28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 2 p.m.. and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That grave concern is felt at the imminent introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament of legislation to permit abortion on demand.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the laws of this land a principle which violates a fundamental right - the right to life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Grassby, Mr Adermann, Mr Armitage, Mr Bury, Mr Cooke, Mr Doyle, Mr Drummond, Mr England, Mr Giles (2), Mr Hewson, Mr Hunt, Mr Jarman, Mr Keogh, Mr Kerin, Mr Luchetti, Mr Lucock, Mr Morris, Mr Olley, Mr Turner and Mr Whan.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into thelaw of this land a principle which violates a fundamental right, the right to life. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hayden, Mr Beazley, Mr Stewart, Mr Adermann, Mr Bourchier, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Cooke, Mr Corbett, Mr Cross, Mr England, Mr Fairbaim, Mr Fisher, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Giles, Mr Hewson, Mr Hunt, Mr Jarman, Mr Kelly, Mr Lucock, Mr McLeay, Mr Martin, Mr Olley, Mr Turner, Mr Wallis and Mr Whan.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of certain citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray. by Mr Edwards, Mr Thorburn and Mr Turner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of certain citizens (electors of the Division of Hume) respectfully sheweth-
That citizens of this Division place great value on the sanctity of human life, on the right to life of each individual, and on the physical, mental and social welfare of mothers and children;
That we are perturbed by proposals to alter the law to allow termination of pregnancy for non-medical reasons; and
That extension of the law to allow abortion on demand is totally unacceptable to the people of this Division.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will maintain the right to life of the unbom child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray. by Mr Olley.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of certain citizens (electors of the Division of Eden Monaro) respectfully sheweth -
That citizens of this Division place great value on the sanctity of human life, on the right to life of each individual, and on the physical, mental and social welfare of mothers and children;
That we are perturbed by proposals to alter the law to allow termination of pregnancy for non-medical reasons; and
That extension of the law to allow abortion on demand is totally unacceptable to the people of this Division.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will maintain the right to life of the unborn child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray. by Mr Whan.
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 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 favourables conditions for developing countries. by Mr FitzPatrick.
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,
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should maintain the existing laws covering Abortion and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Jarman.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will restore to the Australian people true religious freedom, which can only exist when Church and State are legally separated in form and substance.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wallis.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wallis.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security: In the Minister’s announced scheme for a socialised health service, which he assures us can be financed on a taxation levy of 1.35 per cent of taxable income, is it proposed that doctors will render their accounts direct to the Government? Was a similar scheme introduced in Canada? Has the Minister seen the comment of Dr Maurice Le Clair, Deputy Minister of Health in Canada, in which he said: ‘We have come to the inescapable conclusion that we have the wrong system’?
– I need not say that I do not share the doctor’s view, if that is his view. I will be tabling the report of the Health Insurance Planning Committee a little later in the day. It sets out the details of the program that we will be proposing. The honourable member will see that it is an Australian program and not the Canadian one.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Has his attention been drawn to the number of disputed telephone accounts in the Newcastle telephone district involving subscriber trunk dialling charges? Is he aware that in the present listings of the Newcastle telephone directory telephone numbers that attract STD charges are not distinguished from local call charge numbers, with the result that direct calls made from Newcastle to places such as Paterson, Cessnock, Dungog and Tea Gardens appear to be local calls but are in fact STD charges. Will he arrange for such numbers to be clearly distinguished from local call charge numbers in the next issue of the Newcastle telephone directory? Will he also arrange for the section on STD charges in the present directory to be enlarged and emphasised so that subscribers to telephone services will be clearly aware of the calls that involve STD charges?
– It is true that there has been some confusion as to whether an STD call could be deemed to be a local call in that no warning is given to the person who is making the call. I understand that the Postmaster-General’s Department has had under consideration for some time the question whether it should introduce a warning signal. This could well be done at the commencement of such a call. It is true that the Newcastle directory is somewhat confusing and that it is hard to identify what calls are deemed to be STD calls as against local calls. I think the directory could well be organised in a different fashion. I do not know whether that would be feasible in the coming year because the directory may well have been printed. If it is at all possible to reorganise the printing so that .these matters will be more clearly indicated to subscribers I will undertake to do so.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will know that the Minister for Immigration announced recently that 7 persons have been deported to Yugoslavia during part of the period of his Government. Will he determine the total number of persons deported to Yugoslavia by his Government? Will he, instruct the Australian Ambassador to Yugoslavia to establish beyond question that in each case the deportees have not been executed, have not been incarcerated for political crimes, or suspicion of them, and are being treated in accordance with the principles embodied in the Declaration of Human Rights? Will he advise the House as soon as possible of the result?
– The honourable gentleman will find the replies to his questions in the Senate Hansard of yesterday.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Overseas Trade and refers to the recent announcement by A. Wander Ltd of its intention to cut the production of Ovaltine at its plant near Devonport, Tasmania, by more than 40 per cent and consequently to retrench employees. 1 ask: Is the Minister aware that this company has claimed that because of currency changes its product is now costing 17 per cent more in Thailand, which takes 90 per cent of the factory’s production? Has any approach been made to his Department by this company for compensation for or assistance in respect to the hardship caused by the Joss of the export market in Thailand? If not, will the Minister outline the steps to be taken by the company if it desires to seek assistance and thereby provide for a continuation of employment for the employees concerned?
– 1 am aware that the company near Devonport that was mentioned by the honourable member has announced that it proposes to curtail sales to Thailand, that this will involve a reduction in the number of people employed and that it is now choosing to make those sales from another branch of the company in Great Britain. The company has asserted that the reason for this is the change in the currency valuations in relation to the Australian dollar and the Thai baht that have taken place recently. It is true that there has been a change in the currency relations between the 2 countries and that the appreciation of the Australian dollar could have been a factor involved in the company’s decisions. However it is likely that the changes that occurred since the devaluation of sterling in 1967 have had more effect than the December or February events in respect of those 2 currencies.
As far as I am aware, the company has made no approach to the Department of Overseas Trade, but if it desires to do so it may make an approach to the Department or to me personally and I will then assure the company that its case will be considered on the basis of the criteria that have been decided upon by the Government for assistance to companies that have suffered losses as a result of the currency changes. Some quite definite criteria are established. The company would have to show that there had been a reduction in its export price and that it had come about as a result of the currency revaluation. The Government is not simply concerned to accept a statement made by anyone but will naturally require proof of this important point. The assistance that is available is limited to $100,000 but many cases are under consideration and if the company in Devonport has a case I suggest that it submit it immediately to the Department or to me.
– Can the Prime Minister say, or will he find out, when the Australian Government first learned that 3 Australian citizens whom the Yugoslav Government had earlier indicated were dead, along with others, were in fact still alive? I refer to the 3 men who have since been executed. I also ask the Prime Minister: Is the reported rumour true that one man is still being held in prison or will he find out whether it is true?
– I notice that there will be an opportunity to speak on this matter after question time. The present Government had no knowledge, other than that inherited from its predecessors, about the 3 men whom Australia acknowledged as Australian citizens who were liquidated or destroyed according to the information given to the previous Government last year. The fact that the men had been arrested, tried and executed first came to the knowledge of a Minister of this Government on 9 April and to the knowledge of the Department of Foreign Affairs on 12th April.
– What about the other person?
– My memory is that the fourth person mentioned in the Yugoslav statement of 12th April was not claimed to be an Australian citizen. Three of them were claimed in the Yugoslav statement to be citizens of Yugoslavia and Australia; the fourth person was claimed to be a citizen of Yugoslavia alone.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen recent Press reports that a conflict exists between him and the Department of Defence over a desirable size for the Australian Army? If so, will the Minister say whether there is any truth in these reports?
– The House will be aware that I had initially asked for an inquiry to be conducted by the Department of Defence into the size and shape of the Australian Army. The inquiry was headed by Dr John Farrands of the Department of Defence and consisted of representatives of the departments of Defence and of the Army. The correct procedure is for the committee conducting the inquiry to make its report to the Defence Force Development Committee, which consists of the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chiefs of Staff. These people in turn consider the report and would ultimately make their views known to me. The report on the inquiry I asked for has been received by the Defence Force Development Committee; it has not been received by me. It would therefore be impossible to argue that there is any conflict between me and the Department over a report which I have not yet seen.
May I add that I have my own views about the size and shape of the Army, but I will make my judgment as a result of the views that will be submitted to me by the Defence Force Development Committee. May I also say that previous Ministers for Defence had indicated to the Parliament that the minimum size of the Army in Australia should be around 40,000 but no such recommendation was ever made to the Government by the Defence Force Development Committee. The previous Government had placed itself in a position where, because of conscription, it had to give some figure which in its opinion it had to justify on the basis of Australia’s strategic requirement at the time. Let me say in conclusion that my decision on the size and shape of the Army will be made as a result of the consideration which I will give to the recommendation that will come to me from the Defence Force Development Committee, and I believe it will be made having regard to other requirements and what I believe are the strategic requirements of Australia in the seventies and the ‘eighties. There never has been any conflict between me and the Department, certainly not on a report which I have not yet received.
– My question is also-
-Order! 1 should like to explain the position regarding the calling of an honourable member to ask a question because I can see that the honourable member for Balaclava is seeking to ask a question. I am quite aware of the procedure for the allocation of questions, but the Country Party members are a few behind and I shall be giving the call in a way that will allow the Country Party to catch up a few questions.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister for Defence and it also bears on the strength of the Australian Army. Has the Minister seen the result of the gallup poll published recently - last week, 1 think - which indicated that all young men should go to military camp for at least 3 months when aged 18 and perhaps again when aged 19? Did 78 per cent poli for this move, including 72 per cent of Australian Labor Party voters, 79 per cent of women and about 70 per cent of men of eligible age? In view of the Labor Party’s oft expressed intention of governing according to the wishes of the people, has the Minister instructed his Department to study the reintroduction of national service training in some form?
– The honourable member is, of course, in error when he suggests that the result of a gallup poll is the view of the Australian people. It is the view of a selected number of the Australian population. Since the honourable member is now putting forward a proposition that there should be a period of national service training of 3 months for the youth of this country, I remind him of the experience that the previous Government went through when it had compulsory training of 3 months duration for every young man in this country, which proved to be a disaster and involved this country in a financial obligation which it could not afford and which undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on the more important procurement requirements to meet the needs of the Services in this country.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Is it now the policy of his Department that persons who have been temporarily residing in Australia on students’ visas will be permitted to remain in Australia as permanent residents following the successful completion of their courses of study? If not, will the Minister give sympathetic consideration to permitting such persons to remain in Australia where the Minister is satisfied that suitable employment opportunities do not exist in the home countries of such persons?
– There are 2 categories of students that come to Australia. The first category, in which this Parliament has a direct and continuing interest, comprises the Colombo Plan students. Colombo Plan students come here under agreements between our Government and other governments in our region of the world. If a Colombo Plan student wishes not to return to his own country at the end of his studies this is not a matter for the
Minister for Immigration; it is a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs because it involves an agreement between Australia and other countries in the region. The second category comprises students who come here privately. In the past students from our own neighbourhood have been encouraged to come to Australia to study. Many of them have studied with great distinction. Many of them have led the way in our tertiary institutions. Perhaps their next activity has been to take a position here, for practical purposes associated with their studies. At the end of that period they have been required to return. The end result of that policy was that many valuable people ranging from doctors right through the whole gamut of the professions have left this country. They have ended up in Canada, the United States of America or Europe doing jobs which they could profitably have done here. In future each individual who comes here privately will be assessed on his merits. If he can comply with the criteria which are now in force he will be very welcome to stay.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question in his capacity as Foreign Minister. Is it correct, as reported, that President Thieu, the President of South Vietnam, is proposing to visit Australia and other countries in our neighbourhood in the near future? If this is so, will the Prime Minister welcome this visit from the head of a friendly country with which we have long had diplomatic relations? If he proposes to welcome President Thieu how can he permit one of his most senior Ministers to welcome to Australia members of the Vietcong, an organisation dedicated to overthrow the Government of that friendly country?
– No approach has been made by or on behalf of President Thieu to visit Australia. I do not know of any proposed visit by President Thieu to any neighbouring countries.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral confirm that his predecessor, in 1972, deferred for a further 12 months a proposal to change the policy in relation to the siting of letter receivers? Would that proposal greatly reduce the number of letter receivers sited in cities and suburbs? Has the same proposition been put to the Postmaster-
General recently? Can he advise me of the average cost of installing and servicing a letter receiver? _ Mr LIONEL BOWEN - No such proposition has been put to me recently and I am not aware of what my predecessor may have deferred. Under the policy that has been in practice for some time, letter receivers, in the main, are spaced half a mile apart and are provided on the basis that they will receive at least 30 letters a day. I think the cost of clearing them is 44c.
– Does the Prime Minister consider the execution of Australian citizens in a foreign country a matter of great national interest? If the answer is yes, does the Prime Minister consider any Minister who is informed of the fact is under a duty to advise him immediately? If the answer is yes and in the event that a Minister does not so inform him, how seriously does the Prime Minister view such a breach of ministerial duty?
– The Australian Government certainly takes it very seriously when a person whom it acknowledges to be an Australian citizen is executed in another country. In fact, if a person whom it acknowledges as an Australian citizen is arrested, tried or convicted in another country the Government considers the matter very seriously. Of course, execution differs in degree, but not in kind from these other matters with which the Australian Government believes it should be concerned where Australian citizens-
– A marginal difference.
– The same principle applies if a person whom we regard as an Australian citizen is merely arrested. If any person whom Australia regards as an Australian citizen is merely arrested in another country then any Australian Government should take the attitude that the Australian representative in that country should be promptly informed. The Department of Foreign Affairs should be informed of such matters. The other country concerned here did not inform that Department. There is nothing otherwise that I have to add to what I said yesterday on this matter. Perhaps, however, I have to make it clear once again that the question of dual nationality has been about for very many years between Australia and many other countries from which Australia has drawn migrants. It is only under my Government that any attempt has been made to tackle the question of dual nationality and to advise persons who have migrated to Australia and have been naturalised here of the steps which they can take to secure the recognition of their new nationality from the countries of origin.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the Prime Minister’s keen and stated interest in the representations on public lending rights from the Australian Society of Authors, I ask him whether the Government is currently examining the proposition by authors . that for each copy of each Australian book on the shelves of lending libraries the Commonwealth could pay a fee estimated at 25c a year, 20c to go to the author and 5c to the publisher. Can the Prime Minister give our authors any encouragement that public lending rights will become law?
– The Literature Board of the Australian Council of the Arts has been considering this matter for the last couple of months. I have discussed the matter with the Council. I am confident that as a result of the consideration and the recommendation of the Board legislation will be introduced into the Australian Parliament, lt could not however be introduced during this present sessional period.
– Can the Treasurer clarify the position concerning the Government’s proposals regarding local government finance? Will local government representation be admitted to the Australian Loan Council? If so, on what basis? Will councils have access to loan moneys raised by the Commonwealth on the same conditions as those now available to the States? Will the Treasurer also indicate the situation concerning the reported proposals for local government authorities to have access to the Commonwealth Grants Commission?
– The Prime Minister has for quite a long time now suggested the need better to integrate local government into the financial resources of Australia. Local government authorities have substantial functions. They have inadequate finance. Two proposals are currently under consideration. One is that there should be separate representation of local governing authorities at Austraiian Loan Council meetings. Whether it will be possible to achieve that at the next meeting, which is only one month off, is doubtful. The other proposal under consideration is an amendment of the Commonwealth Grants Commission legislation. The Grants Commission was set up under section 96 of the Constitution to make grants to the States and these grants can be made fairly freely. It is proposed that local authorities will be integrated into loan considerations. It is hoped to have the necessary amendments in this House as soon as possible but there are some difficulties about it. I simply repeat that we believe that it is a fundamental change that will shift local governing authorities from being the poor relations in the Federal system into playing a vital part and getting a better equation of finance and function in the process. We hope that a Grants Commission Bill will be introduced into this House next week and it will afford a fuller opportunity to explain the potentialities of the situation.
– 1 address to the Treasurer a question relating to the effects of changes in dollar parity on users of international airlines, particularly Australian exporters. I preface my question by pointing out that the airlines have set their charges in United States dollars and they convert this amount into Australian dollars to determine the charge to Australian travellers and exporters. Is the Treasurer aware that the International Air Transport Association is still using the same conversion scales which were used before the Australian revaluation last December? Does this not now mean a 17 per cent surcharge on passenger and export freight charges? What gives the airlines the right to set their own exchange rates in defiance of the official rates set by the Reserve Bank of Australia? Will the Government make it quite clear to the airlines that they are not above the law and will the Treasurer require them to make appropriate refunds for all freight carried since 23rd December 1972?
– 1 suggest that this question more appropriately resides in the hands of my colleague the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation. I suggest that he might reply to the question.
– As the question was directed to the Treasurer I was not exactly listening to it. But I gather that the honourable member for Kingston wants to know the position in regard to the recent revaluation effects on airline charges. My understanding of the position is that after revaluation the International Air Transport Association was obliged to call a meeting of all interested airlines within a certain prescribed period - I think within about 21 days. I believe that a meeting was held of all interested airlines and an agreement was reached whereby in those countries which were affected by the revaluation the air charges were adjusted by between 5 per cent and 10 per cent. This took place at a time when there was a general review of air charges. So in actual fact there has been a revaluation and an adjustment of fares in overseas countries where the United States dollar rates apply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister clarify his statement that the present Government is not bound by the decisions or policies of the previous Government in relation to assistance to rural industries? Will he indicate whether it is the new Government’s intention to amend in any way the Dairying Industry Act 1970 under which the dairy industry is guaranteed a minimum of $29m in Government bounty each year during the course of the present 5-year dairy stabilisation plan?
– I made no such statement. I am unaware of the statement referred to.
– Senator Wriedt made it.
– Under the Standing Orders, I believe, any honourable member who asks a question has to make certain that any statement contained in the question is authentic. I am not aware of the statement to which the honourable member referred.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister representing the Attorney-General been drawn to the recent publicity regarding alleged deficiency in our laws dealing with credit? In line with the Government’s intention to use its powers in the Territories, particularly the Australian Capital Territory, to provide models for effective law reform, will the Minister direct his attention to the issue of fair consumer credit laws? Will he particularly examine the recommendations made last year in the report of fair consumer credit laws by a committee of the Law Council of Australia? Will he make every effort to see that new laws of this type act effectively on the operations of supranational companies as well as local financiers?
– Yes, I am aware of the recent publicity dealing with this problem, which is being given increasing attention. Many of the national newspapers are giving increased space to it. The report to which the honourable member referred is loosely known as the Molomby Report, which resulted from work done at the University of Adelaide. The recently held Australian Finance Conference dealt with the same problem. I think it has to be said that Australian laws on credit come into 2 categories. One is the matter of credit control from the community point of view generally. Another is from the point of view of the protection of the consumer. In recent years much greater attention has been given to the protection of the consumer and the great need for it. Australian laws are fragmented in this regard. We have mortgages, bills of sale, hire purchase agreements. It is becoming increasingly well known that these agreements do not give proper protection. The leading State in the pioneering of reform work in this field is South Australia, under a Labor Government. There can be little doubt about that. I have already arranged for one of my officers to visit South Australia and familiarise himself with the achievements that have been brought about there. Discussions have taken place between myself and the Attorney-General on this subject in regard to the Territories. I hope that we will be able to produce something on this matter in the near future. As the honourable member would know, multi-national corporations pose greater problems and their position has to be seen in a wider context, but this aspect is also under consideration by the Government.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Minister for Labour recently said publicly that the advice given by Treasury officials was almost invariably wrong? Does the Treasurer now know that the next morning the Prime
Minister characterised the statement of the Minister for Labour as irresponsible? Is the Treasurer aware how well and with what dedication his officers strive to meet the difficult deadlines set by the Government? Is it not likely that the statement of the Minister for Labour denigrating the performance of Treasury officials will damage the morale of his Department? When will this carping criticism of dedicated civil servants cease? What is the Treasurer going to do about it?
– I assure the questioner that the morale of the Treasury is very high. I would say also in answer to some people who try to make divisions where divisions do not exist-
– The Treasurer and 1 are very close.
– My colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, is known for his mastery of satire but that is not a division to which I intended to refer. The division I intended to point to is that which would be created by some people who seem to think that the Treasury has views distinct from those of the Treasurer. When it comes to any public announcement the Treasury has no views distinct from the views of the Treasurer. That to my mind is the distinctive mark of ministerial responsibility. There have been examples in the past of a department running its Minister and that deserves the rather offensive description of bureaucracy. However, where the Minister acts responsibly on the sensible advice of his advisers, that is good, responsible government and I repeat a quip that I learned when I was a student of political science rather than a practitioner in the art: The expert should be on tap but not on top.
– 1 ask the Minister for Social Security whether he is aware of the financial hardship caused to parents of children over the age of 16 years receiving the invalid pension and needing costly nursing care at home. Will the Minister give consideration to introducing legislation to apply the provisions of the domiciliary care benefit to the parents of such children?
– I am concerned about this anomaly which excludes all people below the age of 65 years from the benefits of this scheme. I have directed my Department to do certain work as a prelude, I hope, to taking action in the near future to remove this anomaly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence and is supplementary to the question asked earlier by the honourable member for Adelaide. Does the Minister’s reply to the honourable member for Adelaide really mean that he has no knowledge of the recommendation of the Defence Force Development Committee when it is an open secret, even to me, that that Committee recommended an Army of 38,000 personnel?
– It is not for me to speculate on the sources of information that are available to the honourable member for Barker. I reiterate that I have not received the recommendations of the Defence Force Development Committee and until that report is made available to me I would not be in a position to indicate to this House what the Government believes should be the size and shape of the Army in the future.
-I have to inform the House that we have present in the gallery this afternoon a delegation of members from the New Zealand House of Representatives led by Mr J. H. Williams, M.P. On behalf of the House I extend a very warm welcome to the members of the delegation.
Honourable members - Hear, hear!
– I ask the Prime Minister: Under what circumstances can persons holding Australian citizenship be deported from Australia? Have the provisions which enable this practice to take place been in operation for any length of time? Is it the intention of the Government to maintain those provisions in Australian law? Were the provisions in operation during the entire period of the previous Government?
– All the provisions of the Australian law relating to deportation were in operation under the previous Government; some, in fact, have been in operation for many decades. My Government proposes to repeal the provisions for deportation in the Crimes Act which were inserted, I think, in 1926 or 1927.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the moves initiated in Queensland parliamentary circles to control and prohibit foreign ownership of both freehold and leasehold land in Queensland? If so, will he advise whether the Federal Government intends to legislate within its powers to retain Australian land for Australian citizens? If that is the intention of the Government, will the Treasurer advise how the Government intends to carry out that policy? If that is not the intention of the Government, will he advise why it is not?
– As far as I am aware, apart from the Australian Capital Territory and the other territories of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth has very little jurisdiction over land. I say this to those people who complain about high prices of land: The States could have done a lot more about land prices than they have chosen to do. I applaud the decision of the Queensland Government to restrict further foreign ownership of real estate in Queensland. I have already taken action, as far as lies within my jurisdiction, in prohibiting any further capital inflow into Australia from overseas to acquire real estate. I hope that some of the States will examine how far the trend has gone in their own States. Perhaps they could well follow Queensland’s move. I have taken the steps I can take under the powers to regulate future entry into Australia of money merely to buy real estate. The large amount allowed in for this purpose, particularly in the last 2 or 3 years, was one of the greatest aggravating sources of inflation in Australia. At least we have chopped off that flow of money in the future.
– I rise to a point of order, ls it not part of the Standing Orders of this House and its protocol that statements be made here separately from those made in the Senate? In replying to a question I asked about proceedings in the Senate, was it permissible for the Prime Minister to refer to the Senate Hansard as though it replied to my question when an examination of that Hansard shows no relevance to the main parts of the question I asked?
-Order! No point of order is involved.
-The honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) addressed a question to me on 12th April in which he requested me to institute an immediate investigation to see what could be done to install an electronic voting system in the House before the next session of Parliament. Electronic voting has been considered by my predecessors from time to time but its installation has not been felt necessary to meet the needs of the House. The matter was also closely examined by the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House which, in its report in March 1970, stated:
The Committee agreed that the installation of electronic voting was not desirable at present but agreed that the chambers (for the new House) should be provided with all necessary conduits and ducts for easy installation of electronic voting cabling at a later date. This system of voting was demonstrated to members of the Committee in New Delhi, where electronic voting has been in use for some years. Parliamentary officers there advised that the system was not warranted in a small House - that is, below about 250 members.
I am inclined to agree with these views. The number of occasions when there is overcrowding on the benches during a division is most infrequent. It is my opinion that the very substantial cost involved in installing some form of electronic voting system could hardly be justified by these rare occasions. However, I shall undertake to raise the matter for discussion when the Standing Orders Committee next meets.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a report from the Health Insurance Planning Committee which was established on 22nd December 1972 to prepare detailed recommendations for implementing the new universal health insurance scheme. The Committee was chaired by Dr John Deeble and the membership included Dr Richard Scotton and officers of the departments of Health and Social Security. I would like to thank them for their work in preparing the report.
I wish to point out at this stage that the Government is not bound to accept the recommendations in the report. I am tabling the report as part of our policy of providing information publicly in order to stimulate discussion. The Government hopes to be making its decision on the details of the universal health insurance scheme as soon as possible.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Australian Meat Board to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) on the stabilisation of meat prices. Copies will be made available to honourable members as soon as possible.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the following papers:
Report No. 4 of the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee entitled ‘Strontinm-90 and Caesium-137 in the Australian environment during 1970 and some results for 1971’ compiled September 1972.
Report No. 5 of the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee entitled ‘Fallout over Australia from Nuclear Weapons tested by France in Polynesia during June and July 1972’ compiled October 1972.
Report by the National Radiation Advisory Committee entitled ‘Biological Aspects of Fallout in Australia from French Nuclear Weapons Explosions in the Pacific, June-July 1972’ compiled April 1973.
Report by the Australian Academy of Science entitled ‘The Biological Effects of Nuclear Explosion Fallout - Report to the Prime Minister’ compiled April 1973.
Normally, 3 of those reports would have been tabled by my colleagues the Minister for Supply (Mr Barnard) and the Minister for Science (Mr Morrison), but, given the special circumstances of the public standing of this matter, I felt that it was more appropriate that I should deal with the matter personally. I seek leave to make a statement relating to those reports.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Results from the fallout monitoring programs conducted prior to 1969 by the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee were published in full in the scientific literature and involved more than 40 separate papers. Since that time a special AWTSC series of reports has been introduced by the Committee and the 5 reports prepared in this series, including reports AWTSC numbers 4 and 5, have been tabled in the Parliament. Together they provide much detailed informa tion relating to the fallout over Australia from nuclear weapons testing. These reports establish clearly and conclusively that the testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific by France has resulted in the fallout of radioactive material on Australia and the contamination of the Australian environment.
The reports by the National Radiation Advisory Committee deal, as the title implies, solely with the effects on Australians of the testing of nuclear weapons by France during June and July 1972. The assessment of the NRAC is based on data contained in AWTSC report No. 5 to which I have already referred. Using this data, the NRAC has estimated the incidence of genetic defects and leukaemia and all other cancers attributable to the French tests of 1972 for the total population of Australia during the next 25 years. Honourable members should note particularly that this latest NRAC report deals only with the effects on Australia of the French tests of 1972. Earlier NRAC reports deal wilh previous French test series.
In February 1973, I requested the Australian Academy of Science to report to me on ‘the actual or potential harm to Australia, including its human and animal population, its resources and environment, from the explosion of nuclear devices in the atmosphere, underwater, or on or near the surface of the earth, with particular regard to the past and prospective explosions by France in the Pacific’. The Academy’s expert Committee has therefore independently estimated the incidence of genetic defects and leukaemia and other cancers attributable to all French tests to date. I stress that the Academy’s report unlike the NRAC report, deals with the effects of both short and long-lived fallout arising from all French tests to date.
Honourable members will find that the figures given in the 2 reports would appear to differ. This apparent difference arises from the way in which the results are expressed. In this connection, it is useful to quote from the Academy’s report:
Wc find no reason to question the estimates of radioactive fallout used in the reports from other authorities; our own independent assessment is given in the Appendix.
The report of the NRAC and the Academy establish that the people of Australia may have been adversely affected by France holding nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific. Therefore, we are prepared to initiate proceedings against France in the International
Court of Justice with a view to restraining France from continuing the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere of the Pacific. The Government has also taken steps to review and rationalise the means by which it is provided with information on the effects of nuclear fallout on the Australian population. Previously this function was the responsibility of the NRAC, supported in this work by the findings of the AWTSC.
Honourable members will note that in the foreword to the reports of the AWTSC it is stated that the AWTSC is responsible for safety aspects of the use or testing of nuclear explosive devices in Australia; evaluation of proposals by other countries to explode nuclear devices outside Australia which might give rise to increased levels of radioactivity in Australia; and monitoring of levels of radioactivity in the Australian environment arising from activities with nuclear explosive devices either in this country or elsewhere.
As Australia is now a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty some of the functions of the AWTSC are consequentially redundant. The opportunity has therefore been taken to establish the functions of continuing significance performed by the AWTSC in a revised organisation and to enlarge the scope of the advisory functions presently carried out by the NRAC. A new institution to be known as the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council will be established and this Council will be the advisory body to the Government on the effects of ionising radiation on the Australian population and environment. The monitoring activities formerly carried out by the AWTSC will be carried out as a purely civil activity within the Department of Science.
Honourable members will also recall that appointments to the previous NRAC were not for a fixed term. Appointments to the new body will be made for fixed periods thus permitting the composition of the new Council to respond more flexibly to the nature and status of emerging problems. The new Council will report to the Government through my colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), who will in future table its reports. The members of the NRAC and the AWTSC have already been notified of the Government’s decision to review the advisory arrangements. 1 take this opportunity to place on public record an appreciation of the valuable service of the distinguished Committee members.
Finally I wish to comment on one other related document which will have come to the notice of honourable members. I refer here to the report by Messrs Rathgeber, Gibbs and Stevens which deals with the safety regime operating at the French nuclear test site in the Pacific. Honourable members are assured that this document will be tabled at an appropriate time in the near future. I would mention only at this point that this report does not deal with the effects of radiation from the French tests on the Australian people.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the papers.
