28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. 3. F. Cope) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the House that in spite of successful trial runs the Government Printer last night met unforeseen problems and difficulties with the new computerised printing process and is not able to say when Hansard will be produced today. The Printer regrets the protracted delay in publication.
The CLERK- 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 will ever pray. by Mr Connor, Or Cass, Mr Bourchier, Mr Coates, Mr Lamb, Mr Mathews, Mr Reynolds, Mr Ian Robinson and Mr Whittorn,
To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. byDr Forbes.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. Has the Department of Defence prepared adequate contingency plans to be ready to deploy forces in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, New Britain or Bougainville if any rebellion breaks out there after independence and proves too strong for the authorities at Port Moresby to deal with? Are there still enough men left in our shrunken, depleted and harassed Army to cope with the situation?
– The answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question is no. The answer to the second part is yes.
– The Minister for Education will be aware that the Karmel Committee has indicated that it will consider categorisation appeals by schools on technical and restructuring grounds. Is the Minister aware that Jewish schools propose to appeal on the wider ground that their inclusion in the general group of non-government non-systematic schools obscures their distinctive characteristics and results in the categorisation formula operating to their particular disadvantage? Will the Minister ensure that appeals on such grounds will, in fact, be considered either by the interim committee or by the commission, when constituted, in time for a decision to be available for the 1974 school year?
– It can certainly be said that the appeals will be considered before the existence of the school’s commission. A problem appears to have developed with Jewish schools in this sense. Perhaps their difficulty is that the questionnaire was drawn up by Christians and in the questions that were put they were asked to include religious teachers who are on their staffs. If you ask that question in a Catholic school, it has a definite meaning - the religious teachers would be Marist Brothers, Christian Brothers or Sisters of Mercy. In a Jewish school, apparently, there are religious teachers who do not teach secular subjects at all but who come in purely to teach religion and therefore are more in a category equivalent to chaplains. For instance, you would not add to the staff in a Catholic school a priest who came to say Mass or to act as a chaplain. The position of these religious teachers who were all put in the category of staff by Jewish schools appears really to have nothing to do with the secular structure of the schools. This matter is under review.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and relates to the Government’s action as recently announced by the Attorney-General in licensing additional persons for the civil celebration of marriages. I ask: Is this action, which on the surface seems reasonable enough, in fact an episode in a subtle campaign by the left wing of his Party to reduce the significance of all forms of religion by taking over more and more of the traditional functions of the Church? Is this action in relation to marriages in parallel with the attempt to divide and destroy the independent school system in which his Government is currently engaged? Is there a substantial faction in his Party which accepts the Leninist dictum that ‘religion is the opium of the people’ and adopts the Leninist tactic of attacking religion by snide and indirect methods because, as Lenin said, religion is too strong to be destroyed by direct and open attack?
– The first question seems to be in order. It has been the law of this country, first of all when the law was passed by the State Parliaments and for the last decade since it has been an Australian law, for people to be able to contract marriages according to civil rites. An increasing proportion of people who wish to marry now choose or would choose civil rites. There are not enough persons, not enough places and not suitable enough hours to meet the legitimate demand under the laws. The Australian Government is acting to meet that demand.
– I address my question to the Treasurer and preface it with a reference to the ever growing proportion of financial advances being made by institutions outside the scope of Australian banking legislation, amounting to 55 per cent of cash receivables as at June 1972. I ask: Considering important court decisions both in Australia and Great Britain, does the Treasurer not consider that it is now established that the Government has power under either the banking or corporation powers of the Constitution, or both, to exercise direct control over finance companies and/ or similar money lending institutions? Will he take steps to exercise these powers at an early date?
– It is true as the honourable member for Hawker says that there are vast areas of credit extending agencies outside the banking system as such. Since 1945, and even earlier under wartime regulation, it has been thought necessary to regulate the banking part, which is a decreasing part, of the total supply of credit. I have always believed also that there should be some kind of regulation of other finance extending organisations. I have indicated in this House previously that I intend as soon as possible to bring down legislation covering those other areas. I have indicated that I will hold talks first with the bodies which may be affected. The matter has been and is under extensive examination now by both the Treasury and the Reserve Bank, and I hope to be able to do something about it later this session.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. It refers to the announcement by the Treasurer last night that $33m would be available for the development of AlburyWodonga and other growth centres. an the Minister name the other centres? Will he give details of the amounts of money available to the various centres and also the purpose for which this money will be used?
– It is a fact that the Treasurer announced that an amount of $33m would be made available for our new cities program.
I will be making a full statement tomorrow outlining all details. I understand that the honourable member has rung my office several times in regard to Albury-Wodonga. I have made public the amount that will be available. The amount available this financial year for Albury-Wodonga is $9m. Most of that $9m will be taken up with land acquisition and the establishment of a new development authority which will be a joint authority of the Australian Government, the New South Wales Government and the Victorian Government. There will be other Commonwealth investments in the Albury-Wodonga area through Commonwealth departments, particularly the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the Department of Civil Aviation and other departments. Increased expenditures in the area will be directed through other departments, including the Department of Housing through the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, the Department of Education, the Department of Social Security and the Department of Health. The Minister for Tourism also has plans for the Albury-Wodonga area. Albury-Wodonga is only one of our growth centres. There will be others in all States. As I said, I will make a detailed statement tomorrow.
– Can the Minister for Transport give the House any information on the result of the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia for the construction of the standard gauge rail link from Crystal Brook to Adelaide and also the proposed new standard gauge line from Tarcoola to Alice Springs?
– There have been discussions between Mr Virgo and myself about the new line from Tarcoola to Alice Springs and complete agreement has been reached on it.
– Who is Mr Virgo?
– He is the Minister of Transport in the South Australian Government. Agreement has been reached between Mr Virgo and myself and Mr Virgo gave me an assurance that he would pass on to Mr Dunstan our agreement and recommend that he write to the Prime Minister accepting the terms that were agreed to. I understand the Premier of South Australia has written to the Prime Minister. On this point, I thank the honourable member for Grey for the part that he played in straightening out the differences of opinion that existed between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia on this problem. There was only a minor problem concerning Leigh Creek coal and when it was straightened out there was no further problem. I hope that there will be early agreement so that the construction of the Tarcoola-Alice Springs line can commence. No finality has yet been reached about the other line, from Crystal Brook to Adelaide, but there have been discussions on it.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral confirm that the papers he presented last night show that the cost of posting a country newspaper, now 1.75c for a 3 oz newspaper, will rise to 7c next year and 9c the following year, and that when such a newspaper is transferred to category C as planned the cost of posting it will be 11c? Does the Postmaster-General agree that these increases will have a very serious effect on country newspapers and that in many cases the only solution to the problem will be for the newspapers concerned to cease publication? Will he urgently review the Government’s decision in these matters?
– It is true that for many years the Australian Country Party has been anxious to subsidise newspapers in country areas at the expense of subscribers to telephone and other postal services. I would have thought that any responsible government in the past would have looked at subsidies, if they were required, as being part of the Consolidated Revenue requirement and not on the basis that the average person who uses a telephone or posts a letter has to support a business in the country. I can think of nothing more ridiculous from the point of view of national development than that the Country Party wants to run-
– This is a good answer, keep it coming!
– It is a good answer from the point of view that for years all the Liberal and Country Parties have done is express the attitude that something should be done to assist country industries and that it should be done by way of national subsidy. Yet they did nothing about it. All we have done is suggest that rural newspapers should pay the same as the general public. What is wrong with that? Unless that attitude is adopted the public will be asked to subsidise owners of small industries - perhaps uneconomic industries - who obviously vote for the Country Party.
– The Minister for Urban and Regional Development has been reported in today’s newspapers as saying that he does not favour inner-city freeways in Melbourne or Sydney and that roads for the motor car will be constructed on the terms of the Australian Government. I ask him: Does this mean that the Australian Government will give money to the States for road construction only on the condition that none is spent on inner-suburban freeways?
– My attention has been drawn to a statement by the Minister for Transport in Victoria to the effect that I should not meddle in State affairs. His comment related to my statement on freeways. The responsibility for the road policy of the Australian Government comes under the joint administration of my colleague the Minister for Transport and myself. We work as a partnership in that regard. The question of freeway and road investment in cities is important. One of the basic policies put forward by the Prime Minister at the last election was the Government’s policy on cities. The Government believes that freeway and road policy is an important aspect of investment in cities. We realise that the motor car has to be accommodated for a lengthy period and we know from overseas experience that the motor car has become a monster in the inner city areas.
The Australian Government is moving towards a policy of opposition to inner city freeways. It accepts the proposition that freeways have a role to play in the middle and outer areas of cities where they may circle major business areas; but it sees no future for inner-city freeways. I stress to this Parliament that the Australian Government’s policy in regard to cities is that all its investment - whether that investment is in freeways and roads under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, whether it is under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement, or whether it is in our new proposals for sewerage, in our new cities program, in our land commissions or under the Grants Commission - is interconnected. The Australian Government is involved in cities. We will be working in cooperation with State and local government authorities,. We want the 3 levels of government to work as a partnership because we believe that to be the only way that the problems of Australian cities can be solved.
– Will the Treasurer explain to the House why the Government in its first Budget has ignored Australia’s central economic problem, that of inflation? Will the honourable gentleman further explain why he failed in the Budget context to give a detailed outline of the Government’s proposals to deal effectively with this problem? Wild the honourable gentleman, against the context of the ineffectual anti-inflationary nature of the Prices Justification Tribunal, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices and the recent tariff cuts, outline to this House the positive steps which he now intends to take to control Australia’s soaring inflation?
– As I have said on many occasions in this House, inflation is not a peculiarly Australian disease that commenced at midnight on 2 December. It is something that prevailed in 1971 at 7 per cent, in 1972 at nearly 8 per cent, and is currently running, according to how you do your arithmetic, at something over 8i per cent.
– Come on.
– I was never so simple in my approach as to think only of things quarter by quarter. I had hoped that last night I demonstrated that occasionally things have to be thought of beyond the span of a year. However, I must say that I admire the zeal with which members of the current Opposition, who were in government for over 20 years, now want to approach the problems of inflation. They will have an opportunity next week in the debate on the Budget to indicate how they will co-operate in solving the problems of inflation. Meanwhile I simply put that there has to be a lot more thinking out of the implications, that public spending is not worse than private spending, and in the finish it is-
– But socialism-
– Ask the Opposition what it would cut back on.
– I am coming to that. In the finish it is the aggregate that is important and what this Budget does deliberately is to shift the balance in the direction of more public spending which will go on welfare, health, housing and other sorts of things, and less on private spending. As I pointed out last night, we seem to have a greater ability to make motor cars than to provide roads, and to improve other forms of transport. We are running our building industry really beyond the capacity of the resources at the moment. At present houses are built and are not sewered. Here at least is a chance to begin to grapple with our problems. _
The Budget is fairly limited in itself as to what it can do about inflation because of the rigidity of what we inherited in previous expenditures. The degree of mobility possible in any one year is limited. I simply ask those people who suggest that something ought to have been done - and if they will explain to me what it is I am prepared to listen - what they would have reduced had they been framing the document. I will be interested to hear the learned replies. At least those people will have a week to consider them. Meanwhile I simply repeat that inflation is not peculiar to Australia. Some of its causes are international and some are national. It is not only wages that are responsible for it. I simply say to those on the Australian Country Party side that after all, one way of getting higher incomes for farmers is to pay higher prices for meat, and at least one has to have a sense of equity about the causes of these things.
– 6an the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry assure the House that the strictest measures will be taken with respect to the prevention of the introduction of black wart and golden nematode disease, in view of the announced importation of 800 tons of potatoes from New Zealand for processing?
– Firstly, the Minister for Primary Industry and myself, as Minister for Overseas Trade, have agreed to allow imports from New Zealand of 800 tons of potatoes. We did this because the price of potatoes in Australia has risen from about $40 to $50 a ton to about $200 a ton in a year. That is a fantastic increase. This state of affairs is no good for producers or for consumers and it brings into very great emphasis the need for a national program of stabilising basic prices. I would think that every member of the House, particularly the representatives of primary producers, should be concerned about this. I wish we could obtain, if it were possible, the imports to Australia of other commodities such as meat, for example. I wish we could increase the supply in Australia of the food commodities that are contributing nearly 60 per cent to the increase in the cost of living which is now called inflation. Nearly 60 per cent of that cost of living comes from the sources of food supply and raw materials and not from factory products. If we are to deal with inflation that is one of the primary places at which we have to look.
The honourable member has asked me whether adequate safeguards will be taken to see that black wart and golden nematode, which are well known diseases of potatoes, will not be imported from New Zealand. The answer to that question is, yes, full and adequate care will be taken. An officer of the Victorian Plant Research Laboratory, Mr Maher, went to New Zealand and inspected the areas from where the potatoes are coming and with New Zealand officials has certified that in those areas there is not and never has been any of those diseases. That is the first point. The second point is that the imported potatoes will be used in only 2 companies in Australia both of which I think are in New South Wales. The premises of these companies have been inspected by Commonwealth and State authorities who have laid down the rules under which these potatoes will be handled in the factories. Full precautions will be taken to see that they are not distributed through retail outlets. The potatoes will be confined to these 2 factories. After they are processed the peel and other wastage will be destroyed under the supervision of the authorities. Completely adequate precautions are being taken. I think that this ought to satisfy every requirement of national policy in a matter like this.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. The Government has stated that it will increase basic pensions by $1.50 twice a year, making a $3 a year increase, until the pension reaches onequarter of the amount of average male weekly earnings. Does the Minister agree that with the current increase in average weekly earnings and the projected 13 per cent increase this year it is an impossiblity for pensions to catch up? Does he agree that average weekly earnings are growing at such a rate that pensions are actually falling behind? Is this relative position worsened toy the effects of increased prices caused by inflation? If he agrees, why does he not correct this misapprehension in the minds of the Australian public, particularly the elderly?
– I freely concede that it is a great challenge to try to control the inflationary forces which were released toy the previous Government. If it proves necessary to increase the twice annual rate of increase in pensions which we are proposing to ensure that pensions do achieve 25 per cent of the average male weekly earnings within a reasonable time then that will be done. We will continue to keep the matter under review.
– Has the Minister for Immigration read a report in the newsletter Inside Canberra’ alleging an American leader of the Mafia had arrived in Australia? If this report is true, what action is being taken in this case? Will the Minister state what the current position is in respect of criminals seeking to enter Australia?
– The honourable member asked a specific question about a report which appeared in a newsletter to the effect that it had been reported that a leading American criminal had arrived in Australia and had been accepted here. In cases such as this if the criminal is important enough he is usually described as a member of the Mafia. This is a 5-letter word that indicates that the person in question has arrived in the sphere of crime.
I did take the report in question very seriously because obviously any entry of a criminal into Australia is a matter of deep concern to us all. I did check out this matter and I found that the description of the man in question as a leader in crime did not agree with the information in the possession of either the United States authorities or the Australian authorities. I would like to say that we enjoy the closest possible liaison with United States crime detection agencies in the prevention of the movement of criminals to Australia or, for that matter, from Australia. I am very pleased to acknowledge that continuing co-operation and I may say that we will use it to ensure that there is no entry of undesirable elements or criminal elements.
The term ‘Mafia’ is being used more and more frequently. It seems that this famous 5-letter word is used by any tin-pot criminal who wishes to increase his own status. It has been used to categorise people who happen to have been before the courts in Australia recently. Of course, if there are any indications that people who have criminal records seek to enter Australia we will take all possible precautions to see that they are not admitted. I would like to assure honourable members that generally speaking we receive very good co-operation from crime control agencies in all countries. There is, however, room for some improvement in our relations with at least one country in this regard and I am hoping that within the next few months we will succeed in improving the situation so that we will achieve greater cooperation with that country.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. If the Government has not defined the regions in which local governing bodies will be eligible to receive special grants from the Grants Commission has it defined the parameters of regional inequality between regions? Will local government in areas such as Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst-Orange growth centres and Holsworthy-Campbelltown-Camden centres currently under examination by the Cities Commission be eligible to receive nonrepayable appropriations from the Grants Commission? Or will assistance in these regional areas be restricted to interest bearing advances from the Treasury? Does the Minister agree that local government bodies in regional growth centres chosen for special development have an advantage over other regions which are not chosen and therefore would be less likely to receive assistance from the Grants Commission?
– This is a very lengthy question and it would need a very lengthy reply. The honourable member has dealt with the new cities program and the question of the Grants Commission. It would take a considerable time to explain the policy of the Government in detail to the House. I will explain the philosophy behind the Grants Commission procedure. The Prime Minister has been saying for years that, while the claimant States have been claiming on the Australian Government because of the inequality between the differing States, there has been inequality within States. Therefore, our decision to allow regional areas to make claims on the Australian Government through the Grants Commission was based on that philosophy. Because my Department is a new department, as I intimated yesterday it will be approximately 3 months before the regions are denned in co-operation with the State governments. That is the position in regard to the Grants Commission.
