 40 hours. I have no complaints about the 40-hour week - do not misunderstand me - but one cannot rewrite 1948 history in 1972. The statistics are there and speak for themselves. In 1948 and 1949 we had inflation of 10 per cent in this country, the worst inflation rate in our history, so do not pretend that reducing the hours of work will not have the same effect now. For a current example of the impact of a reduced working week let us look at the stevedoring industry, which under an agreement signed on 28th April had a reduction in working hours from 40 to 35. Within a week of the signing, port handling charges went up 40 per cent while in February there had already been an increase of 30 per cent to 40 per cent in charges. Increases in port handling charges mean increased prices of goods in every supermarket and small store. In container depots only last week, and within 3 weeks of a decision granting a 35-hour week, container depot charges increased by 15 to 25 per cent.

The Australian Labor Party says that it has a selective approach. That is an interesting proposition. Is it going to create an aristocracy withing the working class? Is this class warfare? Will it have an aris tocrat in the vehicle building industry and a peasant in the railway industry? Of course the Labor Party does not mean that. It cannot mean it, and it would not get away with it if it did. What it means is that comparative wage justice and conditions will spread and it is unreal and deceptive to talk about a selective approach. The whole idea of the approach is to pick on the areas which can least resist so that it will spread across the entire work force.

Let us look now at the case of a motor body builder first class who is on a standard award rate of $68 a week. He is in the area of workers who the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) said should have a 35-hour week. He said that if in government the Labor Party would do everything it could to give it to them. If the hours of work of this motor body builder were reduced from 40 to 35 and his overtime increased by 5 hours a week, his award earnings would be about $82 a week. Compare this 20 per cent to 21 per cent increase for that worker with the wage of a fitter and turner in the shipbuilding industry who would work 40 hours a week but would stay on $69 a week. Is there any equity in that? Has the Labor Party any real concern for equity and justice in the work force?

As a nation we have far to go and we have much to do in areas such as education, health, welfare and the development of human and natural resources. We have pockets of poverty to eliminate and we have the standard of living of this nation to advance continually. On this basis the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government will take every opportunity it can to put the facts before the Australian people and to resist this proposal which can result only in a reduction in standards of living and increased infllation to a crippling degree which will affect the unprotected in the community. We will not resile from that duty; we will pursue it at all times. For if the Opposition has no commitment to the development of this country, the Government most certainly has.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has raised a completely phoney issue for debate in the Parliament this afternoon. He knows perfectly well that it is a matter for arbitration or negotiation for employees, both blue collar and white collar, to get a 35-hour week or to get one long weekend every month or to get one long weekend every fortnight or to get a 4i-day week or a 4-day week. He knows perfectly well that except in respect of its own employees the Commonwealth Parliament cannot pass any laws on that subject whatever. He knows that the State Parliaments can pass laws on that subject only in respect of people who are covered by State awards. If employees under Federal awards are concerned neither the State Parliaments nor the Federal Parliament can do anything. Whatever the Liberals may say - they use on this subject as on everything else their favourite slogan this year, ‘It is not time’ - they know quite well that they cannot prevent the 35-hour week or the introduction of a long weekend once a month or a long weekend once a fortnight. They know that when the Opposition wins the election it cannot guarantee a 35-hour week or a long weekend every month or a long weekend every fortnight.

These are not things which legislatures with the greatest good will or ill will in the world can achieve or prevent, and the Prime Minister knows this perfectly well. He has been Treasurer, Minister for Labour and National Service and now, strangely, Prime Minister. But on this subject he is being led by the nose by the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) who on all these economic matters determines what the Liberals will now think has some political impact whether in relation to tariffs, parity, or a 35-hour week. We even have the present Leader of the Country Party calling foreign companies in to assist the Liberal-Country Party Government against Australian employees. I do not know what votes the Government thinks it will get out of that ploy, because frankly the white collar workers would enjoy the value of a 35-hour week even more than the blue collar workers. Of course, the Leader of the Country Party represents many people who still resist any claims for a 40-hour week. There are many employees in Country Party electorates who still work under awards providing for a 44-hour week. Where else in the English speaking world would one get such conditions today? This is an industrial matter, not a political matter. It is part of an historic worldwide trend combining improved methods of production with reduced working hours. Whether people want it or not, it will come about.

It is no wonder that the Arbitration Commission, when such matters come before it, has been unimpressed by arguments put by the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). He and the Prime Minister cannot even sort out their arguments on this matter. The Prime Minister quoted percentages and sums today which happen to be exactly the same as those that he quoted 5 weeks ago - a week after the Minister for Labour and National Service had stated that it is not possible to make an accurate assessment of costs on the evidence available. The Minister then said that it seemed that the percentage increase in costs of production caused by a 35-hour week would be half as much as-the: Prime Minister claimed. Is it any wonder that the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Leader of the Country Party and the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) have not put any cost or percentage on it today? They are content to misrepresent the Australian Council of Trade Unions. My colleague from Lalor (Dr J. F Cairns) has quoted the precise ACTU resolutions. They are content to misrepresent the Labor Party. My colleague from Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has had the Party’s proposals on this subject incorporated in Hansard. I need merely mention, leaving out all the machinery in the interim, that the Australian Labor Party and the ACTU have the ultimate aim of securing a 35-hour working week in circumstances which will ensure fair treatment of all sections of the community.

It seems that honourable members opposite have been abashed by the claim of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party, in his announcement when he was acting Prime Minister on 7th June that the Fedeal Government would seek the help of international firms to oppose union demands for the 35-hour working week. It was reported in all the papers of that day. He has never been able to live it down since. The irony of it is that nobody is more out of touch with rural producers, their problems of markets and inflation than the Leader of the Country Party. The irony is that he is calling on overseas companies to resist conditions in Australia which they have long accorded to their employees in their countries of domicile. The irony is that the larger foreign corporations in Australia make automobiles and in Detroit the standard working week is not 35 hours; it is 30 hours. What mugs these foreign corporations must think this yokel and his colleagues are. This is not even a popular issue among the people whom the Liberals conceive to be their supporters. W. D. Scott, the management consultants, a month ago conducted 2 surveys of Australian executives. The result showed that most executives expected the 35-hour week to be general in 5 years. It does not say they necessarily want it, but they accept that it is inevitable. Further, in perhaps a more cerebral, academic circumstance, employers were discussing this matter at a seminar conducted last January by the Victorian Employers Federation. Its secretary, Mr Ian Spicer, told 70 businessmen repesenting many of Australia’s major industries that working hours would change in the coming years whether employers liked it or not. He said:

The consistent productivity increases being recorded by American firms using the 4/40 system could indicate that these hours are the boost the Australian economy requires . . . We are not talking of shorter hours - but of changing the hours . . . It is better for employers to take the initiative rather than wait for the unions.

He then pointed out:

Figures showed that productivity in many American firms had increased by IS per cent once they changed to the 4-day 40-hour week.

Overseas experience had proved that absenteeism dropped, profits increased and labour turnover decreased with the 4-day 40-hour week.

The managing director of IAC (Holdings) Ltd said his company had introduced a system of flexible working hours which gave every employeeincluding executives- a 4-day week every, 4 weeks. He said staff turnover had been a big problem with the firm before the introduction of the scheme.

On a ‘Four Corners’ programme 3 weeks ago one of the most enlightened employers within a highly labour intensive industry, Mr Russell Whitmont, was interviewed. I quote his words in relation to the introduction of a 4-day week in his shirt manufacturing industry. He said: lt was introduced to satisfy a need In the company. We had very high cost problems like every other company, problems with turnover of staff, absentee problems, high overtime, and consequently something had to be done to reduce our costs rather than increase our selling prices to the public. . . . People have had to increase their productivity by 11 per cent. We have reduced” our working hours 10 per cent, from 40 hours to 36. It means, in effect, that they are now required to produce in 36 hours what they previously produced in 40. … I believe that people were giving a very fair day’s work, but that they were motivated by the introduction of a long weekend every weekend, and consequently they were able to increase that productivity that much because of that factor.

A woman employee appearing on the programme said:

I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s really marvellous and I hope they keep it up.

The production manager and the employees interviewed on the programme all testified to the fact that they were getting more family life and more time at home. There was more productivity and less travelling.

Mr Armitage:

– That company has been highly successful.


– It is a highly successful firm. I refer now to the attitude of the employers. The very week before the Leader of the Country Party was ranting about overseas companies coming in to assist, the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures noted:

The introduction of a shorter working week does not automatically increase production costs. In fact, under certain conditions unit costs can be decreased. In some industries it may be possible to maintain or increase output by substituting the present one shift plus overtime for 2 shifts both at normal time. A shorter working week may also provide management with the opportunity to improve productivity.

At the same time the issue of ‘Commerce’, the official journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, reported:

Will the 4-day week supplant the S-day week in the United States in the next decade or 21 Labour and management experts believe it is a distinct possibility for some businesses and industries. In fact, the 4-day week is already appearing in the United States and the trend is annually extending.

Employers themselves do not believe that they can successfully resist the shortening of hours or the reduction in working days. The experience in North America - Canada as well as the United States - is that turnover is maintained in the production of goods and turnover in the labour force is reduced. Employees are more productive and happier under such conditions. Employees in Sydney and Melbourne in particular, largely because the Liberals have promoted this issue, are becoming aware of the benefits of fewer working days. In Sydney, the Commonwealth Bank reported in September last year that a housing site 10 to 15 miles from Sydney cost between $8,500 and $30,000 and that only limited land was available. More than 15 miles from Sydney land costs $5,000 to$ 10,000. Now the majority of builders in Sydney are building 20 miles or further from the General Post Office. The Department of Supply finds that it takes its own passenger vehicles one hour to travel 10½ miles in Sydney. In Melbourne they can travel 10¾ miles in an hour. As a result of the growth of the cities and the availability of land, an increasing number of employees must spend not less than 15 hours a week travelling. Many take longer than that. What are the fares that they are paying? I quote from the document ‘National Income and Expenditure’ and I compare 1967-68 with 1971-72. It shows that between those years the increase in personal consumption expenditure in Australia on dwelling rent was 60 per cent and on fares was 40 per cent. In a period of 4 years, Australians have had to spend 60 per cent more on the occupation of their houses and 40 per cent more on their fares.

Because the Government has promoted this issue so much, people are becoming aware of the benefits of working fewer days in the week or in the month, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. The Government makes a serious error if it thinks that, by promoting this issue, it is gaining votes. The white collar employees are the very people most likely to gain a 35-hour working week. They are the ones who are closer to it now. Members of the Commonwealth Public Service now work a 36½-hour week; they are the people who, by negotiation, are most likely to obtain an improvement in their conditions.

So the employers and the investors, including the foreign investors, know that this is a losing issue. Time will make it inevitable. The employees - 90 per cent of the Australian work force - are realising, thanks to the Government’s propaganda, that it is a very attractive proposition. By calling in the foreign companies, the Leader of the Country Party (Mr

Anthony), as Deputy Prime Minister, has put himself and his colleagues, much against their will, I believe, offside with 90 per cent of the people of Australia who work for their living. He is not only being anti-employee; he is also being antiAustralian.

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

Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.

page 1177


In Committee

Second Schedule.


Proposed expenditure, $5,699,000.


– The Committee is invited to approve the expenditure of the sum of $5,699,000 on the running of the Parliament for the current year 1972-73. 1 want to say a few words about the efficiency with which this money is to be spent. I do not have time to advance arguments, so I will state quite bluntly the things that I think are wrong and which ought to be put right. I cannot refer to all the functions of Parliament and I shall confine my remarks therefore to its function - to use the old phrase - as the great forum of the nation. How do the people perceive the Parliament in this role? In the autumn session 23,000 people attended in the. public gallery and innumerable people listened to the broadcast of the proceedings. What perception would they have of the Parliament from what they see and from what they hear? Usually there are about a dozen people sitting in the House. Somebody is supposed to be making a speech but in fact is reading from little bits of paper. Ministers read in a rather lackadaisical fashion some material provided for them by their officers. This was described, very aptly I think, by a distinguished citizen recently as indigestible information in unpalatable prose. The debates go on and I say little about that at this stage.

I would suggest that if life is to be restored to debates - if they are dead, of course, nobody listens to them, like people who are dead - one or two little things should be done. We have carried out 2 experiments in recent years and they have been absolute failures. First of all, we have permitted the reading of speeches. I cannot imagine anything more likely to kill a debate than this. Secondly, we have put public address systems in every member’s office so that he does not have to come into the chamber to hear the debate. One can imagine the effect of talking in an empty House. So the first thing is to restore some life to the debate by requiring that honourable members should make speeches instead of reading them and by dismantling the public address systems.

What has happened in recent years has been the movement of debate on public issues from the Parliament to the media. There has been a communications revolution and apparently we have not observed it, although it has happened right under our noses. Television has totally altered the relationship of the Government to Parliament and to the people. It is no longer necessary for Parliament to be an intermediary between the Government and the people. The media has become a direct intermediary between the Government and the people and the Parliament therefore has become unnecessary from the point of view of direct communication. This has left the field to the political gossip writers in the Press and, in particular, to television where the quizzing by what were described by a distinguished person the other day as urchins of Ministers and members of the Parliament takes place, the choice as to subjects, times of debate, the participants and the guidelines that will be followed in the course of the discussion being left with the television stations.

Indeed, as I said, public debate has been handed over lock, stock and barrel from the Parliament to the media and particularly to television. The result is that the basic criterion of the media is that which determines what is done. The basic criterion is entertainment and the result has been the trivialisation of public debate. It has become a matter of personalities and dog fights because these provide the best entertainment. Serious debate on important matters has been neglected as a result. I suggest that Parliament should investigate the steps that might be taken for some part of the proceedings of the Parliament to be televised. A new television channel would be available for this purpose; there is no problem in this respect. I am not suggesting that the Parliament should televise such things as, shall I say, the committee stage of the peanuts export bounty bill or something of this kind; I am not suggesting anything so absurd.

This matter was fully debated in the House of Commons in 2 full day debates in 1966 and the question of whether it would have a trial period of 6 months on closed circuit television was defeated by one vote in a debate that resulted in a great deal of cross voting. That is where the matter still rests there. As I say, I am not suggesting the televising of the whole proceedings of the Parliament. I have some sympathy for the public and for ourselves. But it may be that question time could be televised. It may be that there could be a summary titled ‘This Day in Parliament’. It may be that, when agreed between the 2 sides of Parliament, debates of sufficient public interest and merit should be televised.

If these steps are taken, we must of course alter the procedures of Parliament. Our present question time and our present methods of procedure need reforming in any case. We waste an enormous amount of time in committee stages, in repetition and in many other ways. It would be necessary anyhow to reform our procedures. There are problems that will occur to every honourable member and I do not have time to go into them now. These problems relate to prima donnas and clowns, the empty benches and the studio atmosphere and who would do the televising. I have not time to go into these, but anyone who is interested may find that any one of these things, and many more, are discussed fully by well informed people in the debates of the House of Commons that I have mentioned.

The other question that concerns me, in the few moments I have left, is party funds. It happens that the Australian Labor Party derives most of its funds from the trade unions and this is regarded as a pure source of money for a party. Of course, it is perfectly plain that the trade unions necessarily expect their quid pro quo the same as any other interests which provide money for party funds. Perhaps it is 2 quids pro one - I do not know! At any rate, so far as this side of the House is concerned, we depend upon individuals - individual companies and individual people. If one is going to require disclosure of the source of funds it is quite obvious that by intimidation many companies would be prevented from making any donation to funds to support the party on this side of the House. This would be simply an application of the gag.

But the important thing is this: A revolution has occurred in telecommunications. Television has burst upon the scene and television is extremely expensive. This means that we face now and in the future a situation where election campaigns are going to be very costly indeed. If we have anything to learn from the United States of America it is this: If one is to have very expensive campaigns there will be people prepared to provide the money in return for benefits. This is a danger that we now face in this new situation where campaigns are going to become, on account of television, very costly.

There are 2 courses open to us. Firstly we can compel television stations which are given a public monopoly to provide time on an equitable sort of basis to established parties, that is parties that have representation in the Parliament. The other course is to provide funds from the Treasury. There is no escape from this situation. If people do not want to have funds provided from the Treasury - and I guess that they do not - they must look to the provision of time by the television stations or face the consequences that have already occurred in the United States. These are all very serious matters for the Parliament. Unless we are very careful we shall find that we have passed into oblivion and become merely an institution which is ornamental but of no utility.

I invite the attention of honourable members to these matters because I think the consequences of neglect and doing nothing about them are very serious indeed. “ Mr BERINSON (Perth) (6.3)- At a time when we are within weeks of a Federal election - at a time when every blow has to count, so to speak - it is rather strange to see that we have put time aside to discuss questions of parliamentary reform, questions without any electoral impact at all. At the same time this opportunity is available so rarely that we have to take it when it comes. I want to raise in the first place some matters related to the place of the Senate in our parliamentary system.

For over 20 years the Senate has had the potential to be a highly negative and disruptive body and with the imminence of a general election and the likelihood of a Labor government thereafter, that potential could be realised all to soon. The position in the Senate at the moment is that there are 26 members from the Government parties, 26 from the Australian Labor Party, 5 from the Australian Democratic Labor Party and 3 independents. In other words, the balance of power in the Senate is now held by 5 DLP and 3 independent senators, all 8 of whom between them represent a mere fraction of the whole electorate.

This situation has presented no problem to this stage because when it came to the crunch the Democratic Labor Party could always be relied upon to support the Government parties. The same co-operation, however, could hardly be expected for a Labor government.

The prospects, then, would be those of very great difficulty in passing any meaningful legislative programme at all and very serious instability of government. Even the double dissolution provisions would not necessarily resolve the problems likely to arise because, although not yet tested it does appear that the Senate can bring down a government without leading to its own dissolution by means of a refusal of Supply. As it is, we already have 2 Federal elections every 3 years, which is far too often for effective government. We should beware of opening the way to even more frequent polls than that. The result at best would be chaos - at worst, complete paralysis of the system.

There are an amazing number of myths and an extraordinary amount of wishful thinking in relation to the Senate. We still hear people argue, for example, that the Senate is a useful house of review and also the house which, because of its equal State representation, can be looked to for the protection of the rights of the States. Both of those propositions, of course, are nonsense. The Senate in fact is no better equipped and because of its lesser numbers alone is actually less well equipped than this House is to scrutinise legislation. The difference is that the Senate has adopted a committee procedure of substance whereas we in this House remain content with our own empty forms. That is a position which could and should be remedied overnight. As for the Senate being a States’ house, the truth is that the Senate votes exactly as we do - that is on party and not State lines; it always has and there is no reason in the world to believe that that position will ever change.

The main matter concerning the Senate that I want to pursue at this stage is the argument that a multi-party, rather than a 2-party Senate is desirable in principle despite the minority balance of power situations to which it obviously lends itself. The argument is that minorities should be better and more specifically represented than the 2-party system allows. Perhaps that argument is right, although I would deny it. But if it is right, why stop there? Why not be consistent and adopt proportional representation - that is, the multi-party system for the House of Representatives as well? The answer is obvious and rests on the fragmentation, instability and indecisiveness which characterise every parliament which is elected on a proportional representation basis.

To take only 2 examples, I refer to the Italian parliament and the French parliament in the period of the Fourth Republic. Both were elected under a system of proportional representation. The Italian parliament regularly included 9 parties and had 19 changes of government between 1945 and 1970. The French parliament of the Fourth Republic regularly included at least 7 parties and had no fewer than 26 changes of government in the 14 years to 1958. Such instability is inherent in electoral systems which favour multiparty results and make it certain that we would never adopt the system for the House of Representatives.

The question which then arises is this: Why should we tolerate our present peculiar inconsistency - a 2-party system in the lower house where the government is formed and a multi-party system in the Senate where the Government can be harassed and even brought down? The answer normally advanced is like Winston Churchill’s comment about democracy and Maurice Chevalier’s about old ag« It may be bad but it is better than the alternative. At it happens that is not true in this case because the argument normally rests on the false assumption that there is only one alternative to the present voting system for the Senate, and that is the system it replaced. The earlier system was an ordinary preferential system on a State-wide electorate and governments used to gain majorities such as 33 to 3 and 35 to one. That admittedly, would also be deplorable.

But there is a third alternative available and that is the replacement of State-wide constituencies by 5 constituencies within each State, each constituency with 2 senators elected at alternate polls. The Constitution envisages such a system and empowers the Parliament to enact it. The voting system under such a scheme obviously would be preferential as for this House, and in addition to avoiding the problems of multi-party parliaments, such a change also would have the advantage of bringing senators more directly into contact with a particular constituency rather than the impossibly large Statewide constituencies they now in theory represent. The change proposed, as I have pointed out, is within the power of the Parliament and it would not require an amendment of the Constitution to achieve it. I believe we should be giving consideration to it. The alternative could well be an election every year and that would benefit no one, least of all the country.

At this point I want to discuss some matters relating to the proceedings in this House. In some respects I follow on the comments of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). One does not have to be very acute, much less original, to observe that, in terms of decision making power, the Parliament might as well not be here. Some people become very upset when they realise that that is the position and they come up with all sorts of suggestions as to how some executive function might yet be vested in the Parliament. I believe, with respect to the people who think along those lines, that they are wasting their energy. In the system we have - a Cabinet system based on a disciplined 2 party system - we will never reach a stage like that. Accordingly, we would be much better employed using our energies along these lines to analyse what purposeful functions this Parliament does perform and then see whether we can improve them. 1 agree with the honourable member for Bradfield that one of the most important functions we can perform is that of a political forum. We are one of the very few forums of political debate in this country which can rely on consistent public attention. This makes it all the more unfortunate that the standards of our debates are so poor. The honourable member for Bradfield suggested that one of the reasons contributing to the poverty of our debating standards was the fact that we read our speeches. Frankly, I see the problem not so much as one of presentation as one of reception. As we all know, apart from question time we would not have 20 per cent of the members of this House in the chamber for 20 per cent of the time. I do not criticise that necessarily, but what I deplore is the absence from the chamber of members actually participating in any given debate. We simply do not listen to each other. The result, where opposing speakers are concerned, is thai any meaningful combative debate becomes literally impossible and where supporting speakers are concerned we end up, very often with endless and pointless repetition. I raise this matter only because it should be capable of reform fairly readily.

Basically, the problem arises in practice from the fact that Mr Speaker accepts lists of speakers from each Party Whip and calls them strictly according to the list provided. I do not criticise the present Speaker in that respect. I understand that it is a tradition of the House that this procedure should be followed. But it is a bad tradition to follow and it is a bad procedure to have adopted in the first place. T believe that the discretion should be left with Mr Speaker as to who to call. Among other things, that would force all potential speakers in any given debate to listen to each other and would enable them to argue each with the other in some more substantial way than is now possible. It would also force more people to prepare themselves on subjects discussed than would necessarily have the opportunity to enter into the debate.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Sitting suspended from 6.13 to 8 p.m.


– Discussing the Parliament is almost like discussing a joke. Look at the pressing numbers on all sides here to witness what is going on. There are more people in the galleries than there are in the House. The way we function is futile. Take Parliament House itself. For years now we have been told that there is talk of building a new Parliament House, but sadly the opportunity for getting a new Parliament House has gone by the board year after year. There is no suggestion of new thinking about it despite the fact that all our facilities are utterly hopeless.

Mr Giles:

– Hear, hear!


– I am glad to see that one member on the other side agrees with me. We have shared rooms and totally inadequate rooms from every point of view. There is an absence of anywhere near sufficient secretarial staff or research assistants. We even lack mechanical devices. I do not know how many other members have received the tape recorders which it was recently advertised we were to receive. I certainly have not got mine. They seem to be a long time coming around.

Ail in all it seems that we are ashamed or afraid to state the case for reforming the way we function ourselves. I am sure that in any self-respecting business the management would not stand for the conditions under which we operate. Great organisations in the country making their profit and having a turnover of millions of dollars would not stand for the conditions that we, as the equivalent of their senior staff or managerial staff, have to put up with. Yet we are theoretically supervising the running of the whole country. Apart from the mechanical disadvantages, what about the whole parliamentary procedure and the whole concept of the way we function? The reality, of course, is that back benchers are for all practical purposes almost totally ineffectual. That goes for back benchers on both sides of the House. It is irrelevant whether a member is a Government party back bencher or an Opposition back bencher; he has practically no say at all. In fact, we make speeches such as the one I am making now more for the show to the gallery or so that we can circulate copies of them in the electorate hoping that some of the locals will read it and perhaps think it is worth voting for us again on a very narrow and parochial basis. One has the disappointing experience of noting that if he makes what he thinks is a reasonable contribution to a debate, unless it specifically mentions a locality in his electorate by name for the local interest, it will not get a run. That goes for all of us.

This state of affairs reflects the degraded level to which politics has sunk in this country. It can only be deplored. We all suffer for it. I am told by the people who have their ears to the ground that I am getting a caning in my own electorate because I am not taking enough interest in local government. Never mind the fact that I criticise very intensely the whole way that local government all over the country is totally inadequately financed. The point is that I do not mention a particular road in a particular suburb in my electorate. Therefore I am not, it seems, relating to the problems in my electorate. In my view this situation arises because the parliamentary procedures are out of date. The system may have been all right when it was established, but it is a long time since it was established. It is time we brought it up to date.

As others have mentioned before, I think we need to consider seriously the establishment of parliamentary committees. It is not a question of taking power from the Executive. It is a question of establishing a method whereby we can draw everybody into deliberations in a constructive way. A committee system would serve useful purposes on lots of fronts. It would first of all educate us, the parliamentarians. God knows that on many issues we talk loudly but we are very ignorant of the facts on many of the issues we stand up to discuss. It would also help to educate the general public so that on controversial issues we would not feel we are carrying the can. After all we discuss many issues. I see that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) is in the chamber. He has discussed many controversial issues in the last few years in which I, being in this House, have been particularly interested. He has been helped, not hindered, by the debate which has been aroused. If we consciously set out to do this with all the issues confronting us and if we drag the general public in by having public hearings before committees, people may be affronted to start with, but as they hear the facts from the experts both within the Pubic Service and outside the Public Service they will get to understand the problems, as we hope we also will, and perhaps see the need for change where necessary. I am not now suggesting Party political changes. I am talking about enlightened changes that have the approval of the whole community irrespective of what side we happen to be on politically.

I have mentioned in passing that parliamentary committees would enable more active participation in decision making by many more people in the community. One of the great malaises in society today is the feeling that most people have that they are irrelevant to the decision making in the community. I only hope that they take me seriously when I say that I too as a parliamentarian feel pretty irrelevant to the decision making in the country. So the position is even worse than they think it is. They think parliamentarians sit around and make all the decisions. It is not parliamentarians as a group either.

In my view another important by-product of the committee system would be the process of educating parliamentarians and the community. It would prevent the senseless, narrow polarisation of lots of issues into Party political matters. One can think of nearly all the controversial matters in which the Minister for Customs and Excise has been involved. I am taking him as an example only because he is sitting in the chamber and because he has been involved in some of these issues. The potential for making party political advantage out of any of the issues he has raised would in my view disappear if we had the committee system. It would aid enlightenment all round.

Let us consider new approaches, say, to health services. I realise that strong political views are expressed on the health scheme. The Labor Party has its views, and attacks are made on us because it is claimed we want to nationalise doctors. Our counteraccusations are that all the system does is back up private profit making in hospitals. But in real terms none of these issues should be discussed at this level. They should really be discussed in terms of what is best for the treatment of patients. The same thing applies to schools. The debate on education has for too long centred on the State aid issue, which has been almost wholly irrelevant to the problem of the quality of education and where education is really going. All these issues would be far better served, in my opinion, if the parliamentary procedure allowed committees to look into these questions and discuss them without reference to political parties but by dragging in opinion from outside. As with so many other issues, we know that there are some people who are traditional Labor Party voters who are in favour of State aid, as there are people who are traditional Liberal Party voters who are opposed to State aid. Yet the Liberal Party is pushing State aid rather more than the Labor Party is, but we are both in it. I concede that. Yet there is a growing discontent in the community about the whole question of education, and neither side is really discussing that issue.

In summary, I can only deplore the narrow approach that I feel the Government has taken to the Parliament and the way in which it functions. There is no hint of enlightenment or endeavour to break new ground or to think anew about the way we are parliamentarians might fulfil our functions on behalf of the community which elects us here. It does discredit to us, simply disappoints the community and increases its disenchantment with the parliamentary process. So in the end we all will be the losers.