– I do not wish to speak to the motion, but this is a matter of very great public importance and I ask the Prime Minister whether he will ensure that it will come on for debate pursuant to the motion to take note of the paper. I think the best time would be next week because the size of the paper obviously does not permit me to give it the necessary examination this week.
– I cannot give a guarantee when the statement which I have made and the documents I have tabled will come on for debate. This is clearly a matter which 1 will have to discuss with the Leader of the House. There is so much legislation before the House and so much to be brought in this week and next week because I think it will be at least some weeks before there could be such a debate. I will confer with my colleague.
Debate (on motion by Mr Snedden) adjourned.
– I wish to inform the House of the following nominations of members and senators to be members of the Joint Committee on Prices: Mr Hurford, Mr Riordan, Mr Whan and Mr Willis have been nominated by the Prime Minister; Mr Garland and Mr Gorton have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in this House; and Mr Nixon has been nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in this House. Senators Gietzelt and O’Byrne have been nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate; Senator Guilfoyle has been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; and Senator Prowse has been nominated by the
Leader of Australian Country Party in that House. The Prime Minister has nominated Mr Hurford as Chairman of the Committee.
– I have received the fol lowing message from the Senate:
The Senate, having considered message No. 24 of the House of Representatives, has agreed to the following resolution in connection therewith, namely:
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 24 of the House of Representatives, namely:
That the following matter be referred to the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings for inquiry and report:
whether the televising of portion of the parliamentary debates and proceedings is desirable, and
if so, to what extent and in what manner the telecasts should be undertaken.
That the Committee, for any purposes related to this inquiry, have power to send for persons, papers and records.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The shameful subordination of the Australian Government’s obligations
to assert and protect the rights of Australian citizens in Yugoslavia;
to obtain full information as to the Yugoslav Government’s gaoling, trial and execution of 3 Australians; and
to condemn the conduct of the Yugoslav Government, to the pursuit of undisclosed and secret policy objectives with the Yugoslav Government.
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.)
– The raising of this matter seeks to draw public attention to what I would describe as the supine attitude of the Government concerning the arrest, trial and execution of 3 Australian citizens. It is not a squabble about the personal differences between the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). The Prime Minister yesterday informed the House that he first heard of this matter some days after the Attorney-General had heard about it. When he informed the House that this was the case he told us that he assumed this was the position of the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General assumed that the Department of Foreign Affairs had been informed and had in turn informed the Prime Minister, and vice versa. To use his own language, the Prime Minister said:
It seems incredible to think that the Attorney-General of this Government can be informed unofficially about the execution of 3 Australian citizens. One is left with the impression that if that does not rouse a person to a sense of indignation, nothing will. One is left with the impression that it is almost an everyday affair - you do not even bother to mention it. I say to the honourable gentleman that the explanation he gave to the House yesterday afternoon was one of the most unsatisfying that the honourable gentleman has ever given in his career on any subject. To say in this matter that the Attorney-General is deserving of a mild, gentle impeachment seems to me to be a rather quaint attitude to take. Putting it in homely language, the Prime Minister should have called for the Attorney-General’s resignation, and that would have been an indication as to where he stands and where his Government stands.
This issue is not to be confined to the differences between the honourable gentleman and his colleague, grave as they may be. The gravity of this matter goes to another area of activity - 3 Australian citizens arrested, tried and executed, and done in secret. Surely this is the distinguishing characteristic of the servile state where the processes of law and justice are conducted in secret without any regard to security matters in the strict sense. I am sure that I speak for the great majority of people in this country when I say it is that which has caused a deep sense of offence to those who live in our community. Yesterday the honourable gentleman, in seeking to exculpate in advance himself and his Government from the predicament into which they have been thrust, adverted to some correspondence which passed between 2 Ministers in the last Government - between the then Attorney-General and the then Minister for Foreign Affairs. I hope that the honourable gentlemen will not be upset if I say that I thought that represented a breach of an undertaking which he had given to this House some little time ago when I asked him whether he accepted the convention that correspondence passing between Ministers should not be released until the time provided by law. If 1 remember the honourable gentleman’s reply aright, he said: Yes, it should be breached only in exceptional circumstances. This is the second occasion on which it has been breached by a government which has been in office for a matter of 6 months.
However, the honourable gentleman has not sought to argue the case of exception again. I hope that he will be persuaded to tell us the basis upon which he makes this further exception, but anticipating some of the argument that he will no doubt press upon us may I say that the matter to which the correspondence between the former Attorney-General and the former Minister for Foreign Affairs relates is entirely distinguishable from the matter we are discussing. The previous case in the correspondence relates to a matter where the Australian ambassador in Belgrade was aware of what had happened and the Government was aware of what had happened. There was, as it were, an exchange or argument between 2 Ministers as to what attitude should be adopted and a decision was made.
We are informed that 3 Australian citizens have been executed. I say to the honourable gentleman that I do not think that he is on secure grounds when he says the differences which occurred between Ministers, of course, indict the Opposition because it composed the Government until December last. What is the gravamen of this matter? I have suggested the fact that these people were tried in secret. They were arrested and presumably tried in December last and the executions were carried out, I gather, on 17th March. At least 3 months elapsed between the trial and execution. What an extraordinary performance for a sovereign power to indulge in, to hold 3 nationals of another country in prison with the prospect of execution and not seek to inform the country to which they belonged. That would be strange in itself, but what becomes literally offensive is the fact that the head of state of that country visited this country and dined with the honourable gentleman and some of his colleagues and no mention was made of it. I want to say to the honourable gentleman that suggestions of building up mutuality between this country and any other country simply are not on the board if that is the sense of candour to be shown in the conduct of affairs. I understand that the honourable gentleman has received an invitation to visit Yugoslavia. If that be true and if his response to that invitation is in the affirmative then I invite the honourable gentleman, having regard to what has happened, to say to the Yugoslav Government: ‘I now must decline to go’.
Yesterday the honourable gentleman adverted to dual nationality which is, of course, a matter of great complexity and gives rise to some impressive problems’. As I understand the history of this case; 3 Croatians came to Australia. In tile course of time they were naturalised and received Australian citizenship. However, their previous nationality had not been extinguished. -This is a classic case of dual nationality. The master nationality would be the nationality they first had. It is the first case that I have encountered involving dual nationality where the master national state has not sought to inform the other state that it is holding within its power people who hold themselves out as being citizens of that state. I believe the honourable gentleman carries a grave responsibility to see there is appropriately registered in an appropriate way the sense of indignation which this country holds. We are not discussing some abstract point of international law. If citizens who have come to live amongst us are faced with the prospect, if they ever return to their own country, of being tried for an offence and their new country knows nothing about it then all I can say is that the prospect of attaining genuine peace in the world declines even further from our sight.
I say to the honourable gentleman that this issue is not to be dispatched by saying ‘Senator Murphy and I had some mild disagreement. He assumed that certain matters were taking place. The Department of Foreign Affairs was in a certain position. The Yugoslav Ambassador assumed that something else had happened’. Here is a clear case of 3 Australian nationals who have been executed. The honourable gentleman also said yesterday that he did not think that certain information could reach this country until the tenth of this month and he gave as a reason for that the fact that there is the May Day holiday. Really and truly that is not a formidable excuse to give to the national Parliament. We are to wait another week before we have further information about it! Am I to understand from the honourable gentleman that there are no telephones in Yugoslavia? I have never been there. I have been in States bordering it but I have never been to Yugoslavia. It seems to me a completely unacceptable excuse to give. So I say to the honourable gentleman: Why does not he as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and as the head of the Australian Government get on the telephone himself and say: ‘We want this information’? 1 also understand that there is a suggestion that the Yugoslav Government is preparing to sponsor Australia to take part in a conference of non-aligned nations later this year. What is this supposed to be? We have heard nothing else about it. I invite the honourable gentleman to tell us about it this afternoon. I also invite him to consider the consequences of accepting sponsorship from a nation which has resorted to such infamy in the conduct of its affairs. There is a limit, surely, beyond which any government must say it is not prepared to go. 1 can understand the Prime Ministers eagerness, in which we all share, to bring some measure of concert into the conduct of affairs in this world and, in consequence, to reduce the prospects of another war being visited upon mankind. But if frankness is to be abandoned in reaching for that goal then the prospects of it, I submit, do in fact decline. So I say to the honourable gentleman that to advance the argument that dual nationality confers insuperable difficulties is not satisfying as far as Australian people are concerned.
I ask the honourable gentleman to let us have a genuine display and to say to the Yugoslav Government, if an invitation has in fact been extended: ‘In the circumstances 1 decline. I am the Prime Minister of a country that takes a firm but a quiet pride in the fact that its citizens when they go abroad are entitled to be protected and that they are entitled to look upon their activities as commanding respect’. In this case this country’s reputation has been sullied. I ask the Prime
Minister to see what he can do to bring some lustre back to it.
– The Australian Government asserts that any of its citizens abroad should be able to call on its protection. In the matter of dual nationality the present Government has never regarded it as insuperable that there should be 2 nations, each claiming that a certain person was its citizen. Our predecessors did regard this theory as insuperable. The previous Government did not ascertain the facts about the arrest, trial and execution of 3 persons in Yugoslavia who were claimed to be Australian citizens by Australia and Yugoslav citizens by Yugoslavia. The present Government did ascertain the facts. The previous Government never protested at Yugoslavia’s assertion of dual nationality in respect of Australian naturalised citizens of Yugoslavian birth. The present Government has protested in this matter.
The whole of the present situation arises from the fact that last June there was an incursion into Yugoslavia by several persons, 3 of whom were claimed to be Australian citizens. These 3 persons were arrested, tried and executed. The previous Government inquired of Yugoslavia about this incursion. On 16th September last the Yugoslavs sent an aide-memoire stating that the group of incur.sionists had been destroyed. This, of course, was not an accurate statement. The Government of the day accepted the statement. Yesterday I tabled all the letters of September, October and November between the former Foreign Minister and the former AttorneyGeneral concerning these matters. I shall recall to honourable members 3 phrases used by my predecessor as Foreign Minister - a very distinguished lawyer indeed.
– They do not refer to the incursion.
– No, but as a matter of fact the first one does. Perhaps I should remind the honourable and learned gentleman that I have just quoted from the Yugoslav aide-memoire of 16th September 1972. On 19th October 1972 the honourable and learned gentleman wrote to the former Attorney-General in these terms:
My conclusion is that, before taking this matter further, we would be better advised to await completion of the Commonwealth Police investigation of the whole range of matters raised by the Yugoslav Aide Memoire and the allegations made by Mr Gnjec.
On 2nd November the honourable gentleman wrote further to the then Attorney-General in these terms: . . because of the limitations imposed by the problem of dual nationality, and since, in Mr Grskovic’s case, there is no evidence that he has been denied the normal protection of Yugoslav law, I feel that the Australian Government would be on weak ground in registering a formal protest.
Again, on 20th November, the honourable gentleman wrote to the then AttorneyGeneral:
In view of this, and my letter of the 19th October 1972, I feel that further approaches to the Yugoslavs al this stage would serve no useful purpose . . .
If the word ‘supine’ is to be used, of which government is it more appropriately to be used in the present circumstances? Let me remind honourable gentlemen - because they would have forgotten it during the previous speech - of the terms of the matter we are debating. It is:
The Australian Government’s obligations
to assert and protect the rights of Australian citizens in Yugoslavia;
lo obtain full information as to the Yugoslav Government’s gaoling, trial and execution of 3 Australians; and
to condemn the conduct of the Yugoslav Government
The previous Government had not discharged any of those obligations. The present Government has discharged al] those obligations. All of those matters are obligations on the Australian Government. They were not discharged by the previous Government. They have been discharged by the present Government. The facts as stated by the Yugoslav aide-memoire of 1 6th September last were accepted by our predecessors. They were accepted by my Government too. However, on 20th March the present Prime Minister of Yugoslavia came to Australia pursuant to arrangements made by our predecessors for the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia to visit Australia. These arrangements were confirmed by my Government, by me, when the Prime Minister was making a visit through southern Asia and to New Zealand. On 20th March Mr Bijedic arrived in Canberra. I received his call at Parliament House that afternoon. I had dinner with him the following night at the Lodge with the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) and the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee).
I also had conversations on that occasion with Mr Petrie, the Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who is completely idiomatic in English. In conversations with Mr Bijedic through an interpreter, and in conversations with Mr Petrie, I expressed the Australian Government’s dissatisfaction with the handling of this matter. I pointed out that from the point of view of humanity, as well, we thought, as of law, the Australian Government was entitled to know what had happened to these persons whom it regarded as Australian citizens. It is as a result, I imagine, of the strong case that my colleagues and I put to the visiting Yugoslav Ministers that on 12th April a long statement was made by the Yugoslav Press agency, Tanjug. It is about 5 pages long and I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - commentary of sentences belgrade, 12 april (tanjug)- as is known the terrorist group consisting of 19 members of the so-called “Croatian revolutionary fraternity” - a fascist and terrorist organization whose programme is aimed at undermining and overthrowing the constitutional order of our country and of the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia as a society of peoples and nationalities based on self-management, by the means of violence, sabotage, murder and guerilla raids, entered the territory of the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia from austria on june 20 1972. prior to its infiltration in yugoslavia, the group of fascist terrorists underwent preparations on the territory of australia and several western european countries, organized by trained and for this purpose specially selected members of the Croatian revolutionary fraternity, who had come on the order of the leadership of the headquarters of the Croatian revolutionary fraternity from australia to western europe between 1969 and 1972 with terrorist tasks. upon arrival in western europe they continued their preparations for carrying into action their criminal intents against the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia, joining with the members of terrorist organizations in those countries in the attempt to recruit new members for infiltration into yugoslavia. (more) commentary of sentences - two - out of 19 members of the fascist-terrorist group, 9 had spent a longer period in australia where they obtained australian citizenship, completed their training for terrorism and sabotage, and received instructions from the leaders of the Croatian revolutionary fraternity in connection with the organization and infiltration of the group into yugoslavia. the others had spent longer or shorter periods on the territories of france, fr germany, and austria. on the territory of austria the complete group carried out the last preparations before their infiltration in yugoslavia. the intent of the infiltrated criminals to perform acts of sabotage, assassination, terror and violence among the population was thwarted already in their first clashes with the members of the security service and of territorial defense units, who demonstrated full readiness and determination to defeat all those Who attack on the sovereignty and integrity of the socialist federal republic of Yugoslavia and to protect our socialist system based on self-management even at the price of their own lives. all over the territory of the socialist republic of bosnia-herzegovina and of the socialist republic of Croatia where the terrorists tried to escape from the security units and the units of territorial defence, the broken down terrorist group met with the constant and unanimous resistance of the people, which caused them to starve and forced them to flee to the mountains, where they were swiftly caught and destroyed, (more) commentary of sentences - three - in the course of the selfless action of the people, security units and the units of territorial defence against fascist terrorists, thirteen members of territorial units of people’s defence lost their lives bravely defending the peaceful life of our people and undisturbed development of our socialist society based on self-management, they belonged to the rama, listica ljubiski, duvno and donji vakuf partisan and security units. the liquidation of the terrorists, confirmed the vitality of the organization of all-people’s defence as well as the importance of the support that the security units derive from the political consciousness, determination and organized effort of the working people and other citizens ready to defend their freedom and other achievements of the revolution, the liquidation of the terrorists also proved that the reactionary forces in the world, which are constantly endeavouring to undermine the internal life of yugoslavia in conjunction with the ustasha, chetnik and other extremist emigrant organizations in europe and on other continents have again met with the inevitable response of the people who is determined and ready to defend the brotherhood, unity, freedom and territorial integrity of the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia. in the course of the action which ended in the complete liquidation of the group, IS of the 19 terrorists were killed) while four were captured by the security units and subsequently tried and sentenced by the court, (more) commentary of sentences - four - the competent yugoslav authorities have, in the course of investigation and of the court hearing, collected information and data on all the stages of the preparation of the group, on the training of its members, its association and collaboration with other terrorist organizations, groups and individuals who had taken part in the preparation of this criminal action, in addition, significant information was obtained on other groups and individuals engaged in subversive activity against the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia in certain european and overseas countries, as well as on those providing support to this activity. in the course of investigation and the court trial, the perpetrators, conspirators and collaborators of some previously performed terrorist acts and attacks upon the yugoslav diplomatic missions and other establishments and citizens abroad that had been carried out by members of fascist-terrorist and criminal organizations and groups, have been identified, the fact that such persons were in a position to pursue freely their criminal activity against the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia with the support of certain quarters in some countries causes rightful indignation of our people, (more) commentary of sentences - five - the terrorists were well armed with modern automatic and semi-automatic rifles, machine-guns and other armaments and sabotage equipment, some of which came from the regular equipment of some foreign armies, in addition to which they carried certain strong poisons which they intended to use for large-scale poisoning of the population, and thus perform one of the most serious felonies against mankind. during the court trial the criminal responsibility of the accused members of the fascist-terrorist organization of the Croatian revolutionary fraternity was established without any doubt. the accused admitted that they had undergone comprehensive preparations for their criminal actions against the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia, that they were trained abroad for the performance of felonies against the peoples and nationalities of yugoslavia, that they had taken part in the preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts both abroad and in yugoslavia, all of which has been corroborated by the evidence, (more) commentary of sentences - six - upon consideration of the appeals for pardon of the accused, the presidency of the sfr yugoslavia decided to grant pardon to pavlovic ludvig, converting capital punishment into a 20-year severe prison term, because in the course of the investigation and at the court hearing he had made a full confession, thus contributing to the investigation and disclosure of the criminal intents of the group, as well as because he had belonged to the terrorist organization for a short time, because he had not previously committed a criminal offence, and because he showed repentance before the competent authorities. the material collected during the investigation and the court trial provides proof, among other things, of the fact that the extremist yugoslav emigrant organizations in europe and on other continents consist of a part of fascist and criminal organizations and groups, enjoying support of the ultra-reactionary elements in the world, they are a constituent part of international terrorism whose aim is struggle against all that is progressive in the world, for which reason it has been condemned by the international community and in the united nations. in view of this character of the activity of that part of yugoslav emigration which is hostile to yugoslavia, our government, together with the governments of other countries, has from the very beginning provided full support to the international action of the united nations aimed fiqz fighting down international terrorism which has lately assumed proportions whose extend causes concern and anxiety of the world, also taking the necessary diplomatic steps, in doing so, our country has always been aware of the fact that international terrorism must be clearly distinguished from the just struggle of peoples for freedom and independence. the case of the infiltrated terrorist group is yet another warning to all those who reach against the freedom and independence of the peoples and nationalities of the socialist federal republic of yugoslavia, its system of self-management, brotherhood, unity and equality, at the same time it stands as a warning to the progressive forces of the world to pursue untiringly their struggle against the remainders of fascist criminal organizations, (end) vm statement from the military court in Sarajevo:
Sarajevo, 12 april (tanjug)- tanjug’s Sarajevo office has received the following statement from the military court in Sarajevo: from december 11-21, 1972 the military court in Sarajevo held the main trial of the arrested members of the fascist-terrorist group: horvat djuro, son of julius and franciska, born at paljinovac, cakovec commune, on april 12, 1942, citizen of the sfr yugoslavia and australia, keskic vejsil son of mahmed and gara, born at mala pec, bihac commune, on june 25, 1939, citizen of the sfa yugoslavia and australia., vlasnovic mirko, son of jure and kata, born at gornji zemunik, zadar commune, on September IS, 1932, citizen of the sfr yugoslavia and australia, and pavlovic ludvig, son of slavko and mila, born at vitina, ljubiski commune, on april 9, 1951, citizen of the sfr yugoslavia. the group entered yugoslavia from austria on june 20, 1972, with the intention of breaking up brotherhood and unity of the peoples and nationalities of yugoslavia and upsetting the constitutional order1 of yugoslavia by the means of terrorism, violence and murder. on the basis of comprehensive evidence, the military court in Sarajevo found horvat, keskic, vlasnovic and pavlovic guilty pf the following felonies: association against people and state, article 117., organization and infiltration of the group onto the territory of yugoslavia, article 111., endangering of the territorial unity and independence of the country, article 101. and the major felony of counter-revolutionary attack on the state and social system, article 122 following upon article 100 of the criminal code, and sentenced them for the above felonies to capital punishment, (more) statement - two - after considering the appeal of the accused and. their attorneys the supreme military court fully confirmed the sentence of the military court in Sarajevo. the accused and their attorneys brought an appeal before the supreme court of yugoslavia against the sentence of the supreme military court, the supreme court of yugoslavia rejected the appeal of the accused and their attorneys as unfounded and confirmed the sentence of the supreme military court. in connection with the appeals for pardon sub mitted by the accused and their attorneys, the presidency of the sfr yugoslavia decided to reject the appeals for pardon of horvat djuro, keskic vejsil and vlasnovic mirko, and to grant pardon to pavlovic ludvig converting his sentence of capital punishment to a 20-year severe prison term. the capital punishment over horvat djuro, koskic vejsil and vlasnovic mirko has been executed, (end)
When I saw that statement I issued the following Press statement on 13 April:
The Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign
Affairs, Mr Whitlam, has sent a strong protest to the Government of Yugoslavia at their failure to inform the Australian Government of the arrest, trial and execution of 3 persons who, as naturalised Australians were regarded by Australia as having been entitled to the full protection accorded to all Australian nationals charged with offences against the laws of third countries.
The protest note pointed out that Australia’s feelings were stronger in view of the active measures taken by the new Australian Government against terrorist activities in Australia.
Australia was gravely concerned that action was taken without the Australian Government being informed. It sought official confirmation of the deaths of the 3 Australian nationals and information on any other Australian nationals at present being held in custody in Yugoslavia on any charge.
The precise words of my protest, which I quoted in answer to a question yesterday, were: . . that these actions by the Yugoslav Government were taken without the Australian Government having been informed of the fact that the 3 Australian citizens had been arrested, were being held or were being tried.
Also on 13 April the Press release stated, although this is not in the protest:
Commenting on- the Government’s protest Mr Whitlam said the Australian Government had a policy of clear opposition to the use of the death penalty. He pointed out that the new Australian Government had already decided - and had announced its decision ‘ some weeks ago1- not to allow the deportation from Australia of any Australian citizen.
Later on 16 April I received the call of the Yugoslav Ambassador and 1 pressed strongly for information on the date “of the executions. I said that again for reasons of humanity as well, we thought, as of law the Australian Government should be able to give that information to the relatives in Australia. On Monday of this week, 2 days ago, I received the information which I gave in answer to a question yesterday and which I shall repeat. Death certificates regarding the 3 dual nationals will be provided on or about 10 May. The delay arises from intervening May Day holidays and the necessity to obtain certificates from local Bosnian municipalities. The 3 men were executed on the morning of 17 March. The Government of Yugoslavia is considering the issues raised regarding the dual nationals and the Australian Ambassador will be received by the Federal Secretary for Foreign Affairs in connection with these issues.
On 19 April I directed that information be sought about the following 10 persons whom Australia regarded as Australian citizens:
June. Wife and child left Yugoslavia under instructions on 11 August and returned to Australia.
I understand from statements made in the Senate that Senator McManus has also drawn to your attention what has happened to Mr Johan Jurman and 1 am having prepared in my Department a summary of the allegations 1 have received and the results of police investigations into them. 1 shall forward these to you as soon as they are completed.
On 26 April J was informed by the Australian Embassy in Belgrade as follows:
Records show Krajina ; as having returned to Melbourne by air on 19th December 1972. We do, not yet have details, however, of his alleged detention by authorities in Yugoslavia.
As far as my Department knows, every outstanding case has been made the subject of inquiries in Yugoslavia. I have given the names so that honourable members who have any other persons in mind can enable my Government to do what it can to get information and to afford them protection. Everything that has been known about the 3 men executed and about every other case has been elicited by my Government. My Government has protested. My Government has gained information. My Government is not deterred by the technicalities of dual nationality. My Government is determined to see that Australians are protected anywhere in the world.
Mi- DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The whole attitude of the Labor Party towards the execution of 3 Australian citizens in Yugoslavia is shameful. I believe that the case presented by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) today in trying to explain his own shallow attitude is too smart by half. He is trying to shelter behind the actions of the previous government taken in circumstances which were completely different. We were led to believe by information given by the Yugoslav Government that the whole of the force involved in the Bosnian incursion had been liquidated. Now we apparently find that 3 men survived, although there is some doubt that they were ever involved in the incursion. The 3 men were held for a number of months, tried and executed. Now what do we hear? We hear that the circumstances are just the same as applied in the time of the previous government. The Prime Minister shelters behind the tabling of letters written by the previous Minister for Foreign Affairs and the previous AttorneyGeneral. He says: This is the way that the previous government performed’.
Some of those letters relate to cases with no bearing at all on the 3 men executed or on the Bosnian incursion. Why has there been no outcry by Labor members against the Government of Yugoslavia? Why has there been no complaint against the Yugoslav Government about the deception it has perpetrated against the Australian Government and the Australian people? Is it because the Government of Yugoslavia is Communist? Just imagine the uproar if this had happened in the United States of America. Why does the Labor Party accept, apparently without question, the account of the Yugoslav Government, a government now shown to have treated the Australian Government and the Australian people with contempt? What an insult to the Australian people to have the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia visit this country knowing that 3 Australians had been executed by his Government only 3 days before! He did not say a word about it. How do we know that these men were guilty of any offence against the Yugoslav Government? How can we believe the version of the affair given by the Yugoslav Government, especially now that its account of earlier events is shown to be wrong?
The Yugoslav Government did not convey correct information. In fact, it lied to the Australian Government. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to accuse the previous government of having lied to the Yugoslav Government, basing his accusations on unsubstantiated facts. Here is a case in which we know the facts to be correct - that the Yugoslav Government lied to the Australian Government. Why have the Labor Party and the Australian Government been so silent on this issue? Is it because they have an uncomfortable feeling that perhaps the evidence on which the Yugoslavs relied for the convictions was that which appeared in the unsubstantiated statements of allegations made by members of the Labor Party? Was there any link with Senator Murphy’s incredible raid on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation 2 days before the executions took place? We know that he raided ASIO headquarters for some reason. We have never been told. There has never been any explanation by the Prime Minister. Senator Murphy made his raids on 15th and 16th March and the men were executed on 17th March. How do we know that these men were guilty of the crimes with which they were charged?
I have read reports that Mr Vlashnovic one of the men concerned, claimed that he entered Yugoslavia quite legally for the purpose of visiting his mother but was arrested on his arrival, imprisoned and later executed.
– Have you checked that out?
– We would like the Government to check it out. We do not like to see this casual attitude. The Prime Minister has said that the previous government should have looked. We were led to believe that all these people had been liquidated, but now it seems that there were arrests. It is a different ball game. Do not try to excuse your own conscience. You have reason to have a troubled conscience. These Australian citizens were stood before a communist firing squad - it amounts to that - and you are prepared to accept the matter as casually as you do. What effort has the Government made to establish the truth? All we have had is a formal, restrained, limited protest note from the Prime Minister, not a sign of the outrage that would follow if the Labor Party had these executions thrust upon it from a non-communist country. Apparently because it happened in a communist country and because of the influence of the left wing of the Labor Party, Labor has remained relatively silent about it. We are about as likely to hear criticism of the communist Government in Yugoslavia from the Australian Labor Party as we are to hear criticism of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong from the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns).
The Prime Minister’s casual, off-handed treatment of this whole affair at question time yesterday and later during a Press conference deserves the strongest criticism. He made it clear that his concern is not for the fact that 3 men were executed on the say so of a communist government but merely that those men did not have access to Australia’s representative in Yugoslavia. It is shocking to hear an Australian Prime Minister adopt such a trifling attitude to the putting to death of 3 Australian citizens. Above all he should be the protector and the guardian of Australian citizens. He should ensure that fair play and justice prevail. The Prime Minister’s clumsy efforts to cover up for the Yugoslav Prime Minister are an insult to the Australian people, to the Australian Parliament and especially to the families of the men who were put to death. The Prime Minister has made it plain that there will be no further protest to the Yugoslav Government. Despite the fact that the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia must have been made aware of the executions either before his arrival in Australia or during his stay here he said nothing about them. For the Prime Minister to suggest otherwise is to test the credulity of the House beyond breaking point.
Why is the Prime Minister not prepared to take the firm action that should be taken against a foreign government that has so shamefully treated the Australian Government and the Australian people? One can only assume that the Prime Minister is more concerned about avoiding offending the communist Government of Yugoslavia than he is about accepting the responsibilities of being the Prime Minister of this nation. The Prime Minister’s attempt at subterfuge by talking about information his Government has obtained that the previous Government could not obtain must be exposed. He knows very well, as he acknowledged at question time today, that the previous Government had not been informed that people had survived - that they had not been liquidated. Only recently have we discovered that they were not all liquidated. There has developed a new responsibility on the part of the present Government to take strong action in this matter. I believe that the Prime Minister should stand up and be counted as a person who will defend the interests of Australian people and who should not allow them to be executed by a firing squad in a foreign country. Until the Prime Minister-
– You are a hypocrite. You are an absolute hypocrite.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Does the honourable member for Kennedy wish to take a point of order?
– No, I withdraw my point of order.
– Until such time as the Prime Minister does that the people of Australia will continue to have growing contempt for him and for his Government.
-Order! The Leader of the Australian Country Party’s time has expired. I call the Minister for Immigration.
– Could I take a point of order now, Mr Deputy Speaker?
– Not on anything that occurred previously.
– It occurred only 10 seconds ago.
– That does not matter. The honourable member rose to take a point of order and then chose not to take it.
– A hypocrite called the Leader of the Australian Country Party a hypocrite.
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark.
-If the honourable member had wished to take a point of order on a matter such as that he should have taken it at the time and not risen subsequently and made allegations. Any honourable member is entitled to draw the Chair’s attention to a matter which he considers to be out of order and ask the Chair to act in relation to it. My attention was not drawn at the time to the matter about which the honourable member subsequently took a point of order. It is not possible to take action subsequently.
– Did you hear what was said, Mr Deputy Speaker?
– No, I did not.