It is true to say that some areas will have a Commonwealth priority. We will select growth areas and urge that finance be diverted into those areas to attract industry and public servants. The people who move to those areas must have the best educational, cultural, recreational, social and industrial facilities. These areas will be priority areas. We have to follow this course if we want decentralisation to work. In 1947 the population of the rural areas of Australia represented 31 per cent of the population of Australia. Today, 26 years later - for 23 years of that period Australia was governed by administrations of the same political complexion as the ones of which the honourable member was a member - the figure is 14.7 per cent. Therefore, positive policies are needed to attract population to these new growth areas, if decentralisation is to function.
– I address my question, which concerns Commonwealth expenditure on preschools, to the Minister for Education. When will the administrative structure be set up in the States to assess the priorities for pre-school expenditure? Will the Minister give an assurance that there will be adequate opportunity for submissions to be made in time for the appropriate allocation of expenditure for the 1974 school year?
– As I understand the position, submissions are now being made to the Pre-Schools Commission. The States are setting up their own administrative structures. It should be remembered that the recommendations of the Commission will be implemented in the form of grants to the States under section 96 of the Constitution. For instance, I understand that the South Australian Government has a complete organisation to deal with this matter. When applications come from private pre-school authorities, I imagine the decision will be made by the Pre-Schools Commission but the grants probably will be made to the States for passing on to the private authorities; or it may be more convenient to use the Commonwealth Department of Education branches in the States. I am not sure of that. We have taken steps in the Budget, as the honourable gentleman will have noted, to make sure that money is available immediately. We still await the recommendations of the PreSchools Commission as to administrative procedures and actual sums of money. I believe that those recommendations will come in good time for action to be taken next year.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. My question concerns the matter of Crown privilege of documents and the landmark case decided in the House of Lords in Conway v. Rimmer, which considerably narrowed the circumstances in which the Crown may claim privilege of documents. Can the Prime Minister recall asking in April 1970 of the then Prime Minister a question concerning Conway v. Rimmer and the implications of that case for parliamentary committees? Can he be encouraged to agree that plainly implicit in his question is a suggestion that only in the most exceptional circumstances should any attempt be made by a Minister to withhold a document from a parliamentary committee? Finally, if I should succeed in getting that encouragement from the honourable gentleman, will he give an undertaking to the House that if a Senate committee should ask for the telex message sent by Mr Barbour of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, it will be placed before the committee?
– I do remember the question that I asked of one of my predecessors on this matter. The honourable and learned gentleman will not be surprised that my colleagues and I are considering the matter at this moment - not only the question of documents but also that of witnesses. I cannot say how soon, but I would hope that a statement might be made to the Parliament on the question. I shall not anticipate what the Government decision would be on the specific instance he mentions of the purported telex message. I shall await the request or the summons whatever it may be, from the committee. It would be quite impertinent for me to anticipate the deliberations of that particular committee. I shall take this opportunity of saying that yesterday I told the House that I had not seen the Director-General of Security since late on the afternoon of Saturday 17 March. I overlooked the fact that I did see him a couple of months later in my office for a few minutes concerning the appropriations to be made for ASIO in the Budget.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Secondary Industry. It relates to a statement by the Treasurer in the Budget Speech that a review will be made of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Scheme and that firms will be assisted to commence research and development and thereafter will be required to finance such activities themselves. Will the Minister clarify whether this means that assistance will cease to all firms with industrial research and development facilities already established and employing trained and experienced research personnel? Will the Minister also explain what is the position of firms currently seeking assistance under the existing Industrial Research and Development Grants Scheme and whether there will be an opportunity afforded to them to adjust their research and development expenditures and programs in line with any change in policy in this area?
– This question relating to industrial research and development grants and the scheme of the Australian Government in this respect relates .to a very significant and important activity in secondary industry. Today we need a very rapid rate of technological advance and we need to be very much concerned with research in Australia so that our technological advance is not delayed and so that we are not any more dependent than is necessary upon research by multi-national corporations or upon research in other countries. However the scheme that has been used in this country has had a good deal of waste in it. It was too narrow in a number of respects. The reassessment that the Government has undertaken - which was given effect to in the decision made by the Treasurer last night - extends the scheme in 2 directions. First, it makes the scheme available when research is undertaken by persons with an appreciable level of practical experience, even though such persons may not possess the for mal academic qualifications, whereas previously it was a requirement that university graduates be associated with the research. Secondly, there is an improvement in the amount of eligible expenditure in relation to the grant. Some emphasis was given to the suggestion that we were not concerned with encouraging research at its commencement. This is an important area of research, but commencement is a matter of time and assistance will be given over whatever time is necessary for the development of the research program.
In addition, the review has taken into account that there may be cases where firms have already commenced research and development programs which are of particular merit and where it would be in the national interest for these to be continued and encouraged. In those cases where such programs have commenced they will be allowed to continue under the previous arrangement. The honourable member can therefore rest assured that the review will not be carried out under any narrow or restrictive interpretation of commencement nor will it exclude those that have already commenced a worthwhile program of research. We want to eliminate a good deal of the waste that has taken place. A lot of money has been paid for research that was not research at all. A lot has been paid to very large corporations which could well afford to undertake research. I would imagine that the Leader of the Country Party is a spokesman for those organisations and I can therefore understand his concern, but we are not going to subsidise wealthy corporations which in some cases, are not doing research at all. Each case will be considered on its merits and a better result in research in Australia will be obtained in this way.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the transcript of the conference of the Australian Government and State Government Ministers at Canberra on 10 May which discussed prices and income matters and all other aspects of inflation. Copies of this report have already been made available in the library for honourable members.
– ‘For the information of honourable members, I present a copy of the statement made by the Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, concerning his visit to Africa in June and July.
I present the following paper:
Statement for the year 1972-73 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1969 (Advance to the Treasurer).
Ordered that the statement be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole House at the next sitting.
Mr DALY (Grayndler Minister for Property and Services and Leader of the House)For the information of honourable members, I present the statistical returns from each of the six States showing the voting within each subdivision in relation to the general elections for the House of Representatives, 1972 and the statistical returns from Queensland showing voting within each subdivision in relation to the Senate election, 1972.
– Pursuant to section 26 of the Tobacco Marketing Act 1965-1966, I present the Seventh Annual Report of the Australian Tobacco Board regarding the operation of the Act for the year ended 31 December 1972, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– ‘For the information of honourable members, I present a report from the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on the effects of stopping freeway construction in State capital cities.
– For the information of honourable members, I present communiques relating to the meetings of the Ministerial Council, established to oversight the growth of the Albury-Wodonga areas, held at Albury, Canberra and Wodonga on 9 March, 23 May and 4 July 1973, respectively.
– Pursuant to section 28 (3) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1973, I present the report and financial statements of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with the report of the Auditor-General as to those statements.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a summary of discussions held at the meeting of Ministers responsible for recreation at Canberra on Thursday, 7 June 1973.
– by leave - I take this opportunity to report promptly and briefly to the Parliament and, through the Parliament, to the Australian people on my recent overseas visit to Mexico - the first by an Australian Prime Minister - to the United States and to Ottawa to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. I believe the visit was timely and useful to Australia, both in establishing new and significant contacts overseas at the head of government level and in developing the more diversified and independent foreign policy for Australia to which the Government is committed. In combining a visit to Mexico and a visit to Washington with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Ottawa I was able to restore a more appropriate balance to our approach to Central and North America. Washington is not the sole capital in that vast hemisphere.
In Mexico - which is a leader of opinion in Central and South America - my delegation and I received an enthusiastic and warm reception, especially from President Echeverria and Foreign Minister Rabasa. I believe the visit has opened a window onto Central and South America; that in future we shall have more frequent and meaningful contacts with Mexico and, indeed, with other Latin American countries. I found considerable common ground between our 2 countries as middle powers on opposite sides of the Pacific. Like Australia, Mexico has had problems of overdependence on foreign countries and inadequate returns from the exploitation of her natural resources. The Mexican Government is also strongly opposed to the poisoning of the Pacific environment by nuclear weapons testing and has taken the lead in ensuring that there will be no such tests in Latin America.
I found that we were in general agreement also on that complex subject, the law of the sea, and our respective representatives will be co-operating closely in future to ensure that coastal states receive a fair share of the wealth of the oceans and of the sea bed. I believe that the Mexicans are well disposed to Australia and our present policies and that they are eager to see the relationship between our 2 countries further enhanced. President Echeverria accepted my invitation to him to visit Australia, probably some time next year. In the meantime we are pleased to welcome a group of Mexican members of parliament and, probably next month, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Manuel Aguirre
It is the firm intention of the Government that the increasing momentum of our relations with Mexico in particular and Latin America in general shall not be lost. I left President Echeverria in no doubt that we looked forward to having him here, not only because of the great personal charm of which he and Senora Echeverria dispose, but also because such a visit will put the seal, as it were, on the Government’s policy of fostering closer links with our neighbours across the Pacific. I shall not take up the time of the House with further details of my visit to Mexico as I propose to table the Joint Communique issued after my visit.
In Washington I had substantive and straightforward discussions with President Nixon, Vice-President Agnew, Secretary of State Rogers, Dr Kissinger and numbers of other prominent Americans, including members of Congress, the chairman of the Congressional committees of particular relevance to Australia and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. All showed very considerable interest in recent developments in Australia. My discussions in Washington covered the situation in the Asian and Pacific region, including relationships between the great powers, our relations with the United States, ANZUS, SEATO, the situation in Indo-China, nuclear testing, Korea, regional co-operation in Asia, the special importance of Japan and Indonesia to us, and other matters of mutual interest. I told United States leaders that we continue to give strong support to ANZUS, which we see as embodying some of the most important permanent and natural elements in the relationship between the 3 Pacific partners. On the American side also, the value of ANZUS is unquestioned. I also told the Secretary of State that ANZUS alone of our treaties in this area seemed entirely satisfactory and that any Australian Government would strongly support it. I explained our reservations about SEATO and found that many of them were shared by the United States. I made it clear that some aspects of the Manila Treaty, as distinct from the Organisation itself, were of continuing value, especially to Thailand, and that Australia did not intend to withdraw from SEATO.
I can assure the House that, following my talks in Washington, I believe those basic matters on which we agree are much more numerous, important and lasting than those few issues on which our views might differ. That is certainly the view of the American Administration. I believe, in fact, that the Australian-American relationship will be seen to rest now on firmer foundations than it did in the past. We have brought it to a new maturity. I believe too that the American Administration now tully accepts that Australia is not a small and relatively insignificant country as it was once called there but a middle power of growing influence in the South East Asian and South Pacific regions. I believe that America respects and welcomes the less compliant and more independent, though equally friendly, approach which the Australian Government now adopts towards the United States. In the United States I also paid a brief visit to New York where I visited the United Nations headquarters and addressed a very well attended gathering of the Australian-American Association. The texts of this speech and my address to the National Press Club in Washington are of course available to any member who might wish to have them.
I turn now to the meeting of 23 Commonwealth heads of government and representatives of the other nine Commonwealth heads of government which took place in Ottawa from 2 to 10 August. This was, in the opinion of the more experienced heads of government present, the most successful Commonwealth meeting yet held at this level. It was successful because participants focussed their attention on the main practical issues in international affairs facing us today. The conference was attended for the most part by men with modern ideas. They represented every geographic region. Above all it was a meeting of equals sharing a common concern for co-operative effort and frank consultation. The scope and achievements of the conference are outlined in its final communique which I shall also seek leave to table for the House’s information. The document largely speaks for itself.
The meeting was remarkable, not as some have suggested for differences of opinion, but for the wide identity of interest in the approach of so many members to the realities of contemporary international life. We started with the basic proposition that we of the Commonwealth are now all medium or smaller powers and that we all experienced in some way or other a vulnerability to changes brought about by the nature of the relationships between the major powers. From this position we developed an appreciation of the opportunities for members of the Commonwealth and the benefits to be realised through closer Commonwealth consultation and cooperation. In this respect my pre-election statement of faith in the Commonwealth and its importance for Australia has been vindicated.
I would like to place on record the value of the wide-ranging discussions to all present and to draw attention to the practical and functional co-operation at the Conference. Well over half the members of the Commonwealth are situated in or around the South
Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Commonwealth provides a meeting place for more heads of government than does any other organisation in the world. Virtually alone among international gatherings, its proceedings can be conducted in the one language and all of those who attend are aware of all the nuances of that language.
I believe I established or consolidated a number of very useful personal contacts with a number of heads of government, especially from the Caribbean countries, Africa, and countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius and, of course, Canada herself. These contacts demonstrate that the Commonwealth is, as I believed even before I went to Ottawa, a valuable forum through which Australia can develop its more diversified approach to foreign affairs. There is no other body or organisation in which it is possible to learn so intimately and candidly the views of responsible political persons on a range of matters of every geographic, <canomic and political kind.
The need to codify acceptable behaviour by multi-national corporations has been widely recognised and is the subject of detailed study by the United Nations. Problems created by a brain drain’ in developing countries have been the subject of international negotiation and study for a number of years. Similarly, our concern with the threat from atmospheric nuclear tests is shared universally even if it is not transmitted in every case into effective action. In this respect I regret that a very small minority of members could not support the original declaration submitted by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, to which we lent our support, in the context of our present efforts to prevent further such tests.
In Ottawa I was able to indicate to Commonwealth leaders that Australia will give more active support to Commonwealth cooperative ventures. We already are a contributor to its major channel for multi-lateral assistance, the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, and the Commonwealth Foundation. I announced in Ottawa that Australia will also support the new Commonwealth Youth Program to the extent of $60,000 per annum for the next 3 years and that we will participate in the further study of proposals for a Commonwealth Development and Export Bank and an institute for the applied study of government. I believe the contacts I made in Ottawa will lead to the development of more meaningful relationships with a number of countries in the Caribbean and around the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in Africa.
I should report to the House that one consequence of my visit to Mexico, Washington and Ottawa will be the widening of Australian representation in the Caribbean and in South America. Following the discussions which I had, I propose to take steps to accredit the Australian High Commissioner in Canada to the 5 Caribbean Commonwealth countries - Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and the Bahamas - pending the establishment of a separate high commission in the Caribbean, the head of which will then be accredited to all 5 countries. At the same time I have under active review the Cuban request to establish a trade or consular office in Australia. I am also consulting Guatemala and Panama with a view to accrediting nonresident ambassadors to those countries.
I seek leave of the House to table the communique issued at the conclusion of my visit to Mexico, the statement by Commonwealth heads of government on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the treaty banning nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water, and the final communique issued at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has at last made a statement to the Parliament and the Australian people on his recent lengthy overseas visit.
– At last?
– It is a reasonable thing to say. It may be that honourable members opposite were not aware of the innermost thoughts which were transmitted through the medium of television the other night. I for one have reason to recollect them. The point is well taken that a statement could have been made (Government supporters interjecting) -
-Order! The Prime Minister was heard in complete silence. I ask honourable members to extend the same courtesy to the honourable member for Kooyong.
– This is a speech of substance, Mr Speaker; so there is obviously a desire to interject. What I meant to convey by using the words ‘at last’ was that there is a duty, after all, to report to this Parliament immediately thoughts that we used to hear expressed frequently by the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition. I believe that by appearing on television last Saturday night he transgressed the execution of that duty.
– He praised you.
– And so he should. I would have put it in different language. I might say that the next time he proposes to do me a favour perhaps he will desist and I will give an undertaking to do the same.
– He scratched your back well the other night.
– It was a beautiful kiss of death. As is to be expected of a statement of this nature, it highlights what the Prime Minister sees as the achievements of his travels. Even if these highlights were to be accepted, they should be balanced with the many shortcomings and debits which resulted from his travels and, more to the point, from his statements. The Prime Minister has asserted before that he will show the world that Australia is pursuing a more independent foreign policy. His view seems to be that our independence is to be asserted by abrasive and undiplomatic behaviour. Let us take the last port of call other than Honolulu - namely, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Ottawa. The frequent arguments between him and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Mr Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore are well known to the Australian people. I merely mention them. A statement by the New Zealand Prime Minister - not so well known in Australia - which was referred to by Mr Robin Day in a television interview, is similar to the accusations which many Australians are making about our Prime Minister. It was alleged by Mr Day in the interview that Mr Kirk said that the differences between the Labor Government of New Zealand and that of Australia is that ‘New Zealand acts and Australia talks’. Do we not know it?
