27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
Advertising in Telephone Directories
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
That we, the undersigned, protest against the action of the Commonwealth Government in letting the contract for the advertising rights for the Victorian Pink Pages Telephone Directories to an American Company, General Telephone and Electronics Corp., U.S.A., trading in Australia as Directories (Aust.) Ply Ltd.
That this will mean that the American company now controls the telephone directory advertising in all but one State of the Commonwealth.
We respectfully request that this contract be revoked in the national interest, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett, Dr J. F. Cairns and Mr Foster.
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 maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Foster and Mr Reid
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the citizens, in so far as we request:
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration to granting taxation concessions to those mothers who are forced to pay fees to have their children retained in Day Care and Family Care Centres.
That these mothers and children are being disadvantaged by the economic circumstances where no concession is made for the charges which must be paid to have their children so looked after. In fact it means that a single parent is working for a subsistence wage and receiving a lower income than many who are living on Social Service at a cost to the community.
That these mothers efforts to maintain themselves and their families should be rewarded by taxation concessions for fees paid in recognition to their initiative and diligence by not placing their burden upon the community and so allow them to retain their dignity and standing in the community.
That single and married mothers are contributing to the community by the establishment of their home, the cost of which has become affected by inflation and so must continue to work to make the future for the children who are so cared for.
Therefore we ask that all these aspects be taken into urgent consideration and that taxation concessions for all child minding fees be granted to ease the burden.
We, the petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure provision of this taxation concession and your petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned petitioners humbly pray that:
Australia’s overseas aid be increased to an amount equivalent to one per cent of the nation’s gross national product.
Australia’s aid policies be constantly reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries, especially in that an increasing amount of aid is given through multilateral channels.
Australia’s present policy of interest free aid is continued; and that aid be given free from trade or other obligations on the part of the recipient nation. by Mr Donald Cameron.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the recent salary offer to the Manipulative Group (typists, shorthand/typists and machinists) by the Public Service Board fails to recognise the work value of the activities carried out by this group.
That the promotion structure is far too limited and unrealistic. There is no recognition for experience, nor for the initiative and responsibility that is required in many of these positions. There is no recognition of the clerical tasks which the Position Classification Standards Manual specifies as being basic duties.
That consequently members of the Manipulative Group are considered second-rate citizens by the other Public Service groups, which is surely contrary to the fundamental principles of Democracy which Australians believe in.
That many competent secretaries are forced to leave this structure and become clerks or clerical assistants, as these women have to pay the same amount of money for goods as other people.
That it is becoming increasingly necessary to classify secretaries as clerical assistants or clerks in order to get competent staff.
That many school leavers, especially in Canberra, are unwilling to spend time and money to train for a profession as a secretary or keyboard operator when they can get easier and more highly paid positions with only the qualifications they have upon leaving school.
That there is insufficient recognition of the fact that while a typist or machinist can do clerical work, a clerk cannot perform any of the Manipulative Group’s jobs without months of special training.
That in the sophisticated business world of today secretaries need to be highly trained, responsible and educated and yet the Public Service fails to recognise this.
That there are an increasing number of Graduates interested in secretarial work but at present there is no scope for them within the Public Service and therefore they are forced to seek employment in industry although their basic degree may be more oriented towards the Public Service.
That while the Public Service offers such poor remuneration for highly skilled work and no promotion opportunities there is naturally going to be high turnover of staff within this group. Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
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 resulting 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, as 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 short-sighted and will merely relieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of time due to the inevitable growthof 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 duly bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:
That the National Capital Development Commission have advised us of their intention to develop the entire western side of Melrose Drive with Flats and Town Houses.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the aforesaid strip of land on the whole western side of Melrose Drive be reserved for development as parkland. Your petitioners are concerned that such a development will place an excessive strain on the schools of the area, and will result in a diminution of the land available for recreational purposes and will create traffic hazards. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth: 1.. The nation-wide Survey of Educational Needs undertaken by the Australian Education Council has provided clear evidence that government education in the various States is failing children on a massive scale.
The following conditions at the Castlecove Infants school give further evidence of the needs in the State education system.
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your Honourable House will (i) make immediately a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State Governments for education services, and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the States after 1975.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Graham.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on 10th December 1948, Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public enquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Jenkins.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Foster.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Navy a question. Would the Minister give an assurance that sufficient repair work will be allocated to the Garden Island Naval Dockyard and the Cockatoo Island shipbuilding yard to maintain employment and to take up the slack of those unemployed in this industry? The honourable gentleman would be aware that employers and unions associated with this industry are gravely concerned about its future.
– The facts alluded to by the honourable member for Sydney are quite correct. Shipbuilding generally in Australia is causing quite a deal of concern. With the exception of Williamstown, which now has the allocation of the light destroyer programme, dockyards, and in particular the one at Cockatoo Island, which is fully equipped and capable of performing sophisticated naval construction, are causing me and everyone connected with them concern. The situation is that we do not have the volume of shipping to keep 2 dockyards in full operation from the point of view of the Royal Australian Navy. However, there has been an arrangement made whereby Vickers, the British company, has leased facilities at Cockatoo Island Dockyard so that the company may, while carrying out our submarine refits and other naval construction, look for and undertake private commercial work to offset its overheads and to try to maintain efficiency. Last week the Minister for Defence received a very large deputation. I was present at that meeting and we discussed the possible work load for the future. I can assure the House that we are giving very close consideration at the moment to every possible way in which highly skilled men, some of whom have beenin the employ of the dockyard since 1938, as in one or 2 cases I know of in the black trades, will no longer have their jobs in jeopardy. This is a matter of concern and it is receiving the most sympathetic and urgent attention of all who may be able to help. I can say only that we are hopeful that we will be able to devise ways in which the impact of lack of work on the shipbuilding field may be minimised.
– I ask the Minister for Social
Services: When did the Social Services Bill receive the royal assent? Are the increased pensions and increased means test limits now in operation? When will the first payments be made under these new arrangements?
– His Excellency the Governor-General is at present in Perth. However, the Bill was flown over to him and I understand that he was pleased to give his assent to it at 4.30 yesterday afternoon. So the Act is now in operation. Existing pensioners will automatically receive their increased pensions. The first payments of the increased age and invalid pensions will be made next Thursday and the first payment of the increased widows’ pensions on 10th October. I make the reservation that the superannuation adjustments which will be retrospective to those dates will not be paid until early in the new year because of the difficulty of calculating them.
I have spoken so far about existing pensioners who will receive their increases automatically. New pensioners, that is, those who become entitled under the new legislation, will receive their pensions from the first pay period after they apply. It is therefor important that they apply as soon as possible. Their eligibility depends on their means as assessed. As honourable members know, this takes account both of property and income. Let me summarise the situation in this way, because it is a matter of some importance: Single men who are aged 65 years and over or are medically qualified to receive an invalid pension should apply if their means as assessed are up to $60 a week. The same is true for single women who are 60 years and over or medically qualified for an invalid pension. For married couples, where the husband is 65 years or over or medically qualified to receive an invalid pension, the limit of means as assessed is $103.50 a week. This is an important figure. In the case of the wives where the husband does not fall into the category of 65 years plus or where he qualifies for an invalid pension-
– I rise to a point of order. Mr Speaker, surely the Minister is out of order in taking up question time in this way. He is simply demonstrating his earlier incompetence in not having explained the position before.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills will resume his seat.
– I know that this is a lengthy answer but I think it is of interest and importance to many people who would like to hear what the Government is trying-
-Order! Whilst I agree with the Minister in this regard, if he wishes to make a statement after question time in relation to this matter I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will afford him the opportunity to do so. I do not think the Minister is entitled to outline, in answer to a question, almost the whole of the contents of his second reading speech. This defeats the object of question time. I personally realise the importance of this matter as do other honourable members in the House, but I do not think question time should be used by the Minister to deliver a second reading speech.
– I will ask for leave to make a statement as soon as question time has concluded.
– The Prime Minister will recall that on several occasions the Ministers representing him in the Senate have replied to questions about the purchase of 6 DC3 aircraft from Jetair Australia Limited, and they have asserted that an acceptance of an Australian offer of aircraft was received from Cambodia on 8th January last year. I ask the right honourable gentleman how he explains that the documents tabled in the Senate indicated no such acceptance until more than a month after that date. Does he recall what was the nature of the communication of 8th January 1971? Will he table that communication?
– I do not know the details associated with this matter. 1 will have a discussion with the department about it.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Industry confirm the reports in this morning’s Press about a $60m sale of wheat to the People’s Republic of China? Will the Minister point out to the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Dawson how wrong they were in their often repeated claims that the People’s Republic of China would not buy wheat from Australia unless we established diplomatic relations with this country?
-Order! The first part of the honourable gentleman’s question is in order; the second part is not.
– A statement has been put out by the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Mr Cass, that a contract has been negotiated with the People’s Republic of China for 1 million tons of wheat to be delivered during 1973. I think all of us are delighted that the Wheat Board has been able to negotiate this contract. It is evidence of growing goodwill and the improvement in our relations with the People’s Republic of China. On Tuesday last I stated in this House that we had been having remarkable success in selling a wide range of commodities to China, with the exception of wheat and zinc in relation to which sales had either gone down or we had not made sales in recent years. To have made this sale now is a continuation of the excellent performance and the relations of the Wheat Board with China during most of the decade of the 1 960s. I think this sale proves a number of points. It proves that the Government has been trying to maintain good trading relations with China. It was unfortunate that previously we did not make wheat sales to China, but this was probably for a number of reasons.
I think one of the most degrading and disgusting performances we have seen in Australian politics has been the way in which the Labor Party has continually tried to make politics out of this issue. We have made it clear that we want to continue trading. There are difficulties between the 2 countries in being able to finalise any decision on diplomatic relations because of the position of Taiwan. We have tried to maintain an honourable and respected position in relation to that country, and we will continue to do so. We have a policy of loyalty to friends and people and we will try to maintain that loyalty. But there is a real, keen desire to get into closer relationship with China. When I was asked last night how I had reacted I said that I was delighted and that it proved a number of points, but I did not go any further because 1 did not really want to make politics out of it. Having read some of the comments in the newspapers today - especially one - I think I would be negligent in my duty if I did not comment on it. That was the statement by the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson, who is reported to have said that he was ‘absolutely delighted’. The report states: 1 am not surprised’ Dr Patterson said.
We have been expecting an announcement for several months that wheat sales would be resumed.’
Exactly 5 weeks ago the honourable member for Dawson put out a lengthy statement to the effect that no sales would be made to the People’s Republic of China while the Australian Government maintained a hostile attitude towards the Government of that country. He said that, knowing that there was every likelihood of a sale. But the great sin in his statement is that he deliberately told the world that this Government had a hostile attitude towards the People’s Republic of China. In other words-
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. You ruled that part of the honourable member’s question was out of order but you are allowing the Minister to answer that part of the question. In fact he has been doing so for the past 5 minutes.
– Order! The honourable member should know that when a question is asked in this House, the Minister is entitled to answer that question as he wishes provided the answer is relevant to the question.
– The honourable member, on behalf of his Party, has deliberately tried to give to the world a distorted impression of this country’s attitude to the People’s Republic of China, and he did so knowing full well, or saying now that he knew, that a sale would be made. This is a very degrading performance by the alternative Minister for Primary Industry.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. I have delayed taking this point of order thinking that the Minister would complete his answer but he has not. 1 ask that you rule as you did when the Minister for Social Services was speaking, namely, that this is an important issue and the Minister can make a statement about it after question time.
– Order! This is a matter which is in the Minister’s hands. As I have said on previous occasions, question time is a time for seeking information. This is an extremely important issue in which the public is interested. It is open to the Minister to adopt the suggestion I made earlier. However the matter is in his hands.
– I will conclude by saying that the wheat growers and Australia as a whole must now understand just how far the Australian Labor Party will go in playing politics at their expense.
– Did the Prime Minister receive on 12th February 1971 a letter from the then Minister for Supply, Sir Kenneth Anderson, stating in respect of the Government’s purchase of aircraft from Jetair Australia Ltd that it was unfortunate that normal procedures were not followed? Can he state why normal procedures were not followed?
– If the honourable gentleman will read the statement that was made in the Senate by Senator Wright he will see the reasons set out and in particular he win be able to read the letter that was written by the permanent head of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Auditor-General which sets out the facts perfectly. I am rather glad that this question was asked.
– You do not look it.
– Do not be rude and offensive; try to behave yourself. Might I say this relative to the Department of Foreign Affairs: I admit that there was an irregularity but no more. I believe that the officers of that Department acted honourably and wisely. They were able to purchase 11 aircraft at a cost of $480,000 whereas previously they thought they would be purchasing 5 aircraft for $425,000. The purchase from Jetair was a very, very satisfactory transaction from the Commonwealth’s point of view. I regret that an irregularity occurred. It was no more than an irregularity. The Department of Foreign Affairs took very strong action to rebuke the officer involved. As 1 look at the files. 1 think the Department rebuked him too severely. I regard him as an honourable man who operated in the best interests of this country. While I regret that a technical irregularity occurred, I see no impropriety whatsoever, and frankly I think the officer deserves some credit.
– I desire to ask a question supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Deakin, and I address it to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister is no doubt pleased at yesterday’s announcement by the Australian Wheat Board of a sale of 1 million tons of wheat to the People’s Republic of China. However, does the Minister agree with the media comment today that this sale will prove an embarrassment in view of a likely shortage of wheat in Australia and that the Australian Wheat Board may not be able to fulfil this and other major contracts?
– The Wheat Board throughout the course of fulfilling its responsibilities for the marketing of Aus tralian wheat has consistently maintained contact not only with markets throughout the world but also with producers in Australia. It has done that in such a way as to make sure that whenever its representatives go out to negotiate they do so with full knowledge of the stocks that are in hand, with a projection of the harvests from which wheat will be delivered and with an understanding of the period over which delivery is to be effected. The emphasis that we on this side of the House have placed on the Wheat Board’s operations has been in just that way. We regard it as a responsible commercial body which is capable of entering into contracts in such a way as to look after the interests of those whom it serves. In this instance there is little doubt that it has taken fully into account the presently available stocks and the projected volume of wheat available for harvest this year.
It is to be noted that under the contract with the People’s Republic of China wheat will be delivered from January 1973. In other words, the wheat is to be delivered from next year’s harvest and not this year’s harvest. So I believe that in spite of the really adverse seasons that are prevailing throughout a lot of eastern Australia there is every reason to expect that the Wheat Board will be able to meet its obligations under this contract. What I have said highlights the difference between this Government’s attitude towards the Wheat Board and the attitude that the Labor Party affects. We have consistently allowed the Australian Wheat Board to operate entirely in the commercial arena. The constant statements and intervention by the Australian Labor Party have demonstrated how, over the last 2 years, the disruption of sales has been consequential upon the Labor Party’s endeavouring to intrude political overtones into what is the Wheat Board’s responsibility. It is quite clear from yesterday’s announcement that the Wheat Board has pursued its normal commercial responsibilities and, in doing so, has completely denied the statements that have been made by such Opposition members as the shadow Minister for Primary Industry. This demonstrates quite effectively that the Wheat Board and the Government have the interests of the wheat grower at heart.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science noted the departmental minute tabled in the Senate in which the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs commented that the Acting Minister for Supply at the time of the Jetair Australia Ltd transactions was the present Minister for Education and Science and that he was doubtful about the transaction and reluctant to enter into it? I ask the Minister: Why was he doubtful and why was he reluctant?
– I have nothing to add to the very full statement that has been made by Senator Wright in the Senate. The Secretary for the Department of Supply spoke to me about this file when I was Acting Minister for Supply for a few days and he referred to the matters that the Prime Minister had covered in answer to an earlier question. In all these circumstances the Secretary of the Department of Supply recommended quite firmly that the purchase should be proceeded with. Because of the matters the Prime Minister had mentioned, when I agreed to that as Acting Minister for Supply I said that the file should be brought to the attention of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and notated the file accordingly.
– Is the Minister for Housing aware of statements and proposals made during the last parliamentary recess by the Labor Party that the cost of Australian homes would be reduced by up to $6,000? Is there any substance to the proposals?
– I am aware of the statement that was made during the last parliamentary recess by the Leader of the Opposition and, I think, also by the honourable member for Reid that the Australian Labor Party had plans to reduce the cost of Australian homes by up to $6,000. Of course, in the world of politics, they can always make such a proposal, but this is a very serious one because as a result of it many inquiries were made to me by young people. In answering those inquiries I had to indicate to them that nothing but a very cruel and deliberate hoax was being played upon thousands of young home seekers in Australia by the Leader of the Opposition. It was a cruel hoax because the very person who made this proposal has put forward propositions which would have 2 results on the home industry in Australia. These precise policies would, firstly, destroy the very institutions which provide a major source of home finance in Australia. Another major plank in the housing policy of the Labor Party is designed to increase and would in fact increase the cost of homes in nearly every State of the Commonwealth. Consequently, it is the height of irresponsibility for the Leader of the Opposition and others to propose that they could reduce the cost of a home by up to $6,000. One could only presume that such a statement is designed to cause serious discontent, perhaps for political purposes, among thousands of young people. For those reasons it is quite understandable that during the whole Budget session of this Parliament not one question has been directed to me by the Shadow Minister for Housing or the shadow shadow Minister, the honourable member for Hughes, because I think it is an area in which they have such a great deal to be very apologetic about.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In answer to a question from the honourable member for Reid on 23rd August did the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts reject the principle of making environmental impact statements public on the grounds that these reports were for Government information only? Has the Prime Minister now accepted the principle of disclosing these reports as essential documents for informed public debate on environmental issues? If so, will he overrule the Minister and make these important studies available to facilitate consideration by the House of the estimates for the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts?
– I said yesterday that I believed that the substance of the environmental statements should be made available and published. I ended my statement by saying that I had issued instructions through the permanent head of my
Department that attached to each Cabinet submission was to be a statement which would be publicly available and if necessary tabled. 1 now add that if necessary the statements can be tabled and debated in this House. Naturally enough I will not under any circumstances table either the Cabinet submission or the contents of that Cabinet submission, but yesterday I issued instructions to the permanent head of my Department that a second letter is to be written to all permanent heads of other departments informing them that they should make certain that statements are attached to the Cabinet submissions made to the Government. It is those statements that I will make certain will not only be made public but also, if necessary, can be debated.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to recently expressed views that there is good ground for saying that our criminal law urgently needs a major overhaul and that thought should be given to a royal commission on crime and punishment. Is the Minister inclined to agree that the law is heavily weighted against the poor and uneducated and in favour of white collar criminals, and that this in itself is enough reason for us to take the comments of Mr Justice Fox very seriously?
– I think every member of this Parliament is wise enough to take any statement by the judiciary seriously. I think the point to which the honourable gentleman’s question refers is one which needs to be examined in the light of the Changing circumstances of our time. Predominantly the responsibility for implementing the results of Mr Justice Fox’s recommendations lies not merely with the Federal Parliament and Federal Government tout also with State governments as most <of the areas to which he referred are specifically within the responsibility of State legislatures rather than the Federal legislature. Nonetheless, I shall draw the honourable gentleman’s question to the attention of my colleagues the Attorney-General in another place. I can assure the honourable gentleman that those aspects of His Honour’s judgment to which he referred are matters which the Government will consider in the proper time and place.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer. Is it a fact that this Government has over a long period been most reluctant to amend the income tax Jaw to prevent tax avoidance schemes practised by large companies and the more affluent section of the community? Is it a fact that the revenue so lost by this reluctance has had to be borne by lower and middle income group taxpayers? Has the Prime Minister knowledge of any other tax avoidance schemes which have not yet been closed off by either legislative action or proposed legislative action? If not, will he obtain details of these other tax avoidance schemes from Taxation and Treasury officials and give details of those schemes to the House together with the amount of tax avoided, which runs into scores of millions of dollars?
– The first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, which amounts in fact to a statement, is wrong. Whenever we get evidence of taxation avoidance we look at it particularly carefully. As the honourable gentleman will know, we have decided already to take additional action to prevent such evasion of taxation. As to the second and last parts of the honourable gentleman’s question, I think he can take it that whenever we see evidence of avoidance or evasion taking place we will very carefully consider it to see that the maximum of taxation is. collected, if it is legally and properly justified.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether the Government’s trade policy with Mainland China has proved to be highly successful, despite attempts by the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable members for Dawson and Riverina to interfere. Have Australian commercial negotiators made record sales to mainland China, not only of wheat but also of sugar and steel? Are many Australian exporters continuing a highly effective series of missions to Mainland China on behalf of Australian industry, with excellent future prospects?
– I think I have answered this question adequately in the last few days and have revealed that our performance has been very satisfactory, especially in relation to other countries. During the 1960s, of course, Australia was amongst the first 5 major traders with the People’s Republic of China. We were one of the largest sellers, if not the largest seller, of wheat to that country. Only when a number of issues came to bear, such as the People’s Republic having a greater capacity to produce more wheat and possibly the policital interference and embarrassment that the Opposition caused, were we prevented from being able to make satisfactory arrangements with that country.
– And the embarrassment your own television performance caused.
– I hear the honourable member for Fremantle interjecting. He says that my own performance was the cause of a lack of sales. I take up the challenge on what I said at that performance - that I did have principles and that I was not prepared to sell my soul- (Opposition members interjecting)
-Order! On 3 occasions
– The Country Party-
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will cease talking while the Speaker is on his feet. On 3 occasions this morning there has been what I call undue mirth and display of hilarity.
-Order! If the honourable gentleman interjects again I will name him. I have stated that no member shall interject while the Speaker is on his feet. It is very seldom that I rise, but this morning I feel that it is time that, some firmer action be taken to stop this hilarity in the House. I see I have the concurrence of several honourable members. On the next occasion an honourable member interjects I shall not hesitate to name him.
– I said on television that I was not prepared to sell my soul for trade to any country, and I still stand by that. I think anybody with a little dignity and respect would do the same. I am sure the Chinese would do the same also. The honourable member for Dawson, in his usual courageous way, brought a censure motion against me in this House whilst I was out of the country and tried to accuse me and the Government for the failure to make a sale to the People’s Republic. He knows full well, particularly after his own personal visit to China, that this had nothing at all to do with it. He has not had the dignity or the decency to make an apology because of it. It is about time the Australian people and his own Party realised that this is a man who is prepared to capitalise on any political situation. He does not show much loyalty to the wheat industry, other agricultural industries, his own Party or his own Leader.
(Mr Hayden proceeding to address a question to the Prime Minister)
-Order! The question asked the other day by the honourable member for Perth resulted in the tabling of the papers in relation to this matter. The actions of any branch of any party or the actions of the president or secretary of any branch are not within the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department. Therefore, the question is out of order.
– No, wait a minute.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have now ruled that conduct by a political party, when referred to in a question, makes that question out of order but you have just permitted a Minister to spend all his time answering a question about the conduct of a member of a party. There seems to be a conflict between the 2 rulings.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Can I ask the Prime Minister: Does he dissociate himself and his Government from the views of his colleague, the Acting Minister for Health, who sought to defend and justify this action by the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party, in view of the criticisms of that action made by the Federal President of the Australian Medical Association?
– I listened with great pleasure to the statement made yesterday by my colleague, the Acting Minister for Health. I think it is a statement that deserves wide publicity. If the shadow Minister for Health likes, I will take the maximum steps to ensure that it receives that publicity. Above all, at the same time if he wishes it, I will show how completely the honourable member has been disowned by the Australian Medical Association according to this morning’s papers.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise inform the House “of any further developments in the negotiations taking place in connection with the Moomba-Sydney pipeline?
– As my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, and I informed the House on Tuesday, negotiations have taken place and are taking place constantly between the parties principal to this dispute. !As I said to the House on Tuesday, the “best of all worlds both for the Australian work force and for the nation would be for the maximum amount of the order to !be placed with Australian companies, thus ensuring the maximum use of resources, both material and human; and for the remainder, if a suitable equivalent could not be produced in Australia, to be imported duty free so as to reduce basic unit costs to Industry and consequently to the consumer. I also made an appeal from the floor of the House for all parties concerned to enter into these negotiations with goodwill and not with heat, because the interests of the nation would be better served that way. Today in Sydney the permanent head of my Department and senior officers will be continuing these most delicate negotiations to a crucial stage with the parties principal. Therefore, it is with great regret that 1 find that not only did the Labor Party in the Senate put an urgency motion on the notice paper yesterday but also the Labor Party In this House - because its proceedings are being broadcast - has put one on the notice paper today. I suggest that the only total result of this kind of action could be to inflame an already delicate situation. Such action by a Party which allegedly champions members of the work force will result in damage to those people.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I ask him why he told the honourable member for Mitchell in February last year that negotiations were commenced for the purchase and delivery to Cambodia, Laos and Nepal of 11 DC3 aircraft, or a little over a year before, when, as now appears from documents tabled in the Senate, the negotiations had taken place during the preceding month, or a month before that alone?
– A very detailed statement has been made b- my colleague, Senator Wright, in another chamber. I will obtain the facts relating to this particular part of the transaction from the Department of Foreign Affairs and I will let the honourable member know about it.
– May 1 preface my question to the Prime Minister - and 1 hope that this is in order - by congratulating him and his wife on the birth of their daughter.
Honourable members - Hear, hear!
– 1 would like to preface the substance of my question by reminding the right honourable gentleman that it is now approximately 2 years since decisions were announced with respect to the transfer of a proportion of Commonwealth occupied lands around the Sydney Harbour foreshores to the State Government. Could he inform me what the present situation is with respect to this transfer? Will the Prime Minister assure me that every effort is being made to finalise these arrangements so that the people of Sydney and Australia will have access to these magnificant recreational areas?
– The last part of the honourable gentleman’s question exposes my feelings completely, which are that we will do all in our capacity to ensure that these magnificent parts of the Sydney Harbour foreshores are made available for ne convenience of the people of Sydney and of the rest of Australia. I can inform the honourable member that within recent weeks we have completed arrangements relating to a handing over under certain conditions of about 550 acres to the New South Wales Government in order to permit the ideals he mentioned being fulfilled. There are some technical details to be completed associated with whether or not this land will be freehold or leasehold. I hope to be able to complete these details soon. But that does not detract from the fact that the land will become available to the Australian people for their use and enjoyment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service who has just returned to the chamber. Would the Minister tell me whether there have been any alterations in the procedures for the issue and lodgement of claims for unemployment benefit since November of last year? If so, will he tell me how many and will he explain the nature of them?
– The question of processing claims for unemployment benefit is also a matter that comes before my colleague the Minister for Social Services. I am certainly unaware of any procedures which have been the subject of change. I would be certain that no major changes have taken place. But I will have the matter made the subject of investigation and advise the honourable member.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– There has been a deliberate misrepresentation of my attitude by the Deputy Prime Minister in regard to Chinese trade.
-I inform the honourable member that the question before the Chair is his claim that he has been misrepresented. He will confine his remarks to where he has been misrepresented. This will not entitle him to debate the question.
- Mr Speaker, with respect, I think it is pretty clear to you that the Minister for -
-Order! There are other forms of the House that the honourable member for Dawson may wish to use. However, it is not for me to advise him in relation to this matter. I point this out to him now.
– I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted?
– There being no objection leave is granted.
– I will make my statement short. I shall give the House the facts with respect to what was stated by me and published in Hansard. When I returned from China I made a statement, which was reported in the Press, that the door was open to trade with China but that the Australian Government would have to stop its hostility towards China. While we were in China it was made clear to our delegation by China’s Foreign Minister and Minister for Foreign Trade that trade in wheat with Australia would be hindered while the Australian Government continued its hostility towards China. I will now quote what was said by the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade in the presence of Austraiian journalists. He said:
The Australian Government has consistently followed a policy of hostility to China. It has blindly followed United States imperialism and aggression. As far as China is concerned, trade, economics and politics are inseparable. Trade in wheat with the Australian Government can only be continued and further developed if normal political relationships apply between our 2 countries. We regard the political relationship between Australia and China as the fundamental question as regards further wheat sales. Because of Australia’s hostility to China it follows that such an attitude cannot but affect our trade policy with the Australian Government.
Mr Pai then said, when I asked him to define what those obstacles were, and again in the presence of Australian journalists:
Firstly, Australia is supporting Chiang Kai-shek and has established diplomatic relations with Taiwan; secondly, Australia has continuously opposed the restoration of China’s legitimate seat in the United Nations; thirdly, Australia supports and follows United States aggression in South East Asia; fourthly Australia refuses to recognise the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government representing all the
Chinese people, including the people of the Province of Taiwan; and lastly, Australia is collaborating with the United States of America to create 2 Chinas, or one China and one Taiwan and is, therefore, interfering in the internal affairs of China
On my return to Australia the first statement I made was that the door to trade with China was open. I said that in regard to wheat I was convinced that this was only a temporary loss for Australia and that as soon as political considerations became more normal Australia would share in imports of wheat to China. We notice that never does the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) refer to China now as ‘Red China’ or ‘Communist China’. Who will forget the occasion in 1966 when he ranted around Australia about the Red arrows coming down from China to invade Australia. This was open hostility to the Chinese Government. Who will forget the occasion in 1967 when the Australian Government handed a note to the Austraiian Wheat Board delegation in Hong Kong to give to the Chinese Government stating that the wheat contract for 1967 could be terminated unless the Chinese Government interfered to stop the Hong Kong riots. Does the Deputy Prime Minister deny the truth of that? No, of course he does not, because the Prime Minister himself has admitted in writing that a note was sent by the Australian Government to the Wheat Board to be passed on to China. This was deliberate intervention by the Australian Government, in the affairs of the Wheat Board, and this was bitterly resented by the members of the Wheat Board. To nail this once and for all, I refer to the first statement I made in the Parliament after J returned from China. It was made on 23rd August 1971, and is reported in Hansard. I said:
As regards the restoration of the wheat trade with China, the facts are that while in China I did everything possible to persuade Chinese authorities to alter their wheat policy as it presently discriminates against the Australian unheal grower and to resume wheat purchases from the Australian Wheat Board. I argued that if China were prepared to trade with Australian private companies like Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd which comprised people or shareholders, China should be prepared to trade also with Australian wheat farmers who are really shareholders of the Australian Wheat Board.
On the day I left Peking I was informed that consideration would be given to my request to resume the wheat trade with Australia on the grounds that Australian wheat farmers, like the shareholders of an Australian private company, were not responsible for the Australian Government’s foreign policies and hostility to China. Contrary to the Deputy Prime Minister’s crude attempt to blame me personally for the loss of last month’s wheat sale, if the Chinese Government does decide to resume wheat purchases from Australia in the near future it will do so because of the explanations and pleas which we -
That is, the Australian Labor Party - made to China’s trade policy makers on behalf of the Australian wheat farmers.
I am not making that statement now; I made it on 23rd August 1971. It was the first statement I made in this Parliament after returning from China on the restoration of the wheat trade with China. It makes clear my attitude in relation to this matter and it highlights the deliberate misrepresentation by the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– by leave - We have just listened to what I think is one of the most pharisaic statements ever made in this House.
– How did you say that word?
– Pharisaic- sheer hypocrisy. To put it in language that honourable members opposite might understand, it was one of the most hypocritical, parsimonious statements I have heard come from the honourable member for Dawson. He is embarrassed and red-faced because he has been proved wrong. All he has done during the course of the last 2 years has been to be a mischief maker as regards the relationship between the Australian Wheat Board and the People’s Republic of China. If anything, he has made trade with China more difficult.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it in order for the Minister to pass judgment on the motives of the honourable member for Dawson?
– I think judgments were passed by the Opposition side just a few minutes ago.
– I rise to a point of order. I seek the basis of your judgment on this, Mr Speaker. I suggest that the honourable member for Dawson had nothing to say other than to state the facts of what he had said and done. He made no reflection upon the Minister. All the Minister has done has been to get to his feet, to ignore completely these facts and to make a personal attack on the honourable member for Dawson.
-The point of order raised by the honourable member for Capricornia related to what the Minister was saying, not to what the member for Dawson said.
– Mr Speaker, surely -
-Order! I suggest that this House should believe in what I would call, in an Australianism, a fair go.
– Mr Speaker, do your comments apply to-
-Order! The honourble member for Reid will cease interjecting while I am on my feet. If the honourable member continues to interject I will name him. There is no substance in the point of order which was raised. The Minister has been given leave to make a statement. The Minister is entitled to refer in that statement to relevant matters provided he does not reflect on the conduct or character of an honourable member.
– My further point of order, Mr Speaker, is that there has been a reflection on the honourable member for Dawson. Accusations have been made but no evidence whatsoever has been brought forward to support them.
-Order! If the honourable member will show me where there has been a reflection on the honourable member for Dawson I will consider it.
– The Deputy Prime Minister said that the honourable member for Dawson had been a mischief maker and had connived to create problems for the Wheat Board over the past 2 years. No evidence whatsoever has been produced to this House by the Minister. He has just made a broad accusation.
-Order! The Chair never sets itself, up as I have said before, as-
– Fair go.
– It depends on which side you are on.
-Order! If the honourable member for Oxley continues interjecting I will name him. In regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Reid, the Deputy Prime Minister has been given leave to make a statement. He has not, in my view, reflected in a derogatory way on the conduct or character of an honourable member sufficient to warrant my upholding the point of order. I do not set myself up, and I never have in this House, as one who judges the correctness or otherwise of the actions of any honourable member unless they are directly motivated towards disparaging the conduct or character of an honourable member.
– Mr Speaker, my point is that the honourable member for Dawson is the alternative spokesman on primary industry. He could be the Minister responsible for the sale of Australian wheat. Every Australian here is pleased that a sale of $60m-
-The honourable member will not debate the matter.
– There has been a reflection on the honourable member in that it was said that he has connived against that sale.
-Order! The honourable member is raising a hypothetical question.
– A Minister on the front bench has just interjected and said that the honourable member is conniving.
-I did not hear that comment. If a Minister did say that it is completely out of order.
– Mr Speaker, may I raise a point of order?
– Yes, if I can hear you I will listen to you.
– I refer to standing order 303 which refers to the conduct of members in this House. As you have said rightly on previous occasions and again today, the conduct of some members of this House is a grave reflection on the House itself. The Deputy Prime Minister has made a statement in which he used the word ‘Pharisee’. From my knowledge of the Bible, the word ‘Pharisee’ means a hypocrite. The honourable gentleman also used the word ‘hypocrite’. Under standing order 303 I ask you, Mr Speaker, to direct the Deputy Prime Minister to withdraw the words ‘Pharisee’ and ‘hypocrite’. They are not only disorderly; they are offensive.
-Order! I do not know the real biblical interpretation of the word that the honourable member used. I am not that well versed. I do not recall the Minister saying anything in any shape or form about the honourable member for Dawson being a hypocrite. What I do remember is that the right honourable gentleman was referring to a statement the honourable member for Dawson had made.
– Mr Speaker, I think I can help you out on this. The point of order which I raise is that the Deputy Prime Minister described the statement made by the honourable member for Dawson as-
– Mr Speaker, if you had gone to Sunday school you would have known that the Pharisees were hypocrites. To make certain that those of us who were not so well versed in the Bible as he pretends to be, the Minister changed the word from ‘pharisaical’ to ‘hypocritical’. What would you say, Mr Speaker, if 1 described a member of the Opposition as having made a treasonable statement or a criminal statement?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I call the Minister.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think the unfortunate thing about the honourable member for Dawson making a personal explanation is that he has deliberately again tried to bring a political aspect to our trade relations with China and has endeavoured to exacerbate our relations with that country. He is continuing to say that this country is hostile to the People’s Republic of China. Only 5 weeks ago a statement was put out by the honourable member. Although he is reported in a newspaper today as having said that he had been expecting for the last 3 months that we would make a sale and that he was delighted, his statement of 5 weeks ago was as follows:
Dr Patterson said the recent statement by Chou En-lai assuring Canada of long term wheat sales with China is clear evidence that China will not buy any wheat from Australia as long as the Australian Government continues its policy of hostility to China.
There have been some remarkable changes in attitude on the part of the Opposition in the last 5 weeks. The facts of the matter, as we have been saying all along, are that if we can normalise trade, if we can prevent embarrassment through political factors such as those which the Opposition has been playing with, we will trade with that country. The facts is that we are trading and we want to trade. We want to build up better relationships with China. This is not only a demonstration that we can sell any commodity to China, but also that China wants to improve its relations with us and we want to improve our relations with that country. A continuation of the performance we have just heard from the honourble member for Dawson will jeopardise our chances to achieve those goals.
He made some remarks about me and I retaliated. Goodness me, have I not some reason or justification for retaliating in view of the accusations he has made in this Parliament over the past 2 years, including a censure motion on me personally while I was out of the country? He knew after his trip to China that he was wrong and one member of his Party has said publicly that he was wrong. But has there been one word of apology from him? No. He has remained silent and is prepared to allow the stigma to attach to me. Well, there is always a day of retribution and this is the day of retribution. I think that what is worrying the Labor Party is that it is grievously embarrassed. It has displayed to the Australian wheat growers and to the Australian public just how wrong it has been.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. During question time the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) in an attempt to justify his inaction about the trend of rising housing prices claimed that members were not directing questions to him about the administration of his Department. I would like to say that several members, including myself, have questions on the notice paper at the present time. I have 5 questions on the notice paper addressed to the Minister.
-Order! The honourable member will say where he has been personally misrepresented. He will not debate the question.
– The point is that the Minister for Housing claimed that I personally had not questioned him about the administration of his Department, or words to that effect. I make the point that I have had many questions answered by the Minister during the current session and that at this moment I have 5 questions on the notice paper directed to him about housing, several of them specifically on the point of housing costs.
– I wish to make a personal explanation on the same matter. The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) misrepresented me. I have 2 questions on the notice paper addressed to the Minister about the cost of homes and land. One has been on the notice paper for over 6 weeks and the other for over 4 weeks. In view of the comments be made about my general attitude on this, might I mention that the means of reducing costs on housing and land which I had specified during the recess related to interest rates on loans, council rates on land, differing building codes, inadequate building research, and above all, the cost of land, particularly in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. My comment was that no question had been asked of me without notice. I made it perfectly clear that no question had been asked of me without notice, in spite of an invitation given to the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and others, because they fear to ask a question on housing without notice because their own policy is in tatters.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the comments on wheat, when the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) was speaking it was implied by the Minister for Primary
Industry (Mr Sinclair) that I was conniving to stop wheat sales to China. That is a deliberate - I cannot say ‘lie’; it was deliberately false. It is personally offensive to me. It is completely untrue. I ask for an unreserved withdrawal and apology.
-I did not hear the matter. It rests with the Minister what action he wants to take.
– I said ‘political connivance’ and I believe it to be true.
– I rise to order. An accusation was made that the honourable member for Dawson was conniving against wheat sales to China, and there was a clear interjection saying: ‘He is’. Hansard will record what the Minister said and I am prepared to stand by the record of Hansard. I know that the Minister only said: ‘He is’. It was a short, sharp statement. He should withdraw.
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member is debating the question.
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) both in a statement he made in Parliament last night and also in a letter, of which I have just received a copy, which he sent to the Warrnambool ‘Standard’ and which was published in the Warrnambool Standard’ on Thursday, 14th September. The letter was in reply to a challenge by his ALP opponent to debate education with me, which he refused.
-Order! Will the honourable member come to the point where he was personally misrepresented?
– He refused to accept the challenge. He said:
I have debated with Mr Kennedy in Parliament and on the radio and his attitude towards independent schools must give anyone with an interest in the independent sector of education real cause for concern.
He followed that with a statement of mine, taken out of context, on a radio interview in which I was quoted as saying:
I don’t care what the leaders of the Catholic Church Protestant Churches say about what they want their education system to be as far as Commonwealth grants are concerned.
That statement is taken out of context. I made that statement in reply to a statement he had made earlier that the system of grants he was supporting was a system of grants which was supported by various organisations of private schools. I made the point that the Federal Government is not responsible to any body of private schools whatsoever or to any private body of any kind but is responsible to the Australian taxpayer. This is where his statement has misrepresented my position. I am not opposed to the way in which church schools want to spend their grants when they receive them. What I am saying is that the decision as to how they receive them must be made by the Commonwealth Government in the interests of the Australian taxpayer.
Dr PATTERSON (Dawson)- Mi Speaker-
-Order! Is the honourable member to speak about the same matter?
– Most certainly.
-The education matter?
– No, on the previous matter. I was under the impression - I may be wrong - that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) withdrew the remark to which I objected.
– No, he did not do so.
– I repeat that when the honourable member for Reid was speaking a clear interjection or imputation was -
-Order! Is the honourable gentleman making a personal explanation?
-I find it very difficult to see how the honourable member can raise this matter on a personal explanation.
– The Minister said that he said there was political connivance.
– The Minister qualified his interjection by saying that there was political connivance in that I was deliberately attempting to stop wheat sales by Australia to China. That is deliberately false, it is personally offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn or else that the Minister give evidence to support what he said.
-Order!! The honourable member will resume his seat. The Minister for Primary Industry answered the question in relation to this matter and stated his attitude to it. I am afraid I did not hear the interjection to which the honour able member referred, as I am sure many others did not hear it.
– Hansard will show it.
– That is another question. I did not hear the interjection. The matter rests in the hands of the Minister. The Minister answered the question. There is nothing further I can do.
– Mr Speaker, whether Hansard picked it up or whether you picked it up is immaterial. The Minister for Primary Industry has said that the honourable member for Dawson had been guilty of political connivance. I submit that the honourable member for Dawson is quite entitled to have a withdrawal of that phrase.
-I did not hear the interjection. 1 do not know in what context it was made. I will not break a long standing rule that I have always observed in this House that will not act unless I hear the interjection. I have already asked the honourable the Minister for Primary Industry to state his attitude on this matter, and he said that he said the words-
– ‘Political connivance*.
– Do not ask me to quote verbatim, because immediately I attempt to quote verbatim and put a foot wrong in the matter you will be down on me like a ton of bricks. Therefore I do not attempt to do this The matter is in the hands of the Minister.
– If the honourable gentleman feels that the words ‘political connivance’ were unparliamentary, let me withdraw those words and say that I believe the actions of the honourable member for Dawson were deliberately directed against the best interests of the Australian wheat grower.
-Order! The Minister will not debate the question.
– I, too, wish to make a personal explanation in the same terms as those of the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). In answer to a Dorothy Dix question set up by the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns)-
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question. Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have 2 questions on notice directed to the Minister for Housing. The claim by the Minister for Housing that he specifically referred to questions without notice is an unfair reflection on me and other honourable members because the limited opportunity we have to ask questions without notice forces us to place questions on notice. The fact that he is facing certain defeat in the next election is no justification for him–
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the course of a personal explanation after question time yesterday, the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) said that members of the Opposition had alleged that he had made a misstatement and was telling a lie in regard to the report of the Nimmo Committee. He referred to an interjection which I made and which is attributed in Hansard on page 1977 to Mr Garrick that the Minister had better read the report again. My interjection did not refer to the Minister’s statement that the Nimmo Committee had no criticism that the multiplicity of health funds was inefficient or more costly. My remark referred to the context in which the Minister for Immigration made that statement which was in answer to a question which claimed that there was a multitude of inefficient and expensive socalled voluntary funds. I point out that the Nimmo Committee stressed that this multitude of funds is inefficient and costly particularly because of-
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the report of the Nimmo Committee.
– This is the section of the Nimmo Committee report to which I referred.
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question. I think the honourable member has shown to some extent where he has been misrepresented and I think that should be sufficient.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Meat Industry Act 1964-1969, I present the thirty-seventh annual report of the Australian Meat Board for the year ended 30th June 1972, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949-1968, I present the twenty-fourth annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the year ended 30th June 1972 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on these statements.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Independent Schools (Loans Guarantee) Act 1969, I present statements containing particulars of the guarantees that have been given under this Act during the years ended 30th June 1971 and 30th June 1972 and payments made under any guarantee given under this Act.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Scholarships Board for 1971.
– For the information of honourable members I present the following document:
Letter to the Administrator of the Commonwealth from the Chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission reporting the amounts to be recommended for payments of special grants to the States in 1972-73.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission’s further report is expected to be available for tabling in the House when Parliament meets again on 10th October 1972. The States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill is being introduced today so that the House can have sufficient time to examine its provisions. I assure honourable members that the Bill will not come on for debate until the Grants Commission’s further report is tabled and there has been a reasonable opportunity for members to study it.
– Pursuant to sections 9 and 10 of the Representation Act 1905-1964 I hereby give notification of determination of the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States and also present the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer of the number of the people of the Commonwealth and of the several States.
– by leave - I desire to inform the House that as required by the Representation Act 1905-1964, the Chief Electoral Officer has ascertained the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth and the numbers of the people of the several States consequent upon the taking of the census on 30th June 1971. Copies of the Chief Electoral Officer’s certificate specifying the said numbers have been tabled. Pursuant to sections 9 and 10 of the Representation Act the Chief Electoral Officer has determined the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen for the several States. As a result of that determination the representation for Western Australia will be increased by one member as from the first general election held after that State has been redistributed into electoral divisions. Section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides: 25(1.) A re-distribution of any State into divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the GovernorGeneral by proclamation. (2.) Such proclamation may be made -
It will be noted that Western Australia qualifies for a redistribution under the provisions of Section 25 (2.) (a).
The Chief Electoral Officer has advised the Government that there is not now sufficient time to give effect to a redistribution of any State before the forthcoming House of Representatives elections. Nevertheless, the Government believes that it has an obligation to set in motion the machinery for a redistribution of Western Australia so as to ensure that that State gains its entitlement of an extra member from the beginning of the 29th Parliament. The Government therefore proposes to recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of distribution commissioners for Western Australia. Although there has been some shift of population in the other States, there is no requirement at present for a redistribution in any State other than Western Australia and consideration in respect of those States will be deferred for the time being.
– by leave - Honourable members will be at a loss to understand how the Chief Electoral Officer can presume to say that there is not now sufficient time to give effect to a redistribution in Western Australia before the forthcoming House of Representatives elections. The fact is that it is under the constitution and not under the Electoral Act that Western Australia is entitled to 10 members and not merely to 9 members in the House of Representatives which will be elected in the next few months.
– We would like Western Australia to have 10 members because we would be able to win one extra seat.
– Whoever wins the seat is for the people of Western Australia to determine. They will have only 9 voices instead of 10 voices in the next Parliament whatever party they belong to. I would imagine that, realising that their representation will be unconstitutionally reduced in the next Parliament, they will indicate their support in still greater number for the candidates of that party which throughout has been fighting for this proper representation.
The honourable members for Forrest (Mr Kirwan) and Canning (Mr Hallett) and I have raised this matter for the last 1 1 months. I shall quote my first and my last question on the subject. On 25 th November last I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt):
Can he explain why the Chief Electoral Officer’s certificate could not have been prepared by, say, 4th November, as it was in 1954 after the census of that year, and thus have opened the way for a redistribution of electoral divisions within 11 months of the census, as also happened after the 1954 census? Why is there a delay in initiating a redistribution when the figures show not only a most unfair disparity in the population of the electorates but also a clear entitlement to an additional seat in both Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory?