– I listened to the speech of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) with fascination. It was the best exercise in the rewriting of history I have witnessed since I last read George Orwell at his fictional best. His speech carefully suppressed the fact that it was his former leader, Sir John McEwen, who invited the Yugoslav Prime Minister to Australia. Mr McMahon, the previous Prime Minister, said:
The fact is that a general invitation was issued to the Yugoslav Government for its Prime Minister to visit Australia. It was issued by Sir John McEwen, who was then Minister for Trade and Industry.
Presumably it was a triumph for the left wing of the Country Party. The Leader of the Country Party also, of course, carefully suppressed the fact that all the events about which he has just professed concern occurred under the administration of his Government. Everything occurred at that time, but nothing was done about them. I suggest that the Leader of the Country Party is finding his conscience in this matter too late to be credible and too late to be helpful to the men who are dead.
Despite its obvious and patently party political nature, I do welcome the initiation of this discussion by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). I do so because I recognise that the honourable member for Moreton has in the past had to depart from the views of his colleagues when matters touching Australia’s independence and Australian citizenship had to be dealt with. He has now moved a motion which, in effect, states that Australia should be solicitous of the welfare of its citizens everywhere and at all times. I am in entire agreement with that sentiment. The whole emphasis of the present Government, led by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), and of my personal administration has been to give Australian citizenship a status and a recognition across the world which it has hitherto lacked. The records show that in the past 24 years Australian citizens have been murdered, executed and imprisoned in various parts of the world without let or hindrance or apparent interest by successive Australian Governments. The entire incident to which the honourable member for Moreton has addressed himself occurred under the administration of his Government.
The Opposition today is still suffering from a monumental colonial hangover. Australian citizenship was not taken seriously by the previous Government. To support that statement I need refer only to the fact that in the past there was a reluctance to have Australian citizenship recognised on its own for the strength that it had. The previous Government did not have the simple conviction that Australian citizenship was strong enough to stand on its own. For nearly 20 years it sent Australians overseas with a passport that was a confession of its failure to recognise Australian citizenship. For nearly 20 years Australians were encouraged to believe that they were still British citizens. That has not been true since 1949; yet Australians were sent overseas with documents that disguised their Australian citizenship and also, I might say, disguised Australia and in the process alternatively amused or embarrassed our friends in the United Kingdom and certainly made monkeys out of the Australians who believed in the emphasis given to their citizenship in the documents.
At present we have a motion before us which is in fact an indictment of the previous Government. An overseas administration that treats Australian citizenship with contempt in the future will have to confront a determined Australian Government dedicated to the care and protection of all Australian citizens - for the first time in this generation. I have been very concerned within my portfolio to see to it that the embarrassments of the past are no longer experienced by Australian citizens proceeding to countries of their birth which recognise dual nationality. I am confident and happy that in most cases we will be able to avoid a repetition of the embarrassments which our citizens suffered in the past. I am confident that that will be achieved in the future. In some cases, such as with Yugoslavia, the Prime Minister has taken the lead in setting out to resolve those differences for the first time. I am convinced that they can and will be amicably resolved.
Let us look at the position with respect to the laws of Australia and the world. Australia does not recognise dual citizenship. If an Australian overseas takes another citizenship he ceases to be an Australian. In contrast, the practice around the world differs vastly. For example, 15 of the 31 countries in the Commonwealth of Nations have provision for the recognition of dual citizenship. Other component countries do not. These include Canada, Ghana, India, Malaysia. Former members such as Pakistan and South Africa. Take a like attitude. Thirty-five countries outside the Commonwealth of Nations recognise dual citizenship. I mention but a few when I name Argentina, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Holland, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Russia and Yugoslavia. There is an international complexity in citizenship which it is just as well for us to be aware of and recognise. For example, a legitimate child born in Australia whose father is a Netherlands national automatically acquires Australian citizenship. A legitimate child born in the Netherlands whose father is an Australian, or an illegitimate child born in the Netherlands whose mother is an Australian, automatically becomes an Australian citizen if its birth is registered with the Australian Consulate. By contrast an illegitimate child born in Australia automatically acquires Australian citizenship. If it is subsequently legitimated by its Dutch father, the child would acquire Netherlands nationality as well.
– Get back to the subject of the debate.
– I am giving an example of some of the things that should have been dealt with by previous Administrations in this and other contexts. An Australian woman who marries a Greek national thereby automatically acquires Hellenic citizenship unless she files a declaration to the contrary. These are matters of international complexity. Let us look specifically at the situation with respect to Yugoslavia. In the context of articles 3 and 4 of the Yugoslav Citizenship Law, a person born in Yugoslavia or Australia of parents who are both Yugoslav citizens is a Yugoslav citizen and remains so even with the acquisition of Australian citizenship. Article 12 of the Yugoslav citizenship law does, however, provide for the cessation of Yugoslav citizenship under certain conditions. The point I make is that there has not been pursued by past governments anything further than the recognition of an international convention of 1930 - a generation ago. By contrast, just to talk about my own administration for a moment, what I have done is to authorise the initiation of talks to obtain from the Yugoslav authorities a recognition of ways and means of better recognition by them of Australian citizenship and also to reach agreement with the Yugoslav authorities for an Australian citizen of Yugoslav origin to be able to surrender his Yugoslav citizenship by international treaty. This would be under their own Yugoslav Citizenship Law. In this connection it may be possible to reach accord on a principle similar to that in the ‘Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Dual Nationality’ of the Hague Convention of 1930.
I point out that the previous Government pinned all its actions very negatively to that particular Convention, but it studiously avoided recognition of the fact that Yugoslavia never signed the Hague Convention. Australia did, and ratified the protocol. By pinning all its responsibilities to that protocol the previous Government in fact abdicated its responsibility to Australian citizens. Article 4 of that Convention states:
A State may not afford diplomatic protection to one of its nationals against a State whose nationality such person also possesses.
So all that Australia did as a nation for many years was to warn Australian citizens who were proceeding to other countries in which they may have been born that Australia could do nothing for them. This was reiterated time and time again. It is duplicated in letters to national groups, to individuals and, indeed, is enshrined in a publication which has been issued for 20 years. Australia abdicated its responsibility. The present Government does not intend to take refuge in the Hague Convention of 1930. The Government will put an end to the neglect of Australian citizenship which has existed for a whole generation. The Government will ring down once and for all the curtain on the colonial past to which the Opposition has belonged.
– Today we are discussing the matter of a number of Australian citizens who have been subjected to arrest and harassment by the Yugoslav Government. Included in those citizens are 3 Australians who have been killed by the Yugoslav Government. For all we know, and for all the Government has found out, it may well have been judicial murder by the Yugoslav Government. To keep the record straight 1 indicate the timetable of events. These men were tried, not arrested, during the term of the present Government, not the previous Government.
– When were they arrested?
– They were tried in December. They were arrested previous to that.
– Six months before, and what did you do about it?
– Order! The honourable member for Prospect has been interjecting continuously throughout this debate. I would suggest that he remain silent.
– I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, but it was an interesting interjection on which I might comment. These men were arrested in June and the then Government was informed that they were all killed in June.
– The then Government did nothing.
– It could do nothing after they were killed. These men were supposed to have been killed, not executed - not judicially murdered. The present Government is prepared to take that, but the’ Opposition is not. To keep the record straight, because it has been blurred by speakers from the Government side, these men were tried during the time of this present Government. They were killed during the time of this present Government. The Opposition objects to what has been done by the Government since then. There is a lack of forecast by the Government concerning what it intends to do should such a serious situation occur again. I do not blame the present Government for not being able to discover - although the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) claims it did-that these men were in gaol, because there was no way by which that- information could get to it any more than there was a way by which it could get to the previous Government. But I blame the Government for supinely accepting the circumstances which happened when it was made known that these people had been tried and had been killed.
Honourable members should examine the situation. There was a visit by the Yugoslav Prime Minister to Australia - to this Government. He had left his country long after the trial of these 3 men and after the sentences had been passed on them. He arrived in Australia a matter of days after these Australians had been stood against a wall and shot. Yesterday we heard our Prime Minister attempting to excuse him by saying: ‘Perhaps he did not know’. A Prime Minister in his country at the time of the conviction of foreign citizens and in Australia at the time of the murder of citizens of this country surely would be expected to raise this matter during the full, free and frank discussions with the Australian Prime Minister about which we have been told. Unquestionably this was an instance of the Yugoslav Prime Minister treating our Prime Minister and Australia with contempt in this instance. But there has been no complaint about that. There has been no accusation of wrong treatment by the Yugoslav Prime Minister of another Prime Minister, and there should have been in these circumstances.
There should also have been a most serious complaint about the attitude of the representative of the Yugoslav Government in Australia - the Yugoslav Ambassador. Everybody knows that an ambassador who has information of significance to impart goes to the Department of Foreign Affairs and imparts it if he cannot get to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, which very often he cannot do for good reasons. He goes to the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and gives him the message from his government. This did not happen in this case. In a case involving the lives of Australian citizens the representative of the Yugoslav Government did not go to the Prime Minister, did not go to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister (Senator Willesee) and did not go. to the Department of Foreign Affairs but for some strange and inexplicable reason went to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) and then, according to the Attorney-General, said: ‘Do not tell anybody about what I am telling you because it is unofficial’. This is no way for a sovereign government to be treated by the representative of another country when the lives of Australians are at stake. Yet there has been no complaint about that and no suggestion that proper and strong action will be taken against the Government which has treated Australia in this way.
Of course, it is too late to do anything about the lives of those men who are now dead, but it is not too late to try to make well known to the Yugoslavs the approach of the Australian Government so that in future this will not occur again and so that in future Australians will not be subjected to the treatment and the killing to which they have been subjected without proper complaint by the Australian Government. What we ought to get from the Government, if it treats this seriously, is a firm statement that in the future if any Australian citizens are arrested in Yugoslavia, brought to trial in Yugoslavia, sought to be punished in Yugoslavia, this Government ought to be informed immediately that takes place so that it can take care of the rights of those people according to Australian law, so that they are properly represented, so that they are not railroaded to the kind of death to which these 3 men have been railroaded. The Government should make a statement that it insists on that, and that if it does not get that proper undertaking from the Yugoslav Government there is little point in continuing relations with such a Government.
What is the reason for this softness. Why is there such a different approach in this case from the approach we are sure would have been made had the same circumstances occurred in, say, South Africa, Rhodesia or some other country of the Right as distinct from the Left?
– What about Greece?
– Or Greece, if you like. Why not? Certainly. Take any country. The honourable member is apparently agreeing that if it is reasonable for one country it ought to be reasonable for all, and I commend him for it. What do honourable members think the reason can be for this softness in approach? Is it part of a pattern of moving further and further into being unduly friendly with extremely left wing countries? I think it may be. Is it part of the pattern of recognising Communist China, with the Prime Minister misleading and misinforming this Parliament as to the terms on which that recognition was extended - a very serious misleading of this Parliament and of the people? Is it part of a pattern of seeing Vietcong brought to Australia by No. 3 Minister in this Government, placed in front of a huge portrait of Ho Chi Minh, flanked by great Vietcong flags and treated with a red carpet being rolled out to them? Incidentally, in passing, it is interesting to recall that only a week or so ago the Prime Minister was waxing very pompous about how terrible it was for a Croatian flag to be shown in Australia because it might upset some Australians; how frightful it was for a photograph to be shown in Croatian clubs because it might upset some Australians. I thought at the time it was a little odd from someone who had made a practice of speaking to crowds speckled with Vietcong flags at the time Australia was still fighting them. But even now we have this instance, and if anything is designed really to upset Australians it is to see that being done by No. 3 Minister in this Government and that being shown in the Press of this country on the same day as we see photographs of the widows of people who had been killed by the Vietcong, who still are making war. 1 think it may be a matter of a pattern in this matter. I suggest that unless and until this Government gets a full undertaking from the Yugoslav Government that this Government will be informed when Australians are arrested, tried or condemned, and kept fully informed, it is not learning the lessons from this tragic incident and it is letting down the people of this country.
– It would be difficult to bring the subject of this debate back on to the rails but might I try. One cannot blame the Opposition speakers for bringing politics into the debate and hammering the line, but let us look at the issue as it was put by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). It was a complaint about the Government’s failure to assert and protect the rights of Australian citizens in Yugoslavia. That is the gist of it. We have heard what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has said. The Parliament has the facts. Of course, notwithstanding what the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) put - I tried to correct him by interjection - we did send a protest note to the Government of Yugoslavia when we discovered what had happened. Compare that action with the total failure of the previous Government, which knew all those facts at the time and did nothing.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) gave an historical account of the matter which revealed the consistent policies of the previous Government to downgrade the Australian national identity, to downgrade Australian nationalism. There were some exceptions. The honourable member for Moreton was one and the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), who has just left the chamber, was another. There were mutterings from one or two of the members of the previous Government about the need to assert an Australian identity. But can we blame any foreign power which in the 23 years of Liberal-Country Party rule did not take Australia seriously, which looked at us masquerading under the image of another country, with a royal style and title that was confusing, a flag that was confusing and a national anthem that belonged to another country? Just reflect on the way this country has appeared to the world for 23 years and reflect on the changes that have come in the last 5 months, changes brought about by this Government in expressing and projecting a firm and positive national, patriotic image abroad. Reflect on the changes that the Minister for Immigration has brought about. Once they are understood they will never lead to a situation such as that which the previous Government allowed to come about.
Let us come back to some of the facts. We know, and the former Government when in office knew, that in June of last year an incursion into Yugoslavia had taken place. In September the former Government knew or believed, because it was told, that people, 6 who had lived here. 3 who had been naturalised, had been destroyed - I think that was the word. It did nothing. I have heard no one on the Opposition side even put forward anything the previous Government did. If honourable members opposite analyse their speeches they will find that there is not a suggestion anywhere of what the previous Government did, because they know in their minds that they did nothing. They did not even find out or try to find out the names of the next of kin, and that is the way the record stands. Reflect on that for the moment. The previous Government believed that these people had been wiped out or destroyed. Honourable members opposite now, with a voice that reeks of hypocrisy, say that we should do something more than we have done. We are a government that has been in power in reality for only about 5 months. Everything this Government has done has been to assert itself. I remind the House that one of the Prime Minister’s first acts towards one of this country’s most friendly international neighbours was to deliver a strong note of protest to the President of the United States of America. We sent a strong note of protest to the Yugoslav Government once we knew what the facts or some of the facts were, followed up with the notes which the Prime Minister read out in the chamber and the letters about the other 10 people. There has been a constant, persistent attempt to get the facts - something which honourable members opposite never did and never even tried to do.
Some reference was made to the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen). He might like to hear it. The Prime Minister referred to correspondence in which the honourable member, then arguing for the previous Government, said: ‘Don’t bother. Don’t try,’ T am paraphrasing a little, but this is the gist of it, as the honourable gentleman will remember. He said: ‘Because of certain suggestions’ - one was the aide-memoire that had been received from the Yugoslav Government at the time - ‘it might not be appropriate to make a protest. There is little merit in protesting.’ This is the gist of what the honourable gentleman was advising the then Attorney-General. He said: ‘Don’t protest’. I remind him - and he was one of the most senior Ministers in the then Government - of a statement he was reported as having made in Washington. I cannot quote the precise words but I believe it was consistent with this: ‘Australia is an insignificant country; we should not take ourselves too seriously’. The honourable gentleman might be writing it down now but I cannot quote his exact words. That is the way it went forth to the world, and no correction was made by the honourable gentleman at the time, as I recall.
There is a thread, a pattern running through all those actions, all those steps or lack of steps by the previous Government, compared with what the present Government has been doing and all the initiatives coming from the Prime Minister and all the initiatives coming from the Minister for Immigration, about which 1 have spoken. If one analyses the speeches and disregards those of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) and the right honourable member for Higgins, one comes to the honourable member for Moreton who spoke extremely well, as only a magnificent advocate can speak. But when he was asked what he would have this Government do. lowering his voice he said: Perhaps get on the telephone. Perhaps do not accept the invitation, presumably to be issued some time in the future, to visit that country.* That is the level to which the honourable gentleman has brought his whole charge. At this stage it is just a matter of sending protest notes at the diplomatic level through the Australian Ambassador in Belgrade. The honourable gentleman suggests seriously that all that can be done to back up his serious charge is that the Prime Minister should get on the telephone or perhaps not accept the offer of a trip which will presumably take place at some stage in the future. That is the real level to which this debate has sunk.
I think it was the right honourable member for Higgins who said that we should take a more drastic step and break off diplomatic relations. Apart from the histrionics, what good would that do? The Opposition says that the Government should be doing more than it is doing. The former Government did nothing. We are told that we should be communicating with the Yugoslav Government and then in the next breath honourable members opposite say: Break off diplomatic relations with the Yugoslav Government. Do not communicate with it’. How on earth do we communicate with the Yugoslav Government unless we have diplomatic relations with it? Whom should we telephone then7 To whom should we send protest notes then? How do we have an ambassador there who is effective and who can bring about relationships with the Yugoslav Government?
There is only one final comment that I think should be made about the matter of public importance. It is a matter of public Importance that people who are Australian citizens have been killed overseas in these circumstances, but the rest of the charges made by the honourable member for Moreton concerning the subordination of the Australian Government’s obligations to assert and protect the rights of its citizens overseas are appropriate and apt only in relation to the conduct, the reputation and behaviour of the previous Government.
– 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented in 2 disparate areas. The first relates to this debate. It was suggested in relation to the letters passing between me and the former Attorney-General that I was referring to the 3 gentlemen who it now appears were executed on 17th March. This was not so. We made inquiries about this matter and were informed by the Yugoslav Government that they had been destroyed in the invasion. We accepted that. In my correspondence when I was referring to the aide-memoire I was referring to the claim in the aide-memoire that terrorist groups were being trained in Australia. I went on to say that we were inquiring into that matter.
Insofar as Australian citizens were concerned, that was being pursued through the Ambassador in Belgrade. The only one who had suffered any detriment apart from harassment - there was one who had been harassed and who had returned to Australia - was one who had been convicted and sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. As appears from my letters, the Ambassador had been inquiring into this case and seeing that the man had legal representation. At the time I was writing, his case was subject to appeal. 1 do not resile one jot from what I did at that time. I did it honestly, after a full consideration of the facts before me and on the best advice I could get.
– But you did argue against a protest.
– I argued against a protest being made in that context at that time. It has now been revealed that the Yugoslav Government lied to us. It has been revealed that there was a trial and execution of 3 Australian citizens on 17th March. That is a different situation. I say no more. I am speaking only on a personal explanation.
The second matter on which I claim to have been misrepresented was this rather old canard which is so inaccurate that I have not troubled to explain it before. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) has repeated this and I do not want it to become the conventional wisdom. He said that I said in America that Australia was an insignificant country. That is totally false. I have a copy of the transcript of the remarks I made. They were not made in Washington. This arose out of a speech I gave in New York to the Australian-American Association. In the forefront of that speech, as anyone who takes the trouble to read it will see, I said that Australia in relation to other powers was a middle power. There was no question about that. The reference to insignificance occurred in another context altogether when I came to discuss the relationship between Australia, America and New Zealand in the ANZUS Treaty.
I was stressing the enormous potential of Australia to become a powerful partner. In the same sentence I suggested that, although at present of relative insignificance as a partner, we had the potentiality to become enormously important to America. I had in mind that our expenditure on defence was less than 2 per cent of America’s expenditure on defence and that our gross national product at that time was less than 4 per cent of America’s gross national product. If my statement was an inaccurate statement I do not know what would be a correct use of the English language. If was perfectly accurate. People may not like if it is twisted into a statement that says Australia is insignificant. I did not say that. I realise, that in politics to use words Kipling used long ago, you learn to bear to hear the words you have spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.
Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa- Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs) - The honourable gentleman has misrepresented me in saying that I misrepresented him.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)The honourable member claims to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have quoted what the honourable member for Parramatta said in his letter to the former Attorney-General about the Yugoslavian aide-memoire. There was only one aide-memoire. That was the aide-memoire in which the reference was made to incursionists having been destroyed or liquidated. There was one aide-memoire. There is no misrepresentation as to what the honourable gentleman said about that sole aide-memoire.
Mr N. H. BOWEN (Parramatta)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I do not question what the Prime Minister has said is in the aide-memoire but, as- I explained, I accepted that portion of the aide-memoire and went on in my letter to deal with what else was in the aide-memoire, which was an allegation that terrorists were being trained in
Australia. Various names were mentioned and various places were named. These were then referred to the Commonwealth Police for investigation. Those investigations were under way and it was those matters with which I was concerned in my letter. We actually accepted the statement that the men had been destroyed in the invasion.
– J claim to have been misrepresented too. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in the course of his statement in the House, said that the previous Government - that was my Government - had invited Mr Bijedic to come here as the guest of the Government. The truth is that at least on 2 occasions during the time I was Prime Minister I received a somewhat perfunctory type of invitation to visit Yugoslavia. 1 then informed the representatives of the Yugoslav Government that I would give the matter consideration and if it was practicable J might be able to make the visit. I was never able to make it. 1 did not give any answer subsequently and I did not visit Yugoslavia. At the same time, naturally, as a matter of goodwill, I said that if it was ever possible for a representative of the Yugoslav Government to come to Australia we would like him to come. I had never heard of the name of Mr Bijedic. I did not know that he was the Prime Minister. I knew that Yugoslavia was a communist country. Consequently there was nothing specific on the file of what was said by me to the Yugoslav Ambassador relating to Mr Bijedic as the Prime Minister of that country. Any statement to the contrary is false and can be proved to be false by reference to the records of the conversation.
Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa- Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, the right honourable gentleman has misrepresented me. 1 relied in making my comments on the only reference to this matter that I think the right honourable gentleman has previously made. It was on 3rd April when he said, as reported in Hansard:
The fact is that a general invitation was issued to the Yugoslav Government for its Prime Minister to visit Australia. It was issued by Sir John McEwen who was then Minister for Trade. It was a general invitation. There was also a very general invitation for me to visit Yugoslavia and I had not specifically accepted it.
Mr McMAHON (Lowe) - 1 have been misrepresented. Those who listened to the honourable gentleman-
– I quoted you.
– Yes, you have quoted me and you have drawn the wrong interpretation and know that you have drawn the wrong interpretation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I suggest to the right honourable gentleman that the Prime Minister quoted a statement direct from Hansard. It is difficult for a direct quotation to be a misinterpretation.
– Yes, but I said that I pointed out in my statement that the Prime Minister had referred to the fact that the previous Government - that is, my Government - had issued a specific invitation to Mr Bijedic. I pointed out that the original invitation was issued by another Government.
– I will accept that.
– The honourable gentleman accepts that; the correction has been made. The second point is that I did not issue a specific invitation to Mr Bijedic because I had never heard of him, I did. not know who he was and I doubt now whether 1 would have proceeded with any invitation.
– This discussion is now concluded.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Superannuation Act 1922-71 to provide for annual increases in certain pensions payable under the Act. It gives effect to the recommendations made by Professor A. H. Pollard who was asked to report to the Government on the methods available for adjusting Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and similar type pensions. Honourable members will be aware that the report was tabled in the House by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on 10th April 1973. As Professor Pollard stated in his report, the aim of employers in providing superannuation schemes is not only to give protection but also to give peace of mind or to free the employee from the ever present fear that a long retirement might bring severe financial problems in its latter years. Professor Pollard also stated that the necessary criteria for pension adjustments, if superannuation schemes are to achieve that aim, are that adjustments should take place automatically, that they should maintain the purchasing power of the pension and that they should be made frequently. In examining possible alternative methods of adjustment, Professor Pollard considered the notional salary method of adjustment that had hitherto been adopted on an ad hoc basis. He observed that the notional salary method has a number of disadvantages in its operation and that it performs more roles than merely adjusting pensions in changing economic circumstances because it adjusts for salary increases not received before retirement began and for changes made to the rules of the scheme. To the extent that the notional salary method effects these other changes, it exceeds its role as an adjuster for price and productivity increases. He also noted that it acts quite inequitably between different groups.
Professor Pollard also gave consideration to adjustments by growth in average weekly earnings. He took the view that those figures include overtime, shift work payments and like allowances which are not appropriate when considering pension adjustment. He also referred to the fact that Commonwealth Service salaries have, on average, increased at slightly below the rate of increase in average weekly earnings over recent years and that, in these circumstances, pensioners would receive larger proportionate increases in their incomes than public servants still in the work force if average weekly earnings were to be used. Like the notional salary method it could provide increases higher than those represented by price and productivity increases. Other methods were also examined but Professor Pollard concluded that automatic annual adjustments of the Commonwealth share of pension by 1.4 times the consumer price index was the most appropriate formula. His formula is designed to provide a greater share of productivity increases when inflation is high and adjustments are needed, and a lesser share when there is little inflation. The adoption of his proposal will result in the pensioner receiving the guarantee that the purchasing power of his full pension is more than maintained. The Bill proposes that the Commonwealth share of the pension being paid to ex-contributors or their widows, including the full share relating to noncontributory units of pension, be adjusted automatically each year on the first pension pay day in each July. The adjustment will be by a percentage - to the nearest one-tenth of one per cent - equal to 1.4 times the percentage by which the immediately preceding March quarter consumer price index - 6 capital cities - exceeds that index for the March quarter of the previous year, with the proviso that the percentage by which pensions are increased should not exceed the percentage increase in the estimates of average weekly earnings, seasonally adjusted, for the corresponding period. Where the period between the date of retirement and 1st July is less than one year, the percentage will be reduced in the proportion that that period, taken to the nearest month, bears to one year.
The Bill does not require pensions to be reduced in the event that the index moves downwards - a blessed thought. Increases will be paid notwithstanding that the percentage increase in some years may be small. The first adjustment will be made on 5th July next. Because no increase has been granted since 1st October 1971, that increase will be related to the movements in the index between the June 1971 quarter and the March 1973 quarter. The proportionate reduction, however, will be related to the 21 months between 1st October 1971 and 30th June 1973. We cannot be certain at this stage, pending the publication of the estimate of the average weekly earnings rate for March 1973, that the proviso to which I have earlier referred will not apply to the adjustment this year. If it does not apply, those in receipt of a pension at 1st October 1971 will receive an increase of 15.8 per cent in the Commonwealth share of the pension then being paid. The estimated cost of the increase on this basis is $8.4m for the financial year 1973-74.
Examples of the increases that would result are: A telecommunications technician whose pension on retirement at 1st September 1971 was $2,925, made up of 25 contributory units and 10 non-contributory units, would receive an increase in his pension of $359.45 per annum; that is 15.8 per cent of $2,275, which is the Commonwealth element of his pension. A clerk class 4 whose pensions on retirement at 10th October 1972 was $4,342, made up of 42 contributory units and 8 noncontributory units, would receive an increase in his pension of $220.07 per annum; that is, nine twenty-firsts of 15.8 per cent, which is the Commonwealth element of his pension.
As on previous occasions, a widow will receive the appropriate proportion, five-eighths or one-half as the case may be, of the increase that her husband would have received had he been alive and in receipt of a pension on 30th June 1973. Certain orphans will also receive increased pensions. The position of orphans and children, however, is under further consideration in the comprehensive review of the present superannuation scheme currently being undertaken by my Department. Other matters referred to in Professor Pollard’s report, such as the investment powers of the Fund, period of actuarial investigations, etc., are also being examined. I hope shortly to table the results of the review for the information of honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the provision of a contractual guarantee by the Australian Government for an overseas borrowing by Papua New Guinea in foreign currencies not exceeding the equivalent of- $US20m or $A14.3m. The proceeds of the loan will be used by the Government of Papua New Guinea to finance public works and services. Legislation to authorise the borrowing has already been passed by the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly. The borrowing will be the first loan raised by Papua New Guinea on international capital markets, although this is not the first time Parliament has been asked to approve the provision of contractual guarantees for overseas borrowings by Papua New Guinea. Parliament has on a number of previous occasions approved such guarantees by the Australiangovernment in respect of loans to Papua New Guinea from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank. All borrowings by Papua New Guinea internally or on the Australian Market, of course carry a statutory guarantee by the Australian Government by virtue of section 75a of the Papua New Guinea Act.
It is expected that arrangements for the borrowing for which this Bill provides a guarantee, will be concluded before the end of this financial year. One of the loan possibilities currently being investigated by the Papua New Guinea Government is a public bond issue denominated in Deutschemarks. Such an issue would be underwritten by an international syndicate of banking and financial institutions, which makes it necessary to seek parliamentary approval for the provision of the guarantee in advance of the time the issue is actually negotiated. A legal opinion by the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, to the effect that the legal pre-requisites for the provision of the guarantee have been fulfilled, will need to be furnished to the underwriters immediately the loan documents have been signed and before the proceeds of the borrowing are paid over. This is normally done about 7 days after the signing of the underwriting agreement. There would, therefore, be insufficient time to seek parliamentary approval for the guarantee after the loan agreement has been signed, as has been the normal practice with guarantees for loans to Papua New Guinea by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank.
The form of guarantee that is customarily required in International capital markets is similar to those that have been given to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and to the Asian Development Bank in respect of borrowings by Papua New Guinea from those institutions. The borrower and the guarantor would also both be required to give customary undertakings to the effect that interest payments and repayment of the loan would be made without deduction for taxes and would also be free of exchange control restrictions. The Bill accordingly provides for such undertakings to be given.
The Bill is purposely couched in general terms in respect of the currency and the precise form of the proposed borrowing so as not to restrict Papua New Guinea’s choice as to the particular overseas market in which it finally decided to arrange the loan. In present circumstances, it seems probable that the cost of an overseas borrowing by Papua New Guinea will not differ greatly from the cost of a borrowing for a comparable term from institutional sources in Australia. The Papua New Guinea Government wishes to undertake an overseas borrowing as soon as possible in order that it may establish a favourable standing in international capital markets before it becomes independent, as this could enhance its borrowing prospects thereafter. A contractual guarantee by the Australian Government for such a borrowing should ensure the success of this first issue and will materially assist Papua New Guinea in furthering this longer term objective. I therefore commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Bill presented by Dr Patterson, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is designed to amend the Wool Industry Act 1972 to incorporate the arrangements to apply in 1973-74 for the financing of wool research and promotion and to meet the costs of administering the marketing functions of the Australian Wool Corporation. The Government has reviewed the proposals on this matter endorsed by the Australian Wool Industry Conference for the triennium 1973-74 to 1975-76, and decided that the only course it could justify in the current circumstances was to adopt measures to apply only for 1973-74. The Government however is proceeding with an examination of measures appropriate for continuing longer term programs.