The purpose in Washington, we understand, was to re-establish the friendly relations between Australia and the United States of America. Who fractured the friendly relations in the first place? The Prime Minister and his Ministers. Yet that was the primary purpose of the visit to the United States - to reestablish those relations. It appeared that those relations were re-established. There was some difficulty in negotiating the discussions with the President of the United States of America and the discussions were relatively brief, but they were held. It appeared that all was well. But not only the present President of the United States but also two of his distinguished predecessors - Johnson and Kennedy - were maligned by the Prime Minister in Ottawa only days after the endeavour to re-establish friendly relations had been made in Washington.
Before moving on let me refer to the visit to Mexico, the prime aim of which seemed to be to enlist support for the Australian Government’s views, which the Opposition supports, on the French nuclear explosions. It appears that the Prime Minister, in failing to elicit that support, had overlooked the very real ties between Mexico and France. The trade ties between Mexico and France and the extent of French investment in Mexico would have weighed heavily on any Mexican President’s mind. The Prime Minister, if he did not overlook it, sought to persuade the Mexican President to a different viewpoint. He failed. We live in closer contact with our fellow man today than at any times in our history. Therefore we must consult more closely, more frequently and in franker and more direct terms than ever before. But there are limits and standards of international behaviour and diplomacy and it is regrettable, to put it mildly, that the Prime Minister in his 8 months as Foreign Minister has failed to show an understanding of proper conduct in international relations. I suggest to him in the strongest possible terms that he appoint as Foreign Minister someone who can give his full-time attention to the ramifications of Australia’s foreign policy and not treat it as a part-time occupation. It might be found to be exhilarating, but at the same time it can damage relations between Australia and other countries.
The fundamental fact about foreign policy in the 1970s is that it needs to be conducted in a world where change is occurring rapidly. We are moving towards a new international balance in which the great powers and all countries are seeking a new spirit of detente. In this climate the Prime Minister has made Australia’s position equivocal and uncertain. He has shown scant regard for allies and alliances without suggesting constructive alternatives. The confusion within Australia as a result of Labor’s patchwork domestic policies has been transferred to the international sphere. The Prime Minister told the Australian people in his international affairs statement in this House in May that this Government had not sought to take Australia in new directions with its foreign policy, yet in an address to the Mexican people he referred to the new direction his policy had taken. This undoubtedly requires explanation. What does the Prime Minister believe? What are we to believe? Again there is uncertainty.
In the United States of America the Prime Minister continued his attack on the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, again without offering constructive alternatives. If he has offered alternative proposals privately he should indicate to the Australian people what those proposals are. The Liberal Party sees the need for adjustment of SEATO to make it more relevant and more effective as an instrument of regional co-operation and so that it will contribute to international stability. The Prime Minister’s gratuitous comment that Thailand and the Philippines needed to be nudged to a realistic situation’ can only have given offence to those countries. It is not for us to tell them what they ought to think. It is our responsibility to attempt to understand them and to assist where we can. Any advice which we might feel the need to offer should be given in private and in a spirit of friendship and co-operation. Any proposed change in SEATO, for example, should be the subject of consultation with all members of the organisation.
Whilst talking about South East Asia and Asia we might well note that the Prime Minister seeks to assume a leadership role in Asian matters, but Asian leaders are reacting against what they regard as clumsy intrusion. It is one thing to seek to understand the problems and aspirations of our Asian neighbours. It is another thing to try to force our attention upon them. It is also important to mention that last night we heard the Government dishonour its pledges on defence expenditure, a point that seems to be overlooked in some commentaries today. Far from maintaining defence expenditure the Government has provided only 2.8 per cent to 2.9 per cent of gross national product to be spent on defence in the current financial year, compared with the provision of 3.3 per cent last year. Given the rate of inflation which Labor continues to condone and has come to depend upon, the amount provided clearly will be inadequate to enable realistic development of our defence forces. In real terms it amounts to a serious diminution of our defence effort.
Our diplomacy and international reputation will be in question if we do not show others that we are prepared to make a proper effort towards our self defence. I mention this also in the context of withdrawal from the FivePower Agreement and the withdrawal at short notice of an adviser to draw up the program for the SEATO exercises, which run counter to the arrangements between our friends in South East Asia, and with respect to the Five-Power Agreement, with New Zealand and the United Kingdom. These withdrawals run counter to the requests of countries in the region with which we have always had the closest association and with which relations have been impaired as a consequence of the actions of this Government.
Similarly, the Labor Government is committed to a balanced stance on the Middle East dispute. The Prime Minister has publicly endorsed the previous Government’s stand of neutrality. Because of the thrust of change that the Government seeks to bring about I ask: Why the interesting approach in the Security Council in June of this year? We are the thrusting middle ranking power referred to by the Prime Minister, a power of some influence in the world today. To use one of the Prime Minister’s favourite phrases we are, together with Austria, one of the most respectable countries in terms of the Security Council so far <as the Middle East dispute is concerned. Why were we not playing a role in seeking some accord and an approach towards a solution in the Security Council? With Australia’s limited period of membership of the Council, with whatever period remains - certainly less than the 2-year period - that was the golden opportunity for us to play a role in the Council, one of the most important issues to come before it in June was the Middle East dispute. It is probably one of the most flagrant issues confronting the world today. Again we hear one thing being said about thrusting with new ideas and change in the world but see a running away from facing the responsibility of trying to play a leading role in settling the Middle East dispute. Instead of muddling along in the way we did in June we could have acted with the sort of zeal with which the Prime Minister is so filled in trying to instill a new approach during our limited period of membership of the Council.
It is a matter of grave disappointment that we did not try to initiate a new solution fair to both sides in the atmosphere of the discussion within the Security Council. It is as inconsistent as what we find in the Prime Minister’s statement and the statement made yesterday in the Senate by the Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) on his recent visit to Africa, the region with which the Prime Minister is so concerned in seeking to establish a leading role amongst the countries of the third world. Senator Willesee referred to the present Government’s changed policies towards Africa and said that African governments now believe that they can count upon the Australian Government for support. He referred to ‘a substantial change of policy’ but he has made no effort to indicate what it is.
Have commitments been given to governments in Africa which have led them to believe that they can count on Australia for support? If so, this Parliament and the Australian people ought to be informed. Senator Willesee referred to a substantial change of policy, yet when the Prime Minister was recently in India he stressed that in all his overseas visits - to Britain, Canada, Indonesia and India - he had stressed the continuity of Australia’s foreign policy under the present Government. The Prime Minister’s statements are contradictory and his Assistant Minister appears to disagree with him. There is a need for a proper explanation of these contradictions. One whirlwind tour by a Minister does not make a policy. Throughout the Prime Minister’s handling of the Foreign Affairs portfolio this nation and its friends have witnessed a contrived and distorted appraisal of the achievements of the previous Government. Such distortions are again implicit in this statement. It might well be thought by some that it is fine to be taking new initiatives in the foreign arena, but remember the importance of step by step diplomacy, remember that so called concepts of the multiplier effect also occur in diplomacy.
Look at the steady record of the previous Government. Do not treat it with contempt but regard the changes that occurred and remember the friendly relations which existed between the previous Government and the countries of South-East Asia and do not try and give in future the contrived appraisal such as you have. The present Government could well be proud of the record of association with countries of this region had it continued those associations. It has seen fit to distort the previous Government’s attitude. As a consequence of its actions, the present Government has torn asunder those relations between Australia and Singapore, between Australia and Thailand and between Australia and the Philippines. The effect on these is reflected elsewhere.
If we read the new book entitled ‘Australian Foreign Policy’ which the Prime Minister is to launch and which is edited by Claire Clark who is a member of the Parliamentary Research Staff, we see that it contains a statement made by the Prime Minister earlier this year to the summer school of the Institute of Political Science in Canberra.
– I was opening it.
– The Prime Minister made the statement when opening the school. The statement stressed the very real role and key role which ought to exist between Australia and Indonesia. From that-
– He wrote it himself.
– It is a pity that he did not get someone else to involve themselves in the writing of statements because it is his own statements that have caused so much of the problem.
– Are you- asking for it to be incorporated in Hansard?
– No, I do not want it incorporated. I want to remind the Prime Minister of his words. He said: ‘The continued development of our relations with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines is important not only in the wider regional context but in the context of our own relations with Indonesia’. In other words, after following on a discussion on the Association of South-East Asian Nations if you take certain actions with other countries of this region this will flow on to the relations that you have with each country in that region. Any activity with one leads as a consequence to the others. This is the multiplier effect. The
Prime Minister should not think that he can argue with the Prime Minister of Singapore without this having ramifications with our relations with other countries, particularly other countries in the region. I wish for a change that the Prime Minister would stop and be cognizant of the consequences of his actions and his statements and the effect that they have on relations between Australia and the nations within South and South-East Asia in particular.
The relations of the previous Government with the nations of this area were close and they will continue to be when we are returned at the next elections. In future statements it will be my intention, of course, to highlight not only what is wrong with the standing of the present Government in relation to other countries of the world but to indicate what we will be doing when we are returned. At this early stage I have contented myself with I think a valid appraisal of the ramifications of the recent overseas visit of the Prime Minister and compared his record with the record of the previous Government, of which we can be justifiably proud.
-I call the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party.
– I seek leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– Initially might I commend my colleague-
– Might I commend my colleague the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) on his baptism?
– Order! I am sorry, but leave is not granted.
– I thought there was an agreement. I was under that impression.
– No, there was no agreement.
– I was advised that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party would be following me in this debate.
– Get out of it. If we are going to have a debate the call will go to the other side.
– Look, we know that the Minister for Education is trying to restrict statements quite apart from the other things he is trying to restrict in the community. I understood that there was an agreement and I seek elucidation of this from the Leader of the House.
– Mt Speaker, there were no arrangements made with me in regard to the number of speakers. In fact, I was not asked. Consequently it was decided that only the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would ask for leave to make a statement. Consequently there is no arrangement; no arrangement has been made and no arrangements have been broken. That is how the position stands.
– I rise on a point of order. I approached the Government Whip who went down and spoke to the Leader of the House on this precise matter. The answer came back to me through the Government Whip. Certainly the Leader of the House made no submissions or agreements in this regard. But I ask him to play with the truth a little more strictly before he says that he was not questioned about it. That is an entire untruth.
-Order! There is no point of order involved. The matter of arrangements between the Leader of the House or the Whips has nothing to do with the Chair.
– I have been misrepresented and I seek leave to make a personal explanation. The statement made by the honourable member for Angas is deliberately false. I was not consulted by the Whip on this issue on any question at all. That statement should be withdrawn.
-Order! The Minister must withdraw the words ‘deliberately false’.
– I say it was a false statement. I was not consulted on this matter by anyone.
– Mr Speaker, may I have your indulgence, before this heats up. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party wants only 10 minutes to speak on a very important statement. Can we appeal to the good grace of the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister to give leave.
– He can discuss it when he speaks during the Budget debate.
– Order! This is not a matter for the Chair to decide. It is a matter for the Leader of the House as to whether leave is to be granted. If the Leader of the House says no, that is the finish of the matter. I call the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for New England speaking on the matter before the House.
– While this matter is in abeyance for a minute may I have permission to reply to the Leader of the House?
– No. There is no provision in the Standing Orders for a reply.
– May I make a personal explanation? I claim to have been misrepresented by the Leader of the House.
-I call the honourable member for Angas.
– It is not my aim to get at loggerheads with a man so important and so erudite as the Leader of the House. But in this case I went along to his chief Whip and I posed him with a problem as regards this debate. I sat with the Country Party Whip and I watched the Government Whip go down and talk to the Leader of the House. I cannot tell what did or did not go on at that time. But the Government Whip came back and gave me the answer immediately. It was perfectly obvious from the answer given to me by the Government Whip that this matter had been discussed between him and the Leader of the House. I am not here to cause trouble, but I say let there be a bit of honesty about this. Before the Leader of the House accuses me of falsehoods, might I add that I have witnesses for every statement that I have made. I regard those statements as quite truthful. The Government Whip came back and laid down conditions under which this debate could take place as regards amendments - of which we had none. This matter is perfectly plain in my mind. I just hope that the Leader of the House regrets his statement.
– I seek suspension of the Standing Orders to speak on this matter because it is important that this House have an opportunity not only to hear from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) but, I trust, from other speakers from the Government who have been overseas during the recess, in particular those ministers who have come back from their wanderings and who, we would hope, might have contributed a little towards a restoration of good relations between Australia and those countries whom their Leader and others have estranged. It is important that there should be an opportunity not only for them to make these statements but also for us to reply to them. In this instance the Prime Minister has made an important statement. In that statement he canvassed the whole range of issues which he in the course of a few weeks of absence from Australia, predominantly to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Ottawa, was able to encompass. To me the difficulty in not being accorded leave to speak is that there are matters which I think need to be said. I think all Australians are concerned at the general posture which the Prime Minister adopted not only in debate at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting but also in his presentation of an Australian image - presented not in a manner to which to attract the approval of those of us who have been accustomed to seeing Prime Ministers act in the way in which they should act. He appeared more as a person attending an Australian Labor Party conference at Southport than as a head of a government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Ottawa.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The motion is that the Standing Orders be suspended. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party, the fourth most important man in the House, is debating the issue. I take the point that the honourable member must confine himself to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.
– I ask the honourable member for New England to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.
– I think that is a very valid point and I am indebted to the Leader of the House for pointing out that it is necessary for me to refer to the performance of the Prime Minister and the disappointment that all Australians felt at the way in which he appeared more as a person attending an ALP conference on the Gold Coast than as the head of a government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Ottawa. I feel it is necessary that I should have an opportunity to speak in this House in order to identify his performance. I think it is important that the Standing Orders should be suspended so that members of the visiting Mexican delegation may attend this place - as I understand they are to do later this day - and hear the debate on this subject. Mexico is a country about which all Australians are interested to know more. We of course noted that responses to the Prime Minister in Mexico were not perhaps as willing as he had anticipated. This was certainly so insofar as the French nuclear testing in the South Pacific is concerned - a matter on which there is accord between the Australian Country Party and the Labor Party. On this matter the Mexican people might be concerned not to offend the French. It is a pity that the Prime Minister does not realise that international sensitivities are an important part of international diplomacy. I believe that the suspension of the Standing Orders is necessary to enable me to identify the problems that emanated from his failure to realise this.
There is another area of the discussions the Prime Minister held overseas - those in the United States - which highlight the problems of not being able to talk on this matter. I refer to the difficulties that emanate from the deterioration in Australia’s relationships with the United States.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member is now discussing the subject matter. He should be asked to confine himself to the reasons for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
-I again ask the honourable member to confine his remarks.
– The action of moving a motion to suspend the Standing Orders is taken only when there is not an opportunity to raise adequately matters that have been covered in the course of a debate before the House. The Prime Minister’s report on his discussions in the United States highlights one of the very real problems that this Government is creating for the future of Australia.
– I raise a further point of order. The honourable member is now referring to the subject matter of the debate. The honourable member is deliberately defying your ruling, Mr Speaker, and I take the point that he should be asked to confine his remarks to the terms of the motion.
-I ask the honourable member for New England to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.
– 1 thank you for your ruling, Mr Speaker. I believe that it is necessary that the Standing Orders be suspended so that I can adequately identify the concern which
Australians have at the irrational and irresponsible statements by the Prime Minister echoing those of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) in regard to the involvement of multi-national corporations in our community. It is important that there be an adequate discussion of this issue in this House. I think we all recognise that multi-national corporations have made a contribution to the development of this country. There should be an opportunity to talk on this matter. There should be an opportunity for us to consider both sides of the story. Of course we all want the maximum Australian identity in the development of this country. We want the maximum Australian involvement. We want an opportunity to discuss that involvement and to discuss the way in which multi-national corporations can and will make a contribution to the development of Australia.
– On a point of order, the honourable member is again debating the subject matter of the statement. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to direct the honourable member to confine his remarks to the motion.
-I think that the Leader of the House may be a little bit confused. Since the last point of order was raised the honourable member for New England has given reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.
– I believe that it is necessary that this House Should grant to its members the opportunity to debate significant issues. The reason I have moved the motion to suspend the Standing Orders is that no opportunity is being given to speak. We are being denied the opportunity to talk about multi-national corporations. We are being denied the opportunity to talk about statements made by the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s attitude to the Prime Minister of Singapore, his attitude to the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the divisions that emerged within the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference. We are being denied the opportunity to speak about all of the problems relating to the espousal by the Prime Minister of the Afro-Asian group as distinct from those people with whom we have traditionally been associated. I believe that there should be an opportunity to discuss these matters and to formulate a debate on what degree the interests of Australia are best protected. We should be able to discuss the attempts by the Prime Minister to curry favour with one group within a conference 1
-Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating the subject matter. The motion is that the Standing Orders be suspended. I ask the honourable member to confine the rest of his remarks to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.