On 7th December last the Commonwealth Statistician advised the Chief Electoral Officer that final population totals’ were most unlikely to vary significantly from the preliminary results published on 25th October last. The figures show that they did not vary significantly at all. On 17th August I asked the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) why there should not be a distribution of electorates before this year’s election on the basis of the census in June last year when one was achieved before the 1955 elections on the basis of the census in June 1954. The Prime Minister on 17th August stated:
I do not believe that the Commonwealth Statistician has more urgent work than to calculate the basis of representation in this Parliament. In fact the only task which the Constitution gives the Statistician is to make this calculation.
The Commonwealth Statistician has stated sufficient resources were not made available for him to carry out this calculating before the present week. If sufficient resources bad been given to the Statistician to carry out the duty which the Constitution imposes upon him, then whenever the Prime Minister makes up his mind to hold this year’s House of Representatives election there would have been time to have a distribution in Western Australia. There would have been time to see that Western
Australia had the full number of members in the next Parliament to which it is entitled under the Constitution. I make 2 further comments on the distribution of electorates. On Tuesday last the Minister for the Interior gave me an answer with the latest enrolment figures in each electoral division. As at 25th August the variations in electors between electorates were as follows: New South Wales 68,733 and 44,124; Victoria 70,598 and 45,214; Queensland 68,187 and 43,886; South Australia 65,520 and 45,476 and Western Australia 69,190 and 50,562. There is now a gross disparity in the numbers of electors between divisions in each of the mainland States. If one takes the population into account - as I believe one should under the Constitution and as the Supreme Court of the United States insists must be done under the American Constitution, from which we have borrowed the same words - the disparity would be still greater because the numbers of electors do not include migrants who are unnaturalised and citizens who are still under 21 years of age and Aborigines who have not chosen to enrol.
Contrary to the superficial assertions by some honourable members in many cases the electorates which have the largest population are also the electorates which have the largest area. For instance, the Kalgoorlie electorate, the largest in the English speaking world, is the electorate in Western Australia which has the largest population in Western Australia. I believe that the Kennedy electorate is the largest in Queensland and has the largest population in Queensland. The delayed distribution has meant not only that the people of Western Australia will not have as many votes in the next House of Representatives as the Constitution says they are entitled to have; it also means that the next House of Representatives will not be truly representative of the Australian people or even of the areas where the Australian electors reside.
I shall conclude with a reference to the position in the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister for the Interior in his answer last Tuesday showed that the number of electors in the Australian Capital Territory is 80,162, or 25,000 more than the population of the average Australian electorate, or more than 10,000 more than the next highest enrolment in any Australian electorate. Furthermore, the rate of increase in the enrolment in the A.C.T. demonstrates that well before the due date for the elections for the House of Representatives in 1975 the A.C.T. will have an enrolment more than twice that of the average electorate in Australia. If in the meantime there is a fair distribution on the basis of enrolment or population the A.C.T. can expect to have tens of thousands more people on the rolls than any other electorate in Australia.
At the time of the by-election for the Australian Capital Territory the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), said that there would be a second electorate in the A.C.T. in next to no time. On 20th August 1970 in replying in the debate on my Territory Senators Bill, which is still on the notice paper, the then Minister for the Interior stated:
Certainly when one has regard to the rapidly expanding electoral population of the A.C.T. it appears that the time is fast approaching when some additional representation may be justified on the basis of the number of electors involved.
By contrast the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in opening a shopping centre in the A.C.T. last week, said that there would be another electorate in the A.C.T. in perhaps 10 years time.
– Did I say 10 years time?
– According to the ‘Canberra Times’.
-I will get a copy of the transcript and send it to you.
– I had it last night when I exposed your prevarication on this matter to members of an enthusiastic audience who noticed the contrast between your statements and those of your predecessor about votes for people in the Australian Capital Territory where there is no State government, a restricted local government, one member of the House of Representatives and no senators. The one member of the House of Representatives has to do all the representational work for the largest population of any electorate in Australia, work which is shared in any other part of Australia by senators, State members of Parliament, aldermen and councillors.
Whatever may be the difficulties facing the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in having a distribution in Western Australia between now and the date which the Prime Minister announces for the elections for the House of Representatives, there can be no such difficulty concerning the Australian Capital Territory. To put 2 electorates in the A.C.T. instead of one would require a very brief amendment to one Act of this Parliament. I do not believe that there would be any opposition whatever to that amending Bill. Through denying to the Statistician the proper resources to carry out his constitutional function there cannot be 10 members from Western Australia in the next Parliament. There is no possible excuse for not having 2 members from the Australian Capital Territory, as the previous Prime Minister promised in May 1970 and as the previous Minister for the Interior forecast 13 months ago.
– by leave - I want to make just one point clear to the House following the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Certain statutory periods must be observed before an electoral redistribution can be undertaken. I have asked the Chief Electoral Officer to provide me with this information. For the record I report accordingly. His reply stated:
The time required to effect a redistribution depends largely on the number of electors enrolled for a State (which governs the number of Divisions and consequently the amount of work involved); the number of suggestions, objections and comments received by the Distribution Commissioners; the time taken by the Government to decide upon and recommend to the GovernorGeneral the names of the Commissioners and the time taken by Parliament to approve or disapprove the proposed redistribution. The following timetable indicates the estimated time required to effect a redistribution in a small State (numerically) - e.g., Western Australia or Tasmania.
The information supplied sets out that the first major step is a submission to the Minister by the Chief Electoral Officer of the panel of names from which the Cabinet chooses commissioners. The estimated period for this exercise is one week. The next major step is a decision by the Cabinet and appointment of commissioners. Normally this would take 2 to 3 weeks. The third step is the publication of advertisements by commissioners in the Commonwealth Gazette under section 18a (1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. This takes one week. The fourth step is a period for submission of suggestions. This is referred to in section 18a (1) (a). This involves a 30-day statutory period.
The fifth step is the making available for perusal of copies of suggestions lodged with the commissioners. This is mentioned in section 18a (2). The sixth step is the period for submission of comments relating to Suggestions under section 18A(l)(b). This involves a statutory period of 14 days. The seventh step is the consideration of suggestions and comments and the gathering of appropriate information by commissioners from available sources. The estimated period required is 4 weeks. The eighth step is the preparation and printing of maps and descriptions of boundaries. The estimated period required for this exercise is 4 weeks. The ninth major step is the distribution of maps to post offices for exhibition under section 20(a). This takes at least a week. The tenth step is the making available for perusal copies of comments lodged with commissioners. This is referred to in section 20. The eleventh step is a period for lodgment of suggestions or objections under section 21. This involves a 30-day statutory period. The twelfth step is the considerations by commissioners of objections and suggestions and this takes 2 weeks. The thirteenth step is the preparation of report and map and submission to the Minister. This takes a further 2 weeks. The fourteenth step is the tabling of the report and approval or disapproval by Parliament, which normally takes one to three weeks. In all, these requirements involve a period of between 28 and 31 weeks.
Various people in Western Australia and Labor spokesmen have suggested that the Government has not moved to try to grant an additional seat to that State. The Chief Electoral Officer has followed every step as expeditiously as possible. We sought legal advice and found that he could not issue a certificate on preliminary figures as far back as this time last year. We have been waiting for final figures from the Commonwealth Statistician before submitting to this House the document which I submitted today - the certificate from the Chief Electoral Officer. Every effort has been made to follow the normal process. I believe that the Government has acted to satisfy the Act and the requirements of the Western Australian people, by the steps which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has announced today. I think it is very shallow and unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition should try to capitalise on the fact that there are long statutory periods and certain procedures that must be followed in accordance with the law.
– What about the Australian Capital Territory?
– I am sure that it will be the Government’s intention to look at the case of the Australian Capital Territory in the context of a redistribution for the rest of Australia.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement because I have been misrepresented and that misrepresentation has been confirmed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– As the Prime Minister claims to have been misrepresented he may proceed.
– While the Leader of the Opposition was speaking a few minutes ago about redistribution he said that I had made the statement that a redistribution relating to the Australian Capital Territory would be in about 10 years time, or something to that effect. That is absolutely untrue. What I did say was this:
And what a lovely day it is to open up a centre of this kind, in the heart of the National Capital. And in the area in the not too distant future, we’ll have purchasers of round about 80,000 people. By (hat time I suppose, too, it will have its own representative in the House of Representatives.
Ten years ago, as most of you know, this Valley and among others, was mostly sheep country.
In other words the Leader of the Opposition has distorted what I have said. I can only hope that he will have the decency to express his regret. I do not expect it; I hope for it. I hope that the ‘Canberra Times’, which prides itself upon its accuracy will at least correct the misapprehension. I give the Leader of the Opposition the transcription of my remarks to permit him to express his regret if he cares to do so.
– Mr Speaker, I am sending for the ‘Canberra Times’ and I will interpose when it comes.
– by leave - I wish to announce that pending the retirement of the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull), of the Australian Country Party, as the Deputy Government Whip, the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) has been elected to that position as from 10th October. This is not the time to be making statements or salutations about my colleague and friend, the honourable member for Mallee, birt perhaps I can be forgiven on this occasion for saying what a remarkable Australian he is, what wonderful service he has given to this country and what a loyal and wonderful friend he is to have. I shall deeply regret the fact that he will be leaving this Parliament and also that he will cease to be the Deputy Government Whip.
– by leave. - On behalf of the Australian Country Party I state how much we have appreciated 16 years of loyal devotion by the honourable member for Mallee, largely as the Whip of our Party in helping us to perform our duties in this House and in co-ordinating activities. As the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has rightly said, Sir Winton Turnbull is a most remarkable man - an unusual man. He has shown a devotion to this Parliament and to his Party which I believe is unequalled.
– by leave - I, too, would like to make a brief contribution on the statement which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made about the retirement of the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) from the position of Country Party Whip. I had thought that I would be making some reference to the honourable gentleman on the last night of the sittings. However, I shall anticipate it now. He has been, by any standard, a most diligent and effective Whip. I believe that he has never missed a sitting of the House since he was elected in 1946. It would be a pretty bold member of his Party who missed any sitting of the House since he became Whip. From your position looking straight down the centre aisle Mr Speaker, you will have observed the reactions that the honourable gentleman can produce. He has been a man of undiminished ardour in everything pertaining to his duties over his very long period of service to the people of his electorate, the people of his Party and the people of Australia.
– by leave - In his Budget speech on 15th August, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said that the Government had decided that ‘unemployed persons should not be inhibited in seeking employment by the cost of fares, and will be asking the States for their co-operation in developing a viable scheme’.
The purpose of the statement that I am now making is to advise the House of the details of this scheme.
Under the scheme, certain categories of unemployed persons registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service will be able to travel free on public transport from the Commonwealth Employment Service to be interviewed by a prospective employer and on the return journey. The cost of that travel will be borne by the Commonwealth.
Following the Budget announcement, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) wrote to the Premiers seeking the co-operation of the States in the development of this scheme. That co-operation was readily forthcoming. Since then, officers of my Department have conferred with representatives of Commonwealth, State and municipal transport authorities and private transport operators throughout Australia and a viable scheme has been established. At the outset, I want to express the Government’s appreciation to the Premiers and to the transport bodies for the willing co-operation they have extended to the Commonwealth in devising the new arrangements.
The Government intends that free travel :n seeking employment should be available to those persons who are most in need of financial assistance. We aim to ensure that such persons should not be out of pocket for money spent on fares. We recognise that the cost of fares can be an inhibiting factor in the search for employment. We are, therefore, seeking to help under this scheme those persons who have reached the stage of eligibility for unemployment benefit.
We have sought to devise a scheme under which the unemployed person will not need to spend money on fares out of his own pocket. We have succeeded in achieving this. A scheme which involved the individual in claiming reimbursement of the cost of fares he had expended would be a cumbersome and costly one for all concerned, including the individual.
Thus, with the co-operation of the transport authorities, we have established a scheme which will mean that, for urban and metropolitan travel, the unemployed person will receive a ticket or tickets that will give him free travel to and from an employer’s premises. The Commonwealth will purchase tickets in bulk from the operators and these tickets will be made available in offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service to persons eligible to receive them under the terms of the scheme. Administrative arrangements between my Department and the transport operators will thus be kept to a minimum.
We have agreed with the transport authorities on average fares for travel on public transport in all metropolitan areas, in Canberra (including Queanbeyan), in Darwin and the larger provincial centres. It will thus be possible for persons eligible under the scheme to travel free on the transport systems in each of these areas to the extent permitted by the scheme.
Travel outside the average fare system will also be free under the scheme. Commonwealth travel warrants will be issued and the operator will claim reimbursement from the Commonwealth.
Let me provide some examples. If a person eligible under the scheme is referred to an employer at North Melbourne from the District Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service at St Kilda, he will be issued with tickets at that District Office which will enable him to travel without cost to him on the Melbourne public transport system to the employer’s premises. Before leaving the District Office, he will also be given tickets which will enable him to return to that office if he so wishes or to some other point in the metropolitan area - for example, to his home. Similarly, if the District Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service in Adelaide refers an unemployed person to a job in Mt Gambier, a travel warrent will be issued which will enable that person to travel to Mt Gambier and then to return to Adelaide.
Those eligible under the Scheme will be: persons qualified to receive unemployment benefit; persons transferring from sickness or special benefits to unemployment benefit; and newly-arrived migrantas who are resident in Commonwealth hostels and qualified to receive special unemployment benefit.
When a person registers for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service, he can receive unemployment benefit from the eighth day following that registration, if he meets the necessary requirements. In technical terms, this 7 days is known as the ‘waiting period’. Thus, he will be eligible for free travel on and from that eighth day until such time as he secures a job, his claim for unemployment benefit is not granted or he ceases to be entitled to unemployment benefit.
An applicant for unemployment benefit is required to serve only one ‘waiting period’ of 7 days within any period of 13 weeks. Therefore, a person who falls into this category will also become eligible for free travel immediately he lodges a claim for unemployment benefit other than the first claim.
In the case of a newly-arrived migrant resident in a Commonwealth hostel, the eighth day, for the purposes of special unemployment benefit, is the eighth day after his arrival in Australia. Thus, a person in this category will also be eligible for assistance under the new scheme;
The fares assistance scheme will apply also to a person who has been receiving sickness or special benefits and becomes available for work and is transferred immediately to unemployment benefit. For example, a breadwinner who has just recovered from an illness or a man caring for his sick wife or children could fall within this category.
The scheme will come into operation on
Monday, 2nd October 1972. There are still some administrative arrangements to be finalised with some operators in some States. These are being finalised as a matter of priority and I am confident that soon after 2nd October the scheme will be in complete operation throughout the Commonwealth. I want to make it clear, however, that, on 2nd October, the scheme will be in operation as to virtually all major transport systems in all States.
Mr Speaker, this scheme is a further indication of the determined efforts by this Government to promote high levels of employment and to facilitate greater mobility of the work force. It is a scheme from which assistance in tangible form will be derived by persons in their quest for employment.
Fares assistance schemes for unemployed persons exist in some other countries - not many - but I venture to say that ours will prove to be one of the simplest to operate and one of the most meaningful to the recipient.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– by leave - I told you, Mr Speaker, that I would be seeking leave to make a statement in answer to the invitation of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). The following paragraph appeared on the front page of the Canberra Times’ of the 19th of this month:
And reminiscent of the remark by the former Prime Minister Mr Gorton, at another opening some 18 months ago (‘A second member for the A.C.T. in next to no time’) Mr McMahon suggested that Woden would have its own elected representative within the next 10 years.
The Prime Minister did not give any time today. I conclude by saying that there is no provision in the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act requiring the prolonged procedure for a distribution of the Territory into electorates which applies to the distribution of a State into electoral divisions.
– I begin by thanking the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) for supplying me last night with a copy of the speech he has just made. This is a welcome improvement on the normal practice which other Ministers follow of giving their opposite number as little notice as possible of what they intend to do. I thank him for that. I am pleased also that he has adopted one small portion of the recommendations contained in my paper to the Industrial Relations Society of South Australia on 7th August this year which pointed out that this sort of thing ought to be adopted. I am pleased for this small mercy. I only wish he had seen fit to adopt all of the other recommendations that I made in that paper.
– What was the date?
– It was 7th August. I sent the Minister a copy.
– This year?
– Yes. We can only assume that the decision of the Minister has been made since 7th August. If the decision was made before then why have we had to wait until this late stage to hear about it? Why did the people who would have been entitled to the benefit have to wait all these weeks without getting the benefit that is now proposed? That is the thing; you work too slowly. The Minister said that under the scheme certain categories will get benefits. He said that these will be the people who have reached the stage of eligibility for unemployment benefit. But the big secret is this: At what stage does a person reach eligibility for unemployment benefit? We know that a man whose wife works and earns more than $31 a week will not be eligible for unemployment benefit. Presumably he will not be entitled to get his fare from Adelaide to Mount Gambier and back. This is the first defect in the proposal.
Another defect is: How does one find out the criteria by which the Department of Social Services determines whether a person is eligible for unemployment benefit? This morning I telephoned the Department of Social Services in Canberra and explained that I was a transport driver temporarily out of work. I said that I had an opportunity to get a job as a labourer earning $51.10 a week at Yass. I asked whether I would have to take the job or could I stay in Canberra on unemployment benefit. When the person to whom I was talking asked for my name, I told him. He said: ‘Well, I think you had better ring Mr Hamilton, the head of the Department.’ I rang Mr Hamilton and Mr Hamilton said: I will have to speak to the Minister to find out whether I can give you the internal memoranda, manuals and circulars which we circulate among our departmental officers for determining these things.’ Therefore, unless an unemployed person was close enough to Mr Hamilton, the permanent head of the Department of Social Services, or was a personal friend of the Minister, presumably, he would never know whether he was eligible for unemployment benefit and consequently he would never know whether he was entitled to the fare. So much for the looseness of the verbiage used by the Minister for Labour and National Service in his statement.
The Minister’s statement is almost reminiscent of the Bill that was introduced into this place earlier in the year to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is a hotch-potch of loosely put together words; it is an odd assortment of ideas which, when analysed are very difficult to understand. There has been a considerable change in some of the criteria that is being used for registering the unemployed with the Department of Labour and National Service. During question time today I asked the Minister:
Will the Minister tell me whether there has been any alteration in the procedures for the issue and lodgment of claims for unemployment benefit sine/ November of last year? If so, will he tell me how many and will he explain the nature of them?
The Minister said that he did not know of any. He said that if there were any they were certainly not of a very major nature, the inference being that there were none at all.
I have in my hand a rather important looking document that is headed: ‘Minute’ and ‘Circular N72/1’ and ‘D.E.O. File 2/8/’. That document refers to another document dated 4th January 1972 which is a circular signed by a P. H. Cook. The circular makes 2 major alterations to the procedures that were to be followed. The circular states:
D.E.O. staff shall not issue forms SU2 at the time of registration; This is a new procedure.
The circular went on to state: .
That, Sir, represents quite a substantial revision of some of the operative procedures for the issue and lodgment of claims for unemployment benefit which previously applied. Underlined in paragraph 5 are these words:
The Minister apparently is seeking advice on this but we know very well that- this represents a change. It came at a time of- the year when the raw figures of unemployment had reached astronomical heights and when even the seasonally adjusted figures were causing the Government some considerable concern, but not so much as they would if the Government were still office next January or February. The Minister was desperately attempting to find some way of smothering up the real picture of the unemployment situation. I think that this document, . which I claim represents pretty valid, reasonable and responsible evidence of what has happened, ought to be taken into account. The document goes further. It states:
We are currently having discussions .with the Department of Social Services (Rehabilitation Branch) regarding procedures associated with this form and I will be writing to you again on this matter in the near future.
The document then states:
I propose to recommend to Central Office that certain amendments be made to these revised procedures and I would therefore like to have by the end of February, by which time staff will have gained experience in dealing with these new arrangements, any suggestions District Officers have to offer towards improving the procedures.
I would like to know what happened about that. I would like to know what procedures were changed, what did the District Officers say, was this acted upon and what effect did the action of the District Officers have upon the sum total of people who were unemployed? What the Minister seems to be overlooking altogether is that the big problem is not getting people to the employers. What we have to do is to have a more efficient Commonwealth Employment Office. What is wrong with having a job bank? What is wrong with having a computer system under which every new job that comes on to the market is fed immediately into the job bank computer so that anyone who wants to go to the Commonwealth Employment Office can see for himself what jobs are available and where they are situated.
– A number are being looked at.
– The Minister says that a number are being looked at. This is a recommendation 1 made in a paper on 7th August and I am pleased to know that the Minister is looking at it. I received a letter only this morning from a 13-year-old high school boy who signs himself John Rau. In his letter he said:
Have a look at this wonderful piece of Liberal propaganda. It is promoting (suppozedly) -
Supposedly’ was spelt with a ‘z’ - a very quiet and carefull, seldom heard of polotician, a Mister John MacCleay. Hope you get a laughe out of the cutting.
I looked at the cutting and certainly did get a laugh out of it. On it is a picture of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr John McLeay) and Senator Bonner who is described as ‘Australia’s only Aboriginal M.P.’ The article states:
paying informal visits to shopping centres e.g., in UNLEY, MITCHAM, NORWOOD, BLACKWOOD, BURNSIDE to discuss any social or political topics, including this thought: -
IT’S TIME for the truth on UNEMPLOYMENT!
Then it purports to point out that the Labor-controlled States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania have a higher percentage of unemployed than do the Liberal-controlled states of Queensland. Victoria and New South Wales. ‘Go walkabout today’. I do not know why the honourable member for Boothby wants to poke fun at this poor senator. After all, the senator comes up for election this year and here is the honourable member ridicul ing him and talking about going walkabout. This poor senator has to try to win an election after being made a laughing stock by one of his own colleagues who talks about the senator going walkabout. I do not know of any better way than that to destroy a person’s chances of being elected.
I have taken the trouble to look at some of the figures. I obtained the 1970 figures for the 3 States mentioned by the honourable member for Boothby. I took the 1970 figures because at that time those 3 States were still under the control of Liberal Party governments. I found that in each State the amount of unemployment was higher then under Liberal control than the amount of unemployment in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. ThenI looked at the present figures. The percentage situation has not changed except to the extent that it has been affected by the August Budget. The unemployment position in South Australia was made worse because of the disastrous effect the Budget had upon South Australia’s chief industry, the motor vehicle industry.I know that the Tasmanian position has been made worse since this Government has squeezed every cent possible in freight out of the poor people of Tasmania so that the Australian National Line can show big profits. Following the collapse of the mining boom in Western Australia that State is also suffering as a consequence of the Federal Budget.
Let us now look at the number of people, in absolute terms, who are out of work in the 3 Labor States and the 3 Liberal States. But firstly let me say that the Labor Party is not prepared to treat an unemployed person as a statistic, as a percentage or as anything other than a human being. Wherever he is he has got his loves, his life, his liver and children and others who are dependent upon him. Yet we have this cruel and callous attitude towards unemployed people as though they are nothing more than mere statistics. The Government could not care less so long as the percentage of unemployed is . 01 less than it is somewhere else. It says then that this is a great situation. At present there are 120,053 unemployed throughout Australia and 84,495 of those poor unfortunate people live in the Liberal-controlled States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland- 84,495 out of 120,053. In the 3 States controlled by Labor governments there are 35,558 out of work and they are out of work because of this Government’s disastrous economic policies, and that is the only reason. But it does not matter what the percentage is; we are looking at people. There are more than 84,000 poor devils in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria who cannot get a job and less than half that number - but still too many - in the other 3 States.
One of the real steps that this Government has to take is to ensure that there is more work about, and there is a simple solution to the problem of creating more work. We have to give more money o the people who will spend the money as soon as they get it, because it is lack of spending that is causing the factories to close down. (Extension of time grantad).I will not be too long in concluding my remarks. What we need is a government that will follow an economic policy that will put more money into the pockets of those who need it most, the pensioners and those trying to keep families on the national minimum wage or a few dollars above it. Last month $260m more was put into the savings banks of Australia to create a record high of $8,000m in the savings banks. Mr Speaker, who do you think put that $8,000m in the banks? Do you think it was the pensioners who last month put their surplus into the banks to cause an increase of $260m in a month? Do you think it was the poor unskilled labourer on $51.10 a week who put money into the bank and caused the deposits to skyrocket? Of course not. The money was placed there by the people who already are getting more money than they can spend.
-Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh is getting away from the question now before the House which is that the House take note of the paper. Although this question does involve the employment situation to some extent, the honourable member has made no reference to the paper for some time and I ask that he relate his speech to it.
– Let me point out something which is very sad but which is a very typical case. It was referred to me by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) who has always been a man with a great humanitarian streak in his makeup and who is as saddened asI am to hear of examples such as this. A Rockhampton man was given a rail pass by the Department of Labour and National Service to travel some 200 miles to take a job at Springsure. He, a man with a wife and 2 children had to se” the family refrigerator to a neighbour for less than S30 so that they could pay a week’s board in advance at Springsure. The honourable member for Capricornia said that advances for board should be made in such cases. But this man had received no benefit payment at that stage, What is the use of sending a man, his wife and 2 children to a place 200 miles away with just a train ticket? His wife and2 children cannot sit down and nibble at the rail ticket all day long for a fortnight waiting for the first pay to come in. Has the Minister ever thought of this? Of course he has not. The Minister has been pretty well heeled all his life and does not understand.
– You know that is not right.
– I know it is not right, and it amazesme more than ever that one who has not been well heeled all his life should not understand the situation. I wanted the Minister to say that because I was never sure. I heard that he had had a rough time, but he looked as though he disapproved of what I said. Now that I know it is true it makes me wonder all the more. It satisfies me that he is not the real culprit. The culprit is the McMahon Cabinet which overrides him all the time. Every time he wants to do something decent the Cabinet overrides him and the Prime Minister says: There is good mileage in not doing it. So never mind about the bloke and his wife who has to suffer.’ I conclude on that note. I can see that you also agree with what I say, Mr Speaker. I hope that when the Minister looks at the situation he will do a little more than just provide a tram ticket or something for starving people to live on for a fortnight while they wait to get their first pay packet, even if they do get a sensible or decent and acceptable job.
Motion (by Mr Fox) proposed):
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I ask whether the honourable member for Hindmarsh would be prepared to table in the Parliament the document from which I understand he quoted.
– Yes, I am prepared to table the document, and I now do so.
– I rise to a point of order, if I may call it that. Is there any way in which I can ask the Minister to clarify whether these fares will apply only to referrals from employment offices or whether they will apply also in cases where the unemployed person takes an initiative in seeking employment.
-Order! I will first put the motion that has been moved and I will then give consideration to what the honourable member for Barton has said. The original question was: That the House take note of the paper. The honourable member for Henty has now moved: That the debate be now adjourned. The question now is: That this debate be now adjourned and the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave – I seek the indulgence of the House to speak for one or 2 minutes. I do not seek to answer any of the political points that have been raised by my colleague the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who spoke of many things, most of which were not relevant to the debate. 1 seek only to clarify the misinterpretations which the honourable member of Hindmarsh has put down. The honourable member quoted from what he regards no doubt in his own terms as a sort of secret cum confidential document - a Minute from my Department. As honourable members on both sides are aware, this was the subject of a question asked in the House today, although the document was in the context of that question and not a matter for reference at that time. I said in response to the question that I knew of no major change which had taken place and I was certain that had there been any major change it would have been a matter which would, in the the terms of my responsibility, have been referred to me.
The document, which the honourable gentleman now quotes and which no doubt he regards as some sort of expose, is a document which simply clarifies and simplifies the existing procedures. Before the issuing of the circular, which is now a matter of record before this House, the processing of unemployment benefit claims was in sense unnecessarily administratively cumbersome because in a number of cases jobs were provided for persons some days after the actual registration. The system now is that the unemployment benefit claim is not processed until the seventh day after registration.
– That is not right either, as you know.
– The honourable gentleman for once in his life should confine himself to a situation where he might be able to learn something. I am simply seeking to clarify this matter for the honourable gentleman. It has been raised many times before, and the answer essentially in the terms provided today has been given by me before and also by my colleague the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who also has a specific responsibility in this area. So the document is far from being any major expose 2um confidential cum top secret document of the type that the honourable gentleman would like to get his hands on. All the time he is wandering around this House making statements to the effect that he has been given some information by this officer or that officer. Really I think the honourable gentleman ought to be in the movies because he is so good at this form of conjecture. If I did not like him so much and if I did not have some respect for his background I would be annoyed about it, but one comes to understand that the honourable member is like this.
However, I must say in passing in a sense of mild seriousness that 1 am offended on behalf of my officers, because in a question he asked about a fortnight ago, the honourable gentleman suggested by inference that one of the senior officers had given him to understand that the unemployment figures would increase by 10,000, I think he said. There was a clear inference to be drawn from that question, and I was upset about it on behalf of the Department. The officers of the Department would not be talking to the honourable member for Hindmarsh in those terms. In many cases the honourable member’s information was wrong. I think he ought to check his sources or get his information from a better officer next time. Of course, I am not suggesting that there are differential degrees of competence in my Department, but on behalf of the Department I appeal to the honourable gentleman not to go on like this because it is upsetting. He, as one honourable gentleman on the other side of this House, knows these sorts of charges are false and that they seek to put a misinterpretation on the situation which can only be misleading to honourable gentlemen on both sides and to the community at large. In relation to the final question that was raised, the free travel benefits relate to those who register at the Commonwealth Employment Office. I do not seek to be political. I simply make a mild comment in response to a matter which has been raised.
– by leave - I apologise for having spoken at some length at question time today, but this is a matter of some interest not only to members of the House but also I think to a wide section of the community outside the House. It is a matter of interest and importance, and I seek to put the record as straight as possible. I have mentioned to the House that the Social Services Bill (No. 4) has now received the royal assent and is in operation. Existing pensioners - age, invalid and widows - will receive their increases automatically. The age and invalid pensioners will receive their increases next pay day, on Thursday next; the widows will receive their increase on 10th October. I mentioned to the House that superannuation adjustments which will date from the royal assent will not be paid for some time because of the clerical work involved, but when they are paid they will be paid retrospectively.
The important point I want to make relates to new pensioners - that is, the people who were not entitled to a pension before the new Bill became law but who are entitled to a pension under this new Act. Their entitlement will date as from the first pay period after their date of application. It may not always be possible to pay them immediately because honourable members will realise that my officers, who I would say are doing a magnificent job of work in this matter, are still very much overwhelmed by the changes which have taken place as a result of this Budget and the necessary clerical adjustments which have to be made. The payments in cash for new applicants will be made as soon as possible and will be restrospective to the first pay period after their date of application. But, as I have said, it will not be possible to pay them all in cash immediately. It is important, therefore, that people who become newly entitled should make their application as soon as possible. Their eligibility depends on their means as assessed which, as honourable members know, takes account of both their property and their income.
I turn now to the single people - that is, men aged 65 and over, women aged 60 and over, and single people medically qualified for an invalid pension. All single people should apply if they feel that their means as assessed are less than $60 a week. 1 now speak of married couples. Where the husband is over 65 or is medically qualified for an invalid pension, they both should apply if their combined means as assessed are less than $103.50 a week. In the case of wives who are not married to men who come into this category, that is, husbands not over the age of 65 and who are not medically qualified, those wives who are themselves over 60 or who would be medically qualified for an invalid pension, should apply for their own pension if their combined means as assessed are less than $103.50 a week. Let me reiterate that in the case of married couples where the husband is over 65 or is medically qualified for the invalid pension the wife, irrespective of her age, will now become pensionable. lt may not be realised yet by the House or by people outside the House how far the Government has moved in the liberalisation of the means test. In fact although it may take up to 3 years - I think it will take very much less for abolition of the means test at the age of 65. We have already moved to the point where abolition at the age of 65 will be of much less financial consequence than is generally realised because we have already taken an immense step towards it. I remind the House that many people who fall into the age or invalidity categories I have mentioned, that is, where the man is over 65 or the woman is over 60, will immediately become entitled to a pension even though the husband may still be employed in his normal job. This is something which is not generally realised. I repeat, that where a married couple’s means as assessed are less than $103.50 a week they will be eligible for some, not full, supplementary pension.
– A supplementary pension?
– I do not mean a supplementary allowance. I mean a pension in supplement to their normal income. This is a major change which 1 draw to the attention of the House and of the people outside it because we want all those people who are eligible to make their applications as soon as possible because their entitlement to a pension will depend upon the date of their application. By publicity of various kinds we hope to get this knowledge out into the community. I ask honourable members on both sides of the House to assist in getting this knowledge out so that all those people who are eligible may apply as soon as possible. Forms are available at post offices. If there is any doubt, people can get in touch with any of our Social Service Department officers from whom they can get further explanation. But I think the general rule is to apply when in doubt. No harm will be done if a person truthfully states his position on the application form. If the application is rejected, well at least no harm will be done. But it may be that people who have an entitlement do not yet realise it and we want to cure this as soon as possible. So I give the slogan: ‘When in doubt, apply for the pension and answer the questions truthfully’.
There is only one other matter to which I want to draw the attention of the House, namely, that Service pensions as distinct from social service pensions are paid by my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten). I understand that the first pay day at the increased rate under the liberalised conditions will be today, and that on existing pensions the increases will be given automatically on the payment which will be going out as o ftoday for Service pensioners. The eligibility for Service pensions as regards means as assessed is virtually the same as for social service pensions but the age limits are in general 5 years less.
– Does this mean that a young wife of a Service pensioner who goes onto the pension at 60 will also get the pension?
– I understand that is so. This is a matter within the administration of my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, and I think you should ask him for advice on this. I thank the House for allowing me to make this statement which I think will be of vast interest not only to members of this House but also <x> the people outside it.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! Does the honourable member for Sturt seek leave to make a statement?
– What on? Arrangements have been made for the honourable member for Sydney to speak.
– Wait a minute. Do not jump to conclusions.
– But, Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt rose to his feet first.
– I seek leave to make a statement.
-The honourable member for Sturt is seeking leave to make a statement. Is leave granted?
– How long will you be?
– Not long. 1 want some clarification on what the Minister has just said.
-Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I understand from what was said by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) that a man who has no assets other than a weekly income of, say, approximately $100, his wife who is over 60 years of age will possibly become eligible under the changed circumstances to some form of pension. Is that so?
– That is so.
– The Minister indicates that that is so. I want to make it abundantly clear that I have no quarrel with that. We on this side of the House have not opposed it. But the point that strikes me - this is a matter which comes within the portfolio of the Minister - is that a married man who is unemployed and getting just under $30 a week is expected to keep himself and his wife. This Government has to give consideration to making grants to the States in order to lift that benefit as well as the minimum wage in the States which is down to about $51. This is a glaring example of failure to give justice in the social welfare field. I repeat that we are not opposed in any way to the increased pensions but steps must be taken to eliminate the poverty faced by those on the minimum wage in every State of the Commonwealth. If it is good enough for the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to give $15m to save the hide of the New South Wales Premier, then it should be good enough for the people who hold the purse strings of this country to make massive grants to the States to enable salary and wage earners to live above the poverty line.
– I thought the honourable member was rising to ask me for clarification.
– I suggest to the Minister for Social Services that the honourable member for Sydney also desires to seek leave to make a statement.
– If it is a genuine request for clarification, leave is granted, but leave is not granted for a political speech.
– I seek leave to make a statement without any restrictions.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, whereas I am not at all averse to the honourable member for Sydney speaking, on several occasions you have indicated the names of those who have been rising to speak and you appear to have failed to recognise me on each occasion. I take the opportunity to remind you that I am also seeking to say a few words.
-I pointed out that the honourable member for Sturt rose before the honourable member for Sydney. That did not mean that I did not notice the honourable member for Hughes also rising.
– The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) raised a point on which I sought clarification. I wrote him a note when he answering a question during question time. His answer to the question was abbreviated because of a ruling from the Speaker. My question at that time was about the payment of pensions. The Minister said that all new pensioners applying for a pension would be paid the pension from the first pay day after eligibility had been proved. What he said is different from what actually happens. It is not the payment but the entitlement that dates back to the first pay day.
– That is what I said.
– The Minister did not say that at question time. That is the matter on which I seek clarification. I should like to make it clear that on numerous occasions in this House I have mentioned that people who apply for pensions are to a certain extent being robbed of part of the pensions when they receive their first cheques. For example, the next pension day is Thursday of next week. If anybody applies for the pension on Wednesday or Thursday next week and qualifies for the pension it is granted from next pension day. In other words that pensioner will then get the full fortnight’s pension. But if a person applies on Friday week he will miss out on a fortnight’s pension. I believe that instead of having to wait a fortnight after application people should have to wait only one week. I know that a demarcation line has to be drawn somewhere for office purposes, but the Department is working under a computerised system at the present time and there should be no problem.
The illustration I have just given means that if a person applies on Wednesday or Thursday of next week he will get the full pension, but if a person applies on the Friday for a single pension it will cost him $40 for the fortnight. If he happens to be entitled to the supplementary pension it will cost him $48. It will cost a married pensioner couple $69, and if they are entitled to the supplementary pension it will cost them $73 because of a difference of one day in lodging an application. A demarcation line has to be drawn somewhere but a fortnight is too long to wait in these days of automatic data processing when it is quite simple to make payments from week to week instead of from fortnight to fortnight.
The Minister has just stated that it is now possible under the present means as assessed provision for a married couple to receive up to $103 from a part pension and other income. But that is provisional upon the qualification that they have no more than $839 in the bank. I do not know any person in this House who knows of a married couple of pensionable age in receipt of $90 to $100 a week who would not have more than $839 in the bank. I guarantee that not 500 couples in Australia would qualify for the top amount. But why does the Minister emphasise the top amount all the time? He should tell the people they can only qualify for it if they have less than $839 in the bank and be truthful about the matter. People have come to my office and said: ‘But the Minister said this in the House’. They do not understand what the phrase ‘means as assessed’ means. I have to tell them that they can qualify for this amount only if they have less than $839 in the bank. The Minister in his statement is not being truthful to the people. He should explain the situation fully to the people so that they understand that when he talks about this top amount of $103 he means that people can qualify provided they do not have $839 in the bank. Although I have not backed a winner since Old Rowley won the Melbourne Cup, I am willing to bet that not 500 people in Australia would qualify for this top amount.
– Could I make a brief statement in reply?
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I take a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your advice. Will the Minister’s reply close the debate? If so, has he deliberately set out to exclude me from saying a few words?
– I think the time of the House will require that the debate on this matter be closed now. I would like if I may to reply to the points raised by the honourable member for Sydney.
-The point is that the Minister has leave to make a statement.
– He has leave to make a statement if the honourable member for Hughes has leave to make a statement. Nobody gave him leave.
– As always, when leave is sought to make a statement there are no stipulations by the Chair. An honourable member simply asks leave to make a statement.
– The Minister has not been given leave. Mr Deputy Speaker, you did not ask whether leave had been granted on this occasion. I am sorry about that. I do not like correcting you.
-I asked whether the Minister had leave to make a statement and nobody said no. I admit nobody said yes, but nobody said no.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am saying that you should ask that question again. If he is prepared to let the honourable member for Hughes have his say, the Minister can save his say, as far as I am concerned. After all, it is not his private Parliament.
– If the House does not want to give me leave to clarify the points raised by the honourable member for Sydney that is fair enough; I will not clarify them.
– I seek leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– Does the House wish me to clarify the points raised?
– All right.
– I present the 140th report of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted. I object.
– Leave has not been granted.
– Let him ask again later on.
– May I ask an honourable member on the Opposition front bench whether heintends to refuse leave to a chairman of a joint parliamentary committee to make a statement about that committee. I want to clarify that.
DrJ. F. Cairns - In view of the conduct of the Government in the last few minutes, the answer to that is yes. (Quorum formed)
– Although leave was not granted to make a statement, the honourable member for North Sydney may move that the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr Graham) agreed to:
That the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 10th October 1972, at 11 a.m. or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
– For how long is the House to meet when we do return? Will it be for 3 weeks or 4 weeks? For how long is this nonsense of waiting around for the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to decide when he will announce the date of the election to continue? Of course, under the Constitution, the Prime Minister can defer everything until 20th January. Is he going to do that? There are electoral organisations, public servants and a whole community waiting around Australia for a decision on this matter. Countless thousands of people concerned with polling booths are involved. Printers are involved. There is a whole operation involved. Is the Parliament to return for 3 weeks, 4 weeks, or l½ sessions?
For Heaven’s sake, can the Government not make one simple decision for once about a constitutional operation? It is no good the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) looking like a thunder cloud waiting for something to happen just because honourable members in this House want to have their say on certain matters. The organisation of the House this morning has been most haphazard simply because of the discourtesies that ordinarily prevail from the other side of the House. I do not blame only the Leader of the House for this. Will he tell us for how long the Parliament is to meet when it resumes on Tuesday week?
– From a radio broadcast I listened to the other morning, I understand that there are some 40 Bills yet to come before this House. I understand further as a result of that broadcast that the Government is in a somewhat embarrassing position because of delays in the office of the Parliamentary Counsel. Can the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) inform the House whether the Government is experiencing difficulty in completing its legislative programme? To my mind, the Government has never had a legislative programme since I have been in this place, although it has been referred to as such. Can the House be advised as to the Government’s legislative programme between now and the date on which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) will announce the date of the election?
Personally, I do not give a continental when he announces the election date; it does not worry me one iota. I am well geared for the election and I suppose that most other honourable members on this side of the House are similarly prepared. But if the Prime Minister wants to play a one man band in regard to when he announces the date of the election-
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Sturt confine his remarks to the motion before the House.
– What concerns me is that this place should be run in a business-like way. The secrecy which now prevails should be removed from many aspects of the operations of the House. We on this side are as entitled to such information concerning our future commitments as are honourable members opposite. The honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) is interjecting. He can stand and say his piece on this subject later. I know that he is worried because he wants to dash off to the Northern Territory and elsewhere with his Public Works Committee in order to support the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder).
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will remain within the confines of the motion before the House.
– Is it not correct that the motion before the House is that the Parliament return next Tuesday week? I am not out of order in continuing-
-Order! If the honourable member for Sturt recalls what he said, he would know that he was not speaking on matters that are relevant to the motion before the Chair.
– I accept that, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I remember very clearly the remark that you so often make when sitting in the body of the chamber, namely that in politics anything is relevant if you can win by it. However, I accept your ruling as Deputy Speaker that I cannot use the type of remarks that you may use when you are sitting in your normal seat in this House. Why can the Parliament not be informed of these matters? We should not have to rely on radio broadcasts to pick up bits and pieces of information.
For how long is the Parliament to sit? Is the Government so bad at management - it is now the end of September - that it cannot tell us how long we are to sit in this place during the course of October? Is the Leader of the House so inefficient that he cannot stand on his own feet in this place and admit that he has a responsibility to bring Bills before this House or are we to see the usual end of session debacle, with the Government coming into the chamber and using the guillotine and the gag? Will the Government restrict the hours available for debate and put a time limit on debate? Will it restrict the number of speakers In a debate and restrict the time of those speakers?
As the Leader of the House would know, it has been hard enough to speak on the Estimates debates in this place in the last few weeks. Let me remind the Leader of the House that the Government has suspended General Business and the grievance debate. It has chopped God knows how much from the adjournment debate. But let an individual member on this side of the House stand and seek leave to make a statement and what is the attitude of the Government? It will not grant leave. My opinion is that the matter that has just been discussed, namely the statement of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), should be a matter for debate in this Parliament. The Minister for Social Services made a statement clarifying certain aspects of the Social Services Bill (No. 4). But what happened? The Minister made one or 2 replies to questions that were asked from this side of the House’ by honourable members who had sought leave to make statements and the Government then decided that it should not spend , an extra 10 or IS minutes on this vital matter which affects all sorts of people in the community and that the debate must come to an end. What would the listening public have thought about what happened a few moments ago?
Government supporters - Hear, hear!
– Honourable members opposite can laugh if they like. Their mirth is indicative of their complete lack of concern for the electors. What the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) said was quite true. There are droves, pf people seeking information on this subject. Yet, did I hear correctly when I was in my office a few moments ago that the Minister for Social Services refused to give any further points of clarification because of an argument over the granting of leave? What a disgraceful situation for the Parliament to be in.
– You are wrong as usual.
– No, I am not wrong. The Minister for Social Services made the statement that he would not give any further clarification on the Social Services Bill that is now law because of an argument over the granting of leave.
– Order! I remind the honourable member for Sturt that the motion before the House is that the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 10th October 1972, at 11 a.m. or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair. That is the subject matter before the House and it has nothing to do with social services or leave being granted to honourable members.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I take issue with you on that point. As far as members on this side of the House are concerned, my remarks do have some relevance if, in moving such a motion, the Government is to restrict the time available to this Parliament to enable the people, through this Parliament, to be adequately and properly informed of their rights. Members of the community in the various categories that come within the ambit of the Social Services Bill are affected by this motion, and if that is not relevant, I would like to know what is.
-Order! As the honourable member for Sturt appears to have forgotten what he said, I point out that his remarks related to leave being granted to the Minister for Social Services to make a statement. That has no relevance to the subject matter before the chair.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I respect your ruling. I respect the ruling of anybody who is in the chair, but you indicated that what I said was irrelevant. Looked at in terms of the motion moved by the Leader of the House, which concerns the time at which the Parliament will meet and what it will discuss during the time it is in session, I submit that my remarks were not irrelevant. We will not be given sufficient time to discuss these things.
I repeat that the Leader of the House should not move a motion such as this without informing the House of the Government’s legislative programme - how many Bills are to be brought before this House and how much time will be available for honourable members to discuss those Bills. I have already said and I repeat that the information available to honourable members in this Parliament, apart from the Executive - those 13 members who say what is good or what is not good for the nation - is not sufficient for this Parliament. When moving a motion such as this, the Leader of the House should be prepared to say whether the Government will experience any difficulty in regard to the work of the Parliamentary Counsel.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting for lunch I was pointing out that the House is entitled to know from the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) who has moved the motion what we can expect in the next sitting of this Parliament. A matter of great public importance is to be debated this afternoon by way of an urgency motion. The debate is to be restricted first as to time and second as to the number of speakers. We of the Opposition do not feel that this is the right way to run the Parliament. As I have already pointed out, the opportunities of all honourable members to debate matters of concern to their constituents and to themselves as elected members of this Parliament have been greatly restricted. On a number of occasions we on this side of the chamber have sought leave in order to obtain clarification of a statement made by a Minister. It has not at all times been granted. It would be fair to say that in most cases leave has been refused. I do not think that is right, even from the point of view of the Leader of the House.
– That is a blatant untruth.
– Thank you for the interjection. I suggest that the Leader of the House go through the Hansard records and see how many times that leave has not been granted to us during the debate on the Budget and relevant matters, and also the number of occasions on which the gag has been applied. How many times has the Deputy Whip crossed the floor of the chamber to prevail upon members of the Opposition to cut down their speaking time on the estimates, in some cases by SO per cent? I had such an experience last week. Continually the Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party crosses the floor to place notes in front of members while they are speaking, asking them to cut short their time. Why should we do so? It has already been cut down considerably since I have been a member of this House. We are afforded few enough opportunities. The Leader of the House knows full well why I and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) before me have risen to speak in this debate. Are we not entitled to have the information?
– Sit down and you will get it.
– You have never told us before.
– Yes, I have.
– Are you prepared to confirm or deny that the manner in which Government business is presented is determined by the broadcasting times of the proceedings? The Leader of the House has restricted the debate. All sorts of statements are being made in this election year.
– I’ll say.