-The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) referred to the disenchantment of certain people in relation to the Parliament. I believe it is true. I believe too that the answer lies mainly in our own hands in this place. Although not entirely, I believe it does to a considerable extent lie with us to improve the situation. Like previous speakers. I am intending tonight to make a few observations and to make, I hope some constructive suggestions as to ways in which we could help to make this chamber function more efficiently and more effectively. Before I do that 1 would like to recount briefly an experience I had last week. 1 was invited by Brisbane radio station 4BH to participate in one of i!s regular open line programmes, the subject to be discussed being privilege and members of Parliament. Rather unhappy com- i88w72–JJ- f431 parisons were drawn between the way members of this House require people outside it to appear before the Privileges Committee in respect of statements about members of Parliament, whereas members of Parliament under cover of privilege in the House sometimes make statements that are hurtful and disagreeable to people outside Parliament. I could expound on that subject to a considerable extent. All honourable members are aware that the Standing Orders provide that the conduct or character of a person outside Parliament must not be reflected upon at question time and can be approached only through a question placed on the notice paper. In that way the matter is not made known to nearly so many people as are matters raised at question time.

My experience on the radio programme helped to bring home to me something that I have been hearing off and on in the last two or three years. I refer to the growing opinion in the community that the conduct and standards of this House have deteriorated in the last few years. Whether that is really true is hard for us as members to judge, but when one hears people outside Parliament making such comments it makes one take notice. When we are discussing the estimates for the Parliament for the next 12 months we are given an opportunity to have a good look at ourselves and at the institution of Parliament with a view to making constructive suggestions to improve the situation.

We have an obligation to the nation. We are here as elected representatives of the people to play our part on the national stage. We all make mistakes, but if we all do our honest best in the interests of the nation I do not think anybody fairly could ask mor of us. It is our duty to maintain respect for the institution of Parliament. Parliament is an important part of our national heritage. I have said in previous debates of this nature, and I again say unhesitatingly, that Parliament is one of the 2 main bulwarks we have against tyranny in this country. The 2 main bulwarks of democracy and the freedom of the people to express themselves and to conduct themselves within the framework of the law are Parliament and the law courts.

In this current session we are sitting extra hours in order to avoid the end of session rush that we all hate. We are doing our best to avoid one of the factors that in the past has helped to bring Parliament into disrepute. On occasions we have sat until the very small hours of the morning, even almost daybreak towards the end of a session. The Leader of the House and all honourable members are most anxious to avoid that situation. We do not earn any sympathy from anybody outside Parliament when we conduct the affairs of the nation in that fashion. The effort we are making in the current session by sitting longer each sitting day to avoid the usual end of session rush will be, I hope, productive. I am sure we all hope that.

I wish to make a few short observations and suggestions about the way in which we as members might improve the efficiency of the Parliament. T remind honourable members, as a simple illustration, of one way in which in recent months we have improved the efficiency of the Parliament. On the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee the House some months ago agreed to revise the procedure for the handling of petitions from citizens of Australia. I believe that the new method has proved to be a success. It saves a good deal of time when the petitions are co-ordinated and read by the Clerk at the table. As we all know, the Clerk indicates the member who has presented each petition. In that way it is not necessary to have members rising one after the other and taking from 15 to 20 minutes of the first part of each sitting day to present petitions, many of which are the same as petitions presented earlier. By that important move we have saved time and, after all, it is the nation’s time.

I believe that we could all exercise a little more restraint in certain other areas. One that comes to mind concerns the raising of matters of public importance. I do not want to be party political on this matter. I would be among the very last in this place who would want in any way to cut down, truncate or minimise the rights of members. I am simply suggesting that we should all consider that this is one way in which we might save some time of the House. The matter does not arise while we are debating the Budget because members can raise any matter at all in the debate on the Budget, but during other sittings we have had upwards of 2 hours debate on matters that have been said to be matters of urgent public importance but that very often could have been raised in the debate on the motion to adjourn the House instead of taking up valuable debating time earlier in the day. If an important measure is awaiting debate it seems to me that on balance it should have priority unless a matter has arisen which is genuinely of urgent national public importance and must be debated that day.

I turn now to motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. By reducing the time allowed for speeches on such motions we have taken a step in the right direction. We have not spent as much time in this session on such motion as we did in the previous session. With reference to standing order 91 I believe that we could all exercise more self-discipline. That applies to me as much as it does to other members. Often we keep an eye on the clock and even though we have made our main points, if a few minutes remain to us we follow the human tendency ‘ to keep on talking for our allotted time notwithstanding that we are repeating ourselves and not raising fresh points. Self discipline in that direction would be to the advantage of the House.

As all honourable members are aware, question time has deteriorated considerably. In many instances questions and answers are too long. Some questions are much too involved for Ministers to answer at question time. Quite frequently questions are asked at question time that ought to be placed on the notice paper. That is another way in which we could improve the procedures of the Parliament. I think we would all be repaid by rereading standing orders 142-153 and chapter 14 at pages 15-18 of the book called ‘A Short Description of the Business and Procedures of the House of Representatives’ written by the Clerk. I am not excusing myself from any of these charges. I believe that we are all guilty to a greater or lesser degree.

Mr James:

– Not I.


– I am not referring to anyone in particular. If any honourable member sees himself with a halo around his head, good luck to him, but if most of us are honest with ourselves we will admit that we could improve the efficiency of the Parliament by imposing a little more self discipline. My final point relates to points of order, or so-called points of order, which are constantly being raised. They are not really points of order. As a deputy chairman I have had some experience of this matter. It has come to my notice very forcibly. Howadays there is a tendency for members on both sides of the House to raise points of order that really are not points of order at all. I invite the attention of honourable members to May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’, which is the Parliamentary bible.

Mr Foster:

– That should be spelt m-a-z-e.


– The honourable member who interjects is one of the chief offenders in this place in breaching Standing Orders. i suggest that he listen to me and apply his mind to improving the efficiency of this House. The interjection of the honourable member for Sturt illustrates the point I am trying to make. A point of order relates only to matters of business before the House and must pertain to Standing Orders. This provision has been abused quite frequently by some honouable members.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order) The honourable member’s time has expired.


– The matter that i wish to raise affects the lives of most members of this Parliament. In debates of this kind honourable members on both sides of the House have tried to suggest ways in which we might become more effective as members of Parliament. It could be argued that because expenditure for staff in our home offices, the offices in our own electorates, is provided for under the estimates of the Department of the Interior this is a matter that should be raised when we debate the estimates for that Department. i have always felt that, apart from the cost of the rent of buildings other than government buildings staff expenditure should be actually charged against the Parliament because staff members do service us as members of Parliament in our work. I have been in this place for almost 11 years - 1 hasten to add at this stage that I am not making a valedictory speech notwithstanding some comments on the gallup poll - but, honestly, when I look at my work as a member of the Parliament I would say that I regard myself as being a social worker rather than a member of the Parliament.

Mr Cohen:

– And a very good one, too.


– The honourable member is kind. But I think this is the position with a great number of us. One is constantly led to look at how one spends one’s working day, not only for 5 days of the week but 7 days of the week, and how much of this is concerned with the various responsibilities of a member of the Parliament. One ought to analyse whether the public is getting value for the money spent.

When I say that if, in my Public Service days I looked at my work now, I would say that I was a social worker rather than a member of Parliament. I am not suggesting that members of Parliament ought not be interested in the problems of their constituents. I represent a city electorate which has quite a number of people on low incomes and people with problems of various kinds affecting the Department of Social Services, the Repatriation Department, the War Service Homes Division, State government departments and local government authorities. But it is one of the facts of life that quite apart from being parliamentarians we are representatives. We represent people and this means that there is an obligation upon us to be available to people. Many people who come to our electorate offices are not people from our own electorates. It is not always possible to send a person from another electorate to his local electorate. If somebody comes to me from the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), if I may be so bold as to mention his name, and I said to him Look. Jim Killen is your member; you should go and see the honourable member for Moreton.’ he could well say to me: ‘I have been a Labor voter all my life and the first time that 1 approach a Labor member of Parliament he sends me to the honourable member for Moreton’. I know only too well that that happens in reverse.

When 1 look at my timetable I find that when the Parliament is not sitting most of my time is spent in the office interviewing people, taking down notes about their problems, passing these on to the relevant authorities and the like. Quite honestly I feel that too much of my time is occupied with work of this kind. I realise that nothing can be done this year but the gov eminent which comes in next year - naturally 1 hope it will be a Labor government - ought to look at the staff for back bench members and for shadow Ministers who of course are in the Opposition. Ali of us have a secretary in our electorate offices and I think all of us would admit that a great deal of our success or failure in public life depends upon the ability and energy, the tolerance, the kindness and understanding of that person. I have been fortunate, in the time that I have been a member of the Parliament in having had 2 secretaries who have both been very capable and have bad those qualities. But I believe that we should have an increase in our staff. I would like to have in my office somebody who could do interviews, who could filter through the system those routine things that ought properly to be handled by a public servant and refer to me those things that ought properly to be handled by a member of Parliament because they involve some particular problem, and a person who could do research work to make me a more effective member of Parliament.

I believe that it is a characteristic of the system that you get a government and you get an entrenched Cabinet. I am not saying that a Labor government in office for 23 years would not be the same as this Government in this respect, but I would hope that it would not be because we have rather different traditions. Be that as it may, we are confronted with certain facts and 1 sincerely believe that the Government - the Cabinet - wishes to keep back bench members on both sides of this Parliament bogged down in their electorates, with routine work which, though important to individual constituents, prevents members from looking at the great problems of this nation.

In the Federal division of Brisbane there are many schools that have been assisted to obtain libraries or science blocks. I have seen only a handful of them. As the member for the area I should have seen the lot but, because of the limitation of time, it is impossible to go and see the lot. I would like to be in a position where 1 could spend, when the Parliament is in recess, only 3 days in the office instead of 5 days and half the weekend in order that 1 might spend a day reading in areas in which one as a member wishes to cultivate some expertise, real or imaginary. I think we all would agree that if members of Parliament are to make a contribution then they ought to endeavour to cultivate some areas of expertise. I would like to have a day free to go and look at areas of Government involvement in my own electorate and in other electorates because I believe - and I think that members on both sides of this chamber would agree with this - that we have a responsibility not only to our own electorates but also to the nation. So it behoves us to spend some time looking at the problems in other electorates as well. I believe that we have a lot to learn in the working of this Parliament itself.

I listened with interest lo the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) who preceded me in this debate. But that is only one aspect of our work. I think it is proper to bring before the Parliament in a discussion on the Estimates the work of members in their constituencies because we do not spend a great deal of time there. If my experience is any criterion I believe that our time could be spent much more effectively. 1 think I am being honest and not in any way belittling the position of members of Parliament when I say that if I honestly look at my work I would say that I was a social worker rather than a member of Parliament. I think that a great number of us come into this Parliament under this disability. It might well be argued that if one occupied a safe seat one could disregard the individual needs of constituents. I do not see it that way.

Mr James:

– Some members in safe seats work very hard.


– I am reminded by way of interjection from the honourable member for Hunter, that some members who have safe seats, work very hard. I would believe that members of this Parliament on both sides, irrespective of their Party, work very hard. The question I pose is whether we do work that we ought to do as members of Parliament or whether we are in effect social workers or however one might care to describe us. This is the challenge that faces us all. I have heard arguments in favour of more committees. 1 think we can have loo many committees. I think you can bog yourself down so much committee work that you cease to be an effective member of Parliament. I think the Senate, if anything, has gone too far in this direction and it may come back to having fewer committees. Itis important that we do carry out these other roles. It is important that we should not be so lied down with routine work that we cannot study great national issues of importance to all Australians and on which we have to make decisions. If we were honest - I think most of us are honest people - we would agree that in many of these areas we are illequipped to make the decisions that we have to make because we are tied down to work that we should not be doing as members of Parliament.


– I believe the thoughtful contribution of the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) has cast a lot of light on the problems facing members of this Parliament. I have listened with interest also to the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury) on this question and also on the way in which the Parliament in effect is losing its prestige. I am one of those who think that Parliament has become too respectable, too quiet and too nice. Since the reading of speeches has been allowed in this Parliament, I think all the cut and thrust of debate has disappeared. To the public the Parliament has become a session of reading speeches. Those things that in days gone by brought life to the Parliament and at least let the people know that it was alive have disappeared.

The honourable member for Ryan said that honourable members should not seek to bring on matters of public importance unless they are terribly important. Who is to decide whether they are important? Not one supporter of the Liberal Party would ever agree that any matter of public importance mooted from this side of the Parlia ment was important. The decision then gets down to be a Party matter. Should the Chairman of Committees give a ruling on whether an intelligent member from this side of the chamber is justified in taking a point of order? It is a question of debate and judgment.

Quite a number of other things have led to the present situation. When all is said and done generally speaking the public gets the type of government and the type of members of Parliament that it pays for. We have the amazing situation in this Parliament where Ministers are paid emoluments well beyond their capacity and what is required of them. Their salaries are practically double those of members on this side of the House. Unfortunately, to the discredit of this Government, we are paid at the same rate as senior flight stewards employed by Qantas Airways Ltd. What is more, we have not had a rise for about 5 years. So what sort of representation can be expected?

I wonder whether the public realises that if salaries appropriate to positions in the national Parliament are not paid, the members concerned because of economic circumstances, can well be clouded in their judgment on great issues. When members of this Parliament hear that members of some State Parliaments are receiving well in advance of what is paid here, and when this Government does nothing about it, I believe there is reason for discontent. It is the responsibility of governments, not oppositions, to increase salaries. Because of this situation the prestige of the Parliament accordingly must slip in the minds of the people because the average fellow would say: ‘Why. they are getting only a couple of bob more than me. They cannot be worth much’. I suggest to honourable members opposite that these things should be remedied if the public is to have good parliamentary representation.

What is the attitude on the matter raised by the honourable member for Brisbane, namely, the question of secretarial assistance? Even the Assistant Ministers assisting the Ministers have more staff than any honourable member who sits on the front bench on this side of the Parliament. Whenever we ask a Minister a question during the committee stage of a Bill he dives around the corner and consults one of those very intelligent officers who sit there. These departmental heads are highly paid and highly skilled. The Minister gets all the information from them and then propounds it as though he were giving it himself. If the public only knew that the information which is given to this Parliament by practically every Minister comes from the brains trust in the Public Service paid for by the taxpayers of this country. Therefore, the Government is kept well informed. I do not say these people are always politically wise.

The members on this side of the Parliament, however, are left to their own devices. Certainly we have the resources of an excellent library and research staff, but the Government’s policy is to give the Opposition the very minimum of assistance in the form of research staff. The Government’s attitude is to keep the Opposition in complete ignorance and then point out to the populace at large how bright it is because it has the advice of these $20,000 or $30,000 a year top public servants. This sort of situation ought to be stopped in any Parliament. As the honourable member for Brisbane said, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done by those on the back benches and the front bench in order to present reliably to the people a case from a Party that represents, come hell or high water, roughly 50 per cent of the Australian electors. I can understand this Government not wanting the Opposition to be super-informed. Everybody knows that given half the advice that the Government receives we are better. Everybody knows that the penetrating debaters on this side of the Parliament tear to ribbons the well advised members who sit on the treasury bench. This situation is unfair in a democratic institution and it is unfair to the people generally, because we on this side are entitled to the facilities necessary in order to carry on the tasks of government and to put our case to the people. Therefore I suggest that the Government might give consideration to the matters that I have mentioned in relation to this aspect. I know that the new government will do so. When I look at those honourable members opposite who will be sitting on this side after the next election, I realise that no amount of staff could advise them intelligently. Consequently, what I am saying probably will not help them much.

In any case, I mention these matters in order to show that for 23 years the Liberal Government has survived by refusing to give the members on all sides of this Parliament adequate remuneration in keeping with the responsibilities in the Australian Parliament. To its eternal discredit it has shirked its responsibilities, blamed the Opposition, and refused to do what was its responsibility, namely, to see that members of Parliament were paid reasonable remunerations, not ones that place them beyond the pale. Adequate remuneration should be paid so that no person in the community can say - I am not casting any reflections on flight stewards - that members of this Parliament are not performing a more responsible task than leading flight stewards employed by Qantas. On top of that, the Government’s failure to provide staff and all the facilities that go with it also presents the problems that I mentioned.

I think there are other ways in which this Parliament could be made more interesting to the people. Take the Hansard report, for instance. When an honourable member orders his 60 or 70 copies of his speech he receives a bit of. paper with his name on it. Probably part of a poor speech by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) will appear either before or after the speech of the honourable member concerned when it is sent to the electorate. Consequently all he is sending out is a bit of paper. Why could not every member be given an issue of the Hansard with his speech included in it? The Hansard could be headed to show who had spoken and, in the case of a good looking honourable member like the honourable member for Ryan, why should his photograph not be on it for the electors to see? There is nothing new in this. Photographs can be printed while you wait. Then when an honourable member sent out to his electorate a copy of his speech at least his constituents would know who he was. Ministers can order copies of speeches by the dozen. Why should not ordinary, private members of the Parliament have the same facilities? These are areas in which improvements could be made.

There are other ways in which the Parliament could be improved. As the honourable member for Ryan has said, the adjournment debate is a very important part of the parliamentary day. The honourable member said that we should not debate matters of public importance but that they should be raised during the adjournment debate. In the case of this Parliament the adjournment debate may be somewhere around 11 o’clock or midnight. As I have mentioned here previously, the only people out at that time probably are prostitutes and policemen who might be listening to the parliamentary broadcast in the various suburbs. If we are to have adjournment debates, on a couple of nights a week they ought to start at 10 o’clock. Honourable members should be given the opportunity then to debate the matters raised for a reasonable time. But if these matters can be raised only after the motion for the adjournment of the House, nobody has heard what honourable members have had to say. Understandably, very few people remain to listen. Therefore the purpose of the debate is completely defeated by it coming on at a time when nobody is interested. It m too late for the Press, and very few people know that it has even occurred. Therefore I think debates on government business should terminate earlier in the night and the adjournment debate should be longer and commence earlier. In that event honourable members would have the right on a dozen and one occasions to put their point of view.

I do not wish to speak at greater length. I have seen a lot of changes in this Parliament and I will nee a lot more in a couple of weeks from now, as honourable members here know. I say to honourable members opposite that I think the reading of speeches is one drawback. Other drawbacks have been the Government’s curtailment of criticism, the lack of secretarial and research assistance to Opposition members, the complete dominance of the Parliament by the Ministry which has grown flaccid and complacent over the years the Government has been in office. All these things have added to a situation whereby some of the features of what the honourable member for Ryan mentioned do occur in the Parliament. But I can assure honourable members that there will be changes for the good, and a vibrant new Labor government, whenever the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) likes to face the people, will not only stimulate interest in this Parliament but also give the people a really democratic institution in which they will receive the results that they pray for and can get only under a Labor government.


– The appropriation which has been set aside for the Parliament is $5,699,000. I would like to suggest that this $5,699,000 is representative of almost a complete waste of money, not because the parliamentary system has no value but because of the fact that we do not acknowledge that presently we. are in the latter part of the 20th century and the developments of recent times are such that it requires the. expenditure of more money to ensure that the parliamentary institution is fully effective. We have listened to a number of speeches tonight from both sides of the House and it is a pity that quite a number of our Ministers are presently engaged in other activities and will not be aware of the sentiments of a growing number of members from both sides of the Chamber. In my view the speech of the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) was spot on; and the speech of the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) was spot on.

  1. refer particularly to the question of assistance for members of Parliament and in due course will make a comparison between the attitude which prevails in this country and that which prevails in the United States of America. I know that there are many people who will quickly jump to their feet and say that the United States system is totally different and that the United States population is greater. All 1 ask is that consideration be given to proportional assistance to private members in this Parliament. Never has so much information been available to the nation and never have the elected representatives of the nation been so inadequately equipped to cope with it. Never has so much vital information filled the rubbish bins of the members of this Parliament. I know that some part of the performance of honourable members is relative to the electoral margin they have. If a member has a good seat like the seat of Bradfield he can direct his energies more towards Parliamentary work and safely forget about the social work to which the honourable member for Brisbane referred earlier. I am not saying that there is no social work in the Bradfield electorate but the facts of life are that the degree of affluence in certain electorates has a lot to do with the amount of social work done by members of this Chamber.

In the United States every member of Congress is allocated at least $157,000 to employ a staff. When we consider the number of members in Congress and the number of people they represent, we find that the United States Congressman represents approximately 4 times the population that his Australian counterpart represents. He is allowed to employ up to 16 people on his staff. If we were more enlightened in this country we would recognise that if a United States Congressman is regarded as requiring 16 members on his staff then, on a population basis, an Australian member of Parliament should be entitled to 4 assistants. I do not propose that this be the case at this time, but let me remind those who may be listening and those who care to read Hansard that every member of this Parliament is allowed but one secretarial assistant in his office. In Canberra each member is allowed to share the services of one stenographer with 19 other members. This position is indicative of the lethargic acceptance of a situation and without doubt every member in this Parliament is guilty of allowing the perpetuation of the present situation, because not enough members are demanding more. A study in the United Kingdom recently reported in a book written by Barker and Rush and titled The Member of Parliament and his Information’ contains very worthy information and I seek leave to have several pages of this book incorporated in Hansard. I am glad to see that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) is shaking his head to indicate that this may be done.

Mr Cope:

– Is it pornographic?


– It is not and the honourable member for Sydney possibly would not understand it if it were.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member for Griffith has asked for the incorporation of a document in Hansard. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

  1. Personal Research Assistance for Members

We wanted to measure the serious, positive demand among our respondents for the services of a personal research assistant, as we knew informally that some such demands existed. To have asked Members whether they would welcome such a service would probably not have helped us. Many Members, who would not refuse the services of an assistant if they were offered (but for whom the matter is not salient), would, no doubt, have answered this question affirmatively.

Instead, we probed respondents informally when they answered our question on the adequacy of the Library’s Research Division to discover whether they had a personal research assistant in mind when giving their views on the Division. We did not introduce the phrase ‘research assistant’, but tried to allow the Member to mention it if he so wished.1

Just over one Member in four told us (either directly or in response to the probe we have described) that he would like a research assistant of his own; a further 7 per cent said they would like a share of one. Thus 35 per cent declared this demand. Taking those Members by party (see Appendix, Table 36) the Labour figure for the two views combined was 44 per cent and the Conservatives 25 per cent.3 Enthusiasm for personal assistants was higher among Members with less than nine years’ service. Backbenchers who lacked frontbench experience werethe most interested group compared with either shadow Ministers (the more senior of whom have very similar assistance offered by the Conservative Research Department) or ex-Ministers who had returned to the backbenches.

There may be a significant link between the secretarial support received by Members and their stated wish for a research assistant. The 1964-6 entrants were rather more inclined to request the 1 The twin dangers of this informal approach are, of course, under-prompting a Member who did have the research assistant scheme in his mind, and overprompting a Member who did not; an open question would probably have over-prompted many Members. By this stage in the interview we were used to each respondent’s style of speech and, in general, feel that almost all Members who had the research assistant matter in mind were drawn out in the way we wanted. 2 In 1963-4 Malcolm Shaw conducted an enquiry into the support among all MPs and peers for a scheme whereby private funds would provide about twenty parliamentarians per annum with a temporary research assistant. The research assistant would be centrally recruited and also subject to time off for educational activities during his year’s ‘internship’ at Westminster. About two-thirds of the respondents to Mr Shaw’s near random sample said they favoured such a scheme (the response rate being about SO per cent). Although various considerations concerning the particular scheme advanced by this survey (and the inevitably ‘leading’ nature of the question asked) prevent direct comparison with our study, there are at least two common findings. Firstly, both surveys found many Members praising the Library staff but saying mat they held back work for fear of adding to the staff’s burdens. Secondly, both found MPs giving quite a wide range of explanations of why they wanted a research assistant and what work they would expect from one. See M. Shaw, ‘Assistants for Members of Parliament’, Institute of Social Research*, October 1964. The PLP survey (p. 316 n) found what ‘The Guardian’ described as a ‘fairly widespread’ demand among Labour Members for personal research assistants, whose salary would be found by the Exchequer and who would enjoy personal use of the Library (which is currently denied to all except Members) (‘The Guardian’, November 5. 1968). research assistant (bearing in mind the rather limited numbers involved) and were also more inclined, in the summer of 1967 at least, to employ a part-time secretary or share the services of a full-time secretary with three or more other MPs. The broad group of longer-serving Members, ex-Ministers now on the backbenches and Conservative shadow Ministers, all had fuller secretarial assistance than backbenchers who had never been on the frontbench. and they may have been influenced in their mentioning the research assistant idea by this fact

What is the case for backbench MPs being offered the use of a fixed amount of public funds with which to engage a ‘research assistant’? Drawing together the remarks of all those Members who expressed this desire we would say their basic point rests on the distinction between ‘information work’ and ‘personal research support’. This is a functional distinction in their minds which is of general application, having nothing to do with their views on the strength and weaknesses of the Library’s existing services or any other aspect of parliamentary work at Westminster.

Information work’ is concerned with knowing either certain techniques of mechanising or otherwise arranging information for easy classification and retrieval, or (and perhaps in addition) mastering the information flows of a chosen special field in a manner designed to help someone else absorb some parts of that material, as their needs require. This, runs the argument, is specialist work, requiring training and judgment and is best done by a collective service which offers its knowledge and skills freely to any Member or other client.

Because it is an impartial and openly available service, however, it cannot go beyond offering the best available materials in the most useful way: even any ‘analyses’ of materials must be limited to devices for bringing together or highlighting certain of their features. The Library’s Research Division and International Affairs Desk staff are very reluctant to ‘work up’ information into an argumentative brief or case of any kind, partly because they have always been under great pressure of work but also because they wish to avoid any possible charge of partisanship and failure to retain their objective standards. In this sense, the clerks of the House ate more flexible, often being prepared to re-draft and discuss a throughly partisan Question, amendment, new clause or early day motion (perhaps to make it sharper or subtler) on the purely political terms of the Member’s own thinking. But a clerk, who occasionally enjoys a few minutes of partisan skullduggery with a Member who wants to make a point, is hardly a substitute for the continuing working relationship, involving partisan and policy considerations, which a Member could have with a personal assistant - even one whose services were shared with a colleague.

These two characteristics of the MP-assistant relationship- its continuing nature and its policy or partisan commitment - may be taken separately. The Members advancing these views feel that no collective service, however well endowed, could ever be sufficiently close to their own work and interests to follow jobs through in a sequence and thus build up experience of both the Member’s affairs and his fields of activity. Thus while the Library’s Research Division (particularly an expanded service) may be capable of meeting the Member’s specific requests for information, including a series of requests in a particular field, it could never supply the Member with a continuing flow of tailored work in the same way as a personal research assistant. Furthermore, the Research Division will act only on the initiative of the Member, whereas a research assistant may anticipate his Member’s needs. As several of these Members said, ‘research work’, even of the kind which an academic may regard as rattier elementary, is often a matter of trial and error, false leads and the realisation afterwards that time was wasted on a point. A Member cannot burden even the most elaborate collective information service with every aspect of a policy interest or project which he may have in train, (a order to indulge in such activity, he must either have the service of a personal assistant who can pursue these matters under bis supervision or try to find the time to do it himself. The parliamentary life of continual meetings and perambulations simply does not allow the expenditure of his own time on these tasks if he is also to be active among his colleagues on at least some current political issues and interests, while preparing himself to make a worthwhile contribution on others. Even if a shared research assistant’s services were available to him on only an intermittent basis (say, two or four weeks at a time) this would still permit a longer-term project to be undertaken which was considerably larger than anything likely to be available from a collective bureau, unless that bureau was of the proportions of the Legislative Reference Service in Washington.

The other characteristic of the MP-assistant relationship - its policy or partisan flavour - is rather less definite because it is so subject to the individual Member’s hypothetical preference. We received all three possible answers on the partisanship point from the small number of MPs in whose interviews the point came up: some thought it essential that the assistant should be a committed co-partisan, while others were not very concerned, and one or two thought they would actually shy away from a fellow party member and prefer a young person who was interested in politics but not ideologically committed. In our own view this is not an important matter. The need for balance and possible compromise would be all the greater if assistants were working for small groups of close colleagues who would probably each use the assistant’s services in a somewhat different way.

Whether the assistant should be a specialist in any field, or a generalist who must be ready to tackle anything, was also a matter for diverse views and would similarly, in our opinion, be best left for the individual Member to arrange. One Labour Member with a very close knowledge of one area of world affairs said he would ask the assistant, whom he would very much like to have, to be a general aide on home affairs; another Labour Member wanted, on the contrary, to share his own special interest in overseas and defence affairs with an assistant who would preferably have a reasonably relevant university degree; a Conservative interested in social policy said that the one-third or half of a research assistant’s service, which he would like, would be best offered by a bright generalist interested in politics, not an expert social scientist*. We did not have the time to pursue these lesser points - although it is interesting to wonder why a Member who is very concerned with topics such as dangerous drugs and social security, as we know this Conservative Member is, should specifically point out that he would prefer someone with no background knowledge of these fields. It is our very informal impression that there is little objective reasoning behind these various preferences and that Members, like any other group, have different approaches to knowledge and work stemming from personality differences.