– I concur with your point, Mr Speaker, that it is necessary to establish why Standing Orders should be suspended. 1 was endeavouring to point out that it is necessary for the Australian people to have an opportunity to hear the arguments as to why the Prime Minister should have sought the support of the Afro-Asian group; why he felt that it was necessary to antagonise those who have been our true and trusted friends; why he felt it was necessary to antagonise the Prime Minister of Singapore and why we should be denied an opportunity to debate this estrangement of relations at a time when it is important that Australia’s attitudes are fully exposed before the Australian people? After all, if a David Frost show can give to the Australian people the initial performance of the first report of the Prime Minister to this country it seems strange that members of this House are to be denied not only that original performance but also the opportunity to talk about it subsequently. The suspension of the Standing Orders is the only procedure open to me to enable me to have a minimal opportunity to speak, while a television interviewer, not an Australian, one of these overseas people of whom the Prime Minister is so critical-
– A foreigner.
– A foreigner was given the first opportunity to hear the first report to the nation. Here we are being denied even the opportunity to talk adequately about the performance of the Prime Minister. I believe his performance was lamentable in view of the degree to which it has led to a deterioration in so many ways of the past high standing of the Australian people and of this country.
-Order! Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. I support the remarks of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) for 2 major reasons. Firstly, one of the accusations which supporters of the present Government made when they were in Opposition was that there was not sufficient time given in this House to debate international affairs. This afternoon a very important statement was made to the House by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). That statement was answered in a very adequate and competent speech made by the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) in which he pointed out some very pertinent factors concerning this Government’s policies on international affairs. I believe that in this situation in our history on the international scene it is of vital importance that this Parliament should set the record straight in regard to the attitude of both the Government and the Opposition in the field of international affairs. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to make a statement in this House and to give a report - as I think he should have done - on his visit overseas, but on a number of occasions in recent times in the international scene he has made statements which are statements of the Prime Minister of Australia. I believe there is trepidation in some of the countries close to Australia regarding Australia’s policy and the action that it is taking.
I believe that adequate opportunity should be given by the Government so that members of the Opposition can put forward what is a considered opinion of a proportion of the people of this country. I believe that it is even more important today because the daily program states that there is to be a visit to this Parliament by a Mexican parliamentary delegation. Surely, as this report from the Prime Minister covered a visit to that country, adequate time should be given for discussion and adequate time should be given for the presentation of a point of view for which we make no apologies and which is a complete and absolute contradiction of those things which the Prime Minister has said overseas in recent months. I believe that this is one of the major reasons why this House should support the motion that has been moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders. We do not move a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders lightly. We know that there is a normal process for the business of the House to proceed.
In regard to some of the comments made by Government supporters, I point out that every time they moved for the suspension of Standing Orders when they were in Opposition they stood firm on the rights of an opposition to have its say in this Parliament. The record shows that on a number of occasion the Opposition moved for the suspension of Standing Orders when the importance was not so great as it is today. For those reasons I support completely and absolutely the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable a vital and very important subject to be discussed fully and adequately so that people in the countries close to Australia might know that not everyone in this country is of the opinion that the policy followed by the Prime Minister is the one which is the sanest and of the greatest advantage to this country.
– Firstly, I shall put the record straight in opposition to the motion. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) asked for leave to make a statement; leave was granted. The spokesman for the Opposition asked for leave to make a statement; it was granted. No honourable member asked that the paper be printed or noted for debate. Had that been asked for the request would have been granted. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) did not ask that any other honourable member from his side should be allowed to speak. Had that been requested and arrangements made, consideration would have been given to it. I repeat that the 3 processes open to the Opposition were not availed of. It was accepted that there would be one speaker and that was the spokesman of the Liberal Party. This brings me to the question: Must we in this Parliament, every time a member of the Liberal Party speaks, ask a member of the County Party to speak also? Is that the situation? Who is the spokesman on the Opposition side? Is it the Deputy Leader of the Country Party, the fourth most important man in the House, or is it the honourable member who spoke? When the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) makes a statement in a moment must we have a Liberal Party speaker and a Country Party speaker? Why do not honourable members opposite sort themselves out? They know why we asked for only one speaker; it was because we wanted to keep harmony in their camp. We do not want to bring into the light of day the disharmony that exists there. Why do not honourable members opposite put their heads together? I cannot help it if the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party overlooked the Country Party when making his arrangements. Having a good look at the Country Party, I do not blame him, but it is not my job to sort him out.
-Order! The Leader of the House is now debating why the Standing Orders should not be suspended.
– ‘The point I raise is this: Is it to be taken that on each occasion when a debate takes place we are to have 2 speakers from the Opposition parties. We would only get into all kinds of trouble. In respect of China it could be to recognise or not to recognise; in regard to North Vietnam it could be to bomb or not to bomb.
– ‘Perhaps the same Standing Order could be applied to the Leader of the House as was applied to me?
-Order! I ask the Leader of the House to discuss why Standing Orders should not be suspended.
– Mr Speaker, I accede to your request. I point out that the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), who spoke a moment ago, rambled far and wide. I am just giving, within the scope of my intelligent remarks, some reasons why the honourable member rambled. Honourable members opposite have offered criticism of the Leader of the Government in respect of Lee Kuan Yew and others. Most of the Prime Minister’s time was involved in taking away from Lee Kuan Yew the odium that was created by Country Party Ministers in regard to shirts, clothing and things like that. While the Prime Minister was abroad he was trying to defend in many respects-
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Speaker, this is totally irrelevant, as the Leader of the House knows, to the motion that is being debated and I ask that you so rule.
-I ask the Leader of the House to confine his remarks to the reason why Standing Orders should or should not be suspended.
– I mentioned earlier the reasons why Standing Orders should not be suspended. Firstly, they should not be suspended because the Opposition did not ask that the paper be noted or printed. Leave was given for the Prime Minister to speak. Leave was given to the spokesman for the Opposition to speak. Now an interloper enters the debate and says that he speaks for the Opposition. That is why Standing Orders should not be suspended. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) is nodding his head. I have checked with my Whip and found that the honourable member misled the House on a certain arrangement which I made and which I will explain later. These are reasons why Standing Orders should not be suspended.
The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) who spoke a moment ago said that my Party, when in Opposition, often moved for the suspension of Standing Orders so that Opposition members could speak. Of course, we did, but we were not a shambles like the present Opposition Parties. We were a united opposition. We were not a rabble like those honourable members who sit opposite today. We were an opposition that spoke with one voice on the great issues. That is why today the Standing Orders should not be suspended. Did honourable members ever hear anything so silly as to why Standing Orders should be suspended?
-Order! I think the Leader of the House is becoming a little provocative.
– Mr Speaker, you know that is not my nature. I have pointed out these things to show the humbug which is associated with this motion. I ask the Opposition Parties, in all sincerity, whether they expect, on international affairs and every matter that comes before this Parliament, to have 2 voices from what is supposedly a united party. Do the Opposition Parties expect us to suspend Standing Orders and give leave for a Country Party member to speak and other honourable members to speak as well?
– What is wrong with that?
– I do not know about that, but the DLP will be in a lot more trouble when they line up with your Party. The next thing that will happen is that Mr Fraser, the honourable member for Wannon, will be speaking for the DLP as the third most important man in the Party. How long can these kinds of affairs be tolerated? If arrangements are made in respect to debates they will be honoured by this side of the Parliament. If arrangements are made for speakers on any matters they will be honoured. But I cannot give any assurance that 2 spokesmen will be allowed to speak on every issue that comes before the Parliament. I suggest to the Opposition Parties that they should prevent time wasting like this by having some harmony and a bit of unity on that side of the Parliament. They should not expect us on this side of the House to put up with 2 men fighting openly and holding up the Parliament when no arrangements were made or broken.
I do not wish to speak at greater length on this matter. There is no case to be made for the suspension of Standing Orders. My Party has honoured its obligation. The only reason the Deputy Leader of the Country Party spoke a moment ago is that his Party Joes not trust the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party does not trust the Country Party. I suggest to the Whips of the Opposition Parties that when they wish to make arrangements they should make them through the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) with me and not go around the House trying to make arrangements elsewhere because it is our responsibility. I suppose honourable members opposite only talk to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition once a week so he cannot be expected to know. Anyhow, that is the reason why we do not suspend Standing Orders. Apart from all other things, we do not want to bring into the open the disharmony that exists on the other side of the chamber - the disunity and the failure to agree on great international issues.
– I think it is a matter of great importance to honourable members that the House should agree to the suspension of Standing Orders so that this matter can be properly aired. Right from the word ‘go’ I refute the particularly stupid contention by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) when he said: “Does this House have to put up with 2 spokesmen?’ I ask the Government Whip, because he is an honourable bloke and I am fond of him: Did I or did I not go to him and say: ‘Will you find out whether we can have two or three or - from memory - five or six speakers on this particular motion? What is the Government’s wish?’ I have no doubt of what he said to the Leader of the House. My only cause for complaint with the Leader of the House - this is one reason why this matter should be aired - is his statement that the matter of the number of speakers was not referred to him. I can say only, because I know it will be unparliamentary if I get any terser, that this is completely incorrect. It is incorrect because I saw the movements go on. I am sorry for the Leader of the House that he has put himself out on a limb where people will hesitate to trust him again on these sorts of matters. There is no question about this.
However, I am quite sure that at this stage I should deal more fully with the reasons why the Prime Minister’s statement should be debated. There is no question in my mind about this. I hope that the House will agree with me when from memory I say that when we were in government and this sort of issue came forward we made exactly the same kind of arrangement as I put into the train today through the Government Whip. I cannot help it if the Leader of the House and the Government Whip are talking to each other now for the first time this week because frankly that is the position that the Government Whip’s office has fallen into since December last.
The Government Whip does not seem to me to have the authority that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) had in the past, and he was only Opposition Whip. Now, in government, surely the high office of Whip is an even more responsible one. The motion to suspend the Standing Orders serves to illustrate the importance of keeping the chains of communication open. Mr Speaker, just look at the Leader of the House and the Government Whip. They are having their weekly talk, and probably the first they have had for a while. It is no use the Leader of the House trying to patch up the damage in a couple of seconds because the damage is done.
– For ever.
– The damage to his reputation has been done for ever. I for one will hesitate to agree lightly with his word again. I hesitate to want him to put it in writing because that is probably carrying it a bit too far. It is time the Leader of the House took on his shoulders the fact that this House and the Government of which he is a part - a rather insignificant part - cannot function properly without having a certain amount of agreement with and consideration for the Opposition.
-Order! The honourable member is debating the reason why the Standing Orders should be suspended. Agreements made between the Whips or with the Leader of the House having nothing at all to do with the suspension of Standing Orders.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker, for reminding me of these things. In the couple of minutes left to me to speak I want to point to some of the reasons that this matter should have been debated today. Is it or is it not important to this nation that the current
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam) has treated our erstwhile friends in such a shoddy fashion? This is the issue that should have been debated today and this is why the House would be well advised to carry the motion to be decided in a few minutes. Should we or should we not pay attention to the traditions and beliefs of our nation and the European countries from which they came? Should all this ground be cut away?
That the motion (Mr Sinclair’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-Order! Honourable members will be pleased to know that we have present in the gallery this afternoon a Mexican Parliamentary Delegation led by Senator Miguel Angel Barberena. On behalf of the House, I extend to the delegation a very warm welcome and wish its members a pleasant visit to Australia.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented.
– Yes. I do not claim to have been deliberately misrepresented but I feel that my credibility and that of the Leader of the House have come under question because of some matters that have been stated. As I am one of the parties to statements that have been made by the honourable member for Angas - in his capacity as Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party - I wish to make this personal explanation. The honourable member for Angas asked me how many speakers were to comment on the Prime Minister’s statement. I told him that I was not clear but I would check with the Leader of the House, my understanding being that the Leader of the House generally makes these arrangements with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the House was doing something else at the time but he told me that there would be only one speaker. I passed this message to the honourable member for Angas and said that unless an amendment were moved there would be no other speakers from the Government side.
The honourable member for Angas did not indicate to me that the Deputy Leader of the Country Party or other members of his own Party wished to speak to the statement. I took it that he understood that if there were no more Government speakers there would be no more members of the Opposition speaking on the debate at this time. There may have been some misunderstanding. I do not say it was deliberate. I believe that the honourable member for Angas misunderstood the conversation which passed between myself and the Leader of the House.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, but only in one small detail. I thank the Government Whip for putting the matter in a cool and moderate fashion. Had the honourable member for Wide Bay not been talking with the Leader of the House he would have been aware of the situation. However, I am not complaining about that. I am complaining only about the statement of the Leader of the House that the matter had not been referred to him. I knew that it had been referred to him. That is my only cause for complaint. Apart from that, everything that the Government Whip has said is true, except that he did not go far enough. He will remember that I asked him: Is the Government going to allow 3, 4, 5 or 6 speakers on this matter?’ These are the exact pairs of numbers that I used. It was never a’ matter of 2 speakers but how many speakers we were going to float from this side. I thought my procedure of referring it through the honourable member for Wide Bay to the Leader of the House was correct because it was during question time and the Leader of the House looked busy at that time. I apologise if I have caused a storm in a teacup. The reason that I claim to be misrepresented - ‘Hansard will show it tomorrow - is that the Leader of the House said that the matter had not been referred to him. It was referred to him.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order. Does the minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Wide Bay has just told the honourable member for Angas that no request was made for additional speakers to debate the Prime Minister’s statement. No arrangements were ever made with me for additional speakers but the honourable member for Angas stated that I had arranged for the Opposition to be allowed extra speakers. The situation is that they were never asked for. The Government
Whip has confirmed that no arrangements were made with me. In order that this will not happen again, I ask the honourable member for Angas to ensure that arrangements are made with the man responsible for making them. I will certainly not be misrepresented like this on these matters by a member who has no responsibility for the organisation of the business of the House. Today, the honourable member for Angas implied that I had misled the House and made arrangements which never had been made by me. I resent that suggestion and 1 think that the honourable member should apologise.
– Pursuant to Section 30 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-1966, I present the report of the council of the Institute for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with the Institute’s financial statements and the report of the AuditorGeneral on those statements. I move:
Debate (on motion by Mr Wentworth) adjourned.
– by leave - For the information of honourable members, I table the first report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission. I should like to thank the Commissioner for the work that he has done and the steps that have been taken to launch us upon a very important and complicated project - the establishment of the land rights of the Aboriginal people of . Australia. The report was made public on 3 August and copies were sent to all honourable members and senators. Because of its importance, it was decided to make the report available immediately. I take this first opportunity to table the report in the Parliament. I should like to inform honourable members that the Government has considered the report and the Commission’s recommendations and has authorised me to convene meetings of the 2 proposed Aboriginal land rights councils in the Northern Territory as soon as possible. We will proceed immediately with the preparation of draft legislation for the incorporation of Aboriginal communities and groups without waiting for the Commission’s final report, which is not expected to be available for another year or so. To assist each of the land councils, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has been authorised to retain senior and junior counsel and firms of solicitors or arrange for the councils to employ individual solicitors. The cost of this is to be met by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
There is some significance in this report being placed before the House in the year 1973. It was 10 years ago that we started to campaign about Aboriginal land rights for the people of Yirrkala. It has been a long haul, but I am pretty confident now that the community in general, this Parliament in particular and certainly the Government accept that the Aboriginal people of Australia are entitled in an inalienable way to an absolute right to a certain proportion of the Australian territory. I believe this is a landmark in Aboriginal affairs. I hope that in the ensuing debate, which we will arrange as soon as possible, all honourable members who have something to say about this subject will take the opportunity to do so. I present the following paper:
Aboriginal Land Rights Commission - Ministerial Statement, 22 August 1973. and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Morrison) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as will prevent an Egg Export Charges Bill and 2 Honey Levy Bills (a) being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the Committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of the three Bills together, and (b) the consideration of the Bills in one Committee of the whole.
Bills presented by Mr Morrison, and together read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
I am pleased to introduce these 3 Bills that represent further steps toward the progressive introduction of the metric system. Honourable members will recall that the decision to bring about progressively the use of the metric system as the sole system for the measurement of physical quantities in Australia was incorporated in the Metric Conversion Act which was passed in June 1970. The second annual report of the Metric Conversion Board was ‘tabled in this House during October last year. It reported that steady progress had been made towards conversion. The broad plan adopted by the Board was that 1971 should be a year of planning and coordination; 1972 a year of increasing public awareness; and 1973-75 should be years of major implementation. By 1976, 70 per cent of the nation’s activities should have been converted to the metric system. Many consumer goods, such as eggs, sugar and bread, already have been converted. Many more are planned for the remainder of this year.