– Thank you for that. The interjection of the Minister for Supply illustrates the utter neglect of the Government over the last 3 years. In the dying weeks of the Parliament Government supporters have become alive to the issues about which they should have been concerned 3 years ago as responsible elected members of this Parliament. Will an adequate and proper opportunity be given to honourable members to debate statements presented in the House? Will I and other honourable members of the Opposition get an opportunity to debate foreign investment in Australia? In South Australia there will be SO per cent redundancy as a result of a takeover bid. Since the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made his statement on foreign investment the day before yesterday there has been no opportunity to debate it. In view of some of the statements made by the Prime Minister 1 would like to find out whether the takeover bid to which I referred can be stopped in the interests of employees in South Australia. Let the Leader of the House stand and say how much time he will allow the Parliament to discuss that statement. I do not know how many questions without notice have been directed to the Prime Minister on the subject of price maintenance.
– Order! The motion before the House relates to the suspension of the House until a certain date. I can understand that the honourable member is being reasonably relevant but he should not go on to debate the subject matters to which he has just referred.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. The point I am making is that we want some understanding, not guarantees, that an opportunity to debate the statements will be given to honourable members generally and to members of the Opposition in particular. The main role of the Opposition is to probe and to query. We are not getting the information in reply to questions that we ought to get. Our only redress is to insist that an opportunity be made available in the next sitting of the Parliament for us to gain further information. It would be nice to hear from the Minister what his intentions are during the course of the next sitting.
– May I correct a misrepresentation?
– No. I suggest that the Minister wait. There is a motion before the Chair.
– in reply - It would be fascinating if just now and again the honourable member for Stuart (Mr Foster) injected one or two facts into one of his speeches in this House. I was personally delighted to hear the speech he has just made, firstly because it was broadcast, and secondly because Ian Wilson is a personal friend of mine whom I want reelected to this House. The speech of the honourable member for Stuart was completely unfair and irrelevant and not in accordance with the facts.
In speaking to the motion I pay a tribute to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) for the tremendous cooperation he has given me in running this House since I have been Leader of the House. 1 also thank virtually every member of this Parliament, including most members of the Opposition. Time and time again 1, members of the Opposition and the Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party have had discussions and arrangements have been made to suit the convenience of members, particularly members of the Opposition. If there is one member who cannot complain about not getting a fair go it is the honourable member for Stuart. Almost every week he speaks on debates on the motion to adjourn the House. He is continually on his feet. He never ceases interjecting and the House shows him more than ordinary tolerance, yet he makes speeches like the one we have just heard from him.
The honourable member accused the Government and particularly me of not allowing free debate in the House. More hours of debate have been devoted to this Budget than any since 1967. More interestingly, there have been more speakers in the debate on this Budget than in any debate on the Budget in the last 20 years. There have probably been more speakers on this Budget than ever before in the history of this Parliament. I think the record may stand there. The honourable gentleman asked: ‘Why do we not debate statements?’ Two fundamental statements are on the notice paper today for debate. I undertook to bring them back to this House because of the interest of honourable members. I refer to the statements on urbanisation and foreign exchange control. We have lists and it is our intention to allow as many members as possible to speak. But what has happened? It is now 24 minutes past 2 and we have not yet got on to Government business and do not look like doing so because we have on the notice paper a facetious item as a matter of public importance which was fully debated in the Senate yesterday.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask for the withdrawal of the word ‘facetious’ in relation to the matter of public importance on the notice paper. It is certainly not facetious.
– 1 have no intention of withdrawing the word. The matter was fully debated in the Senate yesterday.
Motion (by Mr Cope) proposed:
Thai the Minister be not further heard.
-The question is: That the Minister be not further heard. Those in favour say ‘Aye’, to the contrary ‘No’. I think the Noes have it. Is a division required?
– No division is required. If honourable members opposite do not want the information, that is on the record too. That is how the Labor Party behaves.
-Order! The honourable member for Sydney and the Minister will not conduct a private wrangle across the chamber.
– He started it.
-Order! 1 do not care who started it; it will cease. Is a division required?
– No division is required. I call the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) asked for information. I will gladly give it to him. However, during the first week of the sittings I informed the House of the number of Bills to be debated. I have discussed with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) how much time should be available for discussion of the Estimates. An informal agreement has been reached on that. I thank honourable members from both sides of the House for staying to that agreement. I am not informed of the date of the forthcoming election. As Leader of the House I am obliged to try to get the business of this House through with the least inconvenience to members and giving members their full rights. That is my intention. I think that; on only one occasion since the start of. this session has the House sat beyond midnight, and that was for only a few minutes. There have been very few occasions^ one, two or three, if that many - where the adjournment debate has been gagged. Almost every night three or four members of the Opposition speak on the adjournment debate, and usually they are the same three or four speakers. I wonder how just are the criticisms of the honourable member for Sturt.
As Leader of the House I have to work to a hypothetical date which was released in the last sessional period by my predecessor, the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), for the convenience of the members. He said that this House in general terms should sit from 15th August to 26th October with 3 weeks on and one week off. That is the programme to which I am working. That is the time scale. So, after tonight we have 3 weeks of sitting, according to the present plan. We have 25i hours left for debate on the Estimates, according to the informal agreement made with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. How many Bills are left? In general terms there are about 25 Budget and non-Budget Bills remaining. If the honourable member wishes I can give him a detailed list of them. Twenty-five sounds a lot but some of them, as the House knows, are formal
Bills. Some can be dealt with in cogaate debate. It is my hope that if the House sits until 26th October we shall be able to give honourable members reasonable opportunity to speak, without having late sittings. To achieve this objective we will need the co-operation of members of this House, Today the proposed programme of business goes to 3 pages, containing some very important items to be discussed, such as the two 1 mentioned before. Yet it is now 2.30 p.m. and we have not commenced Government Business and there is a matter of urgent public importance which will delay the House another hour. This means that these vitally important items will not be debated by honourable members and will not be permitted to be debated by honourable members. I ask the House to judge who is to blame for that - the Leader of the House, the Government, members of the Government parties, or members of the Opposition in the light of their performance this morning? I leave it to the House to judge.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to correct a misrepresentation by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster).
-Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Sturt said that I refused to clarify in a statement points raised in regard to pensions. The opposite is the truth. I endeavoured to make a statement in clarification and members of the Opposisition refused me leave to make a statement.
– by leave - I had previously said that the statement I am about to make would be made by the Reserve Bank, but having read the draft statement and because I think it is of importance to the House I felt that it was preferable that it should be made here. That is why I asked for approval to make this statement.
Following my announcement on policy changes in respect of overseas investment, I now wish to give details of the new exchange control policy which will apply for the time being to portfolio investment abroad by Australian residents. Persons or companies wishing to invest abroad should apply by letter through their bankers for the necessary Reserve Bank authority. Applications by individuals for amounts up to $10,000 in any period of 12 months in total will normally be readily approved. Institutional investors, public companies and ‘he like can normally expect to be permitted to make investments up to Sim in any period of 12 months. Applications for amounts in excess of the amounts mentioned will be considered in special circumstance?.
Eligible investments will include portfolio investment overseas in stocks and shares and purchase of real estate, but will not include investment in loans or other fixed interest securities. The general arrangements will, of course, be subject to review from time to time. This policy change is the first significant relaxation in the almost complete embargo on portfolio investment overseas which had operated since exchange control measures were introduced in 1939. Policy towards direct investment overseas has, however, been very liberal for a number of years and will continue unchanged.
– by leave - As honourable members will know, the Committee has, for many years, conducted combined inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, but has tabled separate reports on both aspects of these inquiries. The One Hundred and Fortieth Report relates specifically to evidence taken by the Committee in connection with expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer in 1971-72.
The One Hundred and Fortieth Report differs from all previous reports tabled by the Public Accounts Committee, inasmuch as the public inquiry from which it arose was conducted for the first time by 2 sectional committees rather than by the Committee as a whole itself. In this regard I should mention that, early this year, the Committee took a series of important, related initiatives connected with its future development and designed to improve its effectiveness. To facilitate the operation of an improved programme, the Committee decided that it would operate in 2 standing sectional or sub-committees of 5 members each for the purpose of taking evidence. As honourable members will be aware, provision is contained in section 9 of the Public Accounts Committee Act for the appointment of sectional committees to inquire into and report to the Committee on matters with which it is concerned. This new arrangement, which has proved to be very successful from the Committee’s viewpoint, came into operation as planned on 15th August 1972 when the Committee commenced its annual examination of expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and the Consolidated Revenue Fund, for the financial year 1971-72.
In Chapter 1 of the report the Committee has stated that, in examining expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, it has sought to ascertain whether or not expenditure from the Advance has been confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the original and additional estimates. The Committee has also sought to ascertain whether or not the departments concerned in the inquiry have maintained efficient administration in the expenditure of funds under the items selected for public inquiry. As the report shows, there were cases where expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer was confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the appropriation legislation. In other cases, however, there is evidence of clerical errors, failure to establish adequately based administrative arrangements, and lack of adequate communication between central and regional offices of departments and between branches of the central office of the same department. These defects result in either poor standards of estimating or inadequate expenditure performances. Attention has been drawn to these inadequacies where they have been discovered.
As in several previous inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the
Treasurer, the Committee has found further evidence of charges having been made to the Advance without warrant authority, in contravention of sub-regulation 1 of Treasury Regulation 90. These charges usually arise from clerical or administrative errors. In recent years, the Committee has had cause to comment adversely on the quality of written submissions and oral evidence tendered by departments. In this regard the Committee is pleased to note a considerable general improvement in the quality of evidence tendered during the present inquiry. At the same time, however, some evidence tendered by a department was factually imprecise and, but for a correction subsequently tendered by an observer, could have misled the Committee into unjustified criticism of the department. Imprecisions of the nature to which I have referred highlight the need for departments to exercise great care in the presentation of documentary and oral evidence. I commend the report to honourable members.
– 1 seek leave to make a short statement on the report of the Public Accounts Committee. .
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Last week, in commenting on the 138th and 139th reports 1 mentioned that the Public Accounts Committee has 3 general functions. They are, firstly, in depth inquiries into various government departments and semigovernmental authorities; secondly, the work it does on the Auditor-General’s report; and, thirdly, the work it does on the estimating of government departments. As the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), has just stated, this 140th report relates to that third function. There are 2 sections of th’at function. The first is to examine the Consolidated Revenue Fund and to seek, in public inquiry, to examine witnesses and to ascertain why there are funds unspent under some headings in the various Appropriation Acts. As honourable members will realise the report concerning that matter was brought down last week.
The second section is the subject of the 140th report. It is the examining of the Advance to the Treasurer or, in other words, the examining, as I called it last week, of the contingency fund, to find out why it had to be used and what were the explanations for funds not having been put aside under Appropriation Acts (No. 1) and (No. 2) and, later in the year, Appropriation Acts (No. 3) and (No. 4). In the vast majority of cases good written explanations have been received by the Public Accounts Committee as to why these funds have not been put aside. We choose from the submissions which we receive those particular areas in which we want to make further inquiry and receive further explanations. Often we find at public inquiry that the explanations are acceptable. This 140th report contains the matters covered in our public inquiries earlier this year on this subject. There were 6 departments from which we had to seek further explanations. They were the Department of Air, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Education and Science, the Department of External Territories, the Department of Supply and the Department of Trade and Industry. I hope that those honourable members in this House and those citizens of the public who are interested in this important field of Commonwealth public administration will read this report and note the work being done by this Committee of the Parliament.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Aged Persons Hostels Bill 1972.
States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill (No. 3) 1972.
Homes Savings Oram Bill 1972.
Social Services Bill (No. 4) 1972.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1972.
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1972.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1972.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Government to take action to protect Australian employment and industry in the supply of the Moomba-Sydney pipeline.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I have raised this matter because it appears that the Australian Gas Light Co. in Sydney has given a contract to the Japanese company, Mitsui, for the supply of $44m - or $US54m - worth of steel pipes to carry natural gas from South Australia to Sydney. The Minister responsible for this matter in the Senate, the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) did not seem to be sure yesterday what company it was. This matter is of great importance now and it will be of great importance in the future. Some people will say that this Parliament should not be discussing this matter at all. Presumably the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) with some almost tragic indignation will say that this matter should never be raised, that it should be left to a few government officials and a few business officials to deal with by negotiations. I do not take that view seriously and I am sure that very few other people in the Parliament and practically no-one outside would take it seriously. Parliament must be given a chance to discuss such a matter as this even if it were not a matter of importance. But it is a matter of very great importance and Parliament must be given an opportunity to say what it thinks should be done.
This matter is of great importance now because it involves $44m worth of production. It involves employment for hundreds of men where much unemployment now exists. It involves the important question of the role of the Commonwealth Government. It involves the possibility of serious friction between the industries themselves - this has already occurred - and perhaps between the industries and the unions. It involves even now a wide range of things far beyond the negotiations being carried on by the Department of Customs and Excise in Sydney. Those negotiations appear to accept as a fait accompli that the contract will go to Japan and appear to be confined almost completely to discussing what kind of tariff rates should be imposed upon the steel when it is imported. It is not sufficient for this House to accept that kind of fait accompli and, if for no other reason than that, it is essential that this House should discuss the matter now.
In the long run this matter will involve much more than those things. I submit that it involves the future of the natural gas industry in Australia which will be one of the largest in the world. It is said there are 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas at Gidgealpa, 45 trillion cubic feet at Palm Valley and perhaps about 90 to 100 trillion cubic feet in the north west of Australia - probably the largest reserves of natural gas that exist in the world. The 800 miles of pipe now involved are only a small fraction of the total quantity of pipe which will be involved before these resources begin to be used. It has been estimated that from 12,000 miles to 20,000 miles of pipe of different sizes will be involved in the next few years. This matter involves the whole future of the natural gas industry. It also involves the question of a national fuel policy. Recently the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources investigated this matter. Evidence was taken from those most intimately connected with the industry. In paragraph 8.55 of the Committee’s report, Mr Hume, the General Manager of the Brisbane Gas Co. is recorded as saying: . . that Australia is leaving herself in a somewhat unique position at this stage in not having a federal authority whereby transmission and distribution can be controlled. Whether you look at the United Kingdom where the gas industry is nationalised, or whether you look at the United States of America or Canada where the industry is under private enterprise, in all cases you will find a Federal or central authority of reference and decision which we in Australia seem to bc lacking at this stage.
He went on to say:
I would support the view that a Federal fuel policy is a most desirable thing from Australia’s point of view. If we are to be faced with the problems of interstate transmissions, then undoubtedly, in my mind, chaos will eventually arise.
Sir William Pettingell, the Managing Director of the company with which we are concerned directly in this matter of public importance, told the Committee:
If the separate States impose diverging principles of control, the development of interstate transmission lines would be greatly inhibited - that has in mind America and Canada where there was bedlam.
He went on to say:
Uniform regulations should govern the construction and operation of interstate pipelines throughout the whole length . . .
The Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources, which consisted of representatives from both sides of the Senate, drew this conclusion:
The evidence would suggest that regulatory and advisory responsibility with an authority in the field of interstate trade could include: (1.) To authorise the construction, ownership, operation and location- of interstate oil and gus pipelines; (2.) To make orders with respect to all matters relating to traffic, tariffs and prices; and (3.) To study, review and from time to time report to the Parliament on such policies and measures as it considers necessary or advisable in the publicinterest for the control of transportation of oil and gas.
This is what was recommended by a committee made up of both sides of the Senate. The Government has. done nothing whatever to consider or implement that proposition. -
This is becoming a matter of acute urgency and importance. It is ridiculous to suggest that at this stage this House should not be giving any consideration to it. This matter also relates to the question of the future and efficiency of the Australian steel industry. The provision of gas pipelines is new technology. A vast future exists for the industry. Australia will, require not 10,000 to 20,000 miles or $44m worth of pipelines but perhaps $500m to $ 1,000m worth of pipelines. Sir William Pettingell condemns the Australian steel industry. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) said that he did not want this matter to get into the newspapers. But it is in the newspapers today. The comments of one of the industry leaders, Sir William Pettingell, are reported in a newspaper article. The article states:
Australian steel manufacturers are unable to produce the quality of steel required for natural gas pipelines, the general manager of the Australian Gas Light Co., Sir William Pettingell, said yesterday.
He strongly criticised the level of professional codes and standards in Australia for the pipelines. The poor level had created a background problem that detracted from the level of work to be done.
Later in the article he is reported as saying:
Therefore, it was extremely disappointing to find when we started to talk about national codes and standards for pipelines those people who should have been responsible in a professional sense were prepared to sacrifice integrity to virtually thrust on the community standards which would have been, I believe, letting down the community in the manner they were.
There was a tendency to write our standards in terms of our industrial technology and industrial capacity. 1 cannot help but castigate people-
And the Ministers on the other side of the House are necessarily included in this - who set about doing this because it has created a background problem which can only detract from the quality of the work that we might afterwards do.
This condition is not one that has arisen overnight; it is one that has been going on for a considerable time. If this is the condition of the Australian steel industry then we face a national crisis.
The Australian steel industry should be in a position to be able to gear itself up to produce $500m or $1,00Om worth of steel pipes that will be required. It is the responsibility of the Government to find out the facts and it has not done so. Nothing the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) or the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) in another place has said in the last few days indicates that the Government knows the slightest bit about the facts. I can easily understand why the Minister for Customs and Excise does not want to have this matter discussed in public. There is plenty of evidence to indicate why he does not want to have it discussed in public. If this is the state of the steel industry of Australia it is a disgrace to the Government because it is the responsibility of the Government to find out what is wrong with the steel industry. It is the responsibility of the Government not to protect an industry if what Sir William Pettingell says is correct and this is the state of the industry. If it is not correct Sir William Pettingell should be brought to account for what he said. But the national Government does not know whether or not it is correct. It is uninformed and impertinent in this great national problem. This is why the Australian Labor Party has raised this matter of public importance today.
I draw attention to the fact that the Government has failed to protect Australian employment and the interests of the Australian community in this matter. What has the Government said about it? Both the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Works began by saying that the Government hoped that Australian industry would get part of the contract. The Minister for Works went on to say:
Of course, we share the disappointment . . .
So the attitude of the Government is that it hoped and that it is disappointed. The Minister for Trade and Industry took precisely that stand. In a long speech yesterday in the other place the Minister for Works added something to that. He said: We have no power to act’. So that is the present position of the Government. It hoped, it is disappointed and it has no power to act. It is up to the Australian people to say whether this is the kind of government they want.
Specifically, I have referred to what the Minister for Customs and Excise had to say. He said that he would prefer these negotiations between the parties involved to take place in the privacy of discussion. He does not want the national Parliament to be given an opportunity to assist in any way in the solution of this problem. But when he talks about negotiations between his own Department and the Australian Gas Light Company, he is talking about negotiations which accept as a fact that this contract is going to Japan. However, it may not be in the interests of Australia that it should do so. He ought to be discussing, not as a fait accompli what is happening, but whether it should have happened or not. The Minister for Trade and Industry had the opportunity yesterday at question time to tell us something about this matter, if he knew anything about it. He admitted that he had known that the transaction had been pending for nearly a year. He had written to the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) at the beginning of this year, not only saying that he hoped Australia would obtain a substantial part of this contract, but also stating that Australia would obtain a substantial part of this contract. However, it appears that Australia is not obtaining a substantial part of this contract. When asked to go a little further in answer to a question yesterday, the Minister for Trade and Industry said:
Well, I do not know how much one can push other than to say that one is hoping and is disappointed that the order has gone to Japan.
That is the substance of the Minister’s position just as it is the substance of the position of the Minister for Works in another place. The Minister hopes and is disappointed. If the Australian people want a Minister for Trade and Industry who, when he really pushes hard and really does his best can go so far as to say that he hoped and is disappointed, then they have the opportunity to return one. But I should think the Australian people want the Minister to do much more than to hope and be disappointed if his hopes are not realised.
The Minister for Trade and Industry went on to say that it was a matter of principle where the Government stands. He stated:
The second consideration is that we do not Infringe basic principles - that is, we want to see commercial decisions being made by commercial firms themselves without too much intrusion by the Government.
That is the Minister’s position. This is not just a commercial decision by commercial firms. I will explain to the House what it is. Firstly, it is a great national question that affects the future fundamentally of 2 vast industries of this country - steel and natural gas. It is not just a commercial proposition - not just something out of which people can make money - but is something which concerns quite basically the interests of this nation. It is not a commercial proposition that ought to be discussed just between the commercial profit makers who are involved. The first responsibility of this Government is to become involved. It is a matter that affects every citizen of Australia wherever he lives in this vast continent. The firms concerned are not just 2 commercial firms but 2 huge monopolies that exist alone because of government action, protection from the national Government and privilege created by the New South Wales Government. These monopolies are not 2 commercial firms; they are vast economic empires created and maintained by the power of the state in this country. They have not a private preserve in the making of decisions in terms of private advantage or personal spleen; they have a public responsibility as much as the Government has. The Government deserves the censure of this House because it has failed to inform itself on the most basic facts of this great national question and has failed to realise that the future of 2 vast industries is involved. It has failed to carry out this most elementary and fundamental task as the elected government of this nation.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have listened with interest to the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) stating the point of view of the Australian Labor Party in relation to a part of a contract for a great national project being given to Japan. He speaks most appealingly about what Labor would do about a national fuel supply system, a system which would control and direct the production, supply and price of gas in Australia. In other words, the Labor Party believes in a nationalised system of fuel supply in this country. Whilst this might have some appealing overtones for some people it does oversimplify the many problems that we have under a federal system in bringing such a proposal about and into reality if it were the wish of a government to do so. What the Labor Party has said here this afternoon points up some basic and fundamental differences between the Opposition and the Government on ‘ issues which, I believe, are paramount if we hope to maintain a system of free enterprise in this country.
The Labor Party challenges the basic principles under which free enterprise operates. It has served notice on Australian industry that a Labor Government would tell it how to run its affairs. It is as simple as that. A Labor Government would tell Australian industry how to make the decisions which this Government believes should be commercial decisions. A Labor Government would interfere with normal commercial processes and judgments which should be the preserve of industry itself. The Labor Party, apparently, whether in office or not, would support duress being applied on individuals or industry if the Labor Party did not like what was being done. Australians should be warned and put on notice of this dictatorial attitude. This Government believes that it should not intervene in normal commercial judgments and decisions. However, it does believe that it has a responsibility to the Australian people to do everything that it is proper for it to do to ensure that Australian industry is given the maximum opportunities to participate in Australian projects. The Government accepts this responsibility and has done its utmost to fulfil it.
My Department became involved in the question of the supply of pipes for the Gidgealpa-Sydney pipeline some months ago. I have stated already in this House that honourable members on both sides had raised the issue and that my Department was involved. The Department acted as a liaison service between the Australian Gas Light Co. and Australian industry in an effort to ensure that industry in Australia was given a chance to participate to the maximum extent in this project. It has never been suggested that Australian industry was capable of meeting the full requirements of AGL for this pipeline, and I do not think the Opposition would question this. We had hoped all along that it would be possible for Australian suppliers to provide that part of the order which they were capable of providing. But I would be most reluctant to take this matter to the stage where the Government was in effect directing an Australian company on where it should place some of its business. This seems to be a matter now of a philosophical difference between the Government and the Australian Labor Party. Naturally we all want to see Australian industry given the maximum opportunity to develop and to participate in Australia’s development.
The national spirit which prompts people to take a simplistic stance of patriotism in this matter is, perhaps, very commendable. But this approach seems to overlook some very important factors. One that I have mentioned already is the right of Australian business to make its own decisions on commercial matters within the framework of our existing laws. There are technical considerations as well. I am not qualified to express an opinion on the technical matters involved in this question, and I think very few honourable members in this House would be so qualified; but all of us would agree that one of the fundamental criteria in the matter is that of safety. AGL carries an enormous responsibility to ensure that no risks are taken and that the service is as dependable as possible. I refer honourable members to a statement in today’s Press reported to have been made yesterday by the Chairman of
AGL, Sir William Pettingell. It was quoted by the honourable member for Lalor. Sir William said:
It can be extremely disappointing to find when you start to talk about national codes and national standards that those people to whom we should have looked responsibly in the professional sense were prepared to sacrifice their integrity and virtually thrust on the community standards which would have been, I believe, letting down the community.
These are very strong words by Sir William Pettingell, but they underline the insistence of AGL upon the highest standards of safety in the construction of this pipeline in the interests of the Australian people. A further consideration must be the consumer of the gas that will be carried by the pipeline. Surely it is of great importance that the consumer should get the best possible service at the most economical price. The 3 million to 4 million people that this pipeline could service must be fully recognised and considered. Here again, how this objective is to be achieved must be a matter of commercial judgment. I doubt very much whether it can be achieved by a government telling an industry what its purchasing policy should be, and certainly it should not be achieved by the Australian Labor Party inciting the trade union movement to be the arbitrator by using its power of industrial threat to determine the matter. I would think that a very important factor in providing an economic service to the consumer would be an insistence at the outset upon the highest possible quality standards in pipeline construction. We have all heard of the serious problems which have arisen in other countries with pipeline breaks and so on. I commend AGL for its attitude of insistence on high quality standards. No Australian should condone a lesser attitude to such a matter as this. I note also Sir William Pettingell’s claim that there is no proven capacity in Australia for making the quality of steel or pipe required for a trunk pipeline that would not fail.
While in some ways I welcome this debate as a means of explaining to the Australian people some of the circumstances of this matter, in other ways I am concerned about it. Over the last few days discussions have been going on, as I mentioned in the House yesterday, between AGL and Australian industry with a view to reaching the objective which all of us want to see reached, namely, the maximum opportunity for Australian industry to participate in this project. I would be very disappointed if anything we did in this House today were in any way to jeopardise the successful outcome of these discussions. My hope is that the outcome will result in 3 things: Firstly, that Australian industry will be given sufficient of the contract to absorb to the full extent its capacity to meet the requirements of the project; secondly, that in the interests of the Australian consumer a gas service will be provided at the most economical price; and, finally, that this great national project be commenced as soon as possible because it is of national importance and because it would be helpful in taking up the slackness in employment. I think that many people have overlooked the fact that this project is a very big one, involving much more than the particular trunk pipeline we are discussing. The cost of the 34-inch trunk pipeline has been stated as being $S4m.
– That is United States dollars.
– But the total expenditure on the pipeline for this project is estimated to be about $150m. Is that Australian or United States?
– That is Australian.
– Well, it shows that the cost of the trunk line is an even smaller proportion of the overall project. What we have been told by the company is that SO per cent to 60 per cent of this total cost will be of Australian content. The cost of installing the pipeline is estimated to be $45m to $50m. Wages of Australian workers on the project are expected to be more than $20m. In addition to these factors there is likely to be worthwhile business created in local areas through which the pipeline passes. The lateral and distribution lines will involve also an additional expenditutre of $70m to SI 00m. I am told that most of this work most likely will be of Australian content. Employment and industrial activity will be created by the conversion of the Sydney city supply to natural gas and the conversion of industrial and domestic services to natural gas. All this means that the project will be a very significant one in terms of industrial activity and employment in Australia. I think all of us should be very careful that we in no way interfere with the progress of this project. As I have mentioned, it is of national significance and I think everybody would like to see it proceed as quickly as possible.
One of the questions which has given rise to a great deal of comment and speculation is whether or not Australian suppliers were given the opportunity to quote for the supply of a 34-inch pipeline as required by AGL. All I can say on this point is that the matter appears to remain in dispute. There seems to be a difference of opinion between AGL and the Australian manufacturers as to the capacity, either existing or potential, to meet the specifications required. No doubt the investigations into the by-law question which are being made by the Department of Customs and Excise will give further information on some of these points. I repeat that the Government has been concerned all along to ensure that Australian industry did have the maximum opportunity to participate consistent with its capacity (o do so. This remains our concern and I hope that the discussions taking place this week will achieve this objective and that the project will commence on schedule. I believe it is scheduled to start at the beginning of 1973 and to be completed in 1974.
– I support the terms of the subject before us. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) referred to the strong words oi’ Sir William Pettingell. They call for strong words in reply. I speak for a steel city where there are 2,004 registered unemployed at the present time. 1 speak for an area where the steel workers have world production records, which performance they have achieved repeatedly. T speak for an area where steel can be produced cost competitively with any other part of the world. In fact, we can even export steel to the east coast of the United States in competition with Japan. I speak for an area which is capable of producing world quality steel. I speak for an area where people literally are amazed to be told that they are not capable of constructing a pipeline.
The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) referred to this exercise as being ludicrous. He can laugh off these facts. The loss of this contract means loss of employment for 260 men who would be engaged directly in the fabrication of the pipe, lt means loss of employment for one year to the equivalent of 1,000 men who would be producing the steel. It means loss of employment to 300 coal miners who would be producing the coal for the project. Those are the facts.
As far as quality is concerned, let me put it this way: Sir William Pettingell did not want to be satisfied, and the bar of the high jump was progressively raised. It did not matter what requirement he stated and that was met, he did intend to give the contract to the companies concerned. I am not interested in their feud; that is a matter to be fought out between the companies. But 1 am interested in the slur and the stigma on the Australian steel industry. As for the utter tripe about the safety of pipelines and their standards of service, let me remind the House that of the 480 miles of the 24-inch pipeline from Adelaide to central Australia, 240 miles came from the Port Kembla area. It was manufactured by Tubemakers of Australia Ltd, and there has been no trouble whatever with that pipeline. The whole of the Dongara to Perth 14-inch pipeline is coming from Port Kembla. The 110-mile pipeline from Bass Strait to Melbourne, half of which crosses land, again came from Port Kembla, and there has been no trouble with that. But the other 55 miles of Japanese pipeline gave trouble and sections of it had to be replaced. It is utter nonsense to talk in terms of standards of service.
Again on the aspect of quality, let me say that there has been a Jot of technology thrown around behind the scenes. In the first place, the methods of producing steel were queried. It was suggested that the rare earth process to be used at Port Kembla was not satisfactory to the AGL technicians. As a matter of fact, if any of the Ministers concerned would like to look at a journal known as ‘The Pipeline and Gas Journal’ they will see on page 45 of the issue of July last an advertisement from Nippon Kokan Steel Co., one of the 3 steel firms which is to fabricate this pipe, advocating and boasting of using this rare earth process - using a substance known as cerium. The alternative process and at a different stage of steel production - this is used by Japan - is the use of soda ash or, as the chemists call it, sodium corbonate.
The Australian Labor Party has a policy in regard to this matter. We consider this to be merely the first round of a battle for the control of Australia’s major natural resources. We have world ranking supplies and both Japan and America are lined up to get them. The Australian Gas Light Co. wanted to impose the maximum that it could on Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd, Tubemakers of Australia Ltd and the other subsidiaries. We are not their protagonists on this occasion but we know the implications, so do the men at the Port Kembla steelworks and in the different trade unions which have decided to take action, and take action they will. It is significant that the Port Kembla waterside workers in 1939 had sufficient patriotism and foresight to ban, or attempt to ban, the export of pig iron to Japan and to dub the then Prime Minister ‘Pig Iron Bob’. The ironworkers at Port Kembla today are talking in terms of ‘Pipeline Billy’, and justifiably so.
Australia can make anything which any other section of the steel industry in the world can make today. As to making a 34- inch pipeline, it can be made. Tubemakers was not given the opportunity to do so. It submitted a tender on the basis of a 30- inch pipeline and was never invited to submit a tender for a 34-inch pipeline. As to the quality of steel, Tubemakers submitted a special type of steel known as X65. For a period of 12 months metallurgists and other technicians at the AIS plant at Port Kembla were perfecting this type of steel and it will fully meet the requirements. A slur has been cast by Sir William Pettingell on the capacity of the Australian steel industry to produce. This order happens to be the largest that has ever been submitted to Japan with the exception of one order, and that was for the Alaskan pipeline. As a matter of fact, Japan had to farm it out amongst 3 groups one of which will be using the very process for sulphur elimination that AGL chose deliberately as a ground for rejecting the tender of Tubemakers. What is the Minister’s answer to that? We know a good deal about steel technology and that is more than the Government can say. It does not want to know the truth in this case.
As the honourable member for Lalor has said, anything up to 20,000 miles of pipeline will need to be manufactured. There needs to be a continuity of supply. There needs to be some basis on which we can plan. I have been informed that it is estimated that for $300,000 the Port Kembla steelworks could re-tool its production system and could definitely produce a 34-inch pipeline. The works has a world ranking steel rolling mill which can roll steel up to 142 inches in width. After trimming the works can produce steel pipe up to 42 inches in diameter. Sir William Pettingell has literally slammed the door in this Government’s face. In his statement to the Australian Gas Association conference yesterday he said he does not want it. He is pretty bitter about it. I know that the Government is embarrassed and that is the reason why the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has chosen airily to try to push it to one side. The only question that the Government is prepared to consider is how it can weazel out of the responsibility of imposing a 35 per cent duty.
There is a bigger point at stake. The pipeline to Gidgealpa is just the first step in a further progression to Palm Valley, and that is the glittering prize. We want to know the full facts. The Minister in answer to a question I asked last Tuesday refused to put the full facts before the House. We are entitled to know. This is not a matter of commercial judgment; this is a matter of national responsibility. This is the national Parliament. This is a people’s asset. We are entitled to know the terms on which this is to be sold, the specifications and the truth of the matter. One of the 2 major protagonists is telling a lie. We have a pretty shrewd idea which one it is, and equally we have a pretty shrewd idea that the Government has deliberately set out to protect it. This Government ought to be ashamed of itself for its attitude in this matter. It is painting itself into a corner. It is traducing and vilifying the Australian steel industry and, more than that, it is trying to tie the hands of an incoming Labor government. But irrespective of anything that this Government does, we will have our say in this matter.
As to the ability of the Australian steel industry to produce the steel in the time required, the contract period was deliberately shortened. The route for the pipeline has not yet been finalised. The notice that has to be given under the terms of the New South Wales legislation ends at Orange, and it is from Orange to Sydney where the trouble really starts. Delhi, one of the consortium at Gidgealpa, is bucking on the question of price, and rightly so.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) misquoted me. I did not say that this debate was ludicrous. I said that it was a facetious debate or that it was brought on facetiously. I said, in answer to a question this morning, that I regretted that the Australian Labor Party found it necessary to bring on this matter today. It is perfectly proper, in fact incumbent upon it as a Party representing certain sections of the work force, to bring before this Parliament matters which are of concern to those sections of the work force. It has to obey dictates, persuasion and pressure from the trade union movement at certain times. This is prefectly proper and I do not quarrel with it. But what use has this debate brought on at this time been to this dispute? There is a dispute occurring. The honourable member for Cunningham Ls well versed in industrial relations. He has spent a life time at it. He would know that one of the cardinal rules when parties are in dispute is that you cool it; you do not inflame delicate situations.
What have we had today from the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns)* and from the honourable member for Cunningham? No doubt my friend the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) will add further flame to the fire which separates the parties by highlighting accusations that have already been made in public. There seems to have been criticism of statements made by Sir William Pettingell against the Australian steel industry and against the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. I regret, firstly, that the statements were made by that gentleman and, secondly, the prominence which they were given. Those sorts of statements made in a moment of heat - this is the point I was making this morning - do not engender an atmosphere in which a dispute can be settled. Today in Sydney the permanent head of my Department with most senior officers of my Department are in conference with the parties to this dispute in an endeavour to find a solution which would be in the best interest of the work force, the nation and the consumers. That is the reason I suggested that this was a facetious motion brought on by the Labor Party today under pressure from trade unions and to satisfy their demands.
The name of this game is politics. The aim is to make political points particularly a couple of months before an election. 1 concede that, but one would have thought that a party which pretends to be the alternative government, which is asking the people to make it the government, would not act irresponsibly and inflame a situation which is of enormous national significance by driving the parties further apart for the sake of gaining a few political points; political points against whom? Having listened to this debate so far I am not aware that any points have been scored but something fascinating has come out of this debate. That is a clear indication by the Labor Party that if it formed a government it would engage in direct intervention in commercial decisions. I suggest this must raise the most serious questions in the minds of those in Australian business. It must force business and industry to ask themselves how much confidence they can have in freedom of choice under a Labor government to go about their business without government interference. One statement by the honourable member for Cunningham was fascinating and enough to send a chill of fear down the spine of every businessman, big or small. He said: This is not a question of professional judgment; this is a matter of national emergency.’
– It is a matter of national importance.
– I am not disputing for a moment that it is a matter of national importance but that is the thin edge of the wedge of Labor’s policy and philosophy of intervention in commercial dealings, and on that basis a Labor Government could and would interfere in any commercial dealing. I thought some of the comments by the honourable member for Lalor were quite interesting. He said that if Sir William Pettingell had said what he is alleged to have said about the Australian steel industry he should be brought to account.
– 1 said that if he was wrong he should be brought to account.
– He said that if Sir William
Pettingell was wrong he should be brought to account. The honourable gentleman did not elucidate what that delightful phrase meant. Brought to account by whom, to whom?
– Surely you have enough common sense to work it out.
– It is obvious and something for which I am thankful that the level of my common sense does not run parallel with that of the honourable gentleman. Let us look at a hypothetical situation. Does the Labor Party say that if an Australian company wants to build something that is for the ultimate benefit of the nation and the Australian consumer; if it can buy a better product overseas and pay the duty on it; if it can buy overseas a product that is safer than the Australian product; if it can buy the product overseas more cheaply even after paying the duty levied by this Parliament; and if it can get it in half the time or a quarter of the time, the company cannot have freedom of choice and buy the product overseas? That is a monstrous suggestion. If the Labor Party, as the pretending government is to go to Australian industry and say: ‘All of your transactions will be subject to our judgment of whether or not it is in the national interest for you to do this or that’, the whole freedom of choice of private enterprise will be taken away. The dead hand of socialism immediately comes on to industry and commerce and they wither away and the size of the cake gets progressively smaller. I think that is the most fascinating thing that has come out of the debate today.
Running through the speech of the honourable member for Lalor like the thread of Ariadne was this question of the steel industry. I think he took secret delight in Sir William Pettingell’s criticism of the Australian steel industry. He deplored it but with so much faint condemnation as to indicate that he loved the steel industry to be criticised. I would have thought that this delight in the breast of the honourable member for Lalor indicated this sort of thinking: ‘Once I am in government and Minister for Trade this will give me the stick I have been wanting for years. As soon as we get into power the first cab off the rank for nationalisation is the steel industry because an industrialist himself says that it is inefficient’. The honourable gentleman could almost not hide his glee.
Let me repeat as Minister for Customs and Excise - this is the only area in which I exercise responsibility in relation to the matter that is being discussed today - that if a suitable equivalent of a type of steel required by AGL is not reasonably available in Australia, by-law will be granted. If in the judgment given to us a suitable equivalent is reasonably available, by-law certainly will not be granted and AGL will pay the 35 per cent duty on the imported steel. I have an enormous respect for the knowledge of the steel industry of the honourable member for Cunningham. He knows a lot more about it than I do or am ever likely to do, but with great respect to him, I as Minister for Customs and Excise would not accept his judgment that the question of safety is tripe or that our steel is better than that which is to be imported. I give the House an assurance that before we make a judgment we will go to the highest and best professional consultants that the universities and other institutions in Australia can recommend to us to see if there is evidence to back up the claims of Sir William Pettingell of AGL before making a judgment.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) was correct when he said that this discussion today would serve no purpose; that this discussion was useless and fallacious, because the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the Minister for Customs and Excise gave no information at all to the people of this country. In the past couple of weeks in the mass media underground there has been a fight going on between 2 industrial giants - the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and one of its subsidiaries on the one hand and the Australian Gas Light Co. of New South Wales on the other hand. The Government of the Commonwealth has the right to control our natural resources, the right to give by-laws or refrain from giving them and the right and the duty, as far as the Aus tralian Labor Party is concerned, of seeing that our natural resources are used in the best interests of the community as a whole. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) gave some facts about the efficiency of the steel industry. Sir William Pettingell, on the other hand, said that the steel industry in Australia was not up to standard. Neither the Deputy Prime Minister nor the Minister for Customs and Excise answered any of those questions, or gave any information to this Parliament which would allow us to judge whether the Australian Gas Light Co. was entitled to place an order for steel in Japan without the knowledge of the Government or whether it should have placed its order in Australia.
Let me tell the House shortly what the outlook of the Australian Labor Party is towards our natural resources, particularly primary energy resources - natural gas, oil, coal and uranium. Fuel and energy form the base of the industrial pyramid. They serve all industry. The cost and efficiency of their production, marketing and utilisation are reflected in the price of nearly every manufactured product, in productivity and in living standards and in national prosperity. If the momentum of the industrial growth of Australia is to be maintained, rational development of the country’s energy resources becomes absolutely essential. Energy policies and planned development and use of indigenous as well as imported energy resources have already been accomplished in certain overseas countries, for example, in Great Britain, France, Sweden and Japan. Australia must follow suit and not allow unplanned, haphazard development and use of our energy resources as is happening at present.
It is estimated that Australia possesses about 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas located in Bass Strait, in the Cooper Basin in South Australia, in Palm Valley in the Northern Territory and on the northwest shelf of Western Australia. The pipeline that will be constructed and that is now under discussion will be the largest we will see in Australia for some time. But eventually, as the honourable members for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and Cunningham said, there will be thousands of miles of pipeline reticulating natural gas throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
So, what we have in front of us at the moment is a dispute between 2 industrial giants. Honourable members might recall that, in the first instance, the Australian Gas Light Co. went to the Esso-BHP Company to see about obtaining natural gas from its sources to service Sydney. Not only did the Esso-BHP group hold the Australian Gas Light Co. over a barrel but the group was also helped by the then Premier of Victoria, lt was because of that that AGL went looking elsewhere for a natural gas source. What we have here is a dispute over the reticulation of natural gas not only through New South Wales but, perhaps, also through the Palm Valley fields up to the north west shelf, with the laterals leading off serving various other communities. If the Australian Gas Light Co. can obtain and control this pipeline under its own conditions, it will be well in front in having a major say in the development of other major gas pipelines throughout Australia.
Let me come back to the main point of my argument. We heard the honourable member for Cunningham say a few things about the steel industry. I have been told that the Australian Gas Light Co. insisted upon safety in the production of its pipe. The company wanted all tendering companies to provide a 100 per cent warranty on their products. I have been told that Tubemakers of Australia Ltd was prepared to give a warranty on its product of only $500,000 and that Steel Mains Pty Ltd was prepared to give a warranty on its product of only $250,000. So, if anything went wrong in the final test, Tubemakers was prepared to stand the cost to a figure of $500,000 and Steel Mains was prepared to stand the cost up to $250,000. The Japanese, the Italians and the Germans were prepared to give a 100 per cent warranty and were prepared to allow what they called a high level hydrostatic test on the pipe to be conducted after the pipe had been manufactured, fabricated and installed.
I want to know - I expected the Deputy Prime Minister or the Minister for Customs and Excise to give some information on these points - whether the Australian companies were given the opportunity to quote for this project. Are the matters I have stated correct7 The Minister for Cus toms and Excise referred to by-law application. This will be decided by the best experts available to his Department. But I will guarantee that the decision on by-law entry will be taken without this Parliament being advised of the grounds on which it was taken. Nobody in Australia will know whether the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd was correct in its claims that it was done an injustice by the Australian Gas Light Co. and no-one will know whether AGL was correct in giving the order to Japan. But it has already been established - the Deputy Prime Minister admitted this - that the order has gone to Japan. So the only remaining point at issue is whether the application by AGL for by-law entry will be approved.
I have been told that if the by-law application is not granted it will cost AGL something like $ 14.75m. The cost factor involved means that for every $10m impost there will be a loss of $125m to the consumers of New South Wales over a period of 25 years. The Opposition cannot obtain this sort of information unless it is given to us by one or other of the industrial giants. But the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Customs and Excise could be expected to lay some facts on the line. In particular, I take great umbrage at the Minister for Customs and Excise saying that we have no right to discuss this matter in this chamber. The Senate has discussed it. Sir William Pettingell has discussed it. The General Manager and other officials of BHP have also discussed the matter. In the Parliament of New South Wales the Minister for Mines has made statements and questions have been asked on the subject. But, where the major decision is to be made - in this Parliament - we are not allowed to discuss it.
– The whole of Australia is talking about it.
– As the honourable member for Hughes said, everybody in Australia is talking about it. Everybody is satisfied that either AGL or BHP is not telling the truth, yet this Government will not give information to the Parliament to enable us to decide whether the contract should go to Japan or whether a portion should be given to the Australian companies of Tubemakers and Steel Mains in order to allow an Australian industry to increase its efficiency and capacity.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is a sad thing that every time members of the Australian Labor Party imagine a band wagon thundering past, they try to get on it and talk. They seem to think that there is a pathetic kind of solution to all matters by the use of a large amount of eloquence. I thought they would have learned from the exercise of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) going to Japan. He went with his mouth open and evidently his eyes and ears shut and messed up the wheat market for a couple of years.
– That is a lie - a filthy lie.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Wilmot withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Wakefield has knowingly and seriously reflected on the integrity of the honourable member for Dawson and he seems likely to get away with it. Yet the honourable member for Wilmot has been required to withdraw a remark that he made. The honourable member for Wakefield may get away with his comments simply because the honourable member for Dawson is not in the House. We thrashed out this situation this morning while Mr Speaker was in the Chair. Surely Government supporters had an adequate lesson this morning in the hiding they received over a misrepresentation of the Labor Party’s attitude on its visit to China.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The remarks made by the honourable member for Wilmot were unparliamentary.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. What you said is true. The remarks made by the honourable member for Wilmot might have been unparliamentary, but I direct your attention to what the honourable member for Wakefield said. As you must know, Mr Deputy Speaker, because you were present in the House earlier today he completely misrepresented the honourable member for Dawson. Yet this misrepresentation reflecting on an honourable member is to be permitted while you have required the honourable member for Wilmot to withdraw. I think that is most unfair and unreasonable.
-Order! In regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Lalor, as I understand it, the remarks of the honourable member for Wakefield were comments on a speech made and action taken by the honourable member for Dawson. It is not within the knowledge of the Chair to be able to say that those remarks were correct or otherwise.
– Yet you can judge the honourable member for Wilmot.
-I. think the position of the honourable member for Wilmot is slightly different. If the honourable member for Dawson feels that he has been misrepresented, he will have an opportunity at a later stage to raise the matter.
– I am concerned that members of the Labor Party seem to have been hurt by what I said. It is becoming increasingly obvious that there will be required in any government running the country a large amount of business experience. The thing that worries me is that members of the Opposition think that the solution to all problems is a burst of eloquence. But in most cases the solution is a question of sound decisions being made. As far as I know - 1 have not checked this - there is not one honourable member on the front bench of the Labor Party who has ever made or sold anything. In government one must have some administative experience as well as some experience in the real world. The experience of the Labor Party seems to be that it is having increasing difficulty in selling itself. I have lost a lot of time and I must press on with my message. I noted with a certain amount of cynical amusement that Sir William Pettingell, one of the main figures in this matter, was president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, known as the high protectionist lobby in Australia. The argument really boils down to how much protection Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd should get. It is always held up as justification for the protection of an infant industry argument. It is true that it started and was sustained in the early stages wilh tariff protection, but how old will the infant be before it is weaned?
Surely there is a need for BHP at this stage to stand on its own feet. It is getting tariff protection of 35 per cent and it is said that it is not enough. The Japanese buy our iron ore and coal, freight them to Japan and pay wages to the steel workers very similar to those paid in Australia. I have figures from the Parliamentary Library showing that Australian steel workers are paid an average of $320 a month. In Japan they are paid $250 a month, without including the fringe benefits paid there. The money difference is only 22 per cent but the real difference is very small indeed. The payments are very close together. The Japanese make the steel and roll it into pipe. They pay freight of about $5m to bring it to Australia and then duty, I am told, of $15m. Then they undersell BHP which has tariff protection of 35 per cent.