Naturally, we also acquired some views against the idea of personal or research assistants for Members. Some ex-Ministers now on the backbenches (mostly Conservatives among our interviewed Members) offered generally disparaging remarks on the place of most backbenchers in the political system and, in a few cases, singled out the Labour entrants of 1964-6 who have academic backgrounds for particular displeasure. As we have already noted, these critical Members tended, incorrectly it appears, to equate this group with reformist opinion in the House as a whole.

A Labour Member who entered the House in 1945 felt that an undue stress on research support for politicians carried dangers. It led to a lack of his own outside contacts and a lack of selfreliance and self-confidence - both bad traits in an MP. The research assistant idea would, be an interesting (although probably expensive and administratively difficult) development. He thought not more than one hundred assistants would, in fact, be required to satisfy the Members who care about it. ‘It’s the new, young, educated ones that want it. I’m sure there’s a case, but we should be cautious. Hare-chasing is not the MP’s job, while responding to public needs is. If the flood of new young MPs in 1945 and 1964 had been provided with assistants who were under their personal control, they would have pursued their hares instead of teaming necessary general political sense.’

In warning against what he saw as the unduly American ways of thought of some of the newer Members, a Conservative, who had been in Parliament since 195Q (and who had served most of the period as a whip) offered a distinction between the two parties in their approach to ‘research’ and the House of Commons Library: Labour Members were ‘more academic’ and Conservatives more practical’. He is himself a ‘gradual, steady expansionist1 on the matter of the Library and (unlike some other Conservatives of his age group) has no fears that the demands on it of the newer Labour Members will produce an extended service, which will be seen as a white elephant in a few years’ time following those Members’ parliamentary demise at the polls or a falling-off of their enthusiasm. We are sure that this Member is correct in his broad ‘academic’ - practical’ characterisation of Labour and Conservative approaches, at least if those words are used loosely. Our results on Library use and perceptions show that Conservatives tend to have a less demanding approach which is pitched more at the ‘reference’ rather than the ‘research’ level.

One Conservative who certainly seemed to adopt a most ‘practical’ approach (and who was fairly hostile to the ‘Labour lecturers’ and their alleged ways) spoke against Members being ‘spoonfed’ with final versions of briefs or reports: personal study and analysis is essential. This applies both to partisan material from the Conservative Research Department and to the first-class information and statistical service which ought to be available from the Library but which (in this Member’s experience) unfortunately is not. ‘But, better than that, I want a research assistant - for personal, trained, continuing support. However, even a good research assistant is no substitute for one’s own expert, up-to-date, practical contacts in the field.’ Clearly, the demand for an assistant and the emphasis on being personally involved in the practical affairs of any field of interest can go together in an individual Member.

None of the thirty-nine Members whom we interviewed and who mentioned that they wanted a research assistant dwelt on the administration of an actual scheme. All seemed to share the assumption that public funds, would, in some way, pay people who had been individually recruited by Members, or small groups of Members, and whose responsibility would be solely to the Members. Some respondents stressed the personal and political link necessary to such a working relationship while others (usually Conservatives) stressed only the personal link and discounted the political views of the assistants they would like to have. One Labour Member declared that a ‘taxi rank’ service in which assistants were detailed off to work for any Member on a ad hoc basic of a few days or hours work be hopeless and we suspect almost every other Member we spoke to would agree with that view. Indeed, only one Member spoke of this kind of service, and he also may have preferred personal assistance if we bad asked him.

It is interesting that the assumption among Members of a personal-recruitment scheme was so apparent. Members may wish to avoid the distribution of research assistants falling to the party whips or their regulation being part of the House’s own administration. It is probable that the essentially personal relationship involved in this work is the decisive factor. Purely personal recruitment has considerable practical advantage for the public, as well as for the Member who wants to get the right person for his needs. To put Members to the trouble and modest expense of advertising for and recruiting their own personal assistant would be a useful barrier against the Member who would otherwise be tempted to ‘put his name down’ for an assistant to be provided by a central recruiting authority.


– 1 thank the House. I go back to what I said a moment or two ago. I do not understand why the Ministry - it could be a Labor or a Liberal-Country Party Ministry; I am not being political in seeking to shelve the blame upon the Ministry - fails to recognise that this nation would be best served by members who are fully informed. The general public undoubtedly is cynically contemptuous of this institution but, sadly, the contempt is wrongly founded. The great majority of people think we do nothing. That is not true. But if they believe that we achieve little as backbenchers then they are correct. I do not know what motivates the reluctance to allow members to have research assistants but if ever I were convinced that the Ministry did this on purpose so that it is protected against informed criticism I would quickly have more respect for the brain of a sparrow than for the Ministry, because such an attitude on its part would be wrong and to the detriment of this nation.

It can be said that we have a greatly improved library service; but it is an improvement on what? It is an improvement on a system that was more suited to the days when books were printed by chipping from sandstone. Today there is a host of information available but hardly any member is able to cope with it because he has not the facilities to drag out the information. I clearly recall the comment of a top public servant in Brisbane 2 years ago when my hardworking jack of all trades secretary was away for four or five days. He said to me: ‘You do not need a replacement for those four or five days’. People have the wrong impression that members of Parliament do absolutely nothing, and I would suggest that if honourable members were given secretarial assistance - one research officer - even if we had to start by sharing one officer with one or two other members, the quality of debate in this chamber would improve greatly. It is true that because of the conditions under which we work the quality of debate is not as great as it could be. I hope that those honourable members who have heard me speak tonight will take some time out to look at the information I incorporated in Hansard because the United Kingdom study shows that members of Parliament who have been in the English Parliament for more than 9 years lose their enthusiasm to do a good job and so the demand for secretarial support wanes. The study also shows that in Britain there is a diminution of interest in those who have been Ministers and have returned to the back benches after having reached the ultimate in political achieve ment, if being in the Ministry could be regarded as such, and it is no doubt the ambition of many. As a member who has represented the seat of Griffith for only 6 years, and intends to be here longer, I demand more for the people I represent.


– The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) always talks like a revolutionary when there is no possibility of testing a question by a vote in the House. Why does he not stand up and support any progressive attitudes expressed from this side of the House when there is a chance of a vote, such as on motions for the. suspension of Standing Orders and things like that? He is not the worst on the Government side, but that is not flattery at all. The political parties sitting opposite have spent the last 23 years subverting the institution of Parliament. Nothing demonstrates that better than the absurdity, as my friend the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) remarked a moment ago, of this charade or Irish two-step or whatever it is about the forthcoming election. What is wrong with the country that it should allow the whimsy of one man to keep people waiting around? Some day - perhaps October, perhaps November, and my information is that it could be as late as Saturday, 20th January 1973 - we will have the. elections for the House of Representatives.

In 1963 the right honourable Sir Robert Gordon Menzies used his power over his satellites opposite to dissolve the Parliament when he saw the political time to be right. In 1955 he did the same thing. What is wrong with us that we should tolerate this sort of thing? It is time we took some, steps to do something specific about section 28 of the Constitution so that the dissolution of the Parliament should take place on a specific date from the last election unless it is earlier dissolved by a fall of the Government - in other words, by a resolution of the Parliament within the House. I cannot understand why in a growing and maturing democracy, in a commonsense community we put up with this. Nobody would tolerate a situation in a third class football club where the president looks around and says: ‘Have we got the numbers tonight? We will have an election.’ If trade union lead?– did this, the Government would put them in gaol, but when a member of the Liberal Party does it. other members try to perpetuate him as Prime Minister. That is a different set of standards. I believe that it is time that we did something about that.

I wish to discuss a number of other issues. Of course, one has only 10 minutes during these Estimates in which to discuss the question of parliamentary government in Australia. A magnificent time! Some honourable member asked why we have late nights. In the 1060 days since, the last election we have met for 190 days. We have let 870 days pass somewhere else. The honourable member for Griffith was probably trying to get people in his electorate used to the idea that he works busily. I know that he does. The people in his electorate probably appreciate him much more than they should. But the facts are that this Parliament neglects its duty simply by its failure to meet. I am not suggesting that all honourable members should always be in this place. The committee system and all sorts of other things come into the question. However, we are the most subservient viofims of ministerial proprietorship in the Western world. The Ministers own the place. They do not need to tell us about anything. The Public Service is theirs absolutely. Some Ministers, of course, make public servants and members of their departments readily available to Opposition committees, but in the last few years members on this side have had advice refused to them because they might find out something. After all, information is the private property of the Minister for the time being, but there has been nothing more ephemeral than a McMahon ministerial appointment over the last 2 years. I do not know why we have this tingod-sim about Ministers. Why should Ministers be paid more than other members? They are working at a different level, but they have ali sorts of resources at their disposal.

Mr Daly:

– We should be paid as much as they are.


– I think that all members should be paid equally because each one of us has to apply his talents, what he has of them, to the full extent of his power. Therefore, it is time to examine the whole question of ministerial and Cabinet government. The problem, as I see it, is to pro vide a system of responsibility to the citizenry. I believe that the citizens of the electorate of Wills, who have the great political perception to return me to this place, have as much right to have their logical aspirations carried into executive actions as those benighted citizens of the electorate of Lowe who return the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). Why is it that the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) is able to exercise more executive authority on the part of the people of Evans than I am able to exercise on the part of the people of Wills. Somehow it should be possible to devise a system whereby there is a closer relationship between the Parliament and the Executive function. I know that this is a totally different view from the partisan view we have of politics in Australia, but it is time that we were each given a much more effective role to play in the government of this country.

This Parliament is the committee of wasted resources. In this Parliament on both sides of the House there is talent unlimited. Many members have infinite capacity. Some, of course, are capable of anything. Therefore we have to employ out talents more effectively. But there are a number of other things 1 want to say in the few minutes available to me. First of all, we have seen a remarkable demonstration of the failure of ministerial responsibility and ministerial government and the misuse of regulatory power. On 20th July, I think it was, under the powers conferred upon him by one of the Acts of this Parliament the Minister for the Inter.ior (Mr Hunt) had the forces of the constabulary descend upon the people opposite in the Aboriginal ‘Embassy’ and remove them from Parkes Place. The police were acting on a regulation which this afternoon, as I understand it, was declared invalid in the courts. Now, of course, the flag of the Aboriginal ‘Embassy’ has been raised opposite Parliament House. This is not a matter merely of the power of the people of Australia to stand up and answer back no matter what authority is against them, but it is a depressing symbol of the failure of this Government, and this Parliament to exercise its authority with responsibility.

Mr Cohen:

– There must be something the Government can do right.


– I have not noticed it doing anything correctly in the past few years. I support those Opposition members who have raised the question of committee work. I have had on the notice paper since 21st August 1970 a proposal for a model standing order setting out the number of committees which this House should have. This matter has been on the notice paper for 2 years or more. There is nothing more dispiriting than to look at the notice paper of this Parliament at the moment, lt is loaded with things that were put on the notice paper and never discussed. As I remarked on one other occasion, if this Parliament had put on the notice paper back in 1787 the proposal: ‘Let us form a fleet of 13 ships to found Australia’ it would still be on the notice paper. This is the Parliament of inaction. It is totally subservient to the Ministry. We have allowed the Standing Orders and everything else to be subverted. We are only protected against the final subversion in the reduction of the quorum by the ingenious activities of some of us on this side of the chamber.

Before 1 sit down I want to say one other thing which relates to the question of the new Parliament House. A committee was appointed to examine this matter 5 or 6 years ago. It did so thoroughly. Its report is very good. It is full and it describes all the needs of the Parliament itself as we foresaw them. The final report was tabled 2 years ago in this Parliament. Nothing has been done about it. The report points out how urgent is the need for a new Parliament House. It sets out a timetable providing for a period of 10 years in which to build it. It sets out the needs of the building. In the last few weeks we have witnessed the tragedy of parts of the Parliamentary Library being removed from this building because of crowded conditions. It is my belief - I held it then and I hold it still - that a new Parliament House should be provided in the Capital Hill area. That is the logical place for it. I put this forward simply for the benefit of new members of the Parliament. Capital Hill is accessible and occupies a central position. Its most important virtue is that it has continuing space. The present building is totally inadequate in space, size and facilities. We have about 250,000 square feet here. The recommended new Parliament House would start with about 1 million square feet and eventually occupy 2 million square feet and cover perhaps 16 acres. The Congress in Washington has 130 acres at its disposal and even now that is becoming crowded. Congress has about 6 million square feet of space, lt is time we started to build for the future, lt is urgent for the proper working of this Parliament that we should start to build now. In the immediate future, of course, we must do something about the immediate accommodation. Perhaps we should Ki iki a new set of rooms along the back of this House where we could get another jO,00( square feet without a great deal of expense.

I support my colleagues who have raised the question of more offices and support for members. This matter has been raised previously. Why on earth we permit the operations of our parliamentary offices to be the province of the Department of the Interior I cannot understand. It is the last and final humiliation of our parliamentary system that the simplest things - the provision of a clock, for instance* - must be the decision of one of the minions in the Department of the Interior. Why should 1 ask the Minister for the Interior - a 5- minute man in this place - whether I can have a car to enable me to catch a plane? I. believe it is time we took control of this for ourselves.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– When discussing the estimates for the Parliament it is normal for honourable members to put forward some ideas about the manner in which they think the Parliament should operate. It is equally normal for those people who exercise power - the Government - to sit and grin and ignore them. This is the normal process. I have heard honourable members complaining that the Parliament does not work. I heard the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury), for instance, suggesting that a lot of the time of the Parliament is wasted on urgency motions. I do not think that the honourable member for Ryan could have been here today when we had a complete and utter waste of the Parliament’s time with a debate initiated by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on a matter which has been discussed in this Parliament almost daily for the last 2 years purely for the purpose of finding a platform from which he could try to make the matter an election issue. The matter had absolutely nothing to do with the Government of this country, as every honourable member opposite knows. It was a total, time wasting exercise of the Parliament and a cynical display by the Government of its ability to place business on the notice paper.

Had the Opposition introduced an urgency motion, the Government would have moved to proceed to government business because of the urgent need to pass Budget Bills which do not happen to be ready to be presented to the Parliament anyway. The Government would have accused the Opposition of deliberately delaying the Budget. So let us not have any crocodile tears about urgency motions. The facts are that the procedures of the Parliament are extremely restrictive of the opportunities given to private members to raise issues. It may well be that we will have to alter fairly radically some of the procedures of this House and some of the sitting times of this House in order that private members’ business can be dealt with.

It should be possible, especially on matters which are largely non-party, for private members’ Bills to be brought to a vote in this Parliament. An easy way to ignore one’s responsibilities as a member of this Parliament is to have a matter put on the notice paper as a private member and then shelved. Any honourable member who cared to pick up the notice paper and see the numbers of matters which are listed under general business and which will never be voted upon could see that an honourable member who wanted to list a general business item would not even have to think out the consequences because he knows that it will never be voted upon in this Parliament.

There are some rather important matters on the notice paper. In the last few weeks we have heard Ministers - it is election time, you know - talking about decentralisation. Item No. 13 under General Business on the notice paper is a resolution to set up a parliamentary committee to inquire into provincial cities and regional development. At this time the Government apparently thinks that this is an important matter but it is not prepared to allow such a motion to be voted upon in the Parliament. This is a cynical approach, to say the least. There is and has been ever since I have been a member of the Parliament a Bill on the notice paper proposing to abolish the death penalty. Surely that is a matter which this Parliament should be able to decide. But the Parliament cannot decide it because a cynical use or abuse of power prevents the Parliament from voting on the question.

Is it any wonder that people believe that the Parliament does not work? If some matter does not suit the political interests of the government of the day, it cannot be voted upon in the Parliament. It does not matter how important the question is or what the question is; if it does not happen to fit in with the business brought forward by the Executive, the Parliament cannot deal with it. It should be possible for private members’ Bills dealing with areas in which the Parliament has a say and where the expenditure of money is not involved to be dealt with in this Parliament. As the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) mentioned, there is a resolution of the Senate relating to the siting of the new and permanent Parliament House - that mythical thing that one of these days someone will actually think about constructing. I have grave doubts whether anyone will ever accept the responsibilities of expending the money because no-one is game to grasp the nettle.

Members of Parliament may well be badly housed in this place but the people who work in the building - the numbers are increasing as Ministers expand their staffs in a never-ending manner so that their incompetence can be covered up by myriads of Press secretaries and public relations people who actually do the work for them - are working in conditions that the legislation of this Parliament would not tolerate in private industry. This Parliament provides a disgraceful example of the neglect by an employer of the working conditions of the staff. The staff, especially the clerical staff, is practically sitting on one another’s knees, trying to cope with a work load in a building which was designed to meet the requirements of 1927 and has had a bit of patchwork added every other year since. The Sim odd that is being spent at the moment in expanding this building is no more and no less than money being poured down the drain.

Another subject which was raised by every honourable member who has spoken in this debate relates to the facilities for members. I am not going to talk about the facilities for members but about the advantages enjoyed by Ministers. When a Minister is to address a meeting as the member representing the electorate, he can use an aeroplane from Canberra and have a car driven from Melbourne to pick him up at the airport and take him to and from the site of the hall. He has someone to write his speech and someone to deliver it to the Press gallery. He is unfortunate in that he actually has to mouth the words himself.

Mr Daly:

– And then it is not worth reading.


– The content of his speech is not important because it depends not on the Minister’s capacity but on the capacity of his speech writer. On the other hand, a private member must go through a myriad of departmental officials, none of whom have any relevance at all to the Parliament, in order to obtain the use of a Commonwealth car. That member cannot get the use of a Commonwealth car if he is in a capital city on parliamentary business other than that which he represents. Of course, if he happens to live outside a capital city and does not have a car, he can walk.

I do not believe that the Parliament should allow its affairs to be conducted by a Public Service organisation which is not related to the Parliament itself. I believe that this Parliament should have a minister for parliamentary affairs whose responsibilities should include those which are currently carried out by the Leader of the House. He should also take over those responsibilities to the Parliament for parliamentary facilities which are not appropriate to vest in the Speaker or the President. Recently a Senate committee indicated that the use of facilities by members of Parliament should be the responsi bility of the Parliament. I understand that members of that chamber, who apparently are more likely to defend their rights against the tyranny of ignorance - that is exactly what it is - in fact are increasing their facilities at the expense of members of this chamber. They are expanding the activities of their chamber at the expense of the standing of this chamber because the members of this chamber have never shown any real initiative or intent to stand up for what they believe to be theirs.

I realise that what is said in this debate will fall on deaf ears and it may well continue to do so. I do not think that previous governments have any better record in this field than has the present Government but I would suggest that some alterations to the procedures of the Parliament should be made to enable private member’s business which is not subject to Government policy and does not require the expenditure of moneys to be dealt with and voted upon in the Parliament.

Australian Capital Territory

– This is the third time that I have listened to the debates on the estimates for the Parliament. The first time was in 1970. I did not take part in the debate; I had just been elected to this House. The second time I listened. I took part in subsequent debates. Tonight I am saying a few words. This is a very depressing experience. One sees honourable members get up and beat their chests and hears them complain about the lack of facilities and what is wrong with the place. There can be no doubt that there is a great deal wrong with it. One has only to consider the experiences of each honourable member who has talked tonight and the experiences that I am now having. I am still new enough in this House, which I respect enormously, to be aware of it. When one speaks in this House it is like talking to one’s reflection in a mirror. I think there is no better way of putting it.

What has brought about this situation? Perhaps before I try to answer the question I should say that my background is law. At least when one goes into a court of law one argues and tries to persuade the court. One comes away having won or lost.

Mr Cohen:

– We always lose.


– No, it is more than that. But this is Parliament House. I had the experience not long ago of working in a little room that I shared with 3 other honourable members. This was a room the size of the average suburban lavatory. I worked hard with my colleagues in that room. The situation has now changed and the room I am now in accommodates 2 members. However, one day while I was in my first room the telephone rang. A constituent of mine rang me. He did not say who he was. However, he abused me. He had come to Parliament House, as have the ladies and gentlemen sitting in the public gallery tonight, to see the way his Parliament worked. He was horrified and shocked. At the time I was not in the chamber but in my little room trying to work against the background of the broadcasting system to which one has to keep one’s ear as one is trying to do something else in order to hear what is going on in the chamber. My constituent abused me for not being in the chamber. He asked where I was and what I was doing. He had no idea of how Parliament worked. That day all the members with whom I was associated had been to one committee meeting or another. I am sure that this is applicable to members of all parties, not just to my party, (he Australian Labor Party. They had been to meetings of committees and had worked their hearts out.

I have never known any occupational group work as hard as politicians. I am not trying to seek votes when I say that. 1 have had experience in the law. I have never known any barrister or judge or academic work as hard in their respective fields as do the politicians with whom I am associated. Yet, politicians are held in terrible repute. We are laughed at. We are treated with contempt and as fair game for slander. Why does this happen? I ask honourable members to look at what is happening in the chamber now. Politics has been called the theatre of reality. I cannot tell honourable members who called it that. But politicians spend a great deal of their time persuading people and trying to be advocates. A small part of their time is taken up with making decisions.

But it seems to me that what has happened to Parliament is that it plays a very little part these days in persuading people.

Most politicians who want to gain influence, who want to soak up ideas so that they can grow on them, who want to put forward ideas to influence people and so create public opinion which will lead to change or reform or certain legislation, go away from Parliament. They do not really talk very much here. They go to public meetings. They seek time on television and radio. This practice is becoming increasingly apparent. In fact, I suppose the only real value of talking here at the moment is that my speech is being broadcast. One would hope that some chap driving a car in Darwin, Western Australia, Brisbane or somewhere else listened to what was said by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and been struck by a piece of wisdom that he dropped. Likewise, one hopes that the motorist may have been listening to what was said by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) or someone like him. That is the only real merit that comes out of speeches being made in this place. So, we are players on a stage. But what has happened is that Parliament is not a serious theatre. All too often it has become vaudeville and slapstick, lt has become farce.

I have not the complete answer to the question of how we can bring it back. But I want to make a few suggestions. Even before 1 do that, perhaps I could touch on a few small problems. Firstly I would like to draw attention to the facilities of this Parliament. 1 think it is terribly important that a new parliament house be built. Over the last few weeks I have presented petitions on behalf of the people who work in Parliament House protesting at working conditions. No-one outside this place knows about the shocking conditions under which the staff work. No-one ever gets into parts of the Library - the research section, the copying section or the basement where something like 1,000 people work. I ask honourable members to listen to the language used in the petitions I have presented on behalf of the staff of Parliament House. I ask the chamber to listen to the language which the staff used when they petitioned this place for reform. The petition, in part, read:

That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resulting in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.

That the fragmentation of staff . . . due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relations.

That although the present patchwork extension system result; in better accommodation for some sections of the working population in the House it has worsened the accommodation in other areas . . .

So it goes on. The petition ends with a plea for a new parliament house. It states: . . which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to house the Parliament and which will, at the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity. 1 think that the proceedings of Parliament should be televised. This suggestion will horrify some of my colleagues, but I do not know of any other way in which we can educate people to know the way in which Parliament works. I will pluck one working day out of the week to illustrate what 1 am saying. I will pick one of my own working days not because I am singing my praises in any way but because I am familiar with it. I started my working day today with a radio broadcast at half-past 8 o’clock in the morning. It is now 9.15 p.m. and the Parliament has not finished sitting. At 9 or 9.15 this morning the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory met. The Committee was attended by seven or eight members of the Parliament. The Committee hearing lasted until Parliament sat at II o’clock. At about 12 o’clock the Education Committee of the Australian Labor Party met to consider certain problems. At 12.30 the Economic and Trade Committee of the same Party met and the meeting continued right through the lunch hour. After lunch the Parliament resumed. The bells were rung for a division. In addition to this I had to attend 2 functions that are a part of this theatre of reality. I went with the honourable member for the Riverina (Mr Grassby) to a meeting of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association and then to a meeting of the Australian Capital Territory Police Association. I am now back in the Parliament. In the course of doing all that I had to see constituents because my situation is different from that of other honourable members. I live in Canberra, which is my electorate. Here, one never gets away from one’s constituents as other honourable members tend to do.

Somehow a whole reappraisal of this rat race has to be made and the problem solved, because the present situation is leading nowhere. One goes round in circles - in ever diminishing circles - faster, faster and faster and produces nothing. I am the only back bencher in the Parliament who has 2 secretaries.

Mr James:

– You keep them going flat out.


– That is right. I have three or four volunteer ladies. I pay $2,000 a year to Nipperville for the child minding expenses of volunteers. I am not crying poor or anything like that, I am not. I just want to highlight the absurdity of the situation. Three or 4 weeks ago my original secretary went down with the flu. When she got over it, she was told by her doctor not to go back to work for 3 weeks or he would not be responsible - because of the pressure of work she has been under. She came back to work today or yesterday on a half-time basis. However, the girl who had been taking her place has gone off today. When I asked my first secretary why she had gone home, I was told it was because she was obviously upset and worried and had a nervous condition because of the strain she was under for 3 or 4 weeks. I am not saying, that there is anything unique in this, because electorates are different one from another. I have been to the electorate of Riverina and have seen the way in which the honourable member for Riverina works. I have been to Townsville and seen the way in which Senator Keeffe works. I know that other honourable members, for example, have very little electorate work to do.

I see that my time is almost finished and it does seem to me that so far I have touched only the peak of the iceberg. What is really wanted is a long, deep investigation into the subject. In the second or two that I have left I would like to come to my final thought, although this is quite unrelated to what I have been saying. If nothing else happened but at least if we televised the proceedings of this place and the work of the committees, people outside would see that Parliament did not function only in this chamber but that it also functioned in the committee rooms and in the back rooms of this building.


– 1 think that every honourable member who knows the honourable member for the Australian

Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) would endorse everything that he said. He drives himself to the point where I often wonder how his physical resources stand up to the amount of work that he piles on himself. My main reason for rising is to put emphasis in this debate on the estimates for the Parliament on the need for a ministry of sport in this country. Every member of Parliament and every Australian should be proud of our achievements at the Olympic Games which have just concluded. This country with just on 13 million people won 8 gold medals and finished fifth or sixth among the countries of the world. One State has recently created a Ministry of Sport with a ministerial salary of $12,500 a year. I believe that the Commonwealth should show leadership in this important matter.

For some considerable time this afternoon the Parliament debated the matter of the 35-hour week. I think that the matter of establishing as soon as possible a ministry of sport should take up more time than the debate on the 35-hour week took up this afternoon. We all know, or should know, about the growth of child delinquency throughout our country. It is not only applicable here but is also applicable in most of the Western countries. The Parliament has an obligation to reduce this shocking social evil, and what is a better way of reducing child delinquincy than by the Government creating a ministry of sport? With reduced working hours there will be more idle time for the people of this nation, the working people.

Mr Giles:

– Are you talking about the Parliament?


– Yes, about the creation of a ministry of sport which, I understand, is applicable and appropriate to this debate. I can see nothing that would be more effective in reducing the problem of child delinquency than the Parliament creating a ministry of sport and subsidising sporting bodies, particularly for the first 5 years of their existence. The Government could give them a subsidy of $1 for $1 or $2 for $1, even if a ceiling was put on it of $50 or $100 in each 12 months for the first 5 years of their existence. The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) who represents my neighbouring electorate has shown great interest in this social question and has done considerable research on the matter of the Parliament creating a ministry of sport. He has pointed out that the physical fitness and wellbeing of a nation lis important to the health and ultimate happiness of its people, its level of affluence, education and cultural attainments and its technical and scientific achievements. Some of the nations that place high importance on the creation of a ministry of sport are the United Kingdom, France, Canada and South Africa. Here we are, prominent and known throughout the world for our sporting achievements, and we have not given serious consideration to creating a ministry of sport. I hope that all honourable members will realise the importance of creating this new ministerial post. for the wellbeing of our citizens. Between 1958 and 1970 France, for instance, planned to build 5,130 athletic centres, 2,620 gymnasiums-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes) - Order! I suggest that the honourable member should debate the estimates which are before the Chair.


– What I am debating are the estimates for the Parliament and T am suggesting that Parliament should create a ministry of sport.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I am aware of that.


– You listened with great tolerance, Mr Deputy Chairman, to other honourable members who-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will resume his seat while I am speaking. I suggest that the honourable member should debate the estimates for the Parliament. There is a separate set of estimates for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.


