28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon.J. F. Cope) took the chair at 11 a.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 Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to make available to the Tasmanian Government a special grant for the purpose of securing Lake Pedder in its natural state.
And your petitioners as in duty bound wilt ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
The Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That all have the right to life and that abortion in not merely another form of contraception but to the deliberate taking of innocent human life.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law 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 Killen.
– May I inform the House that the Minister for Labour, Mr Clyde Cameron, left Australia on Saturday 26 May to attend the International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva and to look into labour matters in London and Europe. He is expected to return to Australia on 8 July. During his absence, the Minister for Repatriation, Senator Bishop, will be Acting Minister for Labour. The Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Charles Jones, will represent the Acting Minister for Labour in this Chamber.
– I give notice that on General Business Thursday No. 5 1 shall move:
That the Government institute a committee of inquiry to include medical, religious, social welfare and economic representatives with wide terms of reference, to consider fully and advise this Parliament on the manner in which all citizens irrespective of their economic circumstances can be assisted, advised, and helped in such matters as:
All aspects of family planning even to the extent of providing responsible clinicsfor the purpose.
Sex education and guidance, including assistance to parents who find that they cannot adequately provide such training to their children.
How every Australian-born child shall not be denied adequate opportunity nor the necessities of life however unfortunate the circumstances of their birth.
How such assistance can best be afforded without the encouragement of promiscuity or deni- gration of moral responsibility.
Provisionand improvement of creche, kindergarten and child minding facilities for working mothers.
That all matters relevant to these national problems beinvestigated with emphasis on the sanctity and preservation of life.
The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) has agreed to second the motion.
- Mr Speaker, I address a question to you. My question concerns the position of a journalist by the name of B. M. Everingham and I refer, without offence, to what I might describe as the Everingham affair. I ask: Will you accept my assurance that in no way do I seek to adjudicate upon any matter involving Mr Everingham? I further ask: Have charges been laid against Mr Everingham and was he given an opportunity to reply to those charges before his Press gallery pass was withdrawn? As representatives of the Gallery are in the Gallery by your leave and the leave of this House, I ask you: If no charges have been made against Mr Everingham will charges be laid against him in writing and will an opportunity be given to him to speak to them?
– I intend to make a statement on this matter at the conclusion of question time.
– The House will be aware of various statements made by the Minister for Primary Industry and me regarding wheat stabilisation and the plans for the next 12 months. The Government has decided to carry out a comprehensive review of wheat stabilisation, to extend the current provisions relating to wheat stabilisation for the next 12 months pending that review and to make certain provisions relating to the guaranteed price of SI. 60 a bushel. The Government also has given an undertaking that it will make provision for a new stabilisation scheme to be submitted to it by the end of the year. The decision to extend the scheme for 12 months was criticised in this Parliament, particularly by the honourable member for Wannon and the Leader of the Australian Country Party and others,, as being a sellout of the wheat industry. I am pleased to inform the House that the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation has unanimously endorsed the Government’s decision.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the statement issued recently by the Australian Industries Development Association, a well-known protectionist lobby group, criticising the Tariff Board for having commissioned and published an independent study of consumer intentions in connection with the current inquiry by the Tariff Board into colour television? Does he agree with AIDA that such a study prejudges the outcome of the Board’s inquiries? If so, can the Prime Minister explain in what way such independent studies prejudice the results of Tariff Board inquiries? Does he consider that the commissioning of independent research and survey work is essential to the continuing independence and objectivity of the Tariff Board?
– I noticed that the Australian Industries Development Association had made such comments. I believe that such comments do its case no good at all. The Tariff Board is entitled to get evidence of the sort that it commissioned in this case. I believe that the Australian public will have more confidence in the reports of the Tariff Board if it is allowed to conduct inquiries independently and in a way in which it is seen to be acting independently. AIDA can do a great deal of good for its members and, incidentally, for the public. It does its case no good at all by these constant .aspersions on the Tariff Board.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Did the Australian Council for the Arts allocate a grant of $50,000 to the Aquarius Arts Festival which finished recently at Nimbin, New South Wales? If the grant did not come from the Australian Council for the Arts, where did it come from? What autonomy is exercised by the Council for the Arts or the responsible body? Is Government approval sought before such grants are made? Has the Prime- Minister seen the statement by the Queensland Stats member for the Gold Coast, Mr Bruce Small - a man who is qualified, I believe, in Sbe exploitation of sex appeal, by taking bikini clad meter maids to Melbourne in mid-winter - that suck an allocation of money was irresponsible?
– I was not aware of the latest comments by Alderman Bruce Small, M.L.A. on cultural or moral matters. I have noticed comments on the support which the Australian Council for the Arts had made for the Aquarius Festival at Nimbin. I do not remember the details as to amount or as to purposes of the support it gave. The grants provided by the various boards of the Council are part of the Council’s support for experimental youth and counter cultural activities, many of which do not fall into the normal establishment mould of conventional art forms but which come closer to sociological exercises in many instances. The young people who seek these grants prefer activities which are informal and unstructured but which for them nevertheless provide the same experience and pleasure as more traditional art forms do for many other people in their community. It is expected that the film of the activities of the Festival will have wide distribution following the Festival and that the video cable equipment provided for the closed circuit television hookup between the Festival and the township will be used by the Australian Union of Students on many subsequent occasions.
The Aboriginal visitors came to the Festival as part of a southern tour which took them to the Aboriginal art seminar in Canberra. The international visitors went on from (he Festival to a tons of the other States where they came into contact with other counter culture people who were not present at Nimbin. Aquarius is developing a university and urban circuit for unorthodox and popular performances and groups such as those invited to the Festival Four members of the staff of the Australian Council of the Arts and one consultant, together with a member of the Crafts Board, attended the Festival.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Overseas Trade. Did the Minister claim in Press statements on 19 and 24 May that trading opportunities had been denied to Australian producers because die previous Government failed to realise political realities? Is the Minister not aware ‘of the fact that in the past 10 years Australia sold over , $k000m worth of wheat and over S200m worth, of other produce to China? Is it not a fact that the China wheat market was regained last year when Australia sold a million tom of wheat to China in December?
Finally why did the Minister not acknowledge in his statement of 24 May that last week’s sugar sale was not the first, as his statement clearly meant to imply it was?
– If the honourable member had been present in this House during the various debates when Australia was placed at the bottom of the list as regards wheat sales to China and when it was made quite clear following the Canadian recognition of China that we would continue to be placed at that level, he would realise the truth of the content of what I se id and that it was the action and the disastrous foreign policies of the previous Government that caused the Chinese Government to take this action.
– That is not true .
– That is fibbing.
– It is true. When the Minister for Overseas Trade returns to Australia this week I am quite certain he will enlighten some of the members of the Opposition further on why Australia lost wheat sales at a very critical stage of development in the wheat industry itself. As regards sugar sales to China, let me inform (he honourable member that prior to the visit of the Prime Minister to China we had never sold any sugar to that nation. Whilst there we had extensive discussions with the Chinese authorities on sugar soles to China. We were informed that In the event of Cuba not being able to supply the needs of China, Australia would be given a high priority in relation to selling sugar to China.
– That is not a full account of how the sugar sales came about under the previous Government.
Dr- PATTERSON - You would not know anything about it. In China we informed the authorities of the proven performance of Australia in relation to both quality and quantity. We also told them about the excellent technology of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd is respect of both selling and on the technical front of sugar handling. CSR has for several years now been negotiating with Chines® authorities with respect to the selling of sugar, This Government backs the sale of sugar to China to the hilt. We believe that there will ho more sales of .raw sugar to China and wo give full credit to the work, of CSR. in China. It is backed by this Government. It certainly was noi becked by the previous Government regarding sales of commodities to China;
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Have the merits of the new Australian developed automatic rifle been brought to his notice? Have officers involved in defence production had an opportunity to assess the value of the weapon? If not, will an evaluation be made and if the weapon meets defence requirements will arrangements then be made to have the weapon manufactured at the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory, Lithgow?
– In answer to the honourable member’s question-
– Oh! Another written one.
– No, it is not. This matter has been brought to my attention. As a matter of fact there had been correspondence, as I understand it, between the Department of Defence and the inventor of the weapon, since 1968 until on 30 May last year the Department of Defence wrote to the inventor to ask him whether the weapon could be made available for testing purposes. To date no reply has been received. In relation to the second part of the honourable member’s question, obviously that would have to wait until the Defence Department has had the opportunity to test the weapon and to take into consideration the merits of the weapon. If the Department assesses it and regards it as being a weapon that could be incorporated into the defence system, consideration would be given to having it manufactured in Australia.
– I call the honourable member for Parramatta. I presume that you are acting as the Leader of the Opposition.
– Temporarily, Mr Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Foreign Affairs News Release of 10 May 1973 stating that the Minister’s private secretary, Dr Wilenski had had an interview with Dr Kissinger in Washington. I quote from the release. It states: (Dr Wilenski) … had had the opportunity of putting Australian attitudes on a number of foreign affairs matters at a high level to the American administration. 1 ask; Firstly, was the Australian Ambassador to the United States present at this interview?
Secondly, does the Foreign Minister hold the view that Dr Wilenski is better qualified to put Australian attitudes than our professional diplomats are? Thirdly, does he envisage for Dr Wilenski a Dr Kissinger type role in foreign affairs? Fourthly, was this interview used as a means of seeking an invitation to visit Washington? Finally, does he propose to disclose further details of the interview beyond those already released to the Press on 10 May?
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition is as prolix as the present Leader of Opposition. 1 cannot remember all the questions that the Acting Leader of the Opposition asked or the sequence of them. My ‘Kissinger’ did have a discussion with President Nixon’s ‘Wilenski’. I said, my ‘Kissinger’ - not my ‘Haldeman’ or ‘Ehrlichman’. The Australian Ambassador was not present at that discussion, and of course the American Ambassador is not present on many occasions when Dr Kissinger discusses matters with prominent people in other countries on behalf of the President.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. Has his attention been drawn to reports that an agreement has been reached between trade unions and the management of Evans Deakin Industries Pty Ltd which should guarantee to Evans Deakin the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. oil rig contract and also future industrial harmony at its shipyard at Kangaroo Point? Can he give to the House any further information on this vitally important matter on which to a large degree the immediate future of the shipbuilding industry in Queensland depends?
– Mr Speaker, 1 raise a point of order. I believe that this is not a question without notice. In accordance with the Standing Orders the Minister should be given an opportunity to make a statement on this matter so that the future of the Evans Deakin shipyard may be property debated in the Parliament.
– Order! No point of order is involved. The honourable member for Bowman is seeking information which comes within the Minister’s portfolio.
- Mr Speaker- -
– Make it short.
– I will endeavour to give the House all the facts. The position is that there have been meetings in Brisbane between trade unions and employees of Evans Deakin Industries Pty Ltd. There have been meetings also between the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, the unions and the management of Evans Deakin. The President of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, Mr Egerton, has kept me fully informed about what is happening and what has taken place. As late as yesterday he telephoned me and told me that the unions and the management bad reached agreement and that he expects in future a much better understanding between the management of Evans Deakin and the unions involved with employees of that company. He is confident that the bad relationship which existed for many years will be overcome because of this better understanding between the employer and the unions. On this basis there is no reason in the world why the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. cannot place the order for an oil rig or why the shipyard should noi accept the order and get on with the job of building the rig.
Last week the Government gave both the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. and Evans Deakin an assurance that it would not require them to proceed with the bonding which the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. had required and that as a one-off decision and to ensure that Evans Deakin did get the order to build the oil drilling rig, the Government had agreed to what is commonly known in the shipbuilding world as a backtoback agreement. Under this agreement the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. will place an order with the Australian Shipbuilding Board to build a rig and the Board in turn will place an order with the Evans Deakin shipyard to build the rig. This will eliminate the need for a bonding. This was the system which prevailed for many years in the shipbuilding industry, which the former Government abandoned. To ensure thai Evans Deakin gets the job of building the rig the Government as a one-off decision decided to accept a back-to-back contract. This is just one of the numerous decisions which have been taken to ensure that Evans Deakin gets the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. oil rig contract and is not forced into a position where, either voluntarily or otherwise, it baa to close the yard.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Education. Is the Minister aware that Commonwealth scholarship holders in grades 11 and 12 in Queensland cannot hold also a State remote area scholarship? If he is so aware does he know that this results in a financial disadvantage of $100 per year to those Commonwealth scholarship holders who also qualify by the distance involved for a remote area scholarship? Will the Minister endeavour through consultation with the State authorities in Queensland to have the position rectified so that these Commonwealth scholarship holders are not financially disadvantaged?
– I am not quite sure what category of Commonwealth scholarship holders the honourable gentleman is referring to. The position is that secondary scholarships under the Commonwealth scholarship system have not been altered since they were enacted by the late Government. That Government provided that everybody who won scholarships regardless of means should get at least SI SO and potentially that could go up to $400. In regard to the Commonwealth’s isolated children’s scheme in conjunction with the Commonwealth secondary scholarships, without means test any student could get $150 from the Commonwealth scholarship scheme plus $350 from the isolated children’s scheme which would make a total of $500. I am not quite sure whether, if he did receive such sums, the Queensland remote areas scholarship which he might otherwise have received would not become available to him and that that would lead to a loss of $100. I will have this investigated and ask the officers of my Department to discuss it with the Queensland Education Department. I want to stress, however, that according to the means of the parents, under the Commonwealth’s isolated children’s scheme it would be possible for a Commonwealth scholarship holder to get $150 plus $350 and the $654 of the isolated children’s grant, this being the full potential for families whose means justify the total grant. I had thought that Queensland was one State which had left its own scheme intact. If the juxtaposition of the 2 schemes is leading to a loss I want to thank the honourable member for drawing my attention to the situation. As I have said, I will as& officers of my Department to discuss the matter with officers of the Queensland Education Department and see whether something better can be arranged.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to alarm expressed by the Macquarie University Students Council as to the safety of some 300,000 political prisoners, civilian detainees and prisoners of war in South Vietnam who they believe are likely to fall victims of political and personal injustice? Will the Prime Minister clarify Australia’s position in relation to these detainees, some of whom are detained subsequent to action oy Australian personnel? Further, will he clarify what action Australia proposes to take in relation to all political detainees in Vietnam?
– My attention, of course, has been drawn to this general subject from many sources, although I do not remember any particular statement from the Macquarie University. The question of political detainees in South Vietnam and in other countries of our region is a matter which naturally concerns a very great number of our fellow citizens. I have to say that it is not a subject upon which the intervention of outside governments is very often effective. Still less, of course, is it welcomed. We have to be quite certain that anything that we do officially in another country will not embarrass or jeopardise the people who are detained or their relatives. We, of course, give our support to any international action which is suggested in bodies like the United Nations or its organs. But in general I think we have to rely on reports and efforts by the Red Cross above all in this matter. I would not like, in answer to a question without notice, to express a view on the propriety or incidence of political detention in South Vietnam or in other countries in our region.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, an organisation established by a wide variety of leading companies to encourage the objective study of economic and other matters, is providing a $5,000 grant known as the CEDA/ Rank/Xerox grant for the study of subjects relating to the Australian economy bv economists from universities, business and the public sector? Will he look favourably at participation by officers of his own Department, which includes many leading economists? If so, will he encourage his colleagues to do likewise? Will he give encouragement to other organisations to undertake similar measures?
– I am aware of the valuable work that the Committee for Economic Development of Australia has done in Australia for a considerable number of years around the subject of economic development, and I think that what the honourable member has referred to is an indication of further initiative on its part. I will instruct my officers - and I hope that other Ministers might instruct officers of their various departments - to participate in that venture. Once more, I congratulate CEDA on the initiative that it is showing.
– I ask the Minister for Health: What is the number of doctors in practice in Australia? What percentage of these doctors graduated in Australia and what percentage graduated in Asia or Africa? Has there been any change in these percentages? Are any restrictions placed on registration in Australia of Asian and African graduates? Is the number of doctors graduating in Australia sufficient to keep pace with community needs? If not, are there plans to increase training facilities and opportunities?
– What about putting it on the notice paper
– Another written one!
-Order! It is possible that the Minister anticipated the question.
– My Department has prepared some figures along these lines which I will let the honourable member have. I have not with me on this occasion any of the details sought. However, the general position is that there are differences in the attitudes of the States to the qualifications of doctors from different countries. I think that this is of concern to most of the State registration bodies, as well as to the Commonwealth Government. Unfortunately, attempts to achieve uniformity in the registration of. doctors from overseas have not been successful, mainly because one State has refused to take part in deliberations between the Commonwealth and (he States on achieving uniformity of registration. That State’s attitude is that it is quite happy to have uniformity of registration as long as its standards are the ones that are adopted. The question of graduates from Asia is being considered by my Department, particularly from the point of view of shortages of doctors in Federal Territories. The Federal Government has been more liberal, in general, in allowing registrations recognised in other countries to be accepted in Australia with a view to overcoming shortages, particularly in the Northern Territory. We will continue our deliberations with the States with a view to achieving more uniformity and better recognition of the qualifications of migrants.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to a telegram sent by the Prime Minister to a newspaper in Bunbury, Western Australia, in September (972 in which he outlined his Party’s decentralisation policy and in which he said that Bunbury would be nominated ‘as an area of concentrated growth*. I ask the’ Prime Minister! In view of the recent statement in Perth by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development supporting development of the Salvador area north of Perth, can the Prime Minister allay the grave concern now held by the people of Bunbury by confirming hS promise to them that Bunbury would be a regional growth centre and receive Commonwealth financial support?
– The Cities Commission has been carrying out a study in Western Australia In an area 17 to 42 miles north of Perth, which the honourable member mentioned. It is also carrying out a study in the areas of Geraldton, Bunbury and Albany. When that study is finalised - and the Cities Commission is now studying these matters - it will be placed before Cabinet and Cabinet will then make a decision on that matter.
– Is the Minister for Defence (a a position to indicate what orders and prospective orders are available for the Government’ Aircraft Factories’ aircraft Nomad? Has the Government considered giving or given financial guarantees for the bor rowings of money in order to finance advance orders of the aircraft and if no such guarantees are available, is the lack of guarantees and the necessity for the Government Aircraft Factories to seek Treasury approval after orders have been placed seriously jeopardising the sale of the aircraft?
– In answer to the honourable member for Corio who, of course, has shown a great interest in the. development of the Nomad may I say that this matter is under review. I am not in a position to give the honourable member precise figures at this stage as to the number of Nomad aircraft that will be produced in the near future. There is of course a program now under way and some Nomad aircraft are being produced at the Government Aircraft Factories. I will be putting a submission to Cabinet very shortly in relation to the requirements of the Government Aircraft Factories to continue with the. Nomad program. As the honourable member pointed out, some financial assistance will be required to enable the program to continue and for firm orders to be placed. Until that has been done, it will be difficult, I believe, for the Government Aircraft Factories to enter into a firm commitment concerning the future program of the Nomad. The statement will be made and put before Cabinet as soon as possible.
– My question is to the Minister for Social Security. To help overcome some pockets of poverty amongst Aborigines and others in rural Australia, will the Minister continue- ‘indeed, step up - the previous Government’s policy of providing regional offices of his Department in rural areas? Is he aware that these regional offices currently are serving the needs of people up to 300 and 400 miles away from these offices? Will he open either an office or an agency of his Department in every community centre throughout Australia so that all people, especially those in rural areas not already served by such facilities, will have easy access to information concerning their social welfare entitlements?
– I am aware that there is a very serious problem of poverty, and indeed, a serious health problem among Aborigines in Australia. I am not aware that the last Government did much about those problems. I am also aware that there is a serious problem of poverty and deprivation amongst many people living in urban areas in Australia. I am aware that the last Government did very little about that situation, either. As to regional devolution of office representation of the Department of Social Security, that is currently under consideration. However, I suggest that the honourable member and anyone else who seems to believe that poverty can adequately be attacked simply by setting up an office of the Department of Social Security are badly self deceived.
We will be undertaking a major offensive against poverty. We are awaiting preliminary reports, which will take a few months yet, from the Henderson Committee of inquiry into poverty. We expanded that inquiry considerably. We gave it a much greater range of opportunity to research and report on the rather serious situation existing in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The fact that it still existed after nearly a quarter of a century of Liberal-Country Party administration is a very poor commentary on the conduct of this country in that period.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, is related to his recent agreement with the Western Australian Government to assist, among other projects, the development of the proposed new city of Salvado. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the reported statement of the Western Australian Division of the Urban Development Institute of Australia that an urban leasehold scheme would inflict personal and economic disasters on Western Australia? To what extent is the Commonwealth and State agreement dependent on leasehold rather than freehold arrangements? To what extent is the Institute’s fear of an urban leasehold scheme realistic?
– My attention has not been drawn to the Urban Development Institute’s report on Western Australia but my attention has been drawn to the study made by the Australian Institute of Urban Studies last year when it dealt with rising land prices. One of the proposals of that institute to stop rising land prices was that the Commonwealth in cooperation with the State Governments should firstly acquire land on the fringes of capital and provincial cities and country towns and secondly subdivide and service that land. In certain circumstances the Institute supported leasehold land tenure. The Australian Government has proposed that through land commissions, in co-operation with the State governments, land would be acquired for this purpose on the fringes of our capital cities. We plan to let the blocks out either on leasehold or freehold. In an area like the corridor north of Perth, an area from 17 to 42 miles north, could be developed on a leasehold basis. The area is owned at present by about 5 landholders, some of whom could be called speculators.
I believe that in co-operation the Australian Government and the Western Australian Government could develop that area in the best interests of the Australian people. On the question of spiralling land prices I give the example of Sydney. The average price of a block of land in Sydney at present-
– Deal with Perth.
-I am giving the example of Sydney because the problem there will be experienced tomorrow in Melbourne and in Perth the following day. That has to be recognised. The average price of a block of land in Sydney at present is about $10,000; with a house it would be about $23,000. This means that a young couple has to save a deposit of between $7,000 and $8,000. If they can get loan of $15,000 repayable over 25 years at 8 per cent the monthly repayments are about $112. If one assesses that repayment as 25 per cent of the weekly income of the wage earner it would mean that person would require an income of between $110 and $120 a week to be able to get the necessary loan. Yet the average weekly earnings of all Australian workers are slightly over $100 and 70 per cent of the taxpayers of this country earn less than the average weekly earnings. That is why in New South Wales there are 40,000 people seeking homes through the Housing Commission - 26,000 in Sydney alone. Honourable members opposite are interjecting, particularly the honourable member for Stirling. Thi average price of land in Perth now is $7,000 If we apply the same mathematical formul! there to houses costing between 811.000 ant 612,000 it will be seen that a similar situation applies and &&t young people in Wester Australia are in on acute position. The Government believes that the only chance youn people have of getting a home is to try ti eliminate the immediate cost of the land from the cost of land and dwelling. By this means we believe that more people will come within the economic group whose members are able to afford to buy homes. The Government believes that it is only by the Commonwealth acting in co-operation with the States that the problems of stabilising land prices in the States can be solved.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Security. Taking account of the rate at which average weekly earnings are rising, does he consider that the halfyearly pension increases of $1.50 per week will be sufficient to maintain the real value of pensions? Will increases of $1.50 every 6 months ever raise the level of pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings? When will pension increases cease to be dependent on financial and political considerations and, instead, be truly index related? Can pensioners expect pension increases at a rate that will not allow them to become the victims of this year’s inflationary spiral?
– One of the interesting performances in the last Parliament but one was that of the honourable member who asked this question. He would make heart-rending speeches about the plight of pensioners and then oppose amendments proposed by the Opposition and aimed at improving the financial and material welfare of pensioners. At least he was keeping a family tradition going. The financial and political implications which he said have in the past determined pension rates ceased to determine pension rates with the advent of the new Government. For the first time ever an Australian Government has given a firm, unswerving commitment to relate pension rates to an index - a much more generous one than the one the previous Government of some 23 years standing suddenly, in a moment of panic, discovered was necessary on the eve of the last election. It was going to tie pension rates to consumer price index movements. We propose to tie pension rates to movements in average weekly earnings and, accordingly, the pension rate will eventually become a much more generous rate of benefit than would ever have been achieved under the previous Government’s administration if it had continued.
I indicated when I introduced a Bill earlier this year to increase pension rates quite generously and, indeed, for the first time ever to my knowledge - certainly the first time in the past 23 years - to make payments retrospective, that that had not been done before and in fact had been resisted persistently and with some passion by members of the present Opposition. For instance, the honourable member who asked the question never took the opportunity of proposing in this House by some form of amendment that there should be retrospectivity or even that the pension rate should be more generous than was proposed by the last Government. It must be borne in mind that it was in the series of terms of office of the last Government that the relationship of pension rates to average weekly earnings eroded rather gravely. For instance, I think in the late 1940s, the standard rate of pension was about 26 per cent to 27 per cent of average weekly earnings. During the last Government’s term of office it dropped down to about 18 per cent of average weekly earnings. This was a progressive erosion. That is the sort of record behind which members of the Opposition can stand. I would not care to be there with them. It is a mean record. It is unjustifiable.
This Government is keeping the situation constantly under review. If it is necessary to increase to more than the $1.50 the twiceyearly pension increases which we have proposed, that will be done. But the matter is being kept under review. What can be taken by the Australian public as a firm guarantee from this Government is that it will discharge all the pledges in relation to social security benefits, as they are now called, which it made in the last policy statement. In the course of the debate last week I was reminded that in 1968 it was this Opposition, which was then in Government, that said in its Budget Speech that it proposed to introduce pension payments for widowers quite soon. Some 5 years later that still had not been achieved. The last Prime Minister on assuming office said that a complete review of social services, as they were then called, was under way and that the fruits of that review would be forthcoming very soon. They never materialised. The same meanly conceived system was still applying at the time of the change of government. The present Government is taking new directions. The systems of social security benefits and health and welfare services will be vastly improved as the Government explores new horizons for the benefit of the community.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Capital Territory. I refer to his reported decision to reactivate the Prices Regulation Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory and to appoint a prices controller. Does the Minister have in mind any particular cases as being appropriate for investigation by the prices controller? How does he see the Ordinance serving the interests of the people of Canberra?
– It is probably too early to give too many examples of the sort of use to which the Ordinance could be put, but it is well known that prices are higher in Canberra than in New South Wales and some other places. The reasons for this are sometimes hard to find. Two examples occur to me as possibly being suitable for reference to the prices controller when he starts his work. The first is me, announced intention of the New South Wales Government to withdraw its road transport co-ordination tax as it applies to the Australian Capital Territory. It is estimated that at the moment this tax could be costingconsumers in Canberra about $lm. It will be interesting to see whether prices, if not subject to the scrutiny of the prices controller, some down when that $lm, perhaps, is removed.Itisa possibility. I put it no higher than that.
The other example which occurs to me is mis: I am indebted to a constituent who the other day gave me 2 newspaper advertisements, both relating to a very well-known building company that operates in Melbourne and Canberra. It is an offer to put ‘on your land’ ahouse, which after all is nothing more than building materials and the services that go into putting the building materials together to form a house. The house is called ‘18.84 squares of quality of life’. The plan of the house appears in both advertisements. The plans are identical. The advertisements were inserted by the same company. The houses have the same name. The same description of extras is given. Details are given. There are identical financing provisions. The Melbourne price is $15,659. The Canberra price is $19,940. That, too, is something that could, with profit, be referred to the controller. I have the name of the company, but I will not use it in this place. If this statement comes to the notice of the company, it might care to get in touch with me.
Mr BARRY EVERINGHAM:
– Following references in the Press to the withdrawal of a Press Gallery pass issued to Mr B. Everingham, I inform the House that Mr President and I have decided that Mr B. Everingham, the representative of radio station 2SM, will not be issued with a Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery pass for 1973. This decision arises from an incident in November last when Mr Everingham was found to be in the suite of rooms at Parliament House of the then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives without authority and when no members of the staff were present. The matter was investigated by the Commonwealth Police with the authority of the then Speaker - not, as stated in a Press report of yesterday, at the instigation of Sir Magnus Cormack and the then Speaker. Following Police inquiries, Mr Everingham’a Commonwealth Police pass was withdrawn.
Mr President and I have carefully studied the police report and have interviewed Mr Everingham, who subsequently made written representations to us. Mr President and I regard Mr Everingham’s explanations as unsatisfactory and his action in entering an unoccupied office without permission is, we consider, unacceptable conduct for a Press representative in Parliament House. Accordingly, we have directed that Mr Everingham’s Press Gallery pass should not be renewed for 1973. As a result, Mr Everingham will not be entitled to any of the privileges associated with the Press Gallery, and these include accommodation and a seat in the Press galleries of the chambers. However withdrawal of Mr Everingham’s privileges will not prevent his employers, the broadcasting station 2SM, from being represented in the Gallery.
I further inform the House that Mr President and I have received letters, dated 25 May 1973, from Mr Everingham and from the Secretary of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery, concerning procedures in determining this matter. In replying to these letters, we have affirmed our belief that the Police investigation and our own inquiries, including consideration of Mr Everingham’s written representations, warrant the action we have taken.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), in a most ungenerous manner, misrepresented me in reply to my question by suggesting that I indicated or said in my question that the opening of offices of his Department in community centres would in fact overcome poverty. I never made any such suggestion but indicated that it would be a way of helping to overcome it. He quite deliberately misrepresented my question and I am very disgusted with his general attitude to answering questions in this place. In his whining, snarling way, he does not give any honourable member any credit for having sincerity in putting a question to him.
– I rise on a point of order. Under the Standing Orders of the House an opportunity was extended to the honourable gentleman, as it should have been, to explain a misrepresentation. I ask whether it is in order for him to use the occasion to launch an attack.
– Order! It is proper that no personal reflection should be cast upon any member of the House at any time, whether it be during a personal explanation, during the course of discussion or at any other time. I think that the honourable member for Gwydir might have contained himself a little more in his personal explanation.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics on freight transport to north-west Australia 1975-1990.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the reports of the Australian delegations to the International Labour Conference fifty-sixth session, 1971 and fiftyseventh session, 1972.
– Pursuant to section 52 of the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act 1972, I present the report on the Commonwealth Teaching Service for the year ended 31 December 1972.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Crimes Bill 1973.
Crimes (Protection of Aircraft) Bill 1973.
Marriage Bill 1973.
Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill 1973.
– I wish to inform the House of the following nominations of honourable members to be members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs: Mr Ashley-Brown, Mr Collard, Mr Cross, Mr FitzPatrick and Mr Thorburn have been nominated by the Prime Minister. Mr Wentworth, Mr Jarman and Mr Peacock have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, and Mr Hunt has been nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party.
Debate resumed from 11 April (vide page 13 19), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Appropriation Bill (No. 6) 1972-73, Supply Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 and Supply Bill (No. 2) 1973-74 as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the close of the debate. I suggest, therefore, that you permit the subject matter of the 4 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 4 Bills? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– We are now considering cognate. Bills relating to both appropriation and supply. They provide the opportunity for a thoroughgoing survey of the way in which the economy is heading. I want to analyse those trends today. It is an indisputable fact that the Whitlam Government inherited a healthy, growing economy on 2 December 1972. Late last year I forecast that by June of this year we would be approaching boom conditions without any further stimulus at all. It is obvious that that forecast has turned out to be correct. We knew that unemployment would sharply fall and would be at a low level by the end of March 1973. This too has turned out to be true and has surely discredited the alarmist forecasts of the then Labor Opposition and many others, particularly the private enterprise crystal ball gazers and the so-called technical experts at the Institute of Applied Economics, Melbourne. They were wrong, dismally wrong and regrettably the country will have to pay the penalty.
Few people oan deny the proposition that a Government winning office after 23 years or more in the political wilderness must be given the opportunity to introduce social reform policies consistent with its electoral mandate. But no one can sensibly argue that the right should extend to policies that are contrary to all the rules of sensible and rational economic management and commonsense; policies that will do harm, place a break on national development and create the conditions in which the rich speculators get richer and the poor get poorer and more disillusioned.
Supply Bill (No. 1) appropriates $1,556,348,000 for departmental expenses, defence services and advances to the Treasurer. Supply Bill (No. 2) appropriates $404,973,000 for Capital Works and Services, payments to and for the States and further advances to the Treasurer - a total of close to $2,000m.
These are prodigious sums appropriated in the last 3 months of the financial year and they must stimulate inflationary forces. The Treasury Round-up of Economic Statistics Nos. 1 to 4, which cover the January-April period of this year, clearly indicates the trend. I quote from the January report. It states:
Demand appears to have risen strongly in the December quarter.
In April the relevant report said:
The strong upturn in the economy is continuing.
Of course, that refers to actual, not forecast figures. This is the background against which we must consider our present woes.
The latest Round-up, No. 4 for March, says:
Production and employment are continuing to grow strongly, Demand continues to strengthen. Housing particularly setting the pace. Actual registered unemployed were down to 1.41 per cent of the work force and the Consumer Price Index rose by 2.1 per, cent in March.
In previous debates I have highlighted, the fact that the primary cause of inflation was of a cost-wages kind, driven along by wage and salary increases in excess of productivity. Today it is due to a variety of causes: Wage costs are still plaguing us, but are now being strengthened by demand inflation, strikes and shortages of supply and bottlenecks in critical industries. The following factors are now the decisive influences on inflation: Firstly, average incomes are rising at the rate of about 10 per cent per annum. Secondly, demand is rising strongly. In consumer spending retail sales are about 1 1.4 per cent higher than last year. In the first quarter of the year they rose by $40m. New passenger vehicle sales are 18 per cent higher than last year. In housing, commencements are 21 per cent up on the March quarter of the previous year, to 38,526 commencements. Thirdly, other private investment is still a bit sluggish but with signs of revival. Fourthly, total budget outlays rose to $2,46 1m in the March quarter, a rise of 25.9 per cent.
This is a rise to a disastrously high level. This is an element wholly within the control of the Whitlam Government. Consequently we must draw the conclusion that the Government has lost control of expenditure. This is further evidence, along with revaluation and the asinine statements about the permanent building societies that the Government does not understand the politico-economic effects of what it is doing.
Turning to one of the elements of inflationary pressures I have mentioned, there are clear and continually growing indications of inadequacies of supply.
Orders for locally produced steel cannot be completed and world shortages for some varieties are appearing. As the Round-up of Economic Statistics for May says:
The now clearly excessive demands upon the housing sector are evidenced by the continuing lengthening of the construction pipeline and the sharp rises occurring in costs and prices.
Unemployment has fallen to about 81,000* Shortages of tradesmen of various kinds are occurring in many industries and unskilled workers in the right places and classes are becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Industrial strikes have increased with their impact on production and productivity. These figures for January and February 1972 and 1973 relating to lost working hours and wages are instructive. In 1972 186,000 working hours were lost. In 1973 the figure had risen to 330,000. In 1972 $2,8000,000 in wages had been lost and in 1973 the figure was $5,461,000. I remind the House that those figures relate to 2 months only and not to the whole year. This, as every member of the House must concede, is a pretty grim reminder of the economic and the ‘sociopolitical’ consequences of Labor.
I turn now to the No. 1 problem facing us today, that is, the rate of increase in inflation. I want to measure its probable growth in 1973-74 based on the facts as we now know them.
Inflationary pressures are best measured by the relationship between productivity and average earnings. If the rise in average earnings exceeds the growth in productivity, the tendency must be for inflation to fill the gap between the two. In my opinion, we will be lucky if productivity rises by as much as 4 per cent. The expectation towards the end of last year of a much higher rate of about 5 to 6 per cent cannot now be fulfilled. Average earnings are now rising, at the rate of about 10 per cent per annum. They rose by 9 per cent in the December quarter of last year. But with demand rising very strongly; shortages in various industries occurring with growing frequency; the power of the left wing trade unions being ruthlessly exploited to extract higher wages; the impact of the $2.50 and the 2 per cent increase in the national wage, adding at least $850m to the current wage bill, or about 4) per cent to average earnings - these are Commonwealth Government figures - and the $9 increase in the minimum wage - the cost of which cannot be accurately determined by anyone but which the Minister for Labor thought would add about $300m to the wage bill - we would have to be extremely lucky in this ‘lucky country’ to prevent average earnings rising by less than 12 per cent during 1973-74.