An interdepartmental co-ordinating committee for metric conversion has established that about 110 Acts contain references to physical units. These need to be converted in step with the programs for conversion. Several Acts relating to the Customs Tariff were amended last year. The present Bills amend 3 Acts. The Honey Levy Bills Nos 1 and 2 provide respectively for a levy to be imposed on all honey produced in Australia and sold, or used in the production of other goods. Convenient rounded metric equivalents have been substituted for existing imperial quantities in the Acts. The maximum levy that can be applied has been converted from lc per lb to 2.2c per kilogram. This is a decrease of 0.2 per cent. At present a person is exempt from the levy if his monthly production is less than 120 lb. The nearest rational metric quantity, SO kilograms, has been substituted. The amendments give effect to the recommendations of the honey industry and reflect its progress towards conversion. Already, bulk export of honey is invoiced in tonnes. Retail packs will be converted during the next 12 months as new jars and tins become available.
The main purpose of the Egg Export Charges Bill is to convert to equivalent metric measurement the rates of charge imposed on egg exports under the Egg Export Charges Act 1947-1965. Money collected under that Act is appropriated to the Australian Egg Board under the provisions of die Egg Export
Control Act 1947-1966. The Bill provides for the rates of charge which are expressed in Imperial units to be converted to equivalent metric units. This conversion results in a decrease of about 0.2 per cent in the actual rates of levy. The opportunity has also been taken to make two machinery changes. The first substitutes the word ‘Australia’ for the word ‘Commonwealth’ as being more appropriate in clauses 2 and 3. The second deletes the words ‘after a date to be fixed by Proclamation’. The date has been proclaimed and the words are no longer necessary. I commend these 3 Bills to this House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Bill presented by Dr Cairns, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the States Grants (Petroleum Products) Act 1965- 1969. The Act provides the legal basis for the Petroleum products subsidy scheme whereby a Commonwealth subsidy is paid in relation to the distribution and sale of certain petroleum products in country areas. The objective of the scheme is to reduce rural costs by effecting a significant degree of equalisation between city and country wholesale prices of such petroleum products. The means of doing this is by subsidising, except for a determined margin, the distribution costs involved in moving products from bulk city installations to country points of sale. The scheme is, however, expensive and less efficient in achieving its objective than is desirable. In practice the largest pay-outs under it are made in major inland cities.
The margin has hitherto been 3.3c per gallon. In the course of his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Crean) indicated that the margin will be lifted to 5c per gallon with a consequential saving in Government expenditure. Amendment of the Act is necessary to permit the new margin to be put into effect. At the same time it is proposed to revise the rates of subsidy payable in the various country areas, to take account of changes in transport and other distribution costs which have occurred since 1969, when the scheme was last reviewed. These changes necessitate amendment of the present schedule of subsidies. The Bill deletes section 6 of the Act which ties subsidy rates to circumstances as at 1 December 1969 and in general very strictly limits the circumstances in which the schedule of subsidies may be amended. As a result of this amendment of the Act it will be possible in the future to adapt the schedule of subsidies more readily to changes in petroleum marketing methods and economics. A revised schedule of subsidies is being prepared setting out subsidy rates that take into account the new subsidy margin and the updated transport and distribution costs. The new schedule will come into effect within one month of the date of operation of this Bill. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.
Bill presented by Dr Cairns, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to extend the operation of the cellulose acetate bounty until 30 June 1976. This is in conformity with the Tariff Board suggestion that the bounty be continued until the Board has examined this and other acetyl products in its 1975 general review of the chemical industry. The Present Act expires on 31 December 1973 and it is desirable that there should be continuity of assistance until the Government has considered the Tariff Board’s report and recommendations. Opportunity is also taken to introduce metric measurement and the rate of bounty of 8.8c per kilogram is a conversion of the rate of 4c per lb as provided for in current legislation. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.
Bill present by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the announcement made in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech to the effect that the Government would increase from $10 to $12 a week the rate of subsidy paid to eligible organisations which provide personal care services for the aged in hostel accommodation and would widen the conditions of eligibility for this subsidy.
This subsidy is payable under the Aged Persons Homes Act, which, as honourable members will be aware, also provides assistance towards the establishment by non-profit organisations of various types of aged persons homes, in the form of a $2 for $1 subsidy towards the capital cost.
Before I proceed to explain the provisions of the Bill I would like to take this opportunity of making a few general remarks about the Aged Persons Homes Act. This Act was introduced in 1954 by the Menzies Government in order to encourage and assist religious, charitable and ex-servicemen’s organisations which were providing homes for ages persons to expand their activities or, if they were not already doing so, to induce them to enter this field. One would be adopting a very partisan attitude to deny that the Act has enjoyed a considerable amount of success. In the 19 years of its operation grants totalling $171m have been approved and accommodation has been provided for nearly 50,000 aged people. Nevertheless it is not unfair to say that the previous Government administered the Act rather like a rifleman trying to hit a target with a shotgun. Whilst much of the accommodation is no doubt occupied by people in need of government -subsidised housing, or of the sheltered environment of a hostel or nursing home, a considerable degree of preferment is known to be given to people able to offer what are euphemistically known as donations towards the funds of the organisations concerned. According to the information given to my Department during the past 12 months, over 50 per cent of the money used to attract subsidy is derived from these so-called donations. This figure does not take into account second and third donations paid by people applying for accommodation vacated by previous founderdonors.
I acknowledge that the previous Government took some steps towards controlling this situation, per medium of the agreement into which organisations receiving grants are required to enter. However this agreement has so many loopholes that, since it was introduced in 1970, the proportion of key money used to attract subsidy has actually increased by about 50 per cent rather than being reduced. I would like to see the administration of this program considerably strengthened, first, by requiring the accommodation to be allocated strictly on a basis of clearlydefined need and, secondly, by requiring organisations to demonstrate their charitable and benevolent motives by keeping rentals and other charges within the limits that pensionerresidents can afford. In accordance with this Government’s belief in consumer participation, I would also like to see the residents of aged persons’ homes being allowed to elect representatives to the boards of management of their homes. Since becoming Minister for Social Security I have also been disturbed by the restrictive regulations that some organisations impose on the freedom of their residents. I recognise that people living together in the close proximity of these homes must respect one another’s privacy and comfort and avoid risk from fire and other dangers. Some regulations are therefore necessary, as in the community generally. However, people who need to depend on an organisation for accommodation and subsistance should not be compelled to conform to the ideas of the people running that organisation any more than they should be compelled to subscribe to the political convictions of the government which subsidies the home.
I consider, moreover, that the aspects to which I have referred represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and that there is a need for a complete re-assessment of the whole concept of this aged persons homes program. I have accordingly referred the matter to the National Commission on Social Welfare, which in turn has appointed a Committee of Inquiry into Aged Persons Housing Policies. Departmental officers with long experience of the administration of the Aged Persons Homes Act are actively co-operating with this Committee and I am confidently expecting that it will produce a blueprint for a more effective and appropriate program.
One aspect to which I would like to make particular reference is the disappointing response to the Aged Persons Homes Act by local governing bodies since they became eligible organisations by an amendment to the Act in 1967. Grants made to municipal and shire councils have totalled only $2.2m, with which accommodation has been provided for fewer than SOO people - an insignificant 1 per cent of the total accommodation provided under the Act. I appeal to people involved in local government to submit their views on measures that could be taken to stimulate the interest of councils, because I consider them to be uniquely situated to play a leading role in this field of social welfare.
Pending receipt of the Commission’s report, it is not proposed to make any major amendments to the Aged Persons Homes Act for the time being. However, as a small interim measure, the need is recognised to review the rate of the subsidy payable to non-profit organisations which conduct hostel-type accommodation in which approved personal care services are provided. This type of accommodation is of particular importance for elderly people who are no longer able to look after themselves completely yet do not need medical and nursing care. Unless accommodation of the hostel type is available for such people they tend to find their way into nursing homes, where their accommodation is both financially and sociologically detrimental. It is both medically and psychologically bad for old people to be forced, through lack of a suitable alternative, to be put under care which is more intensive than they need. The previous Government, to its credit, appreciated this and in 1969 introduced the personal care subsidy, which was originally payable on the basis of $5 a week for each hostel resident aged 80 years and over. In September 1972, after 3 years, the subsidy rate was increased to $10 a week.
For the information of honourable members I would like to explain that in order to qualify for payment of this subsidy it is necessary for a home to provide all meals and to employ sufficient staff to help any residents who need assistance with bathing and dressing, the cleaning of rooms, their personal laundry and the general oversight of their medication. It is also required that a staff member be available on the premises at all times in case of emergency.
The Bill I am now placing before the House does 2 things: Firstly, it increases the rate of subsidy from $10 to $12 a week. Secondly, the Bill provides for the amount of the subsidy to be calculated on the basis not only of the number of residents aged 80 and over but also in respect of any other residents - that is those aged under 80 - who also require, and are receiving, the prescribed personal care services. When personal care subsidy was first introduced the formula of calculating payment on the basis of the over-80- year-olds was selected to provide an inducement for the admission of people in the frailer aged category. It has always been a condition of approval, nevertheless, that the prescribed personal care services should be available for any aged residents who need such services, whether over 80 years or not. It was assumed that the number of people under 80 who would need personal care services would be offset in most cases by the number of people over 80 who did not require such services. However, experience has shown that this is a doubtful assumption and the opportunity is therefore being taken to relax this provision of the principal Act.
It is anticipated that determining how many of the residents of a particular hostel require the prescribed personal care services will present some difficulties from the administrative point of view. The position is likely to arise where particular residents may need some of the prescribed services but not others. In addition, the ability of some elderly people to bathe and dress themselves unaided and to perform such other tasks as making their own beds may fluctuate from day to day or from week to week. The procedure will be that homes will make an individual application in respect of each hostel resident of under 80 years whom they consider to require personal care attention, and registered geriatric or general nurses from my Department will visit the homes at regular intervals to assist in classifying any of the border-line cases to which I have referred. The classification will proceed on fairly liberal lines.
In hostels presently receiving personal care subsidy, the average proportion of 80-year-old residents is about 45 per cent. This means that at the existing rate of $10 a week for each such resident homes are averaging overall $4.50 per resident. The proportion of residents that will attract subsidy under the extended criteria is highly speculative, but is expected to rise by about half, that is, to approximately 67i per cent. At the new rate of $12 a week the average overall payment per-resident would then be $8. This should more than compensate homes for cost increases that have taken place in the past 12 months and maintain the incentive for organisations to provide this valuable type of accommodation. The increased rate of subsidy and the extended basis of eligibility will come into effect from the first 4-weekly pay-day after this Bill receives the royal assent.
It is estimated that these measures will cost an additional $lm in 1973-1974, rising to $3. 5m in the first full year. As I mentioned previously, these figures are highly speculative; but, on this basis, total expenditure on personal care subsidy is thus expected to be S5m in 1973-74, rising to $7.5m in 1974-75. As I explained at the outset, in the context of the Government’s comprehensive welfare plans this Bill represents only a small interim measure, designed to maintain the value, in terms of purchasing power, of the assistance being given to aged persons hostels. But to the organisations responsible for maintaining these establishments in the face of rising costs it will be important and timely. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Chipp) adjourned. (Quorum formed)
Bill presented by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. During the previous session of Parliament, in the short time which had elapsed since this Government was elected to office, I introduced 3 major Bills. Honourable members will recall that the first Bill increased the rate of age, invalid and widows pensions, retrospectively to last December, and also provided for substantial increases in unemployment and sickness benefits. The second Bill gave effect to another of the Government’s election promises and provided for the continued payment of age, invalid and widows pensions to Australian pensioners proceeding overseas. The third Bill introduced a completely new benefit known as the supporting mother’s benefit to assist unmarried mothers and married women who are no longer living with their husbands to adequately care for their children.
The Bill before the House today is one of a series of further measures which I will be introducing during this session of Parliament to assist the provision of a comprehensive program of welfare services for the people of Australia. This particular Bill is concerned with the provision of meals on wheels services. There is tremendous value to be gained from meals on wheels services. It is an established premise of caring for the elderly that they should continue to live as independently as possible in their own homes for as long as it is humanely feasible for them to do so. In many cases, the meals on wheels service makes this possible where otherwise elderly folk would be forced to move into an institution for no reason other than to receive general oversight in case of an accident or rapid deterioration in physical capabilities. This independence is one of the tangible facets of the quality of life which must be fostered by the community. The vegetating effect of dependence engendered by institutional life increases the rate of both physical and mental deterioration.
The major aim of the meals on wheels service is to supply the person concerned with one nutritious meal on at least 5 days a week. But the service goes far beyond that. Its value cannot be measured only in terms of calories and proteins. For many of our elderly citizens the voluntary helper delivering the meal provides the one regular social contact for the day upon which they may depend. This contact ensures that frail or isolated people receive a daily check on the state of their health and provides them with an entree to many other welfare service that are available in the district. Meals on wheels helpers frequently report that an elderly person is in need of some further service. The nutritional aspect is, however, particularly important. Elderly people often reduce the range and variety of the diet necessary for good health, either by reason of personal choice, physical ailments, inertia and failing judgment, or by just the sheer financial inability to purchase an adequate diversity of fresh foods with the vitamin content intact.
The purpose of delivering meals to such people is to guard against this tendency and most meals on wheels services are believed to do this successfully. A possible reservation is that the preparation of food in large quantities tends to destroy a large percentage of the vitamin C content. For this reason it is desirable for delivered meals to include a vitamin C supplement. This could be provided in tablet form but there is more to eating a meal than just ingesting nutrients. A meal is part of our social way of life and should be enjoyable as well as nutritious. This becomes much more important when the meal is one of the major events in a daily routine. Fresh fruit or juice is therefore a preferable source of vitamin C because it also adds other worthwhile values and diversity to the diet.
All elderly people receiving meals on wheels are not necessarily suffering from a vitamin deficiency, of course. However, some have been known to suffer from such a marked deficiency as to exhibit clinical symptoms and require medical treatment.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I direct your attention to the state of the House. (The bells being rung)
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! I ask the Serjeant-at-Arms to bring the honourable member for Paterson back to the chamber. (Quorum formed.)
– In between these 2 extremes is the major segment of the aged community whose vitamin deficiency is not sufficiently acute to cause them to display obvious clinical symptoms, but is sufficient to reduce their enjoyment of good health and their resistance to illness, particularly the winter ailments.
Most of the countries of the Western world support some form of delivered meals service to their elderly, invalid or needy citizens. This country is not backward in this respect, for in metropolitan and country areas throughout Australia some 354 voluntary organisations are providing a meals on wheels service with financial assistance from the Australian Government.
-Order! I requested the Serjeant-at-Arms to ask the honourable member for Paterson to come back into the chamber. The reason is that the honourable member had come into the House when a quorum had ‘been called and then left the precincts of the House.
– The Delivered Meals Subsidy Act, which was introduced in 1970, assists the establishment, expansion, improvement and maintenance of Meals on Wheels services by providing a subsidy on the basis of 15c for every meal delivered to aged or invalid people by an eligible organisation during the previous calendar year. Originally the subsidy was paid at the rate of 10c per meal but, in view of rising food costs, amending legislation was passed last October to increase the rate of subsidy to 15c per meal. Payment at the increased rate commenced in January of this year and applied to all eligible meals served since 1 January 1972. The 1972 Amending Act also introduced an additional subsidy of 5c per meal, making a total subsidy of 20c, for organisations which undertook to include with each meal appropriate types and quantities of fresh fruit or fruit juice with a high vitamin C content. The legislation now before the House further increases the rates of subsidy from 20c to 25c for each meal with which an approved vitamin C supplement is provided and from 15c to 20c for all other eligible meals.
The additional subsidy of 5c per meal will help to meet the increased costs of food and enable organisations to continue to maintain their charges to recipients at a reasonable level. The next annual payment of delivered meals subsidy will fall due in January 1974 and will cover meals served during the calendar year which ends on 31 December 1973. The Bill provides that payment at the increased rate will commence in January 1974 and apply to all eligible meals served since 1 January 1973.
The Bill also provides that after the next annual payment, to which I have referred, all future payments of subsidy will be made on a quarterly basis. This measure is prompted by the knowledge that the financial affairs of most Meals on Wheels organisations are conducted on a ‘hand-to-mouth’ basis. In other words whilst the annual totals of their receipts and payments may be quite substantial their financial reserves are usually relatively small. As a consequence they may accumulate considerable debts, or have to arrange overdrafts, whilst waiting for their next annual grant under this Act. This situation will be remedied in future by means of the quarterly grants that this Bill provides. In effect it will mean that after receiving their next annual grant in January 1974, based on the meals served during 1973, organisations will receive a further payment in April 1974 based on the meals served from 1 January to 31 March and payment every quarter thereafter.
Partly as a result of the 1972 amendment, expenditure under the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act rose from $337,582 in 1971-72 to $586,777 in 1972-73. For the information of honourable members I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the growth of the subsidy payments in each State.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– Further growth, to a total of $650,000 had been anticipated for 1973- 74, but to this will have to be added $200,000 to cover the 5c per meal increase provided by this Bill. In addition, the changeover to quarterly payments will result in subsidy being paid during 1973-74 on the basis of meals served during a 15-month period - from 1 January 1973 to 31 March 1974. This will incur further additional expenditure of $250,000. Expenditure for 1973-74 is therefore expected to total $l.lm. However, with the reversion to a 12-month period in 1974-75 expenditure for that year should fall back to abbout $850,000.