– I am suggesting that these estimates should provide for the creation of a ministry of sport, and I hope that that keeps me in order with the subject matter.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - It does, as long as the honourable member does not debate the actual way in which such a ministry would operate.

Mr Giles:

– Keep going, . Bert.


– Thank you, Mr Assistant Whip, for your loyal support. I think it is vitally important that this Cabinet position should be created, for some of the reasons I have stated. With the shorter working week and for the purpose of reducing child delinquency it would play a most important part. I believe that there is nothing more satisfying to a parent than to see his son or daughter indulging in healthy sport. There is an old saying that the wheels of democracy grind very slowly, but I hope that from time to time this matter will continue to be raised and that the Government will give serious consideration, when reviewing the estimates for the Parliament, to creating a ministry of sport which I believe will meet with the approval of every honest, decent, public spirited Australian.


– I would like to continue the remarks which 1 began earlier this afternoon as I understand that we have a few more minutes left of the allotted period. First of all, I want to refer to the question of the new parliament house. I believe that all honourable members ought to apply themselves conscientiously to the document which was circulated 2 years ago with reference to a new parliament house. The document was prepared after long discussions with experts inside Australia and with parliamentarians, and after examination of parliaments throughout the world. As my colleague the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) pointed out earlier, we have been tinkering with the extra facilities for the last few years. Goodness knows how much money we have spent - perhaps something like $lm in the current extensions - all to no avail. As far as the general purpose member is concerned, I am not too sure that it is producing anything much. For the first time in 16 or 17 years I have actually moved into a room of my own. lt is bumble. Little bits of carpet have been gathered from here and there. One would not want to waste too much of the country’s wealth and resources on floor coverings for a member of Parliament.

The telephone system that has just been installed is a magnificent tribute to human technology, lt seems to lack some of the touch of the previous one. The way in which one can be connected to telephones throughout the building is a little less useful to some extent than the previous sys tem. The time has come for all of us to turn our minds conscientiously to the question of a new parliament house. We cannot continue to operate as a Parliament in these circumstances. There are people who work in this place under conditions which are a disgrace to a country such as this. This institution is the fountainhead of all truth and justice in the whole nation. We should not tolerate it. It would be worth while for honourable members opposite to take a stroll around the dungeons of the place and have a look for a while at the conditions under which many of the people in the Parliamentary Library have to work.

Each member should have read this document very carefully. Is the space allotted to each member under the projected plan adequate? Is the 520 square feet or thereabouts that was suggested for each private member adequate? Is it possible that we will need more than 2 rooms each plus the extra facilities of a washroom and a rest area? If honourable members do not sit down and examine these questions, nobody else will. Then there are the general facilities. Should we not be considering the structure of the new Parliament House itself? Is the present system whereby the Senate and the House of Representatives are divided from one another by Kings Hall the most appropriate way of locating the chambers? In modern buildings it is easier to move vertically than it is to move horizontally. Would it be better to have a tall building with the 2 Houses one above the other and the facilities in between?

It is time that the whole Parliament applied itself to some of these questions. The same applies, of course, to the site of the new Parliament House. As honourable members may recall, there was a decision that it would be placed on the lakeside. After a long and exciting battle in this place the proponents of that site were driven off the lake, as the ‘Canberra Times’ put it, into the foothills. The Minister for the Interior at the time tossed into the ring the idea that perhaps we could use Camp Hill. In the subsequent debate the House of Representatives decided by a small majority in favour of Camp Hill and the Senate decided by a large majority on Capital Hill. The Government at th: 1 time

The most important feature of the site of the new Parliament House will have to be the amount of space around it. Allthe evidence that was taken about public buildings around the world was to the effect that for heavens sake we should allow as much space as we can lay our hands on. Inside State Circle there is an area of 135 acres. I think even inside that piece of vandalism, the ring road, there is an area of 85 acres still, and I suppose it is not beyond the wit of man to overcome that disability. I believe there are a lot of facts in favour of the Capital Hill site. First of all there is the accessibility. All the major roads and streets in Canberra lead to it. There is the question of space, as I have mentioned. I mentioned earlier too that the people in Washington had found that after all these years that even 130 acres was not adequate for the functions they have to carry out on Capital Hill.

The Capital Hill site is a central point in Canberra. It is not a question of just being prestigious or anything else. It is not a question of attempting to elevate oneself above the citizenry by putting oneself on a bill. Access to Capital Hill would be from all points and all areas. Buildings can be of any type no matter where they are built. The actual height or prominence of the building has nothing to do with it. 1 believe that the central nature of the place is rather more important. It is symbolic of the very functions of this city. If the Parliament itself was shifted from here Canberra would become just another country town - a pleasant one.

The other question to which I dearly want to turn attention is that of sharing

How should these committees work? I believe we ought not to exclude Ministers from membership of the committees. I do not believe that we ought to tolerate any further the idea that once a member enters the Ministry he should drop out of all other things and should no longer be a member of the Library Committee or should not attend meetings of the Foreign Affairs Committee any more. I do not know what the situation is in the Senate, but I would be surprised if the ministerial members of the Senate attended Senate committee meetings. I believe this is wrong. A Minister might have an executive function to perform in relation to customs and excise, the Army or anything else, but he is still a member of the Parliament. The rest of the membership should not be excluded from taking advantage of the talents he has, and he should not be excluded from the communion of spirit that comes from gathering around the table and discussing matters. If there is any single error in our formula here it is the way in which Ministers no longer take part in the Parliament in all sorts of way. They are busy at meal times. They are out at functions and things like that. They do not sit so much any more with their colleagues around the table. This I think is where we have to improve our performance.

Let us presume we have a standing committee on education, science and the arts, which is one of the committees I project, and let us presume it is examining the relevance of adolescent education in a modern school. Is that not a committee whose meetings ought to be attended not only by the Minister for Education and Science but any other Minister? The whole relationship has to be changed. The committee itself ought to have some executive function. It is my belief that when a select committee or a standing committee brings down a recommendation which implies some form of legislation it ought to produce the legislation as part of its function and table it in the Parliament for consideration and discussion. I am putting these thoughts into the ring tonight, knowing full well that all the members of Parliament on both sides, as much as I deplore the subservience of honourable members opposite to the Ministry, are deeply concerned with the matters, as is the country itself. In January the Institute of Political Science held a conference here in Canberra. Over 1,000 people attended over the weekend to examine the functions of government and in particular the Parliament, lt is a question of deep national concern, and we as the actual inheritors of the whole system ought to be applying ourselves to it with much greater concentration and with much closer scrutiny of its functions and the way in which we perform them.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Proposed expenditure, $31,039,000.

Department of the Treasury

Proposed expenditure, $110,396,000.

Advance to the Treasurer

Proposed expenditure, $30,000,000.


– I take this opportuanity to speak briefly on some of the matters affecting the Cabinet, which technically of course is the Government and indirectly the Prime Minister’s Department, which is the chief coordinating Department of the Commonwealth between the Commonwealth Government and the States. I am concerned principally with the growing tendency of secrecy on the part of the Cabinet, particularly with respect to the expenditure of Commonwealth money and the refusal of the Government to provide information to the people of Australia and the Parliament relating to the expenditure of that money and also leading up to the expenditure of that money. In the time available it is not possible to deal with very many cases, but let us take some in the development field with which I am more familiar. The usual procedure is for the Premier of a State to write to the Prime Minister asking for financial assistance or technical assistance with respect to an investigation for a development project. I assume that Cabinet then agrees or disagrees with the request and a decision is relayed back to the Premier. Parliament is not told anything until months or years later when a decision on a particular project is taken. Even when the decisions are taken Parliament is rarely told of any technical or economic evaluations of projects.

When the Government first became interested in development projects in the post-war years it was its policy to make reports available to the Parliament and to the people so that the validity or otherwise of this projects could be judged and an appreciation made of the Commonwealth expenditure involved. The brigalow report was published in full and a thorough analysis made by many parliamentarians, academics and State governments of the justification of Commonwealth expenditure. It was regarded as a sound project. The comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia is another project on which a full evaluation was made available to the Parliament by Cabinet, but in the last five or six years a veil of secrecy has fallen over development projects. The report on beef roads, a valuable one in the development of Australia, has never been made available to the Parliament so that a comprehensive evaluation could be made.

The position is similar in relation to water conservation projects such as the damming of the Ord River, the Fairbairn Dam and the Monduran Dam. Money has been expended by the Commonwealth on those projects but no reports have been made to the Parliament to justify that expenditure. I am referring to justification not only in economic or financial terms but also in terms of why Cabinet made its decisions. Surely the Parliament is entitled to this information. We have recently heard of reappraisals of the great Burdekin River basin, but after two or three years of talking and promises by Commonwealth Ministers it is impossible to find out just what is happenaing to that reappraisal. No progress reports are made. After the money is spent on development projects such as the beef roads scheme, the brigalow scheme, the Ord River Dam and other major water conservation projects, rarely are we given information about the progress that is being made. We are not told whether the State governments are spending the money efficiently. Surely we are entitled to know.

I want also to deal with the decisions of Cabinet on what I consider the absurd secrecy relating to the provision of vital statistics to the Parliament. For example, if I ask the Government how much sorghum is grown in the Northern Territory I cannot get an answer because, according to Cabinet, I could easily identify which particular company grows most of that sorghum. Yet I can telephone the Northern Territory Administration and get the answer within 5 minutes. If I ask the Commonwealth Government how much bauxite is produced in Queensland or exported, or how much alumina is produced in Queensland I cannot get an answer, yet I can ring up a Queensland department and get the answer immediately. Alternatively, I could get the information from the annual reports of foreign companies operating in Australia. I cannot get the information from the Commonwealth Government because of this veil of secrecy.

Recently I asked how many workers are employed in sugar refineries in Australia. I could not get the answer because it was felt that I could establish the number of workers employed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. Yet I can ring up that company and get the answer straight away. In a modern democracy it is completely absurd that Cabinet should work in such a secret fashion. I want also to deal with the growing tendency towards leakages of Cabinet decisions. It seems to me that this is becoming a very serious matter. Recently, for the first time in my experience as a member of this Parliament and before that, a journalist, through the media, told Australia, and the world for that matter, of major provisions to be included in the Budget. Obviously it was an informed leak. There is no question about it. Most of the things he said were correct.

The position has been similar with respect to recent decisions on wool acquisition and deficiency payments. It seemed that the offices of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) were racing each other to get this information to the journalists as soon as decisions were taken by Cabinet because each of them had an axe to grind. There also seems to be a growing tendency among Cabinet Ministers to announce decisions outside Parliament. After Parliament rises on a Thursday night, Cabinet decisions are frequently made known to the public on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday so that a ministerial statement to the House, which would be debated, is not made.

There is also a growing tendency towards what I would call political blackmail. Cabinet Ministers are allowing this practice to creep into the Parliament. Statements have been made in recent weeks by the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) on the establishment of a rural bank. Where is this rural bank? Has it been considered by Cabinet? My sources tell me that it has not been considered by Cabinet. The Budget contains an appropriation of $20m to be made available for the rural sector. One can imagine how far that sum will go in solving the debt problem or development problem of Australian primary industries. I question the right of 2 responsible Cabinet Ministers to be informing .the people of Australia about the establishment of a rural bank when the matter has not yet been considered by Cabinet or a decision taken by Cabinet on it.

This type of political blackmail was evident when the Government was considering a currency readjustment, whether Australia should appreciate or depreciate its currency in relation to the yen or the American dollar. Again there were deliberate leakages of information from the Cabinet to the newspapers, even to the degree that reports appeared that the Country Party leaders were going to walk out of the Cabinet. That is the type of government that is ruling Australia today. It is supposed to be a stable government yet it seems that when the Country Party cannot get its own way in the Cabinet it thinks the best thing to do is to leak information to the Press that the Country Party is opposing to the hilt the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party. Is this the essence of stable government?

Mr Fairbairn:

– We have been in office for 23 years. That seems to be rather stable.


– You will not be there much longer. You can count your days because I can assure you that they are numbered. I would like now to discuss decentralisation.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I wish to join with the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in connection with the mysterious silence of the Ministry not only in respect of the important details he mentioned but also in respect of the purpose of a Minister’s sitting at the table while the Estimates are debated. A few moments ago we finished the debate on the estimates of the Parliament In 2 hours of that debate all kinds of sensible suggestions were made. Lord knows that the Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister (Mr Dobie) needs assistance, but he was not even in the House during that debate. Are answers to be given to questions raised about the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet, the Treasury and the Advance to the Treasurer? Surely Parliament is entitled to explanations and to answers to questions asked by members on this side of the Parliament. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who is at the table, looks nice and attractive but with due respect he is terribly dumb; he has not said a word. If any speech justified an answer the one made by the honourable member for Dawson a few moments ago justified an answer from the Minister. Surely members of this Parliament are entitled to hear something from Ministers in respect of the matters we are discussing, otherwise this is just a debating exercise. Why, there are hardly any Government supporters in the House. They are not even interested in the Budget. I do not blame them. They are probably in their electorates preparing for their political doom, and so they ought to be. But the fact of the matter is that they show no interest at all. The Minister for Defence will not answer the points which have been raised. One member of the Country Party is present and he has only just woken up. This is the situation in this House.

I want to say a few things about the secrecy associated with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and his Department. I note an allocation of $30,404 for the visit of the President of the Republic of Indonesia in 1972. This is indeed an interesting allocation, particularly when we consider how the Prime Minister of New Zealand was treated when he visited Australia. The amount of $30,000 for the visit of the President included invitations to every member of the Parliament to bring with him his wife and whilst in Canberra - and quite rightly so - they were paid living allowances to meet the costs involved. This was done for President Suharto’s visit. Certainly he is the leader of a great State and a great country. That invitation was extended to every member of the Parliament. There was evidently a good roll-up because it would not be a bad party for $30,404.

Later I received an invitation from the Prime Minister on a beautifully embossed card which read:

The Prime Minister and Mrs McMahon on behalf of the Government of Australia request the pleasure of the company of Mr and Mrs F. M. Daly at a reception in honour of the Right Honourable J. R. Marshall, M.P., Prime Minister of New Zealand and Mrs Marshall at Parliament House, Canberra on Tuesday, 20 June 1972, from 5.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.

Naturally being courteous to a fellow sufferer in the great South Seas, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, I decided to accept on behalf of my wife and myself. But much to my surprise I found that I would have had to pay my wife’s fare and I would have had to pay for her board and lodging and for my own. The attitude seemed to be that as far as the Prime Minister of New Zealand was concerned he could go to hell; he was a second class citizen. I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister. I was informed by the Department of the Interior that for a general parliamentary function to which all members are invited the new regulations apply in respect of wives’ travel and the daily allowance. If it is not a general parliamentary function, that is if there is a limited number of invitations, the new procedure does not apply. So members on this side of the House and shadow Ministers invited to show the respect of their own Party when the Prime Minister of New Zealand was involved were expected to pay their own way including accommodation; yet every Minister probably could bring his wife and kids with him at government expense and enjoy a party.

I was not behind the door. I spent a few dollars of the Government’s money on a telegram to the Prime Minister. This is what I said:

Re your invitation to Mrs Daly and myself to attend reception for St Hon. J. R. Marshall MP Prime Minister of New Zealand and Mrs Marshall Parliament House Canberra Tuesday June 20 stop Very surprised your dept has made no provision for warrant for wifes travel to Canberra and daily allowance as applied to those invited to function for President Suharto stop Evidently Government considers N.Z. Prime Minister and wife second class visitors and not worthy of hospitality extended to foreign heads of state stop In declining invitation in protest at Government’s mean and paltry approach to this visit desire to state that if Government can afford to regularly send Ministers public servants and their wives on luxury trips abroad members and wives invited to official functions of this kind in honour of such a distinguished personage should be entitled to expect adequate financial provision will be made by Government to enable them to attend.

The Prime Minister was very courteous. I sent that telegram on 19th June and, working with the usual speed associated with a Liberal Government, I got an answer dated 17th August. It read:

Dear Mr Daly,

I refer to your telegram concerning the reception for the Rt Hon. J. R. Marshall and Mrs Marshall at Parliament House on 20th June.

I have noted your views in relation to the Canberra Allowance and the additional travel entitlements for wives. I will have the conditions relating to both these matters looked into.

I have heard nothing further. Consequently I presume it has been lost. But I hope that the Prime Minister of New Zealand realises that his Liberal counterparts in Canberra think that he is a second grade citizen. They treated him that way and did not give a hang whether anybody came to the function. In fact they hoped that nobody would come so they could save a few dollars and spend it probably on other matters related to their own personal activities.

They are not so tight when it comes to looking after Ministers and their travels abroad. Let us have a look at this. In 1971-72, under Division 435, for Ministers, Assistant Ministers, the Leaders of the Opposition and others an amount of $509,228 was spent. These Ministers certainly travel well. Let us have a look at the Prime Minister. In 1971 the sum of $35,392 was expended. There were some pretty good parties on the other side of the world out of that amount. Going further down the scale, for the Minister for Shipping and Transport an amount of SI 7,966 was expended in 1971; for the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1971 the amount spent was $17,552; for the Minister for Primary Industry in 1971 the amount is shown to be $21,238.

Further down the scale, for the Minister for Labour and National Service the amount spent was $18,553. 1 hope that the unemployed listen to what I am saying. On the Treasurer in 1971 the amount expended was $19,219. There are so many items that time does not permit me to read them in this debate. For the Minister for National Development the amount spent was $12,319. Travel expenses for the Minister for External Territories in 1971 - he really had a cheap trip - amounted to $1,007. Then further down the line, for the Minister for Trade and Industry in 1972 the amount expended was $17,725 and for the Treasurer in 1972 the amount shown is $21,429. For the Minister for Health the sum of $14,430 was expended. An amount of $10,924 was spent on the Minister for Labour and National Service. These are members of the Government which expected members of Parliament to come to Canberra at their own expense, without providing a few paltry dollars, in order to honour suitably the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

When I asked the Prime Minister to give me details of these trips he refused to do so because he knows that hidden behind those thousands of dollars are many luxury jaunts by people including the wives of Ministers and public servants associated with them. They cover it up because if the public were to know how this money is spent it would be a public scandal. I just say this to the Prime Minister: They reckon that travel broadens the mind and if that is the case we have the broadest minded Ministry ever in our time. The tragedy about most of these trips is that most Ministers come back. The situation is that there is plenty of money for everything except private members of this Parliament and except to honour justifiably some of our distinguished visitors.

Tonight therefore in my first speech on this issue I mention those facts in order that all will know how this Government treats itself but views with contempt not only the needs and requirements of members on this side but also how it insults the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Whilst President Suharto was entitled to his welcome, why degrade the Prime Minister of New Zealand as a second class citizen? I do not want the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) to answer me. I would like to see somebody responsible from the Prime Minister’s Department to answer the charges and statements I have made in respect of this. I know that the Minister for Social Services, who is seated at the table, is not only lucky to be in the Ministry but is flat out doing what he can in the social services field which is keeping him more than busy.

The questions J have raised are vital. How were these moneys spent? Why were they spent? Why will the Government not do the right thing by all sections of this Parliament and to all distinguished visitors? I place on record my opposition to what has been done by the Prime Minister in respect of the visit of the Prime Minister of New Zealand and what are evidently luxury jaunts in many cases and for which the Government will give no explanation.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I want to continue my remarks with respect to the secrecy of the Cabinet and the political dishonesty of some Cabinet Ministers. As I mentioned before we have seen this tendency developing in recent years. This afternoon we had a debate on the 35- bour week. If ever there was a subject which has been abused by Cabinet Ministers who know fully the true facts of this matter, it is that of the 35-hour week. We see the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) attempting to make political cap ital throughout the nation and in the Parliament by stating by inference that a Labor government would introduce, across the board, a 35-hour week. This is false. The sad part about this is that the Minister, who is a member of Cabinet, knows that it is false, and this is what I call political dishonesty.

The Federal Parliament, a Labor government or any other Federal government does not have the jurisdiction to introduce shorter or longer working hours, except in the small number of cases which relate to Commonwealth public servants or the Parliament itself. Sixty per cent of the work force in Australia work under State awards, and these people do not come under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In Queensland alone 73 per cent of the work force work under State awards. These awards have nothing to do with the Federal Government or the Commonealth Arbitration Commission. It is a matter for the State Government to determine whether the people who come under these awards will work a shorter or a longer working week. But it is political dishonesty for Cabinet Ministers to attempt to secure some type of political advantage by making statements which imply that a Labor government will introduce a shorter working week. Australian Labor Party policy has been made quite clear by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). If a particular industry makes an application to the Arbitration Commission for a 35-hour week and, after thorough investigation, a Labor government will support it if it is convinced that this shorter week is justified, but if it is not convinced that it would be in the best interests of the nation, it will not support it.

Mr Kelly:

– Will it oppose it?


– It will not support it; it will oppose it if it is not justified. That is clear. I have said it time and time again, and so has the honourable member for Hindmarsh who is Labor’s spokesman on labour affairs.

Mr Wentworth:

– Are you being quite frank about this?


– What do you mean? Let me make the point quite clear. First of all, it is not a matter for the Federal Parliament; it is not a matter for a Federal government; it is a matter for the Arbitration Commission to which particular unions, under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Commission, can present their case. The case having been presented, a Labor government would then make a decision either to support it or not to support it. This attitude has been expressed by the honourable member for Hindmarsh time and time again. What is the policy of the Country Party or the Liberal Party on this matter? The Australian Labor Party certainly has a policy on it. It has had this policy ever since the Labor Party was established. Our policy is to try to get the best possible working conditions in the rural areas of Australia and the city areas of Australia, and it is a policy of which we are proud.

But what is the policy of the Country Party or the Liberal Party on the 35-hour week? Both Government parties have said that they will oppose completely the introduction of a 35-hour week. Surely we. can deduce from that that they support a longer working week. Apparently this is their policy; they would like to see everybody in Australia working many more hours a day. The Labor Party has stated its policy, but let it not deliberately be misinterpreted by Cabinet Ministers. Let them state, the facts. Let them give the people of Australia the facts instead of trying deliberately to misinterpret, to distort the policies of the Labor Party in regard to a 35-hour week. While debating the estimates for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, let me say that we have seen the same sort of political dishonesty in relation to wheat sales to China. How many times in this House and outside the House have we seen Country Party Ministers trying to blame me and the Labor Party for the. loss of wheat sales to China.

Mr King:

– That is right.


– You would not know the first thing about it. One fact in relation to wheat sales to China is that in 1964 this Government deliberately stood oyer the Australian Wheat Board and directed that the Wheat Board pass a note to Chinese authorities, thus introducing politics into the wheat trade. Australia lost the wheat trade with China after Canada recognised China, but we will regain it and we will regain it very quickly under a Labor government. I consider the Government’s actions to be political dishonesty. We have seen this sort of thing happen in other industries. In recent days we saw it happen in the sugar industry. When I came back from China last year I stated quite categorically in this Parliament and outside the Parliament that I believed that the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd would sell sugar to China.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! I think the honourable member is a little bit wide of the estimates before the Committee. We are dealing with the estimates of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and you are talking about trade matters. I do not think this is of relevance to the Department of the Prime Minister.


– I am saying that when I made, that statement Cabinet Ministers ridiculed it, and now by strange coincidence trade in sugar is being developed with China. Cabinet Ministers are accusing me of attempting to wreck our sugar trade with China. Have honourable members ever heard such humbug and rubbish? We have to make quite certain that politics do not enter into the sugar negotiations and that the Cabinet Ministers speak the truth and state the facts. They must allow the Queensland Sugar Board through the CSR company to conduct their operations with China completely free from dishonest politics. If we do this we will be able to establish an excellent sugar trade between the 2 countries. But we have heard Cabinet Ministers making these fallacious statements.

During my first period in this debate I spoke on Cabinet secrecy. Some honourable members will recall that when I entered this Parliament I had all sorts of problems. Just after I became a member my office in Parliament House was raided by persons unknown to me. From memory I think 6 valuable files containing a lot of evidence that I had and I needed, as well as some reports which I also needed, were stolen. Never yet have I seen a report of this incident, despite the fact that it was raised in the Parliament and despite the fact that it was investigated by Mr Speaker. What I am saying is that this secrecy of the Cabinet is something to be deplored. I think that in the interests of good government and democracy in Australia the government of the day has to get away from this absurd obsession with secrecy and let the people of Australia know more about what is happening in the country. This is particularly so with respect to Cabinet decisions, which should not be kept secret. I am not saying that all decisions should be made public and have to be justified - far from it - but certainly some of them should.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– During the few moments at my disposal 1 wish to direct my comments to the estimates for the Treasury. In the first instance I draw attention to the fact that once again no provision has been made for any increase in taxation zone allowances or for any review of zone boundaries. Despite the fact that several submissions and representation.1 have been made to the Government there is no reference at all to this particular subject. The zone allowances were introduced by a Labor government in 1945 and were opposed very bitterly at that time by the Liberal-Country Party Opposition although they were granted in recognition of and as compensation for the disadvantages which taxpayers and their families suffer by living in zone areas, disadvantages such as the high cost of living, the uncongenial climatic conditions and the isolation.

While the Government’s failure over some 13 or 14 years to make some adjustment may suggest otherwise, the fact is that the same disadvantages exist today. For instance, in relation to living costs an article appeared in the ‘West Australian’ of 26th March this year giving a list of prices which shows that a basket of goods that could be purchased for $13.11 in Perth would have cost $22.01 in Port Hedland, some 70 per cent more. Surely that does not suggest that the disadvantages in that regard have lessened. Just a few days ago I received a list of prices being charged at another town in the A zone area and (hose prices included 30c for a cucumber, 30c for lib of apples, $1.78 for one dozen oranges, SI. 02 for 10 lb of potatoes, 63c for a cauliflower, 45c for 1 lb of tomatoes and 45c for a lettuce. In addition, the chap who wrote to me pays $18.30 a week rent, $4 a week for electricity and $2 a week for water. So it is abundantly clear that, with respect to the cost of living alone, the people in zone areas are certainly at a very serious disadvantage as against people resident in the capital cities. Whether the higher prices being charged are justified I am not in a position to say, but the fact remains that they are extremely high when compared to those charged in the cities, lt must be remembered that this Government is opposed to any system of price control or consumer protection and, therefore, if it accepts that the charges are justified it also should accept the requirement of compensating consumers, or in this case the taxpayers, for the high living costs which they are obliged to suffer.

Now let us consider another disadvantage, that of uncongenial climatic conditions. Those conditions have not changed but their effects have been made easier only because of refrigeration, air conditioning, better housing and so on. However, all of those things have added to the overall cost of living, so any improvement of one side has been more than offset on the other. The high cost of electrical equipment, the high cost of building materials and construction and the high cost of electricity to run the electrical equipment all take a very heavy toll of the pay packet. Then we come to the third disadvantage - -isloation. Certainly transport and communications have improved in many places, but in others they have worsened as a result of the termination of rail services. As with climatic conditions, any improvement in the effects of isolation have proved costly to those taxpayers who can afford to take advantage of them, many cannot. 1 realise only too well that concessions such as zone allowances provide the most benefit to those with the highest incomes, but until such time as a system which will give the most benefit where it is most needed is adopted, those who are io need, and there are many of them, should not be denied the relief that increased zone allowances could provide. lt is quite clear that the disadvantage, for which concessions were first given art still in existence. It seems that the cost of living situation has worsened. It is quite ridiculous and unfair for the Government to refuse to recognise that fact and to refuse to adjust the allowances accordingly. The refusal over the past 13 or 14 years to increase zone allowances and to extend the boundaries can prove only that the Libera1 and Country Party members hold the same attitude as they held in 1945. They are completely opposed to the allowances but have not the courage to eliminate them They know quite well that if they remove them altogether it would mean a loss o seats on zone areas. For instance, the Government would lose the seats of Kennedy, Herbert and the Northern Territory on that issue alone. So while the Government remains opposed to zone allowances it has not the courage to remove them, and instead is prepared to make them a mockery. It is prepared to give wealthy companies tax concessions in various way but is completely unsympathetic to the people living in and developing the northern parts of our country and the mining areas and who, by their efforts, are building up the assets and export earnings of this country.