Taking a conservative view, this means that subtracting productivity from average earnings - that is with average earnings on a rise of 12 per cent and with productivity of 4 per cent - we have a rate of inflation rising during 1973-74 to at least 8 per cent. What effect will this have on the taxpayer? As I have said, average earnings will rise by about 12 per cent. The average wage earner will lose about 4 per cent of his wage or salary rise in tax and about 8 per cent in inflation. In this brave new world of incestuous and extravagant Labor Party economic and fiscal policies, the taxpayer will not receive any increase in real terms because of increased earnings of 12 per cent. If the worker is paid above $150 a week - with a marginal rate of tax of onethird - he will probably lose. Speaking of the taxpayer, including the management group, I said in my Policy Speech last year that rising money incomes bring with them steeply rising income tax. As our Liberal record demonstrates, we have no intention of letting personal income taxation become a brake on incentive. I said we would continue with these policies and also with the restructuring of taxation scales at desirable intervals. In fact, there were 2 reductions each of about 10 per cent in 1970-71. Labor will not reduce personal taxation, although, it says it will not increase it. Consequently there will be a continuous squeeze on the income earners.
Let hie turn to the critically important question of the direction in which Labor’ Party policies are taking us. What are they doing? What have they done? Let me sum it up. Treasury ‘Information Bulletin’ No. 69 relating to the January Budget figures shows that measures taken by the Whitlam Government on the expenditure side were then estimated to add $168m to expenditures in 1972-73 and $331m in 1973-74. This seems bad enough. It is the familiar story of too much money chasing too little production and setting the stage for more strikes, bottle-necks and industrial turbulence. But the January figures do not reflect the picture today. The most recent figures I can find show that the actual deficit in the first 9 months of 1972-73 amounted to $l,685m compared with the 1971-72 deficit of $ 1,296m for the same length of time, a difference of a $3 89m increase compared with last year.
That is not the end of the road. Let us look at Labor’s next Gadarene rush. In the March quarter of this year, total Budget outlays were $2,461m - 26 per cent higher than in the March 1972 quarter. Government spending has not run riot - it has gone mad.
It is now estimated by a very eminent economist, Mr G. R. Mountain, that the deficit for 1972-73 will rise substantially to about $ 1,000m. That is, $370m more than the Budget figures, and this is at a time when no stimulus is needed. Last year the Budget deficit was $186.9m, a time when stimulus was desirable. The prospects for 1973-74 are for a large Budget deficit too. This is crazy economics and must adversely affect us all, except the speculators and dealers in the money market.
I turn now to Labor policies for controlling inflationary forces and some of the comments that have been made by economists of considerable talent and ability. In my view the proposal for a prices justification tribunal is not drama. It is not even good theatre. It is a farce. It does not touch causes but only effects. I have mentioned that the causes are primarily wages and the others I have already mentioned. The clearest example of the idiocy of trying to control effects is with retail sales, which vary daily over a wide range of products and goods. Clearly lt is both administratively impossible and economically inefficient as a means of controlling inflation at the source. As Mr Routley, of the Commonwealth Department of Labour, pointed out at a meering of professional economists in Adelaide on 24 May 1973:
A Prices Justification Tribunal would have to be supplemented by a restraint on wage increases-
A policy absolutely anathema to Labor and the Australian Council of Trade Unions - and that if you were doing something about wage increases you would have to do something about the fight to strike.
Mr Philip Bentley, of Macquarie University, at the same Forum said:
The Unions have quite successfully ignored a Price Justification Tribunal that has been in existence for some time.
That is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Obviously Mr Philip Bentley disagrees with the false statements of Mr Hawke and the Minister. Mr Robert Jay, a reader in public accountancy at the Australian National University, said that Australian businesses had not been taking advantage of inflation to boost prices and that a prices justification tribunal was particularly inappropriate.
The Parliamentary Committee on Prices does not touch causes but concentrates on the end product or effects. I believe it is a politi cal stunt and almost farcical gesture and can have little real effect. I forbear comment on the search and destroy mission of Dr Coombs, who will need to play economics in a more nimble way than he plays squash, especially with me.
Labor policies in the monetary and fiscal field to reduce liquidity are hopelessly inconsistent - somewhat like Stephen Leacock’s Lord Ronald who ‘flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions’. I assure the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that I did not get that quotation from his Old Testament friends whom he is so used to quoting in this House. An increasing Budget deficit is inconsistent with the virtual ban on international capital inflow which has had the effect of diverting borrowing to domestic sources. Borrowers have simply turned from overseas lending sources to home trading banks for new and increased overdraft limits, however long they may have been economically buried. It is inevitable too under such a policy and a promise of no extra taxation that Government domestic borrowings must be substantially increased next year.
Interest rates will be pushed up still more. Whilst savings are increasing, the expansion is not unlimited and the Labor policies will, unless changed, inevitably lead to a squeeze on domestic savings. Private enterprise will be squeezed in the market, which in its turn must have an impact on employment and growth. The alternative is credit expansion - the use of the printing press, which, under present conditions, must still further add to inflationary pressures and the real gap between official and market rates of interest.
I mention the increased use of overdraft facilities by the Australian trading banks to replace overseas loans. Unused overdrafts of the Australian trading banks have grown in this way: July 1971, $l,144m; January 1972, $l,290m; July 1972, $l,637m; January 1973, $2,1 18m; and March of this year $2,267m. Actual advances have moved in the same direction in the following way: July 1971, $4,835m; January 1972, $4,926m; July 1972, $5,378m; January 1973, $5,960m; and March 1973, $6,207m. These unused overdraft facilities are a component of liquidity and a potential and readily available stimulus to inflation. Associated with the rapid increase in demand they stand as a warning to the Government that there are many fuels to add to the present inflationary fires.
Interest rates are moving up despite the protestations of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and his own new brand of economics. Official rates in the May loan were up by 0.5 per cent for medium and long term loans and for short term loans by about 1 per cent. We had brought them down from 7 per cent to 6 per cent. This loan of $80m cash and $69m of conversions was an obvious flop, particularly when looked at in perspective, that is, of rising gross domestic product, money supply and incomes. The May 1971 loan raised $197m, a pretty sharp contrast with $80m in the last May loan. Calls to special reserve deposits with the Reserve Bank have so far been cautionary with little impact either on liquidity or borrowing-lending psychology.
On external account there is a continued current account surplus of $240m in the 3 months to April compared with a deficit of $22m last year, but there is an overall balance of payments deficit of $380m compared with a surplus of $478m in the 3 months to April 1972. Obviously somebody has to pay for this loss and naturally it is the general taxpayer and consumer. International reserves during December 1972 rose to $5,048m. They were reduced by $232m as a consequence of revaluation. They fell to $4,220m on 30 April 1973 largely as a result of upward revaluation again. Revaluation with all its academic attractions has turned out to be a dubious and counter-productive economic weapon.
The trade components of the balance of payments, exports and imports, have moved in a contrary direction to that theoretically expected at the time of the December and 1972 revaluations. Our balance of trade surplus and surplus on current account is growing fast. The very strong expectations due to upward revaluation that there would be a fall in the price of imports into Australia and reduced returns to Australian exporters, thus narrowing the gap in the balance of payments, has not occurred. The official import price index has fallen much less than the export price index has risen. In fact, overseas prices for a large range of exports have risen substantially. I understand that, as an example, prices of goods imported from the United States have increased by about 21 per cent. So we have had a crazy mix-up of the normal market adjustments by means of the exchange rate mechanism, and the direct controls on capital inflow, that is a ban on short term loans and very severe restrictions on long term loans by means of variable deposits; so much so that the ‘money’ market, domestic and international, has virtually been destroyed in Australia.
It’s time’ both for a change in government and a new look at monetary policy, The Labor Government or some outside technical and professional experts should make an in-depth analysis of present policies and their inconsistencies and develop a rational and effective policy consistent with contemporary events and trends in order to promote growth with an acceptable level of inflation. If they do not want to do this we on this side of the House will be only too happy to help them out of their difficulties.
There are 2 subjective elements that ought to be taken into consideration when thinking about the Budget proposals for 1973-74. They are the psychology of the buyer, the businessman and the trade unions and the expectations of oversea! interests. Psychology can quickly be affected by a determined and persistent assault by the Government on inflationary conditions. The 1969-70 experience is too recent to be forgotten. The market psychology is capable of changing quickly and unpredictably. But the expectations and opinions of overseas interests are easier to gauge. There is no doubt that overseas interests are growing increasingly sceptical and dubious about capital transactions here. In the short run this may be desirable. In the medium and long terms it could work severely against the interests of this country. But this is a subject for another day. The overall conclusion is clear. Obstinately the Government seems determined to keep on trying to spend its way out of difficulties. In fact, the economy is heading for a mess. But there is still time. Sound fiscal , and monetary policies associated with stronger and more persuasive arguments before the Arbitration Commission can reduce the pressure before it is too late.
I said at the beginning that the Labor Government inherited a soundly based economy, growing rapidly prospering, producing goods and services in ever increasing quantities, with growing concern for the quality of life and the environment and with a more equitable distribution of all the goods and services produced. What a pity. The prospects were so good. The bases of success are now being quickly destroyed by a government that totally disregards all the canons of sound economic management.
– Provision is made under all four of the Bills to which the House is at present giving consideration for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. This provision reflects the fact that responsibility for the welfare of Australians of Aboriginal origin has rested since 1967 with the Australian Parliament. We cannot afford to ignore in the context of that responsibility the way in which the health of Aboriginal children in East Gippsland is undermined and their education is disrupted by an outbreak of scabies which threatens to reach epidemic proportions. We cannot ignore the massive cover-up which is being mounted in this matter by the Victorian health authorities.
Last Thursday at question time 1 drew the attention of this House and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) to the incidence of scabies among Aboriginal children in East Gippsland. I asked the Minister whether he would arrange for Commonwealth medical officers to visit this area as a matter of urgency and for a permanent medical centre to be established in the interests of treating not only this particular outbreak of scabies but all the other chronic illnesses by which Aboriginal children are handicapped. On Friday morning the Assistant Chief Health Officer of the Victorian Health Department was quoted in the Melbourne ‘Age’ as denying the existence of a scabies outbreak in East Gippsland. He was quoted as saying that in the past 6 months there had been ‘one or two cases of scabies at Lake Tyers’, ‘a couple at Orbost’ and most recently ‘one or two at Morwell. On Friday evening Mrs Nora Cockrell, an Aboriginal resident of Nowa Nowra which is 15 miles north of Lakes Entrance, was quoted in the Melbourne Herald’ as saying that she had never seen scabies so bad among Aboriginal children. She was quoted as saying that between 20 and 30 Aboriginal pupils had been excluded from school in Nowa Nowa because of scabies, and she was supported in this statement by the local Church of England Minister, Rev. K. South. Should we accept in this matter the view of the Assistant Chief Health Officer, sitting in his Melbourne office, or the view of Mrs Cockrell and Mr South who are on the spot? The grim fact is that when school resumed for the second term at Nowa
Nowa yesterday every Aboriginal pupil was turned aWay because of scabies.
I would like to quote briefly from the rough transcript of a meeting which I attended 2 weeks ago in the pre-school centre which is conducted at Nowa Nowa by the Save the Children Fund. The welfare officer to whom the Fund entrusts its centre said in the course of that meeting:
Just before Christmas, Aboriginal families, especially the children, had a real doing with scabies. It’s the second tune round now and if something isn’t done quickly we just can’t contain it
She went on to say:
Dr Fysh from the Department of Health came up between the first and second outbreaks. He went to both Worthy and the State Director of Health. Both are just pushing the ball backwards and forwards and the problem is still there. I just can’t hold scabies on my own.
A distinguished former office-bearer of the Timber Workers Union, who has lived all his life in East Gippsland, told the meeting:
The centre will have to clean up forty kids after the holidays. Scabies cover a wide area. I have heard that families right up to Echuca and Wallaga Lake have them. The ‘teacher at our school says it’s only a matter of time before it gets into the rest’ of the population.
He went on to tell us:
The discharging ears of these children have a terrible smell, too. Children are avoided at school because of this smell. I spent Australia Day at the hospital waiting for a child with maggots in his ears to be treated. I had to take one high school girl to the doctor with it, too.
An Aboriginal woman who attended the meeting said:
The children suffer badly with worms. Sometimes they even come out of their mouths. It’s just terrible. Worms come out of the mouth and they pass them, too.
Another Aboriginal woman pointed out:
The Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs-
That is, the State Ministry- has all this’ officially on the files about the children they looked at. But they just examined them. They didn’t fix them up.
A successful Aboriginal farmer concluded:
People don’t see what happens when they come down from Melbourne. They come down and go back, the same things go on.
No amount of evasion on the pari of the Victorian health authorities can conceal the fact that the state of Aboriginal children in East Gippsland is a disgrace to Australia. The bodies of these children are scarred by old infestations of scabies and scabbed with current infestations. Their ear drums are perforated and in some cases crawling with maggots as a result of chronic otitis media. They live in a state of lassitude induced by malnutrition, chronic upper respiratory tract infections and massive infestations of worms.
This is a situation for which existing health services provide no answer. Dr Mccloskey says that there is no epidemic of scabies in East Gippsland and will send none of his officers to Nowa Nowa. His staff and the nursing staff of the Victorian Department of Aboriginal Affairs do not seem to be equipped, either by training or by temperament, to provide the health care services of which Aboriginal children stand in grave need. In particular, trained nursing sisters employed by the Victorian Department of Aboriginal Affairs as ‘health educators’ will neither treat Aboriginal children nor advise their mothers on treatment. The attitude of the Department was expressed in a letter sent by the Minister, the Honourable Vance Dickie. M.L.C., on 23 February to the member for Mitcham, Mrs Dorothy Goble, M.L.A. Mr Dickie wrote:
Medical officers are not employed by the Ministry, and where opinion is required, the Department of Health provides advice. Nursing sisters are unable to treat patients without the supervision of a doctor, as it is contrary to medical professional practices and nursing training, lt would, therefore, also be of detriment to the health of Aborigines, and the Ministry will noi provide a second-rate service to Aboriginal people.
I can assure that Minister that almost any sort of health care service for Aborigines would be better than the service available to them at present in Nowa Nowa. Public hospital services for Nowa Nowa and Lake Tyers are situated at Bairnsdale and Aboriginal mothers are expected to get children to the outpatients department at that hospital for treatment. The adult bus fare from Nowa Nowa to Bairnsdale is $1.70 each way and patients are obliged to stay in Bairnsdale overnight. Mothers with up to 7 sick children and no income other than social security benefits have been told by departmental health educators to make this journey. I am told that the policy involved is called ‘making the Aborigine stand on his own 2 feet’. 1 was told at Nowa Nowa about q mother whose baby’s teeth were knocked out in a fall from a pram. The mother took the child to the health educator, who happened to be on (She spot; but, in conformity with the policy of (She Department by which she is employed,
Sils educator would do nothing. The mother asked the educator whether the child should be. taken to hospital - honourable members will recall that there are neither nursing facilities nor a resident doctor at Nowa Nowa - and the educator replied that this depended on what the mother wanted. I do not doubt the good intentions of the Department and its officers, but I doubt their common sense. I was told at Nowa Nowa about a young mother of 4 children who was sick at Bruthen and had an appointment for treatment at Bairnsdale. This woman appealed to an educator for a lift, but the educator got into her car and drove away. The woman hitchhiked to Bairnsdale in heavy rain, was admitted to hospital and died there 3 days later from pleurisy. These things are being done in the name of Aboriginal advancement; they are being done in the name of concern.
The Minister, Mr Dickie, in his letter of 28 February, continued:
The importance of health is understood by the Ministry, and a number of research projects have been financed and initiated by the Ministry in relation with the Health Department and Melbourne and Monash Universities. The results of these studies have been and will continue to be of direct benefit to Aboriginal people.
We are all in favour of research, but in East Gippsland there is a desperate need for health services of the most elementary kind. We should all be ashamed that the line is being held in East Gippsland not by public authorities but by representatives of an organisation whose work is associated in the public mind with areas of disaster and privation such as Biafra and Bangladesh. It was to the welfare officer of the Save the Children Fund and not to local representatives of the Victorian Department of Aboriginal Affairs that the Aboriginal children of Nowa Nowa turned yesterday when they were refused admission to school. The welfare officer last term was cleaning up the sores of up to 14 pre-school children in a day so that they could go on receiving the benefit of a pre-school education. She was asked at the time by officers of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to discontinue this treatment and to send home those children who were infested with scabies. The attitude of the Department is that if children are sick the responsibiliy for their care should be accepted by their parents. The attitude of the welfare officer is that a vital part of tha process of educating Aboriginal children is beeping them well enough to attend school.
The health of Aboriginal children in East Gippsland may not be bad by comparison with the health of those in some areas where infant mortality has won this country international notoriety. The future of these children may be bright compared with the future of children in areas where the whims of Europeans are still enforced by violence and fear. Neither of these factors justifies the inadequate or inappropriate nature of health services provided at present in East Gippsland by the Victorian Government. It would be inexcusable for this Parliament to fail in the responsibility with which it was entrusted by the people of Australia at the 1967 referendum.
– The Bills before the House today cover a rather wide range of Government expenditure. One cannot have other than apprehension about what the future economic situation in Australia will be, when viewing the total scene as we see it at the moment. Our recent current account for the last 3 months - that is, the third quarter, as it is known - indicates the strong position in which the previous Government left the economy. In other words, we find in the current account a very strong improvement in relation to all our exports. But when we look at the capital account, we find a completely reverse situation. I repeat what I said in the House a few weeks ago: I believe the Government should be well aware of what is happening in this area and should take note of the situation, because no country can affort to reverse its situation in one 3- month period by over $ 1,000m, which has happened here.
As I said, the accounts which we are studying cover a wide field. One such area is the Department of Urban and Regional Development. I notice that a new sum of $1,141,000 appears in this account but I can find no indication of where this money will be spent and exactly what it is for. I suggest that later in the debate, if the opportunity is presented - we hope it is - the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) might indicate precisely what will happen to that amount of $1,141,000. This morning, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development referred to the excessive price of land in the city areas. We are all well aware of this; the competition for land in these areas is very severe. But the Minister did not mention in the course of his answer to the question what would be the situation if, for instance, decentralisation did take place in these areas.
He did not mention what would be the price of land in areas other than the metropolitan areas of the Commonwealth. I believe that this is the area in which the Government should be endeavouring to encourage development - beyond the major cities of Australia. If this were done, the price of land would be considerably cheaper and the pressure would be considerably less than it is at the moment in the various cities around Australia.
I want to deal today with a number of statements which have been made by various Ministers of the Government. One cannot help but feel a little disturbed at some of these statements. Perhaps it was all very well when the now Government was in Opposition for various statements to be made, but when the situation is reversed and statements are made by Ministers then, of course, the public and honourable members take note and a lot of consideration is given to those statements. I refer firstly to a statement made in this House on 17 May 1973 by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in relation to home building societies. This statement has had repercussions around Australia and I believe it is very much to be regretted that a statement of this nature was made. In reply to a question on that day referring to home building societies throughout Australia, the Treasurer, amongst other things, said:
They are the kinds of organisation that cut across all the canons of prudent finance; that is, they borrow short and lend long.
Building societies have been operating for a long time. In Britain, they have been running since 1775; in another couple of years, there will have been 2 centuries of them. In Australia, they have been operating since 1859. In my own State of Western Australia, where we have excellent building societies, they have been operating since 1862. Surely the operators of these societies not only in this country but also beyond this country have had a tremendous experience in this field and have done a tremendous job. In fact, when the first building society was established in Western Australia, there were only 17,000 people in the entire State. So the building societies have had experience from the very beginning of the development of that State.
The Treasurer says that they borrow short. As I see it, it is a theory-practice to make o statement like that. I might say at this point that I have been in this House for a number of years and listened with considerable interest, to many of the speeches the present Treasurer made in this House when he was on the Opposition benches. I respected many of them, as I respect his opinions. However, it is unfortunate that that theory statement should have been made because it is not the fact in practice. The practice, of course, is that the building societies do borrow some of their money short, but they also borrow some of their money over a longer term and, above all, the societies - that is, at least the good societies - certainly have plenty of back up funds. I think one must investigate very thoroughly the exact position of these establishments before one makes this sort of statement.
The Treasurer said: ‘They lend long’. It is well known that they do. In many cases, the building societies write contracts for home owners covering 25 years or more. But what is the actual practice? The average length of loan in the Commonwealth, as I understand it, is around 8 years; it is not 20 or 25 years. There is a big difference between the actual - that is, the practice - and the theory. How many times have economists around the world voiced various economic theories and become completely unstuck? I regret very much that the Treasurer made that statement and I regret also that I have to stand here and say these words. But I think it is important to indicate to the people of Australia that these societies - in the main, at oil events - are sound. They have been operating for a long time and have tremendous experience. There should be a close analysis of their actual position before such statements are made. I know that the statement has been made previously, not in the House but outside, that building societies that borrow short and lend long cannot operate. The proof of the pudding ia in the factual operation of these societies, the back up funds which they have and the actual practice which they have been carrying out over many years.
The second statement to which I want to refer was made in this House on 23 May 1973 during a debate on rural industries. It was one of a number of statements in the same vein which were made by the now Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby). He was referring to a number of policies of the previous Government and indicating that the previous Government did not carry them out. This is the statement of the Minister for Immigration, to which I want to refer:
Their, was another very interesting policy speech in which it was said that the cost of petrol is to be no more than 4c a gallon above the city price anywhere in Australia. That is an Interesting point. Have honourable members opposite forgotten about than one? Perhaps they ought to have a look at it
Well, we will have another look at it. The inference contained in that statement is that nothing was done about that policy by the Australian Country Party and the previous Government. These are the sorts of things that are being said by Ministers and which go out to the public, but which are completely false. The original speech that was made in the House in relation to this matter was made on 12 May 1965. My memory of what has taken place over the years is very good. Nevertheless, I asked the Parliamentary Library to supply an analysis and tabulation of the facts to refresh my memory of events. At that time the appropriate Minister outlined the proposals of the Government After some years amendments were required and on 18 September 1969 a statement was made in the House detailing the amendments necessary to make the scheme a little more flexible. It has been operating since 1965-1966 rand has proved to be worth while. It was introduced to bring to people in all parts of Australia a range of five fuels at prices no more than 4d a gallon above ruling city prices. It was decided that for the purposes of the scheme Sydney prices would be used as the basis of prices to be charged in the Northern Territory.
For the benefit of the Minister and the House I will outline what has happened. The scheme commenced in October 1965 and was designed to reduce the wholesale prices of petroleum products in rural areas to within 3.3c a gallon of capital city prices. Sydney was taken as the relevant capital city for the purpose of Northern Territory prices. In order to show the significance of the policy which was introduced in 1965 I will cite the payments made in respect of the scheme. In 1965-66, $10,262,000 was paid; 1966-67, $15,968,000; 1967-68, $17,569,000; 1968-69, $19,264,000; 1969-70, $22,367,000; 1970-71, $23,829,000; 1971-72, $25,230,000; and in 1972-73 payment is estimated at $26,800,000. So much for the policy at which it is suggested we should look again. I and many other Australians are concerned that a responsible Minister should claim that nothing had been done about a policy which is very important to many people in Australia. One wonders what is to happen to the policy which was instituted by the previous Government and has benefited so many people if the present Government is to take no more interest in it than has been indicated by one of its Ministers.
I turn now to deal with the wool industry. I have had very little to say about the wool industry in this session because the facts have spoken for themselves. On 10 May 1973 the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson), answered a question in his capacity of representative in this House of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). In his answer he referred to an amendment proposed by the Labor Party to a Bill assented to in October 1972. Labor made it a red hot propaganda issue during the election campaign. He stated that the Labor Party had moved an amendment seeking that within 3 months the proposed plan for the wool industry be made available for examination as most sections of the industry wanted details of the plan. He said ‘within 3 months’, as appears in the Hansard report, but the amendment moved by him on 12 October il972 did not refer to a period of 3 months. It stated ‘within 6 months’. The difference of 3 months is very important in this issue.
The legislation was amended to bring together at that time the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission to form a corporation as from 1 January 1973. The purpose of the amendment moved by the Labor Party at that time was to make the operative date 30 June 1973. In other words, Labor was seeking to give the Australian Wool Corporation 6 months to produce a recommendation to the Government. When the present Minister for Northern Development was answering the question on 10 May and to some extent castigating the Corporation for not bringing down a recommendation, saying that Labor wanted it within 3 months, he was citing a period different from that which appeared in Labor’s proposed amendment. The amendment was not accepted. Had it been carried the Corporation would still have another month in which to produce its recommendation. Statements such as that made by the present Minister for Northern Development create wrong impressions. Despite what was said at that time about the wool industry, today it is in great heart This situation has been brought about despite what was said about the legislation when it was introduced and repeated- when it was amended to amalgamate the 2 authorities in October of last year.
Section 41 of the Act is a major provision. I mentioned earlier the healthy condition of our current account. An examination shows that a major factor in that condition is the wool industry. People who know what they are talking about appreciate the connection between the introduction of the legislation and the present healthy condition of our current account. Much unfounded criticism has been levelled over the years at the previous Government’s treatment of the wool industry. It overcame tremendous odds, details of which I do not have time to spell out now. Supporters of the present Government should stop their criticism. The Government will have to stand up to the pressures which will be brought to bear on the wool industry. It has always had pressures and always will. The testing time is to come for this Government.
I have no doubt that the Corporation will stand up to pressure. The question is whether the Government will stand up to the pressures brought about through section 41 of the Act. If the Government stands by what has been said in this House by its supporters in the last few years, all the work done over the last few years by the previous Government and by wool growers will be undone. I ask the Government not to run away from section 41 of the Act, to stand behind the Corporation and the wool industry, the greatest industry in this country. It will be there for a long time to come, but if it does not have the support of the Government, regardless of any legislation that might be introduced -
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.59 to 2.15 p.m.
– In speaking to Appropriation Bills Nos (5) and (6) 1972-73 now before this House I want, in the short time available to me, to enlarge on remarks I made here a few weeks ago on an adjournment debate in relation to the crystallisation of ownership of the food retailing industry of Australia and the subsequent reduction in competition and market access. Division 140 of the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department shows an additional appropriation for 1972-73 of $49,000 for the Office of the Commissioner of Trade Practices. The pending changes and strengthening of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act are long overdue, and it would seem to me that additional assistance is required in the Attorney-General’s Department to expedite the legislation needed.
This Government has indicated its intention to abandon the restrictive trade practice proposals of the previous Government and to replace them with an improved, modernised version of the Industries Preservation Act embodying an outright prohibition of all horizontal agreements, similar to that which applies to resale price maintenance. Where people suffer as a result of restrictive practices the law would rely on civil remedies to enable them to recover damages.
Since World War II there has been a number of changes in the food retailing industry - some desirable, some undesirable. Available statistics show that annual turnover in the food retailing industry has grown from $ 1.600m in 1956-57 to $2,040m in 1961-62 to $3, 273m in 1968-69. This represents a food retail turnover per head of $105, $192 and $272 for each of the respective years. These figures reveal a greater than 100 per cent growth in turnover during the year 1956- 57 to 1968-69 yet during this period the number of establishments selling these goods decreased from 138,500 to 57,000 outlets. For the year 1970-71 the 5 largest firms were responsible for 18 per cent of turnover whilst the 10 largest firms were responsible for 29 per cent of total sales in Australia.
Several reasons have been advanced for the reduction in the number of outlets. The attractiveness of economies of size - the grouping together of outlets into regional centres with a form of one stop shopping - airconditioning, provision of childminding centres and parking facilities are benefits that the smaller trader has found much harder to match. The so-catted free delivery offered by large chains is however a dubious benefit to the housewife for which varying fees are charged. Another reason that has limited the entry of new food retailers has been the growing capital investment required. We have seen a conversion of the food retailing industry from a labour intensive one to a capital intensive one. The extension of trading hours will Increase the pressure and rate of decline of the smaller man and ultimately the range and quality of service available to the consumer.
The reduction in the number of retail food outlets, the growth of gigantic chains and the massive entry of overseas participation in the food industry brought about a number of practices that operate against the interests of the consumer but in a kind of selfaccelerating, self-preserving kind of way for the major companies involved. We should remember that as long ago as 1968-69 expenditure on food was $272 per head or in excess of $5 per week per man, woman and child in Australia.
Price rings and special deals between manufacturers and the giant retailers placed the smaller retailer and wholesaler in a position where they could not compete. In fact, even today the Attorney-General’s Department is inquiring into a number of instances of preferential treatment where some long-standing wholesalers can buy products more cheaply from a giant chain store than they can from the manufacturer because of preferential pricing policy by the manufacturer or special deals that have been made by the manufacturer with the giant retailer concerned. This practice, in effect, forces out other retailers and wholesalers and thousands have gone to the wall in the period mentioned.
What of the so called specials and cheaper prices offered the consumer by the large retailer? In almost any mid-week newspaper one can read of specials ‘Under Cost - Limit 2’ or some similar number. However, ask any special shoppers how many times they have gone to a store, particularly the giant chains, on the morning the limit specials were advertised, even at the time the store opened for business, only to be told the store had sold out or that there may be some more tomorrow or another day. This practice has been further refined now to what is called ‘hour specials’ in which case a special price is applicable for a period of one hour, between, say, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. only.
What happens in many cases is that people read these advertisements, particularly the needy, the pensioners, the battlers who h;-.-e to scrimp and save every cent under the legacy of inflation we have inherited from tie previous Government, and they travel distances to get to the particular store only to be told: ‘We sold out’. In a branch of one giant chain store the practice is followed sometimes of putting on a small display of the limit specials in an out of the way section of the store but putting on a very large display of the product in a multiple pack at the normal shelf price in a well trafficked section of the store. This is deliberate deception on the part of the retailer concerned and I hope that persons who have experienced this kind of thing will write in to my colleague, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), in his capacity as Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee on Prices, telling him the circumstances.
The theory of the practice of limit selling is that people are attracted into the store with the carrot of limit under cost specials to expose them to any array of other goods, and as I said earlier the consumers most receptive to this practice are the needy. At the same time other smaller retailers in the industry cannot compete against these supposedly lower prices. The practice of limit specialling is an evil one, a deliberate deception practised in the main by the giant chains in some States of Australia to gain a greater share of the Australian food market - and it has worked. I hope that legislation can be brought into this Parliament to prevent its continuation.
As far back as 12 November 1963 the Hon. Sir Thomas Playford, then Premier and Treasurer of the Liberal Government of South Australia, brought in the. Prices Act (Amendment) Bill to the South Australian Parliament to prohibit limit specialling. On page 1590 of 12 November 1963 South Australian Assembly Hansard he said:
First there is the practice of offering goods for sale by retail, usually at or below cost with a limit on the number of goods which may be bought at a certain price.
He went on to say:
Secondly, there is the practice of advertising goods for sale which are not either possessed by the trader at all or possessed in much smaller numbers than implied in the advertisement.
He further mentioned the placing of misleading advertisements either by description or implication. He described how pressure was brought to bear on manufacturers and wholesalers by traders demanding greater discounts or lower prices than customary by threatening either not to sell the manufacturer’s product or locating it in a poor selling position in the store. Referring to the legislation he said that it was a familiar form of legislation in America. It had been adopted in the. United States and had resulted in small traders not being placed in an unfair trading position as compared with that of the larger business..
The comment made by Sir Thomas Playford almost 10 years ago is as valid today as when he made it, with the exception of South Australia. I believe that if a trader offers a product for sale at a price he should be required to make available to a prospective purchaser whatever quantity of the product he has to sell and for which the purchaser can pay in legal tender.
I support the Bills before the House.
– In speaking to the Supply and Appropriation Bills before the House it is appropriate, to offer some comment on the economic policies of the Government. We live in stirring times. I doubt that there has been a time for many years when there has been so great a degree of uncertainty, not to say alarm, among the Australian business community - in manufacturing, mining, agriculture and, indeed, tertiary industries as well. I have only to instance the building societies as well as the high feelings of lawyers and doctors. The wage and salary earners of the nation, and their families, who derive their livelihood from employment in the factories, the mines, the farms, the shops and the commercial enterprises of this nation will see and experience the effects of that alarm and uncertainty in their own way.
Not even the massive burgeoning bureaucracy and other changes threatened by recent legislation of the Government will change substantially the fact that this country is as of now, a predominantly free enterprise economy where the goods and services and the employment opportunities are provided by private firms and industries in accord with the circumstances and demands of the marketplace. Work, production and economic life are predominantly a partnership effort and not a struggle situation which is the dominant emphasis of honourable members opposite. A partnership is the only enduring view.
The first and most immediate reason for this uncertainty and alarm is the clear evidence that this Government, despite its protestations, is not really serious about inflation. This makes its professions of concern for social justice ring somewhat hollow. How can we square its attitude to inflation with the professed objective of a new deal for tfe* poor, the pensioner and the underprivileged?
By and large, the rich are well set to cope with, if not to gain from, inflation. It is the typical family and the poor who must struggle to keep up and fight the never-ending battle to stretch shrinking dollars to cover family needs. By and large, the poor are locked into safe Labor electorates and the pensioners are to be found in the so-called ‘widow belts’ in seats held mainly by members on this side of the House. So, in crude, short-thinking political terms, the Government may think that it can tolerate a spanking rate of inflation, but the fact is that it cannot. The community will not accept the adverse effects of a spanking rate of inflation - one might speak of super-inflation, but any rate of inflation in excess of, say, 3 per cent - that may sound exaggerated - is unacceptable in the long term, and we need to lose no opportunity to stress the fact. The community will not accept the adverse effects of super-inflation as they become increasingly manifest. The electorate will not accept them; it will reject them and it will reject the Government that is responsible for them.
The true attitude of the Government towards inflation comes out on two of me main fronts of a policy to contain inflation. The first is the necessity to contain demand, to keep aggregate demand adequate but taut, and the second is the sphere of contending directly with prices and costs - a so called prices and incomes policy. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) revealed the true disposition of the Government m relation to total demand, as I mentioned the other day, when he said in an address to the Company Directors Association of Australia in Melbourne on 13 April:
The Government rejects the concept of over-full employment as a major cause of inflation.
In this respect, fortunately for the country, those experts el wham the Treasurer recently said ‘It is important to keep them on tap but not on top’ have got on top of him in this matter. When he was introducing the Prices Justification Bill’ recently, he stated that ‘obviously’ a necessary part of an anti-inflation strategy is ‘to avoid the emergence of an overall excess demand*. But there can be, no doubt that mis Government will err on the side of excess demand rather than on the other side. The Government’s own free spending since attaining office has been a major Sector contributing to the imminent reemergence of excess1 total demand in the economy.
In the prices and incomes field, the Prices Justification Tribunal is to be established, but nothing is to be done on the incomes side, and that means in effect the costs side. Everywhere else in the world where a serious prices and incomes policy is essayed the institutions of the policy typically are 2 bodies - a prices body and a wages body. In the United States of America there was set up the Prices Commission and the Pay Board. Similar bodies were set up recently in the United Kingdom. As I stressed in a recent speech in this House, the reasons for the 2 bodies are at once technical and operational and also socio-political. They are technical because the mechanism of inflation involves, in the broadest analysis, one causal chain from price increases to wage demand and wage increases - this is the area of which Government spokesmen frequently put great emphasis. I concede its importanceand another causal chain from wage increases and cost increases to price increases.
The essence of a prices and incomes policy is the attempt to restrain the response in each case - in the one case the response of wage demands to price increases which, amongst other factors, stimulate those wage demands; and in the other case of price increases in response to wage increases. So, the reasons for the twofold approach are, as I say, technical and also socio-political. Not only must there be an equally weighted prices and incomes control system but also it must be seen to be there if any progress is to be made towards achieving that community consensus without which the policy will never work. So as I said on that earlier occasion, the Opposition supports an institution in the prices area - though perhaps not this all-embracing and, as it stands, pretty unworkable and, to boot, toothless creature - I was going to say monster’ - for which the Government’s present legislation provides.