Wool prices have improved markedly during the current season and this significant change in the wool market has highlighted the impact which unpredictable and uncertain variations in the proceeds from the wool tax can have on budgetary programs. Experience in both the current and past trienniums demonstrate also the difficulties arising from inescapable increases in salaries and other costs which become more uncertain the further ahead programs are planned. Because of these factors, the financial commitment over a triennium tends to be inflated to ensure that adequate resources are available when various adverse effects coincide and markedly influence the budget. It was felt that the measures proposed earlier and endorsed by the Australian Wool Industry Conference would have imposed on the Government much of the burden arising from the unpredictable adverse variations in the different segments of the budget.
The proposals endorsed by the Australian Wool Industry Conference were considered by the Government also in the context of the general principle that measures to assist industries should ensure that the benefits are received by those producers in most need of help. It is appreciated that the present prices are providing welcome relief for woolgrowers who have experienced depressed incomes and a heavy debt burden in recent years. Nevertheless, prices have recovered to relatively high levels and the value of wool production has risen to an estimated $l,329m in 1972-73 from $664m in the previous year. Thus values compare favourably with prices realised in the years when the industry alone financed expenditure on wool promotion. For these reasons the Government considers that in 1973-74, woolgrowers should finance a greater share of the expenditure on research and promotion and that its decision to provide $22m for this purpose and for the cost of administering the marketing functions of the Australian Wool Corporation represents a reasonable balance in the circumstances.
The decision to provide measures for one year only should not be interpreted as any weakening of the Government’s resolve to develop an arrangement incorporating all the advantages of forward planning and continuing longer term programming, and overcoming many of the difficulties involved in this procedure. The Government is examining ways and means of developing both the research and promotion programs on a continuing longer term basis and account will be taken of views the Australian Wool Corporation and the industry organisations may have on this matter. An overall expenditure of $43. 8m is planned for 1973-74 to cover the costs of the approved programs for research and promotion and to meet the administrative marketing costs of the Australian Wool Corporation. This expenditure is to be financed by the Government contribution and by the proceeds of the wool tax. To provide the amount of revenue required from the wool tax, its operative rate is being increased to 2.4 per cent of the gross value of all wool shorn and sold whether at auction or otherwise, effective from 1st July 1973. Currently, a tax of 1 per cent is imposed on all shorn wool sold and a levy of 0.4 per cent is collected on all wool sold by auction. Of the total revenue derived from the tax in 1973-74, a minimum of $20m is to be used to finance expenditure on wool research and promotion.
The overall expenditure provides for a research program of $12.6m which will enable the quantum of activity to be maintained at its present level in the fields of production, textile and economic research provided inescapable rises in costs do not exceed the average for the current 3-year period. In addition, a sum of $29.4m is being allocated for wool promotion through the Australian Wool Corporation and the International Wool Secretariat. Provision of $1.8m is made also to meet the costs of administering the marketing functions of the Australian Wool Corporation imposed under the Wool Industry Act 1972. The 1973-74 Budget does not involve any drain on the income and reserves of either the Wool Research Trust Fund or the Australian Wool Corporation as has occurred in recent years. However, these reserves would be available to meet any deficit which might arise if the inescapable increases in the costs of the programs prove to be greater than anticipated or the revenue from the wool tax is less than expected. Conversely, should a surplus become available from the proceeds of the wool tax, this is to be allocated to the Wool Research Trust Fund and carried forward to help finance expenditure in future years.
No change is being made in the present responsibilities for administering the wool research programs specified in the Wool Industry Act 1972. However, the Government considers that every opportunity should be used to strengthen and develop the coordination of research activities undertaken by the various organisations receiving support from wool funds. It welcomes the attention given to this matter by the Australian Wool Board during the present triennium and account will be taken of these views in examining arrangements which might be developed for operat ing longer term and continuing programs in research and promotion. The provision of $29.4m in 1973-74 for wool promotion in Australia and overseas will enable the Australian Wool Corporation to meet Australia’s share of the International Wool Secretariat’s budget, after taking account of savings flowing from the revaluation of the Austraiian dollar in December last. The Australian contribution to the IWS compares with current estimates of SI, 329m and $1,5 13m for the value of Australia’s woo! production and exports respectively in 1972-73.
The. allocation for promotion however must be balanced against the dimensions of the task being undertaken by the IWS in encouraging the use of wool in an international textile market which is so large in comparison with the volume of wool products sold. During a recent visit overseas the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) had an opportunity to review with .the Chairman and the Managing Director of the IWS the activities of this organisation, in particular, the Minister . considered how the functions of the IWS are integrated in servicing the woo] textile industry in a fashion similar to that used by manufacturers of man-made fibres to help the users of their products. In this manner, the development of new products and the imparting of new properties to wool products are directed specifically towards retail requirements and- consumer demand. Technical advice is constantly provided in various countries on mill re-organisation and modernisation and the specialised treatments and processes such as for permanent creasing, shrink proofing and machine washability of wool products, are being extended under trade mark and licence control, by the IWS, in the various countries where it operates. These activities of IWS are concentrated on the 4 main end uses of wool - carpets, women’s outerwear, men’s outerwear and knitted outerwear (excluding children’s wear). No change is being made in the. responsibility of the Australian Wool Corporation, under the Wool Industry Act, for funds spent on promotion both in Australia and overseas. However, the activities of the IWS have been under intensive review during the current triennium and’ the Government is examining the results of that review to ensure that every effort is made to further improve the performance and effectiveness of wool promotional activities in the future.
I now turn to the amendments to the Wool Industry Act 1972 required in terms of the Government’s decision. The Bill provides for amendments to Part 1 of the principal Act which are of a machinery nature. Part II of the principal Act is amended to delete the existing provision whereby the Corporation determines and collects from brokers the amounts which they deduct from the proceeds of wool sold at auction to enable the Corporation to meet the costs of administering its marketing functions. The need to delete this provision arises because the levy deducted by the brokers is being consolidated with the previous wool tax imposed on all shorn wool sold at auction or otherwise to provide funds for wool research and promotion. Part III of the principal Act is amended to authorise payments to the Corporation of funds for promotion and marketing administrative purposes, and to the Wool Research Trust Fund for wool research. Any income received during the year in addition to amounts required for the approved programs of expenditure will be paid into the Fund to help as necessary to finance future programs. Provision is also made for the payment of $22m as the Commonwealth contribution in 1973-74. I commend the Bill in the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent five Wool Tax Bills -
being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all the Bills together, and
the consideration of the Bills in one committee of the whole.
WOOL TAX BILLS (Nos 1 to 5) 1973
Bills presented by Dr Patterson, and together read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
These 5 Bills are designed to amend the Wool Tax Acts (Nos 1 to 5) 1964 in terms of the new arrangements made by the Government for the collection of a consolidated wool levy to finance wool research, promotion and the administration of the marketing functions of the Australian Wool Corporation. These arrangements are dealt with in the second reading speech on the Wool Industry Bill. This levy will incorporate the charge imposed on wool sold by auction, previously collected by the Australian Wool Corporation through wool brokers, to finance the Corporation’s administrative marketing costs. All 5 Wool Tax Bills are similar in their provisions and increase from 2 per cent to 3 per cent the rate of wool tax payable where a lower rate has not been prescribed by regulation. The operative rate of the consolidated levy is being prescribed by regulation at 2.4 per cent as from 1st July 1973.
The Wool Tax Act (No. 1) imposes a tax on shorn wool produced in Australia and sold by a wool broker. The other Wool Tax Acts ensure that where wool is not sold by a broker, it is subject to tax at some other point. The need for 5 separate Acts arises from a constitutional requirement that laws imposing taxes shall deal with one subject of taxation only. I commend these Bills to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Clyde Cameron, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of the Bill is to extend the operation of the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act 1967-1972 for a further period of 12 months. The Bill also proposes to extend the power to make regulations to include non-continuous ports and to remove some existing limitations in relation to other ports. These measures are necessary to permit the evolution and introduction of permanent legislative arrangements for the industry. The Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act was enacted in 1967 to give legislative effect to the agreement entered into by the National Stevedoring Industry Conference which was set up by the previous Government under the chairmanship of Mr A. E. Woodward, Q.C., with the object of achieving long-term improvement of conditions in the stevedoring industry.
The National Conference reported to the then Government in April 1967, and recorded agreement in principle, inter alia, on a scheme for the permanent employment, on weekly hiring, of watersiders in major ports; a pension scheme for regular waterside workers; arrangements for coping with anticipated redundancy; procedures for handling industrial disputes; and disciplinary procedures. These proposals involved significant changes in the role of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, whose functions in relation to permanently employed watersiders were to be largely transferred to the stevedoring companies.
The enabling, legislation was originally introduced for a trial period expiring on 30th June 1970, by which time it was anticipated that legislation providing for permanent arrangements in the industry could be introduced. However, before that date it became evident that a number of factors prevented the introduction of permanent legislation at that time.The most important of these were that it had not been possible for the principal parties in the industry to determine what employment arrangements would be introduced in the smaller ports, where about one-fifth of the industry’s work force was still employed on a casual basis, and the fact that the structure of the industry was being greatly affected by the development of containerisation and other new cargo handling techniques. For these reasons the life of the temporary legislation was extended for 2 years until 30th June 1972.
By early 1972 no significant progress had been made to resolve these issues. Furthermore, the task of evolving permanent employment arrangements for the entire industry was further complicated by the financial difficulties in which the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority found itself. From 1970 onward the Authority has been progressively less able to meet its commitments from the levies on employers raised under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act, mainly because of a rapidly rising level of expenditure on idle time. Idle time expenditure comprises payments made to permanent watersiders in respect of full shifts for which they are available for work but are not required. The rising trend in idle time expenditure is a reflection of the progressive introduction of technological developments in the industry. Accordingly, the temporary legislation was again extended for a further 12 months until 30th June 1973.
Notwithstanding the difficulties which have prevented the introduction of permanent legislation relating to this industry in the past, I believe that it will be possible during the next 12 months for this Government to determine permanent legislation arrangements for the industry. The former government, of course, seemed to dilly dally with this matter as long as it could, never making a decision if it could possibly avoid doing so. It seemed bent on a policy of starving the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority into bankruptcy. A lot of our present troubles stem from the inaction of the former Government and its inability to understand the problems of the stevedoring industry. In contrast to the approach adopted by the previous administration, positive steps have already been taken to resolve the outstanding issues in this industry, These are steps that should and could have been taken previously by the former Government if it had only had the will to do something about the problems in the. industry.
– It had the will to do the job properly.
– Yes, or the will to do the job properly. I am obliged to the honourable, member for New England (Mr Sinclair) for the correction. The former Government had neither the will to do the job properly nor the ability to do the job properly. I have requested the Stevedoring Industry Council to supply me with its views on future permanent employment arrangements for casual ports and on funding arrangements for the industry as a whole. I have also commissioned an officer of my Department, one of the most knowledgeable men on the stevedoring industry in Australia, Mr Norman K. Foster, who was for 3 years a member of this House, to inquire into and report on certain aspects of stevedoring operations in relation to the activities of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. Mr Foster is at present visiting Coffs Harbour. When he has completed that assignment he will be visiting the other States so that he may give me an on the spot report as to what is needed to be done to correct the results of the inactivity of the previous Government over the past four or five years.
Nevertheless, it will not be possible to reach finality on future arrangements for the
Industry in sufficient time to prepare permanent legislation before the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act expires at the end of June this year. After all, this Government has been in a position to legislate for only about 9 weeks since its election to office on 2nd December. In that time we have, I am proud to say, produced an extraordinary amount of enlightened legislation. We have about another 60 Bills on the stocks, ready if only members of the Opposition will get off their backsides and intelligently discuss the Bills that we want the Parliament to consider. I therefore propose that during the current session the life of this Act be extended for a further 12 months to 30th June 1974. Extending the life of the Act until June 1974 will not of course preclude the introduction of permanent legislation at an earlier date if this proves feasible. With the support and valued help of Mr Foster I am certain that it will be possible to bring in permanent legislation at an earlier date than that to which I have just alluded. Indeed, an earlier date for permanent legislation is eminently desirable. We need to have this industry put on a proper and permanent basis.
As presently framed, the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act does not have application to non-continuous ports, and places some limitations on the powers of the Governor-General to make regulations in relation to permanent and continuous ports. It is, therefore, proposed to extend the regulationmaking powers to cover non-continuous ports, and to remove existing limitations in relation to other ports to the extent necessary to ensure that any transitional arrangements for permanent employment of a different nature from that in existing permanent ports can be introduced by regulation pending the framing of permanent legislation. This involves minor changes to section 8 of the Act. Those changes will be indicated and explained at the Committee stage. I have much pleasure in commending the Bm to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Connor, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967-68 to take account of the new seabed boundaries established under 3 agreements signed with Indonesia in 1971, 1972 and 1973 and thus permit formal ratification of the 3 agreements by the Australian Government. On 22nd February 1973 on the occasion of the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to Indonesia, the Prime Minister and President Suharto issued a joint communique which referred to Australia’s intention to ratify at an early date the 1971 and 1972 Seabed Boundary Agreements. It was stated also that both governments would also ratify the 1973 Agreement as soon as practicable. The Bill provides new descriptions of the areas adjacent to Queensland, the Northern Territory, the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea. These descriptions amend those in the Second Schedule to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967-68 and thus formalise the new seabed boundaries established under the 3 agreements.
The 1971 Agreement, which was signed on 18th May 1971, delimits the seabed between Australia and Indonesia in the Arafura Sea and between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia off the southern and northern coasts of Papua New Guinea. The boundaries relating to Papua New Guinea were approved in 1971 by the Administrator’s Executive Council. The 1972 Agreement, which was signed on 9th October 1972, is supplementary to the 1971 Agreement and delimits the seabed between Australia and Indonesia in the Arafura and Timor Seas west of the boundary agreed to in 1971. The 1973 Agreement, which was signed on 12th February 1973 by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Somare, on behalf of the Australian Government, deals with the land boundary of Papua New Guinea, and with the seabed boundary immediately south of Papua New Guinea. The 1973 Agreement provides in addition that the seabed boundary lines shall also serve, so far as necessary, as the lateral boundaries of the territorial seas and exclusive fishing zones of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
The 1973 Agreement has been approved by the Administrator’s Executive Council of Papua New Guinea. In addition the Agreement expressly envisages that the approval of the Agreement by the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly is to be obtained before Australian ratification of the Agreement takes place. It is expected that the Agreement will be considered during the next session of the House of Assembly commencing on 21st May 1973. Each of the agreements is subject to ratification in accordance with the constitutional requirements of each country and is to enter into force on the day on which the instruments of ratification are exchanged. The Indonesian Government has in fact already taken the constitutional steps necessary for their ratification of both the 1971 and 1972 Seabed Agreements.
The seabed boundaries set out in the 3 Agreements differ in some respects from the limits of Australian and Papua New Guinea adjacent areas’ described in the Schedules to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. Some parts of the ‘adjacent areas’ of the Northern Territory and of the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands project beyond the boundary agreed in 1972. As a result 6 exploration permits in the Ashmore and Cartier Islands adjacent area’ and one exploration permit in the Northern Territory ‘adjacent area’ are reduced in area. The present adjacent area of Queensland lies inside the boundary agreed in 1971, and a small addition to the adjacent area has resulted. In the case of Papua New Guinea, there is a net gain to Papua New Guinea in the seabed area to the south, while in the north some re-adjustment in favour of Indonesia is required. Passage of this amending legislation will allow the Government to ratify the 1971 and 1972 Agreements with Indonesia and ratification of the Third Agreement will follow, subject to the approval of that Agreement by the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly.
The signing of the Third Agreement with Indonesia in February this year concluded negotiation of the seabed boundaries between Australia and Indonesia. We now have a boundary which extends from an area north of Papua New Guinea through the Arafura and Timor Seas to a point north-west of Australia, incomplete only in the area opposite Portuguese Timor. The Government has been ip. contact with the Portuguese Government in relation to the seabed boundary in this area and we expect that discussions will commence later this year. I suggest to honourable members that the passage of this amending legislation will have 2 very important implications for Australia. Firstly, it will enable the Government to ratify the agreements signed with Indonesia and thereby help to maintain the friendly relations which exist between our 2 countries. Secondly early ratification of the Agreements will allow exploration in areas adjacent to the new boundaries to proceed with certainty as to the extent of Australian jurisdiction. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
The following message has been received from the Senate:
The Senate, having considered message No. 25 of the House of Representatives, has agreed to the following resolutions in connection therewith, viz:
Paragraph (5), leave out the paragraph, insert the following paragraph:
The Senate requests the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the Senate’s modification of the resolution transmitted to the Senate by the House.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
– I move:
Paragraph (5), omit the paragraph, insert the following paragraph:
By way of explanation 1 mention that the Government does not take exception to the principle implicit in the Senate’s modification of the original resolution. That principle. 1 apprehend, is that a committee should elect its own Chairman from among Government supporters appointed to it. We do feel, however, that in the case of joint committees it is not appropriate for one House of the Parliament to say that the chairman should be chosen from members of one House only. In the present case, we have been asked to agree that the Chairman should be a member of this House. In another case we are to be asked to consider - that is, in relation to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory - the other place has said that the Chairman should be a senator. If members of joint committees are to elect their own chairmen, surely it is consistent with the principle behind the proposal that members of a committee should have as wide a choice as possible. That is the principle behind the motion I have moved.
– Although 1 am somewhat at a disadvantage, having seen neither the original message sent to the Senate nor the modification to it, I understand something of the purport of the motion that has now been moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). The Opposition has no objection to the change, although I should say that it is my understanding that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) in fact agreed to the form of the message that has been referred by that chamber to this House. The general substance of the principle, as I understand it, is that a committee chairman should be elected by the committee itself rather than nominated from outside of the committee. I think that is a principle which members of this House accept. The motion by the Leader of the House, as I comprehend it, is designed to ensure that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence shall not be required to elect as its Chairman a member of a particular House. The Opposition does not regard this as being a matter of great moment. Accordingly it is prepared to concur with the change recommended by the Leader of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)The following message has been received from the Senate:
The Senate, having considered message No. 29 of the House of Representatives, has agreed to the following resolutions in connection therewith, viz:
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 29 of the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a joint committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory, subject to the following modification -
Paragraph (S), leave out the paragraph, insert the following paragraph:
That the committee elect as Chairman of the committee one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
That the provisions of the resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
The Senate requests the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the Senate’s modification of the resolution transmitted to the Senate by the House.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
– I thank the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) for his understanding of the situation in relation to the messages from the Senate about this matter and the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. 1 move:
Paragraph (5), omit the paragraph, insert the following paragraph:
The explanation I gave in relation to the previous message from the Senate is also applicable to this matter, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– The Opposition again does not object to the motion moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly), but for the benefit of those honourable members who might well have been as confused as I was in relation to the previous matter I think I should point out that paragraph (5) of the original message submitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate states:
That the Prime Minister nominate one of the Government members of the Committee as Chairman.
The other place has modified that part of the resolution to provide that the Committee itself be able to select its own Chairman. The restraint within the Senate’s amendment, however, was that the election of a chairman should be in another instance - the message we debated a moment ago - only from among the members nominated by the Prime Minister and in this instance only from among the members nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Leader of the House’s amendment will enable the Committee to elect as chairman a member of either House. The Opposition does not oppose the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 11 April (vide page 1317), on motion by Mr Les Johnson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Bonnett had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading the House is of the opinion that provision should have been made (a) for the effective period of service to be six years, (b) for the concessions granted to single or widowed female members of the Forces without dependants to be granted also to single or widowed male members of the Forces without dependants and (c) for amendments to be made to the Principal Act in respect of the title to the dwelling-house, unit or lot to enable the serviceman to borrow on second mortgage and give valid security to the lender’.
- Mr Speaker, I have much pleasure in supporting the Defence Services Homes Bill 1973. It is very pleasing to note that the new proposals will extend benefits to, (A), members of the forces on continuous full time service on or after 7th December 1972 who, before or after that date, completed or complete 3 years’ effective full time service; (B), a person engaged for full time service of not less than 3 years but who is discharged on medical grounds before completion of 3 years service, unless discharged before the completion of 12 months service; (Q, persons undergoing training at a naval, military or Air Force college who successfully complete their course of training; (D), persons commissioned under the) undergraduate scheme after they have given 3 years’ effective service following the completion of their studies; (E), national servicemen and national service officers serving immediately before 7th December who complete the period of service for which they were engaged to serve or who are discharged on medical grounds prior to the completion of their service; (F), to those national servicemen serving at 6th December 1972 who voluntarily chose to complete the period for which they were originally enlisted; and (G), to single and widowed nurses and ex-service women without dependants who served overseas with the forces in the 1939-45 War.
The scheme has always provided that the widow of an eligible person will be eligible for war service homes benefits. The Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) is to be congratulated on the efficient and capable manner in which the 3 Services of the Australian forces have been studied and consideration given to entitlements long overdue for review as far as war service homes are concerned. This Bill also extends benefits to accredited representatives of welfare organisations who served overseas with the Australian forces, either in World War II or in warlike operations since the last World War under conditions where their services would qualify them for benefits. It seems incredible, Mr Speaker, that to date representatives of welfare organisations such as the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Salvation Army, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Australian Red Cross Society that served in all theatres of war with distinction, such as North Africa, Greece, Crete, Papua New Guinea, Malaya and Singapore, have not been recognised and given the opportunity to participate and have the same rights as a returned person under the War Service Homes Act.
Returned men in this House will remember only too well the tremendous job done by the welfare organisations in all theatres of war where Australian troops were fighting. I am sure they will remember the work done by the Salvation Army, the tremendous work done by the Red Cross and the facilities for recreation placed at the troops’ disposal by the YMCA. Many representatives of these organisations died, were wounded or became prisoners of war. Surely then these people who were under no obligation to go to war are entitled to the same rights and privileges as the returned serviceman or service woman. This Bill recognises their services and, although a little late in the day, makes a contribution by including them within the structure of the War Service Homes Act. It is estimated that 1,000 welfare representatives of all categories served overseas during the Second World War, plus an estimated 100 who served in warlike operations since then. Does the number really matter? This House should not quibble if the number is 1,000 or 2,000 in view of the tremendous job they did during the war years.
The next most pleasing feature of this Bill is the recognition of the single and widowed nurses and ex-service women, without dependents, who served overseas with the forces in the 1939-45 War. As the Minister for Housing has stated, these people would not qualify for housing accommodation under any of the public housing schemes of the States and they would find it difficult to obtain a housing loan from institutional lenders on account of their age and their sex. The Minister for Housing is to be commended for the recognition of these people in this Bill.
The War Service Homes Act came into operation on 6th March 1919. Its original purpose was to provide homes for servicemen and service women returning from the 1914-18 War. Subsequently, the benefits of the Act were extended to persons with appropriate qualifying service in the 1939-45 War and, subject to the prescribed conditions, to persons with service in connection with warlike operations in Korea, Malaya, or as defined in the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1968. Since the inception of the war service homes scheme 327,262 ex-servicemen and women, and their dependents, have been assisted to acquire, complete or enlarge homes.
During 1971 the War Service Homes Act was amended. The principle change effected was to increase the maximum lending limit to $9,000. It is the intention now to increase the maximum loan from §9,000 to $12,000. We realise today that with the upsurge in values, both in land and the cost of building, $9,000 is not sufficient. Statistics show that in 1971-72 of the 15,834 homes built, $9,000 covered only approximately 57 per cent of the average cost. Today it is difficult to acquire even a modest home in the Sydney metropolitan area - I am sure the same applies to most other State capitals - for less than
Si 5,000 or $20,000. Land prices and building trends indicate that prices will continue to rise and this, of course, will mean that the Government, at a subsequent date, will have to give serious consideration to a proposed limit of perhaps $15,000. The intention of the Act is to increase the maximum lending limit under the scheme to enable loans to be made up to 100 per cent of the value of properties against which advances will be made. The deposit is to be 5 per cent of the total cost and the maximum period of repayment is to be up to 45 years, except where purchasers or borrowers are female dependants when it will be 50 years, and the interest payment is to be 3i per cent. It can be seen that the conditions will be such as to allow the eligible person an opportunity to purchase a home which, under norma] circumstances, just could not be afforded, with the low deposit, the spread of repayments over 45 years and interest at the rate of 3) per cent. A war service home is very reasonably priced and I am sure can be afforded by the returned serviceman on the average weekly wage. This Bill will attract and retain regular servicemen. It will give them security and it will give them a living standard on a par with civilians with regard to housing costs and conditions. After discharge, the exserviceman or woman will not be faced with the task of financing a home at a much greater cost and over a shorter period, but will have a home which in quality and attractiveness could not be better. I compliment the Minister for Housing on the introduction of this very good Bill.
– This Bill which has been clearly explained by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Ashley-Brown) - he gave a small recitation of its provisions - I believe represents a much more fundamental change than most people would realise. It changes the name of the War Service Homes Act, which has stood since 1919, to the Defence Service Homes Act. It is not only in the name that the fundamental change takes place but also in the spirit of the Act. The War Service Homes Act was introduced after the First World War. It was a repatriation measure for men who had served overseas. Those were the men who were entitled to the benefit. In that spirit, of course, it had a different connotation from what it has now, because the proposed Act, the Defence Service Homes Act, the Bill which we are discussing, will bring in all regular servicemen who have served for 3 years. This is a matter that is being dealt with by amendment. It changes the whole spirit of ‘the Act as we have known it. 1 do not think it would have been impossible for the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) to deal with the housing of servicemen as a separate matter from the spirit and intention of the original War Service Homes Act.
The Opposition does not object to the Bill. We are prepared to go along with the provision of assistance to servicemen. Of course there are certain amendments which have been moved by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) and which will be dealt with by other speakers. I may have time to mention some myself. The Bill, as has been mentioned, increases the maximum loan from $9,000 to $12,000, which I think is very appropriate because of the inflation that affects this country. It provides for certain unmarried females to qualify. We do not disagree with that, because we want to extend that benefit to males as well as females. The Bill brings in representatives of certain welfare organisations, and I think that is quite proper too. We have no objection to those aspects of the Bill, but we feel that it was not necessary to change the whole principle of what has been known as the War Service Homes Act.
This Act, of course, is perhaps one of the great achievements in the history of this country. After the 1914-18 War it was introduced, as I have said, as a repatriation measure, and only those who had served in a theatre of war were eligible for benefits under it. It carries a substantial subsidy on interest. The interest rate is now 3) per cent, which virtually carries a subsidy of 31 per cent. There is no means test associated with this measure. It is not a question of assisting people in need. The term of a loan under this measure is 45 years, and 50 years for widows. That is all right too. A person must not own another home, and he can buy or he can build.
The record over the years is very interesting. From 1919 to 1949, that is, in a period of 30 years 63,000 homes were financed at a cost of $105m. From the time the Liberal Government took over in 1949 to 1971, for which period statistical figures are accurately recorded - a period of 22 years - 261,217 homes were financed for ex-servicemen at a cost of $l,337m. Since then the amount has increased, and I understand that now about 330,000 homes have been financed since 1949. This is an achivement that the previous Liberal Government can be proud of and no one can take this record from us. Certain matters of concern have always existed and still exist in relation to war service homes, particularly on the question of the freedom of the title. Some people do not seem to realise that approval is needed to borrow on a second mortgage or to get a war service home. The loan cannot be transferred to another security; it is applied only to the security on which it was borrowed.
The reasons behind this Bill have been announced by the Minister, and they are not denied. When the Labor Government came to power it decided that it would dispense with the National Service Act, and it will always maintain that it can get the required recruits into the regular Army on a volunteer basis, and so it has resorted to this type of action to enable it to get the recruits. This was the idea it had to get the troops. Indeed, one is not exaggerating when one says that this is a form of bribery to get troops into the Services. A person has to serve for only 3 years in any capacity, whether it be cook or a combatant, to be eligible. All the Australian Labor Party wants in the Services is the numbers. It wants the numbers to justify its scrapping of the National Service Act. It is not the quality of the Services about which it is thinking; it is simply a question of numbers to justify the claim it has made. We know that the Labor Party’s policy on defence has changed considerably. No longer does it believe in defending Australia outside the shores of Australia. It believes that all the preparation for defence should be for the defence of Australia within the bounds of Australia, and it disdains to give any special recognition for service outside the shores of Australia. What effect will this have? I have thought of this. I believe in the first place that it will bring some very severe heartburnings to many of the returned services leagues and clubs throughout Australia and to many of the ex-servicemen who have served overseas. I believe that it is a form of destruction of a very old tradition, and in this respect I do not like it. But obviously the Labor Party is hellbent on crushing under heel every form of tradition that has flowed down through the years in this country. I have not time to deal with those matters.
– A gross exaggeration.
– No, it is not. This Bil! will reduce the desire to serve one’s country to a mercenary objective of personal gain, because it means a saving in interest of about $360 per annum for a period of 45 years for a person who has served for 3 years at home. This means a bonus of approximately $16,000, to be taken up at any time, I remind the House, because people do not go into the Service and make up their minds to buy a home at once. So posterity will hand this $16,000 bonus to each man who serves for 3 years in one of the Services. No one has calculated, and the Minister has made no effort to tell us, how much the cost of this proposal will be to the taxpayer of Australia. No one has ever suggested what it will mean in the future, but it must be a prodigious cost. As one could well imagine, people will not use their loan entitlement at once but it will flow down through the years as people enlist for 3 years, go out of the Services and another lot enlist.
I agree - I do not want any misunderstanding about this - that servicemen should be well housed while they are in the Services. A great deal is now being done in this field and more can be done. Special funds are made available through the State housing commissions from money provided by the Commonwealth to build homes for servicemen. From time to time under special acquisition programs a great number of homes have been acquired for servicemen. I initiated these schemes myself. This program will have to go on as well. Until a serviceman leaves the Service it is very difficult for him to make up his mind as to where he wants his permanent home. So he does not actually use this benefit, in the average case, until well after he leaves the Service. Very little thought has been given to the practical application of this measure as an inducement to a man or woman to join the Services, lt could be very deceptive. One wonders what the final effect of this Bill will be.