It is worth noting that last year no fewer than 3,864,474 meals were served by the 354 approved delivered meals services throughout Australia, an increase of about 13 per cent over the number of meals served during the previous year. The vast majority of these meals have been delivered by voluntary workers - in many cases housewives not only giving their time but also giving their own cars. I could not miss this opportunity to pay tribute to all these voluntary workers and I know I speak for all honourable members on both sides of the House when I say thank you to them.
I would also like to acknowledge the value of a series of Meals on Wheels seminars being conducted, in both metropolitan and country centres, under the auspices of the
Council on the Ageing in each State. These seminars enable various aspects of expanding and improving Meals on Wheels and other welfare services to be explored and also provide a forum for varying viewpoints to be expressed. Needless to say the seminars also provide an important source of information for officers of my Department. I am also pleased to hear that at a seminar conducted in Sydney recently by the Dietetic Association of New South Wales it was decided to investigate the nutritional standards of meals being provided for elderly people by Meals on Wheels services, aged persons homes, etcetera. We are hoping that the results of this research will be made available to the Government and that it will provide expert guidelines for further developing the objectives towards which the vitamin C subsidy represented a first step.
Another future objective of my Department is to carry out a survey of the ‘coverage’ provided by Meals on Wheels services throughout Australia to discover the gaps between the services provided or for that matter, where overlapping or duplication may be occurring. The Western Australian Department of Public Health recently conducted such a survey in its State and has kindly made the data available to my Department. We now propose to extend this survey throughout Australia with a view to ensuring that the splendid service that is rendered by the voluntary workers from Meals on Wheels organisations is made available wherever needed throughout Australia. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Chipp) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Daly, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill, which seeks to amend certain provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act relating to the redistribution of States into electoral divisions, is in identical form to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973 which I introduced in this House on 13 March 1973 and which was passed by this House on 4 April 1973. As honourable members would know, the motion for the second reading of the Bill was defeated in the Senate on 17 May 1973. My Second Reading Speech on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973, when first introduced, is reported in Hansard dated 13 March 1973 - pages 502 to 513. In my speech, I fully explained the details and the purposes of the amendments. We have a heavy legislative program before us and as the proposed amendments of the Commonwealth Electoral Act contained in this Bill have already been agreed to by this House, I do not propose to again go over the many reasons which justify the adoption of this legislation. I will, however, for the benefit of honourable members, deal briefly with the proposals contained in the Bill and the purpose of the Bill.
The Bill seeks to change only sections 19 and 25 of Part III of the Commonwealth Electoral Act dealing with the redistribution of the States into electoral divisions. It is proposed that all other provisions of Part III of the Act which specify the procedure for redistributions of States into electoral divisions, be retained. The amendments proposed will have the effect of:
revising the factors (section 19 (2)) to which the Distribution Commissioners are required to give due consideration by deleting the reference to:
The proposed amendment of section 25 (2) (b) is a natural corollary to the amendment of section 19 (1) reducing the margin of allowance from the quota to 10 per cent.
The purpose of these amendments is perfectly clear. We seek to bring down legislation which will provide for practical equality of representation at redistributions of States into electoral divisions thus ensuring that the will of the majority will be reflected in the outcome of the elections of members of this House. The principle of ‘one vote one value’ must be established as the fundamental objective of redistribution. These are principles which are enshrined in the platform of the Australian Labor Party and our efforts fo bring them about when in Opposition are well known. Our intentions were publicised before the last elections at which the people elected an Australian Labor Party government.
– It was 49 per cent of the vote. You are not a government.
– We proposed a permissible variation from the quota of electors sufficient to enable the Distribution Commissioners to give due consideration to factors which are consistent with the equal representation principle which the Australian Labor Party, both in Opposition and in Government, has consistently enunciated. The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) who interjected received 17 per cent of the primary votes at the last election and he got into the Parliament. That is a real democratic vote. I am reminded that he did well to get 17 per cent. Factors such as ‘the area of the division’, ‘the density or sparsity of population’ and references to ‘disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance’ inserted by the previous Government in 1965, are contrary to the concept of equality of political rights and encourage departure from the quota of electors in a manner which makes the value of a citizen’s vote depend largely upon his geographical location.
The changes proposed by this Bill are designed to provide by legislative measures that, as far as may be practicable, the value of the vote of one citizen shall be equivalent to the vote of another and to give some meaningful application to the principle of one vote one value’ without unnecessarily restricting the Distribution Commissioners in proposing a redistribution. The existing 20 per cent permissible variation from the quota which allows a division to have 50 per cent more electors than another division in the same State and which was introduced in 1902 when Australia had a population of about four million, as against thirteen millions today, can no longer be tolerated in our society.
Section 24 of the Constitution provides that the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. Thus, the Constitution itself ensures equality of representation between States based on the numbers of people resident in those States, a condition which the Australian Labor Party believes should also apply within the several States. Based on the population revealed at the last census, New South Wales for example is entitled to 45 members while Western Australia (which comprises nearly one-third of the whole of Australia) is entitled to 10 members. Obviously, the founders of the Constitution did not take cognizance of the area, density or sparsity of population and disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance, in framing Section 24.
It is evident that the area of divisions and the density or sparsity of population in divisions cannot be uniformly applied throughout the States. The Government believes that people should be the controlling factor, not only for determining the representation for the States in the House of Representatives, but also for determining divisions within those States. I remind those honourable members who are seeking to interject that the Labor Party holds more country seats than does any other party in this Parliament.
There are only 4 clauses to this Bill, and its title, ‘Relating to the Distribution of the States into Electoral Divisions’, indicates its limitations. Despite these limitations, in this House in March and April of this year, the debate extended over a total period of 10 hours 55 minutes. There were 21 speakers on the second reading and 14 in the Committee stage. Again, when the Bill was before the Senate it was debated for 10 hours 5 minutes and 25 senators participated in the debate. It must, therefore, be agreed that full and adequate time has been given for discussion to this limited 4-clause legislation.
As the Bill is identical with that previously presented, I see no reason why the legislation should be delayed by a lengthy debate which will no doubt only provide a repetition of the well-worn arguments made by the Opposition on the previous occasion. It is also worth recording that in rejecting the Bill, the Senate did not advance any new arguments, their opposition being a blatant political move designed to maintain loaded electorates and destroy the principle of one vote one value. I repeat what I said of this legislation in my second reading speech earlier in the year:
It is a challenge to those who sit opposite to stand up and be counted on the fundamental democratic principle of one vote one value and majority rule. This is the basis on which this legislation stands - nothing more, nothing less.
The Government regards this Bill as a major piece of our legislative program, and in resubmitting it we expect that the Parliament will adopt a responsible approach and that the measure will be afforded a speedy passage through both Houses. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Charles Jones, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944 provided for the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which was founded in 1947 and is a specialised agency of the United Nations. Article 56 of the Chicago Convention as originally drafted provides that the Air Navigation Commission, which is the principal and a permanent technical body of ICAO, shall be composed of 12 members appointed by the Council, the governing body of ICAO. The Air Navigation Commission is the principal ICAO body concerned with the planning, co-ordination and examination of all of ICAO’s work in the air navigation field, including the establishment of international standards and recommended practices. The uniform application of these standards by governments is necessary and desirable for the operation of safe and efficient air services by international airlines including, of course, Qantas. At its Assembly Session held in Vienna in mid 1971, ICAO adopted a Protocol of Amendment to the Chicago Convention to increase the membership of the Air Navigation Commission from 12 to IS members. The amendment requires ratification by 80 states out of the total membership of 128 before it comes into force.
The primary purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to ratify this Protocol. The Air Navigation Act 1920-1971 sets out in Schedules the Chicago Convention which was ratified by Australia in 1947 and a number of Protocols amending the Convention in minor respects. That Act was amended in 1961, 1963 and 1971 to approve the ratification of other minor amendments to the Chicago Convention, these amendments being set out in further Schedules to the principal Act. The present Bill continues this practice by inserting the new Protocol as the Eighth Schedule to the principal Act. The increase in membership is supported for 2 main reasons. First, it was the unanimous wish of the member states for an increase of 3 members. Secondly, an increase of three could not be considered unreasonable in the light of the fact that the total membership has grown to 128, that is, more than double the number of states which participated in the Chicago conference which gave rise to the Convention. The Australian Government welcomes the participation of an increased number of states in the work of the Air Navigation Commission which is becoming more complex with the technological advances in air navigation in recent years. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bryant, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In the platform adopted by the Labor Party at Launceston some years ago undertakings were given that in accordance with the new powers acquired by the Australian Government as a result of the 1967 referendum Labor would assume the ultimate responsibility for Aboriginals and establish a Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs with offices in each State ‘to give the Commonwealth a genuine presence in the States’. I remind the House of how overwhelming was the vote in that referendum. I think the total vote for yes in Australia overall was 89 per cent and in Victoria it was 93 per cent. The Government has moved to establish a genuine Commonwealth presence in the States. The Government implemented portion of this platform when on 19 December last it established the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Bill I am introducing today is a step towards implementation of further aspects.
The Bill is aimed at expressing briefly the Australian Government’s new responsibilities and in particular at facilitating the transfers of State officers to the Australian Public Service. The State departments responsible for Aboriginal affairs have since the referendum received an increasingly large part of thenfunds from Commonwealth grants. In 1972- 73 they received some $22m out of a total direct expenditure by the States of approximately $34m. During 1973-74 it is intended that they will receive of the order of $31m from the Australian Government out of their total anticipated expenditure of some $43m. The State departments channel a substantial proportion of these funds through other State departments in areas such as health, education and housing. Clearly the present system involves much duplication of effort as between the Australian and State authorities and leads to some confusion on the part of Aboriginal Australians as to whom they should approach for particular services. The interim National Aboriginal Consultative Committee which I established earlier this year has expressed a clear desire that responsibility for Aboriginal affairs be transferred from the State governments to the Australian Government, and this request has been endorsed by numbers of regional meetings throughout Australia subsequently convened by the NACC. The NACC sent delegations to call on the Premiers or other senior Ministers of all States to make known to them the Aboriginal desire.
The responsibility which the Australian Government seeks in the States is responsibility for policy planning and co-ordination. In some States this is the limit of the function exercised by the various State Departments of Aboriginal Affairs. The Australian Government does not seek the transfer from the States of particular responsibilities in the fields of health, housing, education and other functional areas, which in its view should preferably be carried out by the appropriate Australian or State departments having responsibility in these areas, partly on the basis of the continued provision of funds by the Australian Government. In those States where the Departments of Aboriginal Affairs are already performing the limited function I have described, the transfer of function and of the State officers who at present perform that function can be relatively simple. Such States include Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales. In some other States it will be necessary for us to work out with the State authorities the best means of proceeding.
The Prime Minister has been in touch with each State Premier, and I with each State Minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs. In addition, Australian Government and State government officers in a number of States have had extensive discussions about the possibility and modalities of a transfer of functions and officers. In some States there has been ready agreement to the possibility of transfer of the function and the appropriate officers. Our conversations with all States are continuing. I hope that some transfers can occur before the end of this year. The present legislation does not constitute any form of compulsion. The Bill is purely an enabling one to facilitate transfer of the State officers where this is agreed between the Australian and State governments. The Bill would allow the Governor-General to enter into an arrangement with a State Governor regarding Aboriginal affairs which could provide for the transfer of State officers to the Australian Public Service; for officers of the Australian Public Service to accept appointment and to perform functions under State laws relating to Aboriginal affairs; and for the Australian Government to assume responsibilities of a State relating to Aboriginal affairs.
To enable State government employees engaged in Aboriginal affairs to be absorbed into the Australian Public Service, the Bill provides for such persons to be offered appointment or employment in the Australian Public Service. The Bill is drafted to ensure that a person who so elected would not suffer disadvantage. For example, he would be guaranteed at least the same remuneration as he would have got had he remained in the State service. Similarly, his prior service in the State service would; for example in respect of sick leave and furlough, be reckoned as service in the Australian Public Service. He would also carry over any accrued recreation leave. The matter of superannuation fund contribution and membership will be dealt with in a Superannuation Bill to be introduced later this session. Honourable members will note the similarity between this Bill and the Statistics (Arrangements with the States) Act 1956-1958 which provided the machinery whereby State statistical services were integrated with those of the Australian Government. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Negotiations between the Australian Government and the State governments are carried out in the belief that people may be persuaded rather than coerced. We have had friendly discussions with all of the States. We have come to arrangements with South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. Due to the complexity of these matters, arrangements still have to be finalised. In the first instance, there were personal negotiations with Western Australia. Those negotiations were followed by direct letters between the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Premier of Western Australia. I wrote letters to the other 5 States. I seek leave to have those letters incorporated in Hansard so that honourable members will know exactly the terms and the atmosphere in which the negotiations are taking place.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
My dear Minister,
Arising out of our discussions during the Australian Aboriginal Affairs Council today, 1 am writing to you to raise the possibility of the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for the co-ordination of policies and special programs affecting Aboriginals is Queensland.
The Commonwealth Government has no wish to assume total and direct control of all programs and believes that in fields such as health and education the State authorities should continue to provide services for Aborines as for other citizens, with such special assistance as may be necessary being supported with Commonwealth Government grants as at present. I believe, however, that there would be advantages in having the functions or certain of the functions of your Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs transferred to the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I would envisage a division of my Department being established in Brisbane to maintain close liaison with your own and other State Departments, in particular in relation to Commonwealth funded programs.
There will, of course, be many problems to be considered and resolved. I would suggest that, if you and your Government agree, our officers might confer to explore the issues involved without commitment in the first instance. Officers might prepare a report for our consideration, outlining the most effective means of bringing about the transfer of functions.
I would be glad to have your views.
The Hon. N. T. E. Hewitt, S.’M., A.F.M., M.L.A.,
My dear Minister,
Arising out of our discussions during the Australian Aboriginal Affairs Council today, I am writing to you to raise the possibility of the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for the co-ordination of policies and special programs affecting Aboriginals in Tasmania.
The Commonwealth Government has no wish to assume total and direct control of all programs and believes that in fields such as health and education the State authorities should continue to provide services for Aboriginals as for other citizens, with such special assistance as may be necessary being supported with Commonwealth Government grants as at present.
In the case of the mainland States I have already written to the Ministers about the possible advantages in having the policy and planning functions of their respective Departments transferred to my Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The circumstances in your State may be different, and I would appreciate your views on whether there would be advantage in our officers meeting to explore the issues involved, without commitment in the first instance. Our officers might prepare a report for our consideration.
I would be glad to have your views.
My dear Minister,
I refer to our discussions on 2 April about the possibility of the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for the co-ordination of policies and special programs affecting Aborigines in New South Wales.
The Commonwealth Government has no wish to assume total and direct control of all programs and believes that in fields such as health and education the State authorities should continue to provide services for Aborigines as for other citizens, with such special assistance as may be necessary being supported with Commonwealth Government grants as at present. It was, however, seen that there would be advantages in having the functions of the Directorate of Aboriginal Welfare in your department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare transferred to the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I would envisage a division of my Department being established in Sydney to maintain close liaison with your own and other State departments, in particular in relation to Commonwealth funded programs.
There will, of course, be many problems to be considered and resolved. I would suggest that, if you and your Government agree, our officers might confer to explore the issues involved without commitment in the first instance. Officers might prepare a report for our consideration, outlining the most effective means of bringing about the transfer of functions.
I would be glad to have your views.
The Hon. J. L. Waddy, O.B.E., D.F.C.; M.L.A., Minister for Youth and Community ‘Services, Parliament House, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000 6 April 1973
My dear Minister,
Arising out of our discussions during the Australian Aboriginal Affairs Council to-day, I am writing to you to raise the possibility of the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for the co-ordination of policies and special programs affecting Aboriginals in Victoria.
The Commonwealth Government has no wish to assume total and direct control of all programs and believes that in fields such as health and education the State authorities should continue to provide services for Aboriginals as for other citizens, with such special assistance as may be necessary being supported with Commonwealth grants as at present. I believes that in fields such as health and education having the functions or certain of the functions of your Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs transferred to the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I would envisage a division of my Department being established in Melbourne to maintain close liaison with your own and other State Departments, in particular in relation to Commonwealth funded programs.
There will, of course, be many problems to be considered and resolved. I would suggest that, if you and your Government agree, our officers might confer to explore the issues involved without commitment in the first instance. Officers might prepare a report for our consideration, outlining the most effective means of bringing about the transfer of functions.
I would be glad to have your views.