But what I do want to stress is that, on tha costs side of the equation, the Government not only is doing nothing but is positively reversing the course we have been on whereby the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission could have become something in the nature of a pay board - a board of review of inflationary wage settlements. Thus, as I have said, in this sphere of prices and incomes policy the Government is not really serious about the control of .inflation. What this one-sided approach will involve, if it is effective at all, will be a squeeze on profits. That focuses the whole stance of the Government. We on this side of the House stand unashamedly for private initiative, self-help and free enterprise, though not untrammelled laissez-faire. The very structure of modern society with giant firms on the one hand and, on the other, big unions (and if the Government’s legislation fostering union amalgamation goes through, there will be still bigger unions) and with neither side necessarily or primarily concerned with the public welfare - this very structure of modern society makes government oversight of the economy and government intervention in the economy in some measure essential. I need mention only one particular aspect, and that is that big industry and rapid economic growth impinging on a finite environment necessarily spells pollution in a big and accelerating way, in the absence of a vigorous government policy to combat it and so maintain and in some cases restore the environment and the quality of Australian life. But that having been said whereas this side of the House welcomes and fosters the endeavours of private enterprise as a partner with government in the development and prosperity of the nation, the stance of this Labor Government is clearly and unambiguously antibusiness. By and large, the Government chooses to spurn the leaders of industry and commerce and, perhaps I should say, also the larger group of the managers of large organisations and the proprietors of unincorporated businesses. It does not consult or inform where it should, but proceeds headlong in pursuit of its doctrinaire policies. I need refer again only to the ill-thought-out shape of the proposed Prices Justification Tribunal, the Government’s penchant for unrealistically low interest rates and the problems that can cause, and the undisguised push towards the nationalisation of the oil and gas industry in this country.
The total effects of the Government’s policies will converge, in the last analysis, on one thing - the rate of return to enterprise and capital. That may become the focus of the squeeze on business or on the private sector of the economy. It is true that right at this time production and business activity in the economy are expanding; so, by and large, Gales are not the problem. As I said, the cause for concern will be the rate of return. The profitability of business enterprise in many spheres is threatened by an array of measures, ill-conceived or not thought through at all and, above all, not explained to the people of this country. There is, as I have said, the pressure to be applied to keeping prices down, so far as it is effective, through the Prices Justification Tribunal machinery. There is the boost to wages and salaries from the open season to collective bargaining, which is the essential outcome of the Government’s amendment creating a toothless Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
Thirdly there is the inevitable pressure for 4 weeks annual leave in industry at large stemming from the Government’s legislation for 4 weeks leave in the Commonwealth Public Service. There is the Government’s support for the 35-hour week, ostensibly only in the oil, power and vehicle industries, but in fact, since it cannot be quarantined there - and we would not have it quarantined there brought in over a reasonable period - in industry at large. It can be demonstrated that if output in a particular firm is to be maintained at anything like its current level the impact of the 35-hour week and an extra weeks leave in many industries will be to increase wage costs by some 22 per cent. As this works its way through all industries there will be an upward thrust to total costs of a similar order.
The fourth factor which will contribute to the squeeze is the view expressed in person by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that the Australian tariff structure is too high and needs to be brought down. This is a complex and increasingly difficult area, made more so by the international climate of fluctuating exchange rates. Decisions as to what areas of manufacturing industry the investor and the nation should foster and develop must be based on clear assessments as to the long term prospects not only for world prices for goods but also the relative values of national currencies. The issues will have to be looked at pretty broadly and in dose consultation with industry, for clearly concern as to the precise magnitude of ad valorem tariffs, on which debate has most frequently centred in the past, can be quickly swamped by exchange rate fluctuations of the order of the past 18 months.
That bringo me to the fifth factor, the appreciation - I should soy the excessive appreciation - of the Australian dollar with its deleterious effects on rural industries and manufactured exports. The anti-rural stance of the Government is a subject in itself.
– There is no anti-rural stance and you know it
– You do not think there is? I think the honourable member should have a look back through some recent Hansards, expecially the debate in this House last week. Further, there is the question mark over export incentives, renewed only grudgingly for another 12 months. And there is the withdrawal of the subsidies for mineral search and exploration and the threat to the mineral exploration and production industry from the whole thrust of the Government’s policies towards nationalisation of that industry. Is there not therefore a real basis for the uncertainty, for the alarm, that pervades the Australian business community and indeed the whole community.
Yet the major and unrestrained thrust of Government policy is in the field of social welfare. Every one of the Government’s initiatives in this area can only be applauded. Much of what has been done is progressive and in some cases has been overdue, but the Government needs, as I have said previously, to look closely at the total effect. It is a fine thing to become the pace-setter for the nation but if the pace is too hot not only can the situation in the private sector become intolerable but the very purposes of the Government can be frustrated. It is a great thing to create in the Commonwealth Public Service an elite but it may be important to ensure, for ez ample, that the 12 weeks maternity leave for the young woman graduate in the Public Service does not prejudice the very job of the low income woman factory worker in Redfern because of the inability of her employer to match this benefit, among other measures. Again provision for the adjustment of Commonwealth employees’ pensions according to the cost of living is a most admirable proposal but how, or rather how quickly, can employers in the private sector match the benefit, the cost of which will be an increase in employer contributions to the private superannuation funds from something like 10 per cent of their wage and salary bill to the order of 30 per cent?
To come bade to the starting point of inflation, if inflation continues to accelerate as it has in the recent past, what of the proposal to raise the standard age pension to the order of 25 per cent of average earnings? The amounts of 81.50 each autumn and spring proposed es am -increase by the Government will not attain S&s objective with inflation at a growing rate. So, as 1 have said, the Government’s objective can be frustrated. I say that there is an urgent need for the Government to think through its policies and explain them to the Australian people. If not, while inflation will intensify, with the uncertainty and alarm which now prevails there will be a loss of confidence and momentum in the private sector of the economy. The drive too quickly to redistribute the cake will pull down, . amidst increasing inflation, the very growth of the whole cake, which in the long run is the only effective way of achieving the Government’s aspirations. The end outcome then is likely to be that most unhappy of conditions, stagflation, in perhaps a somewhat new form - the superinflation of prices accompanied and exacerbated by a slack not so much in total demand but in productive investment and aggregate supply, with everybody in for the ‘quick buck’ investment. I warn the Government that that is where the Australian economy is headed.
– In speaking to the Supply and Appropriation Bills 1 wish to bring before the House a matter that is of great concern to me and, I believe, to the public of Australia, and that is the alarming duplication of facilities which occurs at present in our community and of course the resultant waste of public moneys. I refer particularly to the facilities within our schools which too often are not accessible to the community. Probably the reason that I am so aware of this problem is that 1 spent a great number, of years in the Victorian State Education Department. Like many others in this place, I was fortunate enough to be a member of a municipal council, and now I am involved in politics at the Federal level. So at all 3 levels I have seen the inter-reaction of what is going on. To be more explicit, I am personally shocked to know that many facilities lie idle night by night in our schools.
Let us look at some of these. School halls in Victoria are something for which parents have had to raise money to which the Government has added a grant. Frequently the amount of money that has been raised by the parents has been from 330,000 to $32,000. What do we see when the hall is finally established? We find that it is used sparingly between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and lies idle for all the rest of the week. One could speak of libraries. Again the same sort of story is evident. Subsidies and grants are made by the Government but money is also collected from parents in one form or another. We have the school ovals and the various site works around the school. Frequently one can only be disturbed to walk around during the weekend and note that these are not being utilised as they should be. I know that this is not universally true. I was encouraged yesterday in a tour of Canberra schools to speak to the principals and ask them this question: To what extent is the community able to use the facilities - the halls, the ovals and so on? I was delighted to hear their answer that in some cases these facilities were in use almost every night. This is the way it should be. But too often when an application for the use of the facilities is made the granting of the use of the facilities is at the discretion of the school council, the school committee or the principal. At this point the whole matter can be blocked. The gates can be locked, the libraries closed and no use whatsoever made of facilities which, I submit, belong to the community and not to any small group of people who happen to be in control of them at the time.
I can give a classical example in this regard from my own experience when I was teaching in an area which was most certainly not a wealthy area. We faced a problem there of development of the site works. The problem was that after wet weather the grounds were thrown out of order for some 3 months. The local council purchased ground alongside and proceeded to develop several ovals. I submit that it would surely have been much more prudent for the local council to develop the site works at the first stage. There should have been & spirit of co-operation abroad between local and state governments that would have enabled an agreement to be worked out whereby these facilities could have been used on the weekends by the community and through the week, 9 till 4, by the school children. I believe that these matters are pertinent to this Parliament, particularly at a time when we are considering appropriation and supply, especially since we as a government have committed ourselves to an increased flow of money to the local community. We know that there are the 3 levels of government, Federal, State and local. There is a vital inter-relationship between the three, particularly in the matter of finance.
I submit that there is a great need for increased co-operation, co-ordination and rationalisation of what goes on at the 3 levels at present. I believe that John Citizen is entitled to a better go than he is getting at present. He has to pay his rates at the local level, he has to pay State taxes, he pays income tax and he has his hand in his pocket for his local school, even if it is a government school. I believe he is entitled to see that his money is well spent and not spent in such a way that there is a duplication of facilities already provided in the community. I believe that no country can afford to go on duplicating services in the way that we have been doing over the last 50 years.
I put forward for consideration several proposals which I submit would lead to a saving of public moneys and in the long run would enable the provision of better community facilities. The first point I bring forward is the erection of new schools. I think at the State levels there must be a rethinking of the matter of design of schools which are being planned at present. The design must take into account the needs of the local community. Schools must be designed in such a way that the facilities that can be utilised by the community are separated so that people will not have to wander all over the schools. Facilities like libraries, meeting rooms, assembly halls, changing facilities and all these sorts of things should be .in a lockup area where separate staff could be responsible for them.
If thought is given to planning in this way the day when we see facilities like swimming pools in government schools can como to pass. As we are going, with the wastage that goes on, I believe these plans are just dreams for the future. Secondly, I submit that in our country towns, particularly the small country towns, there is a need for co-operation between all levels of government in the development of community centres - call them community leisure centres or what you will. I have seen initial plans drawn up of such centres. The ones I have seen have no relationship to my electorate. They relate to the township of Heywood. I WaS impressed wim the fact that in these plans it was envisaged that facilities for the total community would be built on school property. Gymnasiums, changing rooms, a small theatre, a small library, a canteen, and all saenger pf (bingo which ore not present within the le$al community would be provided.
Money for the provision of suan facilities should bo spent but esse. mb b tao tutiorial approach. It requires co-operation at all levels, from the local council to the State and right through to the Federal level. I believe the Victorian Government has indicated that it would give some consideration to provision of -special staff for all schools with such facilities. If this type of joint venture is ever to have any hope of getting off the ground it requires the backing of die Federal Government. In this connection I am encouraged to know that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) at this time is examining proposals such as the ones that I have mentioned.
I think another area in which we must look carefully to the money that we are spending is that of Commonwealth libraries. The importance of the library in the community is an accepted fact. When the Commonwealth spends well over $100,000 for a Commonwealth library in a school we must encourage in every way possible the use of this facility not only from 9 until 4 but at night as well. This, of course, brings up problems in relation to staff and so on. But these are simple administrative problems which I believe can be overcome. I have not spoken of the older areas where the established facilities are Already provided. I believe that in these cases it is a matter of co-operation between local government, and the schools. In many cases unfortunately it will require almost reeducation before people see things in a rational manner.
In conclusion, I wish to quote from a report prepared by Mr Jack Clarke, a Melbourne architect. He prepared a report on the subject of community leisure centres. I point but that Mr Clarke studied community leisure centres in the United Kingdom and other European countries. He makes this point, which I believe is pertinent to Australia. He said:
Part of the answer would appear to lie in arranging for school facilities to be made available to the community in a complementary relationship to those which are community sponsored.
In terms of land usage and capital investment this is a common-sense solution and would at least ensure a better spread of facility however thin this may be den compared with what is provided In men socially concerned countries.
There is no doubt that tq continue on in tfes present way will lead to much wasted time, money and effort.
I support the Bills before the House.
Ms STALEY (Chisholm) (2.54>- This being an appropriation dsb ato, I take tha opportunity presented by the discussion of a Bill which appropriates money to the many purposes of government to discuss the Gar.retty companies scandal, which should concern all governments in Australia. This is a scandal- unique in the sorry history of Australian company failures. It .is a tragedy which, although smaller than many of the others, is more bitter and unhappy for its innocent victims than almost all of them put together. It concerns the failure of Melbourne’s so-called Garretty group of companies during the latter part of 1971. The collapse involved a number of private companies, but also took with it the savings of public investors who subscribed money to a mutual fund called Dividend Fund Incorporated. Dividend Fund was created as a company with unlimited liability, a characteristic which was aimed at allowing its directors to issue or redeem shares from day to day as the company went along. It is also a characteristic which meant that when Dividend Fund went broke, when its debts exceeded its assets, the shareholders were faced with the problem of meeting the deficiency. Such shareholders were generally not closely linked to the company or its directors, and were in most cases merely innocent, often elderly, investors who wanted a safe repository for their savings. They come from all over Australia and from overseas……
Having lost their life-savings’ of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, some of these innocent people are now threatened with court action if they do not contribute amounts like 8500, $2,000 or 84,500 towards the debts of the company. Despite’ the obvious responsibilities which the directors of the company and its managers would ‘have to such investors, they abused the trust, they engaged in dubious investment activities, they siphoned money to other private companies, they set up a round robin of company’ financing and in the final analysis they simply gambled with the money in the riskiest of investments during the mining boom of a few years ago. The obvious culpability of such mismanagement, however, has been transferred to the innocent investors now facing financial ruin. As I intend to explain in the time given to me, these investors ase not only facing finan-ckd ruin but their ruin will to come extent help save the fortunes associated with tfes management of the Fund. . . >. 1 will explain how the innocent investors are being asked to pay up for the deficiency of Dividend Fund Incorporated while some clever company manoeuvres may save some shareholders associated with the management of the company from paying a single cent. These privileged investors at the eleventh hour before the Dividend Fund collapse escaped their liability by transferring their holdings to a $2 company which cannot hope to meet any demands on it. And worse still, the same privileged investors in. their capacity as investors in another part of the Garretty group, actually stand to receive some of the money taken from the innocent investors. This tragic and sordid story I will now try to outline.
Dividend Fund was one of the important public companies which acted as a fund raising front for the corporate empire of Dr Michael Duhan Garretty, a geologist who developed a fascination for the stock market. Dr Garretty abandoned his geological pursuits to seek inspiration in share price charts. Charts, as honourable members will know, are sometimes regarded as an important guide to share market performance.
Dr Garretty was able to convince many investors that he and his charts had the answer to share market fluctuations. The instrument of his persuasion was the so-called ‘Trendex’ investment service. ‘Trendex,’ published weekly, gave a resume of ‘market action’, together with predictions about further share market trends and about the movements of individual share prices. Because Trendex’ emphasised its successess, and because so many Australians seek a means of investing their capital safely, it attracted a following. Not content with just telling investors what to do with their money, Dr Garretty decided to do it for them.
During the early 1960s he formulated a plan for managing the savings of public investors. This involved the formation of 3 mutual funds, which are little more than investment trusts designed to pool the savings of many people into a sing’e portfolio. The idea is that the larger, single portforio can be professionally administered at the lowest cost; and that professional management of the portfolio produces the best results. The mutual funds were called Increment Fund, which was designed to provide mainly capital benefits; Dividend Fund, to provide mainly income benefits; and
Balanced Fund, to provide a balance of income and capital benefits. The corporate structure of the mutual funds is interesting. Unlike normal companies which are formed principally to restrict capital investment to a fixed amount, mutual funds are designed to allow flexible capital structures. They allow the managers to issue more shares as they go along and to redeem shares if shareholders want to get out. The price for share issues and redemptions are fixed by calculating the whole net value of the company concerned and assessing the actual asset value of each share. Since it is normal practice for mutual funds to invest in shares which are quoted on the stock exchanges, the value of the overall listed securities can be assessed easily from day to day, and the actual prices for share issues or redemptions worked out accordingly.
Despite Dr Garretty’s sophisticated investment management techniques, and the help of his own ‘Trendex’ advisory service, the 3 mutual funds had little success. Their performance in the first half of the 1960s was not particularly impressive, and the volume of actual private savings with which they were entrusted was relatively small. But with the great share boom that gripped Australian stock exchanges in the late 1960s - the nickel boom - great public interest was focussed on the share market. The boom gave Dr Garretty’s companies some success in the market initially, and this success was translated into a flood of public subscriptions for shares in his various funds. Dr Garretty was helped in the task of raising public money by mutual fund salesmen in Melbourne, who for a commission directed many small investors towards Dr Garretty. One such salesman, Anthony G. Pryer, was recently fined in court in Melbourne for failing to provide his victims with a prospectus. He gave them a hard sell, an application form and then sent their cheques to Dr Garretty.
None of the innocent shareholders to whom I have spoken were advised that they would be liable for the debts of the company. And the prospectus itself failed to spell this out. One prospectus merely described the company as an ‘unlimited public company’ in the context of a paragraph outlining the advantages of the company. Mr Pryer talked established clients out of investments like Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd and trusts like Australian Fixed Trusts into what he described as ‘something better’. Thanks to Mr Pryer and other salesmen, net public subscriptions to Dividend Fund totalled more than $150,000 in the 1969 financial year and nearly $300,000 in the 1970 financial year. Yet notwithstanding this effective, misleading sales effort, Dividend Fund failed to keep pace with the general financial boom. It ended the 1969 financial year with assets worth nearly $8,000 less than the funds subscribed by investors. And in the 1970 financial year, the shortfall was even greater, with assets of Dividend Fund Incorporated worth nearly $160,000 less than the amounts subscribed by public investors. So much for professional management. I seek the leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard 2 tables setting out the financial affairs of the company.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
All the Garretty funds’ bad results continued during the 1971 financial year, and things got so bad that the company stopped paying dividends and eventually had to refuse to redeem shares of investors who had had enough. Shortly afterwards Dividend Fund and the whole Garretty group collapsed in a flood of headlines and with more than 15 companies being placed in liquidation - total losses approaching $3m - and Dr Garretty going bankrupt personally with a deficiency of $179,000. This grandiose corporate empire which was going to make everybody rich was less than a damp squib. It was a sort of corporate submarine. When the Garretty paperwork hits the fan, as it were, all sort, of facts begin to emerge.
It is now clear that the Dividend Fund had not really been investing much in stock exchange securities after all. It had done so until the end of the 1968 financial year but by the end of fiscal 1969, the proportion of the company’s funds in listed investments was down to 80 per cent. By the end of 1970 vear it was down to 46 per cent. And by the time the liquidator got to the sinking skip. Dividend Fund Incorporated had 2.3 per cert - less than one-fortieth of its assets - invested in shares listed on stock exchanges.
Think of it. The company had been raising hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money to invest in the stock exchange, and by the time of its collapse 2.3 per cent of its assets had reached the market directly. A lot of it, of course, reached the market and was lost in the market through the Garretty round robin. Where had the money been invested? The vast bulk of it had been sunk into other private Garretty companies, and through them into share market speculation. Using a syphon shaped like a cheque book, Dr Gar.retty and his professional fellow managers had arranged for Dividend Fund to lend nearly $640,000 to four other Garretty companies. In the liquidation, one which got $288,000 was expected eventually to repay 20c in the dollar to Dividend Fund. Another which got $143,000 was expected eventually to pay back 10c in the dollar.
But the most dazzling result of all came from another company which received $188,000 from Dividend Fund, and which was expected to be able to repay 4c in the dollar. Even - some of the investments which Dividend Fund made in normal shares were curious, to say the least. This enterprising little company, which was looking for income return on its investments, bought Poseidon shares at $95. Poseidon shares are now worth less than $10 and have yet to pay a dividend. It bought shares in other Garretty companies. And it even bought shares in a highly speculative exploration company - ‘Barewa Oil and Mining No Liability - whose promoter vanished after the stock exchanges refused to list the shares and just before an official government investigation was launched into the company’s affairs. Dividend Fund seems to have wavered m its prospectus’ promise to invest in the stock exchange and seek income producing investments. Dividend Funds 1969 annual report notes Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Hamersley Holdings and Mount Isa Mines as ‘among the more important holdings of DFl’ without pointing out that at that time it held only 410 shares in BHP, 80 in Hamersley Holdings and 520 in Mount Isa Mines.
Of course stock exchange investments go down in value as well as up, and the Garretty directors must have thought it better to have fixed investments like advances to their own companies than nasty old stocks and shares. The Garretty directors also found it better and cosier to lure shareholders funds with their own dubious valuations of non-listed investments, including some in their- own companies. Never mind the hapless public investors who had trusted Dividend Fund with their money.
One of the strange features of mutual funds is that they have unlimited liability. Unlike normal companies which restrict the liability of shareholders to the face value of their shares, in unlimited liability companies the shareholders are liable for all debts of the company. This would have been all right if Dividend Fund did not owe any money. But in the round robin of cheques which bounced around the Garretty empire, Dividend Fund had borrowed money. While it was investing all those loans in other Garretty companies, it was also borrowing from yet another Garretty company, and this time mainly one of the other mutual funds - Increment Fund. Increment Fund loaned nearly $120,000 of its public money to Dividend Fund. And when Dividend Fund collapsed, it still owed this money and had to pay it back. Worse still, the shareholders who had lost everything are faced with the demand to pay it back. Let me reiterate. The money comes in from the public; it is lost by the bizarre management ideas of the Garretty group; and because of the unlimited liability of the Dividend Fund structure, the same public investors who subscribed the money now have to put more money into the company to meet debts which Dividend Fund ran up.
Now let us turn to what I shall call the Hopewell caper, which is named after a little company called R. Theo Hopewell Investments Pty Ltd. Hopewell is a $2 company with limited liability. Shortly before Dividend Fund collapsed several shareholdings - amounting to around 100,000 shares - were transferred from private individuals to the Hopewell company. This automatically transferred the liability of the individuals to meet Dividend Fund’s debts to that company. And since Hopewell had only $2 paid-up capital it provided a buffer against the calls which must be made on Dividend ‘ Fund shareholders. Who were the shareholders who so cleverly transferred their investments to Hopewell, and who presumably miss out on liability? Tks records indicate that they were closely associated or related to a Melbourne business man, Mr Alan Prebble By aeon. Mr Dyason was a director with Dr Garretty «s2 the Garretty company which managed Dividend
Fund. Again I seek leave to have an outline of this matter incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The Hopewell Caper Connections
Just before Dividend Fund Incorporated is placed In liquidation, R. Theo Hopewell Investments Pty Ltd becomes holder of 104,534 shares.
These include two major holdings: 44,559 in name of Miss F. L. Kelson 50,000 in name of Mrs G. N. Billings, and two smaller 8,975, Mrs G. B. Stevens. 1,000, Mrs E. F. Dyason.
Kelson and Billings are partners with the Dividend Fund Management Co. Director, A. P. Dyason, in a mortgage held over R. Theo Hopewell Investments Pty Ltd.
Stevens and Dyason are also partners in the mortgage partnership, and are linked with Dyason by marriage (in one case) and in other companies.
Billings is a foundation Director and shareholder in the Dyason family company, Dyason Investments Pty Ltd, which is also in liquidation. Mrs Billings is believed related to Mr Dyason directly.
Kelson, Billings, Stevens and the Dyason family (including two family investment companies, Dyason Investments Pty Ltd and Kunyung Investments Pty Ltd) are shareholders in Increment Fund Incorporated, with total holdings direct and indirect of at least 262,000 shares.
Therefore: Kelson, Billings, Stevens and Dyason Interests use R. Theo Hopewell to avoid unlimited liability obligations in Dividend Fund. But as Increment Fund shareholders they will benefit when Dividend Fund repays debt to Increment Fund.
– Now the Hopewell caper thickens. Not only were the Dividend Fund shareholders who sold out closely associated with Mr Dyason, but the very debt for which other Dividend Fund shareholders are being chased is also associated with Mr Dyason. The Dyason interests are massive shareholders in the Increment Fund which will reap the reward of the liquidation as it is owed money by Dividend Fund. Public shareholders invest in an unlimited liability mutual fund Dividend Fund Incorporated. Dividend Fund goes broke, owing a substantial amount to Increment Fund and its shareholders. Because Dividend Fund has an unlimited liability structure, its shareholders will be called on to cover its deficiency, and in effect to help cover the debt to Increment Fund. Some Dividend Fund shareholders close to the managers of the whole messy business arrange a $2 companystooge to save them from the call.
And while they miss out on having to meet the unlimited liability debts of Dividend Fund, they continue to reap the benefits of payments by others.
It is a clear case of innocent victims of a corporate failure being sucked dry to meet the losses of the guilty. Incredibly, some of the innocents money in payment of the debt will actually be channelled back to those associated with the culpable management. The tragedy of Dividend Fund is that most of the shareholders are older people who had sought a safe investment for their lifetime savings. They were not shrewd speculations, gamblers or opportunists. They are simple, thrifty people who were anxious to provide for their own financial well-being. They are now being hounded to meet the unlimited liability debts of Dividend Fund, and to find more money to cover extra losses. The company liquidator is now pursuing these investors for their money, and unless something is done they will be forced to pay up.
Apart from the obvious iniquities of this devilish mix-up, there is another important consideration. The liquidator involved, a Melbourne accountant, Mr D. O. Oldfield from the firm of Hornemann, Macaw and Oldfield, appears to be in a most difficult position. He is not only the liquidator of some of the Garretty group companies. He was also asked by the former Garretty director, Mr Dyason who also happens to be his client, to liquidate Dyason Investments Pty Ltd. This company was involved with the Hopewell manoeuvre. So Mr Oldfield is also a liquidator of a company which is involved with the Dyason family’s attempts to avoid responsibility for the debts while reaping the results of the liquidator’s debt collection. The risk of conflict appears devastating. Because of the problems of finding an equitable solution to this disaster, because of the problems of hardship on innocent victims of sharp company practice, and because of the conflicts and the unprecedented nature of this situation, I appeal to the Victorian Government. This liquidation should be stopped. Before it proceeds, every legal means should be explored to prevent the gross iniquity of having innocent victims of a company failure contributing to the wealth of the people who helped cause the failure. If the law allows this, then so much the worse for the law. In the name of justice for decent, average Australians,a solution must be found.
Finally we must examine more closely than ever the need for new national controls on the securities industry. The Victorian Government is trying to investigate and keep tabs on company criminals, but it is understaffed and restricted by the national nature of many of the crimes involved. The Dividend Fund case and the Hopewell caper also bring out some important questions for future law in the securities area. (Extension of time granted).
Firstly, is there sufficient control of non-listed public companies and mutual funds such as Dividend Funds and, with no stock market supervision or interest in the affairs of these companies, is there adequate supervisory machinery geared to protecting investors involved? Secondly, are the affairs of mutual funds and unlisted public companies given sufficient attention in the finance media and would it be reasonable to insist that these companies advertise in the media their annual and half year profit reports? Thirdly, is the law of defamation too strict in Australia to allow fair reporting of the affairs of these companies? The fact that I must raise these matters under parliamentary privilege, I think, indicates that this may be the case. A vigilant and critical Press has been proved a salutary force against corporate and other criminals in many places. Fourthly, do the provisions of the various State Companies Acts provide for sufficient supervision of such people as liquidators, receivers and other official company managers? These are important questions for the future. Scandals such as the Garretty one must be nipped in the bud before they break the hearts and plunder the pockets of innocent average Australians.
– We are speaking today to the Appropriation Bills and the Supply Bills dealing with the supply of money to allow government to function. I will take the traditional approach and cover various aspects of the Australian economy. In particular, I will dwell for a moment on the son of approach that is taken by many specialist economists to the problems of this economy. I draw the attention of the House to an article which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on Friday, 25 May. The article was headed Tribunal Draws Economists Scorn’. It was a front page article. It reviewed the proceedings of a coreference in Adelaide on the. Pries Justification Tribunal. It crystallised the cart of criticism we have, heard today, Sam tag honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards), which is narrowly based and deals with a very small section of the total economy.
Specialists in their field tend to suffer from the problem of referring to their own particular specialist interests. I recall, when I was a specialist on wool physics, sitting in the union building of the University of Leeds and wondering why I could not talk to the attractive girls around the union building, until one told me that she was not in the least interested in the plasticity of wool which at that stage was my only interest and my only topic of discussion. It brought home to me a lesson which obviously was not understood by the economists at the Adelaide conference, because each of them established his base for attacking the Prices Justification Tribunal in his particular specialist area. For example, the Prices Justification Tribunal and the problem of inflation overall were characterised by one of the economists as a confrontation over wage claims on the one hand and the need to justify profit rises on the other. To me, that is far too narrow an interpretation of the problem. This will be one of the aspects dealt with the Prices Justification Tribunal in its work.
Another economist defined the causes of the current inflationary pressures in 3 ways - excessive government spending; an inordinate rise in the money supply, which he was good enough to attribute to the previous Government; and the rise in import prices, which is an importation of inflation into Australia. His prescription was a cutting back on public expenditure. I submit to the House that it is time we examined the priorities which lead to this prescription. The election campaign was fought on social issues. The questions df education, health and other welfare problems were clearly defined in the. last election campaign as a major area for government expenditure. Five months after the Government was elected we find economists resorting to the solution of cutting back on public expenditure at a time when this Government is meeting problems and issues which cere clearly put before it as the major issues at the last election campaign. What priorities does this economist hold when he is prepared to cut back on the very issues on which this Government was put into power? It is clear that we need to look at other areas of private and public expenditure in or#r to curb t&o presures that exist in the present . economy.
To simplify the recommendations by looking at the easiest area of restraint is, in my view, to miss the point.
Another economist, possibly correctly, claimed that business is not taking excessive profits and that the Prices Justification Tribunal will only reveal this fact. If it does, that is fine; but at least the public needs to have this fact brought before its attention. An agricultural economist who was not named in the article dismissed the Prices Justification Tribunal and the concept as a whole as not worth consideration. The point to be made here is that none of these economists, in fact no economist throughout the world, has presented the solution to the problem of inflation. Without the answers, they are prepared to criticise, and to criticise, as I have illustrated, from the point of view of their own narrow experience in their own specialisation. The basic paper which was the subject for discussion on this occasion correctly called for a cost-benefit analysis of most projects and most areas of government expenditure. I fully subscribe to that view. However, I add that social consideration must be included in such a cost-benefit analysis. It is no good using economic parameters alone as justification for expenditure. We must build into these economic parameters other considerations relating to the social impact of this expenditure. Under those terms I would support the approach of the basic paper at this conference, namely, that cost-benefit analysis should be brought to bear.
Another economist dismissed the idea of prices justification on the ground that the only areas in which it would be effective were those in which monopoly pricing existed in the economy. The basis of his dismissal was the idea that there was a large number of monopolies in the economy and therefore the Prices Justification Tribunal would require an inordinate number of staff. Almost certainly this will be one area of pricing revealed by this type of investigation, but again I suggest that it is only one of a number of factors that will be revealed by this process. The point that seems to have been missed by the critics of this process is that once again we have no lead from any other part of the world on the approach to controlling inflation. The whole rationale of this approach is that we need to look at individual pricing mechanisms to obtain a better understanding of the things which cause prices to escalate. Firstly, it may be wage claims. Secondly, it may be monopoly pricing. Thirdly - I suspect that this will emerge as a very strong factor - it may be the failure to increase productivity in various areas. We can see from various price rises that wage claims alone are. not enough to explain rapid increases. The prime example is the rise in meat prices, which is attracting most attention at the moment. No one with even a superficial knowledge of this pricing mechanism could attribute that price rise to wage claims. There are many price increases that are due to increases in taxation or the cost of government services. These are more directly in the control of the Government than are some of the other measures we can use to control the economy. I put my finger particularly on the question of productivity because it is a complex area which involves the willingness of manufacturers to accept technological change and, in some cases, provide a competitive area where, their own technology and capital investment will be challenged by other people with new ideas.
The Australian Industries Development Association in making the case against such things as the Prices Justification Tribunal in its bulletin No. 242 of June 1973 has a very interesting graph on the front page which shows that productivity in Australia has remained fairly constant over the last 2r years. I believe we need to ask the reasons why productivity rises have not been spectacular in this country. One can look at the expenditure on research and development in Australia by Australian industry and find that it falls far short of expenditure by similar organisations overseas. We could find many areas in Australian industry where traditional practice has stood as a barrier to the introduction of new ideas, partly because, as I suggested before, the existing industry has invested large volumes of capital in the traditional processes and they do not wish to see this capital jeopardised by the introduction of new technology. The Prices Justification Tribunal and the associated parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices will in fact reveal some of these areas of price pressures in Australia. Because it is a new area and because it is an experience that no other country has gained, we can expect in the first instance to be educated. We can expect that these 2 groups will point more specifically to the pressures that give rise to price increases in our economy.
It is far too simple to define the problem as most of the economists have done and, indeed, as most members of the Opposition have done in their speeches in terms of one. or two factors that are responsible for price increases in the economy. It is quite clearly a complicated matter which requires the careful scrutiny and examination that these 2 bodies - the Prices Justification Tribunal and the parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices - will give. I submit that we are now on the threshold of an interesting experience in relation to the management of the economy. Firstly, this Government has accepted the clear mandate from the electorate to give some of the wealth of the country to the underprivileged members of our community. It has also accepted the clear mandate to divert some of this investment into educational resources. These are issues which we have a mandate to carry out and it is whistling in the wind to suggest that a reduction of expenditure in this area is a solution to our current problems.
It is clear also that this Government needs to develop retraining programs to give labour much greater flexibility than it has had in the past. This is a prerequisite for us being able to allocate our resources more effectively throughout the community. Many of the subsidies and tariffs that we have now in the economy which act as a barrier to the redistribution of resources are not there to produce the. particular commodity but are there quite correctly to protect the welfare of people whose incomes depend on those industries. If those people can be transferred from one industry to another through effective retraining programs, the need for tariffs and subsidies will be reduced significantly. Clearly we need to establish a much more rational and sensible social basis for our community if we are to have a rational, sensible economy. If we continue, as was the practice over the last 23 years, to concentrate on the whole issue as a conflict situation in which it is labour versus capital and in which any 2 groups which can be made to fight are spurred on to fight, then, of course, progress will be frustrated as it has been. These 2 bodies - the Prices Justification Tribunal and the parliamentary Joint Committee - represent a new adventure in opening up our knowledge of the avenues and pressures which cause dislocation in our economy. I commend these Bills to the House.
– World wide economic management over the last 2 years has had its difficulties. In Australia, stimulus applied throughout 1972 and especially in the Budget last year provided the momentum for the economy to recover from its slack period. It currently is performing very well. This is an achievement of the last Government, not of this Government. Production, employment, incomes and spending are rising strongly in aggregate, and most sectors are participating in the rise. Gross domestic product is expected to be about 12 per cent higher in current prices in this financial year and about 4.9 per cent higher in terms of constant prices. This is a faster rate of growth than the 3.2 per cent (constant prices) that was achieved in 1971-72 and about in line with the average of 5.1 per cent (constant prices) rate of growth over the previous decade. Manufacturing output is rising strongly across the board. The building industry is extremely busy, the retailers are enjoying better sales than ever and farm income is likely to rise again in the next financial year after experiencing quite a dramatic lift of around 80 per cent in the current financial year.
These are the normal symptoms of an economy in the upswing of the business cycle - an upswing set in train by the expansionary fiscal and monetary policies of the previous Government and aided by the soaring export prices which world wide economic revival has generated. Even so, the economy is not free of some major trouble spots. Large sectors of the mining industry have been hard hit by currency revaluations, by Government hostility to overseas investment, by the removal of exploration incentives and the burden of the 25 per cent deposit requirement on borrowed funds. As a result, what was once the leading growth point in the economy is now languishing, profitless, in a sea of uncertainty.
Capital investment still shows no sign of revival. There is a danger that the uncertainties which Government policies and attitudes have created about the future profitability of Australian industry will seriously delay decisions to expand, limiting growth and future employment opportunities. That is something to be measured in the future. The steel industry, which has been subjected to a massive fiscal squeeze, has already deferred the expansion plans needed to keep Australian capacity growing in line with local industrial needs. As the spending boom develops, great pressure will be put on production capacity, of which danger signs have already been flashed.
Inflation is the implacable enemy within the economy. That is the enemy we need to fight and whatever we may think about current improvements, we can only be unhappy about the prospect of growing inflation. Most developed economies at present face the same problem. Most countries have responded with varying measures and with varying success. It is no comfort to the social victim of inflation to be told that his problem is shared by many other people in many other countries of the world. His discomfort is worsened by signs that inflation is accelerating to double figures in Australia. His hope is dashed because the Government has some extraordinarily naive and one-sided ideas about what needs to be done to contain inflation.