The next matter I wish to deal with is the unfairness and unjustification of taxing district allowances. The courts decided in their wisdom that workers in certain parts of the Commonwealth suffer particular disadvantages and disabilities which do not apply to workers carrying out exactly the same duties in the metropolitan areas. To help offset these disadvantages or disabilities the courts awarded a certain extra payment above the normal rate. The court is not concerned with what the worker’s taxable income will be, and grants in most instances the same allowances to a highly skilled man on a high wage as it does to a labourer on a low wage. The court is concerned only that the worker should receive a certain amount above his city counterpart to offset, and to do no more and no less, the differences in living costs and to compensate for other conditions. But the taxing of those allowances completely upsets the purpose that the court set out to achieve. If the allowance granted for a particular area is $300 a year, the tax on that $300 would amount to approximately $100 if the taxable income of the worker would otherwise be $4,000. Therefore it means in turn that despite the intention of the court’s decision he is still $100 behind his city counterpart when everything else is taken into consideration. So it seems to me that if the court’s decision to grant $300 was correct, then the Government by taxing the allowance is deliberately lowering the living standard of those taxpayers and their families in district allowance areas by $2 a week.

It may be argued that the zone allowance preserves to some extent the value of the district allowance, but even if this were so, surely the failure to increase the zone allowance must have brought about a gradual reduction in the real value of the district allowance which has increased over the past 13 years. However, irrespective of any argument related to the district allowance versus the zone allowance there is a certain section of taxpayers who work and reside within zone areas, who are paid a district allowance upon which they pay tax but who are not eligible for any zone allowance concession. In their case the taxing of the district allowance definitely results in a reduction in their living standards com. pared with their city counterparts. The people concerned are mainly those who cannot determine their length of stay in a zone area, people such as school teachers, bank staff, post office staff, police staff, Department of Civil Aviation employees and so on, whose date of arrival and date of departure are usually determined by the State or Federal department involved. Those people can be in a zone area for almost a calendar year and not qualify for the zone allowance simply because the Act provides that they must be so resident for more than 6 months of the income year. So if those people receive a $300 district allowance they may pay one-third, more or less, in tax spread over 2 income tax years. As a result, the amount that the Arbitration Court or some other body considered necessary to equalise the living standards of workers in the city and workers in district allowance areas is reduced by approximately $1 a week and the taxpayer outside the city suffers once again.

I also wish to deal with the Government’s refusal to allow as a taxation deduc- lion all or part of the cost of travelling to receive medical or hospital treatment. Unfortunately I have not the time to develop my argument, but all honourable members know that in the country areas, the far flung areas, people have to travel long distances to receive medical attention. It may be that they have to receive specialist attention and may have to make a return journey of up to 3,000 miles. The cost involved to obtain that specialist attention or hospital attention is a full charge upon them. It is not included in medical and hospital entitlements under the so-called national health scheme, nor is there any provision for a taxation claim for such costs. I ask the Government to look at this aspect also.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– Tonight in considering these Estimates dealing with the Treasury I should like to follow perhaps a more rational train of thought than we may have seen evidenced over the last fortnight in respect of the problem of exchange rates. I do not believe that it matters as much if I propound on exchange rates as it might matter if other people more importantly placed were to take up the challenge and discuss the issue. Let us consider the implications behind any such action or any academic examination of the problem of our own currency rates as against other currencies. First of all, I believe that there is no black or white line that can be taken in regard to these matters. When one considers a matter like this in depth there are always a great many pluses and a great many minuses. 1 think there is a necessity to compromise under these conditions because there are no exact answers.

Honourable members have heard frequently that economics in itself is not an exact science and the thinking behind it is not cold, hard, objective or clear cut. Very largely it is faith and guess work. It is a matter of balancing all the facts that the top Treasury official or the top economist of the day can gather. Then 9 times out of 10 he will not have all the facts that can be considered. I imagine that it is for this very reason that over many years Parliament or some other source apart from the top economists and the best thinkers in the land had been vested to make the final decision because so many other factors arise involving whether a country town will remain or whether it will pass out of existence or whether an industry, in spite of its fluctuations, has been a worthwhile industry for Australia and will remain or pass out of existence.

Essentially, in the main, academic people are looking at this problem on the one hand - I think properly looking at it - and on the other hand practical men are looking at it. I can see, Mr Chairman, you rising to that description. Practical men so often are practical and successful businessmen. It is amazing when one hears them talk, how often their interests happen to coincide with the national interest. One of our jobs and one of the jobs of the academics when exchange rates are examined is to rationalise properly the views that are expressed. 1 can almost see my friends on the Opposition side say: ‘Of course, that is true and all successful, practical businessmen are selfish’. That is the mistake they make. Very frequently the interests of large industries coincide with the national interests and the national aspirations. Somebody has to adopt the means of checking and balancing these points of view.

Nobody would deny, I think, that the future welfare of a company such as the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, for instance, has a very real effect on the national interests of Australia. Other factors, of course, must be considered. First of all, in this age and day we are not in isolation in Australia; we are part of an international pattern. We have international responsibilities and we are not entirely free agents. We do, for instance, still have the Bretton Woods agreement. We can buck the system and even develop some short term advantage by so doing but in the long term does the quid pro quo necessarily mean that we hang on to any advantage we may have gained in the short term? There is a morality today in international finance, particularly for small nations. Dishonour should go with the nation that breaks agreements readily. A country of Australia’s size should build goodwill and not be subjected to subtle discriminations. Factors occur other than those due to proper pressures in the market place and these many people can decide and think over for themselves. Again I state that I believe that any action that is taken cannot be taken in isolation. For instance^ there are currency difficulties which can lead to physical controls that have a very great effect on exchange.

The Group of 20, I do not think, has a mortgage on proper answers and as one in the outside councils rather than the inside councils I do not believe that Australia will really take much part in the policy of future currency arrangements. In fact one could take the view that a Council of 20 will be probably twice as ineffective as say the Council of 10. Certainly it will be twice as slow to come to a decision. No matter what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development might suggest, Australia is on the outer council of the Council of 20 and we may as well remember it.

One of the important sides to the argument on revaluation that one hears is whether it will help overcome inflation. Inflation is too high and remains a danger to us. What would revaluation achieve? Firstly, it would achieve certainly greater import competition. Secondly, it would certainly slow investment flows. The former may achieve a price stabilisation tendency. The latter is a more doubtful argument - that is the slow investment flow - and may not be true. It would be a challenge to our economy and, I think, salutary, but at best it is doubtful if revaluation is a practical answer to these problems. For instance, what is the nature of capital investment? What happens to retained profits? Is two-thirds reduction a worthwhile national investment? Is it worthwhile substituting a sort of investment.

Can we have in this country (a) growth and (b) national ownership complete and by and large? Obviously we cannot have a high level of both, so where is our economy? We have a debit on invisible accounts. We have a huge balance of payment credit. I do not believe that revaluation is necessarily the answer to the sort of conditions that are implied behind this question. We do not even know whether the balance of payment surplus is permanent. Furthermore why should we move? Others hold interesting academic arguments that huge and powerful economies such as West Germany and Japan are not moving at this stage and that indeed the United Kingdom will be posed fairly shortly with entry into the European Economic Community. Is not this the sort of occasion when many nations may have to have a look at their particular level of currency at that time? Our exports currently are up 13 per cent in value. Our imports are static. If all our nation’s debts had to be serviced at present it would cost 20 per cent of our earnings. The Australian economy over 9 months may be overvalued. The Australian economy over 5 years certainly was not overvalued. I do not know whether the current condition represents a fluctuation or whether it is the establishment of a trend. But no matter what it is, the economic conditions in either case should not be a matter of hasty judgment but should be a matter of long term considered judgment. A small nation must wait and must be prudent. Sterling at present is floating. Australia has appreciated its currency by 4 per cent approximately already due to that happening. It has appreciated by 6 per cent recently with the United States dollar. It has had a small depreciation as against the Japanese currency. The last factor to which I wish to refer is the effect, if any, of any such revaluation on the domestic market. Here we are posed with the sort of Budget strategy, if that can be considered.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope:

– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has been warbling on about the exchange rate issue with no particular recommendations contained in the various ifs and buts he put forward. However, I think that there are a few different sorts of proposals which need to be examined in relation to this question. I would ask the Treasury officials who are sitting in another part of this chamber whether consideration could be given to Australia operating a 2- tier exchange rate. I draw attention to this because I think that there has been far too much controversy surrounding this issue. The Leader of the Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) has not done Australia a service by making the matter a political football. In fact, I think he has done Australia a very great disservice by adopting that attitude.

There is little doubt that Australia today finds itself in some extraordinary dilemmas. For example, in this day, we have unemployment at the same time as inflation. We have a situation where we have bolstered reserves and, at the same time, we have a situation where not only are those reserves over inflated because of speculative reasons but we also still have a deficit in our current account. The honourable member for Angas apparently does not wish to hear the replies to the questions which he asked. We have the extraordinary dilemma where, if consideration were to be given to our trading interests, we might talk of retaining the rate. On the other hand, if we were looking at the problem from the point of view of our capital position - the bolstering of our reserves - then we should perhaps consider at least retaining the rate.

Belgium and France have worked effectively on a 2-tier rate. That is to say, they have a separate rate for capital transactions. I know that senior Treasury officials expressed an opinion about a year ago that this system could not operate in Australia. Their theory was that it would not be possible to isolate a transaction which, on the one hand is a trade transaction and, on the other hand again, is a capital transaction. Apparently they had not learned the elementary rule that there is usually a document involved - a bill of lading - with a trade transaction. If they had inquired more deeply into the system operating in France and Belgium, they would have found that it was operating effectively. The cast doubts a year ago as to whether this system would continue, yet right up to this day it is still operating most effectively indeed.

Australia has a particular dilemma. On the one hand, our trading position might call for the maintenance of the exchange rate while on the other hand our position in regard to our capital transactions might in theory suggest an appreciation of exchange rates. We must keep in mind that, when the presidential elections are over, it is virtually certain that there will be a world realignment of currencies.

The fight will be on from that time and when that occurs, Australia will then make its decision. It is ridiculous to talk about making a decision at this time. When that time occurs, we will have to make a decision as to which way we will go - whether we will remain at current values, appreciate or depreciate in relation to particular countries, according to what our trading arrangements are with the various countries. When that time occurs, I think that the Treasury officials, who apparently are giving so much advice to this Government, should themselves look very carefully at what has occurred in the experiments in both Belgium and France with the operation of a 2-tier exchange rate and consider whether the same sort of proposals should be introduced into this country.

I wish to deal with one other matter which is a much more human issue. I have a copy of the Sydney ‘Sun’ of 7th September. An item in it reads:

A salesman’s furniture including TV set and refrigerator have been sold by bailiffs to pay a $71 debt to the Taxation Department.

The article then gives the address of the person in Merrylands and goes on to relate how his possessions valued at $2,700 were auctioned in order to meet that debt of $71 to the Taxation Office. The furniture concerned included a 12 cubic foot refrigerator, a dining table and chairs, a buffetcocktail bar and a 25-inch television receiver. Apparently this man came home one night to find that the bailiffs had taken possession of all his furniture to settle a $71 debt to the Taxation Office.

Evidently, the man had had an argument with the Taxation Office. The article continues:

He was billed for $129.32 extra income lax and paid this amount.

But certain deductions in his 1968 return were later disallowed and he was billed a further 571.29.

Mr Lewis disputed the amount but an ex-parte small debts court judgment found against him.

He has since been in frequent contact with the Taxation Department and Parramatta Court Sheriff’s Office to discuss payment.

Yet the Taxation Department moved in mid took over goods of very considerable value -$2,700 in all- for a debt of $71.29.

The Taxation Department would consider this case to be an evasion of taxation, yet in the instance of both Vila in the New

Hebrides and Norfolk Island, the same thing is occurring. It is now over 2 years since I raised the question of large scale evasions of taxation in Norfolk Island by Australian residents going to Norfolk Island and registering their companies there. Now that that loophole looks as though it possibly will be closed, the businessmen have moved to Vila in the New Hebrides. They have been given ample notice to move from Norfolk Island to the New Hebrides. I put a question on the notice paper seeking the names of the companies of Australian origin registered in Vila in the New Hebrides. The answer to that question from the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), which I received only tonight, was:

I am not able to provide these details.

Yet we see large scale evasion of taxation in both Norfolk Island and the New Hebrides by Australian resident companies. At the same time we get the opposite case - a man who has had the whole of his furniture repossessed by the Taxation Office for a debt of only $71.29, which has been disputed. I think it is time that the Taxation Office officials had a good look at that case.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– During this debate on the estimates for the Department of the Treasury and the Advance to the Treasurer I would like to draw attention to 2 aspects: Firstly, the general question of the raising of revenue by the Commonwealth compared with the States and secondly, if time permits, the alleviation of the burden of estate duty and gift duty as forecast in the Budget and for which legislation has been introduced into this House.

The raising of revenue by the Commonwealth and States is a matter which constantly has come into the minds of the public. This is so whether the expenditure concerns social services of all types, transport, power supply or water conservation. But regardless of the purpose of the expenditure it is as well to remember that no government has anything of its own to give away. All of the funds which are raised come from the public by way of tax or by way of contribution towards loan funds. I find that there is a very real lack of realisation surrounding the source of funds which are available for government use in the interests of the public.

It is repeatedly brought home to the member, I hold, that the general public believes that the vast bulk of funds raised by governments is raised and distributed by the Commonwealth. One unfortunate reaction from this belief is the impetus that the belief gives which contributes to centralism in government. There is a continuing demand coming forward for the Commonwealth Government to act in areas which are constitutionally the preserves of the States and which should be left as such.

I think there is far too much emphasis placed on the role of the Federal Government as a money source. The demand that I speak of I find comes from all quarters. It comes from individuals and from organisations in a very wide field. When it is pointed out that perhaps the proposition or the demand which is put forward falls outside of federal responsibility, the reply comes back that the Commonwealth has all the funds. How often we hear that, but it is not so. I have watched this closely for several years. What is the position? Let us compare the financial assistance grants to the States by the Commonwealth with revenue collected by the States by way of State taxes. The source of ray figures are the Budget papers for this year and for previous years. Because time will not permit me to deal with all States I will deal only with New South Wales. I have selected this State for no other reason than that the electorate of Calare falls entirely within the boundaries of New South Wales. The figures which I shall give to the House have been taken from the appropriate New South Wales Year Book.

In 1969-70 New South Wales raised $344.3m by way of State taxation. I will give a breakdown of that amount later. During that period New South Wales received from the Commonwealth $373.9m by way of State grants. Therefore we had a figure $344.3m compared with $373.9m. There is not much difference between those 2 figures.

In the following year, 1970-71, State taxes raised by New South Wales amounted to $364.6m, and it received from the Commonwealth $470.8m by way of State grants. The results are even more striking in the financial year just completed. The State taxes amounted to approximately $550. 6m. I hasten to point out here that the actual figures are not yet available. I have relied on estimates made by the State of New South Wales. I repeat that the amount of money raised by the State is $550.6m. During that year New South Wales received from the Commonwealth a total of S462.2m. 1 shall give a breakdown of some of these taxes which were collected by New South Wales and I have no doubt that the other States fall into a similar pattern. The State taxes were made up of death duties, stamp duties, land tax. racing and betting taxes, liquor licences, motor taxes and licences, poker machine taxes and, of course, during this last year a very big sum has been added in the form of payroll tax. In New South Wales the sum collected by way of pay-roll tax is $ 146.4m. I have not included the local rates and taxes which were collected within the State. Therefore, looking back, we see that in the financial year not long completed New South Wales raised $88m more by way of its own taxes than it received from the Commonwealth by way of State grants. A major contributing factor to this state of affairs was pay-roll tax, which had become the State’s particular prerogative. 1 regard the action on the part of the Commonwealth to give the States access to a tax which could be justly termed a growth tax to be enlightened.

What is the point that can be made about this situation? Firstly 1 want to highlight the successful efforts of the States themselves in raising their own revenue. Secondly, I would like to highlight the fact that in one State at least - that is New South Wales, and I have no doubt that the others follow closely and may even lead - the Government does not depend as much as some people think on the Commonwealth for its financial life blood. Thirdly, the continuing demands on Commonwealth financial assistance in matters which are constitutionally State prerogatives play into the hands of the centralist. The old saying: Where your treasure lies there your heart lies also’ applies here. I think that we can paraphrase that quote and make it more appropriate by saying that with a grant of funds from the Commonwealth for any

18830/72- -R-144

specific purpose there is also a responsibility to see that the public funds are spent correctly. The trend to centralism leads to the erosion in the end of State rights.

In the few minutes left to me I would like to say something about estate and gift duty. I point out that the further alleviation of the effects of estate and gift duty will be of benefit to the public in general. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden), in delivering his Budget Speech and submitting the Budget papers, set out very clearly a number of examples which I think have been distributed to all honourable members. His first example dealt with a suburban estate going wholly to close relatives. It is clearly set out. The estate comprises the matrimonial home and furnishings - this is the sort of thing which happens every day - the family car, life assurance, small amounts of cash and other investments. In an estate with a value, say, of $40,000, the duty before the Bill is passed would be assessable at a figure of $937. The proposed duty under the Bill will be nil. The Treasurer has set out a number of other instances dealing with suburban estates. He then deals with rural estates.

To some it seems incongruous, but nevertheless it is a fact, that in primary industries where so many have suffered the effects of recession and loss of income and whose position has caused them to call for government assistance and for access to better finance, there should also be a bitter resentment at the impact of estate duty in both Federal and State fields. The position is that the farmer and grazier and many other rural business people are, on paper at least under our present valuation system, asset wealthy and yet are in a state of very low liquidity. Where these circumstances exist together, despite the more enlightened and humane approach which has been notable and the consideration exhibited over more recent years by the Taxation Office, a great deal of personal hardship and economic disaster have been caused by the imposition of estate or probate duty. This has been recognised in the Budget and the Government has made substantial corrections. I commend the Government for it.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– I would like to refer to a few items in this debate on the estimates for the Department of the Treasury. One of the more notable changing characteristics of our cities in Australia in recent times has been the growth of home unit construction. As honourable members may know, many of these home units are organised into what are called corporate bodies. They are registered in New South Wales under the Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act. One of the things that disturbs these corporate bodies is the necessity to submit income tax returns each year. These corporate bodies hold small amounts of money for the maintenance of the combination of units which are formed into the corporate body. Most of the funds that they raise are in due course paid out in maintenance costs. They are non-profit making bodies. Their intention is not to accumulate funds for great investment, but whilst they are holding funds to meet any anticipated expenditures the funds are invested in bank accounts, credit unions or some such bodies and accordingly they earn a certain amount of income. The amount of income that they earn in a year is small and therefore it becomes irksome for the secretaries of these corporate bodies who look after their affairs to be obliged to send in income tax returns for these small amounts of income.

One such organisation, the St George and Districts Home Unit Owners Association, has written to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and to me in recent times asking that it be exempt from having to render such returns. As a matter of fact, many of these corporate bodies fail to put in a return, in many cases in ignorance of the fact that they have such an obligation. It is suggested that they ought to have something comparable with the exemption level that is accorded to personal income tax payments. The Budget provides for an exemption level on incomes of up to $1,040. It would probably be appropriate that organisations such as these corporate bodies, and other small associations which hold funds only to offset anticipated expenses, should be exempted from the necessity to render income tax returns. I understand that in New South Wales alone there are over 6,000 of these corporate bodies.

It is suggested that the expenses involved in requiring these organisations to render returns, in the processing of such returns and in the making of an assessment more than outweigh the income that is likely to be received by way of taxation on such bodies. Therefore I make an appeal to the Government to give further consideration, as was promised in the Treasurer’s letter to me and to the Association, to the exemption of bodies in this way. I must confess that I do not have much knowledge of company taxation. I do not know how easy it would be to make such a provision. I imagine that there would be no great difficulty in making a provision for an exemption level which would obviate the necessity of small organisations holding small amounts of money on investment making such returns.

Various people have made complaints to me about the failure of the Taxation Office to answer letters of inquiry that they have sent to it. I have to thank warmly the people I have dealt with at the Taxation Office for the consideration they have given to me as a parliamentarian making inquiries on behalf of constituents. Unfortunately, it appears that the chances of the ordinary rank and file citizen who writes to our Taxation Office of receiving a written reply are rather slight. I have known of constituents who have written several letters without receiving a reply. I have mentioned this matter to some of the senior officers in the Taxation Office and they have told me that at particular times of the year they are absolutely overwhelmed with inquiries and that it is just impossible to cope. It seems to me that there ought to be some possibilities of taking on increased staff at those times of the year. I imagine that these kinds of inquiries cannot be handled by some casual employee who is brought in, and this probably entails some difficulties. But I hope that it is possible for the Taxation Office to provide a service for people who send in this kind of written inquiry. Admittedly, this office advertises widely that it takes telephone inquiries even after business hours. It has tried to reach out. I know what it does in country areas by making advisory services available to the people. However, having said all that, there is this considerable incidence of people who write to the Taxation Office and do not get a reply even after making repeated written inquiries to it.

I know that already, during the general Budget debate, there has been a lot of discussion about the taxation provisions it contained. At this late hour I would not weary honourable members by going through them again. However I would like to mention a couple of items. One is the old perennial of fares to and from work being allowed as a taxation deduction. The fact that this matter has been brought up many times in the past does not lessen the significance of it even now. In fact in many ways it has taken on new significance because of the growth of many of our cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. Many young people, many young married couples and people in the low income group-the 2 I have mentioned, the newly married couples and the low income group, are often coincident - have to live considerable distances from their places of employment. It is nothing abnormal for young people and people on low incomes in the great metropolitan area of Sydney to have to travel 20, 30, SO miles a day to and from work. This means that they are up for a considerable sum for fares. Nobody in this house, I am sure, needs to be told how fares have escalated in recent years. This reduces the net income which is available to low income workers, to people who, perforce of the high cost of land in the inner city areas, the high cost of housing and the high cost of rentals, have to live some distance out of the city and away from their work.

True it is that many industries are decentralising, lt would be a good thing if more did so. Possibly we should be doing more by way of taxation inducement to encourage decentralisation. Taking the position as it is, many people lose a lot of their gross income by reason of the fares that they have to pay to get to and from work. Therefore 1 put this matter up again for consideration. It has been put up quite eloquently in the past. The Government should consider doing something to provide relief to people who have to travel some distance. In fact it would be an inducement to decentralisation because, failing the provision of such a concession, people will strive to live closer to work and therefore this will force up the cost of housing and the demand for areas closer to cities.

On the other hand we have the growing incidence of employers providing certain staff with what are called fringe benefits such as company or business cars which they can use not only for business but in many cases also for their private purposes. The department has become more aware of this. This provision seems to create some sort of inequity as between one class of employer and another. Some companies go as far as providing the petrol for the car and for its maintenance even thought it is used not only for getting to and from work but for the employee’s private use. Therefore I think that in all equity there ought to be provision for people who pay substantial fares to and from work to claim this expense as a tax deduction. One of the other old perennials - I can mention it only briefly now - is the proposition that reasonable claims for ambulance fees and subscriptions to such organisations ought to be allowed as taxation deductions. I personally cannot see the logic for excluding ambulance services from the general claims that can be made for medical services. It just seems to have no logic whatsoever. Finally, I state for all those people who still talk about great taxation deductions that this year taxpayers will pay an extra $556m in taxation as compared with last year.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Progress reported.

page 1217


Ministerial Statement

Minister for the Interior · Gwydir · CP

– by leave - The Government is acting to place beyond doubt the effective operation of the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance 1972. This action followed a decision earlier today by the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in which the Supreme Court held that the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance 1972 was not notified in accordance with the requirements of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act and was not therefore in operation. The Government has therefore taken steps as a matter of urgency to remedy the defect of notification found by the Supreme Court in its decision. Notification of the Ordinance is to be gazetted tonight, and as soon as published it will be explained to any campers on the lawns outside Parliament House that the Ordinance is now effectively in operation and that they would be expected to comply with the provisions of the Ordinance. I inform the House that Mr Justice Fox in his judgment stated:

The plaintiffs have no right to go on the land or remain thereon.

As soon as the Ordinance becomes effective the campers will be asked to remove their tents. It is not intended to remove the people involved. If they wish to continue protesting in the normal way, they will be quite entitled to do so.

Melbourne Ports

– by leave - This is a highly sensitive and emotive issue in the community, and I must say with all respect that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) or his Department has made a mess of the situation. The Aboriginal embassy, or whatever we called it, stood for a long time outside the precincts of this House. It was suddenly removed under the provisions of an Ordinance which was supposed to have been made within the law. I hope my colleague, the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) will explain this, but it seems astonishing to me that the Minister has blithely come into the chamber tonight, after the Court has made a decision, and announced action which, had he made his decision properly in the first place, would never have been necessary. This matter has gone on for a long time now. It involves a lot of emotive and emotional issues. In a way I am sorry that it ever happened in the first place. But the situation has gone from bad to worse. The glib answer which has been given tonight seems to me really to belittle the total situation. I would like my colleague, the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, to expand on the matter.

Australian Capital Territory

– by leave - I regret that I did not hear the opening remarks of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt), but I gather that he informed the House of the Government’s intention to re-notify in the Gazette’ tonight or tomorrow the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance.

Mr Hunt:

– Tonight.


– Tonight. This matter has gone far beyond any question of Aboriginal land rights. It has reached the stage where the question of the abuse of Parliament is involved. There are outside now young people who regard what is happening - I am not exaggerating here - as an upsurge of the human spirit.

Mr Maisey:

– Oh!


– I am not exaggerating. Anyone who reads the judgment of 3 of the most learned judges of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory - I have read it - will read into it an abhorrence, a distaste and a rejection of this manner of making laws. They have clearly said to themselves: ‘Here is a law made while Parliament was not sitting. Here is a law - a delegated piece of legislation - which was made on a Thursday morning, when people could not obtain copies of it, and which affected fundamental rights without Parliament being given any opportunities at all to discuss it’. Drawing on the experience of thousands of years of the common law, these judges have said to themselves: ‘We object to it. We reject it. We do not like it. If we can find any way in the world of disallowing it we will do so’. Anyone who reads the judgment will see that written into every line. These judges have gone through the Ordinance with a fine tooth comb. They have said: ‘If there is any place where a ‘t’ has not been crossed or an ‘i’ has not been dotted we will find it. Because of the way in which the Government has chosen to make this law we will put the law under a magnifying glass’. That is what is implicit in the judgment. They have found a fault in the law and their finding indicates sheer incompetence in the law-making processes of the Government that goes beyond Aborigines and camping outside Parliament House. It is incompetence that will affect many of the ordinances that have been made in the Australian Capital Territory over many years.

I argued a similar point on some delegated legislation 5 or 6 years ago, which was long before 1 was elected to this Parliament. It concerned the rules made pursuant to the workers compensation ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. The case came before Mr Justice Gibbs, who is now on the High Court of Australia. He did not have to consider the argument I raised because he found the case proved on another point. This matter was being canvassed then. It is widely known that the judges of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory have said: ‘We will subject this legislation to scrutiny because we do not like this way of making laws’, and that they have done so. I remind the House that, when the first application was made to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in relation to this matter, Mr Justice Fox, I think it was, said a number of things. He said that it was a terrible way to make laws. He may not have used those exact words, but he expressed the sentiment that to wait until Parliament was in recess was a terrible way to make laws. I remind the Minister that when he was interviewed on a television programme and asked why they had waited for Parliament to rise before trying to gazette the legislation, he said that he knew the law would noi be gazetted until Parliament had risen. He said that he knew it would happen in that way. He announced to this Parliament two or three weeks before Parliament rose that he was going to do so. 1 shouted out: ‘Shame. You frightened little men.’ I repeat it now.

Parliament rose and we dispersed except for one or two of us who have connections with Canberra. They slipped it through on a Thursday morning. I had to get the information from an inspector of police that the Ordinance had been gazetted. The Supreme Court in its judgment seized upon that as a reason for its finding. I am sure thai the Minister has read the judgment. It spells out the reason for the Ordinance being invalid, for its being not operative. The Supreme Court found that not only did the Government fail to make the Ordinance with sufficient particularity but it also failed to tell people where they could obtain copies of the Ordinance.

One of the most fundamental principles of the making of laws is that citizens should know what the law is. Nothing could be more basic or fundamental to any society. This Government chose to seize upon a situation that it found distasteful. I saw nothing distasteful in it, but the Government saw it as distasteful and objected. The Government waited until Parliament was not sitting and we had dispersed. It slipped the Ordinance through, almost like a thief in the night, on a Thursday morning when no-one could find out what the law was. I said once before that the Government set the police in action as though it was sooling them on to these people, and I repeat it now. lt caused violence not only to the demonstrators who had been there for 6 months in complete peace but also to the police, to whom the Government owes a responsibility and who are my constituents.