What is wrong with Australian industry? We know that BHP is a first class company but there are signs of complacency. Some people think that BHP is sitting down a bit too much and polishing its halo. What is wrong with Australian industry if it cannot beat that kind of competition? I am certain it could, if it was put to the test because it employs the kind of people who will respond to the challenge. I guess that in time if Australian industry is pressed by competition from within Australia or from imports it will rise to the challenge. BHP is a good Australian company that has set a standard that it is allowing to slip to some extent. There has been some discussion about whether BHP could meet the quality requirements. It has not yet demonstrated that it could meet it on commercial terms.
Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is a partner in the oil and natural gas venture in Bass Strait. It is not for nothing that it imported Japanese pipe for its own gas pipeline. Is not that an indication that it does have doubts about the quality of the material it is using? For us to go on in this place not knowing the details is not of much value. As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has so rightly said, a decision on whether a material is a suitable equivalent requires very great scientific examination. For us to discuss it here without the backing of the exact knowledge necessary is not helping the discussions that are proceeding in Sydney at present.
We have heard from the Labor Party a continual lament about the monopoly power of BHP. Every time that BHP increases its prices everybody says what a wicked thing it is to do. The Labor Party has always complained about BHP as a monopoly but when that company starts to feel the winds of competition in this way the Labor Party says: ‘Oh no, we must not allow it really to suffer the spur of competition’. The only kind of spur that BHP needs is competition. It has natural advantages and great business ability. I believe that as a result of this discussion BHP will pull up its socks and demonstrate that it can make the kind of steel that is needed, and at a much more reasonable price. It is ridiculous to think that BHP needs 35 per cent tariff protection if it is as good a company as the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) claims. It will be that good, with the spur of competition. It is just because BHP has needed the spur of competition to lift it put of its complacent attitude towards some of its products that it is a pity that this debate came on today.
– 1 call the honourable member for Hawker.
– I support the motion before the House.
– 1 do not want to gag the honourable member but there was an arrangement.
– Four on each side.
– No, three on each side.
– You can have another one.
– If that suggestion had been put we could have considered it. We had an arrangement. It is not a binding arrangement, but it is an arrangement.
– Pursuant to section 96l of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1971, I present the annual report of the Australian
Post Office for the year ended 30th June 1972 together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
Bill presented by Mr Chipp, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
It will be recalled that when the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) released the report of the Tariff Board on metal working machine tools and accessories on 11th August last, he announced that the Government had accepted the Board’s recommendations including the introduction of a bounty arrangement for certain specified machine tools. The terms of reference to the Tariff Board required it to have regard to the Government’s objective that at least the nucleus of a machine tools industry should be maintained in Australia, without encouraging the industry to expand beyond the range within which it was then operating. To meet this objective the Board considered that the assistance to be provided should maintain the local manufacture of those kinds of machines, the production of which would retain within the industry a cadre of specialist design and manufacturing skills and specialist plant.
The Board recommended that in addition to tariff assistance certain power-fed machine tools should receive assistance by way of bounty and that certain special purpose machines subject to minimum rates of duty should receive bounty assistance. The majority of the remaining machines under reference which were subject to protective duties should continue to receive tariff assistance. The changes in the rates of duty on imported machine tools made necessary by this decision were implemented recently through Customs Tariff Proposal No. 14. The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to implement the Government’s decision in respect of bounty assistance.
The Bill provides for the payment of bounty on the various classes of machine tools listed in the Schedule to the Bill. The level of bounty assistance specified in the
Bill - 33½ per cent of factory cost - accords with that foreshadowed in the Minister’s statement of 11th August. In this regard it will be recalled that the Minister indicated that although different in form this rate of assistance is equivalent to that proposed by the Tariff Board. The change in the form of the subsidy has been made only because of the Government’s concern that the form of subsidy originally proposed by the Board - a percentage of selling price - could present problems in administration. As recommended by the Tariff Board, provision has been made for the level of bounty assistance to be adjusted in accordance with the level of Australian content of the machine tool concerned.
All manufacturers who were engaged in the production of bountiable goods on 14th April 1972 - the date the Board’s report was signed - will be eligible to participate in the bounty arrangements. Provision exists for other manufacturers to be brought within the scope of the arrangements where I, in my capacity as Minister for Customs and Excise, and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) are satisfied that this would promote the orderly development of the industry without inducing undue fragmentation of local production. It is intended that this assistance should continue until 30th June 1977 during which time the industry will again be reviewed by the Tariff Board. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
(No. 3) 1972
Bill presented by Mr Chipp, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. The amendments contained in the Bill now before the House provide for only one change for duty rates in the excise tariff. These particular amendments relate to the 50 per cent reduction in the rate of duty on wine produced from fresh grapes. Honourable members will recall that tariff proposals introduced on 25th May 1972 gave effect to the Government’s decision to reduce excise duty on wine following consideration of Professor Grant’s report earlier this year on the wine industry. The Bill now under consideration will enact the proposals in respect of wine as from 16th August 1972. Shortly I will introduce the Bill needed to validate the reduction for the period 26th May to 15th August 1972.
This Bill also contains amendments which will permit the delivery free of excise duty of tobacco, cigars, cigarettes and snuff for use in an approved medical or other scientific research programme. The opportunity has also been taken to express the wording in respect of certain potable spirits in similar terms to that used in the customs tariff for imported spirits. A summary of the changes is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Chipp, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill provides for the validation up to and including 15th August 1972 of duties of excise collected on wine at the reduced rate of duty pursuant to Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 which I tabled on 25th May last. Because of the enactment ?f the Excise Tariff 1972, to operate on and from 1st July 1972, the Government has decided to seek validation df the reduced rate for the period 26th May 1972 to 15th August 1972, both dates inclusive, to cover both the pre-metric and post-metric forms of the Excise Tariff. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to implement the Government’s decision to legislate for the comprehensive supervision of general insurance companies in Australia. The Bill follows closely the scheme of legislation which was outlined by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) to the House on 9th December 1971. The Government’s approach in the preparation of the legislation has been to strike a balance between the need to regulate insurance companies and the preservation of the rights of those companies to carry on business in a free enterprise environment.
The need for an improved system of supervision of general insurance companies in the public interest is widely recognised. The Bill will protect the public by preventing weak companies from engaging in this business and by requiring authorised insurers to be capable of meeting their liabilities. At the same time, most companies carrying on general insurance in Australia are sound and well managed and the normal conduct of business should not be impeded by excessive restrictions. Although the Bill sets new standards of financial soundness for general insurance companies and imposes new obligations on them, the standards are not unreasonable and the requirements conform as closely as possible with existing business practices.
To summarise the Bill in a few words, it requires companies wishing to carry on insurance other than life insurance to satisfy minimum standards of solvency in order to obtain authorities to carry on the business, and thereafter to maintain those standards. An authorised insurer failing to maintain the solvency standards, or in danger of falling below them, may be subject to investigation which could lead to directions being given to deal with the situation. The Bill also provides for the establishment of an insurance tribunal to hear appeals against administrative decisions.
The main details of the Bill are as 1 shall indicate.
Fart I defines insurance business and the scope and application of the Bill. Provision is made for the Part to come into operation on royal assent and for the remaining provisions to come into force by proclamation. This will allow time to establish the organisation that will be needed to administer the legislation. The commissioner foi the purposes of the Bill will be the Insurance Commissioner holding office under the Life Insurance Act. In this way the supervision of life and general insurance will be brought under one administration, an arrangement which is becoming increasingly desirable. In this connection it is proposed to terminate the longstanding practice for the Commonwealth Actuary to be the Insurance Commissioner and to arrange for the Insurance Commissioner to be a separate office.
The definition of ‘insurance business’ is similar to that in the Insurance Act 1932- 1966, but specific reference has been made to reinsurance to avoid any doubts as to coverage, and some additions have been made to the types of business excluded from the definition. For constitutional reasons and because State government insurance undertakings are guaranteed by their respective States, State insurance, including State insurance extending beyond the limits of the State concerned, has been exempted from compliance with the legislation. However, State governments have expressed agreement that their insurance offices should co-operate in furnishing statistical information to the Commissioner. Similarly, Commonwealth and Territory instrumentalities have been exempted from compliance with the legislation.
Authority to Carry on Insurance Business
Clause 12 of Part II prohibits the carrying on of insurance business other than by a body corporate authorised under the Act or by a Lloyd’s underwriter while Part VI continues to have effect. Part II sets out the procedures for making application for an authority, the requirements which an applicant must satisfy to obtain an authority, and the conditions to which authorities are subject. One of the main conditions is that an authorised insurer must maintain a margin of assets in Australia over liabilities in Australia equal to 15 per cent of premium income in Australia during the preceding financial year or $100,000, whichever is the greater. For the purposes of the margin of solvency calculation, special definitions of assets, liabilities and premium income are provided in clauses 8, 9, 10 and 11.
Separate provisions for authorisation have been made in clauses 15, 16 and 17 for insurers carrying on insurance business in Australia before 9th December 1971, which was the date of the Treasurer’s statement giving advance information about the details to be included in the legislation. Clause 18 empowers the Treasurer to refuse to grant an authority in certain circumstances and provides for an appeal to the Insurance Tribunal against a refusal by the Treasurer. Provision is made in clause 23 for the cancellation of authorities in specified circumstances. Clause 24 provides for an exemption from the provisions of the Act in respect of insurance business for the benefit of a limited class of persons where the gross premium income is less than $200,000 in a year.
Part III of the Bill requires accounts to be kept and audited accounts and statements to be furnished in prescribed forms. It also deals with the appointment and duties of auditors. The effectiveness of the proposed system of supervision will depend to a large extent on the scope and accuracy of information received by the commissioner. All authorised insurers are required to furnish information annually in respect of insurance business and other business in Australia. Insurers incorporated in Australia are also required to furnish information in respect of business carried on outside Australia. Insurers incorporated abroad are required to lodge copies of information supplied under insurance laws overseas and to notify any contravention or failure to comply with any overseas insurance law.
In addition quarterly returns of selected assets and liabilities and monthly returns of premiums, claims and expenses are to be submitted. Professional reinsurers are required to furnish specialised information on their business. Members of the public will have access to copies of an insurer’s balance sheet, underwriting account, profit and loss and appropriation account as submitted to the commissioner. All other returns will be confidential. However, selected information will be processed from the returns and published as aggregates for general statistical purposes. This will be an important by-product of the legislation, providing information which will be valuable to insurers in managing their businesses as well as being of importance generally within the community.
Part IV provides for the commissioner to obtain additional information from an authorised insurer which appears unlikely to meet its obligations. If necessary the commissioner may direct the insurer not to remove assets from Australia for a period of up to 6 months, such a direction being subject to appeal. Provision is also made for investigation of the affairs of an authorised insurer which is, or is likely to be, unable to meet its obligations or to comply with the legislation. The investigation provisions, which are modelled on the corresponding provisions of the uniform Companies Acts, provide for appointment of an inspector by the Treasurer. The powers of an inspector include power to enter premises on reasonable grounds and power to investigate associated companies. Other provisions deal with the responsibilities and rights of company officers and report by the inspector to the Treasurer. Following an investigation, the Treasurer may issue directions to the insurer as to the further conduct of its business.
Part V establishes an insurance tribunal to hear appeals against administrative decisions under the legislation. These provisions are an important feature of the Bill. The tribunal is to consist of a judge as chairman with 3 other members with knowledge of insurance, but not a director or employee of an insurer. The arrangements for the appointment of the members are set out in division 1 of this part. The steps to be taken from the institution of appeal proceedings up to the stage of the hearing are specified in division 2 and provision is made in division 3 for procedures during a hearing. Provision has also been made for reference to the Commonwealth Industrial Court of a question of law arising in proceedings before the tribunal. Division 4 provides for offences in relation to the tribunal.
Part VI authorises the carrying on of insurance business in Australia by Lloyd’s underwriters, subject to compliance by the Society of Lloyd’s with the provisions of this part and of the second schedule. Lloyd’s underwriters do not fit into the general supervisory system of the Bill which relates to bodies corporate, being individuals with unlimited personal liability who form syndicates of varying numbers to undertake insurance transactions in many parts of the world. Special provisions have been made for this class of insurer. The main requirements are that the Society will lodge Commonwealth securities with the Treasurer to the value of $500,000 and will also lodge a convenant by an Australian bank in favour of the Treasurer equal in amount to the annual net premium income of Lloyd’s underwriters from their Australian business. The deposit and amounts payable under the covenant will be available to satisfy final judgments obtained in Australia against a Lloyd’s underwriter. The value of the securities and the amount of the covenant will be adjusted annually and securities or amounts paid by a bank under a covenant will be replenished if they are used. Lloyd’s are required to furnish an annual return of net premium income in Australia for the purpose of adjusting the amount of the covenant and to provide the commissioner with copies of returns furnished to the United Kingdom authorities. Lloyd’s are also required to furnish such accounts and statements as the Treasurer determines corresponding as far as practicable to the accounts and statements to be furnished by bodies corporate under the legislation.
Effect of Act on Other Laws
Part VII provides for the protection of State and Territory legislation on insurance. It provides that, on the one hand, the Commonwealth legislation will not be over-ridden by State and Territory legislation dealing with authorisation of insurers to carry on insurance businss generally. On the other hand, it protects State and Territory legislation on insurance in particular fields, such as workers’ compensation, compulsory and third party motor vehicle insurance, hire-purchase, stamp duty and fire brigade levies.
State supervisory legislation which exercises control over the whole field of general insurance, such as the Queensland insurance legislation, is safeguarded by clauses 98 to 100 for specified periods to allow time for the Commonwealth legislation to have full effect. Part VIII also provides transitional arrangements for persons and companies ceasing to carry on insurance business after the Act comes into force, because they are not bodies corporate or do not apply for authorities or are refused authorities. These provisions are likely to be very important during the early years of the legislation and include power to investigate where necessary.
Part IX makes provision for a number of machinery matters to support the other provisions of the Bill. They include a prohibition on unauthorised insurers carrying on business through agents, a power for the commissioner to inspect the books of an authorised insurer corresponding to a similar power in the uniform Companies Acts, secrecy provisions to be observed by the commissioner and his staff, general provisions on offences and penalties and a regulation-making power.
In his statement of 9th December 1971, the Treasurer said that it was proposed that the Commonwealth should legislate for the supervision of insurance brokers. That is still the intention, but it became necessary during this year to concentrate all available drafting resources on the preparation of the Insurance Bill and legislation on insurance brokers was put aside for the time being. That work will be resumed as soon as possible. 1 commend the Insurance Bill to honourable members.
– by leave - 1 think that one should be aware of the importance of this legislation and the fact that it has been mooted for a considerable time. One must also feel a bit apprehensive that such legislation should be passed without adequate time for consideration. I am not too sure, from what I have heard, whether it is the intention to let this legislation lie on the table of the House for some time. If that is done, in the event of the dissolution of the Parliament it will lapse. But it was suggested that there are some urgent cases that require this sort of legislation. Therefore I ask that we be given an adjournment until the week when the Parliament resumes, because my Party wants to consider this legislation which is quite extensive. If the Government then indicates that the Bill is not to be passed this session we would still like an opportunity to debate some of the principles that are involved. That is the sort of assurance I would like to have from the Minister for Supply and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland). I had some informal discussion with him before the Bill was introduced.
I think that my colleague, the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) who has taken a great and very close interest in this matter would also like to say a word or 2. I would like an assurance that even if it is not the intention to pass the Bill into law at this stage - my Party has not yet considered the matter - we should nevertheless have some opportunity to debate at least the principles of the legislation in the several weeks of this session that still remain.
– With your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, may I say that the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) has indicated that he will allow the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) to make some remarks on this Insurance Bill if it is not possible for the Bill to be proceeded with. As to additional speakers, I will need to have a further discussion with him.
– I seek leave to make a very short statement following what was said by my colleague, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean).
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Basically, my concern is not whether we will be given sufficient time to consider the Bill, important as that is. What I am concerned about is whether the But will in fact become law. It has been well over 2 years since I first raised this matter in the House and I have persisted with it ever since. I have asked the Government repeatedly to exercise its constitutional power to give policy holders and insurers the protection and stability which the industry deserves.
The previous Prime Minister, as early as September of 1970, is on record as saying:
The Government regards the subject as one of urgency and will press ahead with all possible speed. I should perhaps say, however, that the provision of a comprehensive legislative scheme will be a large and complex operation and I am unable at this stage to indicate a likely timetable for the introduction of the legislation.
A total of 14 companies has in fact gone into liquidation and a figure of over $9m has been involved. What concerns me is that the policy holders are the people who suffer most tragically in this area because ot the failure of the Government to act. 1 know, the Government knows and the Treasury officials know that almost 18 months ago a working paper from the Australian Industry Association was given to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and that beyond any question that working paper set out fully the regulations that the industry itself wanted. On top of that we were given an assurance that assistance would be provided to help draft the legislation. A parliamentary counsel - a woman - skilled in company law legislation was brought to the Federal Parliament from Victoria to help speed up the legislation.. I can vividly recall that some months ago the Treasurer, speaking to me in answer to a question, said that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel was working overtime to get this Bill before the House.
– That is right.
– The Minister has acknowledged that this is correct. However, the same day in another place the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood), who has the responsibility for the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, said that he had no knowledge of the matter.
We have the position where governments, industry and the public do not have any objection to this class of Bill. As 1 understand it every State government, with the possible exception of Queensland, wants the Bill to be put on the statute book. Industry wants it. Stock exchanges want it for the purpose of regulation rather than registration of stockbrokers. It seems to me deplorable that only a week ago a statement should have had to be made by a Minister of the New South Wales Government that he would have to bring up to date the Consumer Protection Act in New South Wales if this Government fails to act. This Government stands condemned. It has had over 2 years to bring this legislation into the House and to give the ordinary people, the policy holders, the protection they deserve. In my view there is no excuse for the Government whatsoever.
What 1 want as an ordinary back bencher is an unequivocal undertaking from the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) that this Bill will in fact have the force of law and not be glossed over as a piece of Press publicity which will come out tomorrow morning. To be more factual, what worries me above all is whether this is the ghost of Gorton getting the rip of this Government. This legislation is the last promise he ever made as Prime Minister; it is one of the promises that this Government somewhere along the line committed itself to implement. I condemn the Government for its prevarication, its procrastination and the very fact that it has no intention, as I understand it, of making this Bill law.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to change the name of the Insurance Act 1932-1966 to the Insurance (Deposits) Act 1932-1972, to provide for the termination of the deposit requirement after the new system of supervision provided for in the Insurance Bill becomes fully effective and to provide for other matters consequential upon introduction of the Insurance Bill.
The proposal to terminate the deposit requirement after an interim period is in accordance with the proposal announced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his statement of 9th December 1971. A deposit will not, however, be released to a company in liquidation, but will be retained by the Treasurer for use as at present.
The consequential matters include exempting insurers from furnishing information relating to the deposit requirement after they begin furnishing the much more comprehensive information provided for under the Insurance Bill. The Bill is commended to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in 1972-73 of special grants of $1Om to Queensland, $21m to South Australia and $7.6m to Tasmania. These payments accord with the recommendations made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in a letter of 12th July 1972 to the Administrator of the Commonwealth, which has already been tabled. The Bill also seeks the usual authority for payment of advances to the 3 States in the early months of the 1973-74 year, pending receipt of the Commission’s recommendations for that year, and enactment of legislation to provide for the grants to be paid in that year.
The Government makes special grants to financially weaker States, to compensate them for, such factors as, lower capacity to raise revenue from their own resources and higher costs in providing government services of a standard similar to those in the financially stronger States. When special grants were first paid they constituted the only regular form of general revenue assistance paid to the financially weaker states for this purpose. The main way in which special compensatory assistance is now provided is through the higher per capita financial assistance grants paid to the 4 less populous States. The financial assistance grants are, of course, the main general revenue grants to the States. The special grants may, therefore, be regarded as supplementing the financial assistance grants, and as having the special characteristic of being independently as well as expertly assessed by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
The method used by the Grants Commission, briefly put, is to calculate grants which will bring the claimant States’ budgetary positions up to the 2 most populous States taken as ‘standard’, after allowing for differences between the States concerned in their financial practices and their efforts to raise revenue and control expenditure. This involves a detailed comparison of the standard and claimant States’ budgetary revenues and expenditures.
The recommendations by the Grants Commission for payment of special grants consist of 2 parts. One part is based on an estimate of the claimant State’s financial need in the current financial year and is treated as an advance payment; subject to adjustment 2 years later when the Commission has compared in detail the Budget results and standards of effort and of services provided in that year for both the claimant State and the States which it takes as standard. The other part represents the final adjustment to the advance payment made 2 years earlier and is known as the completion payment. It may result in the final grant in respect of that year being higher or lower than the original advance payment.
As honourable members are aware, the Queensland Government first applied for a special grant in 1971-72. The Grants Commission submitted a special report on Queensland’s application in March this year. The Government accepted the recommendation contained in that report that an advance grant of $9m be paid to Queensland in 1971-72 and payment of this special grant was subsequently authorised by the Queensland Grant Act 1972. This advance grant will be subject to adjustment next financial year after a detailed examination of the State’s financial position in 1971-72 relative to those of New South Wales and Victoria. Queensland again applied to the Commonwealth for a special grant for 1972-73 and the Grants Commission has recommended payment of an advance grant of Si Om to Queensland in 1972-73. This grant will, of course, be subject to adjustment in 1974- 75.
The Commission has recommended the payment of special grants totalling $21m to South Australia in 1972-73 made up of an advance payment of $13. 5m for 1972- 73, compared with $7m in 1971-72, and a completion payment of $7. 5m in respect of 1970-71. This last completion grant recommended in respect of 1970-71 brings the total special grant in respect of that year to $12.5m. The relatively high level of this completion grant reflects the fact that it was in 1970-71 that South Australia applied for a special grant again after several years’ absence from claimancy, and the advance grant recommended at that time was necessarily fairly tentative.
The Grants Commission has recommended the payment of special grants totalling $7.6m to Tasmania in 1972-73, made up of an advance payment of $IOm for 1972-73 and a negative completion payment of $2.4m in respect of 1970-71. This adjustment in respect of Tasmania’s 1970-71 grant means that the advance payment of $12m made in that year has proved, after detailed examination by the Commission, to be an over-estimate of the State’s needs for that year. The 1972-73 advance grant will, of course, be subject to adjustment in 1974-75. The basis of the Commission’s recommendations will be set out fully in its 39th report which should be available shortly. I remind honourable members that it is the intention of the Government not to proceed to the second reading debate until the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission has been tabled. The recommendations of the Grants Commission have been adopted by Parliament each year since the Commission’s inception and the Government considers that they should be accepted on this occasion. 1 commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the House to make a ministerial statement on Australia’s natural resources.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– Because of the length of the statement I propose to deliver a somewhat abridged version of it, but I ask leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard the full text of the statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– The management and development of our natural resources has been a vital element in Australia’s growth over the last several years. Within the total picture, our resources of minerals, forests, water and energy have been of great significance. In the Common.monwealth sphere these 4 resources fall within the responsibility of the Minister for National Development. I have had the honour, and satisfaction, of holding this portfolio for the last 3 years and. as 1 am shortly to retire from this House, I feel it appropriate to review for the information of members of the Parliament developments during the last decade or so. With this statement, I am having circulated to honourable members a background paper reviewing the more significant aspects and events in recent years in the development of Australia’s resources of minerals, forests, water and energy.
I draw attention the fact that the copies of the statement now being circulated show certain paragraphs sidelined. These are the passages which will form my actual statement to the House. I felt however that it would be helpful to elaborate some matters in greater detail than would be possible in the course of what 1 have time to say today. This additional material is not sidelined but is woven in between the major points which 1 wish to bring before the House.
During this period under review new policies have been developed and old policies have been adjusted to cope with changing situations. I think it may be useful to draw together the more important threads of policies which have evolved under, and been enunciated by, the Government of the Commonwealth and as well to point up some of the challenging problems which lie ahead.
Taken together, the background paper and the statement I am now making will, in relation to the 4 natural resources with which my portfolio is concerned, set out the up to date situation, outline current
Government policy and foreshadow issues which will be faced in the future. The development of Government policy is a dynamic process. Clearly our policies must be flexible and responsive to changes and to new situations.
Even in my last few weeks as Minister, major issues have arisen which it is only natural for me to say I would have liked to have seen decided. But time has not been sufficient to enable the thorough assessment of all the relevent factors; nor, in some cases, for the detailed consultations which are necessary not only with industry, but also between the Commonwealth and the other Governments in our Federation.
The effective development of Australia’s natural resources of minerals, forests, water and energy is, I believe, of crucial importance to the welfare of our country. Under the Australian Constitution the States are primarily responsible for many of the matters involved in natural resource development. For example, the States grant right to explore for and to mine minerals; similarly they grant the franchises for forestry development; the States have prime responsibility for water conservation as well as for the provision of energy - but in our federal relationships there is a need, and I think a general recognised need, for a Commonwealth role - a co-operative role.
But the Commonwealth does have powers and responsibilities - particularly in the fields of external affairs, trade and finance - and in its ability to devote significant effort to the measurement and assessment of our natural resources - which enable it to encourage development and to help in protecting the national interest.
In what the Commonwealth has done in the past and in what it will do in the future in these fields, there must be certain basic underlying objectives. These broad national objectives are comparable with such established general economic aims as full employment and a stable monetary system. These broad objectives are not the exclusive responsibility of government - they should be snared by all think ing Australians. The Government, in its thinking, sees these objectives of natural resource development as follows: Firstly, we should aim to bring into use the natural resources of our country as fully as our powers, energies and abilities permit for the benefit of Australians generally; secondly, we are bound to think not only of Australians of the present generation but also of future generations. This calls for effective resource management regimes to ensure that wise use is made of our natural resources; thirdly, we should aim to ensure that Australians participate effectively both in the equity capital of natural resource projects and in their management; fourthly, we should pursue energetically our endeavours to discover what our natural resources are, and to research into how they can and should best be used. We will need to deploy the patient and elaborate resources of modern science; and this 1 suggest is the responsibility not only of the public but also of the private sector; fifthly, although we should think first of the interests of Australians, we are not isolated from the rest of the world. We should not by our policies eschew the benefits both to our own and to other peoples, particularly our near neighbours, which can come from the partnerships of trading relations and the relationships of international investment; sixthly, while we should certainly seek the orderly and rational development of our natural resources, we should also ensure that this is done in ways which pay proper regard to conservation and to safeguarding the quality of the environment; and finally, our methods must fit in with the basic philosophy of our country. We are a private enterprise economy and we are a federation. And it is to private enterprise and to State and Commonwealth Governments working together co-operatively in commonly, understood, but always evolving relationships, that the nation looks to see these tasks performed. lt is obvious that these objectives which I have outlined interact and interlock one with another. They must be considered as a coherent whole.
Co-operation in Policies and Administration
Ever since World War II there has been increased activity by governments, both Commonwealth and State, in the daily affairs of the nation. This increasing involvement, because of the constitutional division of powers and responsibilities between governments, has led to a parallel increase in the need for ca-operation between the States and the Commonwealth in order to harmonise policies and to help in the achieving of national objectives.
The pressure for closer co-operation and co-ordination between Australian governments has been particularly strong in the natural resource field, and has led to the setting up of Commonwealth-State advisory councils at Ministerial level to discuss common problems. The Australian Water Resources Council was set up in 1963, followed by the Australian Forestry Council in 1964 and the Australian Minerals Council in 1968. The membership of these Councils comprises the Commonwealth Minister for National Development, the Minister for the interior, and the State Ministers responsible for the particular resource concerned. The Minister for External Territories attends the Forestry Council and the Minerals Council as an observer.
The objectives of these Councils vary according to the particular circumstances of the differing natural resources; but all are basically concerned with fostering cooperation and harmonising Commonwealth and State policies, including those relating to research into, and the assessment of, the various natural resources. All the Councils have the overall aim of ensuring the general welfare and progressive development of the industry utilising those resources. In addition to the establishment of governmental Councils, a close relation with industry h being developed through advisory bodies working with my Department. I intend that this co-operative consultation between Government and the natural resource industries be increased.
In outlining the Government’s basic objectives in natural resource development 1 referred to the need that we should pursue energetically our endeavours to discover and assess our natural resources. I have noted in the last few months calls for a comprehensive assessment of just what our natural resources are. With this basic aim or objective I can only say that I agree, but I would make two points; first that thi idea is not new, and secondly, that it is just not possible to say at a particular time that, for example, our reserves of a particular mineral are so much and no more.
Let me elaborate on this a little. I repeat that the need for a comprehensive assessment of our natural resources is not a new idea as some at least of its proponents appear to believe. For example, one of the first and basic essentials in natural resource exploration and assessment is the provision of accurate mapping. Air photographs and maps are essential tools for the earth scientist to use in the location of resources, determination of soil conditions and in geological and land use surveys.
Over the past 20 years a progressive programme of aerial photography and mapping has been undertaken by the Division of National Mapping of my Department as a co-operative effort with the States. First priority was given to the air photography of the country and Australia was covered in its entirely for the first time by the mid-sixties. By 1967 the whole country had been covered by reconnaissance type maps at a scale of roughly 4 miles to the inch. We have now embarked, in co-operation with the States, on a new programme to map the whole of Australia at a scale of 1 : 100,000, which is approximately lj miles to the inch.
To emphasise my point I would mention that over the last 20 years the Commonwealth Government has spent $34m and devoted something like 2,500 man years of work specifically to the activities of the Division of National Mapping. To this must be added the direct contributions of other Commonwealth authorities, such as the Royal Australian Army Survey Corps and the Naval Hydrographic Service, and as well the efforts of our State authorities.
Moving to a more specific area - that of minerals - the Bureau of Mineral Resources of my Department has devoted just on S90m during the last 20 years to basic geological and geophysical mapping which is the prerequisite of modern organised mineral exploration. The professional effort alone of the Bureau devoted to the assessment of mineral resources would be something like 3,500 man years over the period I have mentioned. In its basic work on minerals, the Bureau, over the last 20 years, has issued almost 300 published monographs and no less than 4,500 unpublished records which are available, on open file, to industry.
Many people are well aware that the last two decades has seen a tremendous awakening to the mineral resource potential of the submerged land constituting the continental shelf adjacent to our coast. Many would know that the great bulk of our indigenous petroleum production comes from offshore Victoria. But how many would know that as early as 1956-4 years before the first titles were sought in the area and 9 years before the discovery of the Barracouta gas field - the Bureau of Mineral Resources carried out a systematic regional aeromagnetic survey of the Gippsland shelf area - the first step to effective assessment of what is now our major area of petroleum production.
More recently, but in continuation of its basic policy, the Commonwealth has initiated 2 major programmes to improve the knowledge of our offshore areas. The Bureau of Mineral Resources is undertaking a programme of marine geological and seismic surveys of our continental shelf and slope. This is important to the understanding of the prolongation under the sea of the Australian continental land mass, and of the possible occurrence in these areas of petroleum and other minerals. The Division of National Mapping has been authorised to map the whole of the Australian continental shelf - an area roughly one-third of the size of our continent. This bathymetric survey, together with the BMR seismic survey, will have cost well over $20m when completed.
The second point on which I wish to elaborate in relation to this matter of assessing our resources is that of it just not being possible to say at a particular point in time that our reserves of a particular mineral are so many million tons and that that is the final figure. Only 10 years ago our reserves of crude oil were nil. and although there was hope, nobody was in a position to say with certainty that so much as one barrel of oil would be found. Today we know that we have 2,000 million barrels of oil and we hope to find more. Again, the development of new technology, or the opening up of a new market, may mean that a resource the existence of which has been known for many years, but which has been regarded as incapable of economic use, may become a valuable asset.
Minerals, of course, are one of the major natural resources of Australia. Chapter II of the background paper outlines, in some detail, the more recent developments in our mineral industry. It is a story of real progress. Quite apart from my immediately following remarks I should mention that I have found it more convenient to discuss many of the policies of the Government which affect the mineral industry in other sections of my statement.
Today we know more about our national inventory of minerals than ever before and the extent and value of our known mineral resources are very many times greater than even say 10 years ago. In the last 10-12 years Australia has come from having no commercial petroleum, to the point where we are producing about 67 per cent of our crude oil requirements; from having no known nickel deposits, practically no bauxite production, little or no uranium or natural gas, limited iron ore and manganese production, to the position where we have reached a state of adequacy of supplies or even abundance in all these resources.
Could I expand on this point a little? During World War II, rewards were offered for the discovery of bauxite. Today our known bauxite reserves are at least 4,500 million tons and are assessed as sufficient to meet our needs well into the next century. Again, as recently as 1959 a comprehensive review of then known reserves of iron ore indicated a total of 368 million tons. Today we have identified more than 20,000 million tons of more than 50 per cent iron, and there is no doubt that more still remains to be discovered.
Petroleum probably gives the most dramatic example of all. Today crude oil and condensate, proven and recoverable by primary methods, on present prices, are estimated to have a gross value to the producer of $4, 800m, with natural gas adding a further S3,700m. In addition we have petroleum discoveries which have not yet been fully evaluated and so cannot be regarded as proven in the strict sense, but if on evaluation the reasonable expectations of these discoveries are realised, then the total value of crude oil and condensate would be about S6,600m and natural gas some Sl5,000m. These latter figures include our proven reserves. In other words, there are grounds for confidence that proved and probable reserves of petroleum, on present day values, are worth something like $22,000m.
I would like to emphasise that it is not my normal policy to refer publicly to any figures related to reserves of our mineral resources which cannot be substantiated to the full. In this case however, bearing in mind that quite a deal of work has been done on some petroleum deposits which have been discovered but not yet fully evaluated, I felt that some reference to reasonable probabilities was necessary in order to give a fair picture to the House. Hopefully, full evaluation of discoveries so far made will prove the existence of reserves of an even greater value than the figures I have just mentioned.
Could I put our petroleum situation another way? Our production of Australian indigenous crude oil is today sufficient to supply 67 per cent of our requirements. If we still had no crude of our own and had to import an equivalent quantity from overseas the cost would be about $375m annually, or something over $lm for every day in the year - and it must be remembered that our requirements for crude are escalating steadily at about 6 per cent every year.
In developing any national inventory of minerals and in considering the question of their conservation, we should not lose sight of the importance of the recycling of metals. The main determinant of recycling’s contribution towards mineral conservation is the level of interaction between the primary metal prices and the relative costs of production of primary metal as against secondary recovery from scrap; thus, increased costs of primary metal production from lower grade ores would tend to favour expansion of secondary recovery which in turn would benefit from economies of scale. The importance of recycling varies from metal to metal, but those where recycling is already relatively important are copper, iron, lead and zinc, aluminium and tin.
The rapid growth of the mineral industry in recent years has made important contributions to certain areas of the Australian economy, for example, in the provision of basic raw materials for many sectors of the manufacturing industries, and in providing market for supplies and equipment, especially for the heavy engineering industry. Nowhere has the contribution of the mineral industry been more dramatically illustrated than in its contribution to our exports. Export income from minerals and mineral products as a proportion of total export income has risen from 4 per cent in 1950-51 to 8 per cent in 1960-61, and now to just over 28 per cent in 1971-72.
New discoveries and the development of new projects have not only meant increasing exports but also a decrease in imports of minerals. Australia is now one of the few countries in the world virtually selfsufficient in minerals. True it is that we still import certain items such as phosphate and sulphur and something over 30 per cent of our crude oil. But compare this with our position, say 10 and 20 years ago. In 1950 mineral imports were just on 3 times as great as exports. By 1960 the two were roughly in balance but in 1971-72 our imports amounted to about $290m and we had a new record level of exports of minerals totalling about $l,380m. Thus, last year exports of minerals exceeded imports by about $ 1,090m.
I would like at this juncture to place on record the Government’s recognition of the tremendous efforts made by many Australians - from the skilled workers in the mines to chairmen of boards of directors - who, with great skill and dedication, have brought about this new level of development in the mineral industry. Their achievements are contributing to a significant change in the economic history of our country.
Speaking generally our position in Australia is that our forests could provide us with an adequate supply of hardwoods but there is a serious deficiency of softwoods. For many years Australia has been a net importer of forest products - particularly timber and long fibred pulp of softwood origin - mainly from Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries. All the indications point towards a world wide shortage of forest products in the long run and Australia’s ability to procure forest products from countries other than New Zealand is likely to decline. Even in the case of New Zealand it may be that the increasing demand elsewhere will mean that other markets will become even more attractive than Australia.
To lend emphasis to the view that the world demand for forest products is virtually certain to increase, I would point out that, on the basis of material published by FAO, the apparent consumption of paper and paperboard in 1968 in the United States was 240 kilograms per head, in Australia it was 110 kilograms per head, while in a developing country in South Asia the equivalent figure was 2 kilograms per head. Clearly, rising standards of living in developing countries are going to stimulate demand significantly, even if it takes some years before they reach a consumption rate of the order of our own - which is less than half that of the United States.
Tt was against this background that the Commonwealth Government decided in 1966, after consultations with the States through the Australian Forestry Council, that there was a real need for an accelerated programme of softwood plantings. The Commonwealth has backed this decision by substantial loans to the States. In 1966 it was estimated that without a programme of additional plantings, imports of forest products would grow to about S600m per annum, at then current values and prices, by the end of the century. Already by 1970-71 our imports of forest products were valued at $285m.
Under the terms of the Softwood Forestry Agreements Act 1967 the Commonwealth agreed to provide financial assistance to the States for a 5-year planting programme in the form of long term loans to a total value of $18m. This programme was a success and enabled the States to increase substantially their rate of softwood plantings. The result was that 256,800 acres of softwoods were planted by the States during those 5 years and of these plantings the Commonwealth financed 113,100 acres. The Commonwealth accepted the need to continue this programme for a second 5-year term and brought legislation before the present Parliament to this end. Under this new programme it is expected that 273,000 acres will be planted by the States of which the Commonwealth will finance 125,000 acres representing additional planting over and above the State’s normal programmes. By the time the second programme is completed the Commonwealth will have loaned the States approximately $40m for this very worthwhile project.
It is estimated that by the end of this century Australia will require something like 1,200 million cubic feet of wood per annum. If we continue a planting programme aimed at establishing 3 million acres of softwoods by the year 2000, this would yield about 730 million cubic feet of wood per annum leaving something of the order of 500 million cubic feet to be provided by native forests. I should make the point that the growth rate in Australian softwood plantations already established is at least twice those in the forest plantations of North America and of the traditional European exporters. Indeed, in the higher rainfall, tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate areas of Australia the production potential for exotic softwoods is as high as any country in the South East Asian region. Growth rates in New Zealand are generally higher than in Australia.
The advent of a market for eucalypt wood chips will enable large areas of degraded forests, which have been fire ravaged or selectively exploited in the past, to be cleared and their production potential fully realised in the future. Forestry experts are confident that the working of these forests in this way will improve our forest areas by the establishment of healthy regrowth forests which may be managed on a multiple use basis; that is to say, the forests may be consciously managed not only to provide raw material for industry, but also the non-wood benefits that forests can offer for the collective enjoyment of the community. And in the process this new segment of the foresty industry will not only make useful contributions to our overseas earnings but will enable increasing use to be made of sawmill residues which would otherwise be wasted. The question of improved management and silviculture of native forests, with a view to expanding production to meet estimated requirements of hardwoods, has received consideration by the Australian Forestry Council. Proposals formulated by the States are now under consideration by the Commonwealth. Continuing effort will be needed in order to enable our native forests to play their part in achieving the national objective of reducing our dependence on imported forest products by the end of the century.
In looking at our forest policies we must of course take closely into account the economic consequences of our development and management programmes. But, I would want to make it clear to this House that it is not the policy of the Commonwealth Government, nor of the Australian Forestry Council, nor of the States, to consider our forests simply as a resource to be commercially exploited. There are environmental and social values, in addition to economic factors, which must be considered in planning the best use of our forests. Factors such as the value of forests for soil conservation and the closely related question of the effect of forests on the quantity and quality of both surface and underground water must be kept in mind in determining forestry policies. Moreover, there are important values associated with the conservation of our native flora and fauna and with recreational facilities for our people. This multiple use of forests is part of the broader question of the quality of the environment and I can assure the House that environmental issues associated with forestry will continue to be given proper attention.
Before leaving forestry, I would like to refer to plans that are in hand for a national forestry conference to be known as FORWOOD, and which will be held in April 1974. This conference aims to bring together not only the States and the Commonwealth but also the various sectors of the forestry industry. The purpose will be to consider jointly the measures necessary to ensure that Australia makes the best use of its capacities to grow wood and to develop industries based on our forests that are efficient and competitive. Particular emphasis will be laid on environmental aspects including the multiple use of forests. The FORWOOD Conference will consider the whole range of forestry problems - Australia’s resources and future requirements, the growing of trees, the development of forest industries, the harvesting of forests, the marketing of forest products and research and training as well as environmental matters. I have been taking a personal interest in the planning of this Conference and I have been pleased with the support being given by the States and by industry. I am confident that this Conference will have a significant effect on future action of both governments and industry in developing to the full the contribution to be made by forestry and wood based industries - not only to the economy of Australia but to the overall well being of our people.
Perhaps at this stage I should say something about the general policy approach of the Commonwealth Government towards natural resource development. The Commonwealth aims to encourage the efficient and rational development of our natural resources. To take the case of minerals, the Government provides for the use of private enterprise a range of basic scientific services such as geological mapping. It grants a variety of carefully worked out concessions under the income tax law. In the case of some minerals the discovery of which the Commonwealth has regarded as particularly important, notably petroleum, the Commonwealth has gone further. It has developed a subsidy scheme for exploration under which, by the end of August 1972, Si 23m had been incurred or committed in support of oil search. A point I should make about these Government activities is that they are designed to have a catalytic effect, to assist and to encourage private enterprise in pursuing the search for minerals with vigour. In the years 1965 to 1971, excluding the value of taxation concessions, the Commonwealth’s direct contribution through the work of the Bureau of Mineral Resources to mineral exploration, other than for petroleum, was something like $20m, while the total expenditure by Government and industry in searching for minerals in those years was approximately $500m.
Earlier I referred to concessions granted to the mineral industry under the income tax law. Because of the need to protect the revenue, which of course means protecting the public interest and the taxpayer generally, and also because of the need to ensure that taxation concessions are not used in ways which would not promote the objectives sought by the Government, the provisions have become somewhat complex. In a statement such as this it would be inappropriate to analyse the provisions in detail but I think I should set down the Government’s basic policy towards the special tax provisions for the mining industry. Briefly stated these are aimed at: Firstly, encouraging the search the minerals in Australia; secondly, assisting new mining projects in their early years when they are in special need of cash flows to finance development and, thirdly, encouraging investment in our mineral industry.
Australia is fortunate in that many of our natural resources exceed our own needs, present or prospective - we wish to see such resources developed and exported for the mutual advantage of our overseas trading partners and ourselves. In cases however where our resources are no more than adequate for our own requirements, the Government has been willing to intervene to retain these resources for Australia’s own needs. This raises a very important question of policy, that of the level of natural resources which should be regarded as a satisfactory reservation for Australian use and above which exports may be permitted. This is a question which is particularly pertinent in regard to minerals; it is a question which is being carefully studied within my Department. It is not an easy problem to solve. It is simple enough to say that Australia should restrict, or even prohibit, exports and conserve all our resources for our own exclusive use. But while such a proposal might have superficial attractions it ignores major factors in a rational resource policy. Quite apart from the benefits of international trade to which I have alluded earlier, the further, and indisputable fact remains, that one of the greatest stimulants to searching for new mineral resources is the ability of the finder to benefit to a reasonable extent from the resources which he discovers. What incentive is there for a company to look for resources if their prospects of profit are all 50 years ahead? The whole question of weighing the present use of resources against their prudent husbanding is one which calls for careful study, for co-operation both between the Commonwealth and the States, and between governments and industry, and for integrity of decisions. The Commonwealth Govern ment’s policy is that it reserves the right to intervene, as and when it judges necessary, in order to ensure availability of resources for Australian use.
I should now like to discuss certain other major policy issues in natural resource development - first, processing.
The Commonwealth is concerned that a reasonable proportion of our natural resources should be processed in this country before export when this is practicable. The Commonwealth has long held that processing in Australia is of importance. Advantages of processing are clear cut - added value, new technology, a greater degree of self-sufficiency within Australia, additional employment, and, in many cases regional development in remote areas. On the other hand a country such as Australia, well endowed with raw materials, cannot expect all those materials to be fully processed within our own shores. The furnaces of industrial countries must have access to raw materials. I expect that Australia will, at least for some time to come, continue to export portion of our natural resource wealth in unprocessed form. However, the policy of the Commonwealth is to be on the alert to stimulate processing in this country whenever this is shown to be a rational and economic use of resources. I should emphasise this last mentioned point. The Government does not want processing just for processing’s sake. The costs must be weighed in the balance against economic and social benefits and shown to yield a favourable answer. Clearly, before committing ourselves to additional processing we must be confident that it will be possible to market the product. We must also be sure that the benefits to be derived are commensurate with the costs incurred.
In the Northern Territory where it has authority in its own right, the Commonwealth has, where appropriate, made it a condition of mining leases that feasibility studies be made on the possibility of further processing. The conditions imposed on the development of bauxite at Gove and manganese at Groote Eylandt are good examples. The Governments in the States have adopted a similar approach and in some cases have offered encouragement by a willingness to accept lower royalties for minerals processed in Australia. The Commonwealth Government recognises that private enterprise must make its own judgment as to the economic feasibility of processing. Nonetheless, the Government could use its powers of export control to secure a degree of processing in Australia which, after adequate and thorough study, was considered to be economically feasible.
I think it would now be convenient to discuss export controls in a little detail. The Commonwealth has clearcut constitutional powers over exports of our natural sources deriving directly from section 51 (1) of the Constitution. Export controls on natural resources are used by the Commonwealth Government for a variety of purposes and objectives including firstly, to conserve supplies of a particular commodity for Australian use; secondly, to ensure that the price received for our basic materials in an overseas market is fair and adequate; thirdly, to ensure that a level of processing of raw material satisfactory to the Commonwealth is carried out in Australia; fourthly, to ensure that materials with a nuclear application are only exported subject to safeguards that they will be used for peaceful purposes, and fifthly, in the special case of tin, to enable Australia to comply, if necessary, with our obligations under the International Tin Agreement.
The Commonwealth attitude towards it powers to control exports has been one of responding to particular problems in relation to individual commodities. For example, exports of iron ore have been controlled for many years - originally to conServe supplies and latterly to ensure that the proper price is obtained. Copper in various forms has been controlled to conserve supplies in Australia in times of shortage. Copper scrap is still controlled for this reason. The export of mineral sands has been prohibited unless elementary separation is carried out in Australia thus adding to the value of the commodity exported. As another example, in late 1968 the Commonwealth announced that it would control the export of certain forest products such as wood chips suitable for the manufacture of paper pulp. The purpose of this action was to ensure that Australia received an adequate price for our wood chips and, as well, that a reasonable degree of processing is undertaken in this country. Again, early in 1970, I announced that the Commonwealth had decided that the export of natural gas would be controlled. This was a conservation measure designed to ensure that the advantages of natural gas would be available to Australian users. Current events are underlining the wisdom of this decision.