At a time when the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is speaking about giving leads to the world, there is one lead that I am sure the world will not follow and that is his idea that inflation is contained by controlling prices alone. It is a unique approach that no other country has. All other countries realise that it is a two-pronged income-prices policy which must be pursued.
The Government has stated one of its objectives to be a better deal for the economically disadvantaged. Who suffers most from inflation? The answer is the economically disadvantaged. Labor promises a greater sense of national entity and purpose - how can you have national entity and purpose if all that you are doing is eroded by the effects of inflation? Labor promises a social and economic environment that is fair and progressive. How can it be fair when there is uncertainty? How can ii be progressive when nobody knows what the future holds? Labor promised all these things. It declared that it would have a coherent economic strategy to be worked out with the full participation of business. 1 will very briefly list some of Labor’s more notorious performances. Since December 1972 the Labor Government has revalued our currency 19 per cent against the United States dollar. The Labor Government argued for a national wage increase of $11.50. Fortunately the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission rebuffed the Government’s arguments and rejected them. The
Labor Government has set up machinery for prices justification without any attempt to deal with incomes. It is a ridiculously bad plan even for its intended purpose. Indeed, the legislation was so bad that there was no possibility of producing amendments which would make it workable in any real sense.
The Labor Government proposes to abolish sanctions against unions in the industrial system and to erode the authority of the Arbitration Commission to settle strikes and to protect the public interest. Cost-push inflation would be encouraged by the adoption of collective bargaining based -on union strength rather than on the merits of a case. The Labor Government is committed to major government spending by the creation of a number of new departments such as the Department of Urban and Regional Development. There will be excessive government spending as the impact emerges in the next Budget which the Federal Treasurer, licking his lips, has said would be a good Budget. Good for whom? Good for Labor’s political cause but not good for the national interest It is just a political Budget we have been promised, not an economic management Budget.
The Labor Government has stated that it will act as the pacesetter through Public Service wages and conditions and will use its activity in this area as a lever to force the private sector of the economy to gear up wages and conditions. Realists will see it as a direct appeal for the votes of public servants. The Labor Government has recklessly attacked the permanent building societies for the interest rates they pay to people who invest their savings in those societies, and then the Commonwealth itself, at the same time as it is denouncing the societies’ rates, has raised its own long term bond rate from 6 per cent to 6i per cent with a consequential increase at the shorter end. Anybody who looks at the money market now must be wondering bow on earth the Treasurer will fill the next Commonwealth loan without further raising interest rates. The Treasurer is a member of a party which constantly argues for cheap interest rates, but while so arguing it increases the interest rates.
The Government has frightened off foreign investment in all sectors and specifically has withdrawn taxation concessions on mining and oil exploration. It fails to understand the difference between the specu- lative and the genuine investment in the mining sector. The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) certainly has plenty of energy in his condemnation, even though we might be left with all the minerals in the ground. What a magnificent monument to him it will be as Minister for Minerals and Energy, with all the energy in condemnation and all the minerals in the ground!
The Labor Government has foreshadowed all kinds of taxation reforms with an obsession to get at the rich. The only problem is that according to the Labor Party you are rich if you have a taxable income of $100 a week. I have never understood that $100 a week would make a person qualify to be described as rich. That is what the Labor Party believes. Unfortunately, it is in government and can make its attitudes real by legislation. Family and other tax deductions are to be removed. They have some explanation for it, illogical though it is. Their proposal is that people with families - people paying out for hospital and medical expenses and insurance for the future - are to lose those deductions.
There are a great many middle income earners, single people and wage earners, whose children are self supporting and who will be sacrificed in the name of ‘the welfare state’. We all want to provide proper, progressive and adventurous social welfare policies, but we do not want to make Australia a social welfare state in its worst form - as England faced. It brought England to its knees under a Labor government. As an example of future taxation measures I mention the proposed national health insurance scheme which provides for direct taxation at the rate of 1.35 per cent of a person’s total income, not taxable income.
– That is just a start.
– I am reminded that it is just a start. It started off way below 1.35 per cent. It has now been lifted to 1.35 per cent. The Government has said that there will be a ceiling of $150 on each person, but it is each person in a family.
-That is only for the first period.
– I am reminded by my colleague the honourable member for Sturt that it is only for the first period.
– And no tax deduction.
– Again I am reminded, this time by the honourable member for
Henty, that there is no tax deduction. In other words, we are to understand that this great Utopia is not really a Utopia. It is a Pandora’s box. Once you lift the lid you have no idea of what will jump out. It is certainly clear that the percentage of 1.35 and the limit of $150 are only the opening bid. This method easily lends itself to being jacked up again for the welfare state.
The Treasury states in its latest bulletin that production and employment are continuing to grow strongly. There is now full employment but inflationary pressures are evident, as are both demand-pull and cost-push pressures. It is hardly a legitimate means of dampening down demand-pull inflation to make irresponsible statements on private lending in housing, as the Treasurer is constantly making. We will feel the effects of his statements in 3 or 4 months time when I believe there will be a downturn in the rate of increase in housing approvals. At what cost is the price to be paid for a Treasurer who says he is on top, not on tap? He might finish up in the tip, along with his policies. At present the economy is running in a truly mixed fashion. It is mixed in the sense that it contains major elements of Liberal Party initiative and certain elements of Labor Party interference.
– That is mystical.
– The Government has a spate of ad hoc unco-ordinated legislation. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who has just interjected, is a great ad hoc-er. He is the most unco-ordinated Minister of the bunch. The Government has foreshadowed legislation through such ministerial verbosity that much of the Australian business community is suffering from future shock. Like Alvin Toffer’s victims of future shock the people in the business community are unable in an environment that is unfamiliar, rapidly changing and unpredictable, to make a reasonably correct assessment on which rational behaviour and sound judgment depend.
What could have been a sensible attempt to balance, economic growth against other objectives has become a narrow prejudice against immigration which threatens to slow our rate of development, limit our room for economic manoeuvre and dry up opportunities for all Australians. Restriction of immigration, in spite of the rationalisations of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), is occurring. It is important that Australia be allowed to grow and not be subject to zero growth-zero population pessimism. Labor supporters are so pessimistic that they do not even believe in Australia.
The lack of understanding of economic matters of the Prime Minister, his obvious difficulties in keeping individual Ministers to a coherent plan, and a Treasurer who is increasingly fumbling compound the Government’s difficulties. Instead of facing them and solving them, the Government turns to the old recipe of increasing centralisation and bureaucratic control of economic decision making.
As the share market has already signalled by carving 16 per cent off the value of all listed shares since January 1973, the Government has produced a recipe for stagnation rather than for the prosperity and growth to which we have become accustomed. This condition is the result of the shocks of the Government’s decision to revalue and interest rates which are beginning to rise; but most important is the psychological factor of having a Government which in no way can be conceived of as an ally of anybody who invests his savings in anything. There are alternative economic concepts which need to be considered and from which the blueprint for Australia’s growth and prosperity may be derived) The need for a prices and incomes policy has gained increased currency throughout the world as countries wrestle with the problem of creeping inflation. The Australian Government wishes it would go away but I am afraid that the wish will not be the author of the fact.
We are faced with a situation where wage claims are more than is available from the national income without debasing the currency. This is a problem that traditional fiscal and monetary measures, such as higher taxes and higher interest rates, have great difficulty coping with. They may be sufficient to control demand-push inflation but these traditional weapons have looked like a suicide sword in the face of a combination of wage-cost push with demand-pull that seems to be threatening Australia today. In both the United Kingdom and the United States of America attempts at voluntary incomes policies have not met with much success. The wages-price compulsory freeze, instituted by President Nixon in August 1971 and followed by the second stage in which wages and prices were pegged to 5 per cent and 2i percent respectively, did meet with success, though that success has now waned. This suggests that coercion sanctions are a necessary ingredient in designing incomesprices policies as a circuit breaker and regulator if neglect of policy over a period allows inflation to reach an advanced stage. That is the prospect for Australia at present.
A recent report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development stresses that an incomes-prices policy must be integrated into the social structure of the country so that government, employer and employee work in a co-operative manner. The traditional socialist class-difference talk does not achieve co-operation. It puts the parties into separate camps and just worsens the situation. Certainly the Government should not be egging on one side against the other. This kind of policy only undermines the peace and social structure of the country. A sense of certainty is vital to a country’s economy. If economic encouragement is to be given in the form of investment allowances, export incentives and tax concessions or bounties, business leaders need to know whether they will continue. How else can rational decisions be made on investment, market developments and competitive prices decisions that run into the future? There must be a degree of economic planning to determine which sectors of the economy need assistance to provide overseas trade earnings. Within the country there must be a rational use of incentives to stimulate projects serving the national interest. The case of selective decentralisation is a ready example. In any economy it is important that the taxation system be equitable as well as providing revenue for government spending.
We do not need, nor should we face, the uncertainty to which I have referred. We do need positive, comprehensive plans to deal with inflation. We should have a determined policy. The Government should establish the order of priority for its proposals, say what is the cost of each proposal and when it will be implemented so that the public can be informed and give co-operation. The Government should establish a program to halt price rises and excess wage increases and state the guidelines which it adopts as the acceptable level of increases in wages and prices. The Government should give leadership to the people of Australia to be an achieving country. It should acknowledge that progress does not fall by chance from heaven. National rewards are earned by work and effort and meeting competition from other countries. The Government must recognise that a shorter working week coupled with increasing costs of materials and labour and recurrent strikes will cripple us and remove our capacity to improve health, education and social welfare standards in Australia.
The Government must face up to and establish responsible attitudes to public finance, public expenditure and government wage rates and conditions. It must not be the pace setter. The example it gives will run right through State and local governments and the business community. The Government has a clear duty to control inflation. In 1971 inflation was running at 7 per cent. We brought it down to 4.6 per cent in 1972. Now it is at an annual rate of 8 per cent and we are faced with a double figure rate by the end of the year. It is really important that Australia prospers, not that an idelogy triumphs without regard to economic realities.
– One of the inflictions of gaining the front bench is that one’s colleagues think that one should not take as much part in debates as one did formerly. On this occasion I follow the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) more by chance than by choice. In his speech he said that the Government must not be a pace setter. Of course, a problem from which Australia suffered for 23 years was that it was led by a group of foot dragging Ministers who, like Micawber, waited for something else to turn up so that they could follow that lead. This Government was returned on 2 December with the wholehearted support of the Australian people for innumerable policies right across the board. In the area under my own administration there are matters that require urgent and immediate attention. With due respect to the Leader of the Opposition 1 admit that at present many decisions have to be of an ad hoc nature. I shall explain why presently.
The right honourable gentleman spent most of his time talking about inflation, and well he might. He was its principal architect. For years he was one of the directors of the Australian economy and of Australia’s policy making. Who is he to stand in this House and condemn anybody for what has happened in the last 6 months? At least the Government has overcome the problem of unemployment which is the most dreaded spectre in the Australian or any other community. The Government recognises that the question of controlling prices is a problem that has confronted humanity and governments for a long time. We recognise that every policy one pursues is likely to create pressures in some direction and these pressures will have to be handled. We recognise also, as I think did the right honourable gentleman himself, that no government has been able to control inflation properly unless it has inflicted upon the community controls which the community ultimately would want to reject.
Evident in the right honourable gentleman’s speech was his obvious dissatisfaction with every program the Government is pursuing. He is against everything the Government has set out to do. Obviously he opposes the increases in social security payments during the last few months. He says that this has created inflationary pressures. He says that any expenditure of public money will ordinarily do so. He opposes our programs related to city living. From his speech it would appear that the creation of new departments is a threat to Australia’s future. He does not like taxation reform and the way the Government is pursuing it, but he pursued this subject some 12 months or so ago. Obviously he is against the policy of creating more housing opportunities for people. He does not like our health policies. It gave me some pleasure to see the dreadful gloom that come over the faces of honourable members opposite when they thought that the taxation structures were to be changed. Now the Leader of the Opposition is one of the latest recruits to economic planning. We welcome him to the ranks. I only wish he had adopted such an attitude in the recent past.
I respect the research undertaken by the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) but I suggest that he should direct his attention to the recently returned heroes in Victoria, the members of the Hamer Government. They are the villains of the piece. They are allowing the matters to which he referred to proceed in the way they are proceeding. I only hope we can get more co-operation out of them in respect of a matter that I shall now raise. Before lunch the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) raised the question of the health of the Aboriginal people in Gippsland. Gippsland is one of the wealthiest parts of
Australia, and Australia is probably one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It is depressing that at this time people in such an environment should be suffering a deprivation of health services. But this is the case with Aboriginal people. The honourable member for Casey and some members of my staff went to Gippsland a week or so back and he has told me about that visit. All honourable members who read newspapers and receive letters from that area are aware of the situation. Unfortunately I have not been able to visit the area recently but members of my Department have done so. A really depressing aspect of this matter is the difficulty of getting immediate action in situations such as that which applies there. 1 hope that in the near future we will be able to create administrative systems that will overcome the disabilities imposed by constitutional precedents and so on.
We have raised this matter with the Victorian Department of Health. This week officers of my Department are visiting the area. Dr Langsford, who is the Director of Aboriginal Health hi the Commonwealth Department of Health, will go there next week. He has already had’ discussions with the Victorian Department of Health. We have asked the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to take up directly with the Premier of Victoria the general question of co-operation in this area. I rose this afternoon simply to place that on the record. As soon as the matter was raised with me by the honourable member for Casey, I had conversations with my colleague, the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham). We did try to take action-
– Did you ask the honourable member for Gippsland?
– The honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) has been in touch with me. The honourable member for Casey and other members of the House have taken the opportunity to place before me the difficulties of the Aboriginal people in their areas. Earlier in the year I wrote to all members of Parliament. Many of them have no Aboriginal people in their districts. I received a pretty universal and satisfactory response. I assure honourable members who are concerned about it that anything they wrote to me is confidential between them, me, any of my immediate staff who had to read it and those from whom we gathered the material. I can see no solution to the question in East Gippsland, unless we are able to open a full time medical service particularly for the Aboriginal people, such as is operating at present in Sydney and Brisbane.
– Is the Minister receiving full co-operation from the States?
– We have sought co-operation from the States. We have sent our officers down there. We are doing our best to achieve co-operation, but co-operation does not seem to be anywhere in the dictionary of political terms of the Victorian Government at the moment.
– The Victorians deny that it is a problem. They say that there is no problem.
– They deny it exists.
– Who says that?
– The Deputy Director of Health in Victoria.
– That is not political.
– Order! The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs is making this speech, not other members of the House.
– I always enjoy a little audience participation. One has to accept the fact that in matters such as this ministerial direction has to be given. I have no doubt that we will establish satisfactory rapport in these matters. I do not believe that we will receive a real answer to the question of Aboriginal health, or the health of anybody else in the community who is suffering from deprivation, until we have a full time medical service operating on their behalf. One of the spin-offs from that will be that the rest of the community, seeing a national medical service of that sort operating usefully in that way, will demand it, and all those honourable members opposite who are weeping about the suggestion of a national medical service of the sort we offer will be rallying to the medical service to use it themselves.
– These Bills, which relate to the subject of Government spending, are very important because they deal with finance, and over the years political science has dictated that people in responsible positions must at all times be careful and deliberate in their spending of a nation’s money. We can do what we like with our own money, but we must exercise responsibility in spending other people’s money. It is somewhat disconcerting to know that at the present time we have as Prime Minister of this country a person who has stated publicly that he has no great interest in finance and who dismisses with derisive contempt all things financial. We honourable members therefore have placed on us an added responsibility to be the watchdogs of the Ministers and their departments because of the devolution of responsibility by the head of government. As always, we are fully aware of our responsibilities and, as has been proved by previous speakers from this side of the House, our contribution will be one of drawing attention to the salient features of financial irresponsibility and recklessness that are contained in the various Bills.
A government has a responsibility to legislate for the social, moral and cultural needs of all sections of the community and not just of a privileged few from the large centres of population. Recently in this House we have heard comments from such people as the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) which have overemphasised the circumstances surrounding living in the urban areas to the complete exclusion of rural and provincial city areas. I note that in Appropriation Bills Nos 5 and 6 certain sums have been set aside for the Department of Urban and Regional Development. The matter which causes the Opposition a lot of concern is the amount of compensation that will be paid for land resumptions for the purpose of creating growth centres. As a member of the Australian Country Party, I fully support the platforms and policies of that Party, based as they are on the solid philosophy of ‘a fair go for all’. Our stance is for just compensation for all land resumed for the purpose of creating growth centres. We will not tolerate any land being resumed and frozen for endless years at a price which is not fair and reasonable. We are concerned at the Government’s attitude to retrospectivity.
The Country Party can never be accused of standing in the path of progress. Ours, unlike the Government’s, is not a path up the slippery slope of advancement which takes into account only one side of the problem; ours is a path of equal rights for all. We are concerned with justice. We are concerned with both sides of the question. It is worthless to do things by half; the other half might be the one that matters. I advocate that, where people are deprived of their assets in the name of pro gress, just compensation at realistic prices must be paid for the land resumed. A factor to be taken into account is the cost of resettlement and displacement compensation. These people may be unwilling sellers and, as such, their rights must be safeguarded. We are opposed absolutely to state landlordism. We uphold the right of private property and freedom of the individual.
Much has been spoken in this House recently by Government supporters who are desirous of pandering only to the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. But their tune was different when they were in Opposition. The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), who has given many years of excellent service to his electorate and to this Parliament, for which I compliment him, and who is a member of the present Government Party, said as reported at page 2932 of Hansard of 19 October 1972:
It is up to the Commonwealth to look at the development of the north and for once away from the dazzle and shine of the city. It should consider what it is costing the nation to continue developing the cities and then spend this money in the development of the inland of our country.
I ask: Why the change? Why the redirection of emphasis? We want to know this. At the best we can say that the Government is consistent in its inconsistency.
At the present time large areas of Australia, and Queensland in particular, are in the need of useful falls of rain to allow planting of winter grains, oilseeds and fodder crops. The age old enemy, drought, is hovering ever nearer, and people in rural areas and provincial cities are becoming anxious at the severity of the season. The recent announcement by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) concerning rural unemployment relief grants has caused deep fears for the future viability of these areas. Already many farmers from the various shires in my area and in other areas are seeking employment with their local shire and city councils. The position is becoming desperate. I make a request that this Labor Government, notwithstanding that it is oriented to the metropolitan areas, continue the statesmanlike actions of the previous Government by making money available to alleviate unemployment in these areas. The list of people is growing rapidly. The conditions are deteriorating. Let us do something concrete now before it is too late.
Let us hope that confidence in these areas generated by an injection of finance will allay some of the fears that are being experienced. This money will not be wasted. It is for the provision of essential works. It is for productive work which aims to improve the quality of life in the areas. I hope Cabinet will act readily in this field and that by united decision and co-ordinated action it will overcome the confusion occurring and the drifting of people from the rural areas into the metropolitan zones. Hope is expressed that local government will have some latitude in deciding how to spend any money that is allocated. We want less centralistic control and more control on the local level where decisions can be more readily made according to the exigencies pertaining on the spot.
My colleague, the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett), this morning spoke about the future of building societies in the economic life of the Australian community. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) has gone on record, as the honourable member for Canning stated earlier, as saying where he stands on this issue of great fundamental importance. The Treasurer’s statement about the financial policies of the societies was unfair as it contained a somewhat veiled innuendo as to the solidity and righteousness of their actions. On the Darling Downs, as in Western Australia, as the honourable member for Canning pointed out, some building societies have been in existence for almost a century and have fulfilled a service to the community for which there has been a most pressing need. I refer to the service of supplying housing finance and a method of investment by local people who wish to contribute to the solidity of their community. It is true to say that many homes would not have been built or owned but for the finance provided by these building societies. We on this side of the House seel; to ensure that they continue, as they have in the past, on a path of initiative, development and satisfying clients.
Many have expressed the view to me that the present Government seeks to nationalise these societies, to take over their assets, not by an overt act but by the underhand manner of placing impossible controls and restrictions on their activities. We fear a continuation of socialisation by stealth, as was evident in the recent Australian National Airlines Bill. My colleague, a member of the Country Party, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), drew the attention of the Parliament and the nation to the insidious proposals contained in that piece of obnoxious legislation in its original form. As the Treasurer is in control of the nation’s purse strings, we seek a declaration from him without equivocation, without any evasion of the issue, as to what he intends to do in this direction. People, whether investors or borrowers, wish to know what the Government’s policies are in this area. We do not want a display of superb political manoeuvring or the shady arrangements of the back room deal, the clever compromise that neither resolves disputes nor settles issues. We want a clearing of the air, a statement of fact.
Any examination and scrutiny of the economy, which I submit is the exercise in the debate on these Bills, must deal with inflation. This problem has been covered excellently by previous speakers on this side of the House who have exposed the Government’s policy to the fullest. It is time, as we approach the winter recess, when the Government will not have to endeavour in this House to defend the indefensible, to consider the financial security of this country. In this regard I submit that since coming to office the Labor Government has committed the Commonwealth to an additional expenditure of $186m during the current financial year, 1972-73. This will result in an estimated Budget deficit in excess of $900m, representing about 10 per cent of estimated revenue. This represents the most expansionary Budget since 1967-68. The cost during 1972-73 of some of the major expenditure commitments undertaken by the Labor Government include: Increased social security pensions, $57m; increased war pensions, $8; defence Services pay, $28m; Aboriginal Advancement Trust, $llm; defence service homes, $5ra; State housing assistance, $6m; and State employment grants, $26m. It is evident that these expenditures may give rise to a situation of demand-pull inflation that will be additional to the current rate of inflation of around 5 per cent per annum.
The rate of inflation is likely to increase despite the measures to curb inflation that the Labor Government has impotently implemented so far, of which the most important are three in number. The first is revaluation of our currency. In regard to controlling inflation the main benefit of revaluing the Australian dollar in December 1972 was that it avoided a situation whereby it would have been extremely difficult to curb inflation due to the continuing inflow of overseas capital and the consequent increases in the supply of money. In other words, by revaluing the Australian dollar the Government facilitated the task of curbing inflation rather than implementing a policy that would have a substantial direct effect on the rate of inflation. I submit that rather than tackle the problem of inflation all the Labor Government did by the realignment of the Australian currency was talk about it. I would submit that in the present economic situation in Australia we want deeds not words.
The second measure to curb inflation was the increase in the ratio of statutory reserve deposits to total trading bank deposits. On 9 April 1973 the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia announced that the SRD ratio of the major trading banks would be increased from 6.6 per cent to 7.6 per cent of deposits. This measure obligates the trading banks to lodge additional assets with the Reserve Bank equivalent to 1 per cent of deposits held by the trading banks. This immediately reduces the trading banks’ ability to make additional advances to customers, but in the longer term without any complementary action the overall effects of a rise in the statutory reserve deposit ratio on stabilisation objectives, such as full employment and price stability, are likely to be small.
The third anti-inflationary measure is in relation to prices. The Government has set up the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices and we have the proposed Prices Justification Tribunal. The inquiries and recommendations made by these bodies may well shame some firms into stabilising prices but acceptance of their directives will not be compulsory. Overseas experience, as previous speakers on this side of the House have said, indicates that voluntary price guidelines and in particular price policies that are not combined with guidelines for wage restraint are unlikely to have a significant impact on the rate of inflation.
That the Labor Government recognises that the rate of inflation may increase significantly in the absence of significant policy changes in the near future is probably best illustrated by the appointment of the so called task force headed by Dr H. C. Coombs, former Governor of the Reserve Bank. The task force has been specifically requested to recommend areas in which Government expenditure commitments made by the Liberal-Country Party Government can be reduced to enable the Labor Government to make further commit ments according to its order of priorities. It is evident that to avoid an increase in the rate of inflation it is likely that expenditure reductions will have to exceed new commitments, at least in the short term.
The Government appears to be under a delusion that the only way to right a floundering economy is to use as a deliberate instrument of fiscal policy a single edged attack on the items causing the problem. It completely ignores any restraints in the wage factor component of costs. In fact it deliberately encourages wage increases and union ‘ pressures. It advocates a 35-hour week, which would have disastrous consequences for our export industries because of increased costs. We heard in this House recently a statement by the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) concerning the price of wheat. What the Minister did not say - and in the charity of my mind, knowing the breadth and depth of knowledge of the learned gentleman, I know he is aware of the truth of what I am about to say - is that the cost of slicing and packing a loaf of bread is greater than the cost of the wheat necessary to produce the flour to make that loaf. Yet the Government says that labour is not a cause of inflation. How does the Minister reconcile this with the fact that it costs more to slice and pack a loaf of bread than the cost of the raw materials involved in its production. Does the Government not know that if there were an increase of 2c a loaf in the price of bread and this were passed on to the farmer, the farmer would have an increase of approximately 30 per cent in this section of his income. The same applies to the barley industry and to the butter industry. Is ‘the Government aware of this? Does it not understand elementary economic reasoning?
We have witnessed increases in freight costs and butchers’ wages, which were contributing factors in the recent consumer price index rise of 2.1 per cent between the December quarter of 1972 and the March quarter of 1973. But a significant reason for the increase in meat prices was the wages factor. It is worthy of note that an analysis of the movements in the consumer price index from the December quarter 1966 to the December quarter 1972 shows that the rate of increase in the price of all types of meat, with the single exception of beef, has been significantly less than the rate of increase in the consumer price index. On behalf of the meat producers of Australia who were being singled out for attention by the Government I desire to inform this House and the nation of the following facts: Where it is popular to make a hue and cry in order to gain political capital anyone can invoke the theme ‘the culprit is obvious’, and it is easy to isolate and implement direct and specific controls to eliminate the pseudo-problems. However, it is important to understand the underlying causes of the sudden increase in meat prices and to recognise that the causes are largely unrelated to the general factors causing inflation in other sectors of the economy, that the recent rates of meat price increases are likely to be short-term, and that the imposition of direct controls to stabilise meat prices in the immediate future is likely to aggravate the free market responses that are likely to stabilise meat prices in the longer term. I submit that the propaganda that was directed against the Australian meat producers was unfair. I am opposed to moves which emanated from the Government side of the House which sought to implement policies to deny the meat producers of Australia the same standard of living as the rest of the community. These moves are most unjust and unfair. The Australian Meat Board summarised the reasons for the sudden increases in lamb, mutton and beef prices as follows: The recent lamb price increases are a result of a substantial reduction in supply due to 3 factors.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is no accident that most of the speakers in this appropriation debate should have spoken about inflation, because it is obviously one of the real Achilles’ heels of our present situation. Lest people think that it is just a figment of our side of politics and that we have just suddenly become concerned about it, I think it would be worth while to quote a statement by Mr Chifley, when presenting his last Budget in 1949. Everybody should listen to this with the respect that any words from that statesman deserve. He said:
I am deeply grateful for the support that my colleagues have given me in my fight against the great danger of inflation. I know that some of them have not readily seen the force of many of the economic theories on which I have had to act, and that they were apt to regard my ideas as fossilised. But they have stood by me.
Mr Chifley obviously realised the significance of the inflation problem - and it still matters, it is still overwhelmingly important. Everybody has been paying lip service to it for a long while. Why does it matter? Firstly, economically, of course, it imposes costs that are likely to price us out of export markets. Socially, it has another great problem in that it bears most heavily on people on fixed incomes, those who have saved for the future and have shown the desirable qualities that we have always looked for in our community. Morally, inflation really gives an opportunity for the quick buck merchant to make a lot of money at the expense of other sections of the community. So inflation is important, and we all agree on that.
I want to admit immediately that there are not any easy answers. Inflation is a problem which is bedevilling the world at the moment, particularly the democratic section of it. I am not going to castigate the Government for what it has not been able to do. I am just trying to look at the problem to see whether I can bring out some small part of the solution. Firstly, I think it is quite clear that we are getting to the stage of take-off. We have had a cost-push inflation. I dread that we will shortly have a demand-pull inflation that will compound our present problems. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) mentioned that he dreaded a 10 per cent rate of inflation in the future. This indeed is what I fear. What can we do about it? We have just set up the Prices Justification Tribunal. I will not criticise this action. Over 2 years ago I mentioned that this is one of the things we could do. But it is really silly for us to expect too much of the Tribunal. We know that it may give us some solid ground to stand on when we are arguing or trying to talk responsibly with the unions when they are making what we think may be unreasonable demands. Having this Prices Justification Tribunal may give us some status to argue with the unions. But it is silly to expect too much of it.
I want to remind the House of something that I think is desperately important. It is an economic lesson I think we too easily forget, and that is the theory of constant shares. That is not my theory, of course, it is one that has been put up by economists all round the world. It seems to be the experience of every democratic country. It is that the proportion of gross national product received by the wage earning section of the community remains constant if one examines it over, say, 4-year periods. Indeed, if we look at the experience in the 4 years following 1955-56, the share of the GNP going to the wage earner or the salary earner sections of the community was 63.2 per cent. In the next 4 years it was 61.9 per cent. In the next 4 years it was 61.8 per cent, and in the following year it was 61.7 per cent. In other words the proportion of the GNP cake that goes to the wage and salary earning section of the community always remains approximately the same. If we really want to get a larger share or larger slice of the cake - as the wage earner and we all do - there is only one way to do it, and that is to make a bigger economic cake.
This brings us to the real crunch of the matter. Increased productivity is the key to getting a larger slice of cake for the wage earner. Indeed, if productivity does not rise and money wages rise, prices must rise. That has been the theory of all the world this century and it is still the fact. So we come to the crunch point that we have to increase the productivity of our people. Mr Deputy Speaker, you will be relieved to know that I will not speak at great length about tariffs. However, one of the reasons why our productivity rate is lamentably low is that we tend to use too many of our resources to produce things which we are not good at producing. To do that we need a high rate of tariff protection. But there are other matters that limit our rate of productivity. I will not embark on an exercise of union baiting, but I do say that the lack of responsibility in some sections of our unions, particularly the all-powerful ones, does limit productivity in a way which I think is quite alarming. I will quote from a paper which sets out the experience of what happened in Great Britain. It reads:
The crocodile tears shed by some about the fate of the low paid workers, the unemployed, the sick and the old are surely disingenuous. It is trade union action which, through wage-induced price movements, has created the basic problem.
That sounds like an old conservative speaking, a chap like myself.
Mir Scholes - It sounds like you.
– The man who used that quotation was an adviser to Wilson when he was Prime Minister of Great Britain. I refer to the Chairman of the Fabian Society. The extract that I quoted appears in Fabian Tract 403. I am glad that the honourable member fell into the trap. That is what happened in Britain. I am anxious to see that the same thing does not happen in this country. Let us look at what can happen when there is unwise union pressure. I have recounted to the House the position with regard to idle time on the waterfront. We are paying $8m a year for the very strong membership of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia to be able to stand the shipowners up and say: Now look, we are going to demand this kind of a payment from the economy.’ This is an example of union power gone mad. We used to think that unions were necessary in order to protect - I guess they were - the small man against the big employer, but if we are not careful we will run into a different situation which will overwhelm us. I am talking about the power of combined unions which can - I do not say that they always do - stand a country up. They can pick off one industry after another. Let me give an example of this. I will read an article which appeared in 1970 in a Sydney waterfront publication known as Wharfie’ and which described a dispute that took place on the waterfront between the Port Jackson Stevedoring Co. and the Waterside Workers Federation. After describing the dispute in some detail the article stated:
Previously, under the ASIA-
The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority- the dispute would have seen the port rolled up within a few days. This tactic of isolating employers is a vital tactic, the lesson learnt in this dispute is valuable.
The important part about this is that it does show that there is a power in the union system that can be used to pick off one section of an industry after another. What would have happened in that case if the ship owners had stood up to the employees? Under the present arrangements they would have been picked off. They had 2 possible solutions. One was to pay the extra charges. The charges could be recovered by the shipowners who could build them into the freight charges, in which case the economy would pay. The other solution was for the shipowners to take their ships elsewhere. There was an inevitable force acting on the shipowners which made them give in. Unless we introduce a greater sense of responsibility in some sections of the union’s system we will run into this kind of economic blood bath, which I can see ahead of us, where there will be this inevitable pressure on prices. I must admit that I am very glad that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde
Cameron) has left Australia to look at the situation in Sweden. The Swedes do seem to have some ability to be able to have a much more sensible and responsible attitude towards their labour industrial relations than we have in this country. I have always had the uneasy feeling, which one would expect of a conservative, that socialism dampens the fires of incentive throughout the whole community. This may be so in many cases, but I still come back to the experience of Sweden which I should think is even more socialised than we are but which is responsible enough to think that working hard and well is the sensible and responsible way to behave. I think Sweden would have more to teach us than most other countries and I am glad to see that the Minister for Labour has gone to look at the situation in that country.
I do not think anybody will argue against the proposition that productivity is the key to obtaining a bigger economic cake, that it is the key to keep down prices and that it is the key for all our hopes in the future. I think that as a country we should start to have another look at our past ideas about incentive payments. I think that within the union system there is a kind of assumption - a toogeneral assumption - that incentive payments are automatically bad. Speaking about an area which I know well, I cannot help thinking of the manner in which shearers behave in shearing sheds. You see well run shearing sheds with people working enthusiastically together. Generally speaking there will be a yoick or two every now and again, but shearing sheds are pretty exciting places if they are well run. Many sheds are very well run. This is because of incentive-payment by result. This can be made to work.
– You would admit that it is pretty hard work.
– Yes, it is hard work, and shearers are well paid for the hard work they do. Some of the best people I know are shearers and I often think that many of them could buy me out. We should start to have another look at the incentive payment system. lt does not necessarily follow that it will be abused as it may have been previously. I think we have some reason to examine it with more care. I hope that the Minister for Labour will be doing that. I was attracted by what the Minister for Labour said that he has in the back of his fertile mind in regard to paying some of the educational expenses incurred by union officials. I think this is a sensible approach. I think we definitely need a much more responsible union leadership in many cases. One way to achieve this is to help the leaders understand the economic problems. We have other responsibilities. I am not saying for one moment that all the fault is on the union side.
Recently in South Australia there was a report which advocated more union involvement in the running of companies. I think that this is a sensible idea. If we are going to say ‘We are not going to accept any changes’, we will have to face the inevitable disaster that we will deserve. I go back to my farm experience. When I was on the farm I would never have dreamed of saying: ‘Now look chaps, we will do this and that’. If I had they would have said: ‘Come on Kelly, you must have gone soft in the head to think that this is the way to do it. We would be better off if we did it this way.’ We would always have a discussion about the way something ought to be done. Maybe it is more difficult in great big units but I can see a lot of sense in a different attitude between union leadership and management in this regard.
We have to have responsible union leadership. This will be achieved in time if the leaders are aware of the economic facts of life and if they realise that the only thing that matters really - and I come back again and again to this - is getting a bigger economic cake. Once we have this we can argue about how the cake will be cut. Our main goal should be first of all to get a bigger economic cake. For goodness sake, as a country and as a Parliament we ought to concentrate our thinking on how to increase the size of the cake. There are so many things that we could do. I repeat that if we ran our farm like we run this country we would have gone broke years ago. Let us concentrate on one thing. I admit that there are other considerations besides the economic ones. I accept this. But when we are dealing with economic considerations we should concentrate on one thing - achieving a bigger economic cake. We can argue later about how that cake will be cut up.
Mr Deputy Speaker, you will remember that during the war plans were known to be afoot by the Germans to flood the English countryside with bank notes dropped from the air in an attempt to disrupt the British economy. The point I want to make is this: Any system which just says that we will have bigger money wages without any increase in productivity will have the same result. If I were a dictator and wanted to destroy the fibre and the structure of a country I would not have a revolution - I would just double wages every month. I think that this would have the same effect as it was hoped the dropping of bank notes would have had on England. I believe that this approach would destroy the whole fabric of our society. Let us come back to the basic consideration. If we are to have the kind of economic cake that we all know we ought to have there is only one thing that really matters, and that is to increase the productivity of our people. There are a number of ways in which productivity can be increased. I have mentioned only in passing the subject of tariffs and increasing the productivity of the work force. But there are other ways. If we spent less time abusing one another and more time on concentrating on the size of the economic cake I think that we would have a better chance of achieving this aim.