Of course, everyone who joins the Services would like to avail himself of a loan at 3$ per cent to acquire a home. Unless major amendments are made to the principal Act they will find many difficulties in their way. The Act favours the man with money, and in the first instance the needy have very little hope of receiving any benefit from it. There are many inhibitions in relation to this matter. There is no means test. It does not matter whether a man is wealthy, as long as he enlists for 3 years service. A borrower must show an ability to meet bis payments. He must not own another home. He could have had a home and sold it. If he does not own another home he becomes eligible. He may buy or build subject to approval, but the mortgage loan makes him a tenant of the Director of the Defence Service Homes. He does not really own the home; he becomes a tenant. He cannot let without approval and he cannot sell or transfer the loan to another home. He cannot borrow twice except under special circumstances to be approved by the Director.
I understand that in its initial stages the Act provided for the discharge of an existing mortgage, but this is rarely approved. It has not been approved for many years. This could be looked at. 1 think that the honourable member for Herbert has something in mind in relation to this. Totally and Permanently Incapacitated ex-servicemen particularly should be given the right under this Bill to discharge a mortgage. A borrower must not enter into a contract to buy or build without the specific approval of the Director. The most difficult problem is that, whilst the Bill provides for a 5 per cent deposit to be acceptable, a valid second mortgage cannot be registered against the title which would enable a second mortgagee to exercise a power of sale against the security in the event of default. This cannot be done unless amendments are made to the Act. That is why the amendment has been suggested by the honourable member for Herbert.
This Bill rules out the provision of second mortgage money by banks or permanent building societies to bridge the deposit gap, which makes things very difficult. Most homes in the capital cities today exceed $20,000 in cost. A serviceman would need $8,000 deposit. Very few of them have this. Of course, the wealthy can get it, but it is difficult for other men to get the extra money for their homes because there is no limit on the price of a home. A man can enlist for 3 years. He can go and buy a home worth $100,000 and borrow $12,000 for 45 years of whatever the term is. He can get a bonus of $16,000 at a rate of interest of 3f per cent. He does not have to worry about it at all. I sometimes wonder whether people realise that this is what happens. Is this Bit providing assistance to the housing program or to society? I brand it in the first place as a bribe for enlistment to fill the Services. There are tens of thousands of eligible ex-servicemen in Australia from the 1914-1918 and 1939- 1945 Wars and subsequent wars who have nol yet availed themselves of loans under the old Act. This is due, mostly to the restraints contained in the Act and its application which I have mentioned in relation to the eligibility for owning a home and so forth.
The amendments that have been proposed are sensible amendments which are designed to help the Government in the proposal before the House. I will not go into detail about them at present. The amendments have been circulated. They deal with increasing the effective period of service from 3 years to 6 years, which I think would be a great improvement. They provide for concessions to be granted to males as well as females and they deal with amendments to the principal Act to enable second mortgages to be available. I warn the Minister that one cannot really be clear about this. The Bill could open the floodgates of availability of money for housing that would have a very serious inflationary effect on the cost of housing throughout Australia. A benefit may be achieved on one side and there may be a destructive element on the other side. Nothing that the Minister has said has given us any idea of the probable cost of this proposal to the people of Australia. One thing is certain: This scheme will go down through the generations; it will never terminate; it will go on and on, and it will be a permanent liability to the taxpayers of Australia. At the same time it would be very good to hand out this benefit to servicemen who are justified in receiving it because they have enlisted to serve this country. I hope that this scheme will succeed, but I do not think that very serious thought has been given to the details of how the Act will operate.
– I do not intend to speak at any great length because I believe this Bill is so important and so long overdue as to need very little defending. But there are a few things that I think should be said. The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) expressed his complete reactionary philosophy by accusing the Australian Labor Party, as he designated us, of offering a bribe to servicemen. I would like to point out that he has also shown his disappointment by not understanding or refusing to recognise the fact that what he calls the Australian Labor Party is today the Govern ment; he still has not learned that those on his side of the House were not bom to rule. If offering and paying decent wages and granting decent conditions to our servicemen and women is a bribe then the Opposition would have been well advised, when its members were in Government, to have paid bribes to the servicemen instead of conscripting our gallant young men and sending them to death in Vietnam.
The last occasions on which this scheme was studied in any detail in this Parliament were in November 1968 when the maximum advance was raised from $7,000 to $8,000 and in November 1971 when the maximum advance was increased to $9,000. These increases in the limit have hardly kept pace with the rising costs of land and homes in all States. It was once possible for a home to be financed completely by the war service homes grant. This was the case in 1951-52 when the average cost of . a dwelling and land in New South Wales was $5,050. The maximum loan available for a war service home was then $5,500. This Bill is the emergence of the Government’s stated aim of restoring this sort of relativity. As the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) advised the Parliament in his second reading speech the Bill has four main purposes: Firstly, to make provision for the extension of the war service homes scheme to include those members of the forces who have completed a specified period of defence service; secondly, to make provision for an increase in the maximum loan under the scheme from $9,000 to $12,000; thirdly, to make provision for the granting of war service homes benefits to certain unmarried female persons with qualifying service under the Act; fourthly, to provide for the extension of eligibility to certain persons who served overseas with the Australian forces in the 1939-45 war, or in war-like operations subsequent to that war, as accredited representatives of a welfare organisation.
The extension of the war service homes scheme to include those members of the forces who have completed a specified period of defence service should surprise no one, for when the Australian Labor Party was in Opposition we said we would abolish conscription. Accompanying that promise was our stated aim to make the conditions of service in the armed forces such that we would attract to the service of their country not only sufficient suitable young men and women, but also that we would retain the services of these trained people, as they would be, after their first term of enlistment was ended. It was our party’s well-publicised judgement that attractive conditions of service would make it easier for young men and women to make their decision to enlist in the service of their country without being penalised relative to the remainder of the community. This Bill is putting that judgment to the test, and the future will reveal the truth of that judgment. If the future reveals that the judgment was in error, we may be accused of bad judgment. But even so the moral question would still remain, and I believe that few people would agree that young men and women who have willingly offered to serve their country and pay the supreme sacrifice if needs be, should be disadvantaged in relation to the remainder of the community, but it does appear that since 1949 Austraiian governments have not subscribed to this sentiment.
While I have frequently heard it said that any War Service Homes Act is better than no Act, I have never subscribed to this view. An Act which does justice to many but not all tends to obscure the fact that many never receive justice at all. There appears to have been, in some governments since 1949, a ready willingness to aim at the happiness of the greatest number, and to permit the perpetuation of injustice to many, not as a temporary expedient to be remembered, but as an end. This certainly appears to have been the case with the War Service Homes Act. The basic philosophy governing it has not changed in many years. For that reason I am pleased that this Bill not only changes the basic philosophy of the Act, but also, in doing so, extends the eligibility for benefits to single and widowed nurses and ex-service women without dependants, who have the necessary qualifying service under the Act. It is regrettable that the people in this category have been denied justice for many years, particularly so as they do not qualify for housing accommodation under any of the public housing schemes of the States, and they experience great difficulty in obtaining housing loans from institutional lenders because of their age, and because of their sex. This Bill not only gives belated justice to the women in this category, but also gives justice to those members of welfare organisations who served overseas. We are advised that some persons in this category met their deaths on service, and others became prisoners of war and it is fit and proper that there should be an extension of benefits to give justice to these people and their dependants.
The proposed amendments in this Bill, are, in their implications, the most far reaching in terms of beneficial consequences of any amendments made during the past 20 years. While the implications of these changes are more important than the changed name of the Bill, which will now be known as the Defence Services Homes Bill, the extent of the changed implications certainly justifies the changed name. The provisions in this Bill will not only enable the scheme to continue making an important contribution to the national welfare by assisting eligible persons and their families in all parts of the Commonwealth to obtain homes but will also bring the privilege of these benefits and restore justice to many who were previously deprived. I have no hesitation in commending the Bill and I congratulate the Minister.
– The Defence Service Homes Bill has in many ways a very historical significance. While some of the matters of significance in the Bill are commendable, some are to be condemned in my opinion. One of trie significant factors to which I refer is the change in the title of the Bill. It has stood unchanged in word and meaning since 1918. The change in the wording of the title is that it is now called the Defence Service Homes Bill and not the War Service Homes Bill. This change breaks a long established sentiment and principle of substance in the War Service Homes Bill. The provisions of the Bill illustrate why it was necessary to change the title of the Bill. I will deal with this matter progressively in my speech. As I said, the provisions of the Bill change the meaning and significance of conditions of eligibility. I am surprised and disappointed that the ex-service organisations have not registered stronger public objections to certain provisions regarding eligibility. Previous conditions were broadly-
– They are not losing anything.
– They may not be losing anything in money terms but it is the principle with which I am dealing. I will deal with the matter in more detail later. The conditions contained in the previous Bill were broadly that a person was eligible for a wax service homes loan if he had served overseas or had made himself available for such service. I was surprised when the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) said in his second reading speech:
Since the inception of the scheme in 1914 eligibility in respect of service in the forces has been based on a period of service abroad involving operational risks.
That statement is not literally correct. Previous eligibility provisions under the scheme provided that loans should be made available to those persons who have served overseas or who have made themselves available so to do. In other words they enlisted in either the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force.
I turn now to the point of principle to which I referred earlier. This Bill, in my opinion, shows a contemptuous disregard for the fundamental principle of the much valued war service homes loan available to persons who enlisted for services overseas. The Bill shows a contemptuous disregard for this principle by including a small group of national servicemen who are granted eligibility just because they happened to be in the Army on 7 December and are willing to finish their 18 months national service. I repeat that this privilege which has been granted to this small group deserves the contempt of this Parliament and the exservicemen in particular. Firstly, it is most unfair and discriminatory against 30,000 to 35,000 national servicemen who completed their full 2 years training. Much more serious is the fact that, making these few national servicemen eligible makes a mockery of the basic principles and objectives of this 55- year-old scheme. It is political bribery of the highest degree and it is an unprincipled move just to try to prevent the Army from suffering a damaging and significant drop in its number.
I wonder how some of the ex-servicemen on the Government side of the chamber who served overseas or enlisted to do so feel when they realise that they have been party to a decision that gives a few national servicemen who have had 18 months service in the comfort and safety of Army camps in Australia in peace time exactly the same lifetime housing loan as their fellow Australians who served overseas in the Second World War, in the Battle of Britain, over Germany, in Tobruk and in the Middle East. This Bill will place a few national servicemen who have served 18 months in national service training after 7th December last year in the same position to obtain a housing loan as those exservicemen who were prisoners of war under the Japanese and the Germans. These national servicemen will have the same rights as those Australians who served in the rotten conditions in New Guinea. My opinion is that this Labor Government should be ashamed of itself for including this very small percentage of national servicemen in the provisions of this Bill. It is a complete rebuttal and abdication of the principles, objectives and purposes of the war service homes legislation which makes available loans of $12,000 at the very attractive interest rate of 31 per cent. I register my strongest personal objection to the extension to these national servicemen of eligibility for a housing loan. It is an insult to the men who served or who made themselves available to serve overseas.
This is another of the many Bills that the Labor Government has proposed to the House with no indication as to the cost. The Government apparently has no idea of what the cost will be and what is more it could not care less. As with many other new proposed expenditures this Government could not care less what the cost will be. The nearest I could get to the overall cost of this proposal was by obtaining and multiplying by $12,000 the number of permanent members of the forces who will be eligible to receive a loan. According to my information that number is 38,000. If one multiplies 38,000, by the loan figure of $12,000 it comes, according to my reckoning, to an amount of $456m. This is a commitment which this Government is undertaking but there is no mention in the Bill as to what the cost of this proposal will be. I have taken into account only those servicemen who would at present be eligible to receive this benefit. This is irresponsibility to the highest degree in the financial and economic management of Australia.
In looking at another of the main provisions in this Bill, I am sure that most people would support the proposed loan increase from $9,000 to $12,000. The. cost of building is rising rapidly. This Government has been making all sorts of promises involving hundreds of millions of dollars which will be injected into areas that will require the tradesmen who are inseparably involved with building construction. The provision of this money could cause an even more rapid rise in building costs because an increase in the amount of available finance could cause increased competition for skilled tradesmen. 1 refer to the skilled groups of people, such as carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, builder’s labourers, tilers and so on.
My information is that already there is a noticeable shortage of these people because of the finance that is available for housing at the present time. I therefore express some reservations about the. amount of money being made available for housing because it could exacerbate the shortage of skilled labour and cause higher prices thus dissipating to a large extent the proposed $3,000 increase in the home loans envisaged by this Bill. One of the reasons why the Commonwealth should be prepared to take a second mortgage is that other lenders may be reluctant to add on a second mortgage loan because of the imbalance caused by the vast amount of Government money being injected into the building industry.
I welcome the fact that as a result of this Bill loans will be available, to certain unmarried females who qualify under the Act as a result of their war service. 1 have had personal knowledge of the need for this provision. When I was Minister for Repatriation 1 received many requests from single females to move for an appropriate amendment to the Act. I am sorry that I was not able to do that. However, 1 am certainly glad to see that eligibility will be extended to these people. 1 will do all I can do to assist unmarried females who are qualified to benefit from this provision. Nevertheless I consider that the Government having adopted this principle could have gone a step further and included single male members of the forces in this provision.
I also support the extension of eligibility to members of various volunteer organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Young Men’s Christian Association who often shared in the dangers of combat and who always were an inspiration and help to many exservicemen in a great many ways as many honourable members know. I regret that the Minister’s second reading speech does not list the organisations whose members will be eligible for a loan. I have not been able to find a list of the organisations in the Act. Perhaps I have overlooked it. Therefore I cannot comment as to whether there is adequate coverage of these organisations. The war service homes scheme has been of tremendous assistance to and greatly appreciated by about 330,000 exservicemen who have received loans. The interest rate of 3) per cent is generous and it certainly has contributed, together with the length of the term of the loan, to the obtaining of homes by ex-servicemen who otherwise could not possibly have managed to build and maintain a home.
I now refer to the 3-year period of service which enables a Regular serviceman to qualify for a loan. L support the proposal set out in the amendment which suggests that the period should be extended to 6 years. The basic reason for doing this is that in the Minister’s second reading speech use is made of the expression ‘a substantial period of service’, with emphasis on the word ‘substantial’. The word is used several times in the Minister’s second reading speech and it has been given great significance by him. While there is room for different opinions on the definition of ‘substantial’ I consider it to be reasonable to class a minimum time of 3 years’ service as unsubstantial because it is the minimum period for which a man can sign on. So I do not consider it to be reasonable to class a 3- year period as a substantial period of service when it is the minimum signing on period. There is another reason why I question the wisdom of setting a period of 3 years. We have to take the training period and other periods into consideration. In doing so I suggest that a 3-year period of service means that Australia will receive a useful period of service of only about 2 years. Therefore it is most questionable whether the availability of a loan to a man who has served for only 3 years in the Regular Army or in the other Services is fair and equitable as far as the Australian people are concerned and also as far as the majority of those members of the armed forces who served generally for a much longer period are concerned. No doubt the people who will qualify with 3 years’ service will be most pleased with this provision.
However, I make these qualifying comments: Whilst the Government thinks that perhaps this 3-year period of eligibility will help it obtain suitable recruits to the Services, it may find that this provision will have the backlash effect of enticing people to join the Services for just a 3-year period. This could therefore have a detrimental effect on the people who form the hard core of our permanent Regular Army, ft must be agreed that the principle of making war service home loans - or defence service home loans as they are now to be called - available to serving servicemen, is a reasonable proposition. These people experience difficulty in obtaining suitable finance for home building from traditional lending institutions due to the nature of their occupation, as was made clear by the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). They experience difficulty with home finance not only because of the nature of their occupation, but also because of the disadvantages inherent in Service life in relation to the acquisition of a permanent home.
In conclusion, whilst this Bill has many good features I support the amendments proposed by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), as does the rest of the Country Party. In summary, I reaffirm the comments I expressed at the start of my address. I repeat that I am disgusted with the Government because it has granted eligibility to a handful of national servicemen. This is an unprincipled and contemptible abrogation of the 55-year old principle that overseas service or enlistment for service anywhere qualifies a person for the privilege of a war service home loan. This provision relating to a very small number of national servicemen is in my opinion an insult to nearly 1 million ex-service men and women who enlisted for service anywhere. It is a shabby political bribe and deserves the condemnation of this House.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
– Continuing the debate on the Defence Service Homes Bill 1973 that was in progress before the suspension of the sitting, it is interesting to reflect on many of the attitudes that have been expressed by members of the Opposition who are, as we have found in the short time that my party has been in office, once again giving an indication of all the wonderful things they want to do now that it is too late. The outstanding fact in this vitally important government responsibility of satisfying the housing needs of Australians is the failure of a generation of Liberal-Country Party governments to accept this responsibility. They made no real effort. (Quorum formed.) Despite the interest shown by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who called the quorum, he was not able to drag many of his colleagues into the chamber to hear the debate that he said is of such a high standard. The fact is that previous governments failed to keep abreast of the needs by way of either financing rerequirements or providing regularly adjusted maximum loan amounts. I am pleased to support this Bil] and to congratulate the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) on its introduction. It is refreshing to have at last a Federal Minister for Housing who has the competence to understand the responsibility of his portfolio and who has the ability to tackle the problems, many of which have lingered for years due to the failure of previous governments to give any real leadership to the housing industry associations and to the housing industry in general.
In the area of responsibility covered by this legislation, the Minister has been very quick to introduce these important and progressive changes. The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) earlier this evening referred to the fundamental changes embodied in the proposals. He claimed that the whole spirit of the legislation is to be changed. I remind honourable members that it is appropriate that the spirit of the original proposals previously reflected in the War Service Homes Act is now to be reflected in the Defence Service Homes Act. We accept this fact. As I said by way of interjection during an earlier speech, this Government is a government of peace and not a government of war, as were previous governments. We desire to provide the benefits of this important provision to all serving personnel regardless of where or how they may serve in the future. We hope that in the future they will not need to serve overseas for this country in the field of battle, as it was previously necessary for them to do under the existing provisions of the Act, in order to obtain these benefits, lt is interesting to note that one of the amendments proposed by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) is that the effective period for qualification under this Act be a period of service of 6 years. However, he represents the party that was prepared to bring people forcibly into the Service for much shorter periods of time than that. It is also interesting to look at how his Government looked after the members of the Defence forces while they were serving the nation and how it looked after them by way of the provision of accommodation.
On at least 2 occasions during the previous Parliament I asked about that situation and answers to my questions disclosed that at 30th April 1971 there were no fewer than 4,458 serving personnel awaiting allocation of accommodation. Over 12 months later on 30th June 1972 there were 5,253 servicemen awaiting allocation of accommodation. Such was the interest the previous government had in the housing needs of serving personnel. It was little more interest than it had in the needs of ex-servicemen who had completed their service and qualified under the Act. Year after year, despite the urging of members of the Australian Labor Party when in Opposition, previous governments failed to provide adequately for progressive increases in the maximum loan available to serving personnel. Yet here is the Opposition now complaining about a provision in the Bill which will allow former national servicemen to benefit. It complains in very loud and clear terms about the unfair advantages to them because we wish to include all serving personnel within the provisions of this Bill. The Opposition wants to exclude certain sections of ex-servicemen, yet it was prepared to accept their service in the interest of previous governments when it had the responsibility of providing accommodation.
As I have shown, the previous government failed to provide that accommodation and failed to provide it even when the serving personnel had completed their years of service. Now the Opposition directs its attention to those national servicemen in particular and wishes the Government to support an amendment which would exclude national servicemen from the provisions of this Bill. One of the important aspects of this Bill is that it gives the people eligible under its provisions an opportunity to get a reasonable maximum loan, lt certainly was the intention of this Government prior to the election to increase this amount even further and in the Minister’s Press release on 16th January, prior to the introduction of this Bm, the following appeared:
Mr Johnson said that because of the substantial funds needed to fulfil other election promises in relation to housing, he bad proposed to Cabinet a progressive raising of the limit, firstly to $12,000 and then to $1 5,000.
It is worth repeating this evening that it is the clear intention of the Government to increase the limit from $12,000 to $15,000 during the life of this Parliament. One of the major problems facing people today who require housing is the escalating price of land. I think we should congratulate the Minister for Housing for the attention that he has given to this problem. His concern is shared by many thousands of young people who today find the price of a block of land far beyond their reach. I can cite examples of the recent skyrocketing of prices of land in Brisbane. In the middle of 1972 about $7,000 had to be paid for a block of land in the new Brisbane suburb of Belbowrie. In 12 months the price of a similar block of land has skyrocketed to over $10,000. At Ridgewood Heights, on the fringe of my electorate, the price of a block of land has increased from about $4,000 to about $6,000 in 12 months. In Springwood, an outer Brisbane suburb on the way to the Gold Coast, the price of land has increased in less than 3 years from $2,500 to over $7,000.
– It is worse in Sydney.
– Yes. The land boom that has occurred in Sydney for so many years because of the irresponsible attitudes of the previous government, which turned its back on this problem, has spread to the outskirts of Brisbane. It will be necessary progressively to increase the maximum loan allowable in order to keep pace with skyrocketing land costs, lt is fairly obvious that the Government intends to tackle this problem in other ways. One immediate step that could be taken to attack the problem would be the imposition of a capital gains tax on speculators and developers who are now making excessive profits because of their immoral attitude. They know that people need land and they also know, as the old saying goes, that God has stopped making land. Because no more land is available the speculators are buying it up and selling it at profits ranging from 100 per cent to 200 per cent.
A step that the Government could well consider would be the restriction of the capital appreciation of residential land to a fixed percentage. A fixed relationship with the consumer price index would be a fair and reasonable basis for calculation of the profits on land sold by speculators and developers to home builders. A capital gains tax of even 100 per cent could then be imposed as a curb on the disproportionate prices now being charged for residential land. This could be applied to both subdividers and speculators. 1 believe that the provisions of this legislation are well worthy of praise and of putting into effect as soon as possible. Because of the pressure of other business in the Parliament this measure has been before the House on various occasions since 7th March. I trust that very shortly this debate will be completed so that people may benefit from the worthwhile provisions of this proposal. J commend the Bill to the House.
– I wish to contribute briefly to this debate. Originally I intended to speak at the Committee stage and I may still do so. I have been compelled to take part at this stage by some of the remarks of the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh). I have in mind particularly his reference to the previous Government as a government of war and to the present Government as a government of peace. I would be very pleased if someone would explain to me what is meant by the expression ‘a government of peace’. The implication is that we are seeking to wage war on people. I and other honourable members on this side of the chamber resent that implication. A better description of the Government would be that it is a government of peaceful surrender. The honourable member for Bowman also said that we brought people in forcibly to serve. Clearly he was referring to national service. Today the Government is bribing people to serve on the cheap, secure in the knowledge that because it is a government of peace there will bc no fighting. This is quite a revolutionary change in the philosophy of war service.
– That is a dangerous word.
– Yes, ‘revolutionary’ is a dangerous word. Revolutions are fought all round the world. I wish now to draw attention to the change in philosophy in this Bill because there will be no other opportunity. I have been reading through the records of the debates on war service homes legislation. The philosophy expressed in 1951 was the same as that of 1918; that is, people were assisted financially to buy homes who had rendered service to this country overseas in wartime, or had volunteered to go overseas but for some reason beyond their control had not served overseas. I did not catch the interjection.
– The only difference is that yours was a small bribe and ours is a big bribe.
-Order! Interjections are out of order. The honourable member will address the Chair.
– I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. I am very careful not to interject, as honourable members know. I wish to support the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), who drew attention to the significant change in philosophy incorporated in this measure. They are no longer war service homes. Leans are made purely for enlistment. The Government is bribing people to enlist in the certain knowledge that they will never be called upon to fight. It is a method of covering up the fact that the Government is unable to maintain a satisfactory Army in this country.
One point I wish to make is that people who have been waiting for homes have been subjected to quite unreasonable delays. The Government has been in office now for 6 months. People come to see me - no doubt other honourable members have similar experiences - who are losing the opportunity to buy homes because they cannot get finance. I have been approached by ex-servicemen who have lost the opportunity to buy a home because the vendors will not wait for the money to be made available. J deplore the unnecessary delays in making money available for which this Government has been responsible. There are many people - particularly in South Australia, which is a seller’s market - who have lost the opportunity to buy a home because agents regard war service home loans as bad news. They do so because of the delays involved. I shall be interested in what the Minister has to say about that. I can provide examples of cases where delays have caused great difficulties. 1 would also like to hear the views of the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) on the question of bridging finance. Why is it not possible to provide bridging finance? I have had cases brought to my attentiton in the last few weeks of ex-servicemen and an exservicewoman who have lost the opportunity of moving into homes because of the delay in providing finance and because it is not possible to obtain bridging finance on a war service home. I would like the Minister to tell us why that is not a goer. I have carefully examined the debate in 1951 on this question. The then government, which was a government of my own political persuasion, went very close to arranging for the Minister for Housing to have the authority to grant bridging finance in certain cases. I think the Minister should have the power to do that. During the Committee stage of the debate on this Bill honourable members will have an opportunity to support a proposition which is couched in those terms.
There is one other point I wish to make. I think that this Bill is completely unfair to the national servicemen and others who were discharged prior to 7th December. In my view a cheap political trick has been played.
– It is a stunt.
– It is a stunt, as the honourable member For Griffith says. This legislation is to be used to entice men to join the Army in the secure knowledge that they will never have to stand up and be counted. I think this legislation is unfair to the national servicemen who served in the past - some in Vietnam, many with distinction.
– lt is not our fault that they served under a Liberal-Country Parly government.
– lt is not your fault, no, but fault’ is hardly the word for it. The point is those men made a sacrifice and they should be entitled to whatever benefit the Government says it is going to grant to other servicemen.
– Why did the previous government not give such benefits to them? It had plenty of time to do so.
-Order! The House will come to order.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. 1 think it is relevant to point out that there are some people currently engaged in national service who have been so engaged for only 12 months or possibly less and who will be entitled to this benefit for the rest of their days. They will be able to obtain money at a very low rate of interest though they will never get past Warradale or Woodside whereas others who have served in our Army in Vietnam and perhaps came back wounded, will be ineligible. I do not think anybody on the other side of the House could find that situation defensible. I want to place on record how much 1 deplore that fact. There is one further minor point that I wish to make. Perhaps I should do so now. That will save me wasting the time of the House at the Committee stage.
– Does the honourable member admit that he has been wasting it?
– No. I think the only time that has been wasted has been that wasted by the making of irrelevant interjections by people who have a conscience and who feel self conscious about this legislation. From figures I have taken out I estimate that approximately 35,000 men will be eligible to benefit from this legislation. As the figures on which I based my calculations were given by the former Minister for Repatriation they must be correct-
– Do you mean permanent members of the forces?
– The figures on which I conducted my research indicate that approximately 35,000 members of the forces are now eligible for this benefit. If those 35,000 members of the forces required the $12,000 provided for it would mean, unless I have made a shocking mistake, that a total of $456m would be required.
– How much?
– An amount of $456m would have to be found as a contingent liability to finance this scheme.
– Does the honourable member think that they will all want money this year? Does he think they will all want it anyway?
– I think the interjection by the Minister for Housing is an appropriate one. All of them will not want it this year, but the point is that there are many promises that the Minister and his colleagues have made which will have to be honoured this year and which will have a cumulative effect in years to come, f am saying that 35,000 people are now eligible to benefit from this legislation. In two or three years time perhaps 70,000 will be eligible. This involves a continuing liability. When we on this side of the House get back into Government we will have to find the money to finance this commitment. That is the part which concerns me- There will be nothing left for us to do but increase taxes, which is something to which we are opposed. The point is that this legislation represents a liability of $456m. It is going to cost that much purely to bolster the Army. This is purely a political bait. It is something to which 1 feel morally opposed. I do not know what the number is at present, but I do know that at any one time in the last two or three years there were 8,000 national servicemen in the Army. At least half of that number would have been in the Army for perhaps only six or eight months at that time. I think it is entirely improper that men who have not served outside of this country should be eligible for benefits for which those who served in theatres of war are not eligible.
There are two or three cases that I could cite in this respect, but I will not do so because there is a time limit. But I will say that I know of a woman who is not only a war widow but who also served and who is ineligible simply because she paid out an amount of money while waiting for bridging finance- 1 notice that the Minister nodded his head. He probably is in agreement with me on this matter. That happened when we on this side of the House were in government; so I am not being critical of the present Government. I am merely saying that I cannot see any reason why the law could not be altered to make bridging finance a possibility, even if the provision of it is to be at the discretion of the Minister.
Let me sum up by saying that I think it is unfair - this is the part that concerns me the most - on the fellows who served in Vietnam, particularly those who served there for a year or more, that they will not be able to benefit from the provision of this sort of finance while others who served for only 6 months and who never got beyond Woodside or Warradale will be able to get it.
– I wish to join with my colleague, the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten), in supporting this Bill. I congratulate him on the contribution that he made to the debate. It is remarkable that whenever supporters of the Government rise to speak in a debate in this House they preface their remarks by referring to the failure of the previous Government to take certain action during its 23 years in office. I think those honourable members who think that the previous Government was a failure should cast their minds back to what happened 50 years ago when war service home loans were first granted. If they were to make a comparison of the values of that time with present day values they would find that the government of that time did not fail in its action but did the right thing by the exservicemen who earned their entitlement to benefits.
– Which government was that?
– That was a Liberal-Country Party government. This Bill is designed to extend eligibility for what were formerly known as war service homes but which are now to be called defence service homes. It is of necessity a very important piece of legislation. Like all Government legislation there is some of the fanaticism of Australian Labor
Party policy embedded very carefully into this Bill. 1 must confess that on occasions I find myself in agreement with some of the Labor Party’s humanitarian approaches. Unfortunately we all have to face the realities of life. Whenever amending legislation is before the House the Opposition must do its best to incorporate in it as many benefits as is possible. Initially the Australian Government set up war service homes loans as compensation to our citizens for their active participation in the defence of this country. Those who were prepared to go and those who went overseas to fight were eligible.
This Bill, of course, makes 4 changes to the present Act. One completely changes the title of the legislation. Another provision recognises the rights of single females to own their homes. I find myself in complete agreement with this proposal. Most ex-service women have given meritorious service in our defence forces in many fields. I think we should recognise all of them. The Bill also extends eligibility for defence service home loans and benefits to national servicemen and officers who stayed in the Services after 7th December. However the real implication of the extension is somewhat obscure but one must agree that this departure from the former eligibility for benefits is reasonable when one considers the necessity to maintain a reasonable number in our defence forces. I completely agree with the point made by the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) that the Government has somewhat stretched the qualifications to include somebody who. in our opinion, is getting a sop to stay in the forces to build up the numbers within the defence forces. One wonders whether the proposed extensions to include almost anyone who dons a service uniform are a sop to encourage national servicemen not to bail out when their period of service concludes but to stay on because, if they do so, they will be eligible for war service homes.