The judgment contains an expression of distaste and abhorrence, an expression of regret that any Australian government could make a law in this manner. Underlying the judgment is the thinking of the judges that there is a better tradition, a higher law. In effect they say: ‘We will examine it and scrutinise it. If you have made any mistake we will find it.’ They found a mistake and set the Ordinance aside. They declared it invalid. It goes far beyond the question of Aboriginal land rights and becomes an abuse of this Parliament. I do not know whether the young people out there are black, blue, brindle, pink or yellow and I do not really care. I do not care what the tent is. Those people are there because they are trying to express a principle, to assert a right in which they believe. It is a bit of common ground. One does not have to go back far into history to discover the tradition of the common lands. That is what they are trying to follow.

The Minister has come into the chamber after 11 o’clock at night and has flown in the face of everything implied in the judgment of the 3 learned judges of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. He has said: ‘We are going to re-gazette it now.’ I ask the Minister whether he plans to re-gazette the thousand or more ordinances of this city on other matters. Perhaps this is a red herring, but people have been put in gaol because of the process of law making in the Australian Capital Territory in which the Government has engaged. People have had their civil rights determined on the basis of that law making process. Decisions have been made that would have been made differently if the laws had been made properly. Properly disputes have been settled in a way that would have been different had the laws been made properly. Workers compensation disputes would have been settled differently had the laws been made properly. Now the Minister says at 11.15 p.m.: We will re-gazette it’. All I can say is that it makes a mockery of this Parliament. When one hears the continual references to the decline of Parliament, surely this is evidence that supports them.

What else can one say? Young people are out there. Are we to see tomorrow members of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force told to go in there and take down those tents again? Are we to see word go out to the country: ‘Come, rally here; support us’? Will there be violence again because this Government not only does not know what to do or even how to do it but also is determined to create dissension and violence throughout the country? The Minister for the Interior is talking to one of his colleagues. Perhaps he does not want to listen. Perhaps he does not know the answers. I can imagine a government not wishing to be caught in the dilemma in which this Government finds itself. But I suggest to the Minister that no violence is being done out there on those lawns at this moment. No social mischief is taking place. They are young people who are well motivated. I am sure that the Minister, in his own mind and in the inner recesses of his thought processes, accepts this. They are doing no violence to anyone. They are creating no social mischief.

I ask the Minister for the Interior to reconsider. Leave them there. They will do no harm. They are making a political point beyond the point of Aboriginal land rights, which originally brought them there. They are now trying to assert a principle that Parliament should be supreme, that it should not be enough for the Minister to come into the Parliament and say: ‘I will give a direction that will result in a journal called the Government ‘Gazette’ being published tomorrow that will make a law that the Full Court of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory has said this afternoon was invalid’. What is democracy all about? Are we not to be allowed to discuss it? Is the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) not to be allowed to discuss it? Is the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) not to be allowed to discuss it? Is the Minister for Social Services who, I hope, has strong views on this not to be allowed to discuss it?

Mr Les Johnson:

– What about the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts?


– He sits in the back of the House and is silent. If the Minister and the Government are to make a law now in these circumstances at 11.20 at night by telling us that he has given instructions - this is as I understand him - that there shall be a notification in the Government Gazette’ tomorrow to make a law of these consequences that could produce violence, without any debate in the Parliament, they bring shame on the Parliament.

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– by leave - The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) made allegations with respect to the proposed Government action in the re-gazettal of a number of the ordinances which the Supreme Court of the Austraiian Capital Territory declared were inoperative, lt did not declare them to be invalid. Unlike the honourable member, I certainly have had a brief opportunity to look at the judgment. If he cares to do so, he will see that there is also a statement by one of the judges hearing the case to the effect that irrespective of the operation or non-operation of the Ordinance, there is power in the Government to take action to remove persons in tents or to remove the tents. The statement made by my colleague tonight was to the effect that the ordinances would be regazetted in such a way as to pick up the invalidity to which the judgment of the Supreme Court referred. Surely, if we in this country are to live within the context of what we see as the law of the land it is necessary that there be validly passed and validly presented ordinances and regulations. In order to achieve that, notice of motion has been given and was read by the Clerk of the Parliament with respect to all the regulations and a Bill will be introduced into the Parliament with respect to those.

In addition there is obviously a case, which the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt has referred to, which specifically refers to action to be taken with respect to the gazettal of an ordinance concerning the removal of tents but not people. If we are seeking in this Parliament, as I believe we should, to preserve the rights of individuals to speak to issues what we must do is to act in such a way that an expression of a point of view by a minority group, the expression of dissent or consent and the expression of approval or disapproval can be preserved, and this was implied in the statement made by the Minister for the Interior. He specifically said that the tents must be removed to comply with the law which one of the judges of the Supreme Court said could be done now under common law or could be done in accordance with the Ordinance.

Mr Enderby:

– You are misleading the House.


– Order! I think that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has been in this House long enough to know the Standing Orders and from his experience he should understand and appreciate the circumstances to which they apply.


– No action is being taken to restrain individuals from speaking or demonstrating or remaining in front of the House.

Mr Enderby:

– I rise to a point of order. ls it in order for the Minister to misquote learned judges of the Supreme Court?


– There is no substance in the point of order and the honourable member should know that.

Mr Enderby:

– Well, on another point of order: You said that I have been in this House long enough to know the procedures of the House. How long do I have to be here to put up with nonsense, hypocrisies and lies?


-Order! The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory knows that the statement that he made is completely out of order.


– The nonsense and hypocrisy and lies to which the honourable gentleman referred, I might suggest, were contained in a statement made to this House by the honourable member, if there was any such statement of that content. I was explaining to the House that no restraint is being imposed on anybody in the expression of a point of view. On the contrary, it is required that there be no tents or permanent buildings stationed on public property or on public lands in the Australian Capital Territory. That is the purport of the gazettal to which the statement by the Minister for the Interior referred. As 1 said, in the context of the judgment today one of the judges has already expressed the point of view that the power to remove tends exists irrespective of the gazettal of the Ordinance. In addition, there is a capacity within the validation of the Ordinance which it is the intention of the Government to do by the re-gazettal of that Ordinance. So there will be several alternative areas within which action can be taken. There is no intention to contain dissent. There is every intention to remove tents and to remove those permanent fixtures or quasi permanent fixtures which are stationed in front of this House.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I seek leave to make a statement on the statements made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair).

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


– I have nothing to say about the gazettal of another ordinance except that it is very likely that there will not be another IS sitting days of this Parliament and accordingly the Parliament will not be able to debate that ordinance. I rise merely to speak about the notice which the Minister for the Interior gave of his intention to move tomorrow that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a Bill for an Act relating to the notification of ordinances, regulations and certain other instruments being introduced and passed through all its stages without delay.

I take this early opportunity to make 2 requests of the Minister. I believe the requests are for information which honourable members are entitled to have if they are to give proper consideration to a Bill brought in at this notice. It ought to be quite clear to the Minister and his colleagues and their supporters that in this matter the more haste the less speed. Presumably the Bill of which the Minister has given notice is to validate actions taken in regard to ordinances, regulations and other instruments in the past. In this case the action is being taken because of a Supreme

Court judgment. Honourable members, I believe, are entitled to copies of the judgment. Three judges gave judgment. It ought to be possible for each honourable member to get a copy of those judgments before the House rises. The Minister’s Department has facilities for roneoing those judgments. Some honourable members may be content to pass a Bill on the day that it is introduced when that Bill irises from a court judgment which they have not read. I believe that we are entitled to ask the Minister to provide copies of those judgments before the House adjourns. Surely we should not have to rely on the text of the judgments in the Canberra Times’ tomorrow. If the House is to pass a Bill which will cure defects in earlier legislation, at least the House ought to know what the judges whose duty it is to interpret the legislation have said were its defects. I would have thought that it would have been reasonable for copies of the judgment to have been given to us tonight. If we arc to consider the Bill tomorrow should not we be able to read the judgments before the House meets at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow?

Mr Chipp:

– I give to the Leader of the Opposition an undertaking that he will have a copy of the judgment this evening and a further undertaking that the Bill will not be taken through the second reading stage until the Opposition has had ample opportunity to study the judgments and the Bill.


– Does the Leader of the House mean that all honourable members will have copies of the judgments in time for them to read the. judgments before debate on the Bill proceeds?

Mr Chipp:

– Yes.


– I raise a second matter. My recollection is that there were a number of arrests based, it was thought, on breaches of the Ordinance which was invalidly gazetted.

Mr Hunt:

– Not this ordinance.


– Under what Ordinance were they arrested?

Mr Hunt:

– They were arrested for resisting arrest.


– Why were they arrested?

Mr Hunt:

– Because they refused to allow the police to execute their duty in removing the tent. They were not prosecuted under the ordinance.


– People are entitled to resist an arrest for which there is no authority. I ask the Ministers to provide a list of the persons who have been arrested in connection with the structures on the lawns opposite Parliament House. Two circumstances can be involved here. The first is that persons can be arrested tinder an ordinance which was no law. If we now validate those ordinances these persons now can be charged and convicted ex post facto. The House should not be asked to pass a Bill which will make an act criminal retrospectively. Secondly, there may be cases where persons have been arrested and are disposed to take proceedings for wrongful arrest. They should not be deprived of that right which the Supreme Court judgment may say they have. It is not the proper course for this Parliament to impose criminality on people where no crime has occurred. It is not right for this Parliament to deprive people of rights which have accrued to them. Therefore I ask the Ministers whether they will allow honourable members to know the persons who have been arrested hitherto in association with the structures opposite Parliament House.

Mr Sinclair:

– The Bill when it is introduced tomorrow will refer to all Commonwealth regulations and ordinances including, I am told, some which date back in some instances as far as 1903. If the honourable gentleman is referring only to this one incident with respect to the Australian Capital Territory Trespass on Commonwealth Land Ordinance, then his request can be complied with. If he is referring to the whole broad compass of Commonwealth ordinances and regulations, of course, it would not be practical to comply with his request.


– No. I am referring to arrests which have been made, with or without authority, over the last 2 months.

Mr Sinclair:

– Yes. Before the debate on the Bill takes place tomorrow, I am prepared to give to the honourable gentleman a list of the persons who have been arrested with respect to offences on the lawns in front of Parliament House.

page 1223



Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– The Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) who makes great play on being so fair and kind and gentle towards members of the House has demonstrated exactly what he is. If there were one person who was entitled to speak on this matter, it was myself. In the previous debate I was refused the opportunity to do so. Tonight I am able to speak when we are off the air. I will not forget. Il is all right for the. honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) to laugh. He is always silent when there is any issue which is worth debating but he barks like some terrior at the behest of honourable members opposite. I will not forget what the Leader of the House did tonight. Law! What law? These men speak of law and order. They have done so at great length, for so long and with great acclaim for all the principles of law and order. What law? On 20th July at, I think, 10.45 a.m. about 50 members of the constabulary descended on half a dozen or so Aboriginal people and their twenty or thirty supporters at the behest of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) and assaulted them illegally. Every honourable member opposite should answer for that. It was a clear cut case of assault. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sincalir), or whatever he is for the time being, can wipe his brow, wring his hands and talk his head off but the fact is that everything he has said was exposed tonight as plain, inexcusable conscienceless hypocrisy. This is the case with the other Ministers too.

Law! They were assaulted. I saw them assaulted vigorously and brutally by those with all the writ of the Government behind them. They were assaulted illegally and were dragged off to prison and charged, even though the charge was never proceeded with. What form of law and order is it that honourable members opposite should say tonight: ‘We did not use that Ordinance’. They were arrested. For what were they arrested? I was there. They were standing peacefully around their tent with their arms locked together. These 50 men descended upon them with all the force and vigour of which strong powerful well uniformed men are capable. The Government cannot write that out of the record. It cannot discharge that via the printing press tomorrow morning. What it to be done opposite Parliament House? What disturbs me more than all this is the total insensitivity to what this is all about. The Aboriginal people opposite and what they represent have nothing to do with tents, flags or anything else. Something deep in the spirit of the Aboriginal people is involved here. Those people who were ingenious enough to think of this operation in the first instance did so on the clear cut issue that they wanted some recognition by the people of Australia through their Government on land rights. This is a special case. It is of no use saying that we cannot have everybody camping over there in Parkes Place. They are not camping in Parkes Place. They have put up a symbol of what this matter is all about. I took delegations to the Minister. On the whole the Minister, as are most members of the Government, when plain and straight forward discussion takes place they arc straight forward people. But I could see as we sat there and discussed this matter that 2 totally different concepts were being discussed that day. On the one hand the Minister said: ‘Well, you can have a lease’. What lease? On the other hand, one person in the delegation said: ‘You cannot lease your own’. The fact is that we have to find some different concept.

We have to offer to the Aboriginal people a different view in relation to leasehold, freehold or any other sort of tenure. Surely it is not beyond our wit, with all the resources at our disposal, to do that instead of descending on them tomorrow morning with another act of governmental thuggery. That is all I ask. The discussion by the 2 Ministers tonight is totally irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the issue. All I ask is that in this case instead of the Government talking law and order, throwing its weight about and acting as if il owned this place as its own private Parliament, the Government be sensitive to what this issue is all about. I ask the Government to negotiate with the young men opposite and the people whom they represent. For once see what can be done by establishing a rapport with people rather than exercising power over them. Somehow in this civilisation which we are supposed to be developing we have to find some different way of negotiating between government and the governed. There is a classic opportunity opposite. The Government does not need to beat up these people. They are not that sort of people. Is it not possible just to sit down and work this out? 1 know from all my experience that a few weeks ago some peace with honour could have been discovered. I do not know whether it can be done now but it is time for the Government to stop in its tracks, to forget about exercising power, and to start to exercise tact and discretion and just be sensitive to human dignity and the long felt needs of the Aboriginal people for a change.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.

page 1225


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Medical Benefits (Question No. 5001)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. Of the 2,333,000 unmatched services referred to in the 1970-71 report of the DirectorGeneral of Health how many received (a) Commonwealth and (b) fund benefits only.
  2. What were the main categories which received (a) Commonwealth and (b) fund benefits and what was the number of unmatched services in each category,
  3. How many claims for refunds for physiotherapy treatment were received by medical benefits organisations during each of the last 3 years.
  4. How many of these claims were refused completely (a) because the organisation granted no refund or (b) because the maximum number of claims per year had been exceeded.
  5. What was the total refund given by medical benefit organisations for physiotherapy treatment during each of the last 3 years.
  6. Which of the registered medical benefit organisations make refunds for physiotherapy treatment.
  7. In respect of each of these organisations (a) what is the benefit, (b) what are the conditions and (c) what was the cost to the fund during each of the last 3 years.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

    1. Commonwealth benefits only- 799,000
    2. Fund benefits only- 1,534,000
  1. (a)-

  1. (b)-
  1. and (4) Apart from several of the smaller medical benefit organisations, no record is kept by the organisations of the number of claims received and/or refused payment Accordingly, the information requested in respect of (3) and (4) is unavailable.
  2. The following information contains certain approximations, as it was necessary for some organisations to provide estimated figures because they do not keep separate records of the amount of benefits paid from their ancillary funds for physiotherapy treatment. In two of the States (New South Wales and Queensland) the larger organisations were able to provide the information but not all the smaller organisations were able to do so.

It should also be noted that several registered medical benefits organisations provide physiotherapy benefits from an ‘unregistered ancillary’ or other services’ fund. However, as the operations of those funds are outside the ambit of the National Health Act, the figures quoted do not include physiotherapy benefits paid by those organisations.

  1. The names of the registered medical benefits organisations which make payments in respect of physiotherapy treatment are as follows:

New South Wales

*Australian Chilling and Freezing Co. Limited Medical Benefit Scheme;

*Australian Conference Association Limited;

Australian Holy Catholic Guild of St. Mary and St. Joseph Registered Friendly Benefit Society;

*Commercial Banking Company Health Society;

*Commonwealth Bank Health Society;

*E.R. & S. Hospital and Medical Club;

Grand United Order of Oddfellows, Friendly Society of New South Wales;

Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society;

Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia;

Hunter Medical Benefit Fund Limited;

Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the State of New South Wales:

*Local Government Employees’ Medical and Hospital Club;

*Lysaght Hospital and Medical Club;

*M.M. Hospital and Medical Club;

Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows, Friendly Society, in New South Wales;

Mechanics’ Medical Assurance Scheme;

Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited;

Newcastle Industrial Benefits Limited;

New South Wales District, No. 85, Independent Order of Rechabites, Sal ford Unity, Friendly Society;

*New South Wales Teachers’ Federation Health Society;

Phoenix Welfare Association Limited;

Post Office Mutual Benefits Society of New South Wales;

Protestant Alliance Friendly Society of Australasia Grand Council of New South Wales; *Reserve Bank Health Society;

South Coast Medical Benefits Fund;

Store Hospital and Medical Fund;

United Ancient Order of Druids’, Registered Friendly Society, Grand Lodge of New South Wales;

Western District Medical Benefits Fund.


Ancient Order of Foresters in Victoria Friendly Society;

Army Health Benefits Society;

Australian Natives’ Association;

Geelong Medical and Hospital Benefits Association;

Grand United Hospital Benefit Society (Incorporating The Grand United Order of Oddfellows) in Victoria Friendly Society;

Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society Victoria District No.1;

Hospital Benefits Association;

Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Victoria;

Latrobe Valley Hospitals and Health Services Association:

Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows in Victoria *Mildura District Hospital and Medical Fund;

Tramways Benefit Society;

Protestant Alliance Friendly Society of Australasia Grand Council of Victoria;

United Ancient Order of Druids;

Victoria District Independent Order of Rechabites Friendly Society:

Yallourn Medical and Hospital Society.


Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society;

Grand United Order of Oddfellows Friendly Society;

Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefits Society, Queensland District No.5;

Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited;

Protestant Alliance Friendly Society of Australasia, in Queensland (The Grand Council);

Queensland Branch of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows Friendly Society;

Queensland District, No. 87, Independent Order of Rechabites, Friendly Society:

*Queensland Teachers’ Union Health Society.

South Australia

Albert District No. 83, Independent Order of Rechabites, Salford Unity;

Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society;

Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows”. Friendly Society in South Australia:

Mutual Hospital Association Limited:

National Health Services Association of South Australia:

S.A. Police Department Employees’ Hospital Fund (Medical Benefits Fund);

South Australian District, No. 81, Independent Order of Rechabites Friendly Society.

Western Australia

*Friendly Societies Health Services;

Goldfields Medical Fund (Incorporated);

Government Employees’ Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund Incorporated;

Hospital Benefit Fund of Western Australia Incorporated;

Warren Medical and Hospital Fund Inc.


*Associated Pulp and Paper Makers’ Council Medical Benefits Fund;

Coats Patons Employees’ Medical Benefit Association;

*Electrolytic Zinc Employees’ Medical Union;

Friendly Health Services;

Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited;

*Queenstown Medical Union Medical Benefits Fund;

*Rosebery Hospital and Medical Benefits Society;

St. Luke’s Medical and Hospital Benefits Association;

Tasmanian Government Insurance Office Medical Benefits Plan;

Untied Ancient Order of Druids Grand Lodge of Tasmania.

*These organisations provide physiotherapy benefits from an ‘unregistered ancillary’ or ‘other services’ fund.

Medical and Hospital Benefits Funds (Question No. 5072)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. What are the names of the two (a) medical and (b) hospital benefits organisations in each State with the greatest membership.
  2. Which of these organisations makes provision in their constitutions for the election of contributor representatives to their governing bodies.
  3. In each of the organisations what is the number of (a) people and (b) elected contributor representatives on their governing body.
Dr Forbes:

– The first footnote to the reply to the above question published in Hansard on 31st May 1972, at pages 3419- 3420, is incomplete. The footnote should read -

*The Council of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia consists of 24 persons, 12 of whom are nominated by the State Executive Committee of New South Wales, 8 by the State Executive Committee of Queensland and 4 by the State Executive Committee of Tasmania.

Subsidised Health Benefits Scheme (Question No. 5108)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. What was the means test for eligibilityof low income families for the subsidised health benefits scheme when the scheme first came into operation.
  2. What was the (a) Commonwealth minimum wage as defined by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and (b) minimum wage in each State as defined by the State wage-fixing authority at that time.
  3. On what dates was the means test for the scheme subsequently altered, and what was the new income allowable after each alteration.
  4. On what dates were the minimum wages in the Commonwealth and States subsequently altered, and what was the new minimum wage in each case.
  5. For how long has the present means test for the scheme been in operation, and how much lower is this figure than the minimum wage now operating in the Commonwealth and each State.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) (a) The Bill to amend the National Health Act to provide for the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan was introduced in the House of Representatives on 24th September 1969, at which time the weekly rates of minimum wage for adult males, as defined by the Commonwealth conciliation and Arbitration Commission, were: Sydney $39.60; Melbourne $38.80; Brisbane$38.40; Adelaide $38.40; Perth$38.90; Hobart $39.50. In accordance with the Government’s policy that the eligibility limit be fixed with regard to the average of the Commonwealth minimum wages for each State, the gross income level which determined eligibility under the Plan was fixed at $39 per week. The amending Act was proclaimed on 27th September 1969 and, to allow sufficient time for the necessary administrative arrangements to be made, the starting date for the Plan was determined as 1st January 1970.

The rates of minimum wage were amended as from 19th December 1969, and became: Sydney $43.10; Melbourne $42.30; Brisbane $40.60: Adelaide $41.90; Perth $42.40; Hobart $43. It was not possible to amend the eligibility level for low income families until the following parliamentary session as the change involved an amendment to the National Health Act. The revised eligibility limits applied from 1st July 1970, together with other changes as outlined below.

  1. (b) At 1st January 1970, 4 States had tribunals which prescribed minimum wages for adult males similar in concept to the abovementioned Commonwealth ‘minimum wage’. In these States the rates then were: Victoria $42.30; South Australia $41.90; Western Australia $42.40; Tasmania $43. The first prescription of a similar ‘minimum wage’ for adult males in Queensland State awards was made on 8th May 1970. On that date the rate to operate in the Southern Division - Eastern District, including Brisbane, from the beginning of the first pay period commencing on or after 8th May 1970, was $42.80. State awards in New South Wales do not include provisions prescribing minimum wage rates for adult males similar in concept tothe Commonwealth award provision.
  2. The eligibility limits for low income families under the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan have been altered on 3 occasions, 1st July 1970, 1st March 1971 and 5th June 1972. As from 1st July 1970, the Government decided to provide also graduated assistance toward the costs of contributing for health insurance to 2 additional groups of low income families. Under the new arrangements eligible persons are entitled to coverage under the Plan by the payment of one-third or two-thirds of normal health fund contributions.

Income limits in respect of the 3 groups are set at weekly figures for applicants of less than pensionable age and at yearly amounts for those of pensionable age. Details of the applicable limits, together with effective dates, are:

  1. Subsequent dates upon which rates of ‘minimum wage’ in the Commonwealth and States have been altered and the amount payable from that date or in the case of those marked with an asterisk (*), from the beginning of the first payperiod commencing on or after that date, are set out below:
  1. As indicated earlier, the eligibility limits for low income families under the Plan have recently been adjusted in line with the 1972 increase in the Commonwealth ‘minimum wage’.

General Practitioners (Question No. 5294)

Mr Berinson:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

How many general practitioner services subject to National Health Scheme rebate were on account of (a) surgery consultations and (b) home visits in (i) the Commonwealth and (ii) each State and Territory, in the latest 12 months for which figures are available.

Dr Forbes:

– The Minister for Health has advised that the footnotes (a) and (b) to the reply to this question, published in Hansard on 31st May 1972 at pages 3420- 1, are incorrect. The correct position is that the figures for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, which are not available separately, are included in the figures for the States in which the contributor’s organisation is located.

Hospital and Medical Funds (Question No. 5677)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

In relation to the voluntary health insurance scheme, will the Minister state for each of the last 5 years (a) the sum provided as Commonwealth subsidy (i) to hospital funds, (ii) to medical funds, (iii) to pensioner medical services, (iv) to pensioner hospital services, (v) to the Repatriation Local Medical Officer scheme, (vi) to allocations covering benefits provided and administration costs incurred in the provision of the subsidised health insurance scheme and (vii) in total, (b) the amounts provided as benefits from (i) hospital funds anl (ii) medical funds, net of any transfers for the subsidised health insurance scheme or other Commonwealth source by the Commonwealth Government, and these amounts in total, (c) the fees met by insured members of voluntary health insurance funds for (i) hospital costs and (ii) medical costs covered by voluntary health insurance and (d) the amounts involved in (i) operation costs of (A) hospital and (B) medical insurance funds and (ii) allocations to reserves of (A) hospital and (B) medical insurance funds, and these amounts in total.

Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Papua New Guinea Enterprises: Government Shareholdings (Question No. 5742)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:

Will he bring up to date the information which his predecessor gave on 6th May 1971 (Hansard, page 2844) about shares held and directors appointed by the Commonwealth, the Administration and their authorities in Papua New Guinea enterprises.

Mr Peacock:
Minister for External Territories · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Additional information relating to changes in shares held and directors appointed, since 6th May 1971, by the Commonwealth, the Administration and their authorities in Papua New Guinea enterprises is set out below:


The Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea has taken over the Commonwealth’s share in Commonwealth-New Guinea Timbers Ltd. Reorganisation of the company together with a new valuation of the Commonwealth’s former interest in the company has resulted in a reduction in the shares held from 750,001 shares of $2.00 each, being just in excess of 50 oer cent, to 525,000 shares of $1.00 each or 35 per cent. The number of directors on the board of the company has been reduced from 3 to 2. (Further details are given under (C) (ii) below).


The Administration continues to hold 25,000,000 shares in Bougainville Copper Pty Ltd. However 5,000,000 additional shares were issed by Bougainville Copper Pty Ltd and the Administra tion’s holding now represents a 19.2 per cent equity. Of the additional 5,000,000 shares, 1,000,000 were issued to the Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea. Thus the combined Administration/Investment Corporation equity holding in the company remains at 20 per cent.

The Administration’s representative on the Board of The Bougainville Copper Pty Ltd, Mr D. Morland, retains his directorship but his designation has been changed to Assistant Director (Central Projects Division), Office of Planning and Co-ordination.


The Papua New Guinea Development Bank has increased its holding in Smuggler Motel Pty Ltd from 16,000 shares at $1.00 or 10 per cent to 25,400 shares at $1.00 or 15 per cent

Mr R. J. Hill (Senior Field Officer with the Bank) has replaced Mr I. C. Dickson as a director on the Board of Allied Enterprises Ltd.

The Bank has taken up 6,000 shares at $1.00 representing 77 per cent of total equity in Hammond Motu Pty Ltd. lt has one director (Mr R. J. Hill, Senior Field Officer with the Bank) on the board of 7 (i.e. 14 per cent).

The Administration’s representative on the board of New Britain Palm Oil Development Ltd, (in which the Papua New Guinea Development Bank holds 50 per cent of the shares) Mr A. P. J. Newman, has been replaced by Mr D. Morland, Assistant Director (Central Projects Division), Office of Planning and Co-ordination.

Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea: Investment Corporation of Papua New Guinea now beneficially owns shares in 5 enterprises in Papua New Guinea.

The answers to parts (1), (2), (3) and (4) of the original question in relation to the Investment Corporation are set out in the table below:

Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs (Question No. 5776)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Minister repesenting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. Did the report from the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs, dated June 1970, recommend at page 39, paragraph 127, that excess funds held in reserves by medical and hospital funds should be transferred to a stabilisation account after an agreed period.
  2. Has the Government accepted this recommendation; if not, why not.
  3. What legislative authority has the Government available, or would it require, to effect this proposal.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. and (3) Pending final consideration of the recommendation, there has been no examination of the nature of the required legislative authority,

Non-Government Schools (Question No. 5820)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:

On what increase in numbers and percentages at (a) primary and (b) secondary level in (i) Catholic schools and (ii) other private schools in (A) each State and Territory and (B) the Commonwealth between 1971 and 197S were the statements of their financial needs, as set out in the summarised survey that he tabled on 5th October 1971, based.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The tables below show the enrolment projections made by those independent schools whose completed questionnaires were received in time to be incorporated in the report of the Nation-Wide Survey of Educational Needs - Information Furnished by Non-government Schools tabled on 5th October 1971. Table 11 which relates to nonCatholic independent schools excludes figures for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory since (i) Non-Catholic independent schools in the Northern Territory were not included in the Survey as they, receive special assistance from the Commonwealth for Aboriginal education, (ii) There are only 2 non-Catholic independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and publication of data for such a small number would breach the Commonwealth’s undertaking that data concerning individual schools taking part in the Survey would not be made public.

School Building Design (Question No. 5848)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for

Education and Science, upon notice:

What has been the nature and result of the consultations between the Commonwealth and the States on matters such as school building design (Hansard. 5th October 1971, page 1855).