– I rise this afternoon to raise a matter” which I have spoken on previously in the House. It is a matter which concerns every Australian and one which has provided the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in particular with a great deal of publicity over the last few weeks. I refer to the question of atmospheric nuclear testing. I raised this matter before for 2 main reasons. Firstly 1 wanted to try to reduce the public hysteria and lack of knowledge about nuclear radiation. I did this by outlining the causes of radiation, both natural and man made. I would like to stress this point again because I think that there is a degree of public hysteria which is being whipped up most irresponsibly. Unfortunately the Attorney-General is by no means guiltless in this respect.
I would like to point out again that natural background radiation which every Australian is exposed to is of the order of 100 millirads a year whereas the total man made radiation which he is exposed to is in the order of between 2 and 4 millirads per year. I say this because there are a number of people, particularly pregnant women in Australia, who are extremely concerned about the effects of radiation upon their unborn children. Of course, they are not the only ones concerned.
However a number of constituents have written to me about this very point. I think it is of the utmost importance then that, when we are discussing what can become a most emotional issues, we keep a degree of objectivity in that discussion. The second reason I raised this matter was to stress my position against nuclear atmospheric testing by whatever country carries out this testing. As we know there are only 2 countries at present which test nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, and they are France and China. In my previous speech on this subject I said that we were right to protest against the French. I still think that we are right to do so. But I argue for the need for consistency. Unfortunately I have not been supported to any great extent by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), whose position with respect to Chinese atmospheric nuclear testing has been ambivalent in the extreme. Firstly, he put to us the extraordinary position that because China was in the northern hemisphere and the winds went one way in the northern hemisphere and the other way in the southern hemisphere the Chinese testing did not have any influence on Australia. This, of course, was swiftly shown to be wrong by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the geography of this planet. Then on 8 May he put forward the extraordinary position that there had been an oral protest to the Chinese Government about their tests. But when he was asked whether he would expect a reply, he said no, he would not expect a reply to his protest because it had been an oral protest and therefore there would not be any reply. On the 15th of this month he was forced to repudiate this statement. In a written answer to a question on the Senate notice paper he said that in fact the protest note had been a written protest note which had been handed to the Chinese Foreign Minister. But he did not in a further question in the House, when he admitted that it was a written note, then follow up the obvious response to that question and say when he expected a reply.
More information has been tabled by the Prime Minister on the effects of atmospheric nuclear testing and the resultant fall-out on Australia. A report dated April 1973 by the National Radiation Advisory Committee on Biological Aspects of Fall-out in Australia from French Nuclear Weapons Explosions in the Pacific, June-July, 1972, was tabled in this Parliament after I made my previous speech. I would like to quote from this report because I think it is very germane to my previous remarks about the need for objectivity and lack of panic when assessing the atmospheric fall-out from nuclear weapons on Australia. Paragraph 3 on page 2 of the report states: the Committee assessments of these data were embodied in the NRAC Reports in March 1967, December 1967, March 1969, March 1971 and July 1972 on Biological Aspects of Fall-out in Australia from French Nuclear Weapons Explosions in the Pacific. It was concluded that fall-out over Australia from these series of French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific did not constitute a hazard to the health of the Australian population.
The report goes on to stress on a number of occasions that the fall-out did not constitute a serious hazard to the Australian population. In paragraph 8 on page 4 the report states: . . monitoring of the nine major milk supplies gave no evidence of any sustained presence of iodine 131 following the tests. Further, the highest dose rcorded represented less than one four-hundredth of the dose to the thyroid which was the acceptable dose limit recommended in the NRAC Report of November 1965 to the Prime Minister. The NRAC concludes that these radioactive iodine doses do not constitute a hazard to the population.
Paragraph 9 of the report - and this is a very interesting section - states:
In relation to long-lived fall-out the situation is complicated by the fact that some parts of the very large injections of these isotopes by U.S., Soviet, and to a lesser extent British tests, are still appearing in Australia.
Here is an interesting point for the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam):
There is also a growing contribution of these materials from Chinese weapon testing.
That is from the report presented to the Prime Minister by the National Radiation Advisory Committe in April 1973. As we know, the Prime Minister commissioned the Australian Academy of Science to prepare a special report on nuclear fall-out, and I have a copy of that here. It is entitled: ‘The Biological Effects of Nuclear Explosion Fail-Out. Report to the Prime Minister, April 1973’. This again was after I had made my previous speech. I wish to quote a couple of passages from that report. I quote firstly, from the Summary, wherein the first conclusion states:
We find no reason to question the estimates of radioactive fall-out used in the reports from other authorities . . .
So the Academy is going along with reports previously presented to the Government by official bodies. Conclusion 3 states:
It is assumed (as all official reports have hitherto done) that the responses to the dose are proportional over the whole range. Australia, as the result of the French tests which have already taken place, could have -
And I stress the word ‘could’ -
One case of thyroid cancer per year due to the isotope iodine-131 and 1 to 4 other cancer cases per year due to strontium-90, caesium-137 and carbon-14.
The report goes on at page 5 - this is rather interesting, too - to talk about the deposit of long-lived isotopes from various atmospheric tests. It states: . . the longer lived isotopes will also be deposited on Australia from tests conducted in the northern hemisphere. Tests conducted in the northern hemisphere may be expected to deposit in the southern hemisphere roughly one-sixth of the long lived fission products which they inject into the stratosphere.
These 2 reports lead me to a position which I find necessary to state in this House. I am afraid there are complaints involved. Firstly, I complain very strenuously about the scare tactics which have been used by this Government and to a certain extent, I am afraid, by the Australian Academy of Science in presenting the case against French nuclear testing not only to this country but to the world at large. Conclusion 4 in the report of the Australian Academy of Science states:
We draw attention to the improbable event in which the explosion of a high-powered bomb was combined with quite exceptional meteorological conditions giving a high fall-out over Australia.
I stress the words: ‘improbable event . . . with quite exceptional meteorological conditions giving a high fall-out over Australia. The report goes on:
Though this would be a singular episode, some increase in the above figures would be expected.
The report goes on to deduce that higher figures for effects in relation to cancers in Australia could result from what the Academy says is an improbable event. The report does not say they would, it says they could. It also says: Other cancer cases due to the other isotopes could increase to much higher figures than at present levels of radiation. Mutations could lead to 2 deaths and disabilities per year in the first generation and to more than a thousand deaths and disabilities in all subsequent generations. A couple of aspects of this really worry me. Why would the Academy of Science put in as one of its conclusions a hypothetical case when it is supposed to be presenting to the Prime Minister and to this Parliament a factual case? Why would it present a hypothetical situation? Let us see what the French said about this. In another paper presented in the Parliament entitled ‘Biological Effects of Nuclear Explosion Fail-Out - Report of Meeting between Australian and French Scientists, the French were very restrained. They stated under the heading ‘Biological Interpretation’:
The risk calculated from observations made following high doses of radiation and without taking into account the various considerations described above therefore represents the upper limit of risk and not the actual risk. The actual risk may be considerably lower it may be nil.
This was not mentioned in the report of the Australian Academy of Science. It stressed the upper limits and probabilities. It did not put the other side of the case, which is that the risk may be considerably lower or nil. With reference to the hypothetical case presented as a conclusion by the Academy of Science, the French scientists had this to say:
The 2 groups examined the problems posed by the existence of temporary unusual occurrences in the behaviour of the atmosphere which, as the Australian Academy of Science report indicates, could cause, for a given Jest, over a limited region, fall-out higher than that observed simultaneously in the surrounding areas.
For this effect to happen, the occurrence of these atmospheric peculiarities, which are moreover rare, must coincide with the simultaneous presence, in very exact locations, of radioactive cloud.
The French group presented the results of studies of experiments on this complex problem carried out in France; certain of these results have been published by the French Academy of Science.
The French experts judge that because of the relative geographic position of Australia and the test zone as well as the meteorological constraints imposed on those conducting the experiments-
And this is important - it is highly improbable, if not impossible, that this effect could lead to a noticeable increase in fall-out over the Australian continent.
Moreover, this phenomenon has not been observed in Australia during previous tests. As for the rare cases observed in the northern hemisphere, only a low increase (of the order of a few per cent) in dose commitments has resulted, because of the temporary and local character of the increase in radioactivity.
The French very nicely point to the rather low standard of academic objectivity in the presentation of the report by the Australian Academy of Science. But what does the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, do with these figures? This is what really concerns me. The Attorney-General of this country says: Australians are going to pay with their lives’. This was said in a case before the International Court of Justice. Not even the seemingly biased report of the Academy of
Science goes that far. It says that it could or it may happen; it does not say that it will happen. However, the good Attorney-General is not deterred by this fact at all. He says that Australians are going to pay with their lives.
We should get into perspective the possible effects of nuclear fall-out. Let me give some actuarial figures on the risk of death in any one year in Australia. These figures put the case in perspective for people who are frightened about radio active fall-out from atmosperhic nuclear tests. The risk of death from lung cancer in any year in Australia is 1 in 4,000; from car accidents it is 1 in 5,000; from leukaemia due to natural causes it is 1 in 15,000; from drowning it is 1 in 23,000 from murder it is 1 in 100,000; from leukaemia due to the fall-out from all tests carried out so far it is 1 in 45 million; from .leukaemia due to the fall-out from the French tests it is 1 in 500 million. People who are worried about these things should keep these facts in mind. I have said earlier that I believe the report of the Australian Academy of Science is open to a great deal of question. Knowing some of the people on this body, I am surprised that they have put their names to it. I just hope that they were not subject to too much political pressure in their compilation of this report.
It is also interesting to note that the Government, despite its open government policy, has not released 2 other reports on the effects of French testing on Australia. One is the independent report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which, I am told, has been given to the Prime Minister. It has not been released to the Australian public. The other is the report of 3 people who were sent to the French test site - 2 public servants and a person from an academic establishment. They actually journeyed to the French test site to report on the measures taken to ensure the cleanest - if one can use that word - possible testing. This report has not been released either. Let us look at one other aspect of the Government’s position; that is, its position in relation to the Chinese.
Remembering that Academy of Science report, let us consider these figures: The total injection of nuclear fission products so far into the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere comes to approximately 511 megatons. From the Academy’s own report, we can assume that one-sixth of this will find its way into the southern hemisphere. That gives us approximately 85 megatons in the southern hemisphere. The total amount of nuclear products injected into the atmosphere by the Chinese tests was 12.6 megatons. Taking again the Academy’s figures of one-sixth, we would get an injection into the southern hemisphere from the Chinese tests of 2.1 megatons.
The French so far have injected into the atmosphere 7.6 megatons. So rather than the very low figures that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has sought to portray the Chinese as having contributed, in fact the Chinese tests contributed more like one-quarter of the nuclear fallout on Australia of the French total. Compare this with the one-sixth which the Prime Minister indicated was the figure. He first said it was one-tenth and upgraded it to one-sixth but in fact the real figure is closer to one-quarter. I think it is rather interesting that the New Zealanders say it is closer to one-third, but let us give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. There is very little doubt that the Chinese contributed closer to one-quarter as much of the nuclear fallout as did the French.
So under any measurement, there is a very real case for Australia being consistent in its opposition to atmospheric nuclear testing and, if we are going to the extreme of taking the French to the World Court, we should certainly place a much stronger protest with the Chinese than the one which was firstly described as an oral protest to which, therefore, we would receive no reply and which secondly was seen to be a written protest and to which still we do not know whether we are to receive any reply. We certainly do not know whether there is to be any follow-up action.
Let us take just one other aspect of this issue. The Australian Labor Party prides itself on its concern for all mankind. It is not a narrow, insular Party, confined to the shores of Australia. No, by jove, it is going to make its mark on the world. The Prime Minister is going to bestride the diplomatic world like a Colossus. Australia is really going to make its position felt. If that is so - if we are talking as we should about the real damage to mankind as a whole - let us analyse 2 interesting aspects of the countries which are testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. I refer firstly to test sites. The position of the Chinese test site means that fallout from the Chinese tests goes across the most highly populated portion of the earth’s surface. The fallout goes right across China - its own country - and then goes immediately across Japan and finally on to the North American continent and around on to Europe. Therefore, the fallout from the Chinese tests affects literally thousands of times more people than do the French tests carried out on their site in the southern hemisphere. So there is no comparison on world figures or world effects between the 2 countries. If we are to be consistent - if this Prime Minister is to have any credibility in the eyes not only of Australians but also of the world - then he must protest to the Chinese as well as to the French.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 6) 1972-73 Second Reading
Consideration resumed from 11 April (vide page 1320) on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1891), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 9 May (vide page 1891), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 2380), on motion by Mr Whitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House seeks to amend section 88 of the Public Service Act 1922-1973 and the Second and Third Schedules to the Act. The Opposition welcomes the amendments to the Public Service Act made by this Bill. The amendments to section 88 relate to situations where the holder of a Public Service office who is required to exercise and perform powers and functions under some other Act or regulation is absent and it becomes necessary for another officer to act temporarily in the office. The current procedures under section 88 require a direction in writing under the Public Service Act and regulations to act in the office and also a direction from the Governor-General in respect of the statutory powers and functions, even though those statutory powers and functions form part of the duties of the office.
The Opposition agrees that procedures will be simplified if the officer who holds a direction under the Public Service Act and regulations to perform the duties of the office is able to exercise and perform the statutory powers and functions that form part of those duties without requiring a separate direction by the Governor-General. In view of the creation of new departments and the change in name of other departments that has occurred since the lists of departments and Permanent Heads of departments in the Second and Third Schedules to the Public Services Act were last amended, the Opposition considers that the amendments in the Bill updating these Schedules is both appropriate and timely.
Although the Opposition supports the terms of the Bill before the House we wish to outline our strongest objection to 2 aspects of the Government’s administration of the Public Service. Firstly, I refer to the Government’s use of the Public Service as a pacesetter in the determination of wages and salaries. The Opposition believes that terms and conditions of employment in the Public Service should in all aspects be competitive with conditions generally applicable throughout the community. We believe that the Government must be an enlightened and progressive employer and that there is no reason why it should lag behind the general community in terms of management policy. However, it is quite contrary to the public interest for the Government to use the Public Service as a tool to increase terms and conditions of employment in other areas. Repeated statements by Ministers of this Government have demonstrated that the pacesetter principle, already manifest by legislative and administrative actions, is to be pursued as a matter of Government policy. The Opposition completely rejects this policy and we regard its application as detrimental to the national interest and contrary to the established principle that the Public Service should not be used for the political objectives of governments. Secondly, the Government has on a number of occasions sought to interfere with the traditional and long established independence of the Public Service Board. There has been abundant evidence of the Government’s overt desire to politicise the activities and policy of the Public Service Board. The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) in particular has sought to coerce the Board on a number of very significant issues. On 15 May the Minister made this statement in this House:
To me it is outrageous that the Commonwealth Public Service should seek to take advantage of the phasing in period which the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission gave to private employers for the purpose of introducing equal pay for the sexes. What right has a government instrumentality like the Public Service Board to treat itself as the spearhead of employer attack upon employees and trade unions? It has absolutely no right to play that sort of role in the affairs of the nation.
The Minister later in his speech made it clear that he intended his remarks as a threat to the Board. He said: - but I hope that the Public Service Board is listening. I will send it a copy of my speech, which is the best way to make representations. I hope that the Board will take note of what I have Just said.
They are the words of the Minister for Labour speaking in this House. He is a senior member of the Cabinet. They demonstrate full well that the Government has a very misconceived view of the statutory role of the Public Service Board. It performs in the national interest a more significant role than that of a mere arm of government, as the Minister for Labour would lead this House to believe. It derives its independence from the belief that no government can operate without certain restraints. The Opposition adheres to the principles and precepts which govern the statutory role of the Public Service Board. In this House and in the Senate we will take strong action to protect that role, as we have already done during this session. Whilst we have those strong reservations concerning 2 aspects of the Government’s administration of the Public Service, the Opposition supports the Bill for the reasons I have mentioned to the House.
– I was most interested in the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), who stated mat the Opposition supports the Bill. He said that procedures will be simplified. I wholeheartedly agree with him, but the thought entered my mind when he was speaking that although the present Opposition was 23 years in office it made no attempt at all to streamline procedures as has been done by this Government. I wish to reply to some points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He said that the Opposition rejects the policy of using the Public Service as a pace setter. I suggest that that is the real difference between the Opposition and the Government. The Government accepts that the Commonwealth Public Service should be a pace setter. Before entering this Parliament I worked for 34 years in the Commonwealth Public Service. During that period I was frustrated as an official of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association by the attitudes of the previous Government. It went before arbitration tribunals and actively opposed propositions which had been put forward by registered unions and organisations. One wonders why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should now say that the Public Service Board should not be used as an arm of government. The present Opposition when in office used the Public Service Board as an arm of government, as abundant evidence has established. For instance, I refer to the arbitral determinations affecting the Commonwealth Public Service by the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. They show that the present Opposition when in office was active against salary increases and improvements in working conditions.
I turn now to the Bill. Due credit must be given to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for once again introducing legislation which will streamline the procedures applicable to the administrative practices of the Commonwealth Public Service. This Bill is another indication of the clear thinking which commenced on 2 December 1972 upon the election of a Labor Government. No action was taken by previous Liberal-Country Party governments which for 23 years held the reigns of office to introduce what should have been clearly apparent to them as a simple procedural measure. The position is, prior to the passage of this legislation, that where a permanent head of a department is absent or unavailable, or when an office is vacant, the GovernorGeneral may, under Public Service Regulation 116 direct another officer to perform on a temporary basis the duties of that office. However, where the duties comprise the exercise of statutory powers and functions under other Acts, those powers and functions at present cannot be performed and exercised unless there is also a written direction by the Governor-General under section 88 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
By amending section 88 this Bill obtains the same result without the necessity for such action by the Governor-General. It is quite a simple amendment of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Is it any wonder that the Australian people have realised, as evidenced by the most recently published Australian National Opinion Poll figures, that the Federal Labor Government under the Prime Ministership of Mr Whitlam is the most constructive and progressive government of this decade? I am certain that His Excellency the Governor-General will appreciate the fact that this Bill will lessen the paper work thrust upon him. He must surely have sufficient paper work to perform without any additional unnecessary paper work.
Another matter I wish to raise affects the people who occupy the positions of permanent heads of departments as set out in
Schedule 3 of the Bill. The salaries and allowances of permanent heads, with the exception of 5 positions, were altered by the Remuneration and Allowances Act No. 14 of 1973. Two of the exceptions are the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Clerk of the Senate. 1 hope that I am not creating any personal embarrassment to either of those distinguished gentlemen by raising these matters. I am pleased that the Clerk of the House of Representatives is not present in the chamber at the moment as I might embarrass him by raising these matters. All permanent heads of departments as set out in Schedule 3, but not including the Clerk of theHouse of Representatives and the Clerk of the Senate, receive a salary of $29,250 a year and an additional annual allowance of $1,750, making a total of $31,000 a year. The Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Clerk of the Senate, who are classified as permanent heads of a department under Schedule 3 of the Bill, receive $22,012 a year, with no allowances at all. This means that the permanent heads of all departments other than those of this Parliament receive $8,988 more than the most senior office holders of our Parliament. In practical terms this also lowers their status.
It is possible that the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Clerk of the Senate have felt reticent about raising such matters with all the governments which they have served so capably and faithfully. However, I feel that these matters should be drawn to the attention of members of Parliament, who are the legislators. For the information of honourable members I would like it placed on record that the same situation does not apply in other parliaments of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Clerks of the House of Commons and the House of Lords are given the full status and salary of a permanent head. This policy also applies to the Clerks of both Houses of the Parliament of Canada.
The argument can be put with a great deal of validity that the status of the most senior office holders of this Parliament - the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Clerk of the Senate - should not be placed in a position less favourable than that of the permanent heads of other departments as set out in Schedule 3 of the Bill. Unless this situation is rectified it will as a natural consequence denigrate the status of the Parliament itself. I hope that when these matters of status and salary are next considered by the Government the matters I have raised will receive the consideration that they undoubtedly deserve. I commend the initiative of the Government in bringing Public Service Bill (No. 2) before this House for its consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24 May (vide page 2639), on motion by Mr CJyde Cameron:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I should like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this. Bill and the Public Service Bill (No. 3) as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Order! Is it the wish of the House to debate the subject matter of the 2 Bills together? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill 1973 in essence provides for 12 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay for all female Commonwealth public servants. It also provides for one week’s paternity leave for all male Commonwealth public servants. The terms of the Bill emanate, in the first instance, from the Federal platform of the Australian Labor Party and, more recently, from tht policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). While the Opposition does not oppose the Bill it must emphasise that the Government, in its introduction of the Bill, used the terms of Convention No. 103 of the Internationa] Labour Organisation in a misleading manner. In order that that fact should be self-evident to the House I seek leave to have Articles (1.) to (7.) of Convention No. 103 incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
For the purpose of this Convention, the term industrial undertaking’ comprises public and private undertakings and any branch thereof and includes particularly:
For the purpose of this Convention, the term non-industrial occupations’ includes all occupations which are carried on in or in connection with the following undertakings or services, whether public or private:
Convention applies to an undertaking, branch of an undertaking or occupation, the question shall be determined by the competent authority after consultation with the representative organisations of employers and workers concerned where such exist.
For the purpose of this Convention, the term woman’ means any female person, irrespective of age, nationality, race or creed, whether married or unmarried, and the term ‘child’ means any child whether born of marriage or not.
While a woman is absent from work on maternity leave in accordance with the provisions of Article 3 of this convention, it shall not be lawful for her employer to give her notice of dismissal during such absence, or to give her notice of dismissal at such a time that the notice would expire during such absence.
Any Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention may, by a declaration accompanying its ratification, provide for exceptions from the application of the Convention in respect of:
– I thank the House. Convention No. 103 provides for cash and medical benefits to be paid through compulsory social insurance or public funds and that the benefits rates should be fixed by national law. This provision is designed to ensure that a maternity protection scheme should not make the employment of females more expensive for the employer than the employment of males, so giving cause for discrimination against female labour. The Convention further provides that any contributions to a social insurance scheme or any special tax imposed to raise funds must be raised in respect of the total number of men and women employed by the undertakings concerned without distinctions of sex. Moreover, the Convention does not provide for maternity leave on full pay. This Bill does. The Convention is not restricted in its application to women in government employment. This Bill is. The Convention does provide for benefits other than cash benefits. This Bill does not. The Convention does entail the establishment of social security schemes financed in a prescribed manner. This Bill does not. The Convention provides for a woman to interrupt her work after the termination of her maternity leave for the purpose of nursing her child. This Bill does not.
The Bill leaves scope for abuse in that it allows for the possibility of women joining the Commonwealth Public Service when pregnant in order to take advantage of the very considerable concessions which are proposed in this legislation. The Opposition believes that this situation will require careful examination by the Government on the basis of experience gained in the administration of the Act. The Bill typifies the modus operandi of a government which is committed to supporting employee benefits which entail the addition of $6,000m to the national wages and salaries bill but which appears totally incapable of submitting to the national Parliament a detailed plan of implementation incorporating clearly defined priorities. It must, of course, be fundamental to the principles of economic management that government initiatives be introduced according to plan. The Government lays a major claim to the principles of economic planning as a means of ensuring the achievement of social conditions. There has been no definition of national goals and objectives and the manner in which labour policies are being formulated in sympathy with those goals and objectives. What this Parliament is being subjected to are the results of an ad hoc approach, a series of proposals presented in isolation. It is, therefore, a matter of deep regret that the Government is unable, in one of its central policy departments, to put before the national Parliament an integrated and meaningful philosophy for the achievement of improved standards and conditions of work.
There has been no attempt by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) to articulate the wider concepts entailed in the Bill and the likely effects which this type of legislation will have on the pattern of society. There has been insufficient discussion of the initiatives which might be taken to assist women with children in their employment, either in the Commonwealth or in the private sector. If the Government has serious concern for the problems created for working women in caring for their families it ought to be more closely examining the concept of work recycling as distinct from the total number of working hours on a 5-day week basis. The principle of work recycling, or mobile time scheduling, would have particular benefits. Fixed times of arrival and departure are replaced by a working day which is split into two different types of time. The main part of the day, termed the core time, is the only period when employees must be at their jobs. The remaining working hours at the beginning and end of each day are termed flexible time when each employee can choose when to arrive and leave. You will know Mr Speaker, that this is the subject of serious examination in many advanced countries which are concerned with examining the question of the recycling of hours as district from an overall reduction in the size of the working week.
The Government also might have considered the employment of women on the basis of an optional number of working days per week. That is, during the period when a woman has a young family it may be possible for employment to be provided on the basis of a 2 or 3-day working week. This is a concept that is well-developed in the private sector of the general community. The Minister also failed to indicate whether his Department has conducted any form of needs survey among working women in the Commonwealth Public Service to determine those forms of assistance which they regard as being most important An employer who was concerned about the welfare of his staff would first ascertain what the employees regarded as important priorities, but this the Government has failed to do.
Finally, the Minister once again omitted to provide the House with a detailed costing of the proposals in the Bill. This was the case with the Bill introduced earlier this session providing for 4 weeks leave to Commonwealth public servants. Surely it is incumbent on any Government to provide the Parliament with basic information concerning the cost of its legislative proposals. The Opposition does not assert that the question of costing must be exclusive in terms of decisions but it remains highly relevant when the economy’s inflationary difficulties are causing widespread concern throughout the community. It has been estimated that the cost to the community of this Bill, having in mind its flow-on effects, could exceed $32m. It was only after considerable probing during the Minister’s second reading speech that he admitted to a costing of $3. 3m per annum so far as the Public Service was concerned. In terms of the Bill’s flow-on effects it is of no real consequence that the Minister assured the House in unequivocal terms that the Government would oppose it. He knows full well the limits of the Commonwealth jurisdiction. He is, of course, very aware of the considerable impact that the Commonwealth Public Service can have as a pacesetter in the public sector in the determination of wages and conditions of employment. The flow-on of proposals operating in that sector can have a heavy and considerable impact on the private sector.
The Government must examine closely the inflationary consequences of each of its legislative proposals. The actual rate of inflation now exceeds 8 per cent per annum and that rate was established before the national wage decision which has added approximately 5.5 per cent to average wages. In addition the current labour shortages are occurring at a time when the economy no longer has a sufficiently large inflow of migration to take the pressure off the labour market. The Government must realise that the iniquity of inflation is that it inflicts the most harmful effects on the very people in the community whom governments have a direct obligation to assist. The totality of this Government’s social welfare program can easily be nullified by the effects of inflation. Yet the Government apparently proposes to continue to fiddle while the inflationary pressures take on ever more pressing dimensions.
Equally importantly, the Minister has failed to consider this Bill in its proper social context. The Opposition does not regard the question of maternity leave solely as an industrial benefit, because to consider the proposition in that way is to introduce an element of positive discrimination in favour of working women who raise a family. Those women receive benefits while women who choose to be housewives do not. Simply because the quantitative measurement of economic activity - that is, the gross national product - does not measure the unpaid production of goods and services by the housewife, a large proportion of services is not included. For example, the man who marries his housekeeper lowers the gross national product and consequentially the measured output of the economy, although his wife continues to produce the same level of goods and services as she previously produced on a paid basis. The Opposition believes that society has a direct responsibility to ensure that the dual role of the working woman who becomes pregnant does not affect her health or that of her child. Equally, we have an obligation to ensure that non-working women have equal access to society’s resources for the provision of necessary benefits.
In the same manner as the Bill discriminates against the non-working woman it discriminates between the high wage earner and the low wage earner by gearing maternity leave to normal pay. It is for this reason that the International Labour Organisation convention does not contemplate that maternity leave be accompanied by a continuance of salary but rather by cash and medical benefits geared to the general needs associated with maternity. The ‘Aus tralian Financial Review’ commented in its editorial this morning:
Twelve weeks’ leave on good pay for the well-paid woman, on low pay for the low-paid woman and on no pay for the unpaid woman worker might not be a palatable proposition to women generally.
The Bill also discriminates in favour of those women who are able to return to work and against those who need to return but are unable to do so because of the unavailability of satisfactory child care arrangements.
The child care scheme introduced by the former Government was designed specifically to provide assistance to working women. It is a matter of very great regret that the present Government has failed to promote that program as a matter of high national priority. Several questions which I have placed on notice to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) have, to this stage of the parliamentary session, been totally ignored. The Opposition is concerned that the child care program is not progressing to the time-table which was contemplated at its inception. Maternity is a social contingency not arising out of any particular industrial situation. It is for this reason that the question should be considered as part of a general examination of the role of women in contemporary Australian society. Throughout society today there is certainly a conflict between the traditional role of women and the opportunities now available to women as a consequence of education, smaller families and the greater range of suitable work provided by modern technology.
It is demonstrable that women today are still subject to very considerable prejudices. After all, it was not until the second half of the nineteenth century that scientists demonstrated that both parents made equivalent conributions to a child’s biological inheritance. Philosophers throughout history postulated the existence of an inferior feminine nature’. The 3 principal influences which have shaped Western society - Greek philosophy, Roman law and Judao-Christian theology - have each held almost axiomatically that women are inferior to men. But we know now that, aside from physical differences, there has been no scientific proof of differences, either psychlogical or intellectual, in the genetic inheritance of men and women. Yet women’s child bearing functions undoubtedly have served as the basis of restrictions and discrimination.
The simple fact is that for a very long period of time women have been treated as second class citizens in Australian society. Industry has yet to face up to its proper responsibilities in the employment of women and the advancement of their careers. It is both in their self-interest and in the interest of the nation at large that the resources of women should be utilised more fully than they have been, notwithstanding the trends and developments of recent years. There is an increasing feeling by women that their aspirations and rights are being frustrated by the present political, economic and social structures of this country. This Parliament itself provides a salient example of a major structure of society in which women have had a minimal involvement and therefore is seen by many women to represent a narrow and unsympathetic legislative authority. In the terms of the Government’s social services program, the needs of the pregnant woman regrettably are going very much by default.
This Bill can be seen only as a totally inadequate and isolated response to those needs which must be examined by the Government if there is to be an adequate response to the special problems faced by women in today’s society. It was in recognition of these special problems in the work force that in 1963 the former Government established in the Department of Labour a women’s section which subsequently, in 1967, became the Women’s Bureau. In view of this, it was more than a matter of surprise that the present AttorneyGeneral, Senator Murphy, made an election promise on behalf of the Australian Labor Party in November 1972 stating that a Labor government would introduce and establish a women’s bureau in the Department of Labour. This comment was the logical corollary of a party which remains an almost exclusive male preserve and which has taken a traditionally narrow view of the problems confronting women in Australian society. The Women’s Bureau was established because of the significant increase in the size of the female work force in Australia. Through the Bureau we actively sought ways to enable women in the community to play a role in the labour force commensurate with the talents and the many resources which they have to offer.
Based on the research initiatives of the Bureau, the previous Government introduced substantial measures in such important areas as employment training and, not least, the child care facilities program. It must also be made clear that the former Government made social provisions for all women in respect of childbirth in the forms of a maternity allowance and child endowment. The maternity allowance takes the form of a lump sum cash payment made at the time of a birth. In addition, it made provision for any pregnant woman without another source of income to be eligible for a ‘special benefit’. This is payable from 12 weeks prior to the expected date of confinement until 6 weeks after the delivery. During this time a women may receive $17 a week. At the present time in the Commonwealth Public Service a pregnant woman is entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks maternity leave and she must take 6 weeks leave before the expected date of confinement and 6 weeks leave after the date of confinement. Maternity leave, per se, is without pay. However, officers may utilise whatever paid leave has accrued to them, such as recreation leave, sick leave and long service leave. It also can be pointed out that the New South Wales Public Service provides paid maternity leave for its female employees.
I have outlined these provisions which now exist because they demonstrate that the former Government sought on a continuing basis to make provision for the maternity problems of women. -It also sought to do this in the framework of general social legislation. The Opposition does not agree with the way in which this Bill has been introduced as an isolated industrial benefit. The needs of women in the Australian community are too important to be “treated in isolation. They must be subject to a concerted program by the Government and which will place the needs of pregnant women in what must be the Government’s response to the total needs of women everywhere in the Australian society. In view of the benefits which are provided to women in the Commonwealth Public Service, and for the reasons I mentioned, the Opposition does not oppose the passage of this Bill.
– It is gratifying, I suppose, to note that the Opposition is not opposing this legislation. I rather gained the impression, however, from the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) that his support was very much along the line of the Mark Anthony speech. Whilst supporting the proposition, he found many queries to raise and many obstacles to place in its way. He had much criticism to make of the present Government Much of that criticism, indeed the overwhelming majority of it, is completely without any foundation. He seeks to take upon himself the role of praising the former Government in which of course he was responsible for this type of legislation. He put it that the former Government had been very concerned to assist women in employment in respect of their training and child care. The position really is that the previous Government ignored the difficulties of families. It. completely ignored the maternity benefits now being paid. It made only passing reference to and expressed only passing concern for the payment of child endowment. It in fact left the family man to find his own feet and do the best he could.
That sort of approach is not one which is consistent with allowing the Opposition to attack this Government in its concern for families and those members of families who are forced to work. In fact in this day and age, m spite of all the modern technology, we find that the average family needs to spend more time at work to provide for the needs of that family than did our grandfathers and great grandparents a hundred years ago. It was necessary in those days for the breadwinner to work 60 hours a week to provide for the needs of the family unit. Today we find that the male in the family unit is working a standard week of 40 hours and an average amount of overtime of 4.3 hours. In more than one-third of the cases the wife is also working for up to 40 hours a week. So it can be seen that on the average the working week of the family has been extended in order to provide for the basic needs of the family unit. This Bill represents a significant step towards the removal of a very grave aspect of discrimination against women in employment. It is restricted in many ways. It is confined to employees in the Commonwealth Public Service.
– What about domestic working women?
Mir RIORDAN- I will come to the question of domestic working women. It was hoped during their period of office in this Parliament of some 23 years, a full generation, the friends of the honourable member may have shown some concern for domestic work ing women and may have taken some economic steps which would have avoided the necessity for so many of our women to be in employment today. I believe that even a cursory glance at the available statistics will establish beyond any shadow of a doubt that the overwhelming majority of female employees who are married are continuing in employment to do no more than to supplement the family income and so to provide the basic needs. So it ill behoves the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) or any other honourable member opposite, after the long period that they had in government and during which they refused to do anything to assist the family unit, now to criticise this Government which is in its early stages. As a community we should ensure that the mother’s role should be made easier rather than harder.
Although this provision will apply only to the Commonwealth Public Service in the immediate sense it will allow a useful sociological and economic experiment to be undertaken in this community. The result of this experiment will be a very useful guide for others in the future. I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that once the success of this experiment is illustrated and once its benefits are so obvious to the community as a whole others will follow suit. 1 sincerely hope that that will be so. But of course this legislation can only have an effect within the Commonwealth Public Service. At the present time there is provision for maternity leave in the Commonwealth Public Service but it is confined to certain groups. It is much more limited than the provision of this Bill and it also applies only to those who are classified as permanent. On the other hand those who are classified as temporary employees, which is the way in which some employees are described although they may have given many years of service, are not entitled to receive any benefit.
The provisions of this Bill are consistent with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation made in 1919 and therefore deserves to be supported by all sections of the Community. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition attacked the Bill as being inconsistent with the provisions of the appropriate ILO Convention. The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) did not state that it was identical with the ILO Convention. What the Minister was concerned to point out was that this was consistent with that convention, and so it is. The ILO Convention is designed to overcome discrimination against married women in employment who have families, and this legislation certainly does that.
We should have regard to the fact that women workers are playing an increasingly significant role in the Australian economy. The introduction of more advanced technology has resulted in a greater demand for female labour. The result is that one-third of all married women are now included in the national labour force. Married women now represent a far greater proportion of the female work force. In 1933 only 5.4 per cent of women workers in Australia were married. In 1947 this percentage had increased to 15.3 per cent of the total female work force. But in 1971 almost 60 per cent of all female workers in Australia were married.
It is also of considerable significance in considering this type of legislation to realise that the latest figures show that 8.3 per cent of all children born in 1970 had unmarried mothers. This is double the percentage in 1948. This illustrates that in this type of legislation we have not only concern for those who are part of a married family unit but also a growing concern for unmarried mothers in this community. I say without hesitation, for my own part that these young women need protection, sympathy and encouragement and they deserve to be assisted back into employment after the period of their confinement. In 1970, 15,000 children were borne by single mothers between the ages of 15 and 24 years. This provision will help those young mothers. If it did nothing else but assist those in that position it would certainly be worth while.