Another point I make in connection with this Bill is very important. The Bill provides for an increase in the maximum loan from $9,000 to $12,000 - scarcely enough in view of today’s inflated home values. I think honourable members would agree that if one wants to buy a reasonable standard home, in most areas of the Commonwealth one would look at something in the. price range of $18,000 to $20,000. Even with a loan of $12,000, a deposit of $8,000 must be paid. It is difficult to get bridging second mortgage finance if one does not have the $8,000 deposit.
Built into some of the provisions of the Bill is one anomaly which will continue to create some concern to eligible borrowers. I refer to a set of circumstances when, perhaps for health reasons, a returned serviceman has to leave his business which contains his dwelling place as part of that business. I instance a farm. A farmer may continue to operate, the farm on a share basis or a rental basis. Of course he will not have 2 homes on the farm and he must have a home in which to live. It has been brought to my attention that a returned serviceman who has followed a farming occupation all his life and who has not utilised his war service home entitlement may find, because of ill health that he cannot continue with his farm. It is necessary for him to have a reasonable living so he puts the farm out on shares. He probably gets about a third of the farm income. However, he is ineligible for a war service home loan under those conditions because, according to the Act, he owns a home, although it is his business. 1 think the Government should examine this particular situation which puts this chap and many others in the same category. This is one of the anomalies which exists in the Act at this time. This can apply not only to a farmer but also to a mixed business where the home and the shop are in the same building. It can apply in many instances-
– ls that the new clause or the old one?
– That is the old clause and I should like to see it altered. Perhaps I can more clearly illustrate this point by saying that when a farmer, who has invested his whole life’s savings and his whole life’s effort in his farm, reaches the age when he must share farm he feels that he has missed out on the war service benefits that he should have received and to which he was entitled. He would feel very disappointed with the war service authorities and with his lot as a result. I should like the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) to give me an assurance on this particular point because if a man’s business includes his place of abode - which is a necessity in the conduct of that business - his entitlement to a war service home loan for a private home should not be denied him.
I conclude by adverting to the change of title of the Act. I think that in the years to come we will be speaking, with some nostalgia, of the name Var service homes’, which is disappearing from the scene. It is a description of long standing within the community and is recognised as something associated with the defence of this country- I think it is an insult to those people who served in the First World War and the Second World War to alter the name of the Act at this stage just because the Government wants to include national servicemen, who do not go away, as a sop to keep them in the armed forces.
– If you join the Army you go wherever you are sent.
– That is right, but this relates to the situation after 7 th December. I think the Opposition has made its point and I am prepared to stand by what the Opposition has said. I still think it is an insult to those ex-servicemen. I do not happen to be one, but I have brothers who were, and I know how they feel about this particular proposal. On their behalf I make these points to the Parliament.
– I did not intend to speak and I will not delay the House because I want this Bill to be passed as quickly as possible but it grieved me to see the crocodile tears being shed by members of the Opposition. A Liberal Party member who spoke referred to the delays in money being made available to persons seeking loans, because of this Bill not yet being passed. This is not a new situation; it has been going on for years. When I was in Opposition I was forever pestering previous Ministers for Housing about the same problem - the delay in getting money for war service homes causing many ex-servicemen to miss out on homes because the vendors could not wait for the finance. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) said he was not an ex-serviceman. I am, and I say good luck to those fellows who will now be able to get homes. I should like every young couple to be able to get a home. There are many people who would have gone to war but were not allowed to do so because of their industrial occupations. They were just as entitled to the benefits for homes as was anybody else. I believe they are all entitled to benefits. I congratulate the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) on the step he has taken and on the steps that I know he will take later.
The main thing I want to talk about and bring to the attention of the Minister is the position of ex-servicemen on Thursday Island. I followed this matter through with the previous 2 Ministers. Why can ex-servicemen on Thursday Island not get a home under the provisions of this legislation? To my know.doe there is only one such home on Thursday Island. The reason given as to why they could not get such a home was that it was desired to build them to the same standard as such homes on the mainland. This is not necessary. At the present time, of course, great attention is being focused on the Torres Strait Islands because of a border dispute and people there are getting more attention than they ever got before. A lot of the things they are getting now they should have got before.
The housing commission homes that are being built at Tammoy town are quite adequate for what is required in that area, and 1 think the defence service homes authorities could build the same sort of home. I think that 30 to 40 more ex-servicemen who are eligible to them could have war service homes or defence service homes built on Thursday Island. Housing on the island is very poor. I think that if the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) were here tonight be would agree with me. He has been up there recently. I have been up there several times. The building regulations are very poor indeed, but defence service homes of the standard presently being built in Tammoy town by the housing commission could be built. These are not elaborate buildings but they are quite adequate for the people to look after. They are suitable for the area in which they are built. It has to be realised, of course, that service homes have to have resale value. I suppose the same applies to housing commission homes. 1 would like the Minister to have a look at the condition of these homes at the present time if he has a chance or get information regarding them and see if they can be adopted as a model for defence service homes for people who are eligible to them. I really mean what I am saying because these people have been deprived of their privileges for so long. When I first came into this House they were receiving 30 per cent of the pension that the average ex-serviceman on the mainland was receiving. Their pension was built up. The last Minister with whom I had a conversation in regard to this was Sir Reginald Swartz when he was Minister for Repatria tion. He was the fellow who pushed things through so that they were then getting the same entitlements as a returned serviceman on the mainland. Their pension was built up to the. level of those on the mainland, but since then nothing has happened about providing them with war service homes. I hope that the defence service homes authorities will take into consideration what I have said and see if it is possible for these people to receive the home to which they are entitled. They are eligible for it and should be able to receive it. I would like the Minister to look at this question and see what can be done.
– In his second reading speech the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) said:
As we consider this measure an essential one in our program to improve Service conditions we feel as a matter of equity that it should also be extended to those national servicemen serving at 6 December 1972 who voluntarily chose to complete the period of service for which they were originally enlisted.
That was for 18 months. The Minister went on:
The retention of those young men who chose to remain is seen as valuable in the transition from a partly conscripted Army to an all-volunteer force.
I would like the Minister to qualify, if he can, this portion of his statement and tell the House how this improves Service conditions - that is, how does the granting of eligibility for service homes to young national service trainees, who are signed up to serve 18 months, improve Service conditions. I also wish to ask the Minister how many of these young men who were serving at 6th December have chosen to remain in the Regular Army.
– I shall try to follow the example of the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) by being brief in speaking to the amendments before the House tonight. All thinking persons could do nothing but agree to the increase in the amount of money that is to be made available, because we all know that the cost of housing and other things has increased rapidly over recent years. Furthermore, the granting of eligibility for service homes to those persons who in the past were prepared to volunteer for overseas service but did not get a guernsey is something which also meets with my approval. This applies equally to a number of other aspects of the Bill.
I would like to refer to the introduction of a completely new system which provides that if a person joins the Army for a period of 3 years he becomes eligible at the end of that time for what was previously known as a war service loan. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten), the previous Minister for Repatriation, spoke a lot of sense earlier tonight when he referred to the history of war service loans. Personally I begrudge nobody a low interest loan, but I wonder what is behind this measure. I wonder what motivates this new Government. It parades itself as a government of generosity, a government which is out to help people; but I would suggest that in the defence forces morale has become so low that the Government considers that if it does not initiate a form of a bribe the number of members in our armed forces will, by the lime of the next election, fall so drastically from the number at the time of the last election that is will prove a complete and utter embarrassment. The Liberal Government found that in an economy in which there was full employment it was hard to attract people to the Army. The Australian Labor Party is so hellbent on destroying everything good and perhaps not so good that stood previously that it has resorted to anything. Honourable members opposite jump a little when I say that morale is low. Is it any wonder when one looks at the ‘Australian’ and other Australian newspapers in which this week one could have seen a photograph on the front page of the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) sitting under a North Vietnamese flag? It was a disgraceful affair. He was happily seated under a North Vietnamese flag with a bunch of communists from another country.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, it is possible that you may have been distracted, but I think every honourable member might share the view that the honourable member for Griffith is straying well away from the Bill and is engaging in a personal attack on another Minister about matters which do not have a direct relevance to the Bill. I think it would be in order, Mr Speaker, for you to ask the honourable member to speak more effectively in terms of the debate.
-Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to keep to the Bill before the Chair. The honourable member is quite aware of what it is.
– I was trying to explain how the new Government has resorted to measures such as this to try to fill the vacuum it has created by its attitude to various foreign affairs matters and to the Army in general. The Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) referred to just one Minister whose photograph appeared in the Press. If he had gone to the parliamentary dining room tonight he would have seen a great number of his colleagues entertaining all these North Vietnamese while their counterparts back in South-East Asia are killing hundreds and hundreds of Cambodians.
– Mr Speaker, the honourable member is defying your ruling by his extension of the argument he was giving earlier.
– 1 was distracted for a moment. I do not know what the honourable gentleman said, but I would ask him to keep within the context of the Bill.
– Mr Speaker, I want to take a point of order in relation to the point of order taken by the Minister for Housing. No one was more irrelevant than the Minister in relation to any Bill when he was in Opposition.
-Order! That is no point of order; it is a point of view.
– I will not refer to that matter because it is obvious that it is a very soft spot. It is the underbelly of the Government. It is good to see that there are some honourable members on the Government side who have had a sense of outright shame when they have witnessed something of this nature. It was pointed out that the cost of this measure will be well in excess of $400m. The Government is giving money away as if it were going out of fashion. It is to be hoped that this enticement, which could well have the effect of encouraging people into the Army, will allow the Government to keep its earlier promise to the people of Queensland that if it was elected on 2nd December it would station another battalion in Townsville in north Queensland. That promise has since been denied in this Parliament because the numbers in the Army are plummeting.
Tonight we are talking about this new Defence Service Homes Bill. I wish to refer to what I regard us a fair thing and what I regard as an unfair thing and to what the people of Australia or, more importantly, the recipients of these benefits think about what this new Government is doing. Shortly after the election 1 received a phone call from a young man who said to me: ‘Well, they are in now. I am a national serviceman. I am due out early in January. Will I qualify for a war service home?’ 1 made certain inquiries and came back to him and said: ‘According to predictions, you will.’ He said: ‘Well, I do not feel very proud to qualify under this system.’ 1 said: ‘Do not worry about it too much. At 3i per cent I would not have too many feelings like that.’
One should look at the contribution that has been made by the men in the past. This new Government has come in and, with gay abandon, has thrown the old system to the wind and is bringing in a system which will effectively drive young Australians to join tha armed services. I feel confident that, while it may be some form of attraction to some people, if the Government thinks that young Australians today can be so easily bought it is wrong. Measures such as this will not improve our armed services. We need the method which the previous Government tried and used. It has been proved beyond doubt that, without the previous system, we can not keep our armed services up to the required and satisfactory number.
In conclusion 1 would like to reiterate my earlier point that, having seen the ‘Australian’ last week and having seen the North Vietnamese, who are still plundering and murdering the Cambodians today, being feted by members of the Government, I think it is no wonder that the morale in the Australian armed forces is low. It is no wonder the Government has to expend nearly half a thousand million dollars to keep the servicemen there.
– In reply - I have appreciated contributions made in this debate by honourable members from both sides of the House. I believe it is recognised that this is a very significant occasion. The Bill involves great expenditure in respect of the housing needs of ex-servicemen and serving members of the forces.
– How much expenditure?
– If you can control the interjector, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will be prepared to give an estimate of the expenditure which the Department has prepared in this matter.
– Why not tell us now? How much expenditure?
- (Mr Berinson) - Order! We will have one speaker at a time.
– The significant parts of this legislation have been talked about fairly extensively. Let me summarise them. First of all there is the intention to increase the amount which an ex-serviceman can borrow from $9,000 to $12,000. It is a fact that the present loan limit of $9,000 represents only 57 per cent of the cost of the average war service home, so the increase to $12,000 will fill a long felt need. In addition, honourable members will recall that on many occasions amendments have been moved about the need to accommodate under the War Service Homes Act those members of the accredited welfare services who, up to date, have not been included. Although this does not represent a large amount of money, it is important for the people concerned. One can only speculate as to the reasons why the previous Government abstained from asquiescing in the proposals put by the previous Opposition.
– How much money is involved?
– I am not only prepared to indicate the amount of money involved but I am also prepared to meet the honourable member’s request to name the organisations concerned. The Government has nothing to hide so far as this legislation is concerned. In fact the Government does not stand to hide anything at all. This is the new characteristic in government in Australia. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) is very unused to it and a sense of suspicion pervades his every expression and attitude. There is a frankness about all these matters like the daisy in spring. The honourable member need not have any worry at all. The Government will be happy to meet his request for that sort of information.
– Just tell us now.
– Order! The debate will proceed through the Chair and not across the table. The honourable member for Indi will control himself, please.
– In addition to this, the legislation goes on to provide eligibility for serving members of the forces. It also has provisions to accommodate those national servicemen who were serving at 7th December. It includes those women who served in the forces who have been the subject of many amendments here over the years. As a side effect the Government has decided, appropriately, to change the name of the legislation because one does not have to be involved in a war any more to become eligible under the provisions of this legislation. Instead of being called the War Service Homes Act, as it has been for years - I understand the nostalgic sense that pervades honourable members in this respect - we have to recognise the need to contemporise or bring things up to date. All of us in this Parliament sincerely hope that there will be no more wars, but we would like to have the benefits of the War Service Homes Act continuing for a long time.
I do not want to give the impression that the Government is content with the things that it has done. It is expending a considerable amount of money but it feels that there is a long way yet to go before it gives effect to all the things it would like to see attended to in this field. It does not have to be a secret that I have stood on the other side of this House for years and have contended that the war service homes legislation is actuarially sound, that it is of high principle and it is of such merit that we ought to extend it, as we are extending it, in its application to members of the forces. But it ought to be extended even beyond that. The principle of 3i per cent money is a good one. In the long term we stand to establish a revolving fund so that we can go on to extend eligibility under this kind of legislation.
– You are the best Minister for Housing we have ever had.
– I have regard to the fact, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you said that interjections were out of order; otherwise I would respond to that remark. We believe that these areas of extension are the starting point for subsequent areas of extension. One does not have to quibble about the fact that we have extended the legislation to permanent members of the forces. I would dearly love to extend it to all members of the national service as well. I regard the contribution made by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr
Bonnett) as responsible and useful. I greatly appreciate the sentiments that he expressed. He said: ‘I have no quarrel whatsoever with the principle behind the Bill’ and he went on to commend to the Parliament generally that it should expedite the passage of this legislation. He knows that, because of the interruptions that have occurred in the parliamentary procedure here, this legislation has been delayed unduly. It was not the intention of the Government that it should wait as long as it has waited. This matter was one of the first to receive attention from the new Cabinet. It was one of the very early pieces of legislation brought into this Parliament. It is no making of mine or the Government’s that honourable members opposite have initiated all kinds of processes which have caused this legislation to be delayed. I will be frank. I have been inundated with expressions of concern from all over the country. The Returned Services League likes this legislation. I am receiving letters from the sub-branches, as are many of my colleagues, telling me of their favour for this legislation and that they want it to be given effect to. I am unhappy that it has taken so long for any effect to be given to it.
– I rise to a point of order. One of the reasons that this Bill was delayed was that the Minister for Housing was away on holiday for a week when Parliament was sitting.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)Order! There is no point of order involved.
– The honourable member for Indi, the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) and other honourable members have made extravagant contentions about the cost of this legislation.
– What about the cost?
– The honourable member for Griffith said it would cost $400m a year.
– What about the cost?
– I have told the honourable member that it is extravagant-
-Order! I have already asked the honourable member for Indi to restrain himself. I think that he has had more than his share of interjections during the current speech. I ask him again to restrain himself.
– There are only a few former Ministers who cannot accept with good grace the new role that has been thrust upon them, and regrettably we are confronted with one this evening. I was making the point that there has been an extravagant contention about the cost of the benefits provided by this legislation and one honourable gentleman opposite said the cost would be $400m a year. 1 would like to know from where the honourable member obtained that figure. I know, for example, that the honourable member for indi has felt free, as he should, to speak to officers of my Department and he has received reliable information. All the members, of the Parliament are free to do that in respect to my administration. They do not have to cite distorting figures at all. I have a schedule showing the cost of all the benefits which are the subject of this legislation and the total estimate of the cost of all these provisions is $4lm in a full year. That is a long way from the extravagant contention of $400m. This kind of irresponsibility makes a mockery of parliamentary debates. We ought to be a little more responsible because we are talking to the nation at large.
One of the matters about which I was interested was that the honourable member for Herbert was contending that this legislation is good. I think he mentioned that 33,000 persons have been assisted under the legislation to become home owners. I suppose, in a general sense, there is a unity ticket about the War Service Homes Act as it has been known. Parliamentarians and the people of the nation generally uphold it and approve of it.
– 1 am reluctant to take another point of order, but I really feel I have to help the Minister. He just said-
-Order! What is the point of order?
– The Minister said 33,000 people were helped under this scheme. I want to say to the Minister-
-Order! The honourable member will not say anything to the Minister. 1 ask him to state his point of order.
– I am sorry. The Minister said 33,000. I want to help him-
– No point of order can be taken to help a Minister or the Speaker. The honourable member will please resume his seat. There is no point of order involved.
– After the honourable member for Herbert had generally eulogised the spirit of the war service legislation he went on to say that it was of such a high order that the provision ought to be extended to cover members of the Citizen Military Forces. The only point I wish to make here is that this contention is at sharp variance with the point that has been made by several other speakers in this debate who have contended that it is disgraceful that the Government has extended the eligibility to people other than those who have served overseas. I pay regard to the honourable member for Herbert who has led for the Opposition.
Mr Martin - I take a point of order. My point of order is that the honourable member for Indi is breaching the Standing Orders by firstly constantly interjecting and secondly not sitting in his proper seal.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– I would like to draw a distinction between the attitude of the honourable gentleman who led for the Opposition and several other speakers, including the honourable member for Indi. I have not been denounced in this debate anywhere near as much as has the spokesman for the Opposition, who said that the Defence Service Homes Bill should be extended to cover members of the CMF. Other honourable members have been saying it is a disgraceful thing, that eligibility should be restricted to those who served overseas during a war. 1 will explain what is involved. Some 25,000 members are serving in the CMF at the present time. J am told that to extend eligibility to those members who are likely to apply would cost approximately $6m. 1 am not sure how my Department arrives at that figure but I am giving it in good faith. In respect to others some $23m could be involved. This is a large amount of money.
We have had in this debate and one of the debates which took place yesterday a contention by honourable members opposite - and I think it is a contention which has a lot of merit - that we have to watch very carefully the extent to which we flood the market with money for housing purposes because of the pressure on the building industry. I think the responsible attitude for the Government to take in this situation is that ex-servicemen should get a fair crack of the whip. I do not think anyone would deny they are getting a fair crack of the whip. To extend eligibility to members of the CMF at the present time would put a strain on our resources which would indeed have inflationary trends having regard to the shortage of tradesmen and so on.
– I mentioned the length of service.
– That is the next point to which 1 wish to refer. The honourable member said that he mentioned the length of service. What he did in this regard was to contend that, though the Government is pro posing that permanent members of the forces would be eligible after 3 years service, he wants to substitute 6 years service. Honourable members have heard what he said. There are many expressions of concern from servicemen all over the country about a suggestion that obviously would have the effect of denying them war service homes eligibility for an additional 3 years. The honourable member mentions 6 years for permanent members o: the forces and then goes on to say that eligibility should be extended to members of the CMF as well. I have made inquiries.
– I did not state any qualifying period for the CMF.
– I cannot follow up everything the honourable member said now as time is running out and I want to make a few points. I have made some inquiries and 1 am told by one authority that a member of the CMF would have to serve 4 times as long and by another authority that he would have to serve 8 times as long as would a member of the permanent forces to have the same period of effective service. If the honourable member is saying that a permanent member of the forces has to serve 6 years then apparently he is saying that a member of the CMF, if he has to serve 4 times as long, would have to wait 24 years before he became eligible. On the advice of the other authority, who says a member has to serve 8 times as long, a member of the CMF would have to serve for 48 years to have the equivalent of 6 years service in the permanent forces. That would be quite ridiculous.
– You are taking the wrong view.
– I do not know whether I am taking the wrong view. I have a conscientious regard for what the honourable member has put. I have made inquiries and I have been told by an eminent and competent authority that a member of the CMF would have to serve 8 times as long as a permanent member of the forces to have the same effective service. The honourable gentleman says permanent members of the forces ought to serve for 6 years before they are eligible. It is reasonable to assume he is saying that a person ought to be in the CMF for 48 years before he qualifies for the benefits.
– It is ridiculous.
– I do not know whether it is ridiculous, but it would be ridiculous to make the contention unless some regard was had for the facts I have mentioned. The priority matters arc important to consider. 1 am not quite sure of the number of members of the Citizen Military Forces who could become eligible. We have been told that there were 224,428 men who enlisted for overseas service in the 1939-45 war and that in addition about half of that number - about half of a quarter of a million - were members of the CMF during that war period. The estimate of my Department is that to accommodate them would cost an extra $23m a year.
I have had regard to the complaints made by honourable members opposite that we are pouring money into this in a reckless way. It may be. that they agree with the attitude that the Government is taking in making a number of reforms but consider that to take all of them in one go might be irrational and not quite the sensible thing to do at this point of time. A complaint has also been made by the honourable member for Herbert, I think, or in any case by other honourable members, that this is a sort of a bribe. I do not think the honourable member for Herbert said this but other honourable members did say it with respect to this idea of giving eligibility after 3 years service. It was also contended that people would lake their war service homes loan after 3 years of service and go. As the honourable member for Indi knows - I know that he got these figures from my Department - there are about 65,500 members of the permanent forces and of that number 27,500 already have qualifying service but they have not left the forces. Doubtless many of them could have done so. Their period of engagement could have expired by this time, but they have not left. I think that this is some substantiation of the fact that permanent members of the forces require the benefits of war service homes loans as they have been called even while they are members of the permanent forces and many, in fact, do take advantage of that eligibility. We are told that the number of members of the permanent forces who would qualify under this Bill is estimated to be 38,000 and that this would probably cost about $17m a year.
As honourable members know, many other matters have been contended but let me say because my time in this debate is almost concluded that so far as the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) is concerned I have had regard for what he said about eligibility for those members of the forces who come from Thursday Island and also the Torres Strait islanders. I have made a study of this. I have a fair understanding of the situation. It is my intention to do what I can to contrive ways and means to make these provisions apply to those Torres Strait islanders who are eligible. I have heard the points that have been made. I am prepared to go to Torres Strait, if I am to be received on the islands, to discuss the matter with the Queensland authorities and generally to make an honest endeavour to make those people eligible.
I am unable to accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Herbert to the motion that the Bill be, read a second time but I intimate to him that so far as another matter is concerned which he has foreshadowed we might be more accommodating in the committee stages of the legislation. I thank everybody for the contributions they have made in the debate.
– I should like to move an extension of time for the Minister to enable him to answer my 2 questions. 1. move:
That an extension of time be granted to the Minister for Housing.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)The question is that an extension of time be granted to the Minister for Housing. Those of that opinion say aye, and to the contrary no. I think the noes have it. The question is resolved in the negative.
– I am not quite sure what point the honourable member for Ballaarat-
-Order! I understand that the Minister voted against the motion. If he is in favour of the motion I will declare that the ayes have it.
– I think, in all modesty, I will vote against it.
– My original ruling stands.
Mr DONALD CAMERON (Griffith) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. I do not suggest for a moment that it was intentional but I think that the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) has misunderstood my reference to $400m. I did not say it was a yearly expenditure, f was referring to it as a total commitment.
– For all those in the forces at the moment?
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 7a.
– I move:
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill: 7a. Section 20 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: “(4) Subject to this Act upon receipt of an application in writing from an eligible person, who is a person entitled to the special rate of pension payable under the first paragraph of the Second Schedule of the Repatriation Act 1920-1973, the Director shall make an advance to that person, for the purposes specified in paragraph (f) of sub-section (1), of section 20 of this Act.”.’.
This motion may sound complicated and it probably is difficult to read. Very briefly - and J intend to be extremely brief in my remarks - the amendment means that any mortgage on the home of a totally and permanently incapacitated member of the forces may be taken over by the War Service Homes Division when that member has been unable to take advantage of the war service homes loan although he is eligible. That is ali that the amendment means. The explanation is brief and simple. The purposes of the amendment is to help those totally and permanently incapacitated members who get into financial difficulty and who have never been able to take advantage of the war service homes loan. I commend the amendment purely for the purpose of helping those people.
– I have heard what the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) has had to say in regard to this matter and I want to be the first to acknowledge that his point is well taken. The Government has a great deal of sympathy in this matter. Why should we not have sympathy? We have been making contentions along these lines for a long time. I might say that serious consideration has been given by the new Government to the whole question of second mortgages. We feel that some significant steps ought to be taken in this regard. It might interest honourable members to know that the estimated cost of taking over all existing mortgages under war service homes legislation is between $12m and $20m. It is a lot of money. Our first obligation, of course, is to ensure that ex-servicemen and now others have the opportunity to obtain a home. It so happens that these people referred to in this amendment already have a home.
It is also the case, as somebody on the other side of the chamber has acknowledged during the course of the second reading debate, that second mortgages were accommodated in the lifetime of the previous Government up to 1951. I have often contended myself - and other honourable members who comprise the Government have complained about this - that this was an arbitrary decision taken at that time and that there have been very serious and adverse effects. One of the things which I have been doing since I became the Minister for Housing - with the approval of the Cabinet, I might say - is to use the discretion available to me in respect of this matter with more compassion than has been brought to bear previously. We have developed some policy attitudes about it. Generally, the approved policy permits the discharge of mortgages where the terms of the mortgages are judged to be onerous and, having regard to the applicant’s income, are causing serious hardship. Totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners often are assisted in this way by the use of my prerogative.
But the matter put to me by the honourable member for Herbert does not involve prerogative; it involves rights. The Government stands for rights. We do not believe it is good for legislation to be of such a nature that a large area of discretion is placed in the hands of a Minister or the bureaucracy. It is good for every citizen of Australia to know that if he or she does certain things, that will establish eligibility for a right. I should like to see more rights as against discretion put into this legislation as quickly as it is reasonable to do. But it will not be done overnight. I have regard to the point contained in the amendment. It concerns TPI people who have a home and who can establish eligibility in all other respects. It is likely that in the predominance of cases such people would not be in affluent or lush financial circumstances. It is possible - let me be frank with the House because I do not think honourable members will take advantage of my frankness-
– We might.
– You may. I would not be surprised if some do. I do not think that the Opposition at large will do so. When a government acknowledges a point like this one in respect of TPI pensioners a resourceful member of an Opposition - and I know what such a person is - will immediately say: ‘Well, how about the age pensioner who can establish eligibility and so on?’ The Government might have to accommodate that proposition in the long term but that suggestion has not been put to the Government by the Opposition. The amendment deals specifically with TPI pensioners. Section 20 (1.) reads:
Subject to this Act and to the directions of the Minister as to matters of general policy, the Director may, upon application in writing, make an advance to an eligible person on the prescribed security, for the purpose of enabling him -
to erect a dwelling-house on a holding of the applicant;
to purchase land and erect thereon a dwellinghouse;
to purchase a dwelling-house, together with the land on which it is erected;
to complete a partially erected dwelling-house owned by him;
to enlarge a dwelling-house owned by him or
to discharge any mortgage, charge, or encumbrance already existing on bis holding.
The amendment is to apply this to TPI pensioners who make a proper application in writing. This will cost some money but I do not think it will be an exorbitant amount. I think it is a reasonable amendment and on behalf of the Government I am prepared to accept it.
– I shall be even more brief than the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson). 1 congratulate him - 1 think it is well warranted - on having listened carefully to a sensible suggestion put forward from this side of the House. Long may this situation continue. There will be times when we reckon that we have a complete mortgage on wisdom and that the Government has none. 1 expect that we will get angry about that, but there are times, surely, when the resources of Opposition members can produce ideas worthy of consideration by any government.
– We have done that for 23 years.
– If the honourable member pushes me into that corner I will not admit it. When he interjected 1 was about to do so. 1 do not think that the democratic process is encouraged by any government of any colour if it refuses to consider properly ideas of merit that come from an Opposition. That is as far as I am prepared to go in view of the comment I received before I was ready for it. If it is the will of the Committee to proceed beyond clause 7 there are one or 2 other comments I am prepared to make, if that is in order.
– It would not be in order at this stage.
– J thought the Committee had passed all clauses up to clause 7.
– The Committee is considering proposed new clause 7A. The motion before the Committee is that a new sub-clause be added and the honourable member would be in order in speaking to that.
– Then 1 would have to go back to clauses such as the title of. the Bill and similar clauses that are under consideration-
– We have not considered the title of the Bill. That will be considered at a subsequent stage. At this stage we are considering only the new sub-clause. Clauses 1 to 7 have been dealt with. The remainder of the Bill will be dealt with after dealing with this proposed new clause.
– What you are saying, Mr Chairman, is that if 1 comment on clause 8 I would be out of order.
– If that is the case I will confine my remarks to saying that the Opposition has at least a fair share of the ex-ser vicemen in the chamber and the Government will never find in us any lack of sympathy for TPI pensioners. Many of us have virtually lived with people who are now TPI pensioners in times that were not so pleasant as they are now. I should like the Minister to know that if he agrees to amendments that are sympathetic to ex-servicemen he will always find friends on this side of the House. 1 think TPI pensioners over the years have received proper consideration, not only from the present Government in this instance, but also from other governments. In the circumstances I confine my remarks and thank the Minister for the consideration he has shown to work done by people on this side of the House. I think it is very greatly to his credit and to the Government’s credit.
– As a member of the Committee of which the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) is Chairman, I should like to congratulate the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) for accepting the Committee’s amendment, lt is certainly appreciated.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Les Johnson) - by leave - proposed:
Thai the Bill be now read a third time.