The Government has not hesitated to use its powers over exports where it has deemed this necessary. Nonetheless I should make it clear that the Government does not wish to see an unnecessary proliferation of export controls. The Commonwealth will only intervene when it deems this necessary in the national interest and in order to secure Government objectives. Of the aims and objectives for which export controls are used, it would be fair to say that the one which causes the most difficulty is that of adequacy of price. Notwithstanding this, in recent years it has been necessary on 2 occasions only for the Commonwealth to withhold approval of an export contract on the grounds of inadequacy of price - once in relation to iron ore pellets and once in relation to wood chips. Both instances were in circumstances where the commodities concerned were resources for which no open world markets existed. As my predecessor in office made clear at the time of his action in withholding of approval for the iron ore pellets contracts, the Government is concerned that our commodities should command the fair and reasonable price in the market place, and that this price should not be eroded in successive negotiations. This was the same attitude which I myself took in 1970 in relation to a wood chips contract. It remains the attitude of the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth Government is not satisfied with prices which, while meeting costs of production and a margin of profit, are out of line with going market prices.
While on the subject of export controls I should perhaps refer to a question which has been the subject of quite a deal of comment recently - that of whether coal should be the subject of such a control. During my recent visit to Japan I made it clear in several public statements that the coal situation in Australia had come under a great deal of discussion in recent months. I pointed out that 3 central issues were involved. The first, that open cut mining is less expensive than underground mining and that this has been causing some problems. Secondly, that there should be balanced development of open cut and underground coal, and thirdly that Australian coals, quality for quality, should command in the market place, a price comparable with those received by other countries. In regard to the latter point, I said quite frankly, that to seek to establish prices of coal sold to Japan on the basis of cost of production plus a margin for profit did not impress me at all as being the best arrangement for the long term association between the 2 countries. I said to the Japanese that the Australian Government felt that matters of this type could best be solved by negotiation between buyer and seller. 1 have been pleased to note that the latest major Australian coal contract is at a price very much closer to what we consider to be the going market price for similar coal from other sources.
There will be further negotiations for renewal of contracts in the comparatively near future. I am confident that goodwill and good sense on both sides will enable any problems to be overcome at the commercial level. However, as I made clear in public statements in Japan, if these hopes are not realised then obviously the Commonwealth would have to take some action as it did in the case of iron ore and wood chips. Another and more difficult question which could arise in the future is what attitude the Commonwealth should adopt in a situation where there exists within Australia capacity more than adequate to supply both our own requirements of a commodity as well as foreseeable exports. The Commonwealth may have to consider using its export control powers to discourage the establishment of new projects which the Commonwealth does not regard, at the particular point in time, as a rational and economic use of resources. However, rather than this it would be my hope, and expectation, that such situations could be effectively dealt with by close consultation between the Commonwealth, the S;a;es and industry.
The question of whether the construction of infrastructure in Australia is proceeding at an adequate rate to meet the requirements for natural resources development is a complex matter which cannot be considered in isolation from other national objectives. The House will be aware that natural resource development projects in Australia in recent years have, in general, been capital intensive and in many cases large scale. The costs of the direct infrastructure forming part of these development projects often involve even greater capital outlays than those required for the productive facilities proper. Moreover the pressures upon resources in providing infrastructure in Australia are accentuated by the size of our continent and the distances from ports, harbours and energy sources which are frequently involved.
Many of the major mineral developments in recent years have been in isolated areas and as a result of their remoteness have required the provision of a complete basic infrastructure not only at high cost but over a short time scale. Within the limits of the financial resources of our economy, and in particular the limit of resources available to the Commonwealth and the State Governments to meet the heavy economic and social demands placed upon them, the general approach of both Commonwealth and States has been that if private capital can be raised for the infrastructure costs of the project then the developer has been expected to meet these costs. Although the general policy of requiring the developer to finance basic infrastructure has been pursued, the Commonwealth h?.’ or> occasions provided finance to the State for specific development projects, such as port facilities as well as for transport and power undertakings. These were in cases where the financing of the project in question, within the time available, was clearly beyond the capacity of the State and it was apparent that the project was an attractive proposition from the national point of view.
Cases which come to mind include assistance by the Commonwealth with financing the rehabilitation of the Mount I a-Townsville railway. Another railway which had an element of infrastructure for minerals was the standard-gauge link from Kalgoorlie to Perth. Although this was certainly part of standardising the east-west railway on which the Indian-Pacific now runs, the provision of Commonwealth funds
I would like to mention briefly a particular action by the Government which, although there were also other motivating factors, did have a direct bearing on this question of the provision of infrastructure. It is well known that the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia was, for a long period, one of the major gold producing
There has been a good deal of public discussion over the last few years about overseas investment generally - with some particular attention being given to investment by overseas interests in our natural 28 September 1972 Natural Resources resources - especially in the mineral industry. For some months the Government has been conducting a review in depth of our policy towards overseas investment and on 26th September 1972 the Prime Minister announced the Government’s decisions arising out of that review to date. The Prime Minister pointed out that overseas capital has played a vital role in Australia’s development, added considerably to the resources available for our growth, brought with it valuable technological know-how and access to overseas markets, and helped create new industries. The Prime Minister also referred to the fact that the inflow of capital from overseas has been associated with increasing overseas ownership and control of industry in Australia and that this has been one cost of the increased growth which has resulted from welcoming overseas investment. The Prime Minister pointed out that Australia has less need today to depend on overseas investment for our growth than we did some years ago and that we could now afford to trade off, at the margin, some of the benefits of overseas capital in return for a greater Australian share in our industry and resources. The right balance between our desire for an Australian Australia and for greater growth and prosperity must be struck.
The 4 specific decisions which have been taken by the Government, and which were announced by the Prime Minister, were: Overseas borrowings for periods of 2 years or less will no longer receive exchange control approval; the borrowing guidelines instituted in 1965 have been abolished; the ban on portfolio investment overseas by Australian residents is relaxed; and the Government intends to legislate for the prevention of foreign takeovers it considers would be against the national interest. In regard to takeovers I should mention that the measures being brought down by the Government may apply to the transfer of a significant part of the ownership or rights over a valuable or potentially valuable mineral area, such as can occur through transactions known in the mining industry as ‘farm-ins’. In addition, the Government has reaffirmed its view that the most welcome overseas capital is that employed in partnership with Australian-owned capital. The Government feels that the time has come to consider more direct action directed to achieving government aims on this matter. The Prime Minister pointed out that action in the field of foreign ownership and control raises complex problems. An initial study of these problems has been undertaken but their resolution will require more detailed study. This is in hand. Because of its importance, and for convenience of reference, a copy of the Prime Minister’s statement of the 26th September to this House is included in the booklet which is being circulated to honourable members.
In relation to the mineral industry, the paper tabled by my colleague the Treasurer in May this year showed that in 1968, the latest year for which figures are available, 44 per cent of the total value of our mineral production was apportionable to direct overseas ownership; that is to say to companies in which at least 50 per cent of the ordinary shares is held by individual shareholders or individual companies resident in one overseas country, or where 25 per cent or more of the ordinary shares is held by one company or a group of associated companies incorporated in one overseas country. To this figure of 44 per cent should be added at least a further 4 per cent to cover overseas portfolio investment, thus making a total of at least 48 per cent attributable in one way or another to overseas ownership. The Treasury Paper also gave a measure of the degree of overseas control, as distinct from overseas ownership, which exists in the Australian mining industry. In 1968, 58 per cent of the total value of mineral production in Australia was accounted for by establishments which were under overseas control, having risen from 37 per cent in 1963. Since 1968 some large mining projects which are predominantly overseas owned have come into operation while others have expanded their activities.
As the Commonwealth Minister having a responsibility toward the mineral industry I am well aware of the contribution to the development of this industry which has been made by overseas companies. I have been pleased to note that many companies are willing, and indeed anxious, to use Australians in managerial positions. There is a growing trend by overseas mining interests towards recognition of the need for Australian nationals to be represented in the decision-making process at board member level. In the Government’s review of overseas investment we have been and will continue to be, conscious not only of the benefits that overseas capital has brought in the past, but also of the benefits that it can bring in the future to our natural resource industries. Because of the many advantages and attractions of Australia, not the least of which is the stability of government, 1 am confident that we will continue to attract overseas capital for the development of our natural resources, under conditions which are to the overall advantage of Australia.
The Significance of Japan to the Minerals and Forests Industries
One of the principal causes of the recent surge of vigour in natural resource development in Australia has been the conjuncture of time and place which has made our resources of basic materials available to the major and rapidly expanding economy of Japan. This has been dealt with more fully in chapter IV of the background paper which has been circulated for the information of honourable members, but there are a few points which I think worthy of emphasis. Clearly the Japanese market is important to our recent natural resource development. For example, it is unlikely that the development of the Pilbara iron ore deposits of Western Australia, or the Weipa bauxite in Queensland or the wood chip projects in New South Wales and Tasmania could have taken place on the scale that has occurred without the existence of the Japanese market for these products. An important point has been the willingness of the Japanese to sign long term contracts for the purchase of these materials. Trade between Australia and Japan has grown to the extent that Japan is now our largest trading partner, and indeed Australia is Japan’s second largest trading partner after the United States.
In 1970-71 minerals and metals exports to Japan were valued at $703 m and represented just over 59 per cent of the total of all Australia’s exports to that country. Speaking in relation to minerals and metals alone, the destination of our exports was 10 per cent to the United Kingdom, 9 per cent to the United States, and 9 per cent to the existing 6 members of the European Economic Community, while no less than 53 per cent went to Japan. Estimates made by my Department suggest that by 1979-80 our exports of minerals and metals to Japan could lie somewhere between $l,500m and $l,900m. To keep this in perspective the Department’s estimates are that in that year, total Australian mineral exports could be of the order of $2,800m to $3, 300m. In other words it may be expected that we will then be sending to Japan about 55 per cent of our total mineral and metal exports, although the value of these will have increased substantially in absolute terms. Wood chips were first exported to Japan in January 1971. By 1975 it is expected that wood chips exports will reach an annual value of approximately $43m. This figure may seem somewhat small by comparison with minerals but it is of importance to our forest industries.
I have now made 3 visits to Japan, in the course of which I have visited industry throughout that country. I have had the pleasure of receiving many Japanese representatives from both government and industry when they have visited Australia. From these contacts I am conscious that the seeking of reliable sources of supplies of materials is, and will remain, a major objective of Japanese policy. It has been a feature of this policy for the Japanese to seek additional security by diversifying their sources of supply. Australia’s minerals trade with Japan has grown to the point where we now supply 40 per cent of her imports of iron ore and pellets, .37 per cent of her coking coal imports, 56 per cent of her bauxite, and 37 per cent of her manganese. What is happening is a major commitment of the Japanese economy to Australia as a source of supply, with a considerable modification in our favour of the basic Japanese policy of diversification. It is a matter of history that duc to the downturn in the Japanese economy in 1971 the Japanese steel mills sought significant cutbacks in their level of imports during 1972 of Australian iron ore. The Japanese took similar action with other countries. The actual negotiations were between the Australian based iron ore companies and the Japanese mills. Nonetheless it was a subject in which the Commonwealth Government took the closest interest. Indeed, at the end of February this year I took opportunity to outline to His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador the general attitude of the Australian Government towards these negotiations.
I told the Ambassador that I recognised that as a result of the downturn in the world demand for steel the Japanese mills were facing a difficult situation not only in regard to iron ore but also coal. Nonetheless I hoped that ways would be found to enable the Japanese to meet their obligations in respect of the arrangements and understandings that they had with Australian producers. I added that I felt it was important that this question be resolved at an early date so that the position of the Australian producers might be clarified and understood, particularly by the international financial institutions who provided funds for the mineral projects concerned. I pointed out that it was vital there be continued confidence by these institutions that sales arrangements between Australian producers and Japanese companies did represent undoubted security for the provision of large scale development finance. I made it clear that the Government expected that in these negotiations Australian producers would be treated no less favourably than those of other countries. I expressed the hope that the situation could be satisfactorily resolved by the Japanese and Australian companies concerned. Subsequently agreements were reached between the Australian based companies and the Japanese steel mills. Though the results were very disappointing to our exporters they were nonetheless accepted as being the realistic course to adopt in the light of the problems facing the Japanese. I took this matter up again during my visit to Japan in June of this year. I said, both in private discussions and publicly, that Australia had been particularly concerned at cutbacks in delivery rates below the minima specified in the Japanese contracts. I said that I believed that both the Australian based companies, and the Australian Government, had shown understanding of the difficulties facing the Japanese mills but that we expected this understanding to be remembered, and recognised, when the Japanese economy recovered and new con tracts are written. I am glad to say that I was given assurances that Australia would not be treated unfavourably as compared with any other country, and moreover that wherever possible special consideration would be given to Australia’s interests.
One impression that I have gained from my visits to Japan, and which could have important implications for the future development of the Australian mineral industry and Australian-Japanese relations in general, are the problems of pollution and environmental disruption being created by the high growth rate of the Japanese economy and the high density of much of their industry. Such problems raise the issue as to whether Japan will continue its present raw materials procurement policies. It does seem that increasing attention is being given to the question of whether Japan should change the emphasis of its economy from that of building up heavy industries based on imported raw materials to the more concentrated development of newer industries. These latter could include, for example, computers, fine chemicals, housing, and transportation. If in the future the Japanese decide to put more emphasis on knowledge-intensive and social development industries, then whatever Australia may lose in exports of raw materials should be compensated by the export of semi-processed and processed products necessary for these newer industries. In addition there could be opportunities of supplying products that would have otherwise come from the continued expansion of the traditional Japanese heavy industries.
I think it is clear that the economies of Australia and Japan are complementary in nature. It would be difficult for Australia in the near future to find alternative export outlets of the same magnitude for our basic raw materials as are now found in Japan. Nonetheless Australia enjoys some significant bargaining advantages - we have high grade natural resources in substantial quantities, we are geographically closer to Japan than any other present major supplier of raw materials, and we have an unquestioned record in political stability and in commercial reliability in the fulfilment of contracts. Given these advantages, we should ensure that the benefits flowing from the development of our natural resources are to the mutual advantage of Australia and Japan. This will apply especially as far as Australia is concerned in the fields of price, and where it constitutes an economic and rational use of resources, in processing.
One point that I should perhaps mention is that, encouraged by the availability of the Japanese market, capacity to supply natural resources has been established - not only in Australia but also in other countries - al levels above present demand. This could pose problems in the future. What is needed now 1 suggest is a period of stability in mineral developments having in mind the general world marketing position and the available world wide capacity to satisfy demand. In Australia, until we can see that our existing capacity will be fully and efficiently used it is a fair question whether further new capacity should be established. This applies particularly in regard to iron ore and coal. I believe that Australia’s natural resources are providing a significant link - possibly one of the most significant of the links between Australia and Japan - in the development of mutual understanding and co-operation. J am confident that this will lead to other developments of benefit to both countries as this understanding grows.
The homely and well known truth about our water supplies in Australia is that they are limited in comparison with other continents. lt is, of course, a truism that water is essential for life, and it is a fact that the availability of water has had a significant impact on the pattern of settlement and development in Australia. As in most areas of human endeavour it is difficult to foresee with accuracy the type of development that can be expected in the years ahead. However insofar as water is concerned there are some factors that are likely to be significant at least in the short term. Let me consider irrigation for a moment. In the light of the difficulties in finding satisfactory and reliable markets for many of the products of irrigation areas, there has been some criticism of continued allocation of scarce capital resources to the development of additional irrigation. Against this others point to the continued increase in the world’s population and to rising standards of living and argue that the current market difficulties are temporary only. The pros and cons of these arguments have to be weighed carefully. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned I make it clear that proposals for new irrigation developments must be the subject of close and objective scrutiny before funds will be committed.
Water is one of the factors which determine the cost of production of some of our primary products. Since cost of production is a major determinant in our ability to obtain access to overseas markets, we will need to be careful to ensure high efficiency and productivity in relation to our products for export. It follows from this, I suggest, that it will be increasingly important that adequate measures are taken to ensure the greatest possible efficiency in water use in both existing and new irrigation projects. Although somewhat different constraints operate in relation to the provision of urban water supplies, 1 see the same need for improving cost effectiveness of expenditure. This is all the more so because it is proving necessary to go progressively further afield in order to meet the expanding requirements for water of major metropolitan areas. These greater distances inevitably add to the cost of meeting new demands. For the future, and no matter what the purpose of water supply - be it rural, municipal or industrial - I think that increasing emphasis can be expected on efficiency in water use. It would seem reasonable that plans for new works should be coupled with measures to encourage higher efficiency in use, as a means of minimising the financial burden involved in coping with ever-increasing demands.
In recent years increasing competition for the use of available water supplies has been coupled with growing interest in proper water quality management. There is no doubt in my mind that public concern on this question of water quality management is soundly based. For the Commonwealth’s part, no less than on the part of the State governments, there is a willingness to be responsive to this concern. In the case of Australia’s largest inland city, Canberra, action is being taken to ensure a quality of effluent which meets all reasonable requirements for downstream re-use. However, with the wide range of conditions associated with urban and industrial development closer to the coast there is little likelihood that in the near future it will be economically feasible to ensure in all cases that effluents are suitable for reuse for general purposes. Nonetheless, there will be situations where we can expect that effluents will be used increasingly in ways which represent an overall saving in requirements for water resources development. It will be necessary to ensure that waste waters are treated to the stage where they can be safely disposed of without damage to the environment.
Another area in which problems have become apparent in recent years is in the provision of water supplies for new mining enterprises, many of which are in arid or semi-arid areas. This is a problem which has struck me with some force during the visits I have made to mining projects over the last few years. In some cases it has been feasible to require mining companies to finance and implement their own water supply projects. However, increasingly, a number of separate mining enterprises are located in one region and enforcement of a requirement that each provide its own water supply is not conducive to orderly management of water resources - the total availability of which within a region may leave little margin in relation to likely demand. One example of what I have in mind is the development of the nickel deposits in Western Australia which will be largely dependent on availability of adequate water supplies. Similar factors apply in the continued development of the Pilbara area.
To my mind it is becoming increasingly important for water authorities to ensure that planning to meet such needs takes into account the optimum development of available water resources, having regard to all likely justifiable and economic uses within a reasonable time span. It may well be that in some circumstances water authorities would be acting prudently in providing, in the first instance, a total supply which exceeds that for which there is an immediate demand, but with the strong likelihood that the initial development will provide a nucleus around which other activities will be geared in the foreseeable future. Indeed the availability of an adequate water supply may be an important stimulus to decentralised development. Notwithstanding the primary responsi bilities of the States for water the Commonwealth has been closely involved and, where appropriate, has taken the initiative, in collaboration with the States, in developing policies leading to a national approach to the investigation, development and proper management of our water resources. To make my point I would mention the Commonwealth’s participation in the River Murray Commission, our support of the Snowy Mountains scheme, the accelerated programme of stream gauging, our funding of water research, the Ord River scheme and the national water resources development programme.
Let me elaborate briefly. As recently as March of this year the 4 Governments participating in the River Murray Commission (the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia) agreed to the construction of a new major storage near Dartmouth on the Mitta Mitta River in Victoria. Providing a storage of 3 million acre feet, this dam will increase the annual supply of water in the river downstream by about 1 million acre feet per annum. The completion of Dartmouth will provide a significant benefit to South Australia. It will enable the quantity of water available to South Australia under the River Murray Agreement to be increased from just over H million acre feet annually to H million acre feet. I should mention that the Dartmouth Dam will cost $64m. Quite apart from meeting its own quarter share of this cost, the Commonwealth has also agreed to lend each of the 3 States one-half of their respective quarter shares. The Snowy Mountains scheme is well known to the House but a brief outline of progress and achievements is included in chapter V of the background paper.
A somewhat unspectacular but nonetheless very important project in developing our water resources is the decision of the Commonwealth and State governments to carry out an accelerated programme of measurement and investigation of surface and underground water. The long term result will be a greatly improved knowledge of our water resources and of their potential. The aim of the programme is to achieve a comprehensive basic network of stream gauging stations and to improve knowledge of underground water resources. I remind the House that besides implementing its own accelerated programme in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capita] Territory, the Commonwealth has assisted the States by making available grants totalling approximately $ 1 2.5m. The programme is being extended for a further 3 years to June 1976.
I would also like to mention briefly the research programme for which direct funding is provided by the Commonwealth. This programme, which was initiated in 1968, consists principally of planned research in which projects are arranged in accordance with priorities determined by the Australian Water Resources Council. The programme involves close collaboration between Commonwealth and State agencies, universities and other research bodies. The House will recall that 6 years ago the Commonwealth instituted a national water resources development programme for rural conservation works which would be carried out by the State authorities but financed by the Commonwealth.
The purpose of the initial programme was to increase water conservation activity, to reduce hazards of drought and to expand primary production. In 1969 these objectives were continued with the scope of the programme widened to include conservation in small dams, flood prevention and mitigation, and the measurement and investigation of surface and underground water. The national water resources development programme involves a total commitment by the Commonwealth of $150m. By the end of August of this year nearly $90m had been committed on dams, pipelines, salinity reduction schemes, an extensive flood mitigation project involving 11 separate river valleys in New South Wales, and water measurement programmes. In addition of course, the Commonwealth has provided financial assistance to Western Australia by way of grants and loans to the extent of about S60m to enable the construction of the Ord River scheme and its associated irrigation works to go ahead. I was present in June of this year when the main dam was opened by the Prime Minister. It is a truly impressive achievement.
Energy resources are perhaps the natural resource with the most economic, strategic and political significance in the world today. Modern civilisation is a creature of modern energy sources. Little of today’s commerce or industry would have evolved without reliable and plentiful sources of energy. The availability of energy resources - mainly coal, oil, natural gas and water power - has been vital to the development of the industrial nations of Europe, of the United States and of Japan. This availability of adequate sources of energy is, and will remain, vital to Australia. World population growth, growing industrialisation and rising standards of living have resulted in the total world demand for energy doubling over the last 15 years; in Australia the demand for energy has doubled over the last 12 years. Looking to the future, from the basis of our present day knowledge, there seems little possibility that significant reductions in this growth rate will be achieved. It is therefore frequently claimed that in terms of the traditional sources of energy, the world is moving towards an energy crisis in the coming decades. Moreover, future energy supply must comply with steadily tightening social and environmental constraints which can be expected to add considerably to the cost of using some of the major energy sources. Australia is fortunate in having substantial reserves of energy resources. We have large reserves of coal, both black and brown, we have attained an encouraging degree of selfsufficiency in oil, we have substantial reserves of natural gas and uranium and I believe we have every prospect of proving much larger reserves.
Against the background of concern regarding the increasing world demand for energy, and our own fortunate position in relation to most energy resources, it is not surprising that there is mounting interest in energy policies. As a starting point, let us look at the pattern of energy use in Australia. As indicated in the background paper, in 1970-71 the distribution of use of primary energy in Australia was roughly 40 per cent in the industrial field, 29 per cent for the generation of electricity, 26 per cent in the transport field, and 5 per cent for domestic and commercial purposes. Since the decline in use of coal by the railways, the market in the transport field, that is for road, rail and air transport, is almost exclusively supplied by petroleum fuels. There is however significant competition between fuels in the other sectors and this competition is likely to increase following the advent of natural gas. There are of course some important applications in which a particular form of energy is at present regarded as preeminently suitable, and real competition is limited, but developments in our own energy resources, and in technology generally, tend to increase opportunities for diversification in choice of energy.
I would like to outline briefly the Commonwealth approach to energy policy. In broad terms our approach has been based on the following principles: Secure and regular supply at reasonable prices; consumers’ freedom of choice between competing fuels; and safeguarding public health and preserving other resources. At present about half of our total energy requirements are provided by petroleum products other than natural gas. In this area the Commonwealth Government has long had a clear and active national policy. The Government’s view is that it should seek to bring substantially to an end Australia’s historical dependence on overseas sources of supply for crude oil and should aim at a situation where, as far as practicable, our needs for petroleum products are produced by Australian refineries from Australian crude oil. In furtherance of this aim the Government has developed over the years a number of policy measures to encourage the exploration and development of the petroleum resources of this country. I have referred to these policies earlier in my statement but for completeness I mention them again at this point in the barest outline, namely, the provision of basic geologic data, the petroleum search subsidy scheme, tax concessions and guaranteed access for Australian crude to the Australian market at an assured price.
As to natural gas we have clearly stated our policy of control over the export of this premium energy source. At present, in general, export is not permitted but the Government is prepared to review this policy if at any stage we are satisfied that
Australia’s own needs are reasonably provided for. However it is not our intention to prohibit the export of any natural gas which may be available in the more remote regions of Australia where it could not be expected that it would find a significant local market. I make the point that by local market I mean the Australian market.
To my mind it is clear that natural gas will be important to the future industrial development of Australia. When in Japan recently, 1 explained that in looking at whether or not Australia should export natural gas, the Government will be seeking to ensure that account is taken of possible and potential uses within Australia, and not just of benefits to be derived from exports. For example, the indications of substantial discoveries in the offshore area of Western Australia have potential for being the stimulus to the development of processing industries, both in the area itself and throughout Western Australia. Already natural gas is supplied to Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and interstate supply to Sydney from South Australia is practically certain. In addition to deposits already being utilised to supply the 4 cities I have just mentioned, there is gus in Palm Valley in the Northern Territory which has the possibility of being used in several States as well as in the Northern Territory itself.
Looking even further ahead we should consider the potential use by our eastern States of natural gas from the north-west shelf. On the one hand developments in sea transport of liquefied natural gas may well bring this highly flexible source of energy within easy access of all our capital cities. On the other hand, if Palm Valley gas is eventually connected by pipeline to our eastern capitals we will already have crossed half the continent by pipeline. Would it be beyond our ability to cross the other half by, say, the 1990s? I think not, if the project were shown to be economically viable. The policy question of determining the circumstances in which, and the conditions under which, exports of natural gas might be permitted, is complex in the extreme. In the first place there is the problem, to which I referred earlier, of determining the level of reserves which should be held for Australia’s own use. As I have indicated to this House, this is a matter which I have only recently discussed with my State colleagues.
Secondly, we, in Australia, are only at the threshold of our experience in the use of natural gas. We can expect that its use will grow rapidly - but how rapidly and to what ultimate extent in the long term is well nigh impossible to predict with certainty. There have been estimates by qualified experts that in 30 years time Australia might be using 4 trillion (4 x 101-) cubic feet of gas per year. But these experts would be the first to say that this is crystal-ball gazing of a high order. In considering the reserves of natural gas needed by Australia we may well have to think 50 years ahead, but our experience is not yet sufficient to put a firm figure on demand so far into the future. This uncertainty in demand, of itself, calls for caution before Australia permits substantial quantities of gas to be exported. On the other hand I recall a point I made earlier in this statement that it has been the repeated experience both in Australia and overseas that the ability to produce and market a reasonable proportion of a natural resource which is discovered is one of the best incentives for exploring for more.
Some other interesting questions arise in considering natural gas. A project involving the export of liquefied natural gas is essentially long term - unless there is a contract for say 15-20 years or more, it’s just not possible to raise the capital needed for production facilities, pipelines, liquefaction plants, ships, and so on. The determination of what is to be regarded as a satisfactory price over such a length of time poses real difficulties. Appropriate escalation and price review provisions will have to be devised. Further, the price at the well head - on which Australia will receive royalties and taxes - will be a comparatively small proportion of the price paid by the purchaser - the rest goes in providing all the various facilities I have just mentioned. Speaking in the broadest terms the composition of the price of natural gas landed in an overseas port might well work out to be something like 10 per cent to 20 per cent for production costs, 10 per cent to 15 per cent for pipelining 25 per cent to 30 per cent for liquefaction and 40 per cent to 50 per cent for ..hipping. We will need to ensure that Australia receives proper benefits from these activities. The question arises, for example, as to whether Australia should insist on having at least part of such natural gas, as we might agree may be exported, shipped in Australian vessels. My Department has detailed studies of these problems in hand and is working in close consultation with other Commonwealth departments and with the States. The resolution of the problems at issue will be far from easy.
For the moment I will say no more on this subject other than to re-affirm the basic points of Government policy: Firstly, that the export of natural gas is controlled by the Commonwealth so that we can ensure that the benefits of this newly found and valuable energy resource are available to Australia; secondly, that exports of natural gas will not be permited until the Government is satisfied that Australia’s needs are reasonably provided for - except for the possibility of export from remote areas; and thirdly, that if exports are permitted, the Government will ensure that the conditions under which this is al.’ow. will maximise the benefits to Australia. We will require to be satisfied as to price, as to the route of any pipelines and the location of facilities, and that adequate opportunities are available for Australia and Australians to share in the benefits of the project.
Turning to coal, it will be recalled that about 2 years ago there was some public concern expressed that increasing exports of high grade coal might be at a level which would endanger Australia’s own future independence in this field. With a desire to ascertain the facts the Government arranged for a comprehensive stocktaking of our coal reserves to be carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resources of my Department. The work was done with the assistance of the States and of the firms in the coal industry. The results, which have been fully published, are set out briefly in the background paper circulated with this statement. It is clear that we have already identified in Australia something like 24,000 million tons cf black coal at depths less than 2,000 feet below the surface, of which just over half could be recovered by present mining technology. This shows a significantly higher level of reserves than had previously been the case. I have no doubt that further coal reserves will be discovered and that our present level of export trade in coal can continue to the overall benefit of the country, but this of course will be kept under review. In addition to our black coal reserves we have about 85,000 million tons of brown coal, of which some 10.000 million tons could be recovered under present economic and technological conditions. On the question of coal I think I should recall my outline of the Government’s approach - to the need for balanced development of underground and open cut coal with a view to ensuring effective use of our resources - to our concern that exports of Australian coal should command a fair market price - and to the efforts that I made during my latest visit to Japan to ensure that the Australian Government’s attitude to these matters was clearly understood by both industry and government in Japan.
Now let us consider nuclear fuels. Only two or three years ago it appeared that our uranium resources might be barely sufficient for our own future modest needs. The discoveries that have since been made will mean that we will move into the position of being a major world supplier. However there are problems to be faced and overcome. The uranium market has been depressed and although demand is increasing, sales are not expected to be substantial until about 1980. Australia has taken part in discussions at government level with Canada and France to study the supply and demand position over the next couple of decades. Naturally we are interested in the orderly development of the uranium industry and the Government has encouraged our producers to work together.
There have also been meetings this year in Paris and Johannesburg between companies of the major uranium producing countries of the western world outside the United States. All the producers are concerned that excessive compe tition for the short term market could mean the continuance of the present low prices and to a situation which, through lack of incentive to exploration and development, could have a serious effect on the availability of uranium in the 1980s when demand is expected to increase substantially. There are grounds for hope that these international talks by industry will help to stabilise prices at a level which will keep the uranium industry healthy. Only in the last few weeks I have been pleased to see Australian producers secure small but useful contracts. The House will be aware that the export of uranium is controlled by the Government. This is to ensure that the price received by Australia is satisfactory, and that safeguard arrangements to ensure that the material is used only for peaceful purposes are instituted. In addition the Government is keeping a close watch to ensure that adequate supplies are retained for Australia’s future requirements.
The background paper which is being circulated indicates the initiatives being taken by the Commonwealth Government in studying the possibility of Australia establishing uranium enrichment facilities. These studies are only at their early stage. We have made no commitment. But the Government does want to be in a position to make a considered policy judgment as to whether Australia should seek the establishment of such a plant and if so, whether the technology and other requirements can be provided on satisfactory terms. The studies are proceeding in close consultation with the States. Considerable interest is being shown by Australian industry and the Government is making available the information which it has to enable our industry to make its own studies and judgments. Mounting concern regarding the effect on the environment of production and consumption of energy and the question of the adequacy of total resources of fossil fuels lias drawn attention to the need for care in the management of these resources. Clearly the cost of energy should not be so low as to encourage wasteful or inefficient use which could accentuate environmental damage. On the other hand it is important to ensure, to the extent that we are able, that energy costs are not so high as to seriously affect market prices for products. The Commonwealth has exercised care in ensuring that its policies do not distort the competitive position of the various energy sources.
Finally, there is an important and pervasive element which should be part of any energy policy and which I must not fail to mention, namely scientific research. We cannot expect that our market patterns and peculiarities in Australia will be just the same as in any of the great industrial economies of the world, and of course our local fuel materials are peculiarly ours. Australian conditions will inevitably present their special features, lt is well known to the House that the Commonwealth has been active in regard to research in the fields of coal and nuclear energy. Work on nuclear energy is carried out by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. We are keeping a close watch on developments in nuclear power generation. 1 have no doubt that, at the appropriate time, Australia will move to nuclear generation of electricity. The important point to which the Government is paying particular concern is that we should make this move at the right time. Thanks to the ready availability of fossil fuels, thermal stations in Australia still have a competitive advantage over nuclear stations. The first nuclear plant needs to be built at a time when we can extract the maximum benefit in terms of the right technology and in costeffectiveness in relation to energy from other sources. We are keeping this under review. Coal research has been both co-ordinated, and financially supported, through the operations of an industry-government committee known as the National Coal Research Advisory Committee. In May this year I was happy to announce that the Commonwealth was extending its assistance to coal research for a further 5 years.
This whole matter of research, so that we understand the problems and potentialities of our own needs and resources in the energy field, is crucial. We must be prepared to work at this ourselves; we cannot depend on overseas science to do it all for us. However we are of course interested in oversea work in many fields, including possible energy sources in the longer term, such as solar energy and nuclear fusion.
It will be clear to the House that most of the major questions which must be examined in energy policy involve issues in which the States have responsibilities. The Commonwealth wishes to see rational development of our energy resources; I have already had some discussions with my colleagues in the States on the general question of energy and its management. I am happy to inform the House that it is evident that there is a general awareness of the need for collaboration and a willingness to make this a practical reality.
Looking to the future, it can be expected that there will be a large growth in the use of energy and important shifts in sources, sectors and forms of use. Large investments will be involved and many issues will arise which will require close examination by governments, by industry and by the community.
Because of the Commonwealth’s desire to achieve and maintain a significant degree of independence in meeting our energy needs we have been continually on the alert to modify and adjust our policies to meet changing circumstances - but our adherence to basic principles along the lines I mentioned earlier remains constant.
It is clear from what I have said so far that the Commonwealth is not concerned simply with development for its own sake. Economic gain is but one factor, albeit an important one, to be considered alongside other questions of national interest. Another factor which has assumed great importance in recent times is the whole question of environmental quality.
Except in Commonwealth Territories this is an issue in which the primary and direct responsibility rests with the States, and we have seen energetic action in the States to set up machinery to deal with it. The Commonwealth has also responded to the need, and my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) has indicated in this House, and in his statement to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm, the broad policy approach of the Commonwealth Government in this field.
Fortunately Australia’s environmental problems are not as acute as those of some other countries. Our geographic isolation as an island continent makes us less affected by pollution across frontiers. But in the pursuit of further progress we will need to be constantly vigilant to forestall the environmental problems which now face many developed countries.
In the midst of this newly emerged and very proper concern for the environment, regard should be taken of the fact that many sectors of the community and many individuals have, in the past, been careless. For example, I think it is fair to say that the mineral industry would be the first to recognise that mistakes have been made in the past and that there have been mining operations which have paid little regard to the environment.
However it is also true now that the mineral industry has demonstrated an awareness and an acceptance of its responsibilities in this matter. Not only have mining industry leaders been outspoken in their calls for proper attention to environmental aspects but they have taken, and are taking, positive steps to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. From my wideranging visits to mineral projects in all parts of Australia I can assure the House that the industry is giving a great deal of attention to environmental problems and is achieving a great deal.
In my portfolio I have the opportunity, through the Australian Minerals Council, the Australian Water Resources Council and the Australian Forestry Council to share in the thinking of the Governments of the Australian States on these issues. I can assure honourable members that the basic policy of the Australian States, and of the Commonwealth Government, is to seek balanced development of our natural resources in a way which maintains and where feasible enhances, the quality of the environment.
As an example I would mention that at the meeting of the Australian Minerals
Council held at Mt Newman in May of this year, Ministers issued a statement touching on this very issue in relation to mining. The statement expressed the unanimous view of the Ministers that mining is necessary for sound national development, and that a rational balance can be achieved between resource development and the maintenance of an acceptable level of environmental quality.
The Forestry Council and the Water Resources Council are no less involved.
In 1970 the Australian Water Resources Council set up a Technical Committee on Water Quality which has already stimulated a national approach to water quality assessment and water quality criteria in Australia. The Council’s Standing Committee has also initiated a study of procedures for the assessment of the impact of water projects on the environment. It is of some interest that at the last meeting (in July of this year) of the OECD Water Management Sector Group, with which Australia is now associated, a similar study was initiated.
In the Australian Forestry Council the Commonwealth has worked with the States in ensuring that in relation to forestry projects due regard is given to the environment. The Council has asked its Standing Committee to undertake a study of the effect of forest management practices on the environment, and intends to publish an information brochure explaining the interaction between forest development and the environment.
The Council endorses the multiple use concept of forest management so that forests are managed to provide not only raw material for industry but also other important benefits to the community such as protection of watersheds and dora and fauna and the provision of recreation facilities.
For the Commonwealth’s part I want to make it clear that our policy is not only to seek rational and orderly development of our natural resources, but also to ensure that proper regard is paid to the safeguarding of the Australian environment for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations of Australians.
Opportunities for the development of our natural resources in the years ahead are manifold. The main purpose and justification of all this material progress is the improvement of human life for ourselves and for those who come after us.
The satisfaction that a man derives in his work is one of the principal values of life; and one of the benefits that flow from developing our mines, forests and streams lies in the very act of carrying this out - in these days not only a task of muscle and sweat, but also a subtle and challenging exercise of the mind.
In the complexity of modern affairs decisions need to be informed and based on adequate and impartial advice. There is a need for continuing study and assessment of our natural resources as a background to the making of policy. This is one of the keys to Australia’s future.
A second key lies in the relations between the Commonwealth and the States. It is clear that our natural resources of minerals, forests, water and energy will be developed to the true welfare of the people of Australia only if there is effective co-operation within our federation - to this the Commonwealth is committed.
The time has passed when any nation, even one inhabiting an island continent, can live unto itself. Our future is closely bound up with the economy and welfare of other countries. We must be prepared to examine problems and policies of natural resource development against a background not only of Australia’s own particular interests, but also of our responsibilities as a member of the world community.
The task becomes more and more complex, more and more interesting, more and more challenging. I believe I have made it clear that we in the Commonwealth Government are sensitive to this situation, that we are ready to meet the challenges of the future and to act decisively and responsibly in the best overall interest of Australia and Australians.
I present the following paper:
Australia’s Natural Resources: Minerals, Forests, Water and Energy - Ministerial Statement, 28th September 1972, and associated documents.
Motion (by Mr Katter) proposed:
That the House lake note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26 September (vide page 1926), on the following paper presented by Mr McMahon:
Overseas Investment in Australia - Ministerial Statement, 26th September 1972- and on the motion by Mr Chipp:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) sets out what can only be an interim position in Australia in tackling these problems in the period immediately ahead. It recognises in other directions the changed foreign exchange circumstances which have come upon us and deals with them in a number of different ways which adjust to current circumstances. In the first place, restrictions are placed on short term borrowing overseas for amounts over and above $100,000. This would seem in itself to be a sensible move, but I hope it will be accompanied by a willingness on behalf of our authorities to equate our short term interest rates in Australia with those prevailing abroad because clearly overseas firms will be able to continue to borrow while those here will not. To place them all on an equal footing from an economic point of view and in their costs and prices, this move should accompany the short term restrictions.
The guidelines are eliminated and this seems sensible in itself. For a long time we have applied the guidelines in a way aimed at obliging companies in Australia, particularly those of recent origin in Australia, to bring in resources from overseas from their parent companies and other borrowing sources, and to use them rather than to rely upon the resources of our own banking system. So successful has this policy been that now, if anything, we tend to have a flood of overseas investment and clearly there is no necessity to continue a control like this to force a result which is already over manifest.
As to portfolio investment, this control was first imposed at the beginning of World War II. After such a tremendous length of time Australian citizens are now free to invest their money at will, wherever they so choose. The change perhaps could have been accompanied by one or two measures but it is certainly a move in the right direction. I hope that the Government and the authorities will go on to do one or two more things in the same direction, because they are in fact using our surplus foreign exchange position in current circumstances. One thing which could well be done is to have regard to neighbouring governments in our area - particularly those of Fiji and Singapore - which for their own purposes have a desire to borrow money and to raise funds in Australia. Clearly in our current position we could allow them to do so. We are restricting them currently with our overseas investment portfolio control, but surely the time has come when these restrictions, which are of only marginal importance, can be eased to help our neighbours in the Pacific. I would like to see that done and I would also like to see removed from the system any other restrictions of a similar character.
We have benefited from the Prime Minister’s statement because the day before yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) inscribed in Hansard for the full information of honourable members a rather full policy statement by the Labor Party. In part this brings out the contrast between the Government’s position on these matters and that of the Labor Party. It should not be glossed over but I think should be studied, not only by members of the House but also by those outside because m some ways over a period of time it has been difficult to establish precisely what was the Labor Party policy on a number of these points. One had to deduce it from odd scraps of speeches made over a period. But at page 1922 of last Tuesday’s Hansard the position is set out very clearly.
The Government statement suggests - in regard to foreign investment, which is the other angle with which it deals - that for the time being it will establish certain controls over takeovers and foreign investments. It will set up a body, but the criteria which will be applied are not evident. In such exercises the criteria to be applied are of the essence of the whole matter. It is only be watching this situation over a time and by seeing a number of cases dealt with that it will be possible to form a judgment on how the situation will be controlled. For the time being there is something to be said for a slowing down or freezing of this process of takeovers and foreign investment, for the simple reason that the Austraiian exchange rate is out of gear with the rest of the world. With our undervalued currency the takeover of Australian secutities is made a cheap business for those overseas. If an overseas investor were looking for an investment he could, in the undervalued situation of our currency, buy up our assets cheaply.
For other reasons I do not think a readjustment of our currency - I have explained this before - would be right at this time. Other factors of a very important character are involved, one of which, of course, basically is the current state of the employment market. In these sorts of conditions an appreciation of the exchange rate would be a foolish course to take. Historically throughout the world an appreciation of currency has always been a very tricky operation which very few countries have accomplished with success and without considerable dislocation of their affairs in some directions.
The Labor Party policy for dealing with these things is interesting in itself. First of all, it is proposed to establish a secretariat, the functions of which shall be to identify, register and examine all foreign investment, both current and future, in Australia and report to the Government accordingly. All nominees will be required to disclose the identity of any foreign shareholders. Decisions on foreign investment shall rest with the national Government.
– Who says this?
– This is the Labor Party’s policy. Decisions on foreign investment are to rest with the national Government. Where the Government, having been advised by the secretariat, determines, out of its wisdom or otherwise, that a proposed importation of capital is considered to be of no benefit, or purely speculative or in any sense contrary to Australia’s interests - whatever that may mean and however it may be interpreted - it will direct the Reserve Bank to withhold authority for that currency transaction and take other appropriate action. Similarly, authority for any takeover or merger may be withheld if it is clearly contrary to the national interest. In respect of existing foreign investments, the Government will act as necessary to retain and regain maximum Australian ownership and control of industries and resources. This is a major statement of policy. National resources presumably will be used in these circumstances to take companies over and keep them Australian owned. Not only is it desired to keep the ownership in Australia, but also, I presume, to make many of the companies subject to national ownership by the Government. There are various other factors, too, all of which will depend on the initiative and arbitrary decision of a board set up by and reporting to the Government as to whether a particular business transaction will take place.
There is one particularly interesting change in the overall policy of the Labor Party. Most of the time while I have been in the House - now quite a long while - Labor policy has been dead set against foreign borrowing. It is interesting that now Labor proposes to set up either as part of the Australian Industry Development Corporation or as a separate entity a national development corporation which among other things will have the following as one of its functions: To supplement the limits of the Australian capital market by offering, where necessary, national development bonds for overseas subscription. Of course, this is not conceptually a bad idea by any means; but it is one that is very contrary to past Labor policy. Whether or not there is sufficient capital in Australia, Labor will endeavour, by borrowing overseas with national bonds, to acquire the necessary remaining resources.
The verbiage used in Labor’s policy is interesting in itself, because it is stated that this authority will supplement the limits of the Australian capital market by offering, where necessary, such national development bonds for overseas subscription. I would say far from ‘offering where necessary’ they will have to be flogged mighty hard. It would be a fascinating test - it will not take place, of course - to see whether this method of raising funds proposed by the Labor Party would work, as compared with allowing private individuals to make their own arrangements, to bring capital here and to invest it. Labor would calculate some apparently global total by which Australian resources were insufficient and it would endeavour to raise the funds. In other words, it would do it all through the raising of Government bonds overseas.
The Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) has just completed a statement - not a very short statement - on national development. Labor’s approach to this subject is to establish a Commonwealth body to examine and approve exports of natural resources where it is in the national interest that they be exported.
– You are not going to read it again, are you?
– 1 imagine that in the coming weeks there will be a few other opportunities when I will find the statement of Labor’s policy a very handy document to propagate, and no doubt the honourable member will also because it embodies his beliefs. Labor policy will be to establish a Commonwealth body whose function will be to maximise prices for the exports of these resources. Where necessary, the renegotiation of existing contracts will be required to ensure adequate prices and royalties. How a Labor government will fix an adequate price on royalties I do not know.
A further function of this body will be to ensure the maximum treatment, beneficiation and fabrication in Australia of Australian resources. It is interesting to speculate on what the cost of processing these resources will be, but apparently the cost is of lesser consideration. At least it throws all the existing mining arrangements into the melting pot. All these prices will have to be renegotiated. As far as possible a very large portion of theses resources are apparently to be fabricated and dealt with inside Australia. The cost is not contemplated; in fact, it is ignored completely. It is important that we think about this problem which is difficult to decide now for basic reasons-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The statement that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) introduced the other evening was headed ‘Overseas Investment in Australia’. I suggest with all respect that it is not a statement about long term overseas investment in Australia at all. It involves a number of short term remedies to a problem that can best be described as a problem of excessive liquidity.
– More than that.
– Well, more than that. As I hope to illustrate, it is a lot more in that direction than in prescribing or spelling out future intent with respect to overseas investment. The Prime Minister began by referring to 3 matters which he said had been revealed in the Treasury document which was .published in May 1972, some 4 or 5 months ago. He said that the 3 principal problems were the high level of capital inflow and the potential problem . that creates for managing the domestic economy; the suggestions of exchange rate speculation to which such inflows give rise and the possible consequences of that; and the sheer growth of foreign ownership and control of important elements of our economy. I want to put those 3 aspects into some sort of perspective.
The honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) made a lot of capital out of reading the Australian Labor Party’s proposals as to what it intends to do in this matter. One thing that strikes me as very interesting is the changed attitude evident in the document just presented by the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) entitled ‘Australia’s Natural Resources’ about what is called infrastructure. I contrast it with the Treasury document of May 1972 in relation to this question of infrastructure, which states that letting the mining company pay for the development is one way of garnering the economic rent from the exploitation of mineral deposits by foreign investors and is, from the national point of view, generally desirable. At least a little more realistic approach is shown in the more recent document as to what should be done in the future about infrastructure. I do not have time to talk about that today. 1 want to amplify this statement made by the Prime Minister:
In brief, in the past 2 years, capital inflow has resulted chiefly in a build-up of international reserves rather than an addition to resources actually being used in the economy. The greater part of this recently increased inflow has been in respect of company borrowings.