We also must recognise and take account of the fact that there are more than half a million married women in employment whose ages are between 25 and 44 years. As the average marrying age has decreased from 25.5 years in 1948 to 21.4 in 1971, it can be seen from an examination of available statistics that the great majority of married women return to employment to supplement the family income. It is true that some return to employment to follow a career or to take up where they left off in the pursuit of a career or where they left off in some professional pursuit. But the undeniable fact is that one income is no longer sufficient to satisfy the needs of most family units.
Other countries have given earlier attention to this matter. Sweden, Switzerland, certain provinces in Canada, some States in the United States of America, to name a few, have tackled this problem and looked at it in one way or another. Indeed some 68 countries have made some provision for maternity benefits in this or similar ways. If married women were forced to abandon employment for whatever reason the capacity of Australian industry and commerce would be shattered. The Australian economy at the present time is dependent on large numbers of married women being in active employment. Maternity leave is but one aspect of the many difficulties currently facing working mothers. In this I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. My disagreement with him is that for 23 years his colleagues and he had the opportunity actively to do something about the problem and they did nothing. They refused to tackle this problem in any concerted way.
The absence of adequate child minding facilities is a major problem in itself. It is a major inhibition and a major difficulty for married mothers. In a survey conducted by the Bureau of Census and Statistics in 1969 it was found that 400,000 working mothers had responsibility for children under 12 years of age. Of 270,000 children of working mothers who were under 6 years of age only 7 per cent were placed in child care centres. The results showed that 91,500 women with children under 6 years of age said that they would work if suitable child minding facilities were available. I remind the honourable gentlemen opposite that 1969 was 3 years before the Deputy Leader of the Opposition moved out of the Ministry and this fact was known then. His effort, significant though it may have been, was indeed very small and very slight.
Maternity leave does not overcome the problem, but it does remove a barrier to happy motherhood. The mother is able to leave work and after making alternative arrangements for the care of her child may return to employment without the economic losses which used to be involved. These mothers will not have to start all over again on an incremental salary scale, for example. They are to be re-employed in their former positions or at a level as near as possible to them if the former positions are not available. The concept of this Bill is to provide fair greater equality of opportunity for women. It removes from the Commonwealth Public Service a selective and camouflaged discrimination which has no place in the Australian way of life. It recognises that the birth of an Australian child is something to be encouraged. It represents a community benefit both economically and culturally. It illustrates that the Government is placing a far greater emphasis on the quality of life.
This Government can be seen to be actively pursuing the goal of achieving happiness in our community. It will allow young women to have their children and return to employment either to pursue a career or to provide funds for the purchase of a house or some other necessity of life. We cannot, as a Parliament, ignore the economic strains and pressures on young couples today. The cost of providing the basic necessities of life has increased so dramatically that they frequently cannot be provided through one wage or salary. The concept of this Bill is to make life a little easier for those families of which the mother has to work. When measuring the cost of granting this leave one must take into account the enormous savings in both direct and indirect costs of training new and inexperienced employees. I for one would have been much more impressed with the criticism of the cost of this legislation if some attempt had been made at least to acknowledge that the cost to Australian industry of training new employees when married women leave employoment is enormous and is an enormous strain on government expenditure in the Commonwealth Public Service.
Women workers returning to employment after absence on maternity leave need virtually no additional training in order to recommence employment. Of course, the Bill also provides for parental leave for the father. This is another move which is to be encouraged. Frequently there is a situation of grave sociological consequences when young children are left virtually unattended while the mother is absent in hospital during her confinement. In every social reform there has been some reluctance and fear. Neither is justified in this case. This Bill is a milestone in my view in the drive against discrimination. It removes an obstacle to female career employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. It must be gratifying to all those who for so many years have fought and struggled against discrimination against female employees to know that on this occasion this legislation will pass through this Parliament without opposition and that it will have support, in varying degrees of vigour, from all members on both sides of this Parliament.
– This Bill is designed to provide 12 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay for Commonwealth Government employees. The Australian Country Party accepts the position as outlined by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), when he spoke on behalf of the Opposition, that these benefits are provided for Commonwealth employees to enable them to prepare on full pay for confinement and to have some 6 weeks on full pay following the birth of the child to make satisfactory arrangements for a return to work. Because of these purposes we do not oppose the Bill. There is every justification for providing these benefits. By all means let us give adequate assistance to pregnant women in the period prescribed in the Bill. But let these benefits be spread over all our pregnant women who need and deserve such assistance and not merely over the privileged section of the work force as defined in this Bill.
My concern is not that the benefits are being provided for Commonwealth employees but that only Commonwealth employees will enjoy these benefits. Following the very substantially improved benefits proposed for Commonwealth employees under the Compensation Bill, it is fair, I believe, to ask the question: Does this Government intend to make one section of the work force a very privileged section of the community and disregard the claims of other sections of the work force for similar benefits? I submit that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Government are showing no concern for employees outside the Public Service as far as this benefit is concerned. That is clear from the remarks contained in the Minister’s second reading speech on this Bill, which I can quote. This remark came as a result of question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Minister said:
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked whether there would be any flow-on. The answer is no, there cannot be a flow-on to private employers. It is impossible to have a flow-on. Indeed, if any attempt were made to bring about a flow-on to private employers as a consequence of this, the Government would oppose it. If the matter came before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the Government would be prepared to intervene and officially to oppose it.
– The honourable member for Phillip wants it to flow on, though.
– That is the point that he was emphasising. The honourable member for Phillip said that he would come to some point in reply to an interjection, but we did not hear much about it, although he did mention the International Labour Organisation. However I shall continue with the quotation from the Minister’s second reading speech. He continued:
It would be contrary to the ILO Convention. It would be something which would be detrimental, I would think, in the long run, to employees themselves if it did flow on. The short answer to the interjection which, in a way, I am glad the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made, is that there will no flow-on to private employers.
I think that surely must clearly demonstrate that the Government is not concerned with the employees or women generally outside the Commonwealth Public Service in the provision of these benefits. I believe that this blatantly discriminatory attitude against the work force outside the Public Service is to be deplored. Despite what the Minister said I consider that maternity benefits should be paid to all women who need and deserve them. A scheme should be established through contributions by industry and the Government which would enable this to be done in a way which would have the least detrimental effect on the economy.
This brings me to a particularly important aspect of the benefits to be provided for the work force generally. The fact is that we must have a priority of application of benefits. We have to create those benefits and maintain them within the limits of sound economic principles. I also consider that a much more equitable method of providing maternity allowance would be to make that allowance at the same rate to all women who are in need of it rather than at a rate determined by the actual rate of pay received by the woman involved. The provisions in the Bill would obviously favour a woman receiving a higher rate of pay by comparison with a woman on a lower rate of pay. Surely this is the type of principle the Government has been advocating down the years. Yet when it has the opportunity to implement such a policy it does not. It neglects this opportunity. I see that the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) is nodding agreement to this proposition.
An extremely important adjunct to maternity allowances for those mothers who want to resume work is the provision of more child minding centres. I know that this has been mentioned previously, but this aspect of the problem of working mothers must be resolved in order to enable them to come back into employment after they have received the benefits set out in this Bill. Because this factor apparently has not been taken into consideration it draws attention to the ad hoc piecemeal approach to legislation which provides benefits to sections of the community. It is a careless approach to an important aspect of government. It is careless to the point of irresponsibility. This irresponsibility is highlighted by the fact that, as was mentioned previously by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, no mention has been made of the cost to the taxpayers to provide the benefits envisaged by this Bill.
I do not believe that we would necessarily reject a proposal because of the costs involved, but if we are to debate any Bill adequately - I mentioned this previously in the debate on the Compensation Bill - I think we should have some assessment of the cost of the proposals. Irrespective of whether there is some cost saving in relation to the reemployment of women who had been in employment, the cost to the taxpayers should be plainly spelt out. I believe that the Government should be condemned for not going more deeply into this aspect so that the Parliament could consider it. A figure of $3. 3m was revealed to the Parliament only as a result of questions asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I say again that this is something of which I believe the Gov. cernment will have to take cognisance. I appeal to the Government when it brings down measures to give more consideration to what the cost will be to the taxpayers so that the Parliament and the people will know just what amount of money will be involved. I repeat, because I do not want that remark thrown back at me, that we on this side of the House would not be prepared to reject a measure simply because it was costly, but I think it is fair enough to say that we should know what the cost to the taxpayers will be.
Surely it is not too much to expect that any government will give an outline of the proposal to provide benefits and the order of priority in giving those benefits. In other words, we want a planned approach to the provision of benefits and we want to know the cost of each of them so that we can get an idea of what sort of benefits are most needed, what the cost will be overall and how funds will be provided to meet the costs. This would give members of the Parliament an opportunity to evaluate all the proposals in relation to the overall effect on the economy. Whether we like it or not, whatever benefits are provided should be in accordance with the funds which are available to meet the cost of providing them. We cannot just hand out benefits. Probably we would all like to do that. We must relate benefits to keeping the economy on a sound basis. Surely this need not be emphasised very greatly in the tight of world conditions which exist today. We have seen m recent times the examples of economies m countries which have disregarded those principles. They are in very real difficulties today. 1 venture to suggest that unless this Government takes more notice of the fundamental economic principles which apply world wide, our own Australian economy, sound as it is, may also get into, very real difficulty. The Australian economy was in a very sound condition when this Government took over, but its supporters do not tell us that although they are fond of saying what has happened over the past 23 years.
I want to say in reply to the criticism which has flowed constantly from members of the Opposition that over the past 23 years the previous Government provided continuing benefits. Honourable members should look at the benefits which applied in 1949 and look down the years to see the continuing benefits which have been provided. When this Government goes out of office, despite whatever reckless spending it may have indulged in, there will still be a need for continuing benefits to be provided, and if the rate of inflation is to be overcome they will have to be provided at a faster rate than was ever previously considered to be necessary. This is the other factor to be taken into consideration when we are looking at how any measures that this Government brings down affect the economy because we cannot avoid inflationary problems. We cannot put our head in the sand in relation to that aspect.
It is very easy for governments to hand out benefits without regard to economic consequences, but the cold hard facts are that unless inflation is controlled to some extent - and it can be controlled to some extent by limiting Government expenditure to a level indicated by the observance of sound economic principles - whether we like it or not the benefits provided under any of these types of measures will be rapidly eroded and we will have to start again to bring about a position which this Bill seeks to achieve.
Another aspect of maternity allowances that seems to have been completely disregarded by the Government is the position of the nonworking mother or the average housewife, if one likes to put it that way. Surely there is justice in making allowance for the problems that maternity brings to this section of the community. The application of a standard rate of allowances, which I have mentioned previously, would simplify the provision of benefits to these deserving mothers. The Government should be looking at other measures, such as increasing child endowment to enable all children to have as near as possible equal opportunities to utilise whatever talents he or she may possess. Does the Government have no concern for the needs of farmers’ wives and the wives of primary producers generally? Surely this is a very deserving section of the community.
Only those people who have travelled through drought stricken areas when the great stress of economic hardship was added to the normal hardship of pregnant women and mothers generally would realise the difficulties which these women have had to face. Many of these women work under very difficult conditions, especially in times of drought, aggravated by low prices for products which so often precludes the employment of labour to carry out essential work for all categories of properties and primary producers generally. This is just another aspect of this matter which seems to me to have been completely overlooked by the Government. We can do a great deal more for them. If we provided maternity allowances at a standard rate for all people who could show that they needed and deserved them something could be done in this direction. That is the appeal I am making to the Government.
I know that this Bill proposes to give a week’s leave to the father. I believe that this is a desirable provision. I believe that in many cases where the mother has to go into hospital it is necessary for the father to take care of the children. I do not object to the provision of a week’s leave for the father. I believe that this is desirable, but at the same time I mention that, whether or not these things are to be provided in preference to other benefits being made available, we should bear in mind that we have to keep those benefits within the limits of a reasonable economy. These are the sorts of things that we have to take into consideration. Insofar as allowing a father to have a week’s leave to care for his children, I do not object to this provision as such.
I point out that all these things are at cost to the community and as such they have to be taken into consideration. I have covered most of the ground that I wanted to deal with in connection with this Bill. As I said, we on the Opposition side, which includes the Country Party, are not going to oppose this Bill because of the benefits that it will bring to that section of the community which we serve. But I draw attention to the fact that this Bill does not give benefits even to more deserving people who could have been provided for if the Government had given consideration, which I thought it would give to the rest of the community as well as Commonwealth Government employees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 24 May (vide page 2640), on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23 May (vide page 2502), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At the time that the Parliamentary Salaries Bill was introduced into this House it was understood, and the Government expressed its view to this effect, that there would be brought into the Parliament at a later stage legislation to amend parliamentary and judicial retirement allowances. Of course, parliamentary allowances are contributory allowances. Members have deducted from their individual salaries amounts which are then backed by additional funds provided by the Commonwealth.
– Eleven and a half per cent.
– As the honourable member for Wilmot correctly said, the amount deducted is some11½ per cent which in terms of some other retiring allowances is a significant contribution. Of course, this sum is backed then by additional payments from the Commonwealth.
I think that the nature of parliamentary retirement allowances needs to be seen in the context of the peculiar exigencies which those who are parliamentarians face. All of us who are in this place are conscious that there are considerable uncertainties in the tenure of office. There are uncertainties in the degree to which members may or may not hold executive office. Yet the responsibilities which those who hold executive office are called on to fill are among the highest in the land. They are responsibilities which, of course, cover every field of administrative endeavour in the country. They cover the administration of the largest business in the country. The salaries and retirement benefits therefore deserve to match the responsibilities which are exercised. Every member in this chamber can be called on to assume that responsibility for the management of this, the largest business in the land. It is for that reason that I think one needs to be quite critical, and sympathetically so, in considering the amendments that the Government has brought forward to this Bill.
The Australian Country Party supports the proposal as it is now expressed and it compliments the Government on bringing down changes which the Country Party believes are very much m the interests not only of those who have served and who are serving in this place but also of those who one might hope can be encouraged to serve in the future. The standard of debate and the standard of administration depend significantly on the ability of Parliament to attract men and women who are prepared to forsake whatever their normal way of life might be for the uncertainties that this task places upon them. One of the important aspects is the position that one’s dependants might be in if one were to suffer premature illness or, either by way of accident or ill health, to die at a time when one was still exercising one’s parliamentary role. This Bill makes a significant range of concessions which are meaningful for past, present and future parliamentarians and in my opinion will help towards encouraging the right sort of men and women to stand for political office in the future.
All of us are conscious that parliamentarians are subject generally to a degree of criticism. They are criticised for their alleged cynicism and the administration of their duties. Politicians are criticised in the electorates for their absence from the multitude of functions which the exercise of their political role in Canberra forces upon them. They are criticised for many aspects of their role. Yet there are few jobs in the Australian community which to such a large degree have a bearing upon the actual state of the nation and the actual wellbeing of every individual in the community. If there is criticism, the one way in which it can be combated is by ensuring that there is sufficient attraction for those who seek parliamentary office to be prepared to come and hold it. I believe that the amendments to the parliamentary and judicial retiring allowances legislation will be of that character and will in fact encourage persons in the community to forsake whatever their other way of life may be. I think that that is good for the democratic process.
I would like to mention some of the aspects of the Bill which concern me. As one who believes that members of this place should have an option whether they should belong to the fund or not I would have liked the Bill to have included provision for members to opt out of this scheme if they so wished. I recognise that from the actuarial point of view this could create considerable difficulties.
I know that if one is to have an uncertain quantum of contributions there would be problems in determining the benefits that could be paid. Nonetheless, I think it is necessary that individuals be allowed to express their individual wish if they so desire and if they feel that, rather than contribute to this fund they would prefer to retain the funds themselves, they should be given the option to do so. The legislation does not provide for that. I do not criticise the Bill “unduly because of this omission. Yet I can see sense in providing for such an option.
I understand that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) will be introducing an amendment in the Committee stages which will permit those who are entitled at present to ministerial pensions to exercise an option to withdraw the funds which they have contributed so that they may either enjoy their present entitlement or receive the contributions which they have made in the past. It is not for present consideration, although it is one for some regret, that funds contributed over a considerable period of time when withdrawn from the fund are not at this stage supplemented by any interest payment. The Commonwealth or the Treasury having received the benefit of funds paid in over a long period of time in fact will repay those funds without the addition of supplementary interest.
The third area to which I want to make brief reference is judicial retiring allowances. This Bill, of course, refers not peculiarly to parliamenary allowances but also includes judicial allowances. I believe that members of judiciary in Australia need to receive a range of benefits which again parallel the great responsibility they are called on to exercise. It is necessary that there is an understanding nonetheless that the parliamentary pension is related to an Hi per cent contribution whereas the judicial retiring allowance is not. Consequently the difference between the benefits received by members of the judiciary and parliamentarians relates to that factor. The distinction in the percentages that they receive is, of course, a reflection of the contribution made by the one group and the noncontribution by the other. The whole Bill provides a significant improvement for both parliamentarians and members of the judiciary. The Opposition, and certainly the Country Party element of it, supports the changes and believe that they will be in the interests not only of the Parliament and the judiciary but of the whole of the Australian community and those who in the future might stand for positions in either sector.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation for an amendment to the Parliamentary and Judicial Retiring Allowances Bill announced.
– I refer to clause 22 which reads in part:
I move the following amendment:
In clause 22, omit sub-clause (13), substitute the following sub-clause:
If a person has qualified, subject only to his ceasing to be entitled to a parliamentary allowance and his ministerial salary (if any) otherwise than by reason of his death, to be paid a retiring allowance under section 22h of the Principal Act and -
within three months after the commencement of this Act, the person elects, by writing under his band addressed to the Trust; that this subsection should apply to him; or
the person qualifies, subject only to his ceasing to be entitled to a parliamentary allowance otherwise than by reason of his death, to be paid a retiring allowance under section 19a of the Principal Act by reason of having held the office of Prime Minister, he is thereupon entitled to a refund of his contributions, and no other benefit is payable under Part Va of the Principal Act to or in respect of him.’.
The purpose of the amendment is to give to those members who are qualified to receive a ministerial retiring allowance on their retire ment from the Parliament the alternative of taking a refund of their contributions to the Ministerial Retiring Allowances Fund.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 2425), on motion by Mr Daly:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill and the Representation Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a cognate debate on the 3 Bills? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– This now will be a cognate debate on these 3 Bills. The first Bill is the Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Bill which, if passed, will provide for an additional member for the Australian Capital Territory. It makes no extra provision for the Northern Territory. The second Bill is the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill which, if passed and if held to be legally valid, will provide for 2 territorial senators for the Australian Capital Terirtory and 2 territorial senators for the Northern Territory. The third Bill, the Representation Bill, is a machinery measure designed to prevent territorial senators from being counted when calculating the number of members of the House of Representatives under section 24 of the Constitution. Of course, if the second Bill, which provides for senators, is not passed the third Bill becomes unnecessary.
I deal, firstly, with the Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Bill which provides for an additional member for the Australian Capital Territory. The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. Clause 5 provides that the representation of the Territory in the House of Representatives shall be by 2 elected members. Clause 8 provides the way in which the Distribution Committee will be appointed and states that it shall consist of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Surveyor-General and another member. Clause 10 provides for the division of the Territory into 2 electoral divisions and provides also that in making that division the Distribution Committee shall give consideration to certain guidelines and to a quota from which the Committee shall not depart to a greater extent than one-tenth more or onetenth less. I shall come back to clause 10 at a later stage because it raises a slight difficulty in that it differs from those guidelines which apply to electorates generally and the Opposition believes that, so far as is practicable, there should be consistency between the guidelines which apply in the Australian Capital Territory and those which apply in other divisions throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. In clause 17 there is provision for filling casual vacancies. Clause 20 contains the general provision that at the time of each general election of members of the House of Representatives an election of members for the Territory is to be held.
We on this side of the House already have agreed in principle to representation of the people of the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives. We have agreed to this in relation to the existing member, the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby), who is sitting in the House. We believe that the people of the Territory are entitled to have their voice heard in the House of Representatives. It was my Party which in 1959 widened the voting power of the member for the Territory and in 1966 introduced legislation which ensured that he had the right to vote on any matter coming before the House. In 1966 the number of electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory was 48,127, which the then Government con sidered justified his being a full member. Today there are 85,282 electors. If they are divided into 2 electorates, each of them will consist of 42,000 to 43,000 electors. This is rather small by Australian standards; but, as the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) pointed out in his second reading speech, the Territory has a rapidly growing population and it is estimated that by December 1975 enrolments will exceed 120,000. So, if the present Parliaments runs its course until that time, each division will have an enrolment of the order of 60,000. In these circumstances the Opposition believes that the Bill will give fair representation to the Territory.
The Minister in his second reading speech made much of the argument that the pressures upon the local member are very great because the Australian Capital Territory has no mayor, no local council and no State politicians to look after the people. However, let me assure the Minister for the Capital Territory that, if a mayor or a local council or a local State member were in the Australian Capital Territory and they happened to be. of a different political persuasion from the Minister, it could prove to be a mixed blessing and he would find that he was subjected to additional pressures of a different kind about which, it seems, he has not even heard. It reaches its culmination when the local mayor or member ends by running for election against him. However, the present member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) does not appreciate how well off he is. The people of Canberra, it must be remembered, have a local advisory council, a National Capital Development Commission and a joint standing committee of the Federal Parliament, all concerned with their interests and a high proportion of the public servants who reside in the Australian Capital Territory have the ear of Ministers controlling policy and the expenditure of money.
I can assure the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory that most of the people of Australia would not easily be persuaded that the paucity of their representation in the Parliament has led to the Australian Capital Territory being a deprived area compared with the rest of Australia. Nevertheless, we do believe that it is right that the increase in population should in the circumstances at present existing, carry the right to an additional representative. We take this view as a matter of principle. There may be some who will say that, notwithstanding the fact that my Party has put up first class candidates for the Territory, the scale of their rejection by the Territory means that we are presenting the Labor Government with an additional seat. As to whether that should affect our attitude or not, 1 make no comment. Perhaps I may be permitted to add that the Territory is a particularly knowledgeable and well educated electorate and contains those who are public servants and work with my friends and colleagues who now occupy the Government benches. I am sure they will come to know and appreciate them as well as we know and appreciate them and that the electorate is likely to see even more clearly in the future the fine quality of our candidates.
I turn now to the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill which provides for 2 senators in the Australian Capital Territory and 2 senators in the Northern Territory. This Bill raises quite different considerations. It raises questions of principle, of great political and legal complexity and involves far reaching consequences. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) was not exaggerating when he said in his second reading speech that this Bill, if passed, would be an historic Bill. It certainly would be. It would not simply provide representatives of the Territory in the Senate, as section 122 of the Constitution contemplates; it would also provide territorial senators who, by reason of the powers conferred on them by this Bill, would be taken into account in constituting a quorum in the Senate and in voting as to whether a resolution was carried by a majority of votes in the Senate. In this respect, that substantially affects Part II of the Constitution which constitutes the Senate of the Parliament.
Our Constitution is not merely an Act of Parliament - a basic law. It is also a compact between the Commonwealth and the States. It is a compact in which legislative powers are distributed between the Commonwealth and the States and in this compact the Senate is established as the States’ House. Each State, regardless of size and population, has an equal number of senators. At present, of course, they have 10 each. The Constitution compact itself provides in section 128 for the means by which that compact is to be changed and it is part of the compact that alterations must have the approval not only of the Parliament and later of a majority of the people but also of a majority of the people in a majority of the States.
It is a nice legal question whether the power given by section 122 of the Constitution to give representation to Territories will allow of the appointment of a person who actually becomes a voting senator and one who is counted in making a quorum. What is said in section 122 is that representation may be allowed to the extent and on the terms the Parliament thinks fit. Was this intended to refer rather to the extent of representation - for example, the number of representatives - and the terms of representation in the sense in which one refers to the manner of their appointment or election or is it without express mention, a way of altering earlier sections in Part II of the Constitution? I think particularly of sections 22 and 23, if not 24. In fact, if the present Bill is valid, it would rest within the power of this Parliament not only to allow separate Senate representation for the various islands such as Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Island - maybe we would not do that, but maybe we could - but it would also permit us to provide that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory were entitled to have 3 senators or 5 senators or 10 senators each, according to what was considered at the time to be a fair representation according to the position of the Territory. It might be thought that they ought to be put on an equal footing with the States and be given 10 each or an odd number which, of course, would alter the balance of power in the Senate.
There is of course no constitutional bar to a change in the method of election to the Senate. A government which gained control of the Senate could, as has been done before, change the method of electing senators. It could change it from the present system of proportional representation to some other system. But even while the system of proportional representation remains in force as the way of voting for the Senate, this Bill could have the effect of passing the determination of the balance of power in the Senate to the Territories. One feature of this Bill, as I said, is that while Territory senators are to be counted for forming a quorum and while they have a vote, so that they are in this sense full senators, they are still to have a term which coincides not with that of other senators - 6 years - but a term which coincides with that of members of the lower House. They are to run for election always at elections held for the House of Representatives and clearly only on House of Representatives issues. I am not opposed in principle to the alteration of the terms for which senators are elected. I would not oppose a proposal such as was put forward in the report of the Joint Standing Committee on the Constitution in 1959 to bring the Senate elections into line with the House of Representatives elections by making senators have, say, 2 consecutive Representatives terms as their term of office. There are considerable difficulties in bringing such a proposal into effect because of the phasing out of senators with fixed terms who retire at intervals and the proposals put forward in the Committee report of 1959 in fact is unworkable. However, while I was Attorney-General, I sought to devise a scheme by which this could be done and I presented a paper in which, with some variation of what had been proposed in 1959 by the Committee, a scheme was propounded which would make it possible for senators to be elected for about 6 years - 2 successive House of Representatives terms - still being elected in succession, overlapping each other, and so that always, the elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives would be synchronised.
But what has happened with this Bill is not that the terms of senators are going to be altered but only that the terms of territorial senators are going to correspond with those of the House of Representatives. They are going to hold office for only 3 years or less, as do members of the House of Representatives. Their election will be at a House of Representatives election in which the issues are different. As I have said, they could control the balance of power. This is not the right way to give representation in the Senate to the Territories. If this Bill is passed and the Government gains control of both Houses of this Parliament there will be nothing to prevent the Government from increasing the number of what might be called second class or short term senators. They hold office while the lower House continues and their number could be increased simply by passing a law through both Houses.
This presents special problems. Taking the last 3 House of Representatives election figures for the Australian Capital Territory as a basis it is clear that, on one occasion cer tainly and on the last 2 occasions probably, on distribution of preferences they would have produced 2 Senate representatives from one side of the House. At present there is no representation of the Territories in the Senate. It is suggested that this method of appointing 2 senators for the short term coming after the House of Representatives election and having 2 senators possibly carrying the balance of power in the States chamber should not be put into effect before the States have had an opportunity, as the Constitution really contemplates, of passing their opinion on the matter.
At present the Australian Capital Territory has 85,282 electors; the Northern Territory has 31,894 electors. It is impossible to suggest that these small numbers of electors are such that it is a matter of urgency that each set of people should have representation of 2 senators. Many would consider that 2 senators for the Northern Territory, for nearly 32,000 people, or one senator for between 15,000 and 16,000 people, is excessive. It is clearly a matter which is not urgent and should be much more carefully considered. It is a matter in which the States as parties to the federal compact have a vital interest. A constitutional conference of the Commonwealth and the States is fixed for September next. Clearly this matter should be deferred and brought before that conference. I believe that it would be ridiculous to suggest that this Bill is so urgent that it must go through this Parliament before September. If it is pressed, it can lead one only to suspect that it is part of the plan which can now be seen to be emerging in such Bills as the Grants Commission Bill and the earlier Electoral Bill to take rights and powers away from the States, often by indirect means, and to introduce measures designed to alter the electoral system and to secure maintenance of the present Government in office for an indefinite period. The Opposition will oppose this Bill.
I come now to the third of the 3 Bills - the Representation Bill. I repeat that if the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill is defeated, this Bill becomes unnecessary. However, I believe I should make some remarks about it because it presents a strange problem. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) said in his second reading speech:
The Government’s legal advice is that section 24 of the Constitution does not have application in relation to senators who may, be provided for a territory under the provisions of section 122 of the Constitution. In other words, the requirement contained in section 24 for the number of members of the House of Representatives to be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators does not relate to territory members or senators provided under section 122 of the Constitution. Furthermore, ‘the people of the Commonwealth’ in the context of section 24 aTe the people of the States.
In other words, he thinks that the people of the Territories are not people of the Commonwealth. Leaving on one side whether the people of the Australian Capital Territory would be rather surprised to find that they were not people of the Commonwealth, the question arises as to the true character of these senators. Section 24 of the Constitution relates to the number of members of the House of Representatives. It states: - and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
It depends what the word ‘senators’ means in the Constitution, whether it means the men who will be appointed under this legislation will be senators or not. Nothing which can be put in an Act of this Parliament will change the wording of the Constitution. The Constitution can be changed only by amending it. The question under the Constitution is: Are they senators or not? Section 22 of the Constitution provides:
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the senators shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the Senate for the exercise of its powers.
It provides that one-third of the senators present shall constitute a quorum. This Bill provides that territorial senators are to be senators for the purposes of section 22 of the Constitution but the words do not vary in the Constitution. They remain the same. If a senator according to section 22 can constitute a quorum because be is a senator within the meaning of the Constitution he remains a senator under section 23 or section 24. The same word does not change its meaning from section to section. Section 23 of the Constitution provides, in part:
Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vote.
Who are the senators? The Constitution has a meaning and it does not change. Does it include territorial senators? If not, this Bill cannot make it do so. If it does, and they aTe senators, they can vote and be counted in the majority. Either they are senators for the purpose of a quorum and senators for the purpose of voting in the majority - in which case they must be senators for the purpose of section 24 of the Constitution - or they are not senators for the purpose of any section. The strange thing is that the machinery for setting the quota for the House of Representatives - which is covered by this Bill - carries out the provisions of this Bill.
This Bill provides that in fixing the quota for the House of Representatives Bill the territorial senators are to be disregarded. But unfortunately, if they are senators, if they can vote and can be part of a quorum, you cannot by excluding them from the machinery make nonsense of the Constitution. The Constitution can be changed only by amending it. I flag this problem for the Minister. I have read that he has had legal advice, and I hesitate. I do no more than raise the problem. I am not arguing because I do not like to differ with opinions which have not been made available to me. The Minister has not given us the benefit of the written advice - I presume that it is written - which is available to him and has led him to think that they can be senators for one section of the Constitution and not for another.
I will be most interested to see the opinion. This is a problem which confronts us in this House in relation to the Representation Bill. Taking the Bills together, as I said before, my Party is very conscious of the need for adequate representation of both Territories in the House. It has taken forward steps in the past to make this representation effective. It has widened the voting power of the members for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives. It is conscious of that and it will not oppose the addition of a member of the House of Representatives from the Australian Capital Territory. We will agree to having one member added and will take our chances on what the answer of the electorate will be. But as a matter of principle we object to the creation of this curious animal, the territorial senator, who is a senator for the purposes of a quorum, a senator for the purposes of voting but not a senator for the purpose of determining the quota for the House of Representatives. We oppose that Bill and the third Bill.
– I support the 3 Bills before the House. I am reminded that as long ago as 1970 the then Prime Minister spoke during a by-election in which 1 was elected to this House in support of the proposition that the size of the Australian Capital Territory was such - I quote him loosely because I do not have his exact words in front of me - that it either was or shortly would be ready for increased representation. Indeed I seem to remember the then Minister for the Interior echoing those remarks shortly afterwards. It is my recollection that in 1968 the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) when he was Leader of the Opposition introduced the Territory Senators Bill in an attempt to take account of the fact that in the Australian Capital Territory a gross injustice was being perpetrated by the people being so under-represented. Although the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) made some light talk about the burdens that all back bench politicians carry, it is worth reflecting that in the Australian Capital Territory, where there are about 180,000 people - a population increasing at about 10 per cent per annum compound - or half the population of Tasmania, there is one politician, one representative in the only body where any laws can be made affecting the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Compare the situation in the Australian Capital Territory with the situation in Tasmania where there are 10 senators, 5 members of a House of Representatives, 35 members of the lower State House, 19 members of an upper State House, all paid and treated as full time politicians, and well over 500 local aldermen. In all arguments such as those that have been put by the honourable member for Parramatta it is often overlooked that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory for that matter, although not quite to the same extent, have their laws made by this Parliament on a plenary base. The Australian Parliament does not make all the laws for New South Wales. They are made in large measure for the people of New South Wales by the State Government of New South Wales. Many of the laws in New South Wales are made by local councils. But everything that affects the people of Canberra - from buses to the disposal of garbage, advertising, control of architects and the tower on Black Mountain - has in some way to come through this place.
– It is a great experience.
– It is indeed. I can echo that remark. But everything has to go through this place whereas almost 600 full time and part time politicians serve the needs of the people of Tasmania for these overall purposes. Tasmania has twice the population of the Australian Capital Territory where one person is required to do everything. I make no apologies for this and I want no sympathy for it but I suggest it does ram home the inadequacy of the representation of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. It is true that they have an Advisory Council charged with advising, passing resolutions and making comment on matters of its own initiative or matters referred to it by the Minister but its members, in the present situation, cannot be regarded as peoples’ representatives in the sense in which members of this House or members of the Senate are regarded. For these reasons, in principle I support this measure as being long overdue.
I touch briefly now on some aspects of the speech of the honourable member for Parramatta concerning the Senate. He spoke of territorial senators as though they were a strange creation. Of course they will be different.
– For the short term.
– Yes, the honourable member referred to the short term aspect. The honourable member spoke as though this proposal would impinge on some compact made with the States back in 1900 or 1890. I like to think that I am familiar with the Australian Constitution. I recognise the historical fact that the Australian Constitution was originally created with the idea that the Senate would be a State House comprising 10 senators from each of the States. Does anyone seriously suggest today that it is a State House? That is a legal fiction, an outmoded piece of nonsense. Senators do not vote as State senators. In all my experience outside or inside this place I have never read of New South Wales senators voting against Victorian senators or South Australian senators voting against Tasmanian senators. They vote on party lines because since 1900 the party system of government, for good or bad - generally I take the view that it is for good - has come to fruition, although probably its best days are yet to come. The Senate, particularly in recent months, votes as does this House - along Party lines. There may be nothing wrong with that but to suggest strongly, as did the honourable member for Parramatta, that there is something of a betrayal of that original compact between the States by giving representation to the Territories seems to me to be completely inconsistent and not keeping up to date with trends and what actually has happened.
– Have you not heard of State governments communicating with their senators?
– Yes, I have, but my point remains valid. The Senate, like this House, votes on Party lines. I do not know, nor do I think the honourable member for Parramatta or anyone else knows, how the people of the Australian Capital Territory will vote and whom they will return when they have the opportunity to put 2 people into the Senate.
– There will be a reaction.
– The honourable member may be right; I hope not, but one does not know. I know that for years the previous Liberal-Country Party Government refused to give the Australian Capital Territory the representation it warranted for the simple reason that it could not work out a way so to achieve such representation that it would go to a member of the Liberal Party.
– What an awful mind you have. That is unworthy of you.
– I do not think so, and I will say it again.
– There is no way to argue with that.
– You can work it out. Just look at the actions of the previous Government. It made repeated statements that increased representation was due, but repeatedly it failed to act. It was repeatedly faced with the fact that the people of the Austraiian Capital Territory voted for a party of which that Government did not approve - the Australian Labor Party. Compare the previous Government’s record with the decision of the Labor Government to give increased representation to the Australian Capital Territory and also to give Senate representation to the Northern Territory. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) who sits opposite knows that his Party, the Australian Country Party, on previous voting patterns has a majority in the Northern Territory, yet that does not stop the Labor Government from saying that there will be 2 senators for the Northern Territory. There is as much chance in the Northern Territory of 2 Country Party representatives being elected as there are of 2 Labor Party representatives being elected in the Australian Capital Territory. However it is indicative of the different thinking of the 2 Parties - the Liberal and Country Parties on one side saying: ‘We will not, because we cannot see advantage for ourselves in it’, and the Labor Government saying: ‘We will honour an election promise that has been in our policy for many years to do the right thing by the Northern Territory even if we cannot take advantage to ourselves as a Party from it, and we will do the right thing by the Australian Capital Territory at the same time’. It seems to me that that fundamentally is the difference between the 2 groups of parties. I do not think there is anything more I wish to say, except again to congratulate the Minister on bringing these 3 measures forward at this early stage in this Parliament’s history so that this long standing inadequacy can be overcome and proper representation can be given to the people of both the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
– I do not wish to upset my friend, the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby), but I indulge myself to the extent of saying that I do not think he had his heart in his argument or, if I may put it another way, in an anatomical sense I think he put his foot in the argument. The best test of that is to be drawn from the honourable gentleman’s observations about the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. He thundered: ‘Who is it who has to look after all the rating responsibilities, the drains, the streets, the hedges, the roads and all the preponderence of local government matters? This does not happen in New South Wales’. That is precisely the effect of the analogy which the honourable gentleman drew. It is perfectly true and it points immediately to the argument before this House this evening. The simple fact of the matter is that the Territories are not States. They are in a process of transition. It is not a competent form of argument to contend that the Territories should be regarded as equal with the States.