– lt is nol my habit to speak on the third reading of a Bill and 1 do not intend to take more than 2 minutes of the time of the House now. In spite of the generosity of the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) in relation to matters we have already referred to on this side of the House, there were one or 2 uncharitable things mentioned to which I should refer. I refer to where the Minister speculated - I think that was the word he used - about the previous Government’s attitudes to measures that 1 can describe only as reform measures. One cannot blame the Minister for talking about reform measures but I do blame him for speculating why these measures were not introduced in the past. In answer to this insinuation I make 2 very brief points.
Firstly, it is not wildly inaccurate to say that measures to be taken this year and measures which can be taken next year will owe their potential to the fact that previous governments have put the economy in such a state that these actions are possible, and to ignore that fact or to glide easily over it is not an honest attitude to take. I trust that in this nation there will always be progress and that as the economy strengthens from year to year further reform and other social service measures will be possible. I ask the Minister to take some cognisance of that fact in future because I regard it, quite frankly, as fair comment.
The second point may not be so patently obvious or so patently fair. Any increase in the maximum loan, such as is provided in the Defence Service Homes Bill brought forward by the Minister, is appreciable and is acknoledged as such by the Opposition. But let us be quite clear and say that by the time this legislation is next examined or amended this increase will appear as one of a very paltry nature. Expenditure by this Government has been of such an order that the value of the increased loan after 2 years will be very little. I think we will find that in 3 years’ time, if I am any judge of trends in the movement of the Australian dollar today, this increase will amount to nothing and its benefit will have been destroyed. So before people idly stand in this House and fire arrows at previous governments and imply that they had a poor record in these matters, they should consider at least these 2 matters which I believe to be valid considerations.
– in reply - All I want to say is that something of significance has been achieved by this Bill. I have made the point that the loan level of $9,000 represented only 57 per cent of the average advance for housing in the lifetime of the previous Government. To raise it to $12,000 goes close to meeting the average requirement. Nevertheless, it is the intention of the Government to give serious consideration to extending this amount by a second step, we hope to $15,000, in the lifetime of this Parliament. This is not secret. I have told the Parliament of the Government’s intention and earnest desire to give effect to that intention.
I take advantage of this third reading debate to say something which might help a lot of people. Nowhere in the debate has mention been made of the welfare organisations that come into the area of eligibility. 1 think it would be useful to have their names recorded in Hansard so that those people who have not been alerted may be by this process. The organisations designated as accredited welfare organisations are the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Salvation Army, the Australian Comforts Fund, the Australian Red Cross Society, the Campaigners for Christ and the Australian Forces Overseas Fund.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28 March (vide page 779), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-I seek the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure in relation to this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill and the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2), as they are associated measures. Separate questions may be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, that the House permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)Is it the wish of the House to follow that course? There being no objection I will allow that course to be followed.
– As the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) said, there are 3 Bills before the House - the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill and the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2). I want to make it quite clear at the outset that the Opposition supports all these Bills but will move an amendment to one Bill only in the Committee stage. It is not an amendment which in any way goes to the substanceof the Bill but only to some rather important matters of form relating to future policy in the areas covered by the Bill. These Bills represent good moves and, we believe, a continuation and a natural extension of previous Liberal-Country Party governments’ concern for universities and colleges of advanced education. I congratulate the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) for bringing them in so swiftly.
Two of the Bills are concerned to increase the number of qualified social workers in Australia. This is to be done by making grants of $240,000 to the University of Melbourne, $75,000 to the University of Sydney and $40,000 to the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. The grants are to be used to increase the number of social workers being trained at those institutions. This is timely because social work training has been somewhat frozen in recent years, largely because social work is a relative newcomer to university and college of advanced education courses and was a course not much in demand until the last 10 years. Inasmuch as it was not much in demand until the last 10 years it was rather severely frozen within the universities. The departments of social work were, as it were, half way to a position of full growth when they were, in effect, frozen. I understand that the increased expenditure provided in this Bill will enable the Department of Social Work at the University of Melbourne to increase its output of students by 25 per cent. This will enable the department to undertake the sort of course reorganisation which will give this course the features of a good university course and enable it to provide the full facilities which are. needed by the students of social work in the contemporary situation.
There is, of course, a very high demand for courses of social work by students entering universities and it is quite fascinating that the score which students have to achieve to enter a social work course at the University of Melbourne is the highest required by any faculty or department. It is higher even than the famous medical score. In 1973 a student has had to have a score of at least 317 out of a possible 400 to gain admission. This is somewhat higher than for medicine and quite significantly higher than for other major courses within the university context. There is a tremendous demand for what have been very scarce places. In the University of Melbourne Social Work Department, of 560 students who have social work as first choice, only 125, even with the extensions in the Bill, could be selected.
A very encouraging feature of the applicants for social work in the University of
Melbourne - and I trust that this would be so in other cases - is that a very significant and growing proportion are graduates from other faculties. They have done a first course. In the case of the Social Work Department of the University of Melbourne the extra money is being used to take in these graduates. Another pleasing feature of the growth of social work is that more males are now taking the course. This year at the University of Melbourne males comprise about 30 per cent of the total intake. It is a steadily rising figure- It is important because in many areas of contemporary social work it is valuable to have male social workers as well as female social workers.
One of the problems of primary attention that is often pointed out today by educators is that there are not enough male teachers with whom students can identify. This could equally be said about the social work profession. The increase in graduates in social work will enable the staff of social welfare departments more effectively to regionalise their activities, as in most States they are presently attempting to do. It will also enable the increasing demand by local government bodies for highly trained social workers better to be met. Anyone involved in local government or government activities must applaud that feature.
I believe that there is within schools a growing need for the extra skills which qualified social workers can introduce. It is also encouraging that of the graduates who are applying for social work at the University of Melbourne, a good many are qualified teachers who are taking social work as their second qualification in addition to their basic teacher qualification. They could provide an increasing source of manpower, particularly for schools in difficult areas with a high migrant population and certain social problems which need urgent attention. The increase provided for in the Bill is most welcome also in that field- I trust that the increase will also play an important role in the development of community health services and the like - choose whatever label you wish to describe them - with particular reference to social and preventive aspects of community medical care.
It seems to me that much of the present confusion and concern about the state of Australia’s abortion law would not arise if these types of highly trained and qualified people were available locally to the various counselling services, community health services and all sorts of community care services at the local level. There they could be readily accessible to individual members of the community and we would not be faced with nearly the difficulty and sometimes frenzy that we presently face. The Opposition supports the Bill with great pleasure. We regard the provision of extra social workers as a matter of urgency.
We also support the implementation of the recommendation of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education that the Government should provide an unmatched grant of $5m for libraries in colleges of advanced education during the 1973-75 triennium. If the colleges of advanced education are to fulfil the absolutely crucial role in society which we desire them to have, their library facilities must be adequate to keep them in touch with all the important and relevant areas of scholarship and research. We as members of Parliament will have to get used to the idea of the rapidly escalating cost of effective modern libraries. Their problems and possibilities are enormous in these days of the information explosion.
I come now to the grants for needy students in universities and colleges of advanced education. We also support these grants and look forward keenly and anxiously to a long term policy of aid for needy students which will cope with the need where it really exists. lt was odd, a little worrying, and I imagine slightly out of character, for a Labor Government as a first act to rush in to abolish university fees. I stress that it is odd as a first act. I believe that it will be a tragedy if this largesse prevents the Labor Government and universities from realistically tackling the problems of student poverty and failure. The universities’ heyday of almost infinite expansion vis-a-vis other sections of the community is well and truly over and the question of priorities is most pressing. Surely it is of the highest priority to ensure that the right students are being assisted and that students are getting the type of assistance that they really need. We might say that students need what they need when they need it, as many of us do.
As a matter of priority it seems to me to be far more important for the sake of Australia to ensure that those students who have the most potential receive real assistance when they need it than to encourage with scholarships students who will benefit only marginally themselves or the country by undertaking a particular course of study. In utilising limited resources we need to be much more ready to put in that stitch in time which can save nine. An investment today of a comparatively small amount of money - a few hundred dollars here or there - could save vast expenditure, perhaps thousands of dollars.
The Commonwealth living allowances scheme has clearly helped many needy students but it has suffered from certain defects. The means test on parental income has, I believe, been unrealistically low. The present maximum living allowance is $700 per annum for students living at home and $1,100 per annum for students living away from home. I understand that the allowance cuts out when the annual family income, after concessions for dependent children, reaches $2,800. The living allowance is far too low. I understand from university authorities that students with the most modest habits, both of study and in society, would need at least $1,600 to $1,800 annually as a bare minimum to live on. That assessment is based on the notion that they would attend the theatre only once in a couple of months.
Further, it is quite unrealistic to expect a student to have lived independently of his or her parents for 3 years before being able in general to qualify for a living away from home allowance. I know that there have been occasional exceptions, but I am talking about the basic principle here. The student who is thrown out of home or who feels forced, for what would seem to him or her always to be good reasons, to leave home will often be precisely the student in most need, both financially and psychologically. Yet the present living allowance is not really geared to coping with that situation.
One of the pleasant features of the present Bill is that it does provide for assistance to needy students in general enough terms for a student like that to receive the needed help. A student from a family earning a fair income who suddenly feels compelled to leave home is often faced with enormous psychological problems as well as financial hardship because pride will prevent the acceptance’ of any allowance from home. Indeed, the matter might be determined at home without pride even entering into it. This student, who might be a very able student and who, at the point of most need under the present scholarship scheme, does not receive assistance, is surely the sort of student whom the universities would want to assist when they are able to testify as to the validity of a claim after investigation of the evidence.
I believe that the present Bill has the great virtue of allowing a university itself the maximum discretion in deciding how to help needy students. I would like to see the approach of this Bill built more into the Commonwealth living allowance schemes of the future, however they might shape up when the Labor Government does move to abolish university fees. In general, I believe that a lot more respect ought to be paid to informed university teachers and university authorities rather than the rigid application of over-niggardly rules, as they are on many occasions, for the point surely is that the universities will know best whether an individual student is worth a bit of extra expenditure. The universities will best know whether an extra expenditure of SI 00 or $200 in a final term might rescue from failure a student on whom hundreds or even thousands of dollars have been already spent in one way or another.
Student poverty and failure do operate in a pretty tight but vicious circle. Initial poverty can beget failure; failure can beget poverty. Some aspects of the present legislation do not help in this begetting of still deeper failure. It may well have been indeed a false as well as a sad economy to take scholarship benefits and allowances away after a little failure, as the scholarship schemes have done. Obviously we are not going into the business of subsidising failure as such. That would be a wholly illegitimate aim, but we must be sure about the economy involved in the early withdrawal of benefits on the basis of rather rigid rules.
I would like to know, for instance, what the Labor Government’s attitude will be towards those students who go into universities, who do not have to face fee bills and may or may not receive extra allowances, if they fail, say, one or two subjects in their first year. Will the curtain come down on them and will they then have to pay a certain amount towards their studies for the next year and possibly then be driven out to a part-time job and so be faced with the sort of social and study sit uation which will beget further failure? I think it of great importance for questions like this to be considered in the broad context of aid to all students and in particular to needy students. At the moment the very delay involved in the sheer administration of benefits can create real hardships for the students who are suddenly thrown into need. In short, I hope that the universities and the Department of Education will be able to work more closely together.
There is a temptation to act out of a counsel of fear in this sort of matter. I think that we must resist the temptation to act out of a counsel of fear about the expenditure of Government money in this area because to act in such a way could prove to be a false economy. We do need to know a lot more about student need and its relationship to performance in universities and in colleges of advanced education. There have been isolated reports from time to time in various universities. Nearly all of them are out of date at present. One of the features of the administration of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is, I understand, that he has asked his Department to look into these matters. I think it is of great importance that they be looked into because, pending the dissolution of the whole fee paying system in universities, we must be ready with legitimate schemes for student assistance.
I think few people doubt that financial hardship is at least a significant cause of student failure. We do not know precisely how to weigh this as one of the causes. The Metropolitan Universities Admission Centre in Sydney in 1972 found that 12 per cent of those who rejected university places in 1972 did so for financial reasons. The actual figure may be greater or smaller than was signified in that study. Hie Australian Union of Students has looked at the matter. It surveyed 1,797 Victorian tertiary students over the 1971-72 vacation period. The survey showed that 10 per cent of the students said that they were unable to earn sufficient money in the period to enable them to continue their studies, that 3 per cent did not re-enrol, that 4 per cent had to take part-time jobs and that 1 per cent had to switch to part-time courses. I understand that the survey showed that the hardest hit were those students whose fathers were tradesmen or in semi-skilled or unskilled occupations - precisely those who in most cases need the most help and understanding in the university context. There was also the excellent study by Mr 0’Hearn of the Melbourne University Faculty of Arts which helped so much to give us a humane understanding of the relationship between student failure and poverty.
There have of course been in all universities - 1 am not so familiar with colleges of advanced education - some schemes in addition to the Commonwealth scholarship and living allowance schemes to aid needy students. The most common form of assistance has been some form of student loan scheme, although some universities, particularly in South Australia, had a fee concession scheme. The deferment of tuition fees altogether has been an uncommon form of aid. The whole question of student loans as a form of assistance to needy students has been investigated very closely indeed by the previous Minister for Education and Science, I believe that a Minister for Education and Science some years ago, Mr Fairbairn, also looked at this matter. I know that Mr Malcolm Fraser undertook detailed studies and discussed the situation with banks as well as university authorities. I understand that he had agreement in principle from all interested parties that some sort of student loan scheme was a feasible proposition.
There are m;my who believe that, inasmuch as resources are now very hard to come by in the field of education, particularly higher education, it is quite legitimate to ask those who are receiving such significant benefits from society to have a hand themselves in, as it were, helping themselves. So the notion of student loan schemes for even quite significant sums which was abhorrent some years ago is, in the circumstances facing the universities today, not nearly so abhorrent to students. 1 think there is a widespread belief in the community itself that this is a most legitimate and useful way of extending assistance to students. The amount available for loan in the various universities has varied widely as between universities and, in fairness to the various universities, 1 think it will be necessary for the Minister and his officers to look at the existing loan schemes. Easily the best is in my old university - the Melbourne University. Some universities have very modest student loan schemes. I am not certain of the basis of the allocation to universities in the present Bill though I suspect it is some sort of per capita basis. In that case, some universities which are already doing quite well for their students in special need will be in easy street this year in this area but other universities will not do nearly so well under the present Bill. I think that point needs to be looked at by the Minister.
The fact of the matter is that the universities have already spent most of the money involved in this Bill. However this is not why the Opposition is supporting the Bill. Indeed it would not be a good reason to support it. We are supporting the Bill for much better reasons. But 1 think it is important for us io know how the universities have fared in expending the money this year. This year one of the problems with the scheme which will be largely unavoidable because of the newness of the Government is that the assistance was not early enough to help those who were considering whether they would start a university course this year. As has been shown in some of the earlier figures presented, some people are deterred no doubt at the point of entry, so this scheme will help those who are already attending university. There is also the question which is unresolved in what the Minister has said so far as to his future intentions in this area. I expect that a lot of this money will have been spent on grants and not on loans and, therefore, there will be no return to the universities. This is the basic reason why. in the Committee stage, the Opposition will he hoping to amend the Bill so that it will call for an accountability from the universities to the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and the Australian Universities Commission and so enable this highly important matter to be closely investigated by this House, as well as by the Minister for Education, before any unfortunate steps might be taken with respect to the long haul in this crucial problem.
The question of needy students is complex. It shades into various issues of student finance, such as the adequacy of living allowances under Commonwealth scholarships; whether assistance should be given solely on the basis of merit or on the basis of need; and whether all students should receive some grants. The availability of vacation employment, students dropping out for non-financial reasons and the concept of self help are also involved. There are new ways of looking at this question. The previous Government had started looking at some of these matters and the Minister for Education has taken useful and early action. 1 congratulate him and I took forward to his close attention to many of the matters which I have discussed tonight.
– As the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) remarked, the 3 main issues covered in these Bills deal with aid to needy students at universities and colleges of advanced education, increased finance for the training of social workers over the next 3 years at the universities of Sydney and Melbourne and the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, and provisions for libraries in colleges of advanced education. It should be obvious that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) should be congratulated for what has been a very rapid response to an urgent situation. It would be admitted that the measures taken in these Bills do not solve all the problems in these particular areas but they serve as a start to cover the urgent problems that exist. Future planning will go on and we will see that the advantage gained from these measures is projected to its fullest.
In talking about needy students the honourable member for Chisholm started to speak about different categories and point out that there might be only a small group of students who at some particular time needed a small amount of money to assist them on to the completion of courses. I may be unfair to the honourable member but I felt there was a certain amount of elitism at a tertiary level in his remarks. It may well be that the most urgent needs for helping students go right back to the primary school level in a number of States, but one hopes that the various commissions that are now investigating the matter will deal with this particular subject.
I wish to make some passing comments on the question of needy students. The La Trobe University lies within my electorate of Scullin and at the beginning of this year a number of students of that university approached me asking what avenues of financial assistance existed for them. They were without university scholarships. Some of them had failed subjects and so had forfeited their university scholarships, others were trying to carry on courses at a part time level, and others were unable to obtain living allowances because of problems of parental and domestic relationships. It is very difficult to give appropriate advice in these circumstances because of the restrictive nature of the means test for the allowances covered by university scholar ships. I had no doubt that in many of these instances there was a real severance of the student from the home for a number of reasons, including the lack of parental understanding of what further tertiary studies meant. There were many other reasons. But the very rigidity of the testing for the living allowances prevented many students from receiving assistance. Another matter was the state of the student loan funds at the respective universities. Because of the restriction on the amount available to the students the amount was quite insufficient for them to be able to support themselves. Another factor was that many of these student loan funds attract repayment, require guarantors and are subject to a number of other conditions which many of these young people could not meet.
A wide number of factors create needy students, lt is not only economic need. A lot of it is social need as such. Some of it is due to psychological and other environmental factors which require services other than money. I agree that this measure is a great help to many of those individuals who approached me with their problems but, unfortunately, the lack of information in the university system does not allow one to make a proper judgment at this time on how effective will be the awarding of finance to needy students. The honourable member for Chisholm mentioned that universities might be the best bodies to know where such financial help is needed. This is so only if a proper system has been developed for acquiring knowledge of the students undertaking courses. It seems to me that the proper place for that to start is with the student right at the beginning of his course at the university or college of advanced education. Yet this seems to be the time when students are at their loneliest and when their problems are least understood or looked into. However, I appreciate that the step we are now taking has been taken as an emergency measure. I know that the Minister is conscious of these and other problems and will be thoroughly investigating the case of students who are needy because of economic or other reasons.
I should like to deal with the matter of the grants for training of social workers at the 2 universities and at the college of advanced education. These grants, which will be disposed of over a period of 3 years, will make a real difference in supplying an increased number of social workers, although I doubt whether the increased number in itself will satisfy the demands. A number of institutions hoped to instigate courses in social work but because of lack of finance for staff and facilities were forced to forego them. The Preston Institute of Technology, which is well known to me, was one of them. Despite the fact that many of the social workers who are entering the social work course already have a primary degree, I wonder whether we are not reaching’ the stage of social development where there is a need for a greater degree of specialisation in the courses offered to (hem or whether they can in fact in their 3 year course hope to cover the whole scope of social work.
One can list the obvious reasons that are given for the need for a greater number of social workers and social worker trainees. They are needed in schools. Quite recently 1 received a letter from one of the primary schools in my electorate which operates in a relatively economically and socially deprived area asking whether urgent assistance could be given for a social worker to work in conjunction with the staff of that school. Of “course, no formal channels exist by which this could be done. This is a very difficult question to raise publicly because while the people living in this area might be economically and socially deprived they are also human beings who possess that human quality of pride, and if one were to name the institution it would react against public agitation and pressures to obtain social workers in the primary school situation.
A similar problem exists in relation to hospitals and health and the disposition of elderly patients and the chronically ill, for which social workers are needed. The development of community health centres will create a greater demand for them. It came to my mind in discussing the need for this greater number of social workers that there was one point we were missing and it was a point that was raised at the international conference on social work in 1966. Indeed, it was the subject of that conference, lt was the question of the urbanisation of our society and’ the role that social workers must play in the urbanisation of society. The emphasis was on the need for inter-disciplinary planning so that the new towns that are being developed and the new urban complexes that are proposed are socially balanced. To do this requires the role of social workers.
National Livestock Policy - Vietnam - Whitlam Ministry - Select Committee on Road Safety - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - Rhodesian Information Centre
-Order! It being 10.15 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 1st March, 1 propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Previously in the House I and others have referred to the need for a maximum security animal quarantine station and for a diagnostic laboratory. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin) referred to this recently. Developments have taken place at both Norfolk Island and more recently Christmas Island, and I understand that the Public Works Committee will be investigating possible sites for such establishments in the next few months. But if these developments take place they will form only a small part of an overall policy for livestock in this country. I believe that we need a national Livestock policy, and the best way to co-ordinate and develop this policy is to establish a Commonwealth veterinary service. The requirements of the Australian livestock industries and of the countries to which we export animal products insist that to safeguard the future of these industries and exports a national body with overall control is essential. Meat offers the best long term export hope of the livestock industries and of our exports generally. At the present time meat suffers from the confusion of divided Federal government departments and Federal-State control. At the present time Federal authority is split between the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Health, with the Department of Science involved in research through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Overall authority is also divided between Federal and State governments, and at State level some States have divided control between Departments of Agriculture and Health.
Matters which would come within the compass of a Commonwealth veterinary service are matters such as live animal exports and imports, semen exports and imports, meat inspection and classification, tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication programs, and animal progeny testing schemes. As a general rule I am opposed to increased Federal control, but overseas countries are not interested in our
Federal-State relationships or in divided Federal departmental control. They want one national authority to contact, one national policy, one body to talk to, someone who can speak for Australia on these matters.
The meat hygiene inspection requirements of the United States and other countries reveal quite clearly that foreign governments will accept only a national authority. The developing trade in semen imports and exports has confirmed this point. The foreshadowed restrictions by meat importing countries against meat from countries not declared free of tuberculosis and brucellosis will compound our problems in the future unless national control and direction are provided. Because of the importance to Australia of an accelerated and successful eradication scheme the Commonwealth should assume full financial responsibility for the program. I know the program is accelerating, but to beat possible deadlines by these overseas countries I believe it has to be accelerated even more. I think the only way for this to happen is for the Commonwealth to provide the finance, thereby assuming the responsibility. I doubt whether the States would oppose this proposition because of the problems and the cost involved.
Other advantages of a single national authority such as a Commonwealth veterinary service would be found in relation to meat inspection. At the present time there is confusion on meat inspection between Federal and State inspectors. I hope that one byproduct of a single authority would be a single inspection standard for meat for both home consumption and export. At the present time in some States carcases condemned for export can be sold on the local market. I do not say that Australians are being sold unhygienic meat or unsafe meat, but sooner or later we must adopt a common standard. Another field in which a veterinary service or a bureau of animal health could have a function is in an animal progeny testing scheme. A national beef recording scheme has been initiated. If there is also a beef progeny testing scheme it should be a national one to avoid the confusion of our present dairy progeny testing scheme. If we could only achieve national guidelines and co-ordination with dairy progeny testing I think we could achieve far more than we are at the present time with 3 States trying to do the job and none of them doing it as successfully as it could be done if we co-ordinated with the different breeds. A national meat classification or grading scheme could also be the responsibility of such a body, for the benefit of both the producer and the consumer of meat in Australia. There are possibly other duties for such a bureau or service. However, even if some of those mentioned could come under the control of a national body with a clear national policy it would be a major step in assisting the livestock industries to play their important role in the future of our country.
– Now that all American soldiers have been withdrawn from Vietnam and peace there is slowly becoming a reality, most Australians are likely to breathe a sigh of relief and not worry any more about what goes on there. I hope that Australians will not forget about Vietnam, because a legacy of foreign involvement still remains after the troops have left. I refer to the political prisoners still in South Vietnamese gaols. No one knows how many political prisoners are kept in South Vietnamese gaols but some reports have suggested that there may be up to 300,000 imprisoned for political offences by the present and previous South Vietnamese governments. Forty thousand were arrested within a few weeks, according to President Thieu’s Press secretary in a statement made on 8 November last year. Many of them would be neutralists or communist sympathisers but many are young students and workers imprisoned because they have dared to speak out against aspects of the present regime or who merely spoke out in the name of God and humanity against the way the war in Vietnam was being waged.
– They are communists.
– Of course honourable members opposite believe that communists are not human beings. I am making a plea particularly on behalf of students and young people who have been gaoled in South Vietnam by the authorities.
– Communist sympathisers.
– Anybody who is not a Liberal happens to be a communist, in the eyes of some people. Let me mention by way of example the saturation bombing, the removal of peasants from their traditional homes, the effects of the war on the Vietnamese people themselves, the degradation, the refugees and the children orphaned by the war. The arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of many political prisoners was made easier by the new constitution pushed through the Vietnamese Parliament by President Thieu. The constitution which described communists and procommunist neutralists as persons who commit acts of propaganda for an incitement of neutralism could have been and was applied so sweepingly that many thousands of Vietnamese - many of them often by mistake - who would never regard themselves as even communist sympathisers were gaoled as political prisoners. I suggest that if they are ever released their political ideas might have changed somewhat.
Another disturbing aspect about these political prisoners is that, with the signing of the ceasefire settlement, many of them are not being freed. This was meant to be. part of the agreement between North and South Vietnam. President Thieu’s Government is doing this by a massive reclassification of political offenders. By this measure thousands of gaoled antiThieu politicians, students and intellectuals are bypassed in any mass release of political prisoners. Alternatively, the Government has been recharging political prisoners with criminal offences and even reclassifying criminals as political prisoners so that they can be traded off as such. We have heard a lot recently in the papers and on television about the treatment of American prisoners of war, including tales of torture, starvation and ill treatment generally. This sort of thing seems to have been matched by the South Vietnamese in their treatment of political prisoners. According to a bulletin from the Young Christian Workers of South Vietnam, the following forms of torture have been applied specifically to political prisoners: Intense beating of the soles of the feet, legs and chest; electric shock; soapy water, dirty oil and garbage forced into their mouths provoking vomiting through the nose; periods in water filled metal tanks in which they are struck. Women and girls have received special attention, from being raped to the insertion of Coke bottles and live eels in the genital organs. To these physical tortures are added the tortures of humiliating persons in order to destroy the human element in them.
Some American companies have even profited from the treatment and torture of prisoners. They have supplied - for a good price, of course - cages in which prisoners are kept and tortured. The American Govern ment’s aid program also has provided many millions of dollars to expand and renovate South Vietnamese prisons and detention centres and to provide them with technical resources. According to Michael T. Klare in his book War Without End’, the United States financed the relocation of thousands of political prisoners from mainland gaols to the prison island of Con Son, the site of the notorious tiger cage cells. After 2 United States Congressmen visited the inhuman tiger cages in 1970 more American money was used to build 288 new isolation cells at Con Son. The torturing and ill treatment of political prisoners is abhorrent, whatever side practices it, and must be condemned by all.
In the general joy over the release of the American prisoners of war we must not forget the plight of the many thousands of political prisoners still rotting in South Vietnamese gaols. Unlike the previous Government with its cynical ‘don’t care’ attitude, the new Labor Government promptly protested against the continued bombing of North Vietnam. Surely we should also be calling for the release of all political prisoners in South Vietnam as soon as possible and for humane treatment for those who remain imprisoned.
– And in North Vietnam.
– And in North Vietnam, certainly - any political prisoners held in gaol.
– Where have you been hiding your head?
– If I had one like yours I would have been hiding it for a long time. We fought for democracy in South Vietnam, and young Australians who were not given a democratic right in choosing to fight that cause died there. We should continue our fight for a democratic South Vietnam by calling for the continued release of political prisoners. The other evening my colleague the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) made a special plea for those young Christian students who have been imprisoned in South Vietnam - not communists but political prisoners - who are being held there against their will and are being tortured. 1 think that is a good attitude and I join with him in asking for the release of those people.
– It was interesting to hear the remarks of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) in the adjournment debate this evening because I want to mention some matters at this stage that I believe should cause concern to thinking Australian people. First of all there is the failure of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to pass on to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam) certain information. I do not think that, from the very moment that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation matter was first raised in this House until the present stage, the Attorney-General in the Senate or the Prime Minister in this House have answered questions to the satisfaction of either the people of Australia or those of us who have asked the questions. The Prime Minister must think that the people of Australia are very naive because when he was excusing the fact that the Attorney-General had not passed on the information he said that both the Yugoslav Ambassador and the Attorney-General thought that the other would pass on the information. One might have believed that for a brief period of time, but after one or two days when there had been no report and no comment about it in the news media surely the Attorney-General must have then been aware of the fact that this information had not been given to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. I believe that with the Prime Minister holding 2 portfolios it was of greater importance that he should have received this information.
There are 3 other matters which I believe should cause concern to the people of Australia. The first is the visit to this country of a delegation from North Vietnam and the Vietcong. As I said in the Anzac Day oration, this visit is a disgrace to Australia. I make no apology for saying that and I make no apology for thinking that. J believe that it is a disgrace to Australia. Some people say that once a war is ended the quicker the reconciliation the better. 1 would remind anyone who puts forward that argument as justification for this visit that a member of this House, who is now a senior Minister in the Government, returned from a visit to Cambodia and said that the attacks in Cambodia were naked aggression by the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. 1 believe that as that was true at that stage it is still true today. Yet we are nowallowing into this country the visitors to whom 1 have referred, and they have been within the precincts of this Parliament House. Frankly, I never thought that I would see anything like that happen in this House. 1 believe, as I said, that these are matters that should cause us concern.
I now refer to the action of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) in regard to the Rhodesian Information Centre in Sydney. I will not offer any argument at the moment in relation to the establishment of this Centre. I believe that there are 2 points of consequence in this matter. The first is that a State government, a sovereign power, said that the Centre was entitled to be there, to be manned and to put out statements and comments.