I submit with all respect that that statement begs a number of essential questions. The fact that the reserves have built up may be due to a number of influences. I want to have a look at these. 1 am afraid that on most of them the information is not available. The terrible thing in Australia at the moment is the deficiency of adequate information about the extent of overseas ownership of industry and of mineral activity. Has this money come in speculating against an upward move in the exchange rates? The honourable member for Wentworth suggested that our currency was undervalued, but he would not suggest altering the rate at the moment. I think: that is a fair rendition of what he said. But we do not seem to know the extent to which speculative money is flowing into Australia. The build-up could be due to the fact that firms in Australia, whether foreign or locally controlled, borrowed abroad rather than borrowed at home.
I must confess to being astonished by the figures that were given in the same speech about the exchange control approvals of gross borrowings abroad. The figure for 1969-70 was $568m; for 1970-71, $l,222m; and for 1971.-72, $l,681m. I think we should ask what the Reserve Bank has been doing. Why has it been giving such large approvals when it drew attention as far back as 1971 to the threat to our ability to control our economy internally by reason of the large amount of capital inflow? If it has given these approvals, why has it given them? After all, the Reserve Bank and what it does are the responsibility of the Government.
At the moment we have a surfeit of capital in Australia because the economy has been running down. I suggest that that is the real crux of the situation at the moment. I have spoken to the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) who is at the table and he has agreed to my incorporating in Hansard of a table from the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure 1971-72. (The document read as follows) -
– The table helps to illustrate a point that I want to make in the short time remaining to me. It shows over a S-year period the total capital funds accruing in Australia and the use to which those funds have been put. In the 5-year period from 1967-68 to 1971-72, the capital funds used in Australia aggregated $4 1,442m. Of that sum $7,000m has gone into dwellings. I make a point here that very little of foreign investment goes into dwellings. Nearly $6,000m of that $41, 442m has gone into what is described as other building and construction. It seems in some respects that in recent years foreign money has been going there. I have said
before that if there are to be capital gains made out of property development in Martin Place or Collins Street, they certainly should not go to foreigners. Yet in some respects that is what has been allowed to be done. Of that vast sum of $4 1,442m, $13,000m has gone into what is described as all other fixed capital investment. In the long run this is the sort of thing that makes the Australian economy tick.
In the same period in which we have spent $4 1,442m the amount of capital inflow from overseas has been $6,300m. To start with I simply make the point that out of every 7 capital dollars that have
been employed in Australia in recent years, 6 have been found from within Australia and the other one has come from overseas. At the same time as the amount of $6,300m found its way from overseas into Australian capital sources during the 5-year period to which I have referred, overseas reserves rose by $2,000m which would seem to imply that we really needed only two-thirds of the $1 in $7 that we borrowed from overseas anyway. I think the great danger in Australia is that although it seems we hardly need that money, we have allowed $1 in $7 to dictate the pace and direction of the development of the Australian economy. I submit that this is the critical problem that faces us in regard to overseas investment.
The very document that was tabled by the Minister for National Development in Parliament today reiterates figures that all of us know. For instance, the document states that 44 per cent of the total mineral industry in Australia is owned overseas and something like 60 per cent of the mineral activity in Australia is controlled by companies from overseas. Where does that put the credibility of this sort of document? We have yet another document which has been prepared in the last couple of months of this Government’s existence which tries to explain what the Government intends to do in the next 3 years. However, the Government had no resistance whatever during the last 3 years to prevent it doing what it now says it will do. We have had document after document of this kind. They are belated acknowledgements that problems exist - death bed repentances of a Government that feels that it no longer commands the support of 50 per cent of the Australian people and which is trying desperately in this last couple of months to say that it now recognises it should protect our natural resources.
The honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) sneered about the Labor Party’s description of the national interest. The Government says in its own document that takeovers in the future will be guided by the national interest. Why is it any harder for us than it is for honourable members opposite to define the national interest? The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), in an earlier debate today, suggested that commercial interests should decide whether a public utility should use a product made by another monopoly, as though that is a nice decision that can be made in closed quarters by those 2 groups. What we on this side of the House say is that in future, whatever the difficulties about unravelling what has happened in the past, Australia’s natural resources should be developed for Australia’s national interest. This does not mean extreme nationalism - that we will use these resources only for ourselves. We have some obligations to other parts of the world as well. But we are not just going to become a kind of quarry for the rest of the world which, after all, is what has happened in the last several years. As much overseas capital has come into Australia in the last 5 years as came in during the previous 15 years.
Australia, like any other country, basically lifts itself up by its own bootstraps. The preponderant part of capital development comes from within ourselves. We should tell the other dollar what is best for Australia. We should not let the other dollar dictate where the other $6 shall go. This is what national development is about in the long run. When we talk, as honourable members opposite are talking, of doubling energy supplies every 12 years and spending aggregates of thousands of millions of dollars, decisions no longer can be left entirely to what honourable gentlemen opposite describe as private enterprise. The only enterprise it has shown is in getting the best conditions for itself and fleecing the Australian public in the process. One-third of all the dividends paid annually in Australia now go overseas. There is no Australian ownership at all in basic strategic sections of the economy. That is what has happened under 23 years of Liberal-Country Party government. Now we are presented with documents a week or two before the elections saying that the Government can now do what it should have done before.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– There are few issues in recent months that have been spoken of with more emotion than the issue of overseas investment in Australia. I think my colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who is the Labor Party’s shadow Treasurer, painted a rather gloomy picture, particularly towards the end of his speech - a rather fearful one which, I think, was slightly exaggerated. We all have been told Australians will become a nation of wage earners working for absentee landlords if we are not very careful with overseas investment. We have heard frightening words like ‘foreign takeovers’; we have heard expressions like ‘selling a bit of the farm’ and ‘having tummies tickled’ and all these statements have tended to conjure up in the mind of the Australian community the picture of some giant ogre from overseas advancing to destroy us with one huge gulp. But overseas investment is necessary for a developing country such as ours. We most certainly would not have reached the stage of development we have reached today without it. The United States would certainly not be the super industrial power which it is today had she, at a similar stage in her development, not received substantial investment from Europe and elsewhere.
In the past there has been a certain reluctance on the part of some Australian investors to invest in the development of their own country. Not long ago I read in a Japanese journal a statement by a Japanese businessman that his company had hoped for some Australian investment in a development project which they were undertaking in this country, but that Aus.tralian participation had been far below that which his company would have liked. So before we get too carried away on the wave of emotion against foreign investment in Australia, let us realise that it is a necessity if this country is to grow, maintain high standards of living for its people, and develop into the great nation which will ultimately be its destiny.
But having said this, do not let us delude ourselves into thinking that all foreign investment, on any terms, is in the best interest of Australia or the Australian people. It is for this reason that the Government has laid down certain guidelines in the statement presented in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on Tuesday night. The benefits which the Australian economy will receive from the Government’s new guidelines can be essentially summed up under 2 headings; Firstly, by controlling the flow of overseas capital into Australia it will make possible a more effective management of the economy; and secondly, it will establish a set of criteria with which overseas companies must comply in order to make their investment in this country acceptable.
The government’s action to deal with the problems created by overseas control of Australia’s industry and resources has been sound, objective and devoid of emotionalism. It will help to maintain the balance so necessary in our financial and commercial system. I have been one who has always welcomed overseas investment in Australia, provided it did not create a monopoly controlled from outside this country. I have always taken the view that even if overseas capital gained a majority holding in an Australian company, this was not necessarily bad, provided that company did not have a monopoly of that type of trade in Australia. Such an overseas investment in this country would undoubtedly mean a capital profit for the Australian investor and at the same time release that capital of the Australian investor for investment in other developmental projects. But the net effect would be that, overall, Australia would be better off.
The Government, by its sane approach to the problems created by overseas investment, has coped - I believe very sensibly - with the problems created without overreacting to some of the hysteria one hears on this subject. The Prime Minister himself has shown the need for Government action by pointing to the way in which the inflow of capital from abroad has grown in recent years, from approximately $800m in 1969-70 to more than $ 1,800m in 1971-72. If the Government had not taken action it is likely that the figure would have reached $2,000m by the end of this financial year. By setting up these 2 yardsticks and the 5 criteria against which foreign takeover bids must prove their acceptability, the Government has very realistically recognised the need for control but at the same time it has recognised that we do not want to turn our backs on overseas capital which will create in Australia employment, expertise and new industries. The Government’s action is not hasty or illconsidered. Postwar investment in Australia has amounted to more than $ 10,263m in the space of 23 years, with the result that Australia’s overseas reserves now amount to over $4,000m. The action taken by the Government is both timely and necessary.
In taking the steps that it has taken, the Government has of necessity had to balance the economic benefits which Australia receives from investment from overseas against the economic disadvantages of such investment. In a developing country such as Australia, capital is a scarce commodity and foreign investment, either direct or portfolio, supplements capital provided from domestic savings. It thus allows a speedier rate of economic development than we could otherwise achieve, unless of course we are prepared to consume less out of current income. In addition it brings superior techniques and skills, and these spread to other local firms through the example set, the competition provided, the advice to suppliers and customers and the movement of staff from one company to another. It is an important source of product improvement. Overseas firms may also have certain affiliations or contacts overseas which give them an entry to export markets which previously may not have been available to Australian firms. So as well as bringing in capital, direct foreign investment may well bring with it a package of management, products, technology and market access. The Government probably also receives additional tax revenue.
However, one of the basic fears about foreign investment is that by bringing productive resources and facilities in Australia under foreign control there is a possibility that decisions made in the interests of a foreign company or foreign government may not always be in the interest of Australia. We had an example of this when the United States Government prohibited the Ford company’s subsidiary in Canada from producing trucks for export to Communist China, even though there was considerable unemployment in Canada’s motor vehicle industry at that time. The United States also endeavoured to prevent a subsidiary company of International Business Machines in France from selling a computer to the French Government for its nuclear programme. A foreign government could also call on its overseas companies to repatriate more of their profits or to use only materials produced in their parent country. In the case of a decline in world demand, a parent country could curtail or even close down production of its subsidiary irrespective of the economic effects in the country the subsidiary is in.
So both advantages and disadvantages can accrue from the inflow of overseas capital into Australia although in the past there have been few economic costs of foreign investment in this country. The main opposition to overseas capital has been mainly on nationalistic or social grounds. However, the Government feels that some controls on capital inflow are now necessary and it has endeavoured to eradicate where possible the disadvantages without interfering with the good effects. It has taken a bold step in laying down these guidelines and I believe the Government deserves credit for recognising the sense in the argument for some control on the mighty flow of foreign investment from abroad.
– The phrases that the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) used a while ago - the tickling of the tummy’ and ‘the selling of the farm’ - come from the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) who first used the former phrase, and Sir John McEwen, the former Deputy Prime Minister, who used the second phrase, lt would appear that the honourable member and the Government unfortunately took cognisance only very slowly of the great problems which the completely uncontrolled inflow of capital into this country and the selling out of Australian resources and industries were creating for this country. Finally the Government was stampeded in respect of both matters by its supporters. It is quite obvious from what has been said by the honourable member for Deakin that he has still not accommodated himself to the change in Government policy which is beginning to be felt today. The statement we are debating contains the new policy announced by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on overseas borrowing by Australian residents, overseas ownership of Australian industry and resources and portfolio investment by Australian residents overseas, and was obviously hastily conceived. It is vague and is a shadow sparring exercise. It is obviously designed as a political manipulation in an endeavour to sidetrack the mounting public indignation at the sell-out of our industries and resources, including real estate, to foreign interests, which has been brought about by laissez-faire policies and the refusal of this Government to lay down guidelines for overseas investment.
There are good examples of what can only be called the confusion and haste with which this paper was drawn up. That it is intended to be a political weapon and not a financial or economic instrument can be seen in the attitudes of the Government’s friends in the Press. One has only to read today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ which has a headline: ‘Confusion reigns in the wake of Government’s capital moves’. The article says:
Initial reaction to the Government’s measures on capital inflow and foreign ownership and takeover has been complete confusion.
These are the Government’s friends talking. There is no newspaper group more beneficient in its attitude to this Government than the newspaper group to which this journal belongs. The article goes on to say:
How the new arrangements will be applied remains uncertain, and the authorities have hardly begun the task of determining what the institutional channels will be.
That shows how hastily this statement was prepared. I have another headline in front of me from the same newspaper. It says: McMahon’s new foreigners add to stock market confusion’. And so one could go on. The paper would never have been introduced had the Government not been faced with almost certain defeat at the next election as a result of its inaction in this and many other areas of policy, such as its refusal to introduce indicative planning, to put teeth into the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, and to control the activities of fringe and merchant banking. The Opposition has warned the Government for over 10 years of the consequences of its policies on these matters. I can recall issuing such a warning myself in 1962 in one of my early speeches in this chamber. I said at that time:
The Labor Party opposes this Bill-
The Bill was the Loan (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Bill-
That statement was made on 11th April 1962. That was the attitude which was growing at that time. We have warned the Government consistently for more than a decade of what the consequences would be if these policies were continued. The political consequences are here today and the Government, in this panic move at the last minute before an election, is trying to overcome the problem.
Labor’s policy throughout these years does not oppose overseas investment which brings new know-how and techniques, increases Australian productivity and replaces imports. For example, if in Australia we were unable to produce pipes to meet the specifications of the Australian Gas Light Company, as in the current controversy, we would not be opposed to overseas capital setting up an enterprise to produce them, but we are opposed to capital which lends itself only to speculation in our currency, speculation in our land speculation in our buildings, takes over existing efficient Australian enterprises, portfolio investment in stocks and shares which creates speculation on our stock exchanges, and buys out our birthright - our mineral resources - and so on. Overseas capital, of course, always finds its way into the most lucrative industries and ignores those sections of the economy which are of most benefit to Australia but which are necessarily less profitable. For more than a decade this Government has allowed the uncontrolled access of overseas capital to Australia. We did not need it for development, although in some cases such as those which fall within the guidelines which I mentioned earlier it has helped, but simply to make up the difference in our balance of payments as the Government was not prepared to face up to the responsibility of taking action to correct this imbalance.
The policy on takeovers as announced by the Prime Minister is essentially a lift out from the policy recently announced by the Opposition. I will quote a very good example of this. It was interesting to hear a former Treasurer quote it earlier. If one looks carefully at the policy announced by the Opposition one sees how the Government has lifted it out and announced it in similar broad terms. Australian Labor Party policy is as follows:
Th: establishment of a Secretariat which will, in consultation with the relevant section of the Reserve Bank and Ministerial departments, advise the government on all matters concerning the flow of foreign investment flowing into Australia and all substantial takeovers and mergers.
The Secretariat shall identify, register and examine all foreign investment both current and future in Australia and report to the Government accordingly. All nominees will be required to disclose the identity of any foreign shareholder. Decisions on foreign investment shall rest with the national Government. Where the Government, having been advised by the Secretariat, determines that a proposed importation of capital is considered to he of no benefit, or purely speculative or in any sense contrary to Australia’s interests, it will direct the Reserve Bank to withhold authority for that currency transaction, and take other appropriate action.
It is obvious, I repeat, that the Government’s policy on takeovers is, in broad terms, purely a lift out of that policy announced by the Australian Labor Party prior to the Prime Minister making his statement. It means, of course, the setting up of a screening authority but with an alteration to the guidelines, which are further set out in the Labor Party document, to make it easier to sidetrack any action against any takeovers which the Government may want for political purposes.
The Prime Minister’s proposal on the excessive liquidity of overseas reserves will be largely ineffective. Once again on this question one can quote the words of one of the friends of this Government, the Sydney Morning Herald’. An article written by Alan Wood in yesterday’s issue reads:
The 3 measures against capital inflow announced by Mr McMahon are unlikely to have any major impact on the excessive rate of capital inflow into Australia.
The only one of real significance is the decision to stop short-term borrowing overseas by companies in Australia.
But only 40 per cent of foreign borrowing by companies is in the form. . . .
I would now like to deal in particular with portfolio investment. This policy announced by the Government allows for portfolio investment by Australian resi dents overseas, but it does nothing whatsoever to prevent or to limit portfolio investment by overseas parties in Australian securities.
Can any member of this House tell me what is the benefit to the Australian economy of this type of portfolio investment, that is, investment by residents overseas in Australian securities? What new resource does this introduce into the Australian economy? It only creates speculation on Australian stock exchanges. This was largely responsible for the 1969 boom and subsequent depression which cost many small and medium Australian investors their life savings. Why has the Government declined to take action on overseas portfolio investment in Australia? Is it that it would hurt some of its own friends? Is it that the stock broking interests in this country are making sure that their profit margins will not be affected? If they are the reasons, this is indicative of the hyprocrisy of the Government’s statement.
The paper also does nothing to grapple with the ramifications of the multi-national corporations and does nothing to lay down any guidelines as to how some effective action can be taken in this regard. I point out that we can accommodate 90 per cent of our capital requirements. So why do we need this excessive dependence on foreign capital? I cannot help but pose the question: What is the difference between utilising treasury bill finance to provide capital for industrial, mineral and public developmental projects and refusing entry of overseas capital, on the one hand, and not using treasury bill finance but using overseas capital for these developmental projects on the other hand? Both can be inflationary in some instances, but at least one of them - the use of treasury bill finance - does mean quite explicitly that the Government has conrol over the excessive use of it and the inflationary movement which it can generate. If we are not using treasury bill finance but are using instead purely capital introduced from overseas, then the Government has not control whatsoever over its excessive use and the inflationary movements that it can create.
We have warned the Government for more than a decade of the consequences of its polities on overseas investment. Time and time again we have brought this matter before the Government. Time and time again we have heard the Prime Minister and previous Prime Ministers and previous Treasurers state that they believe that policy was good for Australia. At last, because of the political consequences of that policy, the Government is endeavouring to make amends; but it is quite obvious that there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s statement. It is quite obvious that the Government is giving far too little too late. It is quite obvious that unless some serious re-thinking of policy occurs within the Government benches, the situation which has developed so dramatically in the last few years will continue to do great hurt to the Australia economy.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fox) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
– I move:
– At 6.14 p.m. the debate was adjourned to a later hour.
– The measures set out in the Tariff Proposal which I have just tabled reflect the Government’s concern at the possible sociological and other consequences should there be any further reduction in the level of production of small pitch transmission chain by Renold Australia Pty Ltd at its plant at Benalla. The intent of the proposal is to impose tariff quotas on imports of small pitch transmission chain as a holding action for a period of up to 2 years. In recent years imports of chain have reduced the share of the Australian market held by Renold, and earlier this year the company informed the Government that further reductions in output were in prospect with consequential reductions in levels of employment.
Chain production at Benalla is of particular significance to that community. Renold’s plant provides employment for a considerable proportion of the manufacturing work force in the area and the spending power of the employees makes an important contribution towards the economic wellbeing of the locality. The Government decided that the whole matter should be examined further and that, if necessary, special action should be taken to alleviate the sociological effects that would result from any further contraction of the chain production activity. Discussions were held in Australia and the United Kingdom with senior personnel of the Renold organisation. It was accepted by the company that its present operations at Benalla were uneconomic, an opinion expressed by the Tariff Board in its report of June 1970 on chain and parts therefor, of iron and steel. However the company has indicated that if additional short term assistance was accorded, it would explore the practicability of restructuring its activities into a viable, economic production unit with normal levels of tariff assistance.
With the possibility of long term viable production being sustained at the Benalla plant the Government decided to introduce tariff quotas to enable the necessary examination to take place. Alternatively, if it is not possible to restructure activities economically and closure is necessary, the holding action provided will permit consideration of alternative measures of assistance to alleviate the consequential sociological effects on the Benalla community.
Tariff quotas which will apply to both complete chain and to parts therefor will be established on the basis of the value of imports during 1971-72 and will provide for imports above quota levels to be subject to additional duties of $8 per kilogram. Quota levels will be set at 60 per cent of base year imports for complete chain which were subject to normal rates of duty. Separate provision will be made for quotas for component parts that are used in assembly production. Chain and component parts of a type eligible for entry under by-law will not be subject to quota limitations. It is proposed to keep under constant review the effect of the tariff quotas during their operation.
– Before I move that the debate be now adjourned I must still confess some surprise at the introduction of this matter at this stage. The Whip has pointed out to me that the blue sheet indicates that at approximately 8 p.m. the Minister for Trade and Industry would move customs tariff proposals but I assumed, when the debate on overseas investment finished at 6.14 p.m., that the Deputy Prime Minister was the next speaker listed to take part in that debate. Had I known that this matter was to be brought on now, I would have had my colleague, the shadow Minister for Trade, at the table. I think that this proposal is a significant matter and I hope that opportunity will be given when the House resumes in a week or so for this to be properly debated. I was interested to hear the word ‘sociological’ introduced in respect of-
-Order! ] point out to the honourable member that the only motion before the Chair-
– I thought, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I had leave to make this short statement before I moved the technical motion that the debate be now adjourned. I still say that things should be better conducted than they were on this occasion.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– I have the honour to bring up the twenty-first report of the Publications Committee sitting in conference with the Publications Committee of the Senate. Copies of the report have been circulated to honourable members in the chamber.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 2187).
– I am pleased to participate in this debate. I believe that this statement made on Tuesday night last by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has been well received through out the nation as showing a determination by the Government to do something about the volume of capital inflow into Australia, and also the Government’s concern about increasing overseas ownership of Australian enterprises and resources. The debate on overseas investment has been with us for a long time. I have little doubt that it will be with us for a long time yet, no matter what decisions are taken by governments. Even if the Australian Labor Party proposals were adopted the debate would still continue.
One of the main reasons why it would continue is that many opponents of overseas investment are afflicted with xenophobia - a morbid dislike of foreigners. This is the first point I make in response to the sentiments expressed by the Opposition. Underlying much of the Labor Party’s thinking on this subject seems to me to be a large element of xenophobia. There is a distrust of foreign investment just because it is foreign; a willingness to do without the benefits of investment if it is foreign - to cut off the nose to spite the face; a disposition to see foreign investors as being engaged in a Machiavellian plot to subvert Australia. This sort of highly charged emotional thinking should have no part in the formation of the policies of a responsible Australian Government. One of the ideas which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) put forward is the proposition that the Government should take the initiative and ensure that Australian-owned companies get preferred treatment in purchasing, whether by government or by private businessmen.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I think it is a tragedy that the Minister has only one Liberal member in the House. I ask you to consider the idea of calling for a quorum.
– A large number of my Country Party colleagues are present. (Quorum formed). I can see that this sort of policy would be very attractive to some people. But it is not self-evident that it is in the real interests of Australia as a whole. It seems to me that Australian owned companies would get preference merely because they are Australian, not because they are more efficient, more competitive or offer better product or service. I suggest that the Labor Party should think hard before it advocates policies which would have the effect of giving business to firms regardless of their competitive ability.
The third point I make about the Labor Party programme is that it just is not possible to come up with policies on overseas investment at the drop of a hat as the Labor Party has done. Its proposals are an incredibly ill assorted and ill digested programme. They provide clear evidence that the ALP does not understand the way in which business operates or the way in which government operates. The ALP seems to believe that the solution to every problem is to set up government authorities. We have at least half a dozen in this latest programme of the ALP in addition to the Government departments. The end result must be a system of happy bureaucrats but unhappy businessmen who would find their valuable time taken up in doing the rounds of Government institutions to get approvals instead of devoting their energies to the real task of developing Australia through increased efficiency, productivity and exports.
The issues involved in this matter of overseas ownership and capital inflow are very complex. They involve difficult and subtle economic inter-relationships which are not easy to analyse. They involve sensitive judgments as to future probabilities and the actions of overseas industrialists and financiers. They involve the desire of us all to preserve our Australian entity and yet obtain the benefits we can derive from partnership with overseas skills and resources. Let me make it quite clear that 1 share the concern of all Australians that our ability to control our own destinies is not thwarted by the aspirations of overseas investors but, as the Prime Minister has said, we must be sensible about this. For many years we have held the view that broadly speaking the benefits of overseas investment in terms of adding to our economic strength have outweighed the costs involved. The benefits have been great. The record of growth and development we have achieved in the past 20 years just would not have been possible without foreign investment.
This very growth, however, has meant that Australia’s economic circumstances are quite different from what they were a few years ago. So it has become appropriate to look again at our policies for this reason. Moreover, the high level of capital inflow which we have experienced in recent years has raised a new problem for economic management. It just does not make economic sense to perpetuate a system of large net capital inflows and rapidly rising currency reserves. It is the rapid growth of our reserves, due largely to the net capital inflow, that has given rise to the suggestion that the Australian dollar should be revalued. The Leader of the Opposition, of course, has added fuel to the flames by his irresponsible act of throwing the value of the Australian dollar into the area of political speculation. I note that other, wiser members of his Party have rejected his policy, but he keeps on repeating it. The Government has firmly rejected any suggestion that revaluation is appropriate to our current economic circumstances. The decisions announced by the Prime Minister are appropriate to the problems we face. There is a need to act, and to act decisively, and this we have done. The prohibition on short term borrowings overseas, the abolition of borrowing guidelines and the relaxation of restrictions on portfolio investment overseas should help to moderate net capital inflow. The control of foreign takeovers will also help here.
The other problem - overseas ownership and control - is not, however, capable of being solved so easily. We have announced a screening mechanism for foreign takeovers. This is an important new initiative. We have clearly set out our objectives. In contrast to the ALP proposals we have clearly laid down for all to see the criteria against which the Government will be judging foreign takeover proposals. We believe these to be reasonable and practical criteria which will enable the national interest to be served with the minimum practicable interference in the business community and the rights of shareholders. It should be clearly understood that this new policy will not mean that all overseas takeovers of Australian companies will be stopped. Those that will benefit us will be allowed to proceed and they will be welcomed by this Government.
However we have adopted a new approach. The fundamental question we will be posing is not whether the takeover will be against our national interest. The question will be whether it will help promote the national interest. It is the strength of our economy - the growth that has occurred with the aid of overseas investors - that enables us now to make this quite fundamental change.
We will be continuing our examination of the wider issues involved in overseas investment and control of our industries. This is not an easy task. The Government must ensure that any policies it introduces are administratively practical and that they will not endanger the confidence of investors that they will be treated fairly and equitably. We must be quite sure that our proposals will achieve our objectives without endangering our other policies and our overall economic well-being.
I do not want to anticipate the results of our full review. There are many questions on which we will need to reach a sensitive judgment. But it will be obvious to everyone in this House that we will be considering the question of what guidelines, if any, should be formulated for other forms of direct foreign investment in Australia which serve to increase overseas ownership and control. We will not be approaching this task in any parochial or xenophobic way. We want the benefits of overseas investment and whatever measures we propose will be consistent with this objective.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) would have us believe that this Government sees the answer to the problems of overseas investment solely in restrictive controls. This is a quaint charge to lay against a Liberal-Country Party government. It is under our policies, and with or support, that the Australian capital market has grown to a fair measure of maturity and ability to serve Australian companies’ financial requirements. It was with our support that the Australian Resources Development Bank was established. We ourselves set up the Australian Industry Development Corporation which in the short time it has been established has already demonstrated its value to the economy.
The full review of our policies the Prime Minister has referred to will be encompassing what further steps we might take to help the mobilisation of Australian capital for Australian owned companies. But we realise, as the Opposition evidently does not, that we are dealing in all these questions with some of the key elements in our economic structure and management. It is easy for an Opposition with no experience of government to say what it would do. Those with experience of government know that the task of formulating policies and carrying them out is not easy. Only when we are satisfied that we have sound policies will we announce them.
The steps the Prime Minister has announced are responsible, they are needed and they are practical. They serve notice on those who would speculate on the value of the Australian currency that they will not be permitted to dictate the course of events. They relax, where appropriate, some of the restrictions which have been placed on Australian companies and investors in recent years. They strike a fair balance between our national aspirations for an Australian Australia and our desire to work in partnership with overseas investors who have so much to offer us in promoting our national economic growth. (Extension of time granted). Partnership - real and effective partnership - with overseas interests in the development of Australia is our aim. I commend these proposals that the Prime Minister has announced to the House.
– The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) accused the Australian Labor Party of xenophobia or, in other words, a morbid fear of foreigners. The only person I know in this House who seems to have any xenophobic tendencies is the honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) who spoke in that way last night when speaking on the estimates for the Department of Immigration. The Labor Party does not have a morbid fear of foreigners. Our objection is to the capitalist system as it works. We do not object to a foreign capitalist because he is a foreigner, although we might object to some of his practices as a capitalist. I think, as the record of previous Australian Labor governments, both Federal and State, has shown, the Labor Party is not opposed to the principle of foreign investment. We just believe that the time has come - in fact, we believe it came long ago - for Australia to take stock of where foreign investment is going so that for economic and non-economic reasons we will ensure that we do not have excessive control of Australian industries and resources in foreign hands.
The Deputy Prime .Minister mentioned the debate on the South Australia-New South Wales pipeline which took place earlier today. He accused the Labor Party of opposing the tender being let to a Japanese company and said that a Japanese company might have more efficient management. The point that members of the Opposition wished to make in this case was that what was involved was the employment of Australians. Surely this is the most important thing. The prime goal in the employment policy of any government should be to ensure that it has full employment at home. I was rather shocked to hear that the Deputy Prime Minister of this country seems to regard that as a secondary consideration.
The Deputy Prime Minister also said that the proposals of the Australian Labor Party in relation to foreign investment were ill considered. Those proposals have been very carefully considered over a long period of time. Perhaps one tribute to them is that they have largely been copied by the Government in formulating its own proposals. However, of course, the Government has not gone far enough, as was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) 2 days ago. He said that the Government had gone only half way in imposing negative-type strictures and that it was important, as the Labor Party realised - a Labor government would implement these proposals - to upgrade the activities of the Australian Industries Development Corporation so that Australia could take a more positive role in harnessing and mobilising Australian resources and capital to develop Australia. This is something that seems to be missing from the policy of the Government.
The Deputy Prime Minister did mention the Australian Industries Development Corporation which was developed by the present Government but we believe that the AIDC should adopt a more aggressive entrepreneurial function. This was recom mended by Sir Alan Westerman when he spoke before the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control and this is something that a Labor government would certainly do. Finally, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the Labor Party had laid down no criteria by which a Labor government could consider and decide whether a foreign investment or proposed takeover was beneficial. These proposals are very firmly laid down and, once again, they seem largely to have been copied by this Government in formulating its own policy.
The main reason I have entered this debate is to ask the Government, as a matter of urgency, to refer a proposed takeover for examination. I refer to the proposed takeover of Clarkson Limited in Adelaide by Harris Scarfe Industrials Pty Ltd. Honourable members will recall that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) indicated that the new policy will be effective from last Tuesday and that, pending the formation of the independent authority, cases under reference will be examined by departmental officials. The company bidding for the takeover, Harris Scarfe Industrials Pty Ltd, has had only 6 shares issued. It appears to have close links with Investment and Merchant Finance Corporation Ltd, as the 2 directors of Harris Scarfe Industrials are the secretary and chief accountant of IMFC. A shareholder in Harris Scarfe is a director of IMFC Slightly more than 25 per cent of the equity in IMFC is held by the Royal Bank of Canada and approximately 23.5 per cent by the National Bank of Detroit. As well as equity, both banks have $800,000 in long term debentures with IMFC
I understand that the money to finance the proposed takeover which will be on the basis of 85c cash per share will be raised locally. However, this would not negate the fact that it is a foreign takeover if effective control does, in fact, pass to the substantially foreign owned IMFC. In fact, it appears to have been quite a frequent occurrence recently for foreign takeovers to be financed by local capital raisings. I realise that foreign takeovers are not necessarily bad. Improved technology and managerial skills and increased markets may all result in improved employment prospects and improved wages and working conditions for employees. However, there is no good reason to suppose that any such benefit will flow from this takeover. The bidder in this case has been involved in a number of recent takeovers in Adelaide, including the takeover of Colton Palmer and Preston Ltd and of Cox-Foys. I have discussed this matter with officials of 3 of the unions involved - the Storemen and Packers Union, the Transport Workers Union and the Federated Clerks Union. Each of these officials has told me that these previous takeovers have resulted in reduced employment prospects, and that their members employed by Clarkson Ltd were deeply concerned at the possibility of losing their jobs as a result of this proposed takeover. The Secretary of one union advised me that he has received assurances from one of the shareholders in Harris Scarfe Industrials - that is the director of IMFC - that there is no intention of reducing the size of the workforce. However, one of his union members has told him that shortly after a similar assurance was given at the time of the Colton Palmer and Preston takeover, that union member was retrenched.
Another aspect of this matter which is a cause for concern is the reduced competition which must result if this series of takeovers is to continue in South Australia in the marketing of hardware and building goods. In fact we may eventually find that a monopoly situation has developed. I am sure that if the Government will refer this matter for consideration to the interim body - that is at departmental level - it will have the support of the employees of Clarkson Ltd. On Monday of last week a meeting was convened by Mr Marinoff, Secretary of the Storemen and Packers Union, and Mr Fisher of the Transport Workers Union, at Clarkson Ltd at Beverley. The following resolution was carried unanimously.
This mass meeting of employees at Clarkson Limited, wish to voice strong opposition to foreign capital being invested in the alleged takeover of the company. Because of strong employer-employee relations, we appeal to the shareholders before making a final decision to consider the personal attitude now being expressed at this meeting. In the event of the shareholders decision being contrary to the wishes of this meeting and a takeover is negotiated a guarantee for the future employment should be given.
At a further meeting at Clarksons on the 20th - that is Wednesday of last week - convened by the Industrial Officer of the Federated Clerks Union, the following resolution was passed:
This meeting of clerks employed at Clarkson Limited, ‘Beverley, views with grave concern the takeover bid of the firm and strongly urges directors and shareholders to resist such takeover bid and consider the livelihood of all employees, shareholders and directors is best served by preserving the company in its present form.
This meeting expresses its support for the recommendation of directors to their shareholders to resist the takeover of Clarkson Limited. This meeting calls on the Federated Clerks Union to express the feeling of clerks to directors and to the Press to let the public be aware of their position.
It is about 3 weeks since the proposals were first publicly announced. Honourable members will recall that the Prime Minister indicated that proposals which were not referred within a month of the announcement of the proposed takeover would be free to proceed. That means that there is not much time left. I ask that the Government give this matter immediate consideration. I am not asking that the takeover necessarily be prevented. It could be that the interests of the workers involved and of the Royal Bank of Canada coincide. I do not know about that, but I believe that all aspects of the matter should be considered before the takeover is allowed to proceed.
– I wish to endorse the remarks of the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) about the takeover bid for Clarkson Ltd. I understand that there will be a board meeting of Clarkson Ltd, the company concerned. As a result of a similar type of takeover, which was referred to by the honourable member for Kingston, almost all the staff of Colton Palmer and Preston were sacked. From observation the staff of COX.Foys was reduced by about 75 per cent. Some employees of Clarkson Ltd have worked for that company for periods ranging from 15 to 40 years and they could well become redundant. Honourable members may recall that this is one aspect that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) mentioned in his statement to the House only the other evening. When a man aged 55 years has worked with a company for over 30 years there is not much possibility of retraining him under the scheme referred to from time to time by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch).
I have given an undertaking to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), who is now at the table, that I will be brief. I regret that my time is short; otherwise 1 would have dealt with the matter of the takeover of Clarkson Ltd in greater detail. I wish to deal with one other matter that is concerning me because the whole of the shipbuilding industry is being examined at the moment. By now we should have received a Tariff Board Report on its inquiry into the shipbuilding industry but we have not had it. We have not had one whisper from anybody on the Government side about a feasibility study that is proceeding in the Westernport Bay area. It concerns the construction of a giant complex including facilities for shipbuilding, ship repair, dry docking and so on. Not one word has been said about it. The document I hold in my hand relate”! to a feasibility study undertaken by YRD of Australia, which is associated with a foreign owned company. I do not see how such a document would have escaped the attention of the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Why did he not inform the House of this document? Is this one reason why the Tariff Board report on shipbuilding has been delayed? According to the document I hold the danger exists that almost every shipyard in Australia - including Evans Deakin, Whyalla Shipyard and Adelaide Ship Construction - will go to the wall. Members of the Country Part like to talk about decentralisation. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) is a member of the Country Party. Where then is the sincerity?
I challenge the Minister for Trade and Industry to consult his colleague on this matter and make a statement to the House. I would like him to say whether a feasibility study for such a project has been undertaken. What is the attitude of the Government if the company decides to proceed with the project? Where does it lead for thousands of people in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia who would most certainly be affected? Ought not this matter be looked at by the Gov ernment in the interests of the employment of people, bearing in mind statements that have been made by the Minister for Trade and Industry and belatedly by the Prime Minister about decentralisation and movement away from the cities and outer suburban areas. I am reminded, however, that he referred to Tennant Creek as an outer urban area. That is his concept of cities and suburbs, I suppose. When the estimates of the Department for Shipping and Transport are being debated I will deal more fully with the document I now hold. I would be amazed if somebody in the Department has not told the Minister or the Government about this document. Why has he kept it under wraps?
– The decisions by the Government to curb overseas investment in Australia represents a death bed repentance after 23 years nf a policy which has led to a massive alienation of Australia’s resources. The words of the Government’s statements are brave, but the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) indicated tonight that his heart is really not in it. The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is significant for its sins of omission. Nowhere did he refer to the great alienation of land and water resources. Nowhere did he refer to the fact that about 250 million acres of land are now owned or controlled outside this country. Nowhere did he say that further land purchases or takeovers would be halted. Nowhere did he answer the challenge posed by the Ord River scheme, an outstanding example of the dilemna in which 23 years of the Government’s policy has placed us.
The Ord River scheme has cost Australians much. In order fully to utilise water resources, development must proceed in the Northern Territory and there are no such plans. Japanese inquiries have been made about our intentions. They may well be interested in acting in the region themselves. What is the answer of the Prime Minister to a request by Japanese interests to buy a section of the Ord River scheme? If he is asked will he sell? He has not replied, and the repentant sinner is always suspect. An Australian writer, Ray Aitchison, has drawn attention to the problem of overseas penetration, particularly of our water resources. He illustrates the sort of development that we are confronted with now. In his recently published book, entitled Thanks to the Yanks?’, he said:
An American-owned group, the Australian Land and Cattle Co., was going ahead with plans to spend $A18m on a pioneering irrigation scheme for farming and beef-raising on the Fitzroy River. The Americans of this company had a plan for a vertically integrated and diversified farming and ranching enterprise of 5 divisions with immediate earnings from their cattle holdings . . . The first division was the Kimberley cattle division which was to supply the United States market for boneless beef and which would also provide young steers for fattening in the second division. The second division, the Inkata feed yard division, would supply the Japanese market for prime beef. The third division, the Camballin ‘Irrigation Farm Division, would export grain sorghum to Japan and supply stockfeed for the second division. The fourth division would take care of machinery supply requirements for the entire scheme. . . The fifth division was the Marketing Division based in the city of Perth. . . The Marketing Division formed an alliance with the Japanese trading house of C. Itoh and Co. which was investing at least Sim in the project.
This is an example of development to which neither the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has addressed himself nor has the Government addressed itself. This is a situation in which there is no Australian equity.
– On leasehold land.
– I am not sure where the honourable member who has interjected stands on this matter. Last night he indicated his impatience with migrants and rejected them, but apparently today he is defending them. So I am not sure where he stands. I think he should explain himself clearly to the Parliament, and the nation because I, for one, am confused. We have in the case I have mentioned an integrated development - a very ambitious one - which is making use of land and water resources for a very long time. I want to know just where this sort of development fits into the Government’s new guidelines. There is no room for any Australian participation in this kind of development to which I have referred. I think that is a very fair statement to put to the Parliament and to the Government. In the future just where are these sorts of enterprises to find themselves under the Gov ernment’s proposals? I refer finally to the fact that the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) asked us to learn from the pattern of United States development. I might say that we on this side of the House have learned from the United States. In the development era of the United States no non-resident was ever permitted to hold land in United States territory. This was the United States law and it held to it.
– Texas was owned by British capital.
– .The British capital helped to develop Texas but the British did not own it and they do not own it today. There is a difference between investment and owning. From the Labor Party’s point of view it is not necessary to sell the country to develop it. Certainly, we invite people to participate in the development of the nation but to sell it out is completely different. The questions which I have posed demand an answer from the Prime Minister and from the Government. I hope they will be forthcoming.
Mr ANTHONY (Richmond- Minister for Trade and Industry) - by leave - The honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) brought to the Government’s attention a threatened takeover of a company by the name of Carkson Ltd in South Australia. I am not aware of the details, but the honourable members stated that this sort of takeover should be caught up with in the screening apparatus which the Government has announced it is setting up to watch the situation vigilantly. I certainly will respond to the request by the 2 honourable members and see that the matter is looked at. However, I would not like this assurance to be regarded as a precedent and the fact that honourable members raise a matter in the House to be regarded as sufficient justification for the holding of an investigation. However, I think that at this initial stage, before we have had the benefit of experience, I should react immediately to the request of these 2 honourable members. I will see that they are examined.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1586), on the following paper presented by Mr McMahon:
Urban and Regional Development - Ministerial Statement, 19th September 1972- and on the motion by Mr Chipp:
That the House take note of the paper.
– As one who represents a large rural electorate I naturally am delighted by the decision, and announcement, that the Commonwealth is to take a more active part in decentralisation. Because of the relatively short time available to debate this matter I intend to concentrate entirely on decentralisation. I think that the Opposition, which criticised the Government for having done nothing, has been quite unfair. The Government has done a considerable amount to help decentralisation in the country. I shall list just a few instances. I do not want to take up the time of the House unduly, but there is a long list of things which the Commonwealth Government has done without which centralisation in the metropolitan area would have increased to a much greater extent.
Firstly, of course, we have given great support to primary industry. In this Budget alone an amount of about $230m is being given to primary industry by way of support in marketing and stabilisation schemes, research, guarantees and subsidies. Undoubtedly, people who would otherwise have to leave have been kept on the land and kept in remote areas by this assistance. We have done a great job in developing the resources of Australia. Water resources have been developed at a very fast rate. The Commonwealth has introduced its new water resources development programme. It has not only assisted the States, but also it has built such dams as the Ord and the Fairbairn dams. Many of these large water conservation projects have undoubtedly encouraged decentralisation. The Government has undertaken forestry development. It has doubled the rate of forestry planting. This, again, is a decentralised industry. Of course, one could mention the work that has been done in minerals, particularly including oil and gas, and in the development of power. There has been development in the north, such as on beef roads. In fact, during one 10-year period - the decade of the 1960s - 20 new towns were established as a result of the development of Australian resources.
– Throughout the whole of Australia. These developments are based in some cases on minerals, fisheries and forestry. I have produced a list of at least 20 new towns which were established as a result of this development of Australia’s resources. We have improved telecommunications enormously. This was one of the great problems and bugbears of the more remote areas. Today instead of waiting hours for a telephone call one can get through quickly. The same thing applies to aviation. There has been a tremendous improvement in aviation. I recall that when I first came into the House I used to have to drive 70 miles in the wrong direction to an old wartime Air Force base to catch a DC3 aircraft to Canberra. Now a big aerodrome has been developed at Albury and a good service operates from it. Not only that but the Commonwealth also has a new programme of assisting the development of some of these aerodromes and their runways. At one stage the policy was that in Melbourne or Sydney ratepayers did not have to pay for the development of an aerodrome, but those in country towns had to pay half the cost of local aerodromes. After representations to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) he has now agreed that this shall no longer be the case. At Albury, for instance, the cost of conversions to enable the airport to take jets instead ot turbo-prop Fokker Friendships will be entirely at Commonwealth expense. The Government has given a petrol subsidy to ensure that the price in remote areas is not more than 4c a gallon over city prices. We have built Commonwealth offices, particularly for the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Social Services.
Service establishments have been located in the more remote areas instead of being crowded close to the cities. This, again, has a great effect on decentralisation. On the edge of my electorate are 4 major Service establishments which employ, all told, about 5,000 people. As a result of this, $18m a year is pumped into the economy in that area. This has had a big effect, just as the location of other bases in more remote areas has helped the development of those areas. We have given tourist assistance. Defence and supply factories are being operated in remote areas such as Mulwala, Bendigo and Lithgow. One of the great things that has been done by the Government is the development of tertiary education facilities in the more remote and outback areas. One of the great problems not so long ago was that if a person wanted a tertiary education he, and his family also, would have to go to Melbourne, Sydney or one of the other capital cities. Now tertiary education is coming to the outback areas. In spite of all this, these are not being sufficiently successful. As the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said in his speech in the House last week:
In S years to 1971 the population of the metropolitan areas increased by an amount equal to 75 per cent of the increase in Australia’s population in the same period.
Between 2 elections in the 1950s my electorate of Farrer actually lost population. That trend has now been reversed. Nevertheless, at a time when Australia’s population was going ahead at a rate of about 250,000 per annum, it was wrong that a relatively developed area like Farrer should lose population.
We need not only to encourage decentralisation as such but also to encourage industry to decentralise. The country has a lot to offer industry. It has availability of land and this is usually fairly cheap land. It has cheaper and ample water in most cases. This is particularly so in the case of the 2 major cities in my electorate, Wagga and Albury. Both of them have very large storage dams above them on the Murray and the Murrumbidgee rivers. The country has fewer traffic jams and a more stable work force. In Victoria and New South Wales encouragement is being given to industry to decentralise, by financial assistance and by reducing payroll tax. Tn addition, the country offers a better way of life, a way of life which is closer to nature. On the other hand, of course, the cities have always had the attraction of the bright lights. People are starting to demand an improved quality of life which is difficult to provide in the cities with their smog, their noise pollution and their traffic. It is interesting to note that when the firm of Borg-Warner, a major overseas firm which was established in Sydney, decided to decentralise and go to Albury it found at first that it was extremely difficult to get an adequate number of its senior executives to go there. Today those who have gone there are so happy and contented that there is a waiting list of people in Sydney anxious to go to Albury.
Why do people go to cities? First of all, I suppose the major attraction is the job opportunities. In so many of the smaller country centres one just does not have the opportunity. One sees people who are born and bred in country areas who have to go to the city to get a job. Transport costs are one of the major factors. This is partly brought about by outmoded transport and by government taxes in some cases. Sales tax on goods which are produced in the country and then transported to the city for sale is added to the cost of transport as well as to the cost of the item itself. There are better amenities in some of the cities which attract people. This applies particularly to universities, training facilities, great departmental stores and spectacular sports. There are policies adopted by industry which militate against decentralisation. One of these which I will instance - there are a great many - is the price of steel. It is an extraordinary thing that steel in Sydney is sold at a basic price; much of it now goes by rail down to Melbourne and when it reaches Melbourne it is sold at the same price; but on the way, at Albury and Wagga, it is sold at a much higher price. This is obviously quite ludicrous and yet it is the commercial policy of a company.