In no sense do I cast any aspersion upon my distinguished and gallant friend, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), whose advocacy in this Parliament on matters pertaining to the Northern Territory may be described, without being offensive, as persistent and competent. But I am not seeking to embarrass my honourable friend at all. What I am concerned about is the proposal now before the House that the Senate should have representatives from the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Look at the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). He made a speech which was remarkably redolent of the great conflict between the British Isles and the American colonies over representation. One could almost hear him declaim: ‘No taxation without representation’. It reached almost a dull chant, to do him credit on the point. The simple truth of the matter is that the honourable gentleman asked in his speech - honourable members will recall the dulcet language in which he asked this question - ‘Is it not strange that there is not one elected representative of either Territory in the Senate to expound the case for the local inhabitants?’ He was lachrymose; the tears were pouring out of his eyes down on to the blotting paper. He was trying to encourage the view that there is something improper about the fact that the 2 Territories have no representation in the Senate.
Let me say this to the honourable gentleman, to this House and, I hope, to the country: This is one of the most blatant attacks ever on the Australian Constitution. The audacity of the Minister for Services and Property is matched only by his fecundity of mind in dreaming this up. This Bill is not one which merely seeks, in terms of clause 4, to put into the Senate 2 senators for each of the 2 Territories involved. This Bill, by dint of that clause, seeks to destroy the whole of the Federal Constitution. I want to test this. I do not want to gild the lily; these days I have a heavy preference for erring on the side of under-exaggeration. Let us take the Minister’s speech. He recited section 122 in language that would have done credit to Sir John Gielgud. if any of the broadcasting stations or television channels could get him on the air they would score points galore for the sense of poetry in his voice. He recited the section and then he made these profound observations dealing with section 122:
It is clearly permissive. It was therefore the clear intention of the founders of the Australian Constitution that Parliament should be empowered to permit representation of residents of the Territories of the Commonwealth in the National Parliament.
For the benefit of those who may not be going to bed with the Australian Constitution tucked under their pillows, I point out that section 122 provides:
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
In summary, a Territory may be allowed representation on the terms the Parliament thinks fit. The honourable gentleman, who has swept himself into this spendid state of exuberance about mucking up the electoral laws of this country, says of that section: Tt is clearly permissive’. The second thing he says about it is that it was therefore the clear intention of the founders of the Australian Constitution to ensure that representatives of residents in the Territories came to this Parliament. I will deal with the last argument first. I am not culling them out in any terms of offence or, indeed, of substance.
The honourable gentleman says that it was the view of the founders of Federation that the Territories should be regarded in the same respect as the States. I would be interested to know his authority for that curious proposition. To go back to 1897, when this matter was argued and the clause was before the Convention of that year, Sir Edward Braddon drew attention to the nature of the clause and said, amongst other things:
I think there is a necessity for amending line 6.
That deals with the precise line here -
It states that the Commonwealth may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit. I would ask why it should be left to the Federal Parliament to decide? The representation in this instance is to be in both Houses, not in one House or in the other. Why should we not preserve in this question the ratio of representation which has been fixed already in regard to our representation generally?
After a mild exchange of interjections across the place, the distinguished Mr Barton said:
I thought you were harking back.
Sir Edward Braddon replied:
No. I am barking forward.
And he was harking forward to the evening when the Minister for Services and Property came here with this scrungy little proposal seeking to demolish the Australian Constitution.
The debate continued, and Mr Deakin, the most percipient of the minds who have ever had anything to do with the Australian Constitution, appealed to Sir Edward not to press his amendment. Mr Barton joined with him in making this appeal. He said this:
I ask the honourable member not to insist on his amendment, which refers to territories and not to new States. It would be impossible for the Commonwealth ever to consent to the admission of territories which might be sparsely populated, and which would, according to the honourable member’s proposal, be entitled to six members in the Senate. Territories or districts which are only in a primitive state of development are intended to be dealt with by a clause of this sort. They are in a transition state, and they are governed by the Commonwealth until such time as the States have reached a condition which would entitle them to representation in the Senate.
There is nothing in the debates dealing with the Federal Constitution which lends the slightest weight to the proposition put before this House by the Minister for Services and Property. To say that it was the intention of the founders of Federation that the Territories should be represented on the same basis as the States or as new States is to do history a dreadful disservice. For the purposes of illustrating the fatuousness of the Minister’s assertion, let me deal with the matter in practical terms. It should not be imagined that the only 2 Territories for which this country is responsible are the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. What about Norfolk Island? What about the Australian Antarctic? What about Ashmore and the Cartier Islands? What about Heard Island and Macquarie Island? What about the Cocos (Keeling) Islands?
– What do they have?
– Let me deal with the interjection by the Minister for Services and Property merely to light up how utterly inadequate he is in terms of pressing an argument with any measure of conviction and frankness upon this great and grave issue. Does the Minister say that the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are uninhabited? There are people there who. to take the Minister’s own argument, are entitled to representation in the national Parliament as residents of the Territories of the Commonwealth. Where is the consistency of the Minister? Where does he draw the line? What is his benchmark, other than the mere pragmatism of political opportunity? This is the Minister’s position. There are 5 other Territories. The Minister’s silence can only be described as rivalling that in a shearing shed after the cut out. If the Minister is correct that section 122 in the Constitution - to use his language, gloria in excelsis - is permissive, what of the consequences? Let honourable gentlemen opposite not put themselves into any curious position as far as this matter is concerned, because I confirm the view that there are no certainties in politics and the fact that they are in government today does not mean that they will not be in opposition tomorrow. If the Minister is now resorting to using section 122 of the Constitution for the purposes of adding a few senators here, a few members there, what is to be the end? The Minister says that it is his judgment that there should be 2 members. Why not, putting it in homely language, kick it up to three? Why not make it five, seven, nine or eleven. As my distinguished and learned friend, the honourable member for Parramatta, said earlier in this debate, where is to be the cut off mark? If the Minister is correct in asserting that section 122 of the Constitution is to be used, as some commentators describe its use, as a unitary section in the Constitution, a section which gives plenary powers to do anything, this section of the Constitution means in effect that all other sections in the Constitution can be trampled upon. A more impossible proposition I have never listened to in my life.
– Is that what the High Court says about it?
– The Minister for the Capital Territory is interjecting, asking what the High Court has done about it. 1 invite the Minister to follow the High Court’s decision through on this matter, ranging from Buchanan’s case to the case of Spratt v. Hermes in which the present Chief Justice dealt with section 122. What he said may furnish some understanding for the Minister for the Capital Territory upon this point. 1 always indulge myself in the direction of charity. Sir Garfield Barwick, the Chief Justice, said:
Section 122 gives to the Parliament legislative power of a different order to those given by section SI. That power is not only plenary but is unlimited by reference to subject matter. It is a complete power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the territory - an expression condensed in section 122 to ‘for the government of the Territory’.
What the Minister for Services and Property and the Labor Government are attempting to do is to translate section 122 into a power which would enable the Government to control and trample upon every other power in the Constitution. Let me demonstrate that very quickly. If the Minister for Services and Property is correct, by a mere amendment to this Bill or Act at some time in the future 2 senators could be swept to, say, nine or eleven, and depending upon the political climate they could be members of the Senate for 3 years at least. During the course of that time they could be responsible for accepting or rejecting all manner and forms of legislation. I have never known in my experience such a curious attempt being made by a government in possession of its wits to mislead the Australian people. If the Parliament should want final proof of that I invite this House to consider one of the other attending Bills, the Bill dealing with the Representation Act, put forward by the Minister. He puts out a simple little statement to explain to us what it is all about. I would have a distinct preference for talking to my pekinese dog to find out what it is all about. Dealing with one of the clauses the statement says that section 10 of the Representation Act is amended by omitting from paragraph (a) the word ‘Senators’ and substituting the words ‘the Senators for the States’. What impertinence. What impudence. Here is a Bill purporting to amend in explicit form a section in the Constitution. Section 24 of the Constitution provides:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of senators.
It has nothing to do with senators from the States or anywhere else. I say to the Minister for Services and Property: Call off your trip abroad to examine electoral laws. Stay here. Spend a few hours in the Library, do a bit of homework and catch up on the reality of Australian politics and you will be persuaded to the view that introducing legislation of this character has no purpose and will offer you little hope.
– The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) has some endearing characteristics and mannerisms, and I am sorry that tonight I do not have his spectacles to wind up my argument in the way he twirls them to wind himself up. However, let me draw the attention of the House to the parallels that he has drawn. The question before the House tonight is whether people should be represented. The parallel that has been drawn is whether the Australian Capital Territory and its population of 180,000 people should be compared with the Antarctic and its population of 180,000 penguins. Whom do we represent in this place? Half way between here and Antarctica is the State of Tasmania, with 609 representatives at either the local government level, in the State Parliament, in this place or in the Senate. Tonight we are talking about representation of a population half as large as that of Tasmania, which has long been carried by one member for the ACT, a member for many years denied full representation rights and the opportunity to vote on issues affecting the Commonwealth of Australia. The people of Canberra were denied the opportunity of democratic representation in this place for a great deal of the time that they had a member here.
I have a very strong interest in this subject. Firstly, I live in Canberra. I was one of the people who had to depend on the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory to represent them, but more importantly I represent an electorate which cradles Canberra and provides the warmth and the background for this place to survive. The ACT, with its population of 180,000 people, has more than a passing bearing on my electorate. It is in one way related to the electorate of Eden-Monaro. I feel that without proper representation in Canberra the people in the area will fail to drink Bega milk for the rest of the time that we are in Government.
There are issues such as this in which I have a vital concern. I recall my very close and friendly relationship with the previous member of the Australian Capital Territory. I can tell this House right now that if Jim Fraser had run at another election or had stood behind a candidate for this place one of the things that he would have been saying from the platform in that election campaign would have been that the job of representing the ACT is too big for one man. Anybody who knew Jim Fraser knows that he gave his very life to the representation of this electorate in this place. That job was far too big for one man. He was the only person in the whole of this country who could have made that point emphatically and in a way that nobody would have disputed. The job is far too big for one man.
Compare the 609 local government, state government and federal representatives that Tasmania has to represent it. Why should we be discussing such an issue in such a way in this place tonight? Why should people who live in Canberra, many of whom after all have come from electorates that honourable members in this place represent, suddenly, upon coming to the ACT, cease to have the privileges that other Australians enjoy, the privileges of democracy and representation which we all so correctly support for the people in other areas of Australia? The Northern Territory has its unique problems. Again, it is expected to be represented here by one person. How can this be done? How can anybody argue against the fundamental democracy of giving people proper representation? We need to have a proper recognition of people’s rights in this place tonight.
– That is begging the question.
– There is only one question. Are these eople Australians and are they going to enjoy the democratic advantages that other Australians enjoy? What is unique about the people of the ACT and the Northern Territory? Do they get some special privilege which allows them to be cocooned without proper representation? Where is the great honour that we hear about from the Opposition on the hustings, this great privilege that is given to the individuals of the country in defence of their liberty and in defence of their right to be represented properly in this place? Where is that great thing tonight? I ask this individualist laissez-faire Liberal Party which pays such tribute to the rights and privileges of Australian citizens: Where is this great thing tonight? It seems to be completely swamped in the analogies that we have been expected to swallow in the arguments that have been presented.
What sort of parties do we find confronting this Government on the Opposition benches tonight? Can there be any question that the Australian Capital Territory is underrepresented? Can any objective person who applies himself to this problem say that both the ACT and the Northern Territory are properly represented? Can anybody deny this in the face of the facts? Even if we accept the proposition that we should have a fraction of the representation that Tasmania has, the request that 4 people should represent the rights of the people of the ACT is a very mediocre request when we are confronted with 609 representatives for twice the population of the ACT. That would work out at 300 for the ACT on an equivalent population basis. It is a mediocre request indeed. Now we find that the Opposition goes through the farce of going back to 1870. We know that it lives in the past. The Opposition quoted the conditions of 1870 as a reason why people of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory cannot be properly represented in this place.
There are objective people in this community. The population of Australia, in the main, are reasonable people, objective people who vote for common sense. There cannot be any doubt about the outcome of this Bill tonight and its worthy objective. There is undoubted unanimity among the 180.000 people, the growing population of the ACT, that they must have proper representation ;n this place. As I said earlier, I had the unique experience, among those 180,000 people, of knowing the previous member of the Australian Capital Territory on a very close and personal basis. I know the present honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) in a similar way. I also represent an electorate which, as I have mentioned, cradles this electorate of the Australian Capital Territory.
There is a close and proper association between the 2 areas. The interdependence was not recognised by the previous Government. It is absoluetely essential for a proper spirit of development of the region that we have good representation in the Australian Capital Territory. That is in the interest of both EdenMonaro and Hume, those 2 electorates on the flank of this area. There is an interdependence between the areas. The problems that those electorates suffer are created by the A.C.T. At the same time, the opportunities that will give those 2 electorates the chance to develop and expand are created again by the A.C.T. We are confronted in this area with either disaster or success. In order that this opportunity to capitalise and become successful is taken, in order that the roads that connect the areas are made capable of handling the tourist trade and do not impinge on the economies of those other ,2 electorates, in order that market outlets in this place are capitalised on and in order that the hospital and educational facilities that the Australian Capital Territory offers can be used to the benefit of the total region it is absolutely essential that we have proper representation in the A.C.T. and that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has time to get past getting the odd cat out of the tree and looking at the wider issues that affect the total area. The electoral representation work that is involved in the office of the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory would leave most honourable members in this place staggered.
– .He has extra staff.
– We hear, quite correctly, that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has extra staff to help - one extra person in his office. There is one extra person in his office. My wife worked for the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory on a part time basis because of the overwhelming amount of work that he had to do. We saw one member for the Australian Capital Territory killed by this job. Yet we have this begrudging attitude from the Opposition. It begrudges the fact that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has one more person on his staff than any other member of the House of Representatives. Yet the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has to do the amount of work that is done by 300 parliamentary representatives in other areas. This is the level of appreciation that the Opposition shows for the problems of the Australian Capital Territory. I could not conclude, on a better note than this display of ignorance of the problems which exist in these 2 Territories.
– In speaking to this Bill I point out that in 1966 Senate representation for the Northern Territory was on my platform and it has been ever since. But since that time there have been various political gimmicks which started from that day, and they have continued. During that time there was much argument and play about whether the Northern Territory had full voting rights in this House. After voting rights had been granted the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), put a Bill like this on the notice paper. Whether he thought anything of the Northern Territory or the people in it I would not know, but certainly I would say from the way his Government is acting towards the Northern Territory at this moment that he and his Ministers think nothing whatsoever of the people in the
Northern Territory or of the Northern Territory. That Bill was in the form of a political gimmick.
I support Senate representation for the Northern Territory. I think that the people in the Northern Territory should have a right to have more say in their own affairs. But what this Government does not take into account is the feelings of the people in the Northern Territory. The decisions are made in Canberra but the effects are felt from Darwin all the way down to Alice Springs and the South Australian border. We have heard only recently of shoot from the hip style legislation on land acquisition. It has been decided by the people in Canberra or in southern cities that this Government will acquire a certain amount of land in the Darwin area. There is obviously no thought whatsoever about any plan. People say ‘We will follow the Pak Poy plan’ which was drawn up in some fashion. But the people who live in this 32-square miles area of land south of Darwin have not got the faintest idea what will happen to their land or their tenure, lt is freehold land.
That is an example of what happens with this centralist socialist Government. That is only one thing that has happened. We were to have abortion on demand thrust onto the Northern Territory without so much as the slightest consideration. No one asked the members of the Legislative Council in the Northern Territory for their views on this. No one mentioned anything to the people in the Northern Territory at all. The Minister for the Capital Territory is also Minister for the Northern Territory, so because he was going to run such an event in his home town of Canberra he decided that we would have to have it up there. That legislation was thrown out and it was thrown out quite conclusively. But the the principle is what I am getting at. Despite the fact that I am for Senate representation for the Northern Territory, this Government has shown all along the line in the very short time that it has been in office that it is not really interested in the Northern Territory or the people who live there. The portfolios of some of the new Ministers have swollen. The functions which previously were carried out in the Northern Territory have been shifted to various southern based Minitries operated by men who, despite their qualifications, would have little knowledge of and little interest in the Northern Territory itself. We have heard that the control of the Northern Territory police is to be removed from the Northern Territory Administration and placed under the auspices of the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra.
– One honourable member has just mentioned the name Milte. A Mr Milte is to be sent to the Northern Territory to conduct an inquiry into the Territory’s police force.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! I ask the honourable member to return to the provisions of the Bill.
– Certainly, Mr Deputy Speaker. This Bill seeks to grant Senate representation to the Northern Territory. I say again that I welcome it. But let me quote what the present Prime Minister said when he was Leader of the Opposition. In speaking to the Territory Senators Bill which he introduced on 7 November 1968 he said:
It has been said quite correctly that the Australian Labor Party is in favour of the abolition of the Senate.
Yet we have this Bill before the House today. I am g’ad that it has been introduced because it provides a chance for the Northern Territory to get further representation in the Parliament. He went on to say:
One of the first planks to the Party’s platform provides for an amendment to the Constitution to abolish the Senate.
I know that he went on to say other things but he was one who supported this, I think against some of his colleagues at the Labor Party Conference in 1969, I think it was. But the point is that the aspirations of Territorians would be far greater served if this Government were to continue the discussions which were being held before the last elections. The administration of some of these matters which I have mentioned were to have been handed over to the Northern Territory itself. Urban land was one of them. So rather than having more representation in this Parliament - which, as I said, I would welcome - the people of the Northern Territory are interested in having more say in their own affairs. The members of the Legislative Council in that Territory are elected by the Territorians. They know what is wanted for the Northern Territory. I urge the Government to go ahead and to pick up these discussions where they were left off. I know that the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for the Northern Territory has intimated that he will go to the Northern Territory and have discussions with the people. I believe that the Prime Minister will pass through the Territory on his return from an overseas trip. 1 would hope that he will listen to the people in the Northern Territory to find out what they want because we heard all sorts of quotations and promises before the 1972 elections.
We heard of the promises that the Australian Labor Party would move more quickly than the former Government to give the people of the Northern Territory a greater interest in their own affairs and that an immediate move would be made for the Northern Territory to be controlled by a fully elected Legislative Council. But what does happen? Since the Minister has been in charge of the Department of the Northern Territory, instead of moving towards a fully elected Council he has removed 3 government members from the Council but has replaced them with 3 other government members. So the numbers are still the same.
The Government members were able to force through the Council only a week or so ago a move to freeze the transfer of land from leasehold to freehold despite the fact that every elected member but one voted against the proposition. A bloc vote by the government appointed members put the proposal through the Council to freeze the transfer of land. This action came as a result of direct instructions from Canberra. As I have said, the people in the Northern Territory would welcome Senate representation. But they want to have much more say in running their own affairs. We were told that talks on constitutional and political reform would be renegotiated by the incoming Government. After a period of 6 months no one has done anything about it at all. I feel that we are again seeing the indecent haste with which the Australian Labor Party has rushed into many other matters such as foreign policy and Northern Territory land acquisition. Action by this Government certainly will not assist the people in the Northern Territory to have a greater say in their own affairs. In fact, I say the reverse is the case.
This Government gradually is whittling away the authority of the Legislative Council. It has shown ever since it has been in power that it is determined to run the Northern Territory from Canberra. If we get 2 senators we will be able to make more noise but the Ministry will still be down here riding roughshod over the people of the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory will be administered from Canberra without the slightest thought or feeling for the people there. The recent example of the police investigation in the Northern Territory is a shocking state of affairs. Needless to say the members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council are up in arms about this and are objecting very strongly to it. I would be right behind them. I propose at the Committee stage to move an amendment and I hope I will be able to speak further at that time.
– I do not intend to delay the House unduly in devoting my attention to this conglomerate of electoral Bills. But T want to give some support to the argument that was put forward here tonight by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who very satisfactorily demolished the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill as the most serious threat yet to State rights. The Senate, of course, is the chamber that has been regarded as the States House and I see this Bill as a very serious threat to the federal system of Australia. In the last few months, or at least since this House met earlier this year, we have seen one Bill after another come into this place that obviously is intended to achieve this unitary form of government that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is so hell-bent on achieving in this country.
– He is doing it for the people.
– Well, I do not think the people of Australia are anxious to find themselves with all power centralised and centred in the Australian Capital Territory. It will be a very serious thing for Australia and for the Australian people should this ever happen because it would open the door to all sorts of totalitarian actions of government. We have prided ourselves on having a federal system of government, a system that has protected the rights of the individual. So every effort must be made by the Australian people to ensure that we do not allow the central government to whittle away the authority of the States and the rights of the States generally, as it appears to be doing.
We are discussing tonight a BDI which in fact does that - a Bill, as the honourable member for Moreton has said, which would give the right if extended to every Australian terri tory to have Senate representation. Of course, if this were done we would end up with a hotchpotch Senate representation which would take away the power of the Senate to protect the rights of the States. The Senate is a States House and a House of review and I think that this move must be resisted for that reason. I am not opposed to trying to give more representation to the Northern Territory. In fact, the former Government over the years extended greater powers to the member for the Northern Territory who today has full voting rights in this chamber, as he should.
– And a very fine member he is.
– That is correct. I do not think there has ever been a parliamentary representative who has worked harder for a larger area or slice of Australian territory than has the honourable member for the Northern Territory. But are we to allow the federal system to be prostituted in this way by a Bill of this nature?
Moving closer to the Australian Capital Territory we are also discussing the Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Bill which provides for an additional member for the Australian Capital Territory. An amendment will be moved at a later stage to this piece of legislation. I am very concerned about one aspect of it because 1 believe that the Government is attempting to by-pass the present provisions of the Electoral Act that require a redistribution providing a margin of one-fifth above or below the mean for each electorate. Yet we see in this Bill an attempt to once again get to the onetenth margin that this House and the other place have dealt with already. I believe that we cannot allow the Government to try a piece of clever footwork with respect to the Australian Capital Territory. Therefore I will give my support to the amendment which will be moved during the Committee stage that will protect and preserve a principle that has stood the test of time since Federation - the principle of giving a margin of 20 per cent to the Distribution Commissioners when drawing the boundaries for electorates throughout Australia.
Other provisions in the legislation also are not altogether consistent with the Electoral Bill that was introduced earlier in this session. I refer to the criteria that are outlined in the Bill for the electoral commisisoners in drawing boundaries. Clause 10 of the Australian
Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Bill states:
In making the proposed division the Distribution Committee shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Electoral Division, to:
I understand that in committee the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) will move an amendment seeking to alter the wording of Clause 10 (2) (a) to read: community of interests within the Division, including economic, social and regional interests’. I believe that the provisions of the Bill should be changed so that they accord, at least, with the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill which was introduced into this House by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). Therefore, firstly I oppose the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill for the reasons I have outlined. I see it as a very serious threat to the constitutional rights of the States. I see it also as eroding the principles of the States House, the Senate. Secondly, I believe that we should resist the moves of the Government which has been trying, as it were, to sneak into the Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Bill a provision allowing a 10 per cent variation above or below the quota in the Australian Capital Territory. The Opposition opposed in this House the Commonwealth Electoral Bill which has since been opposed in another place. 1 believe that in order to be consistent we certainly must oppose that section of the legislation now before us.
– It is always a little difficult in a cognate debate of this character - a debate on more than one Bill - to state one’s views with absolute clarity, especially in a matter such as this where I support the Bill which gives the extra member in the House of Representatives to the Australian Capital Territory but oppose most sincerely the Bill which endeavours to subvert and change the basis of the Senate. Let me try to deal with these 2 questions separately and show why I feel that this is the course we should adopt.
It is fair that the Australian Capital Territory should now qualify for 2 members in the
House of Representatives in place of the existing one member. It qualifies by reason of the great increase in population which continues to take place here. The House will recall that it will not be long - a year or two - before the number of electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory will be twice the normal quota of electors for each electorate throughout Australia. Under those conditions I see no reason why we should not allow the Australian Capital Territory to have representation in this House on the same basis as other electorates. I notice that this measure has been opposed by some people, although it would not be opposed by me, on the ground that public servants constitute the main population of Canberra and by reason of their influence they have been able to obtain most favoured treatment for Canberra in respect of such matters as schools, sewerage and public amenities. To some extent this is true, but I think that even the people in other electorates would recognise that when the number of electors in the Australian Capital Territory reaches the requisite level 2 members in place of the existing one member should be given to the Australian Capital Territory. It is as well to recall that in respect of both the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory almost all the significant moves for fair representation in this House have been made by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government or its predecessors. It was in 1922 that the Northern Territory first obtained a representative here. There was not a Federal Labor government in those days. In 1936 that member was given his first voting rights, and that was in respect of the disallowance of ordinances. There was not a Labor government in those days. In 1959 he was given wider rights of voting on specific matters affecting the Northern Territory. There was not a Labor government in those days. In 1968 he was given full voting rights. There was not a Labor government in those days. When one looks at the history - I am afraid that my friend, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) who is at the table, tended, perhaps unconsciously, to mislead the House on this matter in his second reading speech - one will see that nearly all the advances have come under a Liberal-Country Party government, a Nationalist government or a United Australia Party government. The Opposition will continue to try to be scrupulously fair in this matter.
It is true that it was in 1948 that the Australian Capital Territory first achieved any representation in this House, but I think that honourable members will recall that before that date the number of electors in the Australian Capital Territory would have been only very small. It was done as soon as it was fair to do it. It was in 1959 and 1968, under a non-Labor government, that the powers of that member were enlarged. I think the Minister at the table when he thinks back will be fair about this and realise that most of the advances have been made by the parties on this side of the House. I shall say very little more about this because I believe that the proposal which the Government has brought forward is fair. It would not have been fair had it been introduced earlier; but, by reason of the increase in the number of electors in the Australian Capital Territory which is occurring, it is fair now.
Let me come to the other matter. I definitely oppose the Government’s proposal that there be 2 senators from the Northern Territory and 2 senators from the Australian Capital Territory. I have 3 reasons for opposing this measure: Firstly, I believe that the constitutional validity of the proposal is, at best, very doubtful; certainly I believe it to be unconstitutional. Secondly, it is not clear and there is ambiguity. Thirdly, I think it is substantially wrong, that it subverts the whole basis of the Senate and that it is unfair to every elector in the rest of Australia that this kind of preference should be given to the Australian Capital Territory. Let me deal with each of these 3 arguments. First of all as to the constitutional validity of the proposal, speaking as a layman on a legal matter, in contradistinction to my learned friends the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who have put arguments to the House, as I read it section 122 of the Constitution allows the representation of a Territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which the Parliament thinks fit. This, of course, must be read in conjunction with the rest of the Constitution. I believe that the word ‘extent’ properly refers to the numbers and that the word ‘terms’ probably refers to the length of the term for which members are elected. It is not ‘term and conditions’ as occurs in other phrases in the Constitution. It is ‘terms’ and I think it refers to a period of time. I turn now to section 7 of the Constitution which states:
The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State. . . .
This is the fundamental constitutional law of the Senate. The Senate is composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State. So it could be said that the new senators will not be senators in terms of the Constitution because the Constitution lays down quite specifically in section 7 that senators are chosen directly by the people of the State. To my layman’s mind that seems quite clear. I refer to another section of the Constitution. Section 23 states:
Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vote. The President shall in all cases be entitled to a vote; and when the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.
This is a very restrictive and carefully drawn section of the Constitution and I think it makes it clear that this Parliament is constitutionally incapable of conferring on the people represented in the Senate - whether they represent the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory in the Senate - the right to vote in the Senate or, indeed, to be senators. This seems to be a matter of elementary constitutional law.
Therefore, I would think that section 122 must be read in a sense which allows representation in the Senate in the same sense that we gave representation to the Northern Territory in this House in 1936. We said to the new member: ‘You are here and you can speak. You can take part in debates. But you cannot vote’. I believe that any law which endeavours to confer on people chosen from the Territories to sit in the Senate the right to vote in the Senate would be an unconstitutional law and would be thrown out by the High Court. I draw the attention of the House to distinctions which arise in regard to the position of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives. If one looks at the relevant clauses in the Constitution, one can see that they are quite different. Let me contrast for honourable members - I will read the clauses once again - section 7 of the Constitution which applies to the Senate with section 24 of the Constitution which applies to the House of Representatives. Section 7 states:
The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, . . .
Only people in the States can vote for senators. But section 24, which relates to the House of Representatives, states:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth. . . .
People in the Territories are people of the Commonwealth; they are not people of the States. There is no constitutional bar to the representation with full voting rights of the Territories in this House but there is a constitutional bar, I would think, to the representation of those Territories in the other House.
– It is a States House.
– Of course it is. Again, I should like to contrast section 23 of the Constitution with section 40. Section 23 states:
Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vole.
So, if the proposed new senators are not senators, they cannot vote. But section 40 of the Constitution, which is the corresponding section in regard to the House of Representatives, is quite different because it states:
Questions arising in the Mouse of Representatives shall be determined by a majority of votes other than that of the Speaker.
Since members of the Territories are constitutionally capable of being represented in this House, they are capable also of voting in it. I do not think that the Government really has turned its mind to the difficult constitutional questions involved in this Bill. It has been misled by the fact that there is no constitutional bar or difficulty in putting members of the Territories as representatives in this House but there is a constitutional bar to putting them as senators in the Senate. 1 am a mere layman in these matters and 1 have given a layman’s view of it. After all, the Constitution was drafted by lawyers but there were a lot of laymen present and I do not believe that we can entirely ignore the commonsense or the lay view of a constitutional matter. I feel that the High Court would take this kind of view, as it always has done. The Court has adopted the very widest and non-legalistic principle when it comes to interpreting the terms of the Constitution. So my first reason for opposing this Bill is the doubts - they are rather more than doubts, I am afraid - as to its constitutional validity.
My second reason is, of course, the lack of clarity contained in the Bill, as the honourable member for Parramatta pointed out earlier in this debate. We do not know whether they are senators or not senators or whether they are to be counted for this or for that. Really, they will not know where they stand. We do not know whether they are to be Arthur or Martha. They are really going to be quite confused and, indeed, if I may say so, it will be the difference between a tadpole and a frog. I mean no disrespect to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) who is at the table. I do not want to labour this point but the lack of clarity in this Bill and the evident confusion between the Bills which are brought forward by the Government are themselves sufficient reason for throwing out this legislation.
I come to the matters of substance. My friend the honourable member for Moreton has pointed out the really tremendous impact which this Bill will have on the whole of the Constitution. It is true that, in the phrase used by the honourable member for Parramatta, the Constitution is not only a legal document; it is also a compact between the States and as a compact between the States it does embody a certain inequity in voting power. For example, it allows for the same number of senators for Tasmania as it does for New South Wales. I think the ratio of population between the 2 States is something like 12 to one. So a voter for the Senate in Tasmania has 12 times the weight of a voter in New South Wales. This is not something which New South Wales has always been terribly happy about but we accepted it because it was part of the original Constitution. It is part of the Federal compact and, as such, it is accepted and generally regarded as something which cannot and perhaps should not be changed.
There exists an inequity in voting. The principle of one vote one value is thrown right out of the window. This was the price of Federation and it was a price which we agreed to pay and, having agreed to pay, we will of course go on paying. But what is going to happen in regard to the Northern Territory, for example? According to the Government, it is to have 2 voting senators. What is the population of the Northern Territory?
– About 90,000 people.
– There are 31,000 voters.
– I am informed that there are 90,000 people in the Northern Territory. If this number were to be multiplied by SO, we would have about the population of New South Wales. Is this the kind of thing which should be tolerated, even if New South Wales has 10 senators and the Northern Territory will have only two? It is not. This kind of inequity is going too far altogether. While one would accept the principle of inequity in the representation of the small States as part of the price of the Federation contract and honour the contract which has been entered into, I see no reason why, when there is no constitutional need for us to do so, we should import this principle of tremendous inequity into the Senate. What are the people of my electorate going to say to me when they are told that I have voted to put the Senate under the control of 2 tiny groups, one in the Northern Territory and one in the bureaucracy of Canberra?
– They will say 46hame’-.
– They will not say it to me because I will not vote for the Bill, but perhaps it will be said to some supporters of the Government. Some of their electorates are quite big. Their constituents will not be happy about having their tails twisted all the time by a small minority holding the balance of power in the Senate. Under our system of proportional representation the Senate is always fairly evenly balanced. There are only two or three votes between the parties on either side. Are we to have the constitutional position that the Northern Territory and Canberra can gang up together, join the majority in the Senate, and hold the rest of Australia to ransom?
My electorate perhaps will tolerate the fact that schools in Canberra are better than the schools in my electorate; perhaps they will tolerate that all bouses in Canberra are sewered in advance, and things of that character; but they will not tolerate the giving over of future favours to this small sectional bureaucracy and the small number of people in the Northern Territory. There is no need for it. The people of the Territories are entitled to and will get proper representation in this House. They are not entitled to representation until their numbers are 10 times what they are now. Even then there will be the constitutional impediments to which I have drawn attention.
– The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) made some interesting points, but when he took as his reason for the granting of representation to the Territories the enlightenment of non-Labor governments there was a certain degree of interest in the fact that he was omitting, for instance, that in 1922 the Northern Territory was given representation because it had been in a state of rebellion in 1921 and the Administrator of the Northern Territory had been put under constraint. So although they did not put a voting member in this Parliament they gave the Northern Territory a voice. The honourable gentleman referred to 1968 and the conferring of voting rights on the present honourable member for the Northern Territory. In doing so he referred to one of the most disgraceful episodes in this Parliament. It was not easy to vote against the measure and no one voted against it but it was utterly unprincipled that throughout the time when Mr Jock Nelson was a member of this House there was a steel determination on the part of the then Government not to confer voting rights on him. The present member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) should not have had voting rights conferred upon him in mid-term. He should have remained throughout that term without a vote and then should have gone to election when we would have had a member elected who had voting rights, that matter being determined by the Northern Territory. It was a piece of absolutely unscrupulous practice on the part of the Government which the honourable gentleman supported to confer on a man rights to which he had not been elected. If Jock Nelson bad continued as a member of this Parliament the honourable member for Mackellar knows very well that the democratic sentiments of the Government of 1968 would not have conferred voting rights upon him. So do not let us talk about that as an episode in constitutional nicety on the part of the side of politics which the honourable gentleman supports.
– That is not worthy of you, and you know it is not correct.
– It is entirely correct. Mr Corbett - It was confirmed at the next election, anyway.
– That does not give you a constitutional argument at all and it would not have happened, as you very well know, if Mr Nelson had continued to be a member. The Country Party has a very sound instinct for protecting its members, in altering boundaries or doing anything else. The other serious misrepresentation by the honourable member for Mackellar was in making the disparities between the States on the question of one man one vote. When normally one objects to departures in principle from one man one vote, one objects to deliberate malapportionment which is intended to favour a party. It does not matter much in the party sense in the Parliament that New South Wales has 12 times the population of Tasmania and that New South Wales and Tasmania are equally represented in the Senate as part of the original compact. Tasmania is not an arranged boundary to favour the Country Party, the Labor Party or the Liberal Party, nor is the State of New South Wales. So the point that is being made by the honourable member about the disparity in representation between the States has no party significance whatever in the Parliament. It is not a gerrymander; it is not a malapportionment. It is not anything other than a compact which all the Australian people voted for when the Federation was originally formed.