– I would have thought that the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) might have had more thought for this country and its freedoms. What about the rights of people or a country at least to put forward their arguments in support of their case? As 1 say, I do not want to put forward any argument in regard to the position in Rhodesia or the case for Rhodesia. 1 believe that the interference by the Postmaster-General was a censorship in a political field which is dangerous to this country. Fortunately the process of democracy was put into being and, of course, the matter was taken to the courts. The third aspect of this matter - and let the honourable member for Franklin answer it - is that, although the action was not proceeded with, the Postal Workers’ Union said that it would refuse to deliver mail to Opposition senators, because the senators did not do something that the postal workers wanted or had done something with which the postal workers disagreed. Again, this is political censorship of the worst type, lt would mean that if any member of this House or a senator in the other place did something with which a particular group did not agree that group could take action to militate against the freedom of that member.
I believe this matter should be viewed with serious concern by the news media of this country. I. believe it is a matter to which people like Rupert Murdoch and others who have been great friends of the present Government and who gave it great assistance to obtain office should give serious consideration. It could be a possibility that if any newspaper or any publishing group did something that was against what this Government felt was in its interest the Government, through the
Postmaster-General’s Department, could immediately interfere with the publication of that newspaper. The same thing could also apply to radio and television. As I say I believe that these are matters to which the people of Australia must give very serious consideration now.
A great deal has been said about the freedoms in our country. It is my right disagree, as I do on numerous occasions, with commentators, newspaper writers and all those who are engaged in the propaganda media. It is my right to stand in this place and say that I disagree with them. But in the ultimate any interference with or political censorship of any of these organisations would be to the danger and detriment of this country. I believe that the 4 things which I have mentioned are an indication of what we said during the election campaign would be the dangers facing this country if the Australian Labor Party were ever put on the treasury bench.
- Mr Speaker, 1 am somewhat appalled to hear the remarks of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). He is a man of God. He denounced the North Vietnamese for being present in this country.
– What are you a man of.
– The honourable member should keep quiet or I will deal with him. I was one of the persons who dined with the North Vietnamese delegation tonight and was very proud to do so.
-Order! If the House does not come to order and give the honourable member for Hunter the same privilege as was given the honourable member for Lyne, who was heard in complete silence, I will leave the Chair. I mean that. I will name honourable members if they insist on interjecting.
– Vietnam is a country that in the middle of the last century had Western world imperialism imposed on it. It was resented. The country struggled bitterly for half a century to have the right to rule itself. After more or less ridding itself of the French the country was invaded by the Japanese and, after ridding itself of the Japanese, American imperialism was imposed upon it. The country has had more bombs dropped upon it in the last 12 months than has ever been dropped on the world in the history of mankind. That man of God, the honourable member for Lyne, did not raise his voice when napalm was raining from the heavens on women and little children. But he has the temerity to stand in this Parliament and condemn honourable members and people like myself who extended courtesy to the North Vietnamese delegation and expressed some degree of repentance for the actions of the previous Government, which the honourable member for Lyne had the temerity to support. He is a man of God, an evangelist.
-Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to contain himself.
– Clarence Darrow, the great American lawyer, once said ‘Deep in the heart of every evangelist is the wreck of a confidence man’. This evangelist, the honourable member for Lyne, has the temerity to stand up in this Parliament and condemn people like myself for expressing a degree of sympathy. I would like to speak more fully about the honourable member for Lyne and the Vietnam war. I believe he should hang his head in shame for ever being a supporter of a government which brought about the murder of 500 decent Australian boys who were conscripted to go to Vietnam as a result of his actions and the actions of his Government.
History will prove that he and his cohorts were a party to something that was almost more barbaric than anything that was previously known in this history of mankind - the involvement of this great country in the filthy Vietnam war about which the previous Government did not tell the Australian people the truth from its inception. If the Australian people had known the truth they would have put that government out of power at the election immediately following Australia’s involvement in that war. I put my name down to speak tonight on another matter but I shall have to crave your indulgence, Mr Speaker, to allow me to speak on it during the adjournment debate tomorrow night. I am prompted by the remarks of the honourable member for Lyne to say that I believe that when the true history of the Vietnam war is made available to the Australian people the honourable member will hang his head in shame, particularly on account of the remarks that he has made in this Parliament tonight.
-I wish to inform the House of the nomination of the following members to be members of the Select Committee on Road Safety: Mr Cohen, Mr Innes, Mr McKenzie and Dr Klugman who have been nominated by the Prime Minister; Mr Drummond and Mr Fox who have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition; and Mr Katter who has been nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party. The Prime Minister has nominated Mr Cohen to be Chairman of the Committee.
- Mr Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity tonight to speak after my friend the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). Unlike the honourable member for Hunter, I do not know whether emotionalism is a cover up for lack of logic or what is wrong with the honourable member for Hunter tonight. All I know is that honourable members opposite cannot talk about confidence tricks to honourable members on this side of the House. ( have not been caught with my head in a vice. I have not been caught in protection rackets. 1 do not suggest as a Minister has suggested that Aborigines should be sterilised. I was with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) on a delegation to Cambodia. I was with him at the time he sent a telegram to the Government of the time saying that the people in Cambodia were being subjected to a vile invasion by the people of a non-ethnic group - a separate race. I was there when the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs sent that telegram and he was completely right in sending it. Honourable members opposite have no right to accuse us on this side of the House of double dealing because nearly every statement that the new Government has made in the last 6 months can be put in the same category. Where is the $500m for rural loans at 3 per cent about which the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) howled through the countryside trying to delude sincere people that this was the treatment they would get? Quite part from the honourable member for Hunter, in the case of almost every Minister we can find without too much search this sort of double talk. The Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) is sitting in the House. We have heard about his Department threatening - as the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) has just said - not to deliver mail to Opposition senators for purely political reasons and nothing else.
– He would take away the telephone services from the farms.
– He has threatened to acquire farms rather than to connect telephone services for primary producers. I do not know why they should be discriminated against but that is a debate for another time. I want to come back to the Vietnam proposition as briefly as 1 can. I have been to Vietnam as often as I could. A lot of the time it was paid for out of my own pocket but once it was paid for out of the Government’s pocket when I went as a member of a delegation. I can tell the honourable member for Hunter that a lot of the remarks that he made tonight are just not true. I will demonstrate my point.
– The honourable member should listen-
– The honourable member has had his go. Now let me have a go. T remember going to Vietnam some time ago when the Press of Australia was full of the story that incendiary bombs were being flung around at random in the countryside and on towns and causing dreadful burns to women and children. I tracked this matter through 5 hospitals, not as a member of this Parliament but in the company of a Chinese man who was living in the area and who was able to gain access to these hospitals. In every case when 1 went into those hospitals the story was the same. The story was that there were drums of fuel lying around the place on new airfields. The people were suddenly faced at the village level with a new fuel and they were not trained to protect themselves.
– Ha, ha!
– The honourable member can laugh with his supercilious Australian Broadcasting Commission voice. Wherever I went I found the same situation. The honourable member for Boothby was with me at the time. Wherever I saw local doctors and whenever I went into the hospitals I found that the typical remarks with which the Press of Australia were damning us by implication - and with which they were certainly damning the Americans - were just a figment of their imagination. There was nothing in them. There were suggestions of torture and such things. The tortures in South Vietnam were at the standard of the South Vietnamese but they were a miserable imitation of the standard of torture applied by the people with whom honourable members opposite dined tonight. I think it is a shame and a shocking thing for honourable members to be prepared to sit in this place as members of this Parliament and to make contact and talk with people who have been the enemies of people from their electorates who have probably lost their lives or who have been injured. Such honourable members have absolutely no pride in their own country and they have no right to stand in this place as a member of this Parliament and refuse to stick up for the people who served their country. There is something lacking in members of Parliament who do not understand a liking of and a loyalty to their own nation. I do not begin to understand this.
Let me come back to the business in Cambodia because I think this is one area in which this Parliament has been negligent. However, let us be honest enough to say that over the last 6 months no longer do we on this side represent the Government. The Cambodian people have been let down by the likes of honourable members opposite. If ever there was a clear historical case - even clearer than the North Vietnam issue - that there was an invasion it is the one which concerns the people of Cambodia. They are Khmers. They are peace loving. They are not used to having soldiers around. They are not used to firing guns.
– Even the women are involved and the honourable member knows it.
– 1 feel sorry for the. honourable member for Port Adelaide who is so lacking in a knowledge of the situation that obtains in Cambodia.
– The honourable member has not been there. I have been there.
– On the contrary, I have been there at least half a dozen times times and 1 have not seen the honourable member there yet, but that is beside the point. The point at issue is whether a separate ethnic group - in this case the Khmer people - should be subjected to violent military attack by a group of people who are not of the same race. In this case in its original context there can b: absolutely no question that this country and this race were invaded. There can be no claim that it was a civil war in the early stages. What has this Parliament done? I am now condemning not only this Government but honourable members on this side, too. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I sought on the same platform at the Salisbury Teachers’ College in South Australia a resolution condemning naked aggression and hoping that the Government of the time would give some substantial help to enable this race of people to remain an ethnic group with their own ethos and using their own capacities in the area in which they have lived for centuries. That was done by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and myself. I believe it was put over television throughout the nation because it was a somewhat unique event. I suppose I must accept the blame as well as the Government. This country and this Parliament have done nothing to stick up for the Kmer people in Cambodia. I do not suggest that we have to send troops tomorrow, but I think that in the high places where the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) now treads and to which this Government now has access, the voice of Australia should be raised for a small nation. These people deserve their chance to exist as a race in Cambodia. 1 may further demonstrate that point by relating a touching circumstance when students and academics, as they term them - perhaps we would say trained technicians - of Cambodia who came from 5 adjuncts of universities if not 5 separate universities approched our delegation. We sat and talked with them for some hours. They were genuine, intelligent people. One might say that they were the better trained and better educated section of that community. They were significant of that small nation. They put to us their need for friends who would get up in high places throughout the world and put their point of view. We were accepted as genuine, sincere people who would help them. Maybe I and this side of Parliament have been too quiet about these people, but so has the entire Government of today.
I find it beyond my comprehension that a government of Australia should be on friendly terms at every available opportunity with people who were the naked aggressors in Cambodia. There is an area of complete unfairness in this Parliament in regard to the people of Cambodia. I hope that in this session of the Parliament I will hear more than one honourable member rise to back the views I am putting forward tonight in relation to Cambodia.
-I should like to raise 2 points this evening. One deals with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. In the ‘National Times’ of 19th March of this year, a Robert Mayne, who I understand is Associate Editor of the ‘SunHerald’ in Sydney, wrote an article on how ASIO exceeds its charter. In that article he claimed that he was approached by a New South Wales Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly, who was later shown to be Mr Peter Coleman, and a senior officer of ASIO to edit a magazine called ‘Analysis’. The aim of this magazine was to discredit Australian Labor Party members and others. The article stated that the ASIO officer had offered to give him information to help to discredit ALP members and that in fact this information was given to him and it is at present in the possession of the ‘Herald’ organisation; that Mr Coleman had said at the interview that he had access to ASIO information and used it in the New South Wales Parliament and in articles he wrote - J assume for the ‘Bulletin’ for which he was writing at that stage.
I think this is a terrible thing for ASIO to do. I think it is important for this Government to have a departmental inquiry to find out who that ASIO officer was. He is supposed to be a senior officer, according to Mr Mayne. This officer should be disciplined appropriately. He is certainly not a person who should be employed in ASIO if he is prepared to become involved in Australian party politics. I think even the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), with whom I often disagree, would agree that it is not the job of ASIO to get involved in arguments inside Australian political parties. In addition, it is necessary for our Government to indicate clearly to ASIO that it is not ASIO’s job to get involved in any sort of politics.
I would object to it just as much if it were done the other way around - if information were leaked by ASIO to some newspaper run by the Australian Labor Party or a newspaper supporting our point of view. I would not agree to the providing of information obtained from ASIO files linking members of the present Opposition with, for example, the Rhodesian Government or the Rhodesian Information Centre. It is most important that any security intelligence organisation clearly keeps away from interna) politics, if it has to exist at all.
The second point I raise - I was reminded of it by the speech by the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) - is on the question of the Rhodesian Information Centre. I should like to draw a comparison between 2 cases in which apparently a Commonwealth Government took action which was held to be at least prima facie contrary to the law. I am not necessarily supporting the decision by the Postmaster-General’s Department to cut off telephone communications or mail to the Rhodesian Information Centre. Whilst I strongly oppose the line taken by Rhodesia and by the Rhodesian Information Centre I think that excellent arguments can be offered in favour of allowing all points of view to be disseminated freely in Australia. I have doubts as to whether one should have attempted to cut off communication facilities. The Rhodesian Information Centre immediately took steps to get an injunction against the Commonwealth Government, the Postmaster-General or the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. An interim injunction was granted by Mr Justice Gibbs for one week on the day the action was taken. I think the case has now been referred to the Full High Court for decision. 1 have no complaint about that.
However, I wish to compare this case with a, to my mind, similar case last year which certainly made me strongly aware that the previous Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, was a person completely unfit to be AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australia. Honourable members who were here last year will recall the episode when it was suddenly discovered that certain ordinances in the Australian Capital Territory were held to be invalid by a judge in Canberra. Amongst the ordinances held to be invalid were ordinances dealing with the appointment of magistrates in the Australian Capital Territory. The day before this decision was given a young woman, Barbara Russell, was convicted of handing out leaflets urging people not to register for national service. She belonged to some Christian activist organisation. She was not connected with any political party, not that this is very relevant to her treatment under the law, but it shows that if anything the Government of the day should have taken more steps to protect her civil liberties. She was convicted and ordered by a local magistrate to pay a fine of $40. She refused to pay that fine. She was transferred to Silverwater Prison in New South Wales to serve a sentence, 1 think, of 20 days, corresponding to a $40 fine.
I approached the then Attorney-General and pointed out to him that because of the ruling by a judge the girl’s sentence was illegal, that in fact she should not have been gaoled, and that she should be released at least temporarily until the laws were amended or until such time as it was held to be legal to hold her in gaol. The Attorney-General said: ‘Go and take us to court’. People did in fact seek an injunction that afternoon and the Commonwealth Government intervened before Mr Justice Meares, who I think behaved terribly on that day. He delayed a decision on that case on the request of the Commonwealth Government. Miss Russell was held in gaol for 24 hours until the previous Government was able to pass legislation validating the original decision. I think it was a wrong decision and it showed quite clearly that there are justices of the courts in New South Wales who do not take seriously the proposition that people should not be held unlawfully in gaol.
-Order! It being 1 1 o’clock, in accordance with the order of the House, the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. on Thursday. 3 May 1973.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Immigra tion, upon notice: (!) Did he state that half of Australia’s migrant intake is unsponsored.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The proportion of unsponsored migrants in the total immigration program will in future vary according to Australia’s needs.
Under the immigration policies of the present Government, there will be 3 main elements in the immigration program:
the reunion of direct family members, i.e. spouse, dependent children and aged or otherwise dependent parents, fiancees and fiances;
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
What action has he taken to ensure that specialist bilingual teachers will be employed in schools to improve the educational opportunities of migrant children.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have arranged with my colleague the Minister for Education for talks between our 2 Departments on ways of improving the child migrant education program. One of the matters that we will be looking at is the extent to which migrant children would benefit from the greater use of their ethnic languages in the normal school syllabuses. The extent to which bilingual teachers should be employed wilt be a further aspect to receive attention.
asked the Minister for Immigra tion, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Minister for Immigration; Extra-departmental Advisory Organisations (Question No. 98)
asked the Minister for Immigra tion, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Immigration Advisory Council
The Immigration Planning Council
The Immigration Publicity Council
The Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications.
Membership of each body is as follows:
The Council’s membership is designed to provide a broad cross-section of Australian public opinion and most members represent community groups invited by the Minister to be represented. There are, in addition, 3 members appointed because of their specialized knowledge in important areas with which the Council is concerned. They are a sociologist, an educationist and a psychologist.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, representing the Senate, Chairman.
Mr G. M.Hastie, O.B.E., Associated Chambers of Commerce, Deputy Chairman.
Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, D.B.E., The Liberal Party.
Miss J. Green, The Australian Council of Social Service.
Mr R. J. Hawke, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Mr W. G. Henderson, Associated Chambers of
Mr L. J. Keogh, M.P., The Australian Labor Party.
Sir Arthur Lee, K.B.E., M.C., Returned Services League.
Mr W. M. Llppmann, Chairman, Migrant Education Committee, Australian Council of Social Service
Air Marshal Sir John McCauley, K.B.E., C.B., Good Neighbour Councils.
Mr F. J. McAvoy, C.B.E., Australian Farmers’ Federation.
Mr I. R. McRae, National Youth Council.
Mrs F. Miles, Country Women’s Association.
Mr L. J. Mooney, Council of Local Government Associations.
Mr W. P. Nicholas, Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council.
Mr G. Polites, M.B.E., Australian Council of Employers’ Federations.
Mrs R. J. Reader, O.B.E., National Council of Women.
Dr A. Richardson, University of Western Australia.
Dr S. S. Richardson, C.B.E., Principal, Canberra College of Advanced Education.
Mrs M. Thomas, Young Women’s Christian Association.
Professor J. Zubrzycki, M.B.E.. Australian National University.
The Council comprises members of the community who are recognised leaders in the fields of industry (both trade unions and employers), economics, science and public administration, who have been selected for their personal ability to contribute to the Council’s work.
Mr A. E. Monk, C.M.G. (Acting Chairman), Past President A.C.T.U.
Professor W. D. Borrie, O.B.E., Director, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.
Mr D. M. Cullity, Managing Director, Westralian Plywoods Pty Ltd.
Mr H. Cuthbertson, Managing Director, Blundstone Pty Ltd, Hobart.
Mr W. G. Gerard, C.M.G., Managing Director, Gerard Industries Pty Ltd, Adelaide.
Mr R. J. Hawke, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Sir Tasman Heyes, C.B.E., formerly Secretary, Department of Immigration.
Mr D. H. Laidlaw, Chairman, Perry Engineering Co. Ltd, Adelaide.
Sir Cecil Looker, Senior Partner, Ian Potter & Co., Melbourne.
Mr R. T. Madigan, O.B.E., Chairman, Hamersley Iron Ply Ltd, Melbourne.
Professor J. K. Martin, Professor of Sociology, La Trobe University, Melbourne.
Sir Robert Norman, Director and Chief General Manager, Bank of New South Wales, Sydney.
Mr L. M. Perrott, Perrott, Lyon, Timlock & Kesa, Architects and Town Planners, Melbourne.
Sir Richard Randall, formerly Secretary to the Treasury.
Mr J. F. Rich, Executive General Manager (Finance), Broken Hill Co. Pty Ltd, Melbourne.
Mr H. J. Souter, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Mr T. B. C. Walker, O.B.E., former President, Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council, Sydney.
Professor R. J. Walsh, O.B.E., Professor of Human Genetics, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
Professor B. R. Williams, Vice-Chancellor and Principal. University of Sydney.
Members of the Council are representatives of publicity organisations and media:
Dr C. W. Semmler, O.B.E. (Chairman), Deputy General Manager, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney.
Mr G. C. Adams, M.B.E., Proprietor and Publisher, The Colac ‘Herald’, Colac, Victoria.
Mr J. Calomeris, formerly Proprietor and Publisher, ‘Hellenic Herald’.
Mr K. H. Cousins, Chairman and Managing Director, George Patterson Pty Ltd, Sydney.
Mr A. S. Cowan, General Manager, Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations, Sydney.
Mr J. Dunin Karwicki, M.B.E., Editor, ‘Polish News’, Sydney.
Mr D. L. Foster, Director, Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters, Sydney.
Mr J. H. Horn, O.B.E., formerly Publicity Director, General Motors Holden, Melbourne.
Mr J. Jakobi, Proprietor and Publisher, ‘Die Woche in Australien’, Sydney.
Mr B. A. Kaesehagen, Editor, York Peninsular Country Times, Kadina, South Australia.
Mr C. D. Lanyon, Managing Director, Elliot Newspaper Group, Mildura.
Mr W. T. G. Richards, formerly Editor in Chief, The ‘West Australian’, Perth.
Mr B. A. Williams, D.F.C., Joint Managing Director, The ‘Advertiser’, Adelaide.
Dr D. M. Myers, Chairman, Vice Chancellor, La Trobe University, Victoria.
Mr G. W. E. Barraclough, Chairman, Unilever Australia Pty Ltd.
Mr S. J. Jacobs, Q.C., President, Law Society of South Australia.
Mr A. H. Parbo, Managing Director, Western Mining Corp. Ltd.
Professor E. G. Saint, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland.
Mr D.R. Zeidler, Deputy Chairman and Manag- ingDirector.I.C.LAstralia) Ltd.
Senator Mulvihill upon resignation of Senator
G. S. Davidson.
gh - upon resignation of Mr F. M.
Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Will he arrange for financial support and recognition by the Government to be given to Dr Kalokerinos of Collarenabri to continue his search into Vitamin C deficiency and other health problems such as immunology in Central Australia.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have had lengthy discussions with Dr Kalokerinos and, as a result, arrangements have been made for him to take part in an International Collaborative Medical-Scientific Study on Malnutrition, Infection and Immunity. This study is being currently carried out in several countries, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organisation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following information for answer to the honourable member’s question:
(a) Particulars sought by the honourable member are confidential between the printer and the Department of Customs and Excise. However, the Book Bounty Act provides for an annual return to Parliament showing the number of books produced each year on which bounty has been paid or is payable, the name, address and amount of bounty which has been paid or is payable to each claimant.
Minister for the Northern Territory: Administrative Arrangements (Question No. 238)
asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:
Will he supply details of his Department’s area of administrative responsibility?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As indicated in the revised Administrative Arrangements Order, the principal matters dealt with by the Department of the Northern Territory are those relating to the administration of the Northern Territory of Australia and the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands.
Subject to the exceptions shown below, these include the Head Office activities associated with policy and executive direction which were the responsibility of the Canberra based Northern Territory Divisions of the former Department -of the Interior together with those functions which were the responsibility of the former Northern Territory Administration.
The exceptions are: the development and implementation of policies for the advancement and welfare including education of the Aboriginal people in the Territory; land surveys; acquisition, leasing and management of land and property on behalf of the Australian Government and administrative servicing of the Northern Territory Police Force.
The responsibility extends to close liaison with all other Departments having a responsibility in the Northern Territory.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Information in the detail requested by the honourable member does not form part of the regular statistical collections of my Department. However, as the result of a special survey which my Department conducted last year, some information is available on the numbers’ of students from government and nongovernment schools offered Open Entrance Commonwealth . University scholarships first tenable in 1972. This shows:.
Number of students, by type of school, offered 1972 Open Entrance Commonwealth University scholarships:
A Number of students offered 1972 Open Entrance Commonwealth University scholarships, and
B These offers as a percentage of enrolments in the final year of secondary schooling in 1971, by State and type of school attended.
The total number of students enrolled In the final secondary year in 1971 was 68,432.
The number of applicants for 1972 Open Entrance awards was 51,553 or 75.3 per cent of these enrolments.
The number offered awards was 11,590 or 16.9 per cent of the enrolments.
The number who accepted these offers was 8,730 or 12.8 per cent of the enrolments.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Trans-Australia Airlines: Accommodation Industry (Question No. 363)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Civil Aviation: Subsidy Paid to Connair (Question No. 410)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Will he establish a public authority to operate the retail mall being planned for Belconnen in the Australian Capital Territory.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On5th April 1973 the Government announced the intention to establish a Statutory Authority to arrange the development andlong term management of the proposed Belconnen Retail Mall in the Australian Capital Territory.
Doctor’s Incomes (Question No. 488)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
A longer term comparison of growth rates over 2 decades is shown at the foot of Table 2. In both decades, doctors’ incomes rose faster than average earnings: if we compare the ‘real’ incomes (i.e. money incomes deflated by the consumer price index), doctors’ incomes grew about one-third faster than average earnings in both periods.
Subsequent income movements can only be guessed at. General practitioners received fee increases at 15 per cent in most common attendance fees and about 40 per cent in PMS attendance fees in mid-1971, and a further increase in most common attendance fees of about 5 per cent in mid-1972. Specialists would have benefited from the carry-over effect of 1970 fees and subsequent additions and adjustments to the schedule. It is possible, therefore,that the new relativities established in 1970-71 have been maintained since. If all doctors participated relatively evenly in the subsequent income increases, average net incomes of general practitioners would now be somewhat above $19,000 and average specialists incomes would be approaching $30,000. Similarly, the average income of the most highly paid group of specialists, pathologists, would’ now be in excess of $66,000 per year.
New Caledonia (Question No. 389)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
Did Australia take any action concerning selfdetermination and Independence for New Caledonia (a) with the colonial power; and (b) within the United Nations Organisation during the period 1970 to 1972 inclusive; if so, what action was taken; if not, why not?
– The answers to the honourable member’s question are as follows:
It should be noted that New Caledonia is not included in the Committee’s list of territories to which General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), relating to the right of self-determination and independence for territories that have not yet attained independence, is applicable. The Australian delegations to the 25th, 26th and 27th Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly did not comment on the constitutional situation in New Caledonia.
Information about the constitutional status of the French overseas territories in the Pacific, as it relates to the United Nations, is contained in the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, Supplement No. 3: Volume III, Articles 73 to 91 of the Charter (period 1.9.1959 to 31.8.1966), paragraphs 49, 60-104, 189-215.
New Hebrides (Question No. 390)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
Did Australia take any action concerning selfdetermination and independence for the New Hebrides (a) with the colonial powers; and (b) within the United Nations Organisation during the period 1970 to 1972 inclusive. If so, what action was taken; if not, why not?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Superannuation
– On 6th March 1973 (Hansard, page 277) in reply to Question No. 141, I undertook to advise the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) of any variations to salaries, allowances or pension schemes for ministers and members in State Parliaments.
I am now informed that the only variation to the information supplied on 26th October 1972 (Hansard, pages 3410-21) is in respect of the Western Australian Parliament where remuneration of $200 per year is paid to:
These rates of remuneration were fixed by a Determination dated 31st January 1973.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– I am informed that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Cash sustenance of up to $16 per week plus an amount of up to $4.50 per week for each eligible child may be paid. A mother’s allowance of up to $7 per week may also be payable.
Assistance is provided if negotiable assets are not greater than $500, cash sustenance being reduced by the amount of weekly income in excess of $4 a week. Some forms of income, e.g., child endowment, are disregarded.
Where appropriate the mother is required to take legal action for maintenance from the father of her child or children.
Weekly assistance of up to $17.25 plus an amount of up to $4.50 for each eligible child may be paid. A mother’s allowance of up to $4 per week and rental assistance of up to $2 per week may also be payable.
Assistance is provided if negotiable assets are not greater than $500 plus $100 for each eligible child. Assistance is reduced by the amount of other income but some forms of income, e.g., child endowment, are disregarded.
Where appropriate, the mother is required to take legal action for maintenance from the father of her child or children.
Rates of Cash Assistance:
Woman with one child $28.50 per week.
Each additional child $4.50 per week.
Supplement where there is a child under 6 years of an invalid child, $2 per week.
Thus a woman with one child may receive $28.50 per week or $30.50 if there is a child under 6 years.
Permissible assets - bank credit not to exceed $400 plus $100 in trust for each child.
Permissible income - no direct income limit applied.
Assistance is determined by deducting the family’s assessed weekly income from an Income Limit Scale, or from the maximum applicable rate of family assistance, whichever is to the applicant’s advantage. The Income Limited Scale is increased for each additional child and also if rent or home payments are being paid. It is further increased by the amount of rent in excess of $15 per week or home repayments greater than $7 per week. Assessed family income excludes child endowment. Earnings taken into account are net of tax, child minding fees, and fares to and from employment.
Other factors affecting eligibility for assistance:
A woman is ineligible for assistance unless she has taken legal action for maintenance from the father of her child or children (where applicable).
Emergency assistance may be made available pending the determination of the claim for assistance; the value of emergency assistance may be less than the rates shown above.
Weekly assistance of up to $30 may be paid to a woman with one child and an additional amount of up to $4.50 may be payable for each other eligible child. If one child is under 6 years or is an invalid, an extra $2 per week may be payable. Rental assistance for up to $4 per week may also be payable if rent exceeds $4 per week.
Assistance is provided if liquid assets are not greater than $500 and is reduced by income above $10 per week where there are one or two children, $12 where there are 3 children plus a further $4 per week for each additional child. Some forms of income, e.g., child endowment, are disregarded.
To be eligible for the maximum rate of assistance, the mother must, where appropriate, take legal action for maintenance from the father of her child or children.
The rates of benefit set out below will commence to be paid from 14th April, the increases being backdated to 6th December.
Weekly assistance of up to $30 may be paid to a woman with one child and an additional amount of up to $4.50 may be payable for each other eligible child. If the family consists of 4 or more persons, an extra $2 per week may be payable.
Assistance is provided if bank credit is not greater than $100 and is reduced by income above $10 per week plus $4 per week for each child. Some forms of income, e.g., war pensions for children, are disregarded and some expenditures are allowable deductions from income for means test purposes, e.g., child minding fees for working mothers.
Where appropriate, the mother is required to take action for maintenance from the father of her child or children.
Weekly assistance of up to $34 may be paid to a woman with one child and an additional amount of up to $4.25 may be payable for each other eligible child. If the rent paid is less than $10.75 a week where there is one child, plus a further 25 cents a week for each additional child, the maximum rate of assistance may be reduced by the amount of the shortfall.
Assistance may be reduced by the amount of income above $10 where there is one child plus a further $4 a week for each additional child. Income is increased by 25 cents per week for each complete $10 in excess of $500. Some forms of income, e.g. child endowment, are disregarded.
To be eligible for the maximum rate of assistance, the mother, where appropriate, must take legal action for maintenance from the father of her child or children.
asked the Minister for Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
National Commission on Social Welfare (Question No. 459)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
Why was the Australian Council of Trade Unions the only organisation with an interest in the work of the National Commission on Social Welfare given the right to nominate a representative.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Some of the members of the Commission have been chosen from various professional disciplines so that a wide range of professional expertise and experience could be brought to bear in considering social welfare policy. At the same time, the Government is concerned to ensure that the ordinary man or woman who may be a user of welfare services, or dependent on pensions or other income support programmes, would also have a voice in the development of welfare policy. There is a growing surge of interest in consumer participation in the planning and provision of welfare services throughout the world. The Government considered it more appropriate to invite the ACTU to nominate a member of the Commission, since union membership includes a great many potential or current consumers of welfare services. The honourable member may be interested to know that there is an Aboriginal representative on the Commission as well.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730502_reps_28_hor83/>.