These are the sorts of things that I hope will be looked at by a committee which will point out the problems and tell us why industry does not decentralise. There are costs which undoubtedly have a major effect on companies which have to locate themselves inland. I know that many of them ban subscriber trunk dialling calls because they find that they would be just too expensive. They have to limit calls considerably. Then there is the question of cost of power. Here again we have the extraordinary situation that very often power is more expensive just next to where it is being produced than it is many miles away in the city where it is offered at some special rate. So decentralisation of industry must be a co-operative exercise for the Federal Government, the States, local government and industry. The first thing to do is to set up the authority, the ministerial council and the advisory committees and then have them identify the problems and suggest remedies. Just as all Cabinet submissions are looked at to see their effect on the environment, so these submissions also should be looked at to see how they will affect decentralisation.
I welcome the announcement that a small number of carefully selected centres are to be earmarked for growth. I naturally hope and expect that Wagga and Albury will be included on this list and that this will help them to iron out some of their growth problems. But it is not the Waggas and the Alburys that worry me most; it is the smaller country centres like Holbrook, Lockhart, Henty and Corowa. These are where the drift to the city occurs probably more than from the larger country cities. Thus, while selective growth centres are necessary, we also need policies to encourage growth and stability in the smaller towns. Some will become dormitory towns for nearby cities, but there is a limit to the distance people are prepared to drive to and from work. I note that the new authority is to be responsible to the Prime Minister. This is as it should be in the initial stages. But I feel that soon the work will pile up to such an extent that it will need a separate, full time Minister as in the States.
It is unfortunate that few people in the media appear to realise the enormity of this major policy decision which will change the face of Australia. Some who support the Australian Labor Party and who believe that Labor’s vague and unspecified promises in this area would win votes have reacted in a hostile manner as they now see that the Government’s actions go much further than the Opposition’s promises.
– Even if it has taken you 24 years to do it.
– The honourable member was not in the chamber at the beginning of my speech to hear my explanation which dealt with that very effectively. I have genuinely tried to find out what is Labor’s policy on decentralisation. Its Platform, Policy and Rules tell us little except that Labor would establish a department of housing, urban affairs and regional development. On the other hand, the Liberal Party in its official platform says that one of its objectives is to have an Australian nation in which decentralisation of industry is encouraged. The only idea of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on decentralisation appears to be to support the Albury-Wodonga complex, although he does not say how or to what extent. The shallowness of his thinking was displayed in his speech on 19th September when he praised Albury because it had the water, rail, road and primary production facilities. But he neglected to say that so too have Wagga, Goulburn, Wangaratta and Benalla. So too, I suppose, has Yass.
A recent survey that was carried out in Victoria and New South Wales as to winsome 157 firms chose to locate themselves in the country showed that only 9 of them made the decision because of the availability of cheap land, water or adequate transport facilities. Most of them were located in the country for reasons of labour availability and suitability, because of markets, because they had connections with a local firm or because raw materials were available. So I favour the selection of Wagga and Albury as growth centres, but for different reasons from those of the Leader of the Opposition. He also suggested that some of the Commonwealth public servants marked for transfer to Canberra could be sent to such areas as AlburyWodonga. This needs careful assessment. What incentives should industry be given to decentralise? What policies should a government, anxious to decentralise, adopt? Should we give loans to industry to help it decentralise? Should we, as is done in New South Wales, give country manufacturers a 5 per cent preference?
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This debate concerns the role of the Commonwealth Government in urban and regional development. It follows the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on 19th September. Dispersion of the Australian population into resource related locations and properly planned enironments can only ever emanate and be effectively fulfilled through inspired, informed and cohesive initiatives on the part of the Commonwealth Government. The widespread deprivation of country towns, the uneconomic and inadequately planned growth of cities with attendant squalor and sociological problems result from the lack of Commonwealth initiative. Now the Prime Minister after 23 years of successive Liberal-Country Party coalition governments, acknowledges this fact. For the first time the Government admits its liability and presumably its neglect.
It is hard to reconcile this new-found interest by the Commonwealth Government for, when all is said and done, this is the Government with the inspired concept of estabishing in crowded ‘Melbourne a new Commonwealth office complex worth $60m to accommodate some 20,000 employees. This is the Government which recently proposed that in the bottlenecked peninsula of Wooloomooloo in the heart of Sydney a Commonwealth office complex should be built to provide accommodation at a cost of some $50m for 15,000 public servants. This is the Government which, for example, sustains the concept that there should bea military area of Holsworthy, crowding on to the southern perimeter of Sydney with some 72,000 acres of land tied up - some 85 square miles, I am told - an area which the State Planning Authority has sought for some considerable time for the purpose of providing some 40,000 job opportunities for the people of Sydney and for the purpose of providing residential opportunities for a quarter of a million people. This is the Government which is intent on establishing naval bases at South Head in Sydney in an area that ought to be preserved for a national park. This is the Government that takes away Cockburn Sound from the people of Perth because of its unwillingness to find a naval base in a more suitable part of Australia. So it is very hard to reconcile this new-found interest that the Government has in decentralisation and the environment.
No-one begrudges this new-found recognition of the role of the national Government in contemporary Australia. The tragedy is that a decade has gone since the awareness of the developing crisis in urban affairs and its preparedness to confront it. 1 want honourable members to hear part of what Hugh Stretton had to say in his book ‘Ideas for Australian Cities’. I specifically refer to what he said about the 2 sides in politics in connection with this question. He said:
Liberal and Country Party governments of the Commonwealth have had simple, stable urban policies for 20 years. First, the Commonwealth determines the amounts of most of the states’ housing and road moneys. Second, there are no other federal urban policies (outside Canberra) because the cities belong to the states. Third, the Commonwealth government in practice fixes the national levels and the states’ shares of public investment and expenditure. The levels it fixes are alleged, by critics who include plenty of Liberal state premiers, to provide a squalid, half-starved public sector. Among other offences, the Commonwealth finances most of its own capital works out if revenue and makes the states and municipalities finance theirs by borrowing, so that loan interest eats up a rising proportion of whatever revenue they do get.
That is what Hugh Stretton, an acknowledged and unbiassed authority on these matters, had to say in regard to Liberal and Country Party governments.
I would now like to read to honourable members what Hugh Stretton bad to say about the Labor Party and especially about its leader. He said:
Whitlam is strong for new cities. This alone, if he could give effect to it, would be enough to distinguish his policies from those of the federal Liberal and Country parties, like life from slow death. His policy speech before the 1969 election promised means to enable governments to deal in urban land. He proposes commonwealth-state partnerships to establish regional development authorities, on the well tried models of the Snowy Mountains Authority and the National Capital Development Commission.
That concludes my quotes from Hugh Stretton who has summed up the situation quite effectively, in my view.
Overcrowding of our cities has continued unabated as an analysis of the census figures reveals. The 1961 census showed that 49.7 per cent of the Australian population lived in 4 cities. The 1966 census showed that 51.9 per cent lived in 4 cities - an increase in city congregation of 2.2 per cent in 5 years. Doubtless it has grown at a faster rate in the interim period since 1966. In 1961, 64.8 per cent of our population lived in 24 urban centres with a population size in excess of 25,000. In 1966 there were only 22 such urban centres accounting for 66.8 per cent of the population. The cost penalties for this unchecked expansion of urban growth are of hidden but astronomical proportions.
The Treasurer (Mr Snedden), in his Budget Speech, talked of a 3 per cent growth rate in the economy. What he did not explain was that we can have an increase of national income per head or an increase in gross national product and be individually and collectively worse off. In fact, national income does not measure the well being of the community in any meaningful way at all. Dr Max Neutze, head of the Urban Research Unit of the Australian National University, put some credence Into this assertion when he said:
The more money we spend on commuting and/or sewerage and garbage disposal the higher the national income.
Yet these are part of the costs we pay for living in cities. Not only we do fail to deduct some of the costs of earning our income, such as pollution and congestion, but when we spend money to minimise such costs, actually add it to the income.
It follows that to maximise the benefits of national income the area of penalties must be minimised. Our urban centres must be so proportioned as to reduce the liability of commuter costs and transport systems, pollution control and garbage and sewerage disposal, and all the sociological consequences that flow from a badly planned city. All this is best achieved by planning and avoidance rather than by any remedial or rehabilitative process.
The problems that have descended on our major urban centres result from excessive growth, inadequate planning and lack of finance. In all these matters the Commonwealth can be influential, supportative and with other areas of government, completely adequate. Why has the Government ignored the need for new cities? In the United Kingdom the New Towns Act of 1946 was used as the vehicle for the creation of 14 new towns between 1947 and 1950, one in 1956 and 8 more between 1961 and 1968. This Act - the New Towns Act - is currently employed to effect major expansions to 5 existing towns. In all, 30 new towns are being created for a total population of 2.5 million people. The planning and development of housing, industry and transport have been effectively integrated by the joint efforts of town development corporations and the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. Where is the Australian counterpart for the sort of enterprise we see in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and other federal countries? Why is it that Australia has not emulated this example?
Professor Winston of the Department of Town and Country Planning at the University of Sydney contends it is mainly for political reasons. He says: . . it’s because the Federal Government has the money but not the power and the State governments have the power but not the money.
Surely that is the case. The key to this situation is contained in the long-standing position of the Leader of the Opposition who says:
For all its difficulties and shortcomings the Australian Constitution is not an insurmountable barrier against social reform and social justice.
If section 92 of the Constitution is held up as the bulwark of private enterprise, then section 96 is the charter of public enterprise and section SI is the key to national responsibility and national regeneration.
National regeneration has not even been regarded as a prerogative of this Government. Decentralisation will be achieved only when the Commonwealth sets out to deploy resources on a national basis in terms of the national need.
Under Labor a national development authority would take the lead in formulating a blueprint for new cities in the States and the Northern Territory. It will create a concept of development to utilise the major traffic corridors and to facilitate the growth of satellite communities as appendages to established cities. The implementation of the proposals which will evolve through consultative processes with the States will be under regional development authorities. Conditional grants will be allocated under section 96 of the Constitution to ensure that the serevices already available to the people of the Australian Capital Territory will become available to Australians in other parts of this land. An Australian Institute of Urban Affairs task force of urban planners has reported that Australia urgently needs 15 new cities with up to 500,000 people in each. It predicts that by the year 2000 Sydney’s population could grow to 4.9 million and Melbourne’s population to 4.6 million and warns that unless this drift to the cities is checked there will be rising dissatisfaction with traffic congestion, rapidly rising land prices, longer journeys to work and the drabness of life in remote suburbs. In all, these expert planners are saying that we should create 15 new cities urgently or confront the spectacle of a further 7 million people clustered around the 5 major cities of Australia. The task force report contains this strong warning:
A programme to build new cities - even- if started now - would not begin producing a large number of houses for 6 to 9 years.
In essence we are already too late, and this Government is guilty of allowing this situation to develop.
The Prime Minister, in this pre-election period, has developed grandiose visions of a new ministerial council made up of the passing parade of State premiers which, with him as its inspirational head, will lead us all to the promised land of planned decentralised urban living. But no-one is inclined to believe him. He speaks of a new urban and regional development authority and of advisory committees which will be comprised of representatives of unidentified organisations and groups, the representatives being chosen for their expertise in relevant fields. Who are these representatives? Obviously the Government has not the foggiest idea and this hastily contrived but vague concept will be no answer to the challenge of our times.
Where will these great centres be located and on what conditions will land be made available to industry, home seekers and the planning authority? Will it be leasehold land or privately owned land? Will we be freezing land prices? Has the Government any plan at all? Which industries will be encouraged to go to which growth regions, and what methods will be employed to get them there? Will there be tax concessions, payroll tax reductions, transport subsidies? Will there be free land and low interest capital? What incentives will there be? The fact is that the Government still has no idea on any of these questions. What is known of the resources required, the rainfall, the power and water supplies and the sewage outfall and communications systems? Who will build and finance the houses, the streets and schools, hospitals and fire stations, court houses and post offices, and the community centres and recreational facilities? This Government has shown that it disapproves of low cost leasehold land. It has caused the price of Canberra land to rise astronomically in recent years and particularly in recent weeks.
This Government does not concede that the Commonwealth has any responsibility for sewerage or local government services and does not do anything for them. The sewerage authorities of our major cities for some considerable time have been gathering and calling out for large amounts of money. The Sydney authority is calling for $ 1,000m over the next 10 years to meet the pressing sewerage needs of that city. Altogether the capital cities need $2, 500m over the next 10 years. Is it not a fact that the 900 local government authorities have been calling in vain through the Australian Council of Local Government Associations and that this Government has not heeded their call? Consequently nobody believes that in 1972, on the eve of an election, this Government has suddenly come to learn the folly of its misdemeanours and shortcomings and that it will turn over a new leaf. This Government is responsible for the decadence of the cities and has no plan by which to overcome the problems confronting the people of this country.
– The subject of urban and regional development is the most complex and probably the most important to come before this Parliament. The recent statement of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), indicating the Commonwealth’s preparedness to espouse the cause, has rightly drawn considerable comment. I leave aside assessments such as the charge of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that it is too little, too late, and his urban spokesman’s belittling description of the Government’s proposals as ‘an imitation of progress’. I want now to identify the problem as simply as I can. Fundamentally it is a matter of population distribution. In the driest continent our population distribution is still dominated by the 6 original capitals, on sites that were chosen as regional centres before the hinterland was fully explored. The development of remarkably extensive forms of agriculture, notably sheep grazing and wheat farming, provided no interior urban challenge to the established coastal settlements. Through geographical momentum they maintained their importance relative to later foundations, and their common seaboard locations permitted a continuity of transport nodality.
There are many cities in the world larger than Sydney or Melbourne, let alone our other State capitals. Some of them operate very effectively, so it is not sufficient to protest that city size constitutes an automatic disaster. On the contrary, it can be argued that much of Australia’s postwar prosperity - or at least its prosperity during the decade or so during which we have been off the sheep’s back - has depended upon the concentration of much of our population and productive capacity in a small number of port cities. The economic advantages and, with some qualification, the social advantages of agglomeration, are real. We should not pretend that they do not exist. What accentuates our leading Australian cities is the contrast between the dominant capitals and the
– What worries us is our empty spaces. The cry used to be ‘populate the North’. Now the policy is to populate the interstitial spaces. In our efforts to do so it would be wise to remember that the climate and the rural economy have never attracted large numbers of people to the small population centres of the inland. Sydney or the bush’ is an exaggeration founded on fact. In most countries of the world there is a fairly regular progression from farms to hamlets, to villages, to minor towns, to major towns, to regional capitals and then to a national capital. In the United Kingdom, London is clearly dominant, but below it in rank order are the Birminghams, Newcastles, IBristols and Plymouths. IIn Australia there is a notable gap in the population continuum. Outside the State capitals only 4 centres contain populations in the range 100,000-500,000, and of these Newcastle, Wollongong and Geelong are also on the seaboard. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a census table showing the first 35 population centres of the country.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - interior. Only gold, silver and now iron ore have done that, in limited measures and for a limited time. Canberra is our one inland city with over 100,000 people; next below it is Ballarat with 58,000, according to the 1971 Census. So the message is clear: Government intervention, on a scale and with
a concentration of effort not hitherto attempted outside the national capital. Crisis-ridden though the Australian Labor Party presents the dominant centres as being, we need to be fairly confident of success, for the expenditure involved in attracting people away from the dominant centres will not be, in the words of a Country Party colleague, ‘chickenfeed’.
To this end, the Government proposes a course of selective decentralisation by which a small number of places will be identified as potential growth points. They will be of 2 kinds - regional growth centres and sub-metropolitan centres. The first are established towns of recognisable centrality and importance to major regions of the country. Examples might be Wagga, Townsville and Bendigo. Their stimulation to a level where they are self-sustaining would be of great importance to their surrounding regions and would provide alternative growth points to the major cities.
Sub-metropolitan centres’ is not a self defining term since that is what all urban places below metropolitan status are. However, what is meant are places outside the metropolitan areas which can be developed as separate entities with sufficient employment and services to attract people who could otherwise have enlarged the metropolitan populations. Such places must not be satellites which may soon coalesce with the growing city to form a conurbation. We must use our tyranny of distance constructively by locating the sub-metropolitan centres at points intermediate between the cities and the regional growth centres. Difficult terrain may substitute for distance to ensure the physical separation of the new from the old - for example, the Hawkesbury plateau dividing Gosford from Sydney by topography unattractive to settlement.
Selection along these lines may not coincide with the ALP’s proposed growth corridors. The transport network which is basic to that concept is indeed important, but of prior importance is the need to achieve regional balance and even self sufficiency whether or not those centres will form an obvious corridor. Existing lines of transport should of course be used to the full. The attractions of the major cities must not be underestimated, particularly since their growth has been in essence a natural phenomenon. International precedents suggest that despite real crises, as distinct from the largely imagined ones here, the advantages of metropolitan location for industry, services and cultural variety have outweighed their disadvantages for most people, even up to population concentrations of 10 million.
There are, however, hopeful signs. The most far-reaching may well be the growing public interest in environmental quality, which may lead to the rejection of the motor car as the universal symbol of individual freedom and the adoption of less time-wasting relationships between home and work. Studies of decentralisation in New South Wales and Victoria and by an inter-departmental Commonwealth-State committee have shown that while the cities offer economic advantage over the country for commercial location, the margin is often small enough to be overcome by real intent or by a re-ordering of priorities. A study of Tamworth in New South Wales under the supervision of a former colleague, Professor Holmes, has shown a growth in regional-capital services in significant part through the devolution of activities from Sydney and Newcastle. The town’s population has thus grown by 20 (per cent from 20,600 in 1966 to 24,600 in “1971. Close analysis of the type and form pf service increment which has taken place there may find application elsewhere, leading other centres beyond the threshold of self sufficiency.
We do have one functional example of urban decentralisation in Australia. Because it was settled almost simultaneously at opposite ends, Tasmania has always had less dominance by one centre than have the other States. Burnie and Devonport have been added to Hobart and Launceston and are growing more rapidly than the 2 larger centres. All are ports able to compete with one another. To date and at present that provides problems in sharing a small traffic and in the duplication of facilities. But Tasmania has now become a model for emulsion. It illustrates the selective decentralisation which we seek. If we pay to achieve a population distribution broadly akin to that of Tasmania we can pay to maintain Tasmania’s achievement, accidental though its origins might be.
I referred earlier to space. We Australians have been profligate users of it. This is understandable since it is so abundant. But when we add low density suburban occupants to more of the same in a process of accretion, with the additions remaining part of the same functional entity, we create problems. Our difficulty, therefore, ls not to find more space but how not to use it all in too few places. We suffer more from under-crowding than over-crowding, although even the Australian Institute of Urban Studies allows itself to think occasionally in popular terminology of over-crowded cities. Another former colleague has calculated that if an Australian population growth of 9 million in the next 30 years is housed at VVodenWeston Creek density levels of about 4,500 people per square mile, we shall need 1,600 square miles or so of urbanised land to accommodate them. They will fill 90 new cities of 100,000 each. Larger cities are characterised by higher densities, and of our present cities only Sydney and Melbourne accommodate more than 4,500 people per square mile on average. At densities nearer that of 2,900 per square mile in Hobart, the new urban land requirement would be about 2,500 square miles by 2000AD. By 2050AD it may exceed 8,000 square miles for the 27 million additional people people likely to be around. That is about one-third of the area currently under wheat in Australia, or 16 times Sydney’s 500 square miles. They will occupy 270 cities of 100,000 people. The conservationists may by then have real need to watch the unurbanised spaces.
The future will be shaped by our present decisions. The interest of other political parties in this subject is acknowledged without reluctance. I should point out, however, in the face of very occasional recognition by the communications men that the Liberal Party has given increasing thought to this subject for some time. I have pursued it since entering the Parliament, and I pay tribute to the interest of the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn). The Prime Minister chaired a policy committee on urban development on which some of us worked long and hard. I hone that this is one subject on which all political credos can work together in the national interest and on which distinctions without a difference, such as that drawn by the editorial in today’s ‘Australian’, will enjoy the obscurity they deserve.
This is a long term project, although action must begin now. Therefore, it is proper that the administrative structure for its implementation should take account of the States’ involvement. The ridiculing of a ministerial council by the Leader of the Opposition will prove, I hope, undeserved. This is not an occasion for the Liberace of Australian politics to be playing the tunes his public wants to hear. State jealousies and petty parochialisms must not stand in the way of a plan which will strive for a system of cities in Australia which more nearly approaches the balanced distribution achieved in the more generally conducive physical environments of European nations. I stress again the 2 components of the policy - urban and regional. The title of the proposed National Urban and Regional Development Authority well describes the field of interest and indicates the importance of that body’s future responsibility. It provides a suitable framework for the detail which will soon be forthcoming. I conclude on a cautionary note which has special application to my friends in the Country Party. It was Rousseau who said:
Towns are the dwelling places of profane mortals; the gods inhabit rural retreats.
– We are debating a ministerial statement on urban and regional development which was delivered in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on Tuesday evening of last week. The delivery of this statement came only days after the Prime Minister’s appearance on television with David Frost. From the programme ‘Frost over Australia’ we learned that the Prime Minister has resorted to prayer in a desperate bid to obtain deliverance at the forthcoming election. Though the Prime Minister may not have cast stones at those who have advocated the need for urban and regional development, he stood mutely by while the cities sprawled and the country areas were drained of their populations. The Prime Minister did nothing to develop a policy of urban and regional development in all of his first 22i years in this place. Suddenly he seems to have undergone a conversion almost as remarkable as that of Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road. Whether his conversion is the result of his urgent petitions and increased devotions, or whether he has resorted to making a death-bed repentance in an endeavour to forestall the judgment that he must surely be expecting, must remain a matter of conjecture.
While the Prime Minister stood before us delivering his statement in all his Washingtonian truthfulness, as one who has never intentionally told an untruth, I did think that I detected something of the class of penitence which gripped Uriah Heap and Latimer while they were incarcerated and suffering the pangs of judgment imposed by their society. On the one hand, the right honourable gentleman assured us that he saw the area of urban and regional development policy as ‘a matter of great national importance’. On the other hand, he has announced that the position of Commissioner will be assigned to Sir John Overall.
The Prime Minister, like his predecessors, has been content to leave responsibility for this policy area in the dead hands of the Country Party. There it remained until only this year. This year, for some reason, the Prime Minister took responsibility himself for regional development. Perhaps it is only coincidental that his newfound interest in this subject has come at a time when the clouds of doom began to gather and blacken and when his day of judgment began to loom large before him. Within the space of a few months the right honourable gentleman has produced a plan for urban and regional development whereas the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), from whom he took the responsibility, had been unable to do so in the more than 8 years since the Commonwealth-State Officials Committee was first established.
The threat of judgment has even quickened the Country Party and certain of its Ministers are supposed to have a confidential interdepartmental report on regional development; a report produced in the last few months. In the 8 years since Sir John McEwen, the Country Party’s former leader, set up the Commonwealth-State Officials Committee under Country Party responsibility nothing happened until this year - this election year. Such urgent and precipitate action in a few months after 22 years of neglect is not at all convincing. I believe that the Prime Minister and the Country Party are as enlightened and repentant as were Heap and Latimer before them. The clue lies within the Prime Minister’s choice of Commissioner. There could hardly have been any person better suited to act as Commissioner than Sir John Overall, had the Commission been set up 10 or 20 years ago. Had the same action been taken then and the same man appointed, the decisions would have been exemplary and convincing. At this time it is pregnant with the seeds of doubt and provides an omen of the Government’s depth of sincerity in this field. Sir John Overall has publicly announced that it is his intention to retire next year. Therefore, Sir John will be available to steer the newly launched Commission only into the new year, through the difficult days of reckoning that lie ahead of this Government. One wonders whether in the light of past experience under this Government and in the light of the indifference that this Government has displayed in this field, the Commission will be allowed to collapse with Sir John Overall’s resignation should this Government be returned.
Being utterly unconvinced by the Prime Minister’s apparent conversion to the Labor view that urban and regional development are of national importance, and seriously doubting the reality of the Prime Minister’s repentance, I believe that his choice of a commissioner to fill the post for so short a time from the Commission’s inception is a warning to all that this policy will not be pursued if this Government survives. Such a short term appointment at this important stage suggests that the Prime Minister has taken ill-considered and short term action as an expedient, instead of considered, long term action that this neglected area demands.
Let me contrast the signal neglect of urban and regional development under Liberal-Country Party leadership with the policies and actions of the Labor Party. The Australian Labor Party has provided the lead in this field at the Federal parliamentary level for many years, without stimulating any active response from the agglomeration of parties and factions opposite. As my Leader pointed out in his speech on this subject, motions on regional development have been moved by the ALP in each of the years 1961, 1965, 1967 and 1971. The Government parties have prevented each one of those proceeding to a vote. Not only so, they have failed to substitute legislation of their own at any time in all those years. The unconcern and indifference of the present Federal Government contrasts markedly with the attitude and approach of the Labor Government when last it was in office and with the interest and endeavours of this Party in opposition. As my colleague the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) has often reminded us, the Chifley Labor Government in the post-war years 1945 to 1949 established an administration to encourage and plan for decentralised growth. The activities of Labor’s Department of Postwar Reconstruction and Department of Immigration provided a sound basis for Australia’s early post-war development. Of the 32 factories built by the Commonwealth during the life of the Curtin Government 20 were built in rural areas. All were transferred to private industry. Mr John Dedman, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, said in 1948:
Now that neatly all the factories built in wartime are in some way disposed of, the decentralisation movement must not stop. If we are to develop to the full a country the size of Australia, there should be the greatest possible balance in the distribution of population.
We are looking to increasing our population by sustained large-scale migration.
This will requite new ‘secondary industry to provide employment opportunity.
As far as possible, we want those employment opportunities to be provided by developing the relatively smaller industrial centres, rather than by continued development of Melbourne and Sydney.
In 1948 Labor saw the need to rapidly develop Australia’s population growth and its resources in association with the necessary action to guide and encourage it to the most beneficial areas. Liberal and Country Party governments have failed to recognise that need and have allowed Australia to grow like Topsy. Only now are they showing some indication of recognising the errors of their ways. Liberal and Country Party governments have been guilty both by commission and omission in this field. The Menzies Government, in spite of its undertaking to foster decentralised growth, dismantled the highly sophis ticated regional planning structure which, in co-operation with the States, was built up prior to 1949. Detailed surveys of regional resources had been made and the machinery of government was prepared to plan and implement development and growth in areas outside the main cities. Twenty-three years have been lost and we suffer the consequences. We cannot go back and undo what has been done but we can begin from where we are and ensure that the problem is not further compounded.
A Labor government would set up a department of urban affairs and regional development with the function of controlling the allocation of resources for the development of urban areas. That department will have both technical and research staff. It will integrate the activities of the Bureau of Transport Economics, the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, the Department of Shipping and Transport, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Works and the Department of Civil Aviation in regard to regional planning. Regional development will be encouraged through co-operation with the States to provide effective development, to arrest the depopulation of the countryside and to slow up the growth of our capital cities. Labor, in co-operation with the States, will nominate certain existing country cities and towns as growth areas and authorise the Commonwealth Grants Commission to recommend the nature and amount of Commonwealth financial assistance required to remove the problems of servicing those regional centres. Two centres in my State that will be examined favourably to be assisted under the policy decisions to which I am referring are the port towns of Albany and Bunbury. Areas that are designated growth centres will have telephone and telex charges reduced to bring them back into line with charges to industries in capital cities. This provision will be of great importance to regions at distances of 100 miles or more from metropolitan areas. For instance, telephone calls from Albany to Perth at present cost $1.43 for a 3-minute call during business hours.
Labor, as a matter of priority, will move to make available land at low cost - leasehold - and good quality housing will be made available at low interest rates.
Regional development, properly administered, should be financed largely out of savings from the continued development of cities overcrowded to the point of economic madness. Regional development is essential to stop the growth of capitals beyond the point where they already contain more than 65 per cent of the country’s total population and where servicing costs are escalating beyond all reason. Regional development is necessary if people in country areas are to enjoy the benefits of metropolitan facilities and employment opportunities within close proximity.
In conclusion, I should like to have incorporated in Hansard a table setting out the population of metropolitan areas in proportion to total population. This illustrates the seriousness of the problem that has developed under this Government and indicates that there is a strange form of justice that has worked through it all.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– At the outset I suggested that the Prime Minister was motivated to deliver this statement by the threatening judgment that awaits him and his Government because of their accumulated sins of omission and commission in this and other areas. I referred also to the part of the Country Party in the Government’s neglect of the important areas of regional development. We can confidently expect that there will be 2 fewer members of the Country Party in this House after the forthcoming election. They will have been the victims of the centralisation that has taken place under successive Liberal-Country Party governments here and the BrandCourtNalder Government in Western Australia. The metropolitan sections of the electorates of Canning and Moore have grown so rapidly and the country areas have been depopulated so much that the Country Party members will almost certainly have fewer primary votes than both the Labor and Liberal candidates in those electorates. After the election they will be able to write to their leader and advise him that his sins have found them out.
– The Government’s proposals on urban and regional development in Australia mark a historic landmark in the direction of Australia’s future development. It will be a mammoth task; it will be a great economic and social challenge to the Federal and State governments and certainly to the new authority that is to be established. Australia is the largest island continent in the world, yet the most urbanised community in the world. We have amongst our most important resources space - vast wide open spaces. This is a very valuable resource. If a person lived in some of the highly concentrated population areas of the world he would come to value this important resource that Australia has. It is the responsibility of the nation to ensure that its resources are used for the long term benefit of its people. This Government is the first Commonwealth Government to move in a practical sense to help the States in a programme to make good use of those resources.
I have made speeches on numerous occasions both inside the House and outside it over a long period of years and I have often described the problems that Australia would have to face up to if decisive Government action at the Federal level was not taken at the right time. However, before the Government could take action on such a large scale as is envisaged in the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) It was essential that the Australian people had commenced to recognise that if our capital cities continued to grow along traditional lines the day would come when they would cease to provide a satisfactory way of life to the people living in them. This applies to the young people trying to establish their homes in these cities. As long as people can buy a block of land at reasonable prices, as long as they can go to and from work within a reasonable time and as long as the general amenities in the cities remain within reasonable reach they see no reason to look elsewhere to try to establish a home. In fact, if they live elsewhere they probably see some Very good reason for wanting to move to the cities - reasons such as better and wider employment opportunities, better educational opportunities for their children and a wider range of social and recreational amenities than they could find elsewhere away from this metropolitan complex.
Of course the Government has been concerned about the decline of country areas and the associated unbalanced growth in the cities. However, people are at the heart of the matters and solutions cannot be undertaken on any large scale before people are willing to participate in new programmes. For the Government to move on a matter of such dynamic change before people are prepared to participate would result in certain failure. This would prejudice any future build up of the public confidence so essential for success in such a change in the course of development in this country. An appropriate climate of understanding had to be reached in Australia as a first step towards solutions. I think we can all sense that the necessary change of climate is now occurring. This has been contributed to by all levels of the Australian community. It has been contributed to by both sides of this Parliament, at the State level, at local government levels, in academic circles and by the business community in general. Indeed the problems are starting to compound and people are recognising this in every walk of life and in every environment. Therefore a great new programme along the lines proposed by the Minister is now, and only now, capable of success.
Not only do Australians at last understand the need for a change of direction but also they have an example of what a new and properly planned city can offer as a way of life to its inhabitants. I refer of course to Canberra, which even a few years ago would have been unacceptable to the great majority of Australians as the kind of place in which they would want to live. The attraction of the larger cities at that time was still almost irresistible. Canberra has shown that an alternative way of life is both possible and practicable and that a small to medium sized city now has many advantages over the larger conurbations. I might mention at this stage that a great deal of credit for the success of Canberra - a success which was recently acknowledged at the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm - is attributable to the work of Sir John Overall as head of the National Capital Development Commission. I join with others in congratulating him on the tremendous contribution he has made and the outstanding job he has done. Sir John Overall is a man of the highest international reputation in the field of new town development. He is a man who in his own right was invited to the Stockholm conference to deliver a paper on new town development. I think it is fitting that this most experienced and competent man has been appointed as Chairman of the new National Urban and Regional Development Authority. I believe this man has the capacity to launch this new organisation.
It may be suggested that Canberra is a special case and cannot be taken as the forerunner of regional growth centres. I would not agree with this. In my view the basic attractions that Canberra has for people as a place to live can be repeated over and over again throughout Australia. People will ask: How will jobs be provided in a new growth centre? In my view a new regional centre does not have to be started by large scale industrial development. Some jobs would be created as soon as work starts on a new centre. Undoubtedly an administrative body would have to be set up to plan and develop the centre, and this would be established at the centre itself. It will involve construction corps. Homes would have to be built to accommodate these people and provide them with services and facilities, including schools, shops, banks, post offices and so on. Government units, both State and Federal, might be located in these centres. You would at once have quite a reasonable range of job opportunities - certainly enough to attract a considerable number of people faced with the alternative of struggling to get established in the metropolitan areas.
In the future jobs will be less and less tied to large sources of raw materials. This has been the pattern of development throughout most of the world. Good transport and communication facilities will become far more important and, given these, people will be able to live in areas which offer attractions such as lower cost land, ease of movement, educational opportunities and social and recreational amenities. These things can be provided through concerted effort by government at all levels. If people are given firm assurances by governments on these matters I am convinced that they will reverse the present ugly pattern of drift to the metropolitan areas. As basic production processes become more automated more people will find their employment in servicing the community rather than in the production processes.
All levels of Government have an important contribution to make to regional development, which will not succeed without machinery based on mutual cooperation between local government bodies and State and Federal governments. The key is their determination to carry out their undertakings, because confidence in the intentions of government at all levels is the magnet needed to attract investors, people and industry to new locations. You cannot force people out of the cities. You cannot force industry out of the cities. This would be totally unacceptable to the Australian community. What governments must do is to provide the opportunities for people to find an acceptable alternative way of life elsewhere.
One factor not yet fully appreciated by many of those who have looked at the problem is its sheer size. On present trends, Australia’s population will increase by more than 8 million people over the next 28 years and, at the present rate of development in Australia and if the present trend continues, undoubtedly most of these people will go to the 6 State capital cities and the surrounding regions. This undoubtedly will cause enormous, problems. Let us assume that it would take a total of 27 years, allowing 5 years preplanning and 22 years of actual building to. build a new town of, say, 300,000 people. If an average of one new regional centre a year was started somewhere in Australia in each of those 27 years, by the end of the century there would be one new town completed and 27 others at varying earlier stages of planning and development. In fact, they would have population sizes varying from nil to 300,000. The sum of these populations in the new towns still would amount to only a little more than 3 million people. Therefore, if Australia starts on a major new centre aiming for a population of 300,000 people each year for the next 28 years, this will still divert only 3 million people from the capitals. I think this indicates the immense problem which faces us.
Another factor which will emerge in my judgment is that, although heavy initial investment in new centres will be required, in the longer term this will prove to be more a re-deployment of funds rather than the provision of huge additional expenditures, because undoubtedly the environmental and pollution problems and the transport and traffic problems of the growing metropolitan complexes are in themselves providing a tremendous bill to the people - the taxpayers. Overseas experience indicates that the sort of solution proposed by the Government will call for strong administrative organisation. As the Prime Minister has said, Commonwealth initiatives must be carried out in partnership
With the States. The setting up of the Commonwealth-State ministerial committee with the Prime Minister and the State Premiers will provide an adequate facility for the sort of co-operation that is necessary between governments.
In particular, it is pleasing to see that the parochial jealousies that have been plaguing any progress in this direction in many of our country areas is fast diminishing. Only recently, I led a deputation in Canberra representing the country mayors of New South Wales. The country mayors, who represented something like 122 local governing bodies in Australia, had resolved that the regional growth centre complex was the only practical way of overcoming the tremendous problem of urbanisation in this country. I think it is not only very important to foster the regional growth concept but also it is essential to ensure that the policies that are in force in the States to help country towns, apart from the larger provincial centres, are continued.
In New South Wales alone, over 600 new businesses have been encouraged by the State government to set up in ISO different centres in that State. This is a fine achievement. Governments could also assist by locating suitable institutions and units of government in appropriate country towns. In addition to all this, the development of regional growth centres will almost certainly be of benefit to other towns in the region. For instance, the selection of Dubbo will be of tremendous benefit to the Macquarie region as a whole. In addition, the development of regional growth centres throughout the length and breadth of this country will give the sort of ballast for which we are looking.
But there is a need to look to the problems of some of the smaller towns that have a viable future. As the Prime Minister said, the Commonwealth will continue to expect the States to undertake their own programmes of assisting the development of industries and the progressive development of these centres away from the metropolitan areas. So, I believe that this is a most historic decision. I believe that it will provide the impetus that is necessary to create the sort of comprehensive balanced development that this nation has needed for some considerable time. The Australian people living both in the cities and the country will appreciate the need for this action.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) of 19th September highlights the population growth in the capital cities of Australia. The Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that some 60 per cent of the Australian population now live in the 6 State capitals and that approximately 40 per cent live in Sydney and Melbourne alone. In the 5 years to 1971 the population of the metropolitan areas increased by an amount equal to 75 per cent of the increase of Australia’s population in the same period. The concept of urban and regional development is not new, as you, Mr Deputy Speaker, with your experience in the Parliament would know. In the closing stages of the last war at the Premiers Conference in 1944 the late John Curtin, Prime Minister of Australia, requested a conference of the Premiers. This was called the following year for the purpose of instituting policies to establish and develop regional growth centres.
This concept was pursued until 1949 when, with the advent of the LiberalCountry Party Government, nothing further was done until 1964. This was a period of immense population growth in which we saw the greatest drift into the metropolitan areas in our history. Even in war time the Curtin Government assisted in decentralisation. It established throughout the country areas of the Commonwealth various factories for the building up of new industries and the establishment of industries associated with the war effort. The Chifley Government during the postwar reconstruction period of 1945-49 sought to establish industries away from the capitals and to convert to peace time uses those factories which had been established in the country towns for the manufacture and repair of war materials and machines. It has taken 23 years for these aims to be resurrected.
The co-operation of State and local governments and representation by local governing authorities is very necessary for any planned national urban and regional development to succeed. The Prime Minister announced the selection of Sir John Overall as Chairman of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. He is a man who has had considerable experience as Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission. The figures quoted by the Prime Minister show an alarming trend and I think that all Australians must be concerned about them.
In many cases the growth of Australia was government sponsored. People were shifted to different areas for specific reasons. The first settlers to come to Australia did not come by choice; they came because they were brought here. Other people came along to supplement them - to guard them, to1 fed them and to employ them - and so we saw the population growth around Sydney. A little later we saw population growths in other centres. People were even taken up to Port Essington and to Darwin but eventually, even in those days, this policy lapsed as part of the defence of Australia. These people were not volunteers. It is very hard to find people who will volunteer to leave their homes within cities where all sorts of amenities exist. A certain amount of government assistance is required. Government enterprise is required to encourage people to leave the cities and go out into the country centres. The Prime Minister has said that the development will take place in 2 separate concepts, first by developing regional growth centres, the old concept of John Curtin, and second by the promotion of sub-metropolitan centres around the existing cities.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) referred to Canberra as an excellent example of planned building. I suppose many people came to Canberra in the pre-war days who did not come here by choice. I know that many people in the early days of Canberra came here because employment was available when it was not available in other places. Others were posted here by the departments for which they worked. It is only in the post-war period that Canberra has developed. I was here in 1947 and can compare how it was in those days with i?s present state. It is a far different city now. Today it provides for its residents all the amenities within easy access, I would find it preferable living here to living in a crowded city where one must change trains two or three times to reach one’s destination. In travelling from point A to point B in a private vehicle, travelling to work or for pleasure, many problems are encountered. Hours of travelling each day are involved.
The concept of new towns is not novel. The Minister for the Interior spoke of the establishment of new towns and of how long it will take. He referred to a period of 27 years. My concept of the regional growth centres would not necessarily involve the establishment of new towns as such. I believe that regional growth can be promoted within the areas around existing cities with a population of less than 100,000. There are plenty of such centres in Australia. The industries already established could be supported and the establishment of other industries encouraged, providing they have some connection within the area.
Today one honourable member referred to the employment in rural areas created by forestry projects and the manufacture of forest products. Very few of our country towns owe their origin to a mineral boom. Some towns resulted from mineral booms but their development has long since ceased. Most country towns have been based on the timber and dairy industries, and in some cases on the activities of the beef and sheep squatters. In many such towns the population is drifting away in search of larger living areas. People are moving off the land, not into the nearby towns to find employment but into the capital cities.
Efforts should be concentrated on establishing the people who are moving off the land looking for employment within the cities. I believe that the concept of new towns is commendable but there is a greater chance of success in concentrating on building up some of the old areas. I agree with the Minister for the Interior in his reference to the fading out of parochial jealousies. Many people realise that they have to stick together or go down together. The success of one growth centre will mean the success of many more. Parochialism does not exist to the same extent today.
I have been provided by the Parliamentary Library with a copy of an interesting article in ‘Nation’ on the new towns mirage which refers to an article in the ‘Readers Digest’. It states that communities can be designed to cut down the grind and bore part of living, like commuting, traffic jams, parking problems and driving miles for a loaf of bread. It adds that living in a new town should leave more time and energy to be yourself and to do what you want to do. A little earlier I mentioned that people are using up several hours a day in travelling to and from work. There is nothing more unproductive than sitting in public or private transport, travelling backwards and forwards to and from work. If industry can be established within easy distance of residential areas it will mean more leisure for the workers in that industry. In planning the surroundings of an industry provision must be made for parks and all the amenities that people expect today and are being provided by many of the small shires. It is realised that it is necessary to have such amenities as swimming pools, basketball courts, sports grounds and the like to provide people with the things they rightly claim as theirs today.
The same article states that the worst projects are the land exploitation schemes designed to produce exorbitant profits at public expense and attempts by overreaching developers to rescue foundering real estate gambles with government subsidies. It states that some already have become subjects of local controversy and could grow into major scandals. The article goes on to say that the United States Congress has appropriated only $5m of the $200m requested for direct grants to new towns but it has authorised $500m in federal guarantees for private development loans made to new town builders. Developers in this country should take note of that experience. The article points out that in Europe these problems are already being tackled in many experimental new towns. Governments there frequently buy land for the projects and lease it inexpensively to developers. Mass production of housing is well advanced and the great variety of planning experiments being carried out has not yet slowed public response to Euro pean new towns. If anything, they are growing and filling up faster than even entirely private American developments.
There is a lesson in that for Australia. Projects should not be left in the hands of private developers with get rich quick schemes, asking exorbitant prices for land as is being done now in the inner metropolitan areas. Earlier today we discussed the construction of a natural gas pipeline from central Australia to Sydney. Other pipelines that must surely follow will carry natural gas in vast quantities from fields in central Australia, the south west coast of Western Australia and no doubt other centres in a network around Australia. From the line that is to run from Gidgealpa to Sydney branches will provide gas as cheap power to country towns. This could be an advantage to industry to set up in country towns where a reliable work force is available and living and transport problems can be avoided. Governments would not be called on to provide transport systems to carry the people many miles a day to and from work.
Earlier I referred to local government. In any development scheme the problems of local government should be recognised. Local governments face problems, as honourable members well know. In areas where there is a phenomenal growth the demand for services which people regard as their right, such as the provision of sewerage, drainage and water reticulation, places a severe burden on local governments whose main means of finance is rating on the value of properties. While developers might push up the value of the properties I do not think this is the correct way in which these areas should be developed.
– The statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) which we are discussing I think is the most timely move that we have had in this Parliament, and is of great national importance. It is quite pleasing for me to note from the speeches on both sides of the House that there seems to be very little opposition to the idea of creating this authority. There are certain differences in principle which I shall refer to shortly, but it would appear that the whole Parliament is in accord with the statement of the Prime Minister. I do not think that people realise at this time the potential or the magnitude of the scheme that has been floated by the establishment of this authority which, as we know, it is to be called the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. Of course, it will make recommendations for final decision by a ministerial council, and I rather like that idea.
Two matters are mentioned in the report: Firstly, the development of centres which are referred to as growth centres and secondly, the formation of submetropolitan centres around existing cities. The authority will go much further than that when it really gets going. We have to realise that what we are doing, in effect, is laying the foundation for a great new nation. As the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) properly said tonight, we are living in the last continent on earth to be developed into a great nation. We have a responsibility in relation to this. Australia has grown up in a short period of time - about 200 years - and there has been great development. But it is only in recent years that we have made discoveries of the enormous potential of Australia’s natural resources. Whilst we have only 13 million people in Australia at present and 6 States with their own independence, in the future our population will be 100 million or 200 million. If people will understand this, we are now actually laying the foundation for the development of a great nation in an orderly fashion. That is the thing that really matters - orderly development.
The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) stated that decentralisation was a new-found interest of the Prime Minister. I can assure the honourable member that this matter was not hastily decided at all. Considerable research has gone on. I know that it has been going on in the Australian Country Party, the Liberal Party and in the joint Party room. It has been discussed on several occasions. Several members on this side of the House have made a very deep study of this matter and are very well informed as to the progress which should be made in the future. This applies particularly, if I may say so, to the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), who spoke earlier tonight. He is quite an expert on this subject. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who was formerly the Minister for National Development, and many others have done quite a lot of study on it. I have made a considerable study of it. Over the last 10 or 12 years I have spoken in this House and urged that an authority of this kind be established because it is the only orderly way in which to gather information concerning the development of Australia’s natural resources. The Government’s proposal only starts a programme. This authority will go on for all time. Its job will never be finished. There is a great need, of course, at this particular time for its establishment.
Mention has been made tonight of the overcrowding of cities. We know that over 60 per cent of Australia’s population lives in the cities and 40 per cent is in the 2 great cities Sydney and Melbourne. This situation is quite wrong, of course. In a condition like this we must initiate new growth centres. In doing this we have to have proper research done so that we will know what we are doing. The problem is not only merely trying to shift people into residential positions. This is not it. The whole complex of a modern society has to go along with the people. This is not an easy matter - indeed, it is very complex. The cities have grown up rather like Topsy because we have not had a proper coordinated arrangement in Australia. There has been no real forward thinking to utilise our resources on a national basis with a proper understanding of priorities. This is a very important matter. I know that the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has spoken on it on a number of occasions. On examination it will be seen that there has been a considerable duplication and a certain amount of waste in Australia’s growth up to this point because we have not had proper understanding with the States.
There are 4 essentials that we must consider. Firstly, the national Government must itself have knowledge of the overall requirements to develop the nation. It must have that knowledge and, therefore, it must establish an authority which can, under the Prime Minister, gather together the information that is needed to develop a total nation. This cannot be done except with the co-operation of the States. Australia has an unusual set-up - different, I think, from that of any other country - with 6 States with sovereign powers and so forth. I know that the Opposition can see a way around this and I will mention that in a moment. However, development and decentralisation must go hand in hand. Urban development cannot be separated from decentralisation. We must develop a national spirit, which must be fostered between the States and the Commonwealth, to build the nation on a system of federalism. This is quite different from what the Opposition says. As I said, the collaboration of the States in this matter is an essential part of the plan. I am sure that I can speak for the Government in saying that there is no intention whatever on the part of this Government to try to superimpose its authority on the States. This must never be thought. They must operate in close co-operation, because the States are really the operating vehicles to carry into effect the overall decisions that are made in the national interest.