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I suggested in my statement of 5th October last year that it would be of benefit if closer consultation could take place between the States and the Commonwealth on matters such as building design. Since that time, the possible establishment of a centralised building research group to facilitate the exchange of building design information has been discussed by the State Ministers for Education and myself, and also by the State Directors-General of Education and the head of my Department. Arrangements are already in effect whereby the Educational Facilities Research Laboratory within the Victorian Education Department is acting as a clearing house for relevant materials, and officers have been appointed by each State and the Commonwealth for the receipt and despatch of this material. There have also been interstate visits by State and Commonwealth officers immediately concerned with building design matters to exchange information. I expect that these arrangements will be reviewed at the conference of Directors-General of Education this month.

Australian Capital Territory: Physiotherapists (Question No. 5926)

Mr Enderby:

asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. What stage has been reached in the preparation of an ordinance regulating physiotherapists in the Australian Capital Territory.
  2. Is it a fact that the first draft ordinance was prepared as long ago as 1962 and that no final ordinance has yet been promulgated.
  3. What are the reasons for the delay in enacting a physiotherapists ordinance.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (3) The desirability of legislation to regulate the practice of physiotherapy in the Australian Capital Territory is accepted. However, the considerable amount of work that remains to be done by the Department of Health and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel cannot be accorded as high a priority as a number of more pressing legislative tasks. 1 am not aware of any immediate problems caused by the lack of the proposed legislation but, nonetheless, the work will be put in train as soon as practicable.
  2. Yes.

Whaling (Question No. 6035)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

What measures have been taken by (a) Australian or (b) international bodies to conserve and develop whale stocks in the (i) Antarctic (ii) Indian and (iii) South Pacific Oceans since his predecessor’s answer on 22nd October 1970 (Hansard, page 27S1).

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (b) Australia has continued to participate in the work of the International Whaling Commission and has taken action in accordance with the Commission’s decision reached at its 1971 meeting to implement an International Observer Scheme involving the exchange of observers on factory ships and land stations. Australia and South Africa were the first countries to sign an agreement and exchange observers. All other member countries have now followed this lead and agreements have been signed and observers exchanged in respect of whaling operations in the North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Agreement has been signed and observers will be exchanged on the factory ships operating in the Antarctic in 1972-73.

In addition at its 1972 meeting the International Whaling Commission took a number of very important decisions which have cleared the way for the rational utilisation of the whole resources. As a result of these decisions all whale management has been placed on a species basis wilh quotas being set below the sustainable yield for each specie, including the sperm whales in the Southern Hemisphere, still being commercially taken.

Also the time limits placed on the complete protection of blue and humpback whales in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans have been removed and these 2 species together with the grey whales and right whales are now fully protected for an unlimited period of time.

Nuclear Treaties (Question No. 6043)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. What treaties on (a) nuclear weapons and (b) nuclear energy have yet to be ratified by Australia.
  2. Which countries have so far ratified each such treaty,
Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a) The following nuclear weapons treaties have been signed but not yet ratified by Australia:

    1. Treaty on the non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (signed by Australia 27th February 1970).
    2. Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other

Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and in the subsoil. Therefore (signed by Australia 11th February 1971).

  1. Australia has not yet ratified the following nuclear energy treaty: International Labour Organisation Convention No. US - Radiation Protection Convention 1960.

    1. The following countries have ratified the abovementioned conventions or have become parties by, accession or succession:
    1. (a) (i) Afghanistan, Austria, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, Ghana, German Democratic Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya,, Khmer Republic, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho. Liberia, Malagasy Republic, Malaysia, Maldive Republic, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, ‘Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Somalia, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, USSR, UK, USA, Upper Volta, Uraguay, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zaire.
    2. Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Byelorussian SSR, Canada, Republic of China, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Malta, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Poland, Swaziland, Sweden, Togo, Tunisia Ukraine SSR, USSR, UK, USA.
    3. (b) Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Ecuador, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine SSR, USSR, UAR, UK.

Greek Marriages (Question No. 6047)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

What has been the date, nature and outcome of the attempts to have the Greek Government recognise marriages which have been validly performed in Australia? (Hansard, 16th May 1972, page 2524.)

Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

As I stated inter alia in my reply to the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) on 16th May, I asked the Australian Ambassador to Greece for some further advice. From the advice given 1 am of the opinion that the Government is not in a position to take action which interferes in Greek domestic law, or in an internal dispute between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Autocephalic Orthodox Church. Any disabilities which arise from the failure of the Greek authorities to recognise the marriages would be a matter for consideration by Greek Diplomatic or Consular representatives in Australia.

France: Nuclear Tests (Question No. 6048)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

Can he say, when and why France transferred the nuclear tests from the Sahara to the South Pacific.

Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Between I960 and 1965 France conducted a series of nuclear weapons tests in Algeria: in the Sahara at Reggane and in the Hoggar mountains.

The military clauses of the 1962 Evian agreements, setting out the terms of Algerian independence, granted France the continued use of military installations in Algeria for nuclear testing until 1967. Following a nuclear weapons test on 18th March 1963, the Algerian National Assembly resolved lo seek a revision of the military clauses of the Evian agreements.

During debate on the presentation of Defence Estimates to the French National Assembly on 8th November 1963, M. Messmer, then Minister of the Armed Forces, said that under the Evian Agreements between France and Algeria testing grounds for nuclear weapons and missiles in the Sahara were available to France only until 1967. M. Messmer said that the French Government had begun looking for new sites in 1962, and work had already begun on the new nuclear centre in French Polynesia.

The first French Nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific were held m 1966.

Cattle: Tuberculosis (Question No. 6148)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Mininter for Primary Industry, upon notice:

What progress has been made in:

  1. developing a national scheme of compensation associated with a total condemnation of all cattle either reacting to test oi showing T.B. lesions and.
  2. extending the national T.B. eradication programme.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Under amendments to the United States meat inspection regulations earlier this year, the United States domestic industry and all countries exporting meat to the United States may only pass for human consumption, without restriction, carcases found to be completely free from tuberculosis at post-mortem inspection; and then only if the animal was not identified as a reactor to a tuberculin test.

Following these U.S. amendments and associated changes in Australian inspection requirements, the Commonwealth in conjunction with the States considered:

  1. the need for intensification of the Campaign against bovine tuberculosis, and
  2. the problem of compensation for cattle condemned either as reactors to a tuberculin test or as showing T.B. lesions.

    1. In relation to the Campaign

The National Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign has been operating successfully since it began in January 1970. Annual expenditure, which is financed from Commonwealth and State resources, has expanded in each year, and in the period 1st January 1970 to 30th June 1972, the Commonwealth contributed just over $4m.

There were eradication programmes in the States prior to January 1970. With the start of the national campaign, the Commonwealth agreed to match the combined expenditure by mainland States from their own resources, to make a special arrangement with Tasmania in view of its previous successful efforts which bad virtually freed that State of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis, and to meet costs In the mainland Territories.

In view of the situation following the amendments to the United States inspection requirements, the Commonwealth indicated to the States its willingness to intensify the national campaign against the 2 diseases. The Commonwealth has made provision in the Budget for an expenditure of $4ni in 1972-73, that is about the same amount for one year as it contributed in the previous 2 and a half years.

  1. In relation to Compensation

For many years State authorities have had schemes, covering a range of cattle diseases, which enable producers to be paid compensation if their animals are condemned on account of disease. These schemes have been effective in helping to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis and other diseases.

The schemes operate under State legislation and the funds are predominantly met from levies on producers.

The legislation in the States has been developed to meet particular needs; as a result the diseases that are covered are not the same in each State and also the regulations relating to levies vary from State to State.

As regards cattle condemned because of tuberculosis, all States with the exception of Queensland currently have arrangements to pay compensation although the arrangements in Western Australia relate only to the southern part of the State. In Queensland there was a compensation scheme for tuberculosis in dairy cattle but it terminated on 30tb June 1972.

After careful consideration of a number of proposals, including a proposal for a national scheme, the Government decided that compensation arrangements remained a matter for State authorities.

The Commonwealth is pursuing urgently the development of a suitable scheme for the Northern Territory which is of course its particular responsibility.

States Grants Rural Reconstruction Act (Question No. 6175)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. What was the number and percentage of processed applications for (a) debt reconstruction, (b) farm build-up and (c) rehabilitation in (i) each Slate and Territory and (ii) the Commonwealth that were (A) approved and (B) rejected by 31st July 1972.
  2. What were the average levels of loans ot each kind in (a) each State and Territory and (b) the Commonwealth.
  3. What sum was available for reconstruction under the States Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act in (a) each State and Territory and (b) the Commonwealth, and what amount and percentage of this had been (i) committed and (ii) advanced by 31st July 1972 or the latest date for which figures are readily available.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is set out in the attached table which provides information supplied by the State Reconstruction Authorities in respect of the period from the inception of the scheme up until the end of July.

Naturalisation (Question No. 6149)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

Will he follow the practice of past and present Ministers for Trade and Industry and ensure that officers posted overseas to represent Australia by his Department are Australian Citizens or have sufficient interest in the country they are repesenting to signify their intention to become citizens as soon as legally possible (question No.5581, Hansard, 15th August 1972).

Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The policy followed in this matter is the same as that stated in answer to the honourable member’s question 5581 (15th August 1972).

Fokker Friendship Aircraft; Replacement (Question No. 6197)

Mr Hansen:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

  1. Have any of the domestic airlines operating Fokker Friendship aircraft indicated the type of aircraft which is being considered as a replacement.
  2. If so, will the aircraft be pure jet.
  3. When is this change likely to occur.
  4. Will there be a need to upgrade existing airport runways and other facilities being used by Fokker Friendship aircraft.
Sir Reginald Swartz:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: (1), (2) and (3) MacRobertson Miller Airline Services, operating in Western Australia, has entirely replaced its Fokker Friendship fleet with pure jet Fokker (F.28) aircraft. The extent to which Fokker Friendships are replaced on other services by jet aircraft will depend upon the particular circumstances of the various route networks. The F.28 and other available medium sized jet aircraft such as the BAC 1-11 and the Boeing 737 are all larger than the F.27 and traffic development needs to occur, or to be reliably anticipated, if the larger jet aircraft are to operate economically at similar service frequencies. In these circumstances it is difficult to predict when further replacements of F.27’s with jet aircraft will take place but it is the airlines’ practice to keep fleet requirements under review.

  1. Many aerodromes now serviced by Fokker Friendship aircraft would require upgrading to enable them to accommodate medium jet aircraft. This applies to both aircraft movement area and terminal area facilities. It is Government policy to finance the upgrading of the aircraft movement area and to join with Local Governments in upgrading the terminal area on a 50/50 basis wherever it is agreed that introduction of these jet services is justified.

Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport (Question No. 6194)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

Has any survey been conducted to determine the effects on beaches around Botany Bay and Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport Runway 16/34 when the bay is deepened to 70 feet.

Sir Reginald Swartz:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

You are referring to a project which is under the control of the New South Wales Maritime Services Board to whom the question may be more appropriately addressed. It is known that each step of the project is being subjected to model tests. No adverse effects on the 16/34 Runway are expected.

Consular Privileges and Immunities Bill (Question No. 6217)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for

Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. When were the first and the last of the consultations with the States to which he referred in replying to my speech on the Consular Privileges and Immunities Bill (Hansard, 16th August 1972, page 258).
  2. Why were consultations with the States not mentioned in answering my earlier questions on the implementing of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Hansard, 28th April 1971, page 2211 and 9th March 1972, page 870.)
Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Consultations with the States first took place on 8th August 1963: the most recent communication was on 14th August 1972.
  2. While consultations with the States were not specifically referred to in previous replies they were comprehended in the answers given.

Lamb Prices (Question No. 6252)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that wholesale prices of lamb have risen by, up to 10c per pound over prices prevailing in August 1971 and butcher shop prices have risen in the same period by as much as 12c per pound.
  2. Will he provide urgently, information as to the average prices received by fat lamb producers in each State during June, July and August 1972 the average to include the entire range of lambs available.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. As the Commonwealth Statistician does not publish a wholesale price index for meat and the latest retail prices relate to the June quarter of this year it is not possible to answer the first part of the question for Australia as a whole. However, information on wholesale and retail prices for lamb in New South Wales up to mid-August (latest available) were obtained from the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and these have been used to give an indication of the national situation.

Wholesale prices for light lambs and suckers at Homebush saleyards show that the average July 1972 price was 3.06c/lb above July 1971.

Final figures are not available for August this year however, details for the first 2 weeks show the Sydney wholesale price for light lambs (under 36 lb) was on the order of 6c/ lb above the August 1971 level.

An examination of retail price levels for different cuts of lamb show that in July, 1972 the average monthly price of legs and leg chops were 7c/lb and 6c/lb, respectively, above year earlier levels. However, the price of loin chops, neck chops, and sides were1c/lb, 2c/Ib and1c/lb respectively, below year earlier levels whilst the price of fore-quarters in July 1972 remained at the same level as in July 1971. The New South Wales Department of Agriculture did not have details of retail prices for August 1972 but it is expected that increases in average monthly retail prices for lamb will occur and will be in excess of August 1971 levels.

Lebanon (Question No. 6227)

Mr Garrick:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Australian Jewish News of Nth July 1972 in which Dr El-Hafez, President of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Lebanese Parliament, and at that date a guest of his Department, in commenting on accusations that armed men, using Lebanon as a security haven, launch attacks on Israel or areas controlled by Israel, was reported as saying that there are Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon but denying that they, are terrorists, that there is a resistance movement which has a right to fight for Palestine but denying that they receive help from Government of Lebanon and denying also that the Government has any responsibility to police their infiltration into neighbouring ‘occupied Palestine’ which he believes is the responsibility of the Israeli Police.
  2. If so, does the Government support these views.
  3. Has the Government indicated its support for the view that the Government of Lebanon is entitled to shelter the so-called resistance movement without any obligation to prevent their incursion into the neighbouring territory of Israel and their return to the sanctuary of Lebanese territory.
  4. Has the Government considered whether the attitude attributed to Dr El-Hafez on the inadmissibility, of intervention in the domestic affairs of states and the protection of their independence and sovereignty is contrary to the Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly, 1965, Article 2; if so, what view did he take.
Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The report has been drawn to my attention.
  2. , (3) and (4) It is not the Government’s practice to prejudice its good relations with the Arab States and Israel by offering partisan comment or seeking to apportion blame for incidents arising out of the Arab-Israeli dispute. The Government’s position is well understood by both parties to the dispute, and presumably also by the honourable member.

Egg Marketing (Question No. 6278)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. Did the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia on 25th May 1972 seek Commonwealth assistance to guarantee egg producers a return of their cost of production.
  2. If so, was a guaranteed return of 28c per dozen sought.
  3. Would a guarantee at this rate require a grant from the Commonwealth of $3,500,000.
  4. Did he state on 23rd August 1972 (Hansard, page 549) that the basis on which the Government made its judgment to offer 8750,000 to the egg industry was the provision for growers of the return per dozen which they asked for.
  5. If so, why has he chosen not to support the egg marketing authorities’ call for a guaranteed return on their cost of production.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) On 25th May 1972 the President of the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia (CEMA) presented to me a submission on behalf of the CEMA for the provision of financial assistance to the egg industry. The submission did not seek a guaranteed return of the cost of producing eggs. The figure of 28c per dozen mentioned by the honourable member was a figure quoted in the CEMA submission as the return generally accepted to be the minimum required to maintain producers on their farms. However the CEMA did not tie its request to any specific producer return.
  2. lt is not possible for the Commonwealth to determine how much finance would be required to enable egg producers to be paid 28c per dozen for their eggs, as the State Egg Marketing Boards have the authority to fix egg prices. With the amount of assistance provided by the Commonwealth for 1972-73 I believe that State Boards will be able to budget for a producer return very close to 28c per dozen.
  3. and (5) As stated above the C.E.M.A. submission did not seek a specific return. The CEMA submission was on the basis that the expected reduction in the rates of export returns for 1972-73 would cause a fall of about 1.5 cents per dozen in net returns to producers. The CEMA considered that it should be possible to recoup this 1.5 cents per dozen for producers by a Commonwealth grant of S3.5m to provide for a corresponding reduction in the rate of hen levy - i.e. a reduction equivalent to 1.5 cents per dozen eggs. The Government examined this approach and came to the conclusion that the industry’s request for about 1.5 cents per dozen increase in export returns could be achieved in a different manner with a much lower expenditure. Tile Government decided that instead of reducing the rate of hen levy by the equivalent of about 1.5 cents per dozen, it would pay $750,000 into the Poultry Industry Trust Fund and thus enable producer returns to be increased by 1.5 cents per dozen in 1972-73.

As I have previously informed the House the provision of this financial assistance is conditional of the States’ agreeing to impose production controls in the egg industry.

UNESCO Education Congress (Question No. 4474)

Mr Enderby:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. Will the Unesco Education Congress be held in Australia in 1973?
  2. Is the Congress considered to be important by the Government?
  3. Will Australia be represented at the Congress?
  4. Will the Government assist in financing the Congress; if not, why not?
  5. If so, (a) to what extent will the Government assist the Congress and (b) what percentage of the overall assistance provided by those countries represented at the Congress will be provided by the Australian Government?
Mr N H Bowen:

– The following reply has been prepared in consultation with the Minister for Education and Science:

The proposal for a Unesco Education Congress to be held m Australia originated with the Australian Unesco Committee for Education. This Committee is one of the specialist Committees which, through the Australian National Advisory Committee for Unesco, advise the Government on Australian participation in Unesco activities. The Congress was proposed not as an international meeting with representation from overseas countries but as a national activity.

The Congress Planning Committee based its proposals on substantial support from nonGovernment sources which was not forthcoming. The Planning Committee then approached the Government for a substantial financial contribution. The contribution sought by the Planning Committee whs, however, well above the level of support normally given for particular Unesco activities and the Government was not able to agree to the request. The Planning Committee has now abandoned its original proposals.

Considerable importance is attached by the Government to the programme of Unesco activities carried out in Australia. In reaching its decision on the Congress proposal, the Government took into account the need to provide balanced support for significant Australian Unesco activities in science and culture in addition to education.

In conjunction with its proposals for a Congress, the Planning Committee also put forward a related proposal for an expert Conference on Evaluation in Education. The Minister for Education and Science has indicated that he is prepared to consider financial support for the expert Conference which is expected to be held under the auspices of the Australian Unesco Committee for Education in 1973.

Repatriation (Question No. 5160)

Mr Keogh:

asked the Minister for Repa triation, upon notice:

  1. What is the estimated number of (a) Boer War and (b) World War I veterans who are still living.
  2. What is the estimated cost of providing Repatriation Hospital treatment to any of these veterans who are now, or may become in the future, ill oi disabled, whether their medical condition is war caused or not.
  3. Can he say whether it is the policy of the United States Government to provide all war veterans, including those who served in Vietnam, free treatment in their military hospitals without regard to whether their illness or disability was war caused or not.
Mr Holten:
Minister for Repatriation · INDI, VICTORIA · CP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a) Less than 200: (b) 66,700.
  2. In respect of those not currently eligible - $3.73m per annum.
  3. I understand from the United States Veterans Administration that the situation is as follows:

Under current legislation the Administration is authorised to furnish hospital care to veterans who served in the Armed Forces and were discharged under other than dishonourable conditions. Veterans having service-connected disabilities are accorded priority for admission. Veterans without service-connected disability and under 65 years of age who had honourable service during a war period or since 31st January 1955, are eligible for necessary admission provided a bed is available and they indicate their inability to defray the expenses of hospital care in a community hospital. The Administration is also authorised to provide hospital care for a nonservice-connected disability of any veteran who is 65 years of age or older, without regard to his ability to defray hospital expenses.

Education (Question No. 5383)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:

  1. How many (a) primary students, (b) secondary students and (c) students of both categories are there in (i) each and (ii) all of the schools for which details have been sought in Question No. 5360.
  2. What sum has been paid by the Commonwealth to (a) each and (b) all of these schools in per capita grants up to 31st December 1971.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) The information sought by the hon.ourable member in respect of schools listed in his Question No. 5360 was included in the report which I tabled in the Parliament on 31st August 1972, pursuant to Section 7 of the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act 1969.

European Economic Community: Britain’s Entry (Question No. 5948)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to a statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Mr Geoffrey Rippon, in the British House of Commons on 15th May 1972, regarding transitional arrangements for Australia on Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community.
  2. If so, did Mr Rippon state that there are safeguards in Protocol 16, and there are satisfactory arrangements which have been developed for consultations with the Australian Government and the Australian people.
  3. Is the view expressed by Britain’s chief negotiator shared by the Australian Government.
  4. Will he say how the Protocol and the consultations to which Mr Rippon refers will work.
  5. Will he indicate how the satisfactory arrangements referred to by the British negotiator are satisfactory in regard to the Australian canned fruits industry which was established largely to serve the British market within the terms of the Ottawa Agreement and continued under the Anglo-Australian Trade Agreement which will be abrogated by Britain on entry into the European Economic Community on 1st January 1973.
  6. How many preferences (a) are extended to Britain, (b) are to be terminated on 1st January 1973, (c) do we receive from Britain and (d) will be continued after 1st January 1973.
Mr Anthony:

– The following is provided in answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. Protocol No. 16 of the Treaty of accession (commonly referred to as the safeguard clause) becomes applicable with effect from 1st January 1973. lt is impossible to say, however, in advance of particular problems arising how effective the Protocol can be in safeguarding the agricultural trade interests of third countries. lt has, however, been recognised both in Britain and in the Communities that enlargement of the EEC could give rise to problems for countries such as Australia, at least for some products, and that remedial action could and would be taken to deal with such problems if they were to arise.
  4. and (5) There has been and will continue to be discussions between Australia on the one hand and Britain and the Communities on the other concerning problems likely to arise for individual products and the possible means of dealing with them in terms of Protocol No. 16.
  5. Preferences exchanged between Britain and Australia will continue until the United Kingdom/Australia Trade Agreement (UKATA) is terminated. Britain will formally join the EEC on 1st January 1973. However under the timetable for transition to full membership, Britain will apply the complete mechanisms of the Common Agricultural Policy from 1st February 1973. Britain could not apply the Common Agriculture Policy and still maintain her obligations under UKATA. The future of British preferences in Australia will be determined at the time by the Australian Government. Against this background the answers to the questions are:

    1. and (b) In 1970-71 imports into Australia from Britain which received a margin of preference are estimated to have been valued at about $750m or 85 per cent of total imports from Britain. $570m or 65 per cent of total imports into Australia from Britain entered dutyfree.
    2. and (d) In 1970 imports into Britain from Australia which received a margin of preference were valued at $A2l4m or 38 per cent of total imports from Australia. However, almost all Australian goods entered Britain free of duty.

Drugs (Question No. 5995)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to a statement by Mr C. H. Locke, Chairman of Tooheys Ltd, that his company will establish trendy bistros as part of a massive brewery drive to attract young drinkers.
  2. If so, will he ask the Drug Education Committee to make a special effort in opposing this drive to attract young drinkers.
  3. Will he set an example by criticising consumers and sellers of alcohol as frequently as he does consumers and sellers of marihuana.
Mr Chipp:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. The theme of the drug education programmes which have been set up in the Stales through the Drug Education Sub-Committee is Education for Living’. The programmes do not single out or place undue emphasis on a particular drug, although the sub-committee’s primary aim is to educate in the area of narcotic drugs.
  3. The honourable member will be aware of my numerous statements claiming that alcohol and tobacco are the 2 most addictive ‘killer’ drugs in our society.

De Facto Wives (Question No. 5997)

Dr Klugman:

asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:

  1. What distinctions does his Department make between legally married and de facto wives.
  2. ls it a fact that de facto wives of exservicemen are worse off regarding entitlements than de facto wives of civilian pensioners.
  3. If so, what is the reason for this distinction.
Mr Holten:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Under the Repatriation Act and associated legislation, a de facto wife cannot qualify for a service pension that would be payable under the means test if she were legally married to the exserviceman concerned. A de facto wife qualifies for war pension and other benefits on the same basis as a legal wife if her association with the ex-serviceman commenced before his discharge from service and if she was then wholly or partly dependent on him and recognised as his wife.
  2. Because of her ineligibility for service pension as a wife, a de facto wife of an exserviceman is, in many cases, at some disadvantage compared with a Social Service pensioner’s de facto wife, as the latter is recognised on the same basis as a legal wife if her association with the man concerned is of 3 years’ duration. But, as indicated in the first part of this answer, many de facto wives of ex-servicemen receive war pensions.
  3. The distinction between legal and de facto wives has existed since Repatriation legislation was first enacted over 50 years ago. Somewhat similar distinctions are made under analogous legislation overseas. They are related to social attitudes and other considerations to which I have given much thought recently. I am glad to be able to assure the honourable member that a thorough review of the status of de facto wives and widows for Repatriation purposes is in progress, and I hope that it will soon be possible to take steps to improve it.

Answers to Questions (Question No. 6231)

Dr Gun:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

When may I expect an answer to question No. 5306 which I placed on the Notice Paper on 21st March 1972.

Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The answer to question No. 5306 appeared in Hansard on 31st August 1972 (page 1112).

Subsidised Health Benefits Scheme (Question No. 5109)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. Will the Minister bring up to date the information sought in question No. 4625, placed on the Notice Paper on 3rd November 1971, concerning the operation of the subsidised health benefits scheme, by providing similar figures as at 30th December 1971.
  2. What increase or decrease in (a) numbers and (b) percentages do these figures and percentages represent in comparison with details as at 30th September 1971.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

When the Minister provided the answer to the honourable member’s previous question (No. 4625) it was pointed out that there were certain qualifications to the figures provided which would be relevant to any conclusions that might be drawn. Qualifications will also apply in respect of this answer and these are:

The figures for eligible low income families supplied by the Department of Social Services are those as at 3rd January 1972 and for unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries as at 25th December 1971. Those figures may not coincide with the enrolment figures as supplied by health insurance organisations.

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; for example, some organisations do not take into account changes arising from lapses in individual membership until some time after an individual membership lapse has occurred.

In the case of unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries, a proportion would already be enrolled as ordinary insured persons with organisations and they may not consider it worthwhile taking advantage of subsidised benefits because of the possible short period involved.

With regard to migrants, it is necessary to take into consideration that the total figures for migrant settlers do not represent the number of persons entitled to be enrolled in the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan because, in the case of families, enrolment by the head of the family provides Subsidised Health Benefits entitlements for the whole of the family. The numbers of single persons and of family groups of particular sizes are available for assisted migrants but, in the case of unassisted migrants, the figures used in this answer represent an estimate made by the Department of Immigration.

The figures provided relate to the position at a particular point of time and therefore do not give a true indication of the extent to which persons are availing themselves of the benefits provided under the Plan. It should also be noted that the number enrolled in funds does not reflect the success or otherwise of the Plan as, in the main, only those who receive treatment and need benefits are in fact enrolling.

With the foregoing in mind, the following information, as at 31st December 1971, is provided:

Low Income Families

The number of such families who may be eligible for assistance under the Plan at any point in time is not known and there is no means of ascertaining the changes which no doubt occur from week to week. The following table shows the number of low income families approved as eligible for assistance by the Department of Social Services, including those whose actual eligibility expired in the previous 28 days, and those enrolled as members of health insurance organisations as at 3rd January 1972.

Unemployment, Sickness or Special Beneficiaries

Unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries automatically become eligible for assistance under the Plan when their entitlement to the respective Social Service benefit has been determined. In the following table, the number of eligible persons includes not only those currently in receipt of Social Services benefit, but also those whose eligibility expired in the previous 28 days. Figures are as at 25th December 1971.

Note: For both low income families and unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries -

Australian Capital Territory figures are included in New South Wales.

Northern Territory figures are included in South Australia for entitlement certificates, and in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland for membership.


In respect of migrants, it is not necessary for separate application for assistance to be made. By obtaining an entitlement card from the Department of Health and joining a health insurance fund, migrants are eligible for full benefits under the Plan during their first 2 months in Australia.

The following figures show the total number of migrant settlers arriving in Australia during the 2 months ending 3 1st December 1971, the estimated number who would need to enrol as contributors under the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan and the actual number enrolled in health insurance organisations at that date.