My dear Minister,
I refer to out discussions on 27 March about the possibility of the Commonwealth assuming responsibility for the co-ordination of policies and special programs affecting Aboriginals in South Australia.
The Commonwealth Government has no wish to assume total and direct control of all programs and believes that in fields such as health and education the State authorities should continue to provide services for Aboriginals as for other citizens, with such special assistance as may be necessary being supported with Common wealth Government grants as at present. I think we agreed that there would be advantages in having the functions of the Resources Branch in your Department of Community Welfare transferred to the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I would envisage a division of my Department being established in Adelaide to maintain close liaison with your own and other State Departments, in particular in relation to Commonwealth funded programs.
There will, of course, be many problems to be considered and resolved. I would suggested that, if you and your Government agree, our officers might confer to explore the issues involved without commitment in the first instance. Officers might prepare a report for our consideration, outlining the most effective means of bringing about the transfer of functions.
I would be glad to have your views.
The Hon. L. J. King, Q.C., L.L.B., M.P., Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Parliament House, Adelaide, SA. 5000
Debate (on motion by Mr Bennett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Grassby, and read a first time.
Mr GRASSBY (Riverina - Minister for
Immigration) (5.14) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill provides legislative basis for the provision, as an emergency measure under the child migrant education program, of supplementary class-room accommodation in State and independent schools where this is necessary to allow adequate special instruction of migrant children to take place. The Bill seeks an amendment of the Immigration (Education) Act 1971 which, in defining in section 3 capital equipment of an educational nature’ which could be financed under the child program, specifically excluded any building. The program of special assistance to State and independent schools in which there are migrant children handicapped by a lack of knowledge of the English language was introduced by the previous Government in April 1970. The decision was then taken that funds should be provided for the salaries of special teachers toprovide special instruction to migrant children; for the purchase of approved capital equipment of the language laboratory type for use in the special classes to be established; for the provision of suitable teaching and learning materials; and for the cost of training courses for special teachers.
However, funds were not to be provided for accommodation for the special classes, and schools were obliged to arrange these in whatever circumstances were possible. Despite these difficulties, there has been a substantial development in the child program. Expenditure has increased from $1.8m in the financial year 1970-71 to an expected $8.4m in the present financial year. The number of special teachers employed to give instruction in special classes has risen from 546 in 1970-71 to approximately 1,500 in the current financial year. We expect that close on 60,000 children will be receiving instruction in special classes this financial year. Nevertheless, children and teachers are working in some schools, particularly of high migrant density, under completely unacceptable conditions. A survey of child migrant education in schools of high migrant density in Melbourne which the Government initiated late in 1972, and which was undertaken by the Victorian Education Department, the Catholic Education Office in Victoria, the Department of Immigration and the. Department of Education, revealed serious inadequacies with respect to both accommodation and supply of teachers, which are related,problems, and some shortages of equipment and materials.
The report showed that only one-third of children in the 63 schools surveyed who were having difficulty with English were actually receiving assistance and of this one-third 40 per cent were not receiving sufficient special tuition. In effect, only 20 per cent of the children in the schools surveyed who needed English were receiving enough of it. The basic reason for this situation was the shortage of suitable accommodation for special classes. The report also showed that only 29 per cent of the rooms actually used for migrant classes were appropriate class-rooms. This meant that children and teachers were working in substandard accommodation comprising staff rooms, cloak rooms, store rooms, offices, sick bays and even shower rooms and laundries. Although the survey described in the report was confined to Melbourne, it was expected that much the same situation would apply in sections of the Sydney metropolitan area and possibly to a lesser degree in some other centres.
The findings of the Melbourne survey were amply confirmed by the task forces which I established early this year to identify and report on special problems confronting migrants. Because I see migrant education as one of the most vital matters affecting migrants, I asked that this area should be given first priority by the task forces. This was done, and their initial reports have stressed the disadvantages migrant children are suffering through inadequate instruction in the national language. The report of the New South Wales Task Force, released by Mr Riordan, M.P., in the absence of the Chairman, Dr Klugman, M.P., called attention to the urgent need to extend to the fullest possible extent the present system of teaching migrant children English as quickly as possible after enrolment. In presenting the report of the Victoria Task Force, its Chairman, Mr Garrick, M.P.. and Vice-Chairman, Mr Innes, M.P., reported that migrant children are being blatantly denied a good education because they are not taught enough English.
Mr Manfred Cross, M.P., Chairman of the Queensland Task Force, in presenting his Committee’s report, referred to a number of schools in Queensland in which special classes were being conducted in sub-standard accommodation. Cabinet on 14 May 1973 approved a joint submission by the Ministers for Immigration and Education to extend the child migrant education program to include provision for supplementary class-room accommodation by way of demountable or portable class-rooms, where this was necessary as an emergency measure to ensure that adequate instruction could be given. The intention is that funds will be provided over a 2-year period when the situation will be reviewed in the light of other measures for Australian Government financial support for school buildings.
Following the Government’s decision, State and independent school authorities were asked to establish priorities on the basis of the greatest need - in terms of high migrant children density and the location of schools in areas of social deprivation (which tend together to compound the problems of both migrant children and special teachers), the availability of special teachers, and ground space at the schools where demountable classrooms could be erected.
Some 420 schools have been listed by the education authorities where additional classrooms are required for this purpose. At some schools, two or more classrooms would be needed. An initial estimate is that 550 classrooms will be required in all. At an estimated average cost of $9,500 for provision, erection and furnishing, an amount of $5.25m would be required over the 2-year period. A sum of $2m has been provided in 1973-74 for the emergency classroom accommodation program. Further expenditure can be expected in the course of the 2 years for which the program is designed.
The Bill, Mr Speaker, is a relatively short one. Clause 1 makes the point that the principal Act when amended will be known as the Immigration (Education) Act 1971-1973. Clause 2 provides that the Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the royal assent. Passage of the legislation will be necessary before expenditure may be incurred in the provision of emergency classroom accommodation. The purpose of clause 3 is to extend the definition of ‘capital equipment of an educational nature’ in section 3 of the original Act to provide also for portable classrooms but not to include any other building.
The emergency classroom accommodation program does not contemplate expenditure on accommodation of a permanent kind. The program is essentially an emergency measure to meet an immediate need. It is to run for a 2-year period at which time the situation will be reviewed in the light of other measures for Australian Government financial support for school buildings. Demountable classrooms have the advantage of mobility, as needs change between schools; they are suitable for use as an emergency measure in old schools which may be scheduled for demolition and are adaptable either to further subdivision or to an open plan approach to teaching. The expression ‘portable classrooms’ has been used in this clause as it can be applied also to classrooms described in some States as ‘demountable classrooms’.
Clause 4 provides for the expectation that the Australian Government, in addition to paying for the portable classrooms that have been obtained direct by education authorities, may in some circumstances itself wish to handle the ordering and supply in the case of a particular education authority. It appears that the majority of State Departments of Education and Catholic education offices will have the necessary administrative resources and machinery tq arrange supply but some may not. In view of the emergency nature of the program and to ensure proper use of funds, it is desirable that the Australian Government have the authority to arrange supply where this is necessary. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Grassby, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The objective of the Bill is to eliminate the annual notification of address, occupation and marital status by aliens required to register under the Aliens Act. Although the register of aliens has been satisfactory insofar as initial registrations are concerned, a large proportion of aliens fail to provide the information necessary to keep their addresses current. Non-compliance with the provision of the 1947 Act which required notification of change of address, occupation or marital status within seven days of any change developed to a high level.
In 1965 the Act was amended to provide for only annual notification of address, occupation and marital status, but the noncompliance rate persisted. In the first year (1965) after the introduction of this amendment, 84 per cent of registered aliens complied. In 1972, however, only 46 per cent responded despite improved methods of handling notifications, including the dispatch of computer prepared notification requests to last known addresses and the provision of business reply paid envelopes for the return of the notification forms.
Although provisions exist in the Act for prosecution for non-compliance with the notification requirement, these are defective from a legal and practical standpoint and prosecutions have not been instituted for some years. If prosecutions were to bc instituted it would mean prosecuting something like 150,000 people a year and I do not believe it is in the interests of migrants, or the nation, that this draconian action should be taken to secure information which is on file basically anyway. Because of these factors the requirement of annual notification is not serving the purpose for which it was introduced and should be abolished.
The Bill contains 9 clauses of which the first 2 deal with the title and date of commencement. Clauses 3 and 4 simply provide for amendments to delete references to 21 years of age in sections 7 and 7A of the principal Act and to substitute instead the new age of majority - 18 years. Clause 5 deletes from section 8 of the principal Act references to section 9, which is to be repealed. Clause 6 repeals section 9 of the principal Act which is the section under which aliens have been required to notify annually, their address, occupation and marital status. It is the removal of this requirement which ‘is the objective of the Bill. Clause 7(a), like clauses 3 and 4, provides for amendment to delete references to 21 years of age and substitute references to 18 years of age in section 17 of the principal Act.
Clause 7(b) provides for the omission of sub-section 3 of section 17. This particular sub-section provided penalties for the parents or guardians (of aliens under the age of 21 years) who had failed to comply with the annual notification requirements. With the repeal of section 9 of the principal Act, subsection 3 of section 17 no longer has relevance. Clause 8 simply deletes reference to section 9, which is being repealed, from section 18 of the principal Act. The opportunity has also been taken to make some formal amendments of the principal Act to accord with current drafting practices. These are covered in a schedule of formal amendments under clause 9. Requirements with respect to initial registration of aliens will remain unaltered and the updating of records from information received through departmental sources will ensure the maintenance of an adequate register of aliens. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
– I move:
The motion I have just moved is to enable the House to adopt a number of changes in the sitting arrangements for the sittings. The changes, if agreed to by the House, will begin to operate from Tuesday next, 28 August. Details of the proposed arrangements have been made available to honourable members but it may be helpful if I summarise them. Firstly, we propose that when the House resumes on Tuesday, 6 November after a week’s adjournment, it will sit for 5 weeks, taking us to Thursday, 6 December. Of course, we might need to review the tentative termination date later in the sittings. Secondly, we propose that starting from Monday, 17 September the House should sit on Mondays for half of the sitting weeks. The dates proposed are 17 September, 15 and 22 October and 12 and 26 « November. The House will meet at 2 p.m.. when it sits on Mondays.
Thirdly, it is proposed that the House sit earlier on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays it will meet at 11 a.m. and on Wednesdays at 11.30 a.m. Honourable members will recall that in the latter part of the autumn sittings the House met at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. This caused some difficulties and it is now proposed that there be slightly later meeting times. Fourthly, the arrangement whereby the House rises each night not later than 1 1 p.m. will continue. On Mondays and Tuesdays the adjournment will be moved at 10.45 p.m. and on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10.15 p.m. Finally, meal arrangements will be the same as in the autumn sittings, namely, from 1 p.m. to 2.’1 5 p.m. for luncheon and from 6.15 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner.
I am sure honourable members will be fully aware of the need for the changes which the Government is proposing. The Government has a heavy legislative program to put before the Parliament. In fact the number of Bills that we intend to introduce, and with which I will deal later, is expected to exceed by a considerable margin the number of Bills that the Parliament normally passes in a whole year. Obviously this will place strains upon the Parliament. The Government is anxious that these strains be kept to a minimum, while providing opportunity for adequate debate of its important legislative proposals, and that the interests of honourable members and of the staff, of course, be preserved as far as it is possible to do so. I am sure that I will have the support of the House for these proposals.
The Government examined carefully all possibilities. The first conclusion it reached was that the arrangement whereby the House rises at 11 p.m. each night should continue. Late night sittings are an imposition on everyone concerned and I am sure nobody would wish to return to them. Of course, the earlier meetings in the mornings will cause some inconvenience but honourable members must expect to put themselves out to some degree if the Parliament is to implement the reforms for which the Australian people have asked. The Government appreciates that Monday sittings will reduce the time that members can spend with their constituents but additional time must be found for sittings, and meeting on some Mondays appears to be the most reasonable solution. I believe that Friday sittings, which the Government also considered, are less convenient to honourable members and less useful to the Parliament because the House cannot sit beyond midafternoon.
I refer now to private members’ time. The previous Government made it a practice during the Budget and Estimates debates to take over Thursday mornings for Government business on the rather strange ground that honourable members could debate matters of their own choosing during the Budget and Estimates debates. The Government does not propose to continue this bad practice. On Thursday mornings general business and grievance debates will be held as usual. I should mention, in this regard that during the autumn sittings problem) were experienced occasionally when the Government sought to ensure that the House had the opportunity to bring general business matters to a vote. Some honourable members felt, rightly or wrongly, that they were being forced to vote on matters that they had not had adequate time to consider. It also happened on a couple of occasions that general business was extended into the afternoon period thus taking away precious time from Government business. To avoid these problems in these sittings I suggest to the House that it would be more suitable if when the normal time for general business expires and it is not practicable to take a vote on the matter before the House the debate be adjourned. At a later stage, if it is so wished, the House could arrange a special Friday sitting devoted entirely to dealing with outstanding business debates.
Before I conclude, and having given this explanation, I should like to give honourable members some idea of the legislative program that will face them in this session in order to substantiate the need for some change in sitting times. The number of Bills to be presented during this session will approach 200. Honourable members will agree that a legislative program of this magnitude will necessarily require more hours of sitting and more days of sitting. The proposal must be considered in the light of the fact that the average number of Bills for a full year during the last 5 years has been about 133. The highest number passed in a previous Budget session was 93 in 1968. Generally Bills were spread fairly evenly between the autumn and Budget sittings. For the benefit of honourable members I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard figures supplied to me by the Clerk concerning the number of Bills presented. I might mention that I am not using these figures for political purposes. This is interesting information for honourable members.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House. This session the House will have twice as many Bills as usual to debate. True, some of them will be the subject of cognate debates but if they are all completed within the time set down the Parliament this year will have passed a record number of 320 Bills. A legislative program of this size naturally means that the Parliament must sit for longer periods. During the last 5 years the average number of days on which Parliament sat was 55, the highest number being 74 in 1971. The proposals I have outlined provide for 44 sitting days in this Budget session and a total for the year of 78, which is the highest number for some years. This gives an indication of the program before the Parliament. This program must be carried out. It would present difficulties if we adhered to the old hours.
Since this Government was elected it has endeavoured to give the fullest possible opportunity for private members in this Parliament to express their views on subjects with which they are concerned. Several desirable reforms have been attempted. I mention a few. The House now adjourns at not later than 1 1 p.m. General business has always been called on and grievance debates have been permitted. Adjournment debates have been held each night and attempts have been made to allow a reasonable time for discussion of legislation. Honourable members know that this is factual information. I withdraw any criticism of the previous Government at this stage. I think members opposite would agree with me that these are desirable moves. The previous Government probably did not introduce such reforms during the last session it was in office because of its legislative program but they are necessary if members are to be able to express themselves. I might mention that the Australian Parliament sits about onethird of the time that the Congress of the United States of America, the House of Commons of Canada and the British House of Commons sit. Recently when I was abroad I took the opportunity to study the proceedings of those legislatures. They sit almost constantly throughout the year with breaks here and there in certain circumstances. I do not know how they arrange such sittings or what is done but there appears to be reasonable agreement between all parties on matters appertaining to debates and discussion. Arrangements are made and respected, but from what I can see that is not possible in many respects in Australia.
I believe that the Parliament will have to sit longer hours. I hope later this year to be able to submit for consideration by the Government a program which may extend the sittings of this Parliament for an additional 2 months next year in order to avoid the inconvenience to some honourable members that will result from the proposed sitting hours. I have been a member of this Parliament for a long time but the procedures broadly are the same as they were when I first entered this place. In this enlightened age there must be change. Many of the time-wasting procedures will have to disappear otherwise honourable members will be required to remain here from Christmas Day to Christmas Day. I believe that ultimately consideration on an all-party basis must be given to amending the Standing Orders and our procedures so that Bills which are considered to be of major importance are debated instead of minor Bills which sometimes occupy valuable time. I do not criticise honourable members for being obstructionists, for putting their points of view or for demanding their right to speak. After all, that is part of our parliamentary procedures but in the interests of the whole Parliament I believe it would be better if procedures could be laid down whereby Bills that matter can be discussed in preference to subjects that do not matter. I instance the occasion when the House spent 90 minutes debating whether an additional minute should be allowed for the ringing of the division bells.
I have made some constructive suggestions. Later I shall move a motion relating to our committee system to institute procedures which have been adopted in other countries to streamline the proceedings of the Parliament and to enable business to proceed more smoothly. It is a matter for the Parliament to decide whether it wants it or not. But these things will have to be done if the Parliament is to get through its work. The changing of hours is even more inconvenient for the Government than it is for the Opposition. The Cabinet sits sometimes on Sundays and on Monday mornings. Our Party meeting has been put forward li hours to meet the proposals put forward in respect of Wednesdays because there is a realisation that this is the only way in which we can get through the sittings in reasonable hours. Otherwise honourable members will have to go back to the old days of sitting all night.