– That destroys the principle.
– Yes, but when the principle of one man one vote, one vote one value is departed from it causes damage and a lack of faith in the body politic, not if it is done to equalise the States but if it is done to ensure that the Australian people do not get the government for which they voted; when it is an arrangement to ensure that a minority can stay in power. That is the point that is objected to. We do not have to go over that.
– The honourable gentleman comes from a State which does not even have an elected upper House, and his side of politics has deliberately contrived that situation. I say to him: Do not give us lectures in democracy. I would much rather have his ancestor’s bunyip aristocracy. His proposition was for a House of baronets. At least you can create baronets. When a government was in power without a majority h would have been able to create baronets. Instead New South Wales has an upper House the elections to which are usually accompanied by rumours about buying seats. But we will not discuss that. I think in this respect the ancestor of the honourable member for Mackellar, with his House of baronets proposal, was much more democratic than the honourable member.
The honourable member, astonishingly, danced over section 122 of the Constitution.
He did not read the section. He said that this, which is a piece of the utmost simplicity in writing, had all sorts of tortuous implications. The section provides:
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any Territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth-
The Northern Territory was surrendered by South Australia to the Commonwealth - or of any Territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may. allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
It states ‘either House of the Parliament’. In some odd way the honourable gentleman suggests to us that ‘either House of the Parliament’ somehow or other excludes the Senate. As to the extent of representation the honourable member said that the High Court would probably find that that was the degree to which voting rights could be conferred. But if that is the meaning of ‘extent’, if it can give it to any extent or in the terms it thinks fit, then any extent or terms it thinks fit would include full voting rights. I do not think the honourable gentleman can impose upon us his rather odd interpretation of the meaning of these words especially when in the preceding paragraph of the Constitution the very expression extent of representation’ is included, not just the extent to which a man may be representative, but the extent of representation.
The honourable gentleman, of course, knows very well that the proportional representation system applying in Senate elections for the 2 Territories probably would simply cancel out in the Party sense. As I recollect, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) had a reasonably handsome majority in a small electorate, but reproduce that as a Senate vote if 2 senators were standing and the result would probably be a split one and one. Similarly I think that would be true at most times of the Australian Capital Territory. Although the present member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) enjoyed a handsome majority, if the votes of a whole lot of minor parties were added together and regarded as a non-Labor Senate vote it would probably have returned a nonLabor senator. The point is that the Territories which the Constitution does envisage as being represented in both Houses of the Parliament could very well have additional representation and have representation in the Upper House.
Anyone who travels over that ocean of land which is the electorate of the honourable member for the Northern Territory would recognise that he has a most onerous task of representation. My impression of his electorate is that it has rather, high feelings and that there may be many people who disagree with him politically and who would not wish to use his services. When I have travelled through the Northern Territory I have always found electors of the Northern Territory rather more vehement than most people in expressing their opinions. I am not suggesting that this is a bad thing but I think people who live in isolation often develop very distinctive opinions. They do not have much clash with other minds and often the disagreements in politics in the Northern Territory are very wide divergences indeed. One of the interesting things about the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory is how, over a period of time, when people meet one another they do have changes of view which in their electorates they do not have.
I do not think that the honourable member for Wentworth can give us lectures in democracy when it comes to discussing the conferring of voting rights on members of this. House. I repeat that the conferring of the right to vote in this House on the member of the Northern Territory when it was done in mid-term and not as a condition of the election in which he was originally elected was one of the most disgraceful episodes in the electoral history of this country.
Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar)- I rise to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, on 2 counts. First I did not say, as the honourable member for Fremantle, the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) stated, that it was impossible under section 122 of the Constitution for the Territories to be represented in both Houses. I stated that that representation did not necessarily carry voting rights. I cited, as an example, the fact that for many years the representative of the Northern Territory in this House did not have voting rights. I was quite clear in my remarks concerning the extent of representation. That means the number of members, and the Minister for Education misrepresented what I said. The
Minister spoke also of my motives in regard to the 1939 conferring of voting rights on the member for the Northern Territory and, incidentally, the member for the Australian Capital Territory at the same time - a matter which he most conveniently forgot. But I stand by what was done. It was done for both at the same time and I ask him to remember that.
-Order! The honourable member may not debate the point. If he has been misrepresented he must state the misrepresentation.
– I remind the Minister for Education of the filthy conduct in relation to Chilla Blain, a one-time member for the Northern Territory.
– I do not intend to reply in detail to all that has been said. I only wish that the present Liberal Party members of this House would get on the beam with their counterparts in the Australian Capital Territory on the question of Senate representation because I have with me an article from the Canberra Times’ of 17 May 1973 headed ‘Libs Want Two A.C.T. Senators’ which states:
The Australian Capital Territory Federal Electorate Conference of the Liberal Party may ask the Party’s Senate wing to initiate moves to bring in legislation giving the A.C.T. two representatives in the Senate.
The Federal Electorate Conference will also ask the Parliamentary Liberal Party to support any legislation providing for the two senators.
At its meeting last night, the Conference carried a motion supporting the establishment of two Senate seats for the A.C.T., both to be elected at the same time.
The Chairman of the Conference, Dr Peter Hughes, said today the legislation should be brought down as soon as possible.
The two senators are vital to Canberra because the A.C.T. is under-represented in that it does not have self-government’, he said.
Local government now seems even further away because the Federal Government is talcing centralism to an extreme degree’.
If honourable members opposite believe that, they should believe the rest of the article. It continues:
Proposed legislation to provide Senate representation for the A.C.T. was approved last month by Federal Cabinet.
However, Dr Hughes said the legislation did not look like coming up in the present session of Parliament.
One reason we would like to see the matter dealt with soon is that it would give us a chance to start campaigning’, he said.
Members of the Liberal Party in Canberra are not worried about the Constitution. The article continued:
We expect the two new seats will be established before the next Senate elections which are likely to be held either in November this year or March next year.
November seems the most likely choice, so there is not all that much time left.’
Where do members opposite stand with their counterparts in Canberra? Are they a lot of phoneys, a lot of no-hopers? I have quoted what their candidate, Dr Hughes, said. He is one of the most capable Liberals, the most intellectual, most competent, and most brainy of all in the Liberal Party of Australia. This is a fact. The learned former AttorneyGeneral, the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen), says this is all phoney. Did honourable members ever hear anything like that? Why do Liberal members opposite not talk to their Canberra colleagues sometimes. I can understand them not talking to members of the Country Party but 1 urge them to have a yarn to their fellow Liberals in the Australian Capital Territory. That would be only reasonable.
Did anyone ever hear anything like what was said by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder)? He believes 100 per cent in Senate representation for the Northern Territory so long as he does not have to vote for it. The Country Party is constantly asking for extra facilities, smaller electorates and more members because they have too much to do in the huge areas they represent. If anybody wants assistance the honourable member for the Northern Territory does, but today in this Parliament he said that he does not want anyone to help him in the 500,000 square miles he represents. While the Country Party seeks to gerrymander every electorate in the Commonwealth by means of a 20 per cent tolerance, a Country Party member has turned down added representation for the people in an electorate of 500,000 square miles. I suggest to him that he should examine bis record in this Parliament. He has never voted for anything worth while for the Northern Territory since he has been here. The fact of the matter is that a full-time Minister for the Northern Territory is now available and the Northern Territory has development unlimited. There is protection of the rights of the people and everything that goes with it, yet the member for the Northern Territory today said that those people do not need additional representation when everybody in the House knows that he is a complete failure himself. Why does he not want extra representation? The answer is that he knows that it would not be hard for another representative to outshine him, even in the Senate. I say nothing more except to repeat that the Liberal Party in Canberra does not agree with the views expressed tonight by members of the Opposition. It knows that Labor is endeavouring to give the Australian Capital Territory representation on a constitutional basis.
Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle- Minister for Education) - 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). The honourable member suggested that I suppressed a fact that on the same day - this is what he was implying - as the member for the Northern Territory was given full voting rights in this House so also was the member for the Australian Capital Territory. That is not true. The member for the Australian Capital Territory was not given voting rights in this House in mid-term. He won them in an election. The honourable member had sat in the House without voting rights, the law was changed, and it was not changed in mid-term. There is no analogy between the two, and I was not suppressing. The honourable gentleman can easily ascertain that fact.
Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. I think that the remarks made by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) were absolutely disgraceful. They were untrue. He accused me of saying something in this place tonight which I have not said. He prejudged how I will vote on the Bill. He. behaved like a complete and utter ratbag, and that is what he is.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! The honourable member will withdraw that term.
– 1 consider that what the Minister said was a complete insult, but I withdraw.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 9 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
In making the proposed division the Distribution Committee shall give reconsideration, in relation to each proposed Electoral Division, to -
– I move the following amendment:
Omit paragraph (a) of sub-clause (2), substitute the following paragraph:
community of interests within the Division, including economic, social and regional interests;’.
I understand that the amendment will be accepted by the Government.
– The paragraph that is proposed to be inserted has no useful purpose in this Bill. What is sought to be inserted is that we should take into consideration in redistributions ‘community of interests within the division, including economic, social and regional interests’. I would like to know what are ‘regional interests’ in the Australian Capital Territory. There is not the great diversity of interests here that there is in other places. It makes no difference to the substance of the Bill. So, the Government accepts the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move the following amendment:
In sub-clause (2), omit the words ‘one-tenth more or one-tenth less’, substitute the words ‘one-fifth more or one-fifth less’.
In explanation, perhaps I should say that the 2 amendments which have been put forward will bring the guidelines and directions to be given by the legislation to the distribution commissioners into conformity with the guidelines and directions which apply in respect of every other electorate in Australia. The Opposition does not think that there should be a change in substance in the Territory or that in some way it should be treated differently from other electorates by the dis tribution commissioners. That was the purpose of the first amendment I moved.
The second amendment relates to the margin. This has been a matter of debate and I will not make a long speech about the margin to be allowed in electorates. The amendment is designed to bring this margin into conformity, as a matter of consistency, with the permissible margin the commissioners have in relation to every other electorate in Australia. That is not to say that the commissioners will use the margin. They do not use it unless they need to. It is quite possible that, if the population of the Australian Capital Territory remains static - which is unlikely - or grows very rapidly in the 2 divisions equally, no use of this margin will be required. But if, for example, with the new suburbs of Tuggeranong in the south it is seen by the commissioners on the trends of population that there will be a very large increase in the southern division, making it very much larger than the other division in two or three years time, they will require a tolerance when they fix the 2 divisions so that with the passage of time the position will be brought closer to one vote one value.
Honourable members will recall that in the United States of America, where it was held that the constitution required one vote one value, it has been conceded that 10 per cent is not necessarily enough to achieve it. The commissioners may need more than 10 per cent to achieve one vote one value at the time of an election, depending on the capacity of growth. In fact, on the construction of the constitution in America, 15 per cent and more is permitted. But that is not to say that this would be used. It would be a matter for the commissioners to do what was proper, taking the trends into account. The Opposition thinks that, having that in mind and having in mind the need for consistency and not to make a special case of the Australian Capital Territory, this amendment should be made to the Bill.
– The Government cannot accept this amendment because its policy is ‘one vote one value’. In accordance with the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee, it believes that the nearest possible margin to that would be 10 per cent. I point out what this amendment would mean in the Australian Capital Territory. The enrolment for the Australian Capital Territory is now 85,282. The quota would be 42,641. The addition of one-fifth would bring the number of electors up in one case to 51,000. With the subtraction of one-fifth the lower one would be 34,000- a difference of 17,000. What the Opposition is asking us to do is to institute in the Australian Capita] Territory a system that will create 2 electorates in the one district - the one form of community - with a difference of 17,000 electors between them. That is precisely what the amendment means. The margin of one-tenth would mean 46,900 against 38,000 - a difference of only 8,900. The amendment is unacceptable to the Government. Consequently, we will vote against it. I will not elaborate on it as that was done in a previous debate.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) - by leave - read a third time.
– May I present for the information of honourable members 2 reports which flowed from the report of the Commonwealth Administrative Review Committee as presented to the Parliament by my predecessor on 14 October 1971. The 2 reports are the interim report of the committee on administrative discretions, the Bland Committee; and the report of the committee established to review prerogative writ procedures, the Solicitor-General’s Committee. The report on prerogative writ procedures is not yet available in printed form and a copy will in the meantime be made available in the Parliamentary Library.
Consideration resumed from 22 May (vide page 2430). on motion by Mr Daly:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 43
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Interpretation).
– I ask the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) quite explicitly: Will he agree with me that all that would be required to include the territories of Norfolk Island, the Australian
Antarctic, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Heard Island, Macquarie Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands would be a simple amendment to proposed new section 3, sub-section 2 of this Bill? It is a simple question. I am quite sure that my friend the Minister, without too much feverish activity, would be able to answer it.
– Perhaps before the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) speaks I might raise a point on behalf of the Australian Country Party. In this clause we see the principal distinction between the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in terms of the application of this Bill. The Australian Capital Territory is a federal territory and as a federal territory we see it as being in a relationship to the Australian Senate different from that of the Northern Territory. We believe the Northern Territory is embarking on a course towards statehood, lt is a State in the making. We hope that the Northern Territory, as one of those representative parts of Australia which is not tied specifically to the Australian Parliament and which is not designated specifically for the purposes of administration by the Commonwealth, might ultimately be developed and become an independent State. There is no likelihood of the Australian Capital Territory ever being given independent statehood. It is nonsense to think that it should be. On the other hand it is true that the Northern Territory is an entity which, at the moment for representative purposes, is under the control of the Commonwealth.
The Northern Territory was moving under the preceding Administration towards greater autonomy. The Legislative Council had advanced significantly from a state of total dependence upon the Commonwealth Government to a position where it more and more took decisions on its own behalf. Regrettably, since this Government has taken office, there has been a change. There has been a marked slowing down in the degree to which the Northern Territory has been given responsibility for its own affairs. Indeed, this is in marked contrast to the attitude which the Australian Labor Party has adopted towards the Australian Capital Territory. One of the tragedies in the change of government and change of attitude is that the Northern Territory, which one would hope would continue to advance towards achieving equal represen tative rights in every sense with the original States under the Constitution, is now being pulled back. It seems that the administrative direction which emanates from the office of the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) in Canberra is far more significant in determing the opportunities and rights of individual citizens in the north than it was formerly. In our opinion that is a great pity.
The Australian Country Party believes that the Northern Territory has a just claim for representation in the Senate. It is an immense area. The population of the Northern Territory includes the highest percentage of Aborigines when compared with persons of any other group within this community of ours. The Northern Territory consists of a lot of small communities spread over a wide compass. There is no doubt that if the Northern Territory bad the representation of 2 honourable senators it would make the opportunity for people of the Northern Territory to speak in this place even more effectively - outstanding though the representation of the present honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) is. It is impossible for any man with the tremendous extent of terrain and the spread of people to be as effective in this place as he would be if he had a tightly knit city electorate. For that reason the Australian Country Party believes that this Bill would be far better if it were to relate only to the Northern Territory and not to the Australian Capital Territory. In fact, because the Australian Country Party sees the Senate as a States House we are opposed to the provision of senatorial representation for the Australian Capital Territory. We look on the Australian Capital Territory as being permanently a body which must be apart from the States either in the present or in the future of the Commonwealth of Australia. I do now believe that it is likely - considering that this is the site of the Federal Parliament - that there will ever be an occasion when the Australian Capital Territory should enjoy the same representative rights in the States House as do the States around this continent. 1 agree with the point of view put forward by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that the Territories outside Australia might share representation in the Senate. I do not see them in the same position as the Australian Capital Territory. When the original land grant for tht Australian Capital Terri- tory was made the purpose of that grant was to set up a home for the Federal Parliament. That home for the Federal Parliament had a peculiar relevance to the functions of this national House of Parliament. There is just cause for the Australian Capital Territory to have representation in this chamber. But one of perhaps many - certainly several - remaining areas of maintenance of objective within the Senate is that essentially it should provide a voice for the States at a Federal level. I do not believe that it is possible for the Senate effectively to represent the States if it is to be given what I would see as tainted representation for the Australian Capital Territory. For that reason, although I support the honourable member for Moreton in his request that senatorial representation be given to territories outside Australia and although the Australian Country Party supports the allocation of senatorial representation for the Northern Territory, we are opposed to that being afforded to the Australian Capital Territory.
– In referring to the comments of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) I should like to say that from my point of view there is absolutely no difference between the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Senate was set up for the sole purpose of enabling a federation of the States to take place. I believe that unless the Australian States through the Parliament were to decide to give the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory the status of a new State, in exactly the same way as the United States of America has admitted new States in latter years, everything that has been said to advocate senatorial representation for the Australian Capital Territory or for the Northern Territory is totally and completely invalid. In 7 years in this place I have seen a degree of expediency. Tonight could almost mark the highlight of the expediency which we have all become used to seeing. The Senate has 60 members. The proposal to increase the number of senators is simply a result of the decision by the Australian people made in about 1967 not to break the nexus. The people at that stage said, rightly or wrongly: We do not wish to-
– Order! I suggest that the honourable gentleman relate his remarks to clause 3 of the Bill. He is speaking in Committee. The honourable member may not participate in a general debate on the Bill. It appears to me at the moment that he is debating the Representation Bill, not the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill.
– I was fairly close to the point.
– The honourable member was not even remotely close.
– I would not argue with you, Mr Chairman. The point I wish to make is that so far as members of the official Opposition are concerned we intend to stand together. We see no difference between the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. They are both territories of the Commonwealth. There should be no change in the existing arrangements and any party which votes for a change at the moment is really voting for the abandonment of those principles which brought this nation together as a federation of States. Honourable members opposite who are screeching like parrots should remember the beginning of this Parliament. They would not be sitting in this place now if the States had not agreed to federation. Whilst I am not an extreme Statesrighter, I have a sense of nationalism and I do believe that we have a responsibility to remember our heritage. It is a pity that some people in this House have chosen to forget it and have introduced legislation which, as I said earlier, is legislation of expediency.
– The point made by my friend the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is worth taking up. I think that my friend the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) has completely misunderstood what he was trying to say. He was not advocating a senator for Antarctica.
– Order! It being 15 minutes to 11 o’clock, in accordance with the order of this House of 1 March, I shall report progress.
– Order! It being after 10.45 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House, I propose the question: That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise to speak tonight on a matter which transcends party politics. I speak not as a Liberal but as a free citizen in a free country and above all as a Christian. In common with other honourable members in this Parliament I received some time ago a translation of a debate that took place in the Norwegian Parliament on 1 February 1972 on the question of the persecution of Christians in various countries, particularly those countries behind the Iron Curtain. I feel it would be appropriate that we in this Parliament should at least place on record our support of the views expressed on that occasion, and that is what I want to do. In the limited time available to me I want to mention some of the main points that were covered in the course of the debate. First of all I wish to quote from the introduction to the report which was written by Bishop Monrad Norderval, Chairman of the Convocation of Norwegian Bishops. In the introduction he stated:
On 1 February 1972, a debate took place in the Norwegian Parliament on the question: Can anything be done on the part of Norway to end the persecution of Christians in the countries the other side of the Iron Curtain.
Members of all the five parties now represented in the Parliament took part in the debate.
During the debate, reference was made to the unanimous statement published by the Convocation of the Bishops of Norway on 11 November 1971, on the subject of the persecution of Christians. This statement in its entirety is reproduced in Appendix 1.
If time permits, I would like to quote from that appendix. The introduction continued:
Many of the countries in which religious persecution is carried out under government auspices have signed the UN Charter on Human Rights, of which freedom of religion is one of the fundamental ones. People who are today suffering under religious persecution appeal to this Charter. On 27 March 1972, i.e., after the Norwegian debate had taken place, 17,000 Catholics in Lithuania protested against systematic religious persecution - which is in contravention to the Soviet constitution - as practised in Lithuania. Appendix II.)
No speaker in the debate denied that religious persecution had been taking place for more than 50 years in the Communist states. All those who spoke deplored this.
They deplored it as, I am sure, all of us in this Parliament deplore it. Further on in the introduction Bishop Monrad Norderval stated:
In his reply to the Question, the Foreign Minister, said: Now that we have the two UN Conventions on Human Rights, which were presented for signature in 1965, it is to be hoped that the time will soon be past when infringements of human rights can be regarded as a purely national concern’.
To our knowledge, this is the first occasion that a national assembly has debated the religious persecution which takes place in the Communist countries. In my capacity of Chairman. I am most grateful for that debate, and I have come to the conclusion that the correct thing to do is to let the governments of all countries have a transcript of the debate. A translation into English will be sent to all governments, both East and West.
I am also taking the liberty of appealing to alt governments - separately and jointly - to take up this matter, so as to put an end to religious persecution, which today is a disgrace to humanity.
There are 2 appendices to Bishop Norderval’s statement. One is the text of a unanimous statement by the Convocation of the Bishops of Norway dated 11 November 1971. The second is the text of a protest by 17,000 Catholics in Lithuania dated 27 March 1972 and refers to the systematic religious persecution going on in that country in contravention of the Soviet constitution. Turning very briefly to Appendix 1 referred to by the Bishop, he says:
The Norwegian Convocation of Bishops have unanimously adopted the following strong and clear statement on the suppression of dissidents in the Soviet Union and other Iron Curtain countries.
The wording of the statement is as follows:
In the recent years within our entire culture there has developed a new understanding of one’s own guilt over against a humanity where poverty, lack of freedom and oppression continue to be a dramatic reality.
Further on he refers to the text of a minute by a meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Addis Ababa in January 1971. This is the text of the minute:
We bad been vocal on the racial issue but less articulate in speaking on other issues where human rights were threatened. We longed and prayed for the day when all member churches would have the privilege of speaking against unrighteousness, not only in other parts of the world but in their own societies. The World Council had to be sensitive to the situation of Churches which did not yet have this privilege and this was the reason for the apparent silence on the violations of human rights in various parts of the world which caused some members to question the political objectivity of the WCC. Basic human rights are denied to millions of men and women, to students, intellectuals, journalists, authors, denying their right to express their own political convictions if these do not coincide with those of the government or the political party, denying the right for citizens to leave their country in order to settle down in another, denying the rights to Christian ministers and lay people who do not accept the limited area of activities permitted by the government.
That is the end of the text from the World Council of Churches minute. The Bishop goes on to say:
We join wholeheartedly in underscoring this. In the statement we issued last year on International Cooperation of Churches, we pointed to a disturbing tendency in the ecumenical resolutions and statements of recent years: Wrongs in the Western World are being condemned with considerably more consistency and strength than violation of human rights in communist countries in the Third World.
He goes on:
With this background, we are pleased with the strong and explicit statement from the meeting of WCC. And we find it fitting to point to three serious situations which there is every reason for the Christian Church to protest. All three of these cases deal with violation of obvious human rights in communistic countries.
We begin by naming the suppression of the Jewish minority in the Soviet Union against which the attention of the world has been repeatedly directed.
Further we point to the suppression of freedom of spirit in the same country which in a grotesque way is expressed in the fact that troublesome critics of the system are being treated as insane and interned in psychiatric facilities. On both these two points there is now being created an international opinion, and we appeal to the churches of the world to participate actively in this forming of world opinion.
In addition to this we must mention the persecution of Christians which continues to be an overt fact in a number of countries behind the Iron Curtain. Officially there prevails in these countries full freedom of religion. One should, however, realize that Christian evangelization is being restricted to such an extent that believers are deprived of the basic opportunities to witness to their faith. Christians who violate such restrictions are being punished as enemies of the state and as offenders of civil law. In reality they are, however, punished for their faith. They are punished because they take their faith seriously and in accordance with the Master’s words try to convert people.
We would feel like traitors against the cause of the Gospel itself if we forget this, if we fail to speak up against this, and if we neglect to do that which is within our power to build world wide opinion against this.
He also said that we should make it a point of honour: . . to speak up for those who cannot defend themselves and for the oppressed. The question of the persecution of Christians in our time ought to be raised in all the international meetings where it is possible to speak to those states which are responsible for the persecutions. We also turn to the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation with an appeal for an untiring endeavour to change these conditions.
Time does not permit me to quote any further points from the debate. It was a very interesting and detailed debate, which was initiated by a woman member of the Norwegian
Parliament. I take this opportunity to repeat that I endorse and support wholeheartedly the sentiments and views expressed in the course of it.
– I rise to protest against what I believe to be a grave injustice, that is being perpetrated against a small business and to protest against what may well be a widespread restrictive trade practice. The matter I wish to raise concerns the supply of television sets to a small outofPerth retailer who is involved in the sale, rental and servicing of television sets and other electronic equipment supplied by Thorn Electrical Industries, an eastern States distributor. Thorn suddenly refused to supply the business last week, after a meeting in the eastern States of a large buying group which has a store in the same area and which has been suffering from the increasing sales figures of this business - sales, I must add, based on personal service, a proper assessment of the value of trade-ins and the granting of a proper discount on articles purchased as well as the giving to customers of the benefit of technical advice.
It is completely unethical and completely restrictive for a Retravision group, with its group buying pressure, to intimidate Thorn Electrical Industries to cease supplying Howard’s Electronic Service Co. What is more important is that the local community, which has been receiving service at a reasonable figure, is being denied the continuation of the service provided. How many other people have been placed in this position by this type of action by these companies? These practices reflect upon the whole industry and must cease. I draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby), who represents in this chamber the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), and to other honourable members, who may be able further to expose this type of activity.
On putting pressure on the Western Australian representatives of the group for an explanation as to the sudden curtailment of his supply of sets, Mr Howard was told that the decision was not a local one and had been made in the eastern States because of pressure by a large buying group which had one of its discount group stores in the district which had been at a disadvantage in its sale of new television sets due to his sales activities. If that decision was made in the east regarding the Western Australian firm, it is more than possible that this restrictive practice applies in other States as well. It is far past time that action was taken against these people to ensure not only that the small business is protected but also that the public is able to receive the benefits of true competition.
– In the few moments that remain I want to put on record my support of the views put forward by the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Drury). They are views which I think deserve the close attention of the House. I know that the time for debate is very limited, but there are certain things which follow from what the honourable member for Ryan has said and to which I think attention should be drawn. The first is that this House should inform itself of these matters and be able to spend some time in debating them. There are 2 aspects for debate. Firstly, there is the double standard which, unfortunately, is applied throughout the world in this regard in that what is done by a communist country is condoned but what is done anywhere else is exaggerated and condemned. Secondly, there is the more important aspect of the religious persecution itself and the fact that the communist world not only is opposed to religion and is the enemy of religion but also, having developed under the precepts of Lenin which are followed very exactly, is engaged in a campaign of the most effective indirect suppression of religion while at the same time boasting of some kind of spurious freedom. This is a matter which the House should be prepared to debate at length and to which it should be prepared to devote some time to exposing. Are you about to indicate to me that my time has expired, Mr Speaker?
-I will wish you good night again.
– Good night.
-Order! It being 11 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until 11 a.m. tomorrow.
Treaties to which Australia has become a party by signature:
Agreement which has been signed by Australia and which will enter into force after Notes have been exchanged by the signatories:
Treaties in relation to which Australia has deposited instruments of ratification:
Statute to which Australia has become a party by accession:
Convention and Treaties to which Australia is considering becoming a party by ratification:
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Educa tion, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Discrepancies between totals and sums of their components are due to rounding.
Source: Bureau of Census and Statistics (Reference No. 5.44).
Although comparable figures are not available which show the outlays of sectors (a), (b) and (c) on the levels (i), (ii) and (iii) some information is available which may partly answer your question.
In tables 1 and 2 of the publication ‘Expenditure on Education: 1971-1972’, Ref. 5.44, the Commonwealth Statistician shows details of Australian Government outlays on education. Comparable dissections of State education expenditures by level are not available. A dissection is available, which dissects some current State outlays by level, and is shown in table 7 of the above publication for the years 1966- 67 to 1970-71. Details are also available for 1970-71 from ‘Public Authority Finance - State Governments: Social Services 1970-71’ Reference 5.37 published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Dissections of private sector expenditures by level are not available.
asked the Minister for Secon dary Industry a question, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Television Programs: Australian Content (Question No. 267)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media:
What percentage of all television programs on (a) commercial and (b) Australian Broadcasting Commission stations in each (i) State and (ii) Territory during February 1973 was produced in Australia.
– The Minister for the Media has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Details requested by the Honourable Member are shown in an accompanying table supplied to me by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Honourable Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be aware that the Board has determined Australian content requirements calling for 50 per cent of Australian content in overall programming and in peakviewing time, as well as quotas in first-release Australian drama and programs for school-age children.
It must be understood that compliance with the Board’s Australian content requirements is calculated on the basis of an average over 48 weeks from July to June each year. The worst four-week performance in the year is disregarded in the calculation to allow for the efforts of the holiday lay-off period in program production. The residual effect of the 1972-73 lay-off period is reflected in the results shown for some stations in the table. The performance of some stations was effected by a strike by Technicians during the period under review.
The Board has informed me that according to its calculations national station ABV Melbourne, which is fairly representative of all national stations, during the period covered in the table achieved an overall Australian content figure of 49.6 per cent and 42.8 per cent in peak-time including four hours of Australian drama, and one hour of school-age children’s programming. The Board’s requirements do not apply to the programs of national stations.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission has advised me separately in the following terms:
The percentage of Australian produced television material shown on ABN Channel 2 in Sydney during February, 1973, was 44.6 per cent. The percentage shown on other ABC stations throughout Australia was approximately the same. The short fall below SO per cent for the month of February is explained by the fact that the television programs ‘Monday Conference’ and “This Day Tonight’ did not resume until Monday, 12 February, and ‘Four Corners’ until Saturday, 17 February. Annually, however, the average will exceed SO per cent. The ABC’s Annual Report 1971-72 shows the percentage of Australian produced material shown on ABN Channel 2 in Sydney during the twelve months ending 30 June 1972 as 51.41 per cent and this was typical of the percentage shown on other ABC stations throughout Australia for the same period.’
European Economic Community: Common Agricultural Policy (Question No. 310)
asked the Minister for Overseas
Trade, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Is membership of the Communist Party of Australia a barrier to the conferment of Australian citizenship?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. Membership in itself of the Communist Party or any lawful political party is not considered a reason for refusing citizenship. It remains the law that applicants for citizenship must be of good character, have an adequate knowledge of English and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and fulfil requirements as to residence in Australia.
asked the Treasurer, 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:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Can he give comparative statistics on the percentage of students completing secondary education, undertaking tertiary education and completing tertiary education later than those given by his predecessor on 8 March 1972 (Hansard, page 756).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Later information is not available to that shown in the previous answer on the percentages of students completing secondary education, as the source study referred to in that answer has not been repeated.
The comparative rates of tertiary participation and completion per 100,000 of the population quoted in the previous reply were taken from the Unesco Statistical Yearbook for 1970. Corresponding information for later years has not been published. In the Unesco Statistical Yearbook, 1971 publication of the required rates was discontinued. However, in Chapter 2 statistics of gross enrolment at the secondary and tertiary levels, participation rates for certain specified age-groups and details of tertiary graduations are quoted. Many qualifications apply to these statistics and they are not comparable between countries. international Agreements, Conventions and Other Arrangements (Question No.544)
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Will he list all international agreements, conventions or other arrangement signed, ratified or in any other way entered into by the Government since 2 December 1972 and indicate the position which has been reached in respect of each of them.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information sought by the Right Honourable Member up to and including 28 February 1973 appears in my reply to parliamentary question number 263 (Hansard 27 March 1973, page 764). The following information brings up to date the information given on that occasion:
South Pacific Countries: Aid Program (Question No. 545)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
On 17 May 1972, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs announced in the House of Representatives that Australia would provide $15m in aid to the countries of the South Pacific region up to the end of 1975.
The following list includes projects approved to date, date of approval and estimated cost:
asked the Minister for Envir onment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) 20 Environmental Impact Statements have been prepared or are in the course of preparation.
The responsibility for the preparation of Impact Statements rests with the Departments putting forward a proposal. Those departments are responsible for any hiring of agencies or consultants that might occur. Similarly these departments largely determine the completion dates for Environmental Impact Statements.
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Prime Minister on two recent occasions on their return to Australia.
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Department of the Environment and ) Conservation: Accommodation (Question No. 620)
asked the Minister for the
Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The responsibility for answering questions rests with the individual Ministers to whom the questions are addressed. I am, however, asking all Ministers to endeavour to answer as many questions as possible before the House rises.
Australian Guarantee Corporation
– On 1 May 1973 the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) asked me a question without notice concerning a recent offer by Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited of an unsecured note, repayable on demand and carrying an interest rate of 6 per cent per annum. In the course of my reply I stated that I would call for a report about the matter.
I am informed that the offer referred to by the honourable member was contained in a prospectus issued by AGC and dated 26 April 1973 to raise $10m, plus over-subscriptions of a further $10m, by the issue of unsecured notes, repayable at call after 3 months. The features of the prospectus included:
A maximum total ‘at call’ holding of $50,000 per investor;
A minimum investment and withdrawal of $200;
Investments to carry an interest rate of 6 per cent per annum for periods of 3 months or over; after 3 months investments to be repayable at call. However, investments to be withdrawable- within the first 3 months with interest payable at reduced rates. Interest on investments up to 1 month to be paid at 4 per cent per annum and up to 3 months at 5 per cent per annum. Interest in all cases to be calculated on a daily balance;
Investments to be redeemable through any office of AGC or - if the noteholder is also a customer of the Bank of New South Wales - at any branch of that bank;
Noteholders to rank ahead of shareholders in the event of liquidation.
I understand that the ‘at call’ issue by AGC is not unique. There have been instances where public prospectuses of finance companies have offered repayment on demand or at very short call. Private placements of call money have also taken place. It is unusual, however, to feature separately such an issue.
On the question of a potential substantial movement of funds away from the savings banks - which are the principal sources of low interest funds for housing and a major source for Government borrowings - to finance companies, the predominant rates of interest paid by savings banks on ordinary accounts, repayable on demand, are 3¾ per cent per annum on amounts up to $4,000 and 4¼ per cent per annum on amounts over $4,000 up to $20,000 with interest being calculated on minimum monthly balances. The rate paid on savings bank investment accounts, repayable on 3 months’ notice, is 5 per cent per annum subject to an interest-bearing limit of $50,000. However, the minimum investment and withdrawal limit of $200 would make the AGC notes unattractive to many savings bank depositors. Moreover, the superior status of savings banks, as banks subject to the Banking Act and whose deposits are trustee investments, could be a partial offset to the higher interest rates offered by AGC and other non-bank financial institutions. It might also be mentioned that, while the Bank of New South Wales holds 51 per cent of the paid-up ordinary capital of AGC, I am informed that the bank does not guarantee or have any other financial obligations towards AGC debenture stockholders or noteholders.
Among other financial institutions, the range of interest rates paid for similar periods is quite wide. For example, while the trading banks offer 4.3 per cent per annum for fixed deposits under $50,000 lodged for 3 to 12 months, the rates on trading banks’ negotiable certificates of deposit, with a minimum deposit of $50,000, are approaching 6 per cent per annum for 3 months to 6 months money. In most States building societies are currently offering 6 per cent to 6½ per cent per annum on funds which are lodged at no specified term.
As I intimated in my reply to the honourable member on 1 May, the potential implications of raisings of a kind similar to the recent offer by Australian Guarantee Corporation will be taken fully into account in the detailed study currently being undertaken by the Treasury and the Reserve Bank on the various aspects of the regulation of the finaning activities of non-bank financial intermedaries.
Racism: Sporting Teams for Commonwealth Games (Question No. 563)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Nuclear Tests: China (Question No. 548)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
Can he provide details of (a) the nuclear weapons tests carried out by the People’s Republic of China during the last 5 years, (b) the dates on which these tests took place, (c) the location of these tests and (d) the explosive power of each device tested.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
International Aid (Question No. 547)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Decisions on the various forms of aid involved in Australia’s economic assistance programs to developing countries, and to international organisations have been based on the budgetary estimates for 1972-73 and the appropriations agreed to by Parliament when those estimates were considered.
The following additional allocations have been made on the initiative of the present Government, and are reflected in the additional estimates:
The present Government has also recently decided to provide assistance to the Indochina Operations Group of the International Red Cross to the value of $US250,000 and to Zambia of $250,000. Allocations for these donations will be made in the 1973-74 financial year.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730529_reps_28_hor84/>.