War Widows (Question No. 5301)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister for Repatriation; upon notice:

  1. How many women were in receipt of war widows pensions in (a) each State and Territory and (b) the Commonwealth as at 30th June 1971.
  2. What numbers and percentages of these (a) applied for training, (b) were accepted for training, (c) were rejected for training,(d) commenced training, (e) completed training and (0 were placed in employment (i) with and (ii) without training during 1971 under the war widows’ training scheme.
  3. In what year was the scheme introduced.
  4. How many widows (a) applied for, (b) were accepted for, (c) were rejected for and (d) completed training in (i) each and (ii) all years since it started.
  5. What are the various types of benefits and assistance which are available to widows who are accepted for retraining.
  6. What sum was (a) allocated and (b) spent in (i) 1970-71 and (ii) 1971-72 in respect of (A) each and of all the types of benefits and assistance and (B) other costs of the scheme.
  7. What was the (a) average age of widows accepted for training in 1970-71 and (b) the number of children dependent on each widow.
  8. What number and percentage of widows accepted in 1970-71 for retraining in (a) each State and Territory and (b) the Commonwealth received each type of benefit and assistance referred to in part (5).
  9. What were the (a) types and duration of courses of training undertaken, (b) the number and percentage of widows undertakingthe courses and (c) the types of institutions at which training was undertaken in 1970-71.
Mr Holten:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Figures are not available on an annual basis before 1958 and this is reflected in the following table.
  2. Benefits available are-

    1. Payment of all compulsory fees.
    1. Allowances for books and stationery ranging from $20 per annum for part-time training to $53 per annum full-time training. Some full-time trainees may also receive up to $62 per annum for equipment.
    2. Reimbursement of the cost of public transport fares to and from the training institution.
    3. A training allowance of §8 . 50 a week for war widows who are not in receipt of Domestic Allowance.

    4. A gift of $20 for the purchase of tools and equipment and an amount of up to $80 as an interest-free loan when a trainee commences employment on completion of training.
  3. Costs related to the War Widows’ Training Scheme are the responsibility of the Department of Labour and National Service in respect of industrial training and the Department of Education and Science for tertiary studies. Finance for this Scheme and the Disabled Members’ Training Scheme is appropriated under the one heading and expenditure is recorded on the same basis. It would be a difficult task to isolate and itemise the allocation and expenditure for each benefit or type of assistance. It is estimated that the cost of the War Widows’ Training Scheme for the year 1970-71 was $10,934 and $20,928 in 1971-72 against allocations of approximately $11,000 and $21,000 respectively.
  4. (a) 51 years.

    1. of the 75 widows accepted for training during 1970-71, 31 were without dependent children, 26 had one child, 12 had two children and 6 had three children.
  5. 75 widows were accepted Tor training during 1970-71. Of these 5 withdrew before commencement of the course and fees were waived in three other cases. This is reflected in the following table -
  1. Business Colleges; Secondary Schools; Technical Colleges; University; State Government Correspondence School.

Shipping: Container Handling Facilities (Question No. 5584)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. What is the expenditure to date on container handling facilities in each of the Australian ports.
  2. What acreage has been taken up or is now reserved for container terminals in each of these ports.
  3. How much land has also been taken over or resetted for depots and stores in each of the ports associated with the containerisation programme.
  4. What is the value of the land either now in use or reserved for developments associated with containerisation in each of the ports.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Answers to questions (3) and (4) have not been provided because the information necessary to do so is of a commercially confidential nature. Questions (1) and (2) refer to container handling facilities and acreage taken up for container terminals at Australian ports. Nearly all Australian ports handle containers by some means or another. However, only four ports have established termi- nals and ancilliary facilities such as gantry cranes, solely to handle containerships. My replies to these questions have therefore been restricted to what are regarded as the four terminal ports by overseas container shipping operators. These are:

Fremantle - No. 12 North Quay

Melbourne - Swanson Dock

Sydney - White Bay

Brisbane - No. 2 Hamilton Wharf.

Expenditure by:

Fremantle Port Authority - $5.4m

Melbourne Harbour Trust - $14.5m

Maritime Services Board of New South Wales -$29m (includes expenditure to date on the new Glebe Island terminal)

Brisbane Wharves and Wool Dumping Pty Ltd -$6m (approximately).

Expenditure by other private companies is not available as it is commercially confidential.

Acreage taken up or reserved by:

Fremantle Port Authority - 144 acres

Melbourne Harbour Trust - 102 acres

Maritime Services Board of New South Wales - 50 acres

Brisbane Wharves and Wool Dumping Pty Ltd - 17 acres.

Acreage taken up or reserved by other private companies is not available as it is commercially confidential.

Dental Therapists (Question No. 5937)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. In which States and Territories are dental therapists being trained, and how many are being trained in each.
  2. In which States and Territories are the qualifications of dental therapists recognised, and how many are registered in each.
  3. In which States and Territories are dental therapists employed in schools, and how many are employed in each.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The designation ‘dental therapist’ is not in common usage throughout Australia. It is used in South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, but the designation ‘dental nurse’ is applied in Tasmania and New South Wales for the same category of personnel. The distinction has been maintained in the information provided below.

Dental therapists are at present being trained in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. At the Dental Nursing School in Tasmania the designation dental therapist’ is used in relation to personnel being trained for Australian Capital Territory Health Services, and ‘dental nurse’ for those to be employed in Tasmania. At 31st May 1972 the following numbers were in training:

Dental therapists -

South Australia, 29;

Western Australia, 27;

Tasmania, 9.

Dental Nurses - Tasmania, 17.

The qualifications of dental therapists are recognised in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. In Western Australia amendments have yet to be made to the Dentists’ Act to provide for control and administration of dental therapy. In Tasmania the qualifications of dental nurses (from Tasmania and New Zealand) are recognised, while qualified dental therapists from South Australia and dental nurses from Tasmania and New Zealand are recognised in New South Wales. Legislation permitting the employment of dental therapists in Queensland and the Northern Territory is under consideration. There is as yet no formal requirement for registration as such in any State.

Dental therapists (dental nurses) are employed in schools in ‘New South Wales. South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The numbers employed at 31st May 1972 were:

New South Wales - 5 dental nurses.

South Australia - 52 dental therapists.

Tasmania - 33 dental nurses.

Australian Capital Territory - 12 dental therapists.

This Day Tonight Programmes (Question No. 5994)

Dr Klugman:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

  1. Which Federal Members of Parliament appeared on the A. B.C. programme This Day Tonight during the 12 months ended 31st July 1972.
  2. How many times did each of them appear.
  3. What was the total number of appearances by Members who are members of the (a) Liberal Party, (b) Australian Country Party, (c) Australian Democratic Labor Party and (d) Australian Labor Party.
Sir Alan Hulme:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. As shown on attached list.
  2. As shown on attached list.
  3. (a) 182; (b) 23; (c) 21; (d) 113.

British Foreign Awards Regulations (Question No. 6028)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Have Australian regulations been instituted to take the place of the British Foreign Awards Regulations, as his predecessor recommended to The Queen in April 1970.
  2. Does The Queen’s delegation to the Governor-General to make awards for gallantry in Vietnam and Vietnamese waters authorise him to grant permission for the wearing of awards granted by foreign powers for gallantry in Vietnam (Hansard, 26 September 1968, page 1624; 22 February 1972, page 75 and 31 May 1972, page 3315).
Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. A recommendation to The Queen for Aus tralian regulations governing the acceptance and wearing of foreign awards has not been made either by me or by my predecessor.
  2. No.

Butterworth Installations (Question No. 6045)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. On what date did Australia and Malaysia make the separate agreement concerning the installations at Butterworth as envisaged in the notes exchanged in Kuala Lumpur on 1st December 1971.
  2. What are the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Mr N H Bowen:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The arrangements concerned were reached during 1970 and were deemed to have come into effect on 1st April 1970. They were codified in an exchange of letters on 9th June 1972 between the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Defence for Malaysia and the Australian High Commission at Kuala Lumpur made pursuant to the provisions of the exchange of notes between the Government of Australia and the Government of Malaysia on 1st December 1971.
  2. The texts of the letters exchanged on 9th June 1972, together with appendices specifying charges for rent and essential services, are as follows:

Australian High Commission KUALA LUMPUR 9th June 1972 Tan Sri Abu Bakar Samad bin Mohd. Noor, P.S.M., Secretary Genera], Ministry of Defence, KUALA LUMPUR

My dear Secretary-General,

  1. The Malaysian Government having agreed that part of the Butterworth Air Base be occupied by the Royal Australian Air Force, and that the moveable assets acquired by Malaysia from the United Kingdom in 1970 under the Dudley Arrangement be left in situ for use by the Royal Australian Air Force, 1 have the honour to propose that the following arrangements should apply:

    1. The Royal Australian Air Force will have the use of buildings and facilities as may be agreed which is subject to change from time to time by mutual agreement.
    2. In consideration of the use of the said buildings and facilities at the Base by the Royal Australian Air Force Australia will pay Malaysia such charges as may be agreed between them from time to time provided that Malaysia will be responsible for the payment of all quit rent and local authority rates.
    3. Australia will keep the buildings and facilities assigned for her use in good andtenantable repair and unless otherwise agreed will reinstate or carry out repairs to such buildings or facilities in the Base that may be destroyed or damaged by an act or omission of her personnel, agents or servants.
    4. Notwithstanding the fact that the Royal Australian Air Force occupies only a portion of the Base, Australia will be responsible for the running of the essential services at the Base inclusive of the area occupied by the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The actual cost of these services will be shared between the 2 Governments.
    5. Australia will assume the cost of maintaining and providing spare parts for movable assets acquired by Malaysia under the Dudley Arrangement and left in situ at the Base. These moveable assets have been identified and signed for by both the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force authorities at the Base.
    6. If any of the services or obligations undertaken herein by Australia are not duly performed Malaysia reserves the right after due notice to Australia, to execute the works and be reimbursed by Australia.
    7. Subject to the prior approval of Malaysia, Australia may construct new facilities and make alterations to facilities as necessary to meet Australian requirements. The cost of such construction or alterations required for entirely Australian use will be borne by Australia.
    8. Each Government will be responsible for the design and construction of major new works required for the exclusive use of its own forces and will be responsible for the costs incurred. Each Government will also be responsible for the mutual clearance of design features. Arrangements for, and funding of, major new works required for mutual use will be made on a basis of mutual agreement.
    9. Australia will, on a repayment basis, construct minor new works as requested by Malaysia.
    10. Australia will have free use of all new buildings, structures and facilities constructed with Australian funds, provided that all fixed assets will become the property of Malaysia upon withdrawal of Australian forces from the Base, without any payment of compensation.
    11. Australia may not assign or sub-let or part with the whole or part of the area assigned to the Royal Australian Aor Force, provided that with the agreement of Malaysia, New Zealand or United Kingdom Forces may from time to time be present in the Base.
    12. Australia will make good or pay compensation for any damage to Government property in the Base caused by an act or omission committed in the Base by her personnel, agents or servants and arising from her use of any of the buildings, structures and fixed installations and facilities in the Base or from the performance in the Base of any service in connection therewith by her personnel, agents or servants, and will keep Malaysia fully and effectually indemnified against all costs, charges, expenses, claims, demands and actions in respect of any such damage:
    1. provided always that Malaysia may in its discretion and after notice in writing to the Government of Australia cause any such damage to be made good and the reasonable cost thereof will be recoverable from the Government of Australia on demand:
    2. provided also that claims in respect of damage to official vehicles and military aircraft (including aircraft on loan or charter;) will be the subject of negotiations between them.

    3. Except as expressly provided in sub-paragraph (12) above, claims in expect of damage to private property (being properly lawfully in the Base) or of personal injury or death to any person (being a person lawfully in the base) arising out of an act or omission committed in the Base by a member of the Australian force or civilian component will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (1) (e) of the Exchange of Notes between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Australia on 1st December 1971 and of Annex 11 Section 15 to thai Note.
    4. Measures to provide efficient functioning of the facilities at the Base and to ensure common standards and procedures will be the subject of arrangements between the 2 Governments.
    5. These Arrangements made pursuant lo the provisions of paragraph 1 (l)(e) of the Exchange of Notes between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of Australia on 1st December 1971 relating to defence arrangements, will be deemed to have come into effect as from the 1st day of April 1970.
    6. These Arrangements are subject to review as may be required from time to lime by either Government.
  2. If the foregoing is acceptable lo the Government of Malaysia, 1 have the honour to propose that this letter and your reply lo that effect will constitute the Arrangements between the 2 Governments in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


High Commissioner

Ministry of Defence KUALA LUMPUR 9lh June 1972

  1. E. Mr .1. R. Rowland,

High Commissioner for Australia, Australian High Commission, KUALA LUMPUR

My dear High Commissioner,

  1. 1 refer to your letter of today’s date about the Collocation Arrangements relating to the use of buildings and facilities by the Royal Australian Air Force at the Butterworth Air Base the terms of which are as follows: (Herewith follows the text of the letter sent by the Australian High Commissioner in Malaysia to the Malaysian Secretary-General of Defence). 2. In reply, I confirm that your letter correctly states the understanding between the Government of Australia and the Government of Malaysia and in accordance with the proposal contained therein your letter and this reply will constitute the Arrangements between our 2 Governments.

Yours sincerely,



  1. Not relevant (b) For runways, taxi-tracks and hardstanding only

    1. Rates are charged only on item (i).
    2. Of the total of MS23.40 million involved in item (i) it is estimated that contribution by Australia towards the development of this category of assets is M$4.50 million.
    3. Rental per annum is based on 10 per cent of the total value of assets except that where Australian contribution in the development of assets is involved only 75 per cent of the rental shall be imposed.
    4. Calculation of rental is therefore as follows:

Rental = 10 (23.40 - 4.50) + 75 x 10 x4.50

100 100 100

– 1.89 + 0.3375 = MS2.2275 million


  1. The period for this arrangement starts from 1st April 1970. Thus the first year refers to the period 1st April 1970 to 31st March 1971.
  2. Three existing services have been left out. The Postal Service is not required by Malaysia. The Barracks Service which currently costs in the region of MSI. 5 million annually will be provided by Australia on condition that any increases in staff necessary as a result of increase of RMAF personnel and dependants on the Base shall be paid by Malaysia. In regard to Police Service Malaysia shall provide and pay for this Service with effect from 1st April 1971.
  3. Using the estimated figures in column (c) and the cost-sharing ratios in columns (d) and (e) Malaysia’s share for the first year is M§2.2 million. Except that actual cost figures should be used it is part of the understanding between the two countries that Malaysis’a annual share thus arrived at should be reduced by 25 per cent. Malaysia’s estimated share of running costs for the 1st year therefore is MSI. 7 million
  4. Serial (9) covers the costs of maintenance and upkeep of buildings and facilities used jointly by RMAF and RAAF. The cost of maintenance of buildings and facilities used exclusively by RMAF are the responsibility of Malaysia, and those of buildings and facilities used exclusively by the RAAF are the responsibility of Australia.

Armed Services: Orders for Ships and Aircraft (Question No. 6054)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

Will he bring up to date the information in his answer on 13th September 1971 (Hansard page 1218) concerning ships and aircraft ordered for the Services.

Mr Fairbairn:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The following table sets out details of all ships and aircraft currently on order for the Services, together with estimated delivery dates and country of origin.

Education: Television (Question No. 6068)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

  1. When and where was the resumed conference of Ministers held to consider the report of the special Commonwealth-State committee on educational television (Hansard, 7th September 1971, page 896).
  2. What were the names and portfolios of the Ministers who attended.
  3. What requests or suggestions were made for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States.
Sir Alan Hulme:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The Commonwealth-State Conference of Ministers has not resumed to consider the report of the special Committee on educational television.
  2. See (1).
  3. See (1).

Nautical Training (Question No. 6073)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. When and where did the Secretary of his Department convene the Conference to consider the whole field of training and examination of all classes of seamen (Hansard, 16th September 1971, page15 16).
  2. Who attended the Conference.
  3. What requests or suggestions were made for legislative or administrative action by, (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) During April 1972 the Department of Shipping and Transport convened a series of separate meetings with shipowners, unions and educationalists on the general question of training and education of all classes of seamen. These meetings were held in Melbourne. Representatives of the following organisations attended the appropriate meetings:

Australian Chamber of Shipping.

Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers.

Australian Steamship Owners Federation.

Federated Marine Stewards and Pantrymen’s Association of Australasia.

Merchant Service Guild of Australia.

Professional Radio Employees Institute of Australasia.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Seamen’s Union of Australia.

Sydney Technical College.

The Australian National Line.

The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd.

The Company of Master Mariners of Australia.

The Federated Shipwrights and Ship Constructors Association of Australasia.

The Institute of Marine Engineers.

The Marine Cooks, Bakers and Butchers Association of Australasia.

Together with representatives of the Departments of Labour and National Service and Shipping and Transport.

  1. The meetings were not of a nature that would give rise to requests or suggestions of the type mentioned.

Container Shipping (Question No. 6077)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

What progress has been made in developing statistics of all cargo carried in containers (Hansard, 27 October 1971, page 2646).

Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Commonwealth Statistician advises that shipping container cargo statistics are now available in the Bureau publication Overseas Shipping Cargo (Reference No. 14.10) and cover each of the months July 1970 to March 1972.

Electoral: Joint Roll in Western Australia (Question No. 6109)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

What were the dates and results of his correspondence with the Premier of Western Australia concerning the introduction of a joint electoral roll in that State.

Mr McMahon:

– The reply to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Commonwealth and the Western Australian Governments have agreed to have a survey made of the feasibility of introducing a joint electoral roll system for Western Australia.

Pensions: Payment Overseas (Question No. 6120)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for

Social Services, upon notice:

For how many persons and at what cost does the 1972 Budget provide for pensions to be paid overseas.

Mr Wentworth:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Estimates of expenditure on pensions for any financial year are based mainly on the estimated average number of persons who will receive pensions during the year and the average rates of pensions in payment at the commencement of the year. Provision is also made for the estimated cost of any liberalisations to pensions proposed to be made during the year that are announced in the Budget. In the preparation of these estimates it is unnecessary to make any distinction as to the location of payment of the pensions.

Australian Post Office News’: Cost (Question No. 6150)

Mr Grassby:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

  1. What was the cost of producing the newspaper ‘Australian Post Office News’ during 1971- 72.
  2. How many people were involved in its production.
Sir Alan Hulme:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Production and distribution - $25,250.
  2. Three.

Overseas Telecommunications Commission: Finances (Question No. 6182)

Mr Reynolds:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

What were the (a) total fixed assets, (b) Government loan capital, (c) reserves, (d) total revenue,

expenditure and (f) net profit of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission in each year since 1946.

Sir Alan Hulme:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Financial data on the operations of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia), which have been extracted from the Annual Reports tabled in Parliament each year, are furnished:


  1. End of financial year changed to 31st March.
  2. Loss of £60,714 incurred.
  3. Pending amendments to the Overseas Telecommunications Act amounts of $6.47m to $6.9 1 m were paid in 1968-69 and 1969-70 respectively to the Commonwealth in lieu of income tax and a dividend on Commonwealth funds employed.
  4. With effect from 1st April, 1970, with the amendment to the Overseas Telecommunications Act, equity capital, on which a dividend was to be paid, was established al $35m and the Commission was required to pay income tax.

Shipping: Port Hedland (Question No. 6184)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. Are the sea buoys marking the approaches to Port Hedland, Western Australia, to be removed.
  2. If so, how many shipmasters of vessels which have a draft of not less than 35 feet who have navigated their own ships into and out of Port Hedland have been approached by the Department in order to get their opinion of the removal of the buoy$ in the sea channel.
  3. How many shipmasters in the same category have agreed that the Decca System by itself constitutes a safe means of navigating the sea channel.
  4. In view of statements in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals, Volume V., that Decca is a radio navigational aid intended for coastal and landfall navigation and when no information regarding fixed errors is available, the chartered Decca lattices should be used with caution, especially near the coast and in restricted waters, has the Decca Navigator Co. guaranteed (hat the system can be used with 100 per cent accuracy both by day and night and in all types of weather conditions including cyclonic precipitation in the sea approaches to Port Hedland.
  5. Is it a fact that the currents in the area in question are very strong and variable and that no attempt has been made to display any of the information on the currents on the charts presently available.
  6. Can he say what other similar difficult areas of navigation in other parts of the world depend entirely on .Decca Navigator equipment.
  7. Will he produce and make available for comment by shipmasters of the vessels most vitally concerned the report on which the decision was taken to remove the sea buoys.
  8. ls there any doubt that Port Hedland will be considered as a safe port by shipowners and charterers, marine insurance organisations and protection and indemnity, associations.
  9. Have all other alternative and supplementary navigational aids, such as Recon, Ramark lights, beacons and buoys, been considered.
  10. In the event of a ship arriving off Port Hedland and not being fitted with Decca Navigator or having the equipment aboard but unserviceable or, alternatively, if a master considers it unsafe to enter the port area even when equipped with Decca Navigator, has provision been made to enable these vessels to safely enter the port.
  11. Are there satisfactory guaranteed alternative transmission systems available iti case of damage to transmitters or any portion of the shore equipment being put out of action by electrical storms and cyclones.
  12. Because of the increasing use of deep draft bulk carriers and the need for the safe navigation of approach routes to ports, has the provision of lane separation for inward and outward bound vessels been considered for Port Hedland.
  13. If lane separation has not been considered for Port Hedland is it proposed to use regulations to protect heavily laden vessels which will be committed to use the channel when only 1 Decca Plot route is in use for both inward and outward bound vessels.
  14. ls it intended to make Decca Navigator equipment a compulsory, piece of equipment for all vessels navigating Port Hedland.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Not at this stage. Consideration will be given to removing the buoys in 18 months in the light of operational experience of Decca and of the buoys.
  2. and (3) My Department has not found it necessary, up to date, to ask that particular group of shipmasters those questions. When my Department was first asked to provide navaids in the approaches to Port Hedland the opinion of experienced shipmasters then obtained was that buoys would not be sufficiently reliable for this channel. My Department therefore proceeded with the installation of the highly reliable Decca system. Before a final decision is made with respect to the buoys the opinion of experienced shipmasters will be canvassed.
  3. The contract with the Decca Co. required that the system be calibrated before use to determine the magnitude of the fixed errors, if any, remaining in the approach channel after final adjustment of the transmitters. The calibration was made and proved the fixed error to be negligable at all times.
  4. The Hydrographer RAN has advised as follows: ‘Approaches Port Hedland. The maximum tidal stream to be expected between CI and C2 buoys is 1.5 knots. Streams are variable being related to tidal heights ashore and predicted values may be upset by meteorological conditions. Charts AUS 53 and AUS 739 show the tidal stream information available in the approaches to Port Hedland at the time of their publication but more information for the area between CI and C6 is desirable.’
  5. I understand that in conditions of poor visibility when other aids are useless ships are piloted through the outer approaches to Europort by means of Decca alone. I am also advised that the authorities in Denmark are considering permitting only Decca equipped ships to use certain waterways during winter periods when ice conditions make buoyage impracticable.
  6. Not applicable, see (1), (2) and (3).
  7. There is no reason to believe that there would be any such doubts.
  8. Yes.
  9. For ships of light and medium draught the answer is yes. In the case of vessels of greater draught the deep water channel is marked by buoys. It is a strong recommendation of my Department that deep draught vessels should always use Decca when navigating the approaches to Port Hedland.
  10. All sections of the power generation and transmitting equipment are provided in triplicate to ensure that interruptions to the service do not occur. The contractor was required to design and erect the buildings and structures to withstand electrical storms and cyclones.
  11. Yes, but no decision has been made pending the outcome of the international conference on the collision regulation. See (13).
  12. No international regulations exist now which may be applied to vessels on the high seas in the approaches to Port Hedland. Regulations to protect heavily laden vessels committed to use narrow channels will be considered at the international conference on collision regulations to be held in London in October this year. If such regulations are made as a result of the conference their effect on the need to provide lane separation for inward and outward vessels in the approaches to Port Hedland will be studied.
  13. See answer to (1). My Department strongly advises that ships using Port Hedland be equipped with Decca.

Telephone Directories (Question No. 6193)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

  1. Have contracts been let for the compilation of the pink pages in telephone directories.
  2. If so, who was the successful tenderer in each State.
  3. What was the price submitted by (a) the successful tenderer and (b) unsuccessful tenderers.
Sir Alan Hulme:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. Contracts were let as follows:

New South Wales directories - Edward H. O’Brien Pty Ltd.

Victoria, Queensland South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania directoriesDirectories (Aust.) Pty Ltd.

  1. It is the policy of the Post Office not to disclose detailed prices of a contract or other information beyond that which is published in the Commonwealth Gazette. However, in respect to the new directory advertising contracts, additional information is being made available because of the great public interest in this matter particularly in regard to the contracts for New South Wales and Victoria.

The position was that Directories (Aust.) Pty Ltd offered the best tenders for all States. For instance, the net return to the Department offered by, Directories (Aust.) Ply Ltd for the New South Wales directories was, depending on the actual sales achieved, from 13.6 per cent to 15.8 per cent higher than for that offered by Edward H. O’Brien Pty Ltd. For the Victoria directories, the range was from 13.7 per cent to 25.7 per cent and, for a combination of both States’ directories, the net returns from the offer by Directories (Aust.) Pty Ltd were from 9.8 per cent to 15.1 per cent better than those from Edward H. O’Brien Pty Ltd. However, the Department decided on a policy of having at least two contractors as it was considered in the public interest to maintain competition between contractors. Against this background, Edward H. O’Brien Ply Ltd was granted the contract for New South Wales which represents slightly more than 40 per cent of the total business.

Commonwealth Railways (Question No. 6233)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Ship ping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. How many (a) maintenance fettling gangs and (b) special gangs are operating along the Commonwealth Railways, east-west and northsouth railway lines.
  2. How many of these gangs have a fully qualified first aid man as a member of the gang.
  3. What payment is made to Commonwealth Railways’ employees as an inducement for them to become qualified in first aid.
  4. What classifications of employees of the Commonwealth Railways are required to be qualified in first aid as a condition of promotion.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (la) 75. (lb) 14.

  1. One gang has a fully qualified first aid man as a member. Fettler gangs work on line locations in remote areas where conditions are generally harsh and inhospitable. Under such conditions staff turnover is high and Commonwealth Railways experience considerable difficulty in the employment of labour of any kind at line locations. This makes it highly impractical to attempt to provide a qualified first aid man with every gang.
  2. Employees who are successful in passing departmental first year examination in first aid are granted a cash award of$1 5.00. Employees who are life members of the Railway Ambulance Corps and active members who have had 8 years service in the Corps are granted one additional day recreation leave each year, subject to passing an annual efficiency examination.
  3. All grades of guard and sleeping car conductor are required to have qualifications in first aid. Trainee locomotive enginemen must pass an abbreviated course in first aid before becoming eligible for promotion as enginemen.

Telephone Exchange: Seaford, Victoria (Question No. 6266)

Mr Stewart:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:

  1. Is it a fact that the private contractor responsible for the installation of the Seaford, Victoria, telephone exchange did not complete the work within the period specified in the contract.
  2. If so, did this delay seriously inconvenience telephone subscribers and the Australian Post Office.
  3. Was any penalty clause in the contract invoked against the contractor; if not, why not.
  4. If a penalty was invoked, what was it.
Sir Alan Hulme:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes. However, later completion dates than those specified were agreed between the Department and Contractor.
  2. There was no serious inconvenience. Subscribers continued to receive the same telephone service they had in the past and there was no delay in the provision of telephone services for new applicants.
  3. No. The completion dates were agreed because some items of equipment for Seaford were necessarily diverted by the Department to other more urgent work.
  4. See answer to 3.

Shipping: Whyalla Harbour (Question No. 6274)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the comments of Sir Ian McLennan of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd in the latest publication of that Company in which he refers to the need in the future to deepen the harbour at Whyalla to enable that port to take ships in excess of 100,000 tons.
  2. If so, are there any plans to deepen the port to enable it to handle the larger ships now being used in our shipping activities.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No. However, an article entitled ‘Tailormade Fleet’ in the winter issue of BHP’s journal does make reference to feasibility studies being undertaken by BHP into the possibility of deepening the ports at Whyalla and Newcastle.
  2. I understand the feasibility studies are continuing.

Rural Reconstruction (Question No. 6276)

Mr Kennedy:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

How many of the applications for debt reconstruction under the States Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act in each State and the Commonwealth that were (a) processed, (b) approved and (c) rejected in July 1972 had been previously submitted and rejected (i) once, (ii) twice, (iii) three times and (iv) more than three times.

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Information is not maintained on the number of times applications which have been previously rejected, are resubmitted.

Long Service Leave (Question No. 6286)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

As many long service leave awards, agreements and State Acts provide for a qualifying period of 10 years or less under certain circumstances, will he take steps to amend the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act to provide pro rata long service leave for all Commonwealth employees after 10 years service instead of the present 15 years.

Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Public Service Board has advised me that it is at present considering a number of aspects relating to the furlough provisions, including the question of the basic qualifying period of service for furlough entitlements. The Board’s examination is nearing completion.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 September 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.