We know that there are jealousies within the borders of the States, and rightly so. It is a good spirit to see - that the States themselves are jealous of their own development. It is imperative now for the national Government to be aware of the details of orderly growth. The States, local government and certain special authorities must come into this so that we’ achieve a complete and absolute national outlook. I stress that. Labor, whilst accepting the idea, adopts the same approach as it does to almost everything else. Its idea is centralised control. The cat was let out of the bag tonight by the honourable member for Hughes. He mentioned that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) saw section 96 of the Constitution as a charter for public enterprise. What he means is a charter for socialism or government ownership. Of course, under section 96 this can be done. It is merely a matter of giving money with a tag to it for certain purposes. That is what it amounts to. If you do that, you dominate the States.
The statement made tonight by the honourable member for Hughes can be linked with the statement made by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). That statement was printed and I know that he will not deny it. He said that if Labor came to power it would set up a department of urban affairs and regional development, the main function of which would be to control the allocation of resources. That must mean, of course, that Labor’s idea of development is completely centralised control in Canberra, with government ownership as far as it can possibly go. This Government does not believe in that. It believes in federalism and carrying out its functions in co-operation with the States. Labor’s idea was tried before by the Chifley Government. Honourable members will recall the Department of Post-War Reconstruction and the actual setting up of a national housing commission to deal with all housing throughout Australia. That was challenged in the court and found to be invalid. Then the Government had to approach the States and create what we have known as the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, which is not really operative at the present time. This is only an indication of the thinking of the Labor Party in relation to this matter.
There is great danger for Australia if Labor comes to power because its attitude will be to develop this country with centralised control, in which the authority of the States, local government and other authorities will disappear altogether. Of course, this is socialism in its extreme form. That is the policy of the Labor Party, and I presume that the honourable member for Reid who is sitting at the table will not deny it. Honourable members opposite differ from us. The honourable member for Reid is always telling us that a Labor government would resume or acquire all land surrounding cities. It would control the whole thing and provide the services. Has he any idea of what the astronomical cost would be? Such action would not be necessary under a proper cooperative scheme. No doubt the alternative would be a plan to release land, with the provision of services far in excess of demand. Its great cost to owners under those circumstances would make it prohibitive for them to keep land and they would thus reduce its price. That is the proper way to do it, but this will, never be done under a Labor system.
It is only in the new growth centres, as was mentioned in the Prime Minister’s statement, that it is necessary for the Government to dictate the conditions of landholding, where the Government is spending capital on development as it did in Canberra. But this cannot be done in the ordinary way around the established cities.
There is no question that, without an authority of this kind, decentralisation scheme cannot be effective. It is like the old adage: You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. You cannot drive people> You have to make available facilities and the conditions so that people will want to go there. They are human beings and they have their choice. My only warning to the Government is not to leave the practical decisions merely in the hands of academics planners. They have already caused enough damage in this respect.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) has told us that the foundation stone of a great new nation is about to be laid. It fs unusual to find a foundation stone being laid on about the 101st floor, because that is about the stage of development we have reached. The honourable member’s forward thinking with no proper understanding rings very hollow when one looks at the situation which has developed under this Government. In 1944 - it was not yesterday - the then Prime Minister during a war chaired a meeting of the State Premiers at which a regional planning scheme was adopted. That planning scheme was developed to the stage of final implementation. In 1949 a report was prepared and published by the then Minister for Post-War Reconstruction, the Honourable John Dedman. A week ago I asked for a copy of that report from the Parliamentary Papers Room. It is not available.
There are no copies of that report available at all - the report of a planning scheme which was far more advanced and basic to the needs of the Australian community than the one the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has produced some 24 years later. The only known copy of that report in Government hands is in the library of the Department of Housing and it is not available for honourable members’ perusal. I suggest that a report on such an important matter which was brought down shortly before this Government came into power, especially a report published by a Commonwealth department in co-operation with the comparable State departments, should be available to members of this Parliament for perusal. There has been a vacuum of 23 years in Government thinking on decentralisation. There has been a lot of air, a lot of talk, but very little action. Since the early 1960s about 5 attempts have been made in this House to have a parliamentary committee set up to study decentralisation and associated problems such as regional development. But on every one of these occasions the Government has refused to accede to this request. On the last 2 occasions when such a motion was moved I was the mover.
I was interested to hear the honourable member for Bennelong suggest that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) was an expert in this subject. I would like to draw his attention to that honourable gentleman’s reply to my moving of a resolution for a select committee in 1969. I would have thought that an expert would be able to see 3 years ahead at least even if he could not see 3 years behind. In 1969 I asked that the Parliament study the problems of decentralisation and regional development. I think that was a very reasonable request. Had that request been acceded to some time ago we might well not have had the crisis situation which has now developed to the extent that it has this Government scared stiff of the reaction of the Australian population because of its past total inaction. The reaction of the Minister for Defence to my motion was in these words:
From what I know of committees, if this com.mittee were set up it would undoubtedly recommend further assistance by the Commonwealth to decentralisation. The Commonwealth makes an enormous contribution to decentralisation.
I repeat that the Minister said that the Commonwealth makes an enormous contribution to decentralisation. In the period immediately preceding my moving this resolution and in the period closely following it the drift to the cities in Australia was at its highest peak. So much for the enormous contribution that the Minister talked about.
The Minister for Defence, who is an expert on this subject, said tonight that he was extremely disturbed about the lack of growth in the Albury area, which is in his electorate. In 1969 I pointed out to the
Minister, who was then at the table, that the Albury area in his electorate was one of the areas which had an alarming slowing dows of growth. The Minister, in his reply, said:
If he had taken note of the remarks that I made that night or if he had been an expert as claimed he would have known that 11 per cent was considerably lower than the level of the previous census period and lower than the census period before that. He would have known that there was a declining growth rate in the area as there was in every major country area ki Australia.
The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has put forward a statement which can only be viewed with some suspicion. I think that, had the Government been serious about this, it would not have involved itself in cheap name dropping. Quite obviously the use of the name, very respected as it is, of the Chairman of the National Capital Development Commission, was designed to add status to the statement. The announcement that this man will not hold the position beyond July of next year is clear evidence that he will not in fact be the man controlling this organisation and his name is being used purely to add status to what is a hurried and ill considered statement.
It is a good thing that the Government, even if motivated only by election panic, has decided that something can be done about decentralisation. I suggest that some of the Ministers and members who are now taking a great interest in this subject should have a look at the remarks that were made by members of their own parties on previous occasions. The last time an Australian Country Party member even bothered to talk in a debate on this nature was in 1969. The only Country Party member to talk was the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull), who advocated that the proper method of decentralisation was to reduce the number of electors in country electorates so that there could be more Country Party members in this House. This was his idea of decentralisation.
On 9th December 1971, the last occasion on which there was a debate on this matter, when I moved a resolution, the terms of which were not dissimilar to the proposals now put forward by the Prime Minister, no member of the Government parties who represented other than capital city areas, spoke in the debate. Apart from the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), who did make the remark that he felt that a national outlook was needed, none of the honourable members from the other side of the House who spoke on that occasion made any real suggestions or indicated that they were prepared to have this Parliament look at the matter.
It is a strange quirk of fate, even though it is a valuable exercise in human relations, what a desperate government- will do in the dying hours of its term of office. There are opportunities in Australia to -try to slow down the rate of metropolitan development. However, this will not be done, in the way the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) suggested, by the transference of funds. The backlog of needs in the metropolitan areas is too great, lt will not be possible to catch up with the backlog for such a period that, if we are to depend on a redistribution of funds that will not be needed in metropolitan areas to develop urban growth centres without- additional funds being injected into the system, the problem will recreate itself before the present problems can be even .nearly solved. Therefore redivergence of funds will not solve this problem.
The imbalance of growth between country and city areas is extremely serious. To let the House know how serious it is, I will quote the preliminary figures from the last census taken in Victoria which show the relationship of the growth in nonmetropolitan areas to the growth in the Melbourne metropolitan area. In the census period 1961-66 the metropolitan area grew by 13.54 per cent. In the same period the remainder of the State grew by 3.53 per cent. In the census period . 1966-71 the urban area of Melbourne grew by 12.83 per cent - this was a pretty even growth rate - and the non-metropolitan areas grew by 0.52 per cent. Therefore the growth rate in all areas outside the Melbourne metropolitan area in the 5-year period was of the order of one-half of one per cent.
During that period the Victorian Government established a scheme for the rapid development of 5 specified areas. The largest of those areas was Ballarat In the census up to 1961, Ballarat, which was one of the areas named for rapid development, had an actual decline in population of 1.5 per cent. I think that illustrates clearly to the House the seriousness of this problem. An area which was designated by the Victorian Government - and I am quite sure that the State Government tried to do the job which it set out to do - for rapid development, and which had the largest urban and industrial base of any of the 5 centres in Victoria, had a decline rather than a growth in population.
This is a serious problem; it is one which must he tackled with far more foresight and vigour than have been shown by this Government in the 23 years it has been in office. Had the Government proceeded with the regional development proposals in Victoria and the other States which were already in existence and agreed to by the 6 States - in Victoria regional planning councils were set up and were operative - some progress would have been made. But this Government just torpedoed the scheme and said: ‘You can forget about regional development; we are not interested.* I have the very strong feeling that if the Government is returned after this election it will do exactly the same thing to this scheme. Despite what the Minister read from the Liberal Party platform - and I am surprised to know that it even has a platform - this Government has never shown any inclination whatsoever to take any note, except in regard to electoral redistribution Bills, of the problems of growth which are facing non-metropolitan areas. In every non-metropolitan area of the State of Victoria, and in most States of the Commonwealth, there are clear examples of the Government not taking any action whatsoever to promote growth.
I wish to make one point. It is not very long ago when the area of Corio, which I represent, was the fastest growing area in Australia. At the height of that growth rate in 1958, the Victorian Government used all the facilities at its disposal to prevent the Ford Motor Co. from establishing a factory extension in that area. Instead, because of the policy of the Pre mier who wanted to see Melbourne with a population of 5 million people, that company was persuaded to go to the Melbourne metropolitan area. I hope that the new Premier is more enlightened. But the facts of the matter are that the growth rate and confidence in the growth of my area were torpedoed by the State Government as a deliberate act of policy. I suggest that there is no evidence on the record that this Government has any more serious intentions on this matter than had the Victorian Government at that time. I make one other suggestion. If the Department of Housing has the only copy of the report on regional planning in Australia that is available to the Government, I ask the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) whether he will consider having copies of that report roneoed and made available in the papers room of the Parliament so that honourable members can obtain copies of this important document which resulted from the Premiers Conference of 1944. It is totally wrong that members of this Parliament cannot obtain such an important document.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 27 September (vide page 2059).
Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts
Proposed expenditure, $43,411,000.
– I put on record my thoughts about the real role of the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts in a federal system. The evolution of this Department is not at all encouraging, and I lay the blame for that fairly and squarely on the Government because for long it has not understood what this Department should do. In the Estimates debate last year I asked a question of the Government. I challenged it to describe to this Parliament its concept of what should be the concern of the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Since then we have been lucky enough to get one ministerial statement from the Minister for the
Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) on 24th May last in which he detailed the Department’s so-called duties. Clearly the concept of such a department held by the Government is very limited and out of date and if I asked honourable members to state the first couple of items which came to their minds when I mentioned the word ‘environment’, we could see what part of the problem is.
Many countries have tried to set up huge monolithic departments with the power to solve environmental problems. This is a hopeless and futile path to take. One cannot put environmental problems under one bureaucratic roof, for the environment is not a thing but a complex of interconnected natural and man-made items. The environment is a complex interconnected web in a state of constant change. What the environment is like depends upon the point from and time at which we view it. The result of the monolithic approach is the bureaucratic fights of the type we saw in New South Wales where 4 departments were fighting for power to control the emissions from motor vehicles in New South Wales. In the final analysis it does not matter who regulates auto emissions and the air of Sydney and Melbourne will not be better because of such a fight. What is important is that an environmental programme be undertaken, no matter who regulates auto emissions. The Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts can investigate and write the guidelines to indicate what is environmentally wise. It does not necessarily have to regulate auto emissions.
In the case of auto emissions let me say at this point that we had a total sell-out to the auto and petroleum industries in Australia. These industries dominated the working group of the Australian Transport Advisory Council which produced the standard we are to get in 1974. As a result it will take until 1985 to reduce pollution to the levels of 1966 which was a year when no regulations were in force. In 1985 the United States aims to return to the ambient air quality of the late 1930s.
The Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has a key role to play here to ensure that such sell-outs to industry do not occur. The Australian people are now finding out, despite Government secrecy, that carbon monoxide levels in their cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, are the highest in the world. Total oxidant levels in Sydney have reached 17 parts per hundred million. In Los Angeles a reading of 20 is regarded as severe. The 1974 standards in Australia do not even include emission controls on oxides of nitrogen which act to create oxidants. This oxidant creation is a key step in the formation of photochemical smog. A Labor government will greatly tighten the standards and adopt the United States standards including standards on oxides of nitrogen. The European standards are about 35 times worse than the 1975 United States standards in the items of carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen. A Labor government will consider the public’s health first and not automobile companies, towards which this Government has been leaning. Guidelines which the Department of the Environment can lay down are sets of rules which define environmentally-wise ways of doing anything; of building dams or roads or a new town; cleaning land, managing city air, planting forests, building and siting industries, designing transportation and maintaining natural ecosystems to allow evolution to continue, or managing our arid interior or our precious coastline, or harvesting wood, mining and exporting minerals, generating power or viewing the population policy, and many others. The guidelines for all these things must be hammered out and then advocated. The Environment Department can advocate these guidelines to other paris of the Government, to the States and local governments and to private industry. These in turn should account to the Department of the Environment for their performance in meeting these guidelines. The Department must have teeth to use but, hopefully, they should not have to be used too often, for I believe that when most people act they do not deliberately plan to plunder the environment; they do it out of ignorance or because of special pressures. Regulation in most cases can be left where it already exists.
The key to the whole process is the socalled environmental impact statement assessment. The Minister in his paper of 24th May indicated that environment impact statements would be required of federally funded projects. It sounded too good to be true. The Government’s programme is merely window-dressing. Any environmental impact statements will be for Cabinet and bureaucratic eyes only. The people to whom the environment belongs will have no say in what is being done to it by the Government. But since then of course the Government has been under pressure. The Prime Minister in a reply to a question by the Leader of the Opposition in this House on Tuesday last said that in his opinion the environmental impact statement should be made public. This was a rebuke to the Minister for the Environment who on 21st August in this House, in reply to a question by me, said that impact statements would not be available to the Australian public or to organisations but only to Government members.
But the Government has not yet made clear its proposals as to how the people will be involved - and this is an important aspect - in regard to the impact statements. In the United States all impact statements are publicly available and most agencies hold public hearings on particular proposals before writing a draft impact statement. The final impact statement sent to the Council on Environmental Quality must include all the public comments on the statement. This is open government. Here in Australia we have secret government, and I stress that fact. A Labor government will make all impact statements available to the public and will require them not only where Federal money is involved but also where Commonwealth constitutional power is involved. The constitutional power Includes the environmental protection of Commonwealth territory, the environmental impact of interstate or international trade particularly the export of natural resources, the regulation of corporations now that quite a few issues have been cleared up by the High Court in the so called concrete pipes case, and certain other areas. In areas of environmental impact assessment which do not require Federal money or power and over which the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction the Commonwealth will act to work with the States for rational management and the protection of the Australian environment.
The Commonwealth must be prepared to lead and be firm in this leadership. All sections of Australian life from the Australian Mining Industries Council to the trade unions require firm leadership from this Government. Here in Australia we have many big environmental problems. Lack of leadership at the Commonwealth level is allowing the situation to worsen very rapidly. Good examples are the ad hoc destruction of much of our beautiful coastline and the stupid competition between the States in export of non-renewable resources such as coal. Still in other areas we are a second chance country. We have the chance to meet our commitment. It is about time that the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts gave some leadership in these matters.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I hope the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) understood what he was telling us because I found great difficulty in doing so. I wonder who wrote the paper from which he was reading. We are discussing the estimates of a composite group of expenditures under the heading of one department and which . number among them the environmental aspect of our life. It is true that most of what is happening in the environmental sense is to be found in these estimates under the heading ‘Administrative’ which accounts for more than half of the total of over $40m to be appropriated. There are one or two areas of specific monetary grant where we can see the activities of the Department in operation. Perhaps the most notable is in relation to the Australian Conservation Foundation which has had its grant trebled from $50,000 to $1,50,000 for this financial year. Considering that the Conservation Foundation and various branches of that body are likely at any stage to be quite significant critics of any government which cannot be seen to be doing enough in the environmental sense, I think this is a significant contribution and it is a significant indication of the Government’s intentions in the field.
If I may say so, as usual the honourable member for Reid finds himself in a state of internal disagreement because, whilst on many occasions he has spoken to us in this chamber of the need to preserve Bellbird Hill - or is it Bluebird Hill - and such places from the predatory bulldozer operators, he has spoken to us also on frequent occasions about the need to give away land at the periphery of our metropolitan areas. He has not got so far as to put 2 and 2 together and realise that this is absolutely the best means of achieving the reverse of his first objective* Perhaps some time he and the people who help him with these matters will put the whole thing together and decide whether they are going to go for balanced development so that the environment is seen in the perspective of economy and vice versa, or whether they are going to keep them absolutely separate and therefore almost totally meaningless.
One of the biggest problems that confronts this or any other government in doing something meaningful in the environmental area is to work with all the powers that be in the matter. We are well aware that the initial attempts of the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) to enlist the cooperation of the States in a national intrusion, as it were, into this field were not universally acclaimed. However we may deprecate the parochialism or whatever that represents, the plain fact of the matter - something which is usually obscure to members of the Opposition - is that in a given constitution or governmental structure it is necessary to work with the other people who have some share in it. This is one of the prime aims of the Commonwealth in championing this cause. I suppose it is fair to say now that the much criticised, in some ways, impact statements are in fact a very considerable move in the direction of a national framework for environmental awareness and action. I would agree with those who would prefer to see any or all of these forthcoming impact statements to be made public property as soon as possible. I think there is very little case apart from the fact that from time to time they may be innately or inherently or inextricably tied to particular Cabinet submissions. Apart from that, I think these things should be available to all the critics and all the assessors of their worth.
I think people are aware that impact statements are designed to show what any given intended action may produce in the environmental sense, in particular what detrimental effects or what changes in the environment may be brought about by any direction of action. What we have to do, what the Minister has to do and what his Department has to do is to get into some reasonable sense of balance the kind of things we need to be done in the future in the environmental sense. It is one of the most complex areas we take upon ourselves governmentally. We have, in simple terms, the physical environment which involves things like air pollution, water pollution, perhaps the consequences of over-population, depletion of resources and matters of that kind. On the other hand, we have the social environment in which aesthetics, interpretations, perception and the quality of life in a general sense are more likely to be involved, although both these facets-the physical and the social - add up to the quality of life.
However inherently desirable or honourable or constructive moves may be to produce zero population growth, to produce wildernesses on every hand or to at least preserve them, what we have .to do is to see these where they fall. It is not much good transferring the problems of Lake Erie to Sydney Harbour without further investigation. It is not much good talking about the population problem of Hong Kong and transferring it to Melbourne without further investigation. While we need to be aware of international moves and international problems in this field, and, in particular I suppose, where the forces concerned are to some extent international mainly in the water and in the air, we do have to get the thing in perspective, preferably in national perspective and that is what I believe our Minister is about. I think we will see that it is not long before the Department of Environment, Aborigines and the Arts will be working towards national standards for a variety nf things. Again that will involve State cooperation. It will be reflected in the impact statements. It will involve research of a very positive kind, whether done directly by Commonwealth agencies or by others, or fostered by the Commonwealth. But none of these things will be meaningful unless we relate them to specific Australian conditions. We have seen some reference in recent weeks to the question of mercury content in fish. Its particular relationship to the population consuming the fish depends, as we have seen even in the Press, on a number of things, not the least of which is how much fish one eats. So, again, we have to make individual assessments related to international knowledge for our particular circumstances.
I believe that this is where environmental action and policy are beginning in our Commonwealth Department. I do not believe that the attempts to suggest that we are weak, in not having taken over the States in a week or two, are worthy. I think it is entirely proper that we should move on a national front and with the utmost co-operation with others who have their own State responsibilities. There may come a time when it will be necessary for the Commonwealth to impose a greater will in the face of some obvious reluctance on the part of a lesser authority to do the right thing either by its local population or for national reasons. In that case I would go along with that. But for the time being I think that we are doing the sort of thing we ought to be doing: We are. taking cognisance of land use. The debate which we have only just concluded, relating to urban and regional development, dealt with land use which is one of the most basic facets of this whole environmental business. If we continue to work in that direction I believe that the. expenditures which are at present reasonably small will be seen to grow, and to grow effectively.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I represent the area which has the beautiful name of Botany Bay. It was beautiful by nature, but it has been virtually destroyed by man. On the question of the environment, all I can find has happened in a period of 3 years has been talk about what we might do, what we could do or what we should do. But the practical result is that nothing has been done. The position has been overemphasised by thinking that by suggesting that something will be done the situation will te improved. In this nation we want some doers and fewer talkers; we want people who can get in and show what has been done in other countries and how they are coping with their problems. We have a massive expanse of land and a relatively small population, and we are being worried by and buried in our own refuse, whether it be industrial or human. Yet one can go to Japan, which has a small land mass and 100 million people, and be shown in no small manner of means how they are coping with this problem. They are working on preserving their environment.
The point is that we have all the problems of the human environment in the area about which I am speaking. We are building massive runways from the airport out into Botany Bay to bring in big jumbo jets for no purpose other than to be able to say: ‘This is progress’. So many people get off the jumbo jets that traffic jams are caused in all the adjoining city streets. Nobody can move. The State Government is in the process of building a big port in the same area. So. more traffic will interfere with this tiny area which was bountiful from the point of view of being virtually the birth place of this nation. It is now being destroyed. I want the Commonwealth Government to do something about it because it has the power to do so. We have had this dastardly operation of the debate on the territorial sea and continental shelf legislation. A debate is all it has been. No legislation has been passed. The debate has been adjourned because the Government is frightened to deal with the matter; it might upset somebody in the Liberal camp. But the Commonwealth now has the power to look at these matters, particularly in the field of sewage. Sewage is being discharged through an ocean outfall which was designed in 1910. But the volume of discharge now has reached 70 million gallons a day, and it will increase threefold.
Who is doing all the feasibility studies in this matter? The Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board, which is interested only in dumping sewage into the ocean. It then destroys all the marine life and all the beaches that people could enjoy. No longer are they able to use them because of the human disaster of throwing refuse into the ocean because a sanitary engineer says that that is the best way to get rid of it. When a public meeting is held to discuss what should be done the engineer says: ‘I have another 600,000 people to be provided with sewerage facilities and that is where it is going.’ If you go over to Japan and have a look at the city of Kiryu, as I did with some of my colleagues, you find that that city, which has a population of 100,000 people, has developed a sewerage system which gives complete rehabilitation to the water within 7 days. It is a relatively cheap system. It is imperative that the quality of the water be preserved. The Japanese have designed it with their own technology. They have produced pamphlets that are classical from the point of view of scientific back-up. Yet here in this nation we just leave it to the Water Board.
The Water Board is so incompetent that it cannot even manage its financial affairs. It now has itself in a financial problem. It has been using Commonwealth loan funds but is not able to repay them with interest. Now 50 per cent of its income is going in interest. It is not concerned about the pollution problems it k causing. But in Kiryu, Japan, this would not be allowed to happen because this matter is the subject of an environmental or impact study. ‘Impact study’ is the new io phrase. The Japanese have achieved a satisfactory result.
There has been a massive impact on my people from saying that they cannot use these facilities. All the heavy industry and other people making profits within the area can pollute the atmosphere, pollute, the sea and do what they like as long as they make a profit. The Commonwealth is happy about the profits which show up in their tax returns. If people can be encouraged to reduce pollution by tax incentives it should be done now. But if we are working on the basis that the Water Board wants more money to throw more sewerage refuse onto my people, there ought to be a feasibility study or an impact study immediately to determine whether this is the right approach to the problem. What is wrong with the system used by the Japanese? lt would be freely available to us. I think it is costing, about $1 a head to put this plan into operation. It could be used right along . the sewer outfall line. It would enable us to use the water again and again. lt would be of great value to Australia but nobody here is taking any interest.
I happen to have the doubtful distinction of being apparently the first Australian to go to Kiryu. I happen to be only a member of Parliament but because I went there the Japanese people were delighted to show me what is called the photo-synthesis bacteria method of dealing with sewage. All the technology is available. The professors here know all about it. But the Water Board stands in the way because it is the supreme being.
I say to the Minister that it is not good enough. It is important that he get involved, particularly with the legal issue, and not run away from this split in his own Party about who ought to be controlling the continental shelf. The Commonwealth has the power now. When I ask the Minister about what should be happening in Botany Bay and about feasibility studies it is not good enough for him to tell me that this is a State matter. It is not any more. The States are not interested. They are not capable. They do not have the back-up from the point of view of financial resources. We can readily assume responsibility in this area. I do not want to see my people destroyed because the Commonwealth says: ‘There is nothing we can do now’. It is no good to talk about calling for reports. I notice that the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution - which is fair enough from the point of view of the Senate - ‘had a remarkable thing to say about air pollution. The greatest pollutant happens to be. the motor car. The Committee in its reports said:
The Committee had the opportunity of inspecting the Pritchard engine as installed in the car and was impressed by its compactness. Although we in Australia will most likely have to await developments in America, as our motor car industry is largely dominated by American design, before decisions regarding steam cars, the Pritchard engine does appear to be a logical answer to motor vehicle emissions.
Pritchard asked the Commonwealth Government for a subsidy on research on motor car emissions. He got $160 because he happened to be an independent inventor. But a big motor car factory in Australia is getting $500,000 for a modification of a seat belt. The Pritchard emission control system is so good that it has now been bought by the Americans. It is to be manufactured in America although he is an Australian inventor. All we get is a few words from our colleagues in the Senate - we cannot be too critical of them; they are not technical men - saying: ‘Leave it to the Americans’. We have left it to them all right. We gave Pritchard $160. Since then the Americans have bought up the rights to his engine. He went to America and gave evidence to the United States Senate committee investigating this matter. His invention is a winner from the point of view of being a non-pollutant. We say: That was good. It was referred to in our Senate committee’s report published some years ago’. It teaches us the lesson that we cannot go on making speeches and talking about what we are to find out. There are plenty of good scientists in Australia itching to have a go at the problems I have mentioned.
– Many of them are out of work.
– As the honourable member for Blaxland points out, they are out of work. They come looking for jobs. Do not underrate Australian technology. Let us have a look at what the Australians can do. I am told that the Norfolk Island pines on our beachfronts are now dead or dying. This is not due to natural causes but because of the detergents that are coming from the sewers into the sea and setting up this reaction on the beach front. This is a fact but nobody wants to mention it. Who looks at what is happening to the sewers that we use with such reckless abandon on the basis of profit? It is about time we had this issue out with the State governments. An urgent conference should be held with them. It could be held even before the election. It will certainly be held after the election on the basis that if they will not take some action, loan funds will be withdrawn. If pollution involves the continental shelf we will take control because the people are demanding action. They will not be suffocated in their own pollutants when they know jolly well that throughout the world for some of the reasons I have mentioned the quality of life is being improved. Until such time as the responsible Minister takes some action, we will have nothing but words. The position is becoming infinitely worse Nothing has been done in the small area to which 1 have referred, which is visited by about 250,000 people a day. It is a fast growing area, even though it is an old established area. It has been virtually destroyed by the impact of the profit motive and by not looking to the quality of life.
Motion (by Mr Howson) proposed:
Thai the House do now adjourn.
– I was hoping that tonight the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) would be present in the chamber. Unfortunately, he is not. That shall not deter me from having a little chat about the honourable gentleman. Last week in this House we were treated to a not so. learned dissertation from the honourable . member for Boothby on . the alleged corruption of the South Australian Government for using the advertising agency, HansenRubensohnMcCann Erickson Pty Ltd. The honourable gentleman said, that it was wrong for the South Australian Government to use the same agency as that used by the Australian Labor Party in South Australia. He claimed that it was equally wrong to use an advertising agency with overseas ownership. As usual, the honourable member in his remarks was not concerned to let the facts about this matter spoil the very good story he believed he had to tell. The honourable member, unlike his leader, often is not punctilious about the truth. Although his allegations were incorrect as I propose to show, I was impressed by his apparent sincere concern for the future of the Australian owned advertising industry. In fact, never before have I heard him so outspokenly the champion of Australian owned and controlled industry. Therefore, I was concerned to establish whether his words in this place were matched by his actions and those of his party in South Australia. Regrettably, my research has uncovered the following facts.
During the course of the 1970 State elections in South Australia full page newspaper advertisements were placed by the Liberal Party’s great friend and political ally, the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Without question, they were among the most scurrilous advertisements ever placed by any political party during an election campaign. Of course, the DLP employed its old technique of suggesting guilt by association. Later in 1970 during the Senate election campaign of that year advertisements were placed in Adelaide newspapers by the Liberal-Country Party League which were so similar in design and appearance as to be almost indistinguishable from the DLP advertisements for the State election campaign. These advertisements also employed the guilt by association technique. Like many other people. I was struck by the similarity of these advertisements - so much so that my curiosity was aroused as to whether they had been prepared and placed by the same advertising agency. Accordingly, I made inquiries about the agencies which had placed these newspaper advertisements. This is what I discovered: The Liberal and Country League advertisements had been prepared and placed by the Party’s traditional advertising agency, Martin Kinnear Clemenger Pty Ltd, in which company the largest shareholder is John Clemenger Pty Ltd which we all know is the agency used by the Democratic Labor Party in Victoria. I discovered that the DLP advertisements had sot been placed by Martin Kinnear Clemenger, but by an agency called Admen Advertising Pty Ltd.
Disappointed but undaunted, I initiated a search at the office of the Registrar of Companies to determine the ownership and control of that agency. To my amazement, I found that there are 3 shareholders in Admen Advertising which I remind the House handled the DLP advertising in the 1970 State elections in South Australia. One is Mr Kevin V. Borick who at those elections was the LCL candidate for the marginal seat of Unley in the Federal seat of Boothby. The second is a Mr William H. Stevens. Mr Stevens would not bc known to many members of this House. But on Monday, 25th September, he wrote a letter to the Editor of the Adelaide Advertiser’ defending the honourable member for Boothby. He signed himself W. H. Stevens, Secretary, Norwood Men’s Branch, Liberal and Country League. The third and major shareholder is our old friend Martin Kinnear Clemenger Pty Ltd, who, I remind you, Mr Deputy Speaker, handle, and have handled for years, the LCL account in South Australia. Admen Advertising has 3 directors. Mr Borick and Mr Stevens look after their interests and Mr J. B. Jarvis, a Director of Martin Kinnear Clemenger, is the third Admen Director. Presumably they all look after the interests of the Liberal and Country League.
For years we have suspected closer than normal links between the LCL and the DLP but now we have living proof of outright collusion between these 2 parties. Here is an intriguing pattern of interlocking directorates and shareholding - the DLP’s advertising agency owned and controlled by the Liberal Party’s advertising agency together with a man prominent enough in the Liberal Party to be its candidate for a seat at the last State elections and another who is an official of a LCL branch. One is led to only one conclusion - that Admen Advertising was created by Liberal Party interests as a convenient way of enabling the Liberal Party in South Australia to fund the DLP’s campaign in that State.
After the unwarranted attack by the honourable member for Boothby last week on the Dunstan Government, the agency, Hansen-Rubensohn-McCann Erickson, and its South Australian Manager, Mr Geoff Huntley, a highly respected figure in advertising in South Australia, I made inquiries about the advertising agency used by that gentleman’s private interest, McLeay Bros Pty Ltd in Adelaide. I was not surprised to learn that his firm places its advertising through Admen Advertising, the DLP’s agency. This brings me to the question of foreign interests in Australian advertising. From the remarks made by the honourable member for Boothby last week, one would have thought that so great is his concern for the preservation of the Australian advertising industry that he would have found unconscionable the use of other than an entirely Australian-owned advertising agency by both the Party to which he belongs and his own carpet firm.
Instead what we find is that John Clemenger Pty Ltd is in the process of yielding a substantial portion of its ownership and control to the American firm, Batten, Barton Durstine and Osborn. Because of the close links between John Clemenger Pty Ltd, Martin Kinnear Clemenger and Admen Advertising, what we in fact have is a significant American ownership and control in the advertising agencies used by both the Liberal Party in South Australia, and the honourable member’s own firm, McLeay Bros Pty Ltd. What 1 am shocked to realise is that far from being a champion for the cause of wholly Australian-owned advertising agencies, the honourable member for Boothby most certainly misled the House in regard to that matter. Apparently, it is not in order for the Australian Labor Party to use an advertising agency with American links - that is unpatriotic. It is, however, all right for the Party to which the honourable member belongs, and the firm in which he has financial interests to use advertising agencies with American links.
The firm of Masius Wynne-Williams Pty Ltd is an advertising agency for the Liberal Party and it also engages in work for the Post Office. This company also has some 35 per cent overseas interest. Let me quote from a South Australian Hansard in regard to the account of the Australian Country Party. It reads:
The account of the Australian Country Party … is serviced in this country by the United States-owned Leo Burnett Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of that company in the USA.
The account of the Democratic Labor Party which is even serviced by subscriptions from supporters of the honourable member, is served by John Clemenger Proprietary Limited which was formerly a wholly Australian-owned agency in which the American agency . . . has now acquired a 35 per cent shareholding.
Let us look at some of the other advertising agencies in Australia which have close contact and association with State Liberal governments around Australia. The present New South Wales Government when it took office transferred to the Liberal Party’s advertising agents, Masius Wynne-Williams, the agency I mentioned a few moments ago, the advertising accounts of the State Lotteries Department, the Premiers Department and the Health Department. Those accounts previously had been serviced by Hansen-Rubensohn-McCann Erickson. That firm has been denied those accounts and they have been given to the, company which services the Liberal Party in New South Wales.
If the honourable member for Boothby wants to stand here and make a snide attack on what happens in South Australia he ought to look at his own household before blazing away. If time would permit, I would relate to the House many other areas in New South Wales which are serviced by overseas companies. Having looked at the facts I would like to say with regard to the firm to which the honourable member took such strong objection that up to 31st December 1971 the agency’s Adelaide office had, before paying tax, the magnificent profit of $5,252. This year the company probably will suffer a loss. All but 3 of its employees are employed in South Australia and most of its work is undertaken in that State. It is true that it does some work for some Government departments in South Austrafia. It is equally true to say that there are some overseas advertising companies which do a great deal of work for a great number of the banks in Adelaide. I think that puts an end to the attitude displayed by the honourable member for Boothby a couple of weeks ago in this chamber. I hope that the honourable member is listening tonight and that he will basten into this chamber to apologise for the disgraceful manner in which he attacked the South Australian Government in the hope that nobody would check what he put to the House and what he tried to convince the House were truthful statements or clear statements. In fact, we now know that what his company indulges in is far worse than what he complained about.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Tonight I wish to bring before the House the difficulty being experienced by primary producers and tractor users generally in obtaining spare parts for machines which are comparatively new or, in any case, recent models. I urge the Government to look into this matter in conjunction with the States which, of course, also have authority to deal with it, with the objective of seeing whether something cannot be done to remedy the situation. My reason for speaking about this matter tonight is to draw attention to it. I believe the situation is such that it needs ventilation. I hope that as a result of the publicity that could be given to it some action might be taken by the companies themselves to see that they are able to service the machines they sell.
I was encouraged to speak tonight about this matter because I recently received a letter from a constituent of mine who gave me a very good example of this type of problem. I will quote part of that letter but not the names of the companies concerned although if this practice continues I will be tempted to do so. I should like to put the companies on notice that I may not always be so considerate if no improvement is made. I will take up this case with the company concerned. The letter I received states:
I am taking this opportunity to contact you with the following complaint about the noavailability of spare parts for imported tractors. In March 1971 I purchased a tractor for a price of over $20,000. While the tractor was still under warranty the transmission and gear box completely collapsed. These sections of the tractor were pulled down and the parts required were ordered within a week. It was 10 weeks before the required parts arrived in Australia from overseas and 11 weeks before the tractor was assembled on my property.
I want to emphasise the price that was paid for the tractor and the fact that it was still under warranty and could not be repaired with parts available in this country. The letter went on:
During the time that the tractor was out of commission it cost me (684 in tractor hire to enable me to work my ground once when in fact it should have been worked twice. I was advised that parts were not available in Australia’ and I would have to wait until they were cast overseas.
If it was an isolated case one might be prepared to overlook it, but complaints have been made to me over a period and this was such a bad case that I felt compelled to give it some publicity. It would be a very good thing if controls could be enforced requiring companies importing tractors to give an undertaking to keep in stock in this country a reasonable supply of spare parts over a period of time. One does not expect unreasonable consideration or an unreasonable degree of service, but buyers of tractors are entitled to some service.
It might be claimed that competition should ensure good service and at one time that was so. Reasonable service in the way of parts was readily available. Parts were available on consignment so that agents could keep them in stock. In that way a lot of time was saved. When farm machinery is laid up a lot of time is lost and that is really working time that is lost to the nation. A shortage or lack of availability of spare parts can cause severe financial loss, particularly at sowing or harvesting time. This problem has to be overcome in some way.
Problems are met with some makes of farm machinery because of the unsatisfactory supply of spare parts. Farm machinery agents should similarly be required to maintain a reasonable supply of spare parts. I realise that people should select only those machines that are backed by a reasonable supply of spare parts in this country but that is not easy to ascertain accurately. A buyer cannot be sure. In some cases agents give a genuine assurance because an undertaking is given by the manufacturer. Perhaps even the manufacturers feel that they will be able to bring the parts into the country and have them available, but the fact is that often they are not there. What do we do about it?
I have mentioned some of my ideas on this subject. I believe that the Commonwealth and State governments should act in consultation. They might be able to find a way to apply pressure. It is not very easy for an owner to be confident. He may not have an opportunity to see what is available and can act only on the assurances given to him. It would be a rare occasion that a salesman of a machine would say: ‘I do not think you will be able to get spare parts for this machine.’ The usual assurance is that they are available. I will follow up with the company concerned the case of the tractor I have outlined, with the object of improving the position. I would like to ensure that the users of tractors and general farm machinery are not continually in trouble in obtaining spare parts. I intend to keep in touch with the people who are having such troubles with the object of having them remedied.
I will ventilate the troubles in this House because I believe the stage has been reached where something has to be done. It is not easy to achieve the objective I seek, except perhaps through giving publicity to it, by giving an indication to the companies that are not able to supply spare parts for tractors and machinery that they should not be careless or indifferent as to the type of service that they can provide. I repeat that if a person invests $20,000 in a tractor which breaks down during a period of warranty, forcing the purchaser to wait no less than 11 weeks before it can be put into operation again - well, that is just not good enough. I hope that this line of action which I have taken will be followed by others. I hope that representatives in State governments from similar areas will take this approach with the object of obtaining benefit and remedying something which is certainly in need of remedy. This is something which is not easy to do perhaps except by this type of action which I have taken. I repeat that if I find cases which need this type of ventilation I will be prepared to name the companies. I would do that reluctantly but I put these companies on notice that I will name them if my constituents and the farmers generally throughout this country are unable to get the type of service which I feel they are justly entitled to expect.
– I commend the previous speaker, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). I only hope that he will extend to cover motor vehicles the remarks he made in relation to tractors. He is to be commended for bringing this before the House. I wish to raise a serious anomaly which exists in relation to Australian citizens who joined British forces - in this case I am referring to the British Air Force- in the 1930s. The particular case I mention involves a Mr Fry of South Perth, a constituent of mine, who at the age of 17 answered a local Western Australia advertisement and was admitted to the Royal Air Force. He served throughout the war with the Royal Air Force - for 3 and a half years with commissioned rank. He elected to take his discharge in Australia for personal reasons with a British bride. His furlough leave was spent travelling to Western Australia.
A situation now arises, because of the principle expressed in the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act 1943-1968, as to the recognition of service with the Commonwealth of Australia, including State service. That recognition of service extends to service with the Commonwealth armed Services. But persons such as Mr Fry who served with the armed Services of our mother country - Great Britain - during the 1939-45 war are not recognised for furlough purposes under our legislation. Further, because he is receiving some 20 per cent of his pension from the English forces he is denied any of the fringe benefits available to other people who are receiving a 100 per cent pension. Even though his pension is 100 per cent - 80 per cent Australian and 20 per cent English - full recognition is not given to him. He has suffered a time of trial and tribulation since discharge, primarily because of his fight to obtain recognition for service rendered to the British Commonwealth.
Surely as an Australian citizen who elected to undertake a full-time defence role career he should receive maximum recognition. The effect on the nation’s purse strings would be minimal for in those early days the people selected were few in number. I ask the responsible Minister to look at the probability of giving full recognition to these people who are Australian citizens, who have retained their citizenship right through and who have served the British Commonwealth and the British Commonwealth only.I can understand some reluctance, to extend this benefit to people who are European migrants. But I feel that people who are Australian citizens and who have served with British forces should be given recognition. I ask that this matter be looked at.
I wish to make a further plea to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) because of a matter which has arisen in Western Australia. I know that the Minister will do all that is possible to assist. I refer to students of institutes, such as the Western Australian Institute of Technology, who are seeking social service benefits during the coming vacation period. In the main these people are training for responsible positions in industry. In the past they have been able to find seasonal employment but now, due to the high unemployment situation, this is almost impossible. This will lead to many students dropping out from institutes because of financial reasons. This will cause serious loss not only to them but also to industry and the community. One answer could be to follow Canada’s lead of last year and provide employment in seasonal community service work. This is work which will not cause them to compete with our unemployed family unit workers who are currently in a distressed situation. A review of the whole situation is required urgently for these self-supporting students. Possibly they should be given some form of grant to enable them to continue their studies in the coming year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.35 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Decentralisation: College of Advanced Education, Partland (Question No. 5706)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The initiative for the establishment of a college of advanced education or a university in a State rests with the government of that State. When a State takes such initiative, the Commonwealth looks to the Australian Commission on Advanced Education or the Australian Universities Commission for advice. No proposal has been received from Victoria for the establishment of a college of advanced education at Portland. The Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education, in the south-western region of Victoria, has been supported by the Commonwealth under advanced education arrangements since 1970. In 1972 the Warrnambool Institute commenced a pilot scheme for off-campus/ correspondence studies for students at Portland, which is about 50 miles from Warrnambool.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
How many pupils (a) sat for and (b) were awarded Commonwealth secondary scholarships at (i) Melbourne Boys’ High School, (ii) University High School, Melbourne, (iii) MacRobertson’s Girls’ High School, Melbourne, (iv) Camberwell High School and (v) Box Hill Boys’ High School from the date of introduction of the scheme to and including the 1971 examination.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The number of candidates for, and winners of, Commonwealth secondary scholarships, 1966-72, from each of the schools listed is shown in the following table. Similar information is not available for 1965, the first year of the scheme.
Department of Social Services:
New South Wales Branches (Question No. 6349)
asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice:
How many branches of his Department are there in New South Wales and what is the address of each.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There are 27 branches of the Department of Social Services in New South Wales. Their addresses are as follows:
State Headquarters: 50 Carrington Street, Sydney 2000. 276 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000.
Mount Wilga’, Manor Road. Hornsby 2077.
Regional Offices: 563 Olive Street, Albury 2640.
Dumaresque Shire Council Building, Beard y Street, Armidale 2350.
Compass House, Cnr North Terrace and Fetherstone Street, Bankstown 2200. 34-38 Campbell Street, Blacktown 2148. 10-12 Oriental Arcade, 379-381 Argent Street.
Broken Hill 2880. 7-9 President Avenue, Caringbah 2229. 5 Redman Road. Dee Why 2099. 34 Church Street, Dubbo 2830. 27 Spencer Street, Fairfield 2165.
Potts House, Burns Crescent, Gosford 2250.
A.M.P. Building, Cnr Prince and Victoria Street, Grafton 2460. 102 Yambil Street, Griffith 2680. 32-34 Florence Street, Hornsby 2077. 12-14 Ormonde Parade, Hornsby 2077.
Commonwealth Offices, 218-232 Molesworlh Street, Lismore 2780. 205 Main Street, Lithgow 2790. 45 Moore Street, Liverpool 2170. 1 St Andrews Street, Maitland 2320. 526 Hunter Street, Newcastle West 2302. 146-148 Lords Place, Orange 2800. 68 Macquarie Street, Parramatta 2150. 407-411 High Street, Penrith 2750. 63 Baylis Street, South Wagga Wagga 2650.
Commonwealth Offices, 86-88 Market Street, Wollongong 2500.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Social Services: Commonwealth’s Constitutional Powers (Question No. 6407)
asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Under Placitum (xxiii): Invalid and old-age pensions)
Under Placitum (xxiia): Maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment . . . sickness and hospital benefits . . . benefits to students and family allowances.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What does the amount of $7,000 as a special grant to the States for para-medical services refer to in table 1 of the Annual Report of the Director-General of Health for the year 1971-72.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Grants totalling $6,924.99 were paid during the year 1971-72 under the States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act 1969, on a $1 for $1 basis, in connection with expenditure by 2 States for the provision of paramedical services to aged persons in their homes. South Australia received $4,063.45 in respect of services provided from the Woodville Domiciliary Care Centre, and Tasmania received $2,861.54 in respect of services provided from the Cosgrove Park Home for the Aged and the Mersey General Hospital.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question:
The latest estimates of personal consumption expenditure on education services are published in ‘Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure, 1970-71’. The following table sets out these estimates for the 10 year period up to 1970-71.
The item ‘education services’ consists of fees paid to government schools, chiefly technical and agricultural colleges, fees and gifts to universities, and schooling fees (other than boarding fees) paid to private (non-government) schools, business colleges, etc. It does not include any estimates for other personal consumption expenditure relating to education, such as that on books, stationery, uniforms, fares, or equipment provided by parent’s organisations. These are included in other categories of personal consumption expenditure (such as newspapers, books, clothing, etc.). Personal consumption expenditure on education services .s financed out of personal income which includes cash benefits from public authorities.
Private gross fixed capital expenditure in the field of education, estimated at $46m in 1970-71, would be predominantly expenditure by institutions rather than individuals.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What percentage of interest paid to banks of issue in Australia is thereafter paid by government banks into government revenue.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Details of interest receipts of banks are not published. The Commonwealth Banks Act 1959- 1968 provides for one-half of the net profits of the Commonwealth Trading Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank to be paid to the Commonwealth, and one-half to be credited to the banks’ Reserve Funds. For the year ended 30th June 1972 the net profits of the Commonwealth Trading Bank were $4.60in of which $2. 30m was paid to the Commonwealth, while the net profits of the Commonwealth Savings Bank were $7.5 lm of which $3. 76m was paid to the Commonwealth.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What percentage of interest payments received by banks of issue in Australia represents (a) interest paid to depositors for their deposits which the bunk lends out and (b) interest on credit issued by banks on (i) securities owned by depositors and (ii) gilt-edged securities guaranteed by government assets.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician has advised that the details requested concerning interest receipts and payments of banks are not available.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
With reference to the answer to Question No. 2529 (Hansard, 18th March 1971, page 1120), will he amplify his reply by supplying figures for individual States.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Based on the statistics furnished to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board by the commercial broadcasting and television stations following the Senate election, the figures for the individual States are as follows:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 September 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720928_reps_27_hor80/>.