I just make those broad observations. I commend the proposals to the House. We believe that they represent the best available compromise between the interests of individual members and, of course, the staff, and the need to provide sufficient time to deal with our legislative program. I hope that honourable members on both sides of the Parliament will give their co-operation to these proposals and the ensuing business to ensure that it goes through the Parliament objectively, constructively and with full discussion. I am one who believes that the public thinks we are now fairly well off here and that parliamentarians are doing pretty well. Honourable members on both sides of this Parliament are under close scrutiny. Many members of the public think - probably rightly so - that we do not sit long enough or often enough. I suggest that today, when honourable members opposite are considering what attitude they will adopt to these proposals, they give due consideration to public opinion on this issue and not vote against the extension of the sitting hours of this Parliament to which is needed to enable it to put through legislation which is vitally important and which the people are entitled to have fully discussed in reasonable hours, at reasonable times and with proper and adequate consideration. I commend the proposal to the House.
– We certainly agree with what the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) said concerning the need for this Parliament to operate in an effective and democratic fashion. Yet that was the major complaint the Opposition parties put forward so vigorously during the first session of this Parliament. The opportunities which the Leader of the House recognises should be provided to the Opposition parties certainly were not provided in the first session this year. Despite the great air of bonhomie and sweet reasonableness that the Leader of the House exudes on this occasion, he knows full well that the parliamentary schedule which he proposes will place intolerable and unreasonable pressures on the Opposition parties which are, of course, denied the extensive staff resources and Public Service support facilities available to the Government.
– It is SO per cent more than we had when we were in Opposition.
– The honourable gentleman knows better than to interject when he is out of his normal place in this House. But then, of course, he is in some trouble finding his place in the present Ministry, if one has regard to the disabilities indicated by the announcements which he has been putting down. The concern of the Opposition parties is that this Government may intend to steamroll legislation through the House, consistent with the approach and practice which it adopted last session.
We are conscious of the Government’s legislative program and its desire to implement those measures for which it believes it has a mandate. We are not opposed to the concept of extending the sitting days. It is our objective to co-operate and work with the Government towards the effective functioning of this House. But that spirit of co-operation of which the Leader of the House speaks entails the provision by the Government of adequate time to examine the details of legislation in the Party committees, the Party rooms and in the Parliament itself. That time was not afforded during the first session this year. This Parliament cannot properly perform its constitutional role without effective legislative programming by the Government. We on the Opposition side are not prepared to allow the further derogation of the parliamentary system which we saw earlier this year.
The question of the rearranged schedule is not so much a question of extended sitting times, or indeed of extended hours on the sitting days. Rather, it is a question of the Leader of the House, backed by his extensive staff, providing the Opposition with adequate notice of those measures which are to come before this House. Honourable members will recall that, during the last session, 105 Bills were passed by this House in a matter of some 34 days, an average of 3i Bills a day. The guillotine was applied to 5 of those Bills and the debates were gagged on some 40 occasions. In spite of the strong objections raised by the Opposition, the Government forced through a record number of Bills, many of which were not subject to the minimum requirements of meaningful debate.
The Government now proposes to pass some 200 Bills during the Budget session - an announcement made by the Leader of the House, predictably not to this Parliament, but on an ABC radio program before the Parliament began its sitting. This means that Bills, many of which will be of major significance to the Opposition parties and the people of this country, will be introduced at an average rate of 5 a day. In the face of this pressure, it would be no less than reasonable to expect a high degree of forward legislative planning by the Government. We believe that that means that the Opposition parties in this Parliament should receive at least 14 days notice between the time that the second reading of the Bill is moved and the Bill ultimately is brought on for debate. I am referring of course to matters of major significance, not the minor matters on which there can be agreement. The adoption of sound planning procedures by this Government would provide the Opposition parties with the opportunity to process proposals for legislation through our committee systems, our executives and our party rooms. This opportunity was denied during the course of the last session.
Therefore, what is being said in response to what the Leader of the House has put forward is that it is not so much a question of sitting times as it is of adequate foreshadowing of proposals which come before the House for the purposes of scrutiny, analysis and determination of party position by the Opposition. As the Leader of the House knows full well - I do not take a point off him here - on Monday of this week it was almost impossible for the Opposition parties to ascertain the precise program which would obtain for this week.
– We did not even know when we were going to sit.
– We were not even certain as to the time we were going to sit. A number of debates have been brought on quickly for consideration by this House. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) introduced one measure yesterday with an expectation that it would be considered in detail today. This is the aspect which is far from satisfactory and this concept of planning, I believe, is the aspect to which the Leader of the House should direct his attention.
The Government’s myth of open government, which has been so much proclaimed has, I believe, been adequately destroyed by what we saw during the early parliamentary processes of the first session. In fact, there was no proper explanation of Government policy given to this House in the form of ministerial statements in many significant areas of Government policy - areas of selfproclaimed Government concern - such as the environment and conservation, urban and regional development and, of course, a field very dear to the heart of the Leader of the House, immigration. The Leader of the House knows full well that he sits in the Ministry with a colleague who has been throughout the length and breadth of Asia proclaiming the concept of a new immigration policy for Australia. He also recognises full well that that policy has not been brought down in this House by way of a detailed statement. It has been sought; it has been called for. The Leader of the House may well have some problems with the policy which his confrere is developing.
All that is being said here in a simple way - the gallery has perceived the significance of the point - is that democracy as it relates to the functioning of the House is not being well served because, contrary to what the Government has put forward in relation to its concept of open government, it has denied that concept in question time. It has denied this concept by the manner in which significant questions of policy have been the subject of pronouncement outside the House and not adequately subjected to the cut and thrust of debate in this Parliament.
Any lingering doubts about - dare I say it - the concept of open government, frankly, have been totally destroyed or erased by the Prime Minister’s recent vaudeville performance on the David Frost show, a venue to which he apparently attaches a far greater degree of significance than he does to the functioning of the national Parliament in Canberra. The Prime Ministerial predilection for making major policy announcements through the medium of television must lead to the conclusion that he has now become so transfixed by his own self-perception of brilliance that he no longer regards this House as an adequate forum for his pretensions. The Leader of the House, a man of integrity, a great statesman, knows this point to be of significance in the context of the absence of answers given by the Prime Minister during question time in the House yesterday. In fact, the Melbourne ‘Herald’ observed on 20 August:
The Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, in his extraordinary week-end television interview with David Frost, debased the processes of government in Australia.
Matters of major importance to the nation became in the hands of Mr Whitlam mere pop entertainment between the advertisements on one commercial TV channel.
The ‘Australian’ of the same day was equally condemnatory of the Prime Minister’s abuse of Parliament.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition might confine his remarks io the motion before the Chair. The matter he is dealing with now is hardly relevant.
– If I might say so without any offence - of course I would never seek to offend the Chair - the concept of the working of this Parliament, inherent in what the Leader of the House has put forward, is well reflected in the abuse of that concept by what the Prime Minister of this country said on television recently. I will close on that one point if I may have the forbearance of the Chair - the Chair now recognising the significance of that point. The ‘Australian’ on the same day said this:
When the Prime Minister of Australia returns from an important 3-week trip abroad and makes his first public statement on matters of national importance not to the people of Australia, not to the Australian Parliament, but to a lightweight English show business personality, he loses sight of the values he is there to represent.
This is the Prime Minister who said in his policy speech that one of his great aims for this country was to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land. That is a promise which has been demeaned, not dignified, by the manner in which the Government has sought to approach the parliamentary processes during the course of the first session of Parliament this year - and we are concerned that it might well seek to repeat that performance now.
The Opposition believes that this motion has been moved precipitately. It has been moved without discussion and without consultation. Surely all the fine words of the Leader of the House about the need to consult, viewed against a background of no consultation on this matter, must sound - even to his great sense of the metaphysic - to be somewhat barren in their application and in their implication. He proposes to extend the sittings to include Mondays and, by commencing at earlier times, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, This will cut heavily, as the Leader of the House is patently aware, into the time allowed to the Opposition parties for committee, executive and party room discussions. It denies the Opposition parties an effective opportunity to analyse the legislation that comes before the national Parliament. We would hope that the Government is not now preparing again to use and abuse this House as no more than a means to exercise its numbers. It is unfortunate that the Leader of the House, having completed an extensive overseas trip to examine the operation of democratic institutions of government, is not prepared to give this House some evidence of his newly acquired enlightenment.
I foreshadow that at the end of these comments I will be moving an amendment which will omit the words ‘on each Wednesday at half-past 11 o’clock a.m.’ and substitute ‘on each Wednesday at 2 o’clock p.m.’. The purpose of the amendment is to extend the opportunity for the Opposition parties to consider legislation in their party rooms. It is all very well for the Leader of the House himself to put the point that the extended hours of sitting will restrict the opportunity for discussion in his own party room. Of course, one can understand why this Government wants to deny its back bench members the opportunity to play an effective and meaningful part in the legislative process. What the Opposition is therefore seeking by the amendment is to have the period between half-past 11 and 1 o’clock on Wednesdays set aside as additional time for party room discussion. If the Leader of the House wants to make up time in some other way he is fully entitled to do so and he would be supported by the Opposition parties.
– What would you suggest?
– The Leader of the House could extend the period of the sitting. We are not opposed to extended sitting times, because extended sitting times provide an opportunity to criticise the appalling legislation which this Government intends bringing down in the Budget session. What we are asking for is reasonable time during which the Government will foreshadow the proposals which it is bringing down. That time was not provided in the first session this year and we suspect it is not now to be provided. I therefore move:
That paragraph (1) be amended by omitting the words ‘on each Wednesday at half past 11 o’clock a.m.’ and substituting ‘on each Wednesday at 2 o’clock p.m.’.
There are other matters which the Leader of the House has indicated could be the subject of consultation. I welcome that approach. I hope he will regard those consultations with an open mind, that he will not be subject to the ruthless people who determine his fate in the caucus of the Australian Labor Party. Benign as he is, we know that he is subject to the determination of numbers outside this place. That is a matter of regret, because when one consults with the Leader of the House one knows, of course, that he is never totally the master of his own fate or that of this House. I hope therefore that when consultations are called for following an honest and genuine inquiry made in a spirit of cooperation between the opposite sides of this House - and that spirit must prevail - he will adopt a constructive and positive approach.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– Having in mind the remarkable sense of justice of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) I am surprised that I am even accorded time to second this motion. The difficulties that beset us in Opposition are essentially the denial of a voice. The measures that have been moved this afternoon by the Leader of the House, ostensibly to grant extended times of sitting, my colleagues and I see as no more than a contraction of the opportunities for debate, not an extension of them. It is all very well for the Leader of the House to cite the number of Bills that will come before us and the number that were passed by the Parliament in the last session. Numbers alone signify little. The quality and the quantity of that legislation were such that many amendments were moved, and fortunately they were passed by our colleagues in the other place. The number of those amendments that have been accepted by the Government gives some indication of the hastiness with which the legislation was introduced and the lack of adequate consideration, which regrettably was denied this place.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) has put forward a proposition tonight with which I am in complete accord. That is that if the Leader of the House seeks to have us work reasonably with him to provide him and his fellow Ministers an adequate opportunity for debate in this place at least 14 days should elapse between the time when significant legislation is introduced in this Parliament and the time when it is debated. That of course does not preclude the opportunity for a more immediate debate on matters of less than major importance, for example, the considerable number of Bills covering metric conversion. These swell the statistics of the legislation passed. They certainly involve debating time in this Parliament but they do not involve the detailed consideration that applies to some of the fundamental changes outlined by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his Budget Speech last night and foreshadowed by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his policy speech and other speeches since involving us on this side of the House in a necessary detailed examination of the legislation relating to these matters. It concerns me that, without 14 days notice, we will not be in a position to give the sort of consideration that the legislation needs and that the people of Australia deserve.
For that reason I suggest that it is essential, if we are to comply with the suggestion from the Leader of the House - imposed, as my colleague has suggested, in bonhomie and sweet reasonableness - to recognise that we too are prepared to be full of reason, kindness and gentleness, provided we are given an opportunity to consider the legislation. The motion before the House is designed not to give us that adequate opportunity. It is necessary that some of the other problems faced by honourable members be recognised. One of them is peculiar to those of us who do not live in Sydney or Melbourne. It is not a problem peculiar to country members; it is a problem peculiar to members who do not live in Sydney or Melbourne. I refer to the necessity for us to be able to go back to our electorates to obtain from our electors some indi cation of their attitude towards the legislation that is coming forward and some indication of the problems that are essentially the product of the member’s representation at home. If a member is to do that and is to be required to sit on Mondays, occasionally on Fridays and for extended hours during the week, his ability to get back home and his ability to represent his constituents will be impaired. I believe that the proposals that the Leader of the House has put forward are directly contrary to the best interests of the constituents of every member of this place other than those few who live in the 2 principal capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne. For that reason I believe that the motion also needs to be reconsidered.
This afternoon the Leader of the House spoke about time wasting procedures. The difficulties that members of this place have were demonstrated very effectively the other night in the presentation that was given by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) before David Frost. The difficulty that we have here is that we are not able to pursue supplementary questioning in depth as an interviewer on television can do. If we were able by the use of the Standing Orders to do this, the Government certainly has given us no indication that it would be prepared to afford time for that sort of scrutiny or even for us to present a reasonable case. Earlier this afternoon the Prime Minister presented a ministerial statement on a major excursion overseas. Not only was it presented to this Parliament in a brief form but also only one member from this side of the chamber was given the opportunity to comment on it. The time wasting procedures to which the Leader of the House referred could have been avoided completely if only that sweet reasonableness, which he occasionally tries to assert, had prevailed and if the 5 or 10 minutes which I sought to obtain in order to speak on the statement had been offered to me.
So I must assert that the changes which the Leader of the House has put forward in the motion directly deny adequate opportunities for members of the Opposition to consider the legislation and to prepare adequately the case that needs to be prepared if the legislation that is foreshadowed is to be debated adequately in this chamber. I believe that to accept the proposal that the sitting hours be modified to such an extreme degree would not help towards the better consideration of legislation. It would not facilitate more adequate and effective consideration of the proposals which the Government puts forward and it certainly would not be in the best interests of Australia.
There is one other area on which I should like to comment briefly. In Australia there is a multiplicity of parliaments. Increasingly an area of concern to us on this side of the House is the degree to which, by the application of the centralist tendencies of the Australian Labor Party, the present Government has a propensity to seek to dictate policy from within this Parliament. If policy is to be directed from here and if the States are to become more and more administrative machinery centres rather than governments acting in their true sovereign independent right, then it is necessary that this Parliament be given a greater opportunity to debate legislation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition correctly said that we have no aversion to debating matters. We have no aversion to sitting longer if it is necessary for us to do so to consider legislation. But we have an aversion to having our hours extended in such a way as to deny us adequate opportunity for our parties to meet and for our committees to function. The changes that are to be introduced here will prevent those committees from meeting adequately. They will deny us the opportunity to consider legislation effectively in the party room. So, with the centralist policies denying State parliaments their right we will find that the whole function of the democratic parliamentary system in Australia will be further foreshortened.
One of the other consequences that Government supporters might consider is that they will find increasingly that their role will be subordinate to the role of the House of Review within this Federal Parliament. The Bills which are not considered adequately in this House must be considered in the other chamber. If they are considered in the other chamber and if after further examination amendments are made, those amendments have to come back here. So, as today, we will see coming to this chamber a succession of pieces of legislation which we will have to spend furthe time debating. All of them will have to be reconsidered by Cabinet. In other words, it will take up a lot more time than would have been necessary if adequate opportunities were given for party meetings and party committees. For those reasons I support completely the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I suggest that Government supporters in their own interests might well turn towards the purport of the amendment and support it so that there can be more adequate and effective debates in this chamber and more adequate and effective opportunities for people other than those who live in Sydney and Melbourne to participate in the debates in this chamber as well as to participate in the necessary function of representing their electorates in their home communities.
– I wonder what would satisfy this grizzling, grumbling Opposition. I sat in Opposition for 23 years. We were a constructive Opposition. In all the speeches we made in this House as members of the Opposition we put forward constructive proposals for this country. I listened to the growling and grizzling of honourable members opposite during the previous session and it is continuing today in the same form, on the same note and with the same discord. Honourable members opposite do not always think exactly alike on this subject. In the new program the Government has tried to provide sufficient time for the Parliament to debate the issues of the nation, and the Opposition is still not satisfied. The Government also has to have party meetings. Our party meetings will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. on Wednesdays. We are the Government. We have far more work to do than the Opposition.
– They are all in bed then.
– Honourable members opposite will have to get up a little earlier to get to their party meetings on Wednesday mornings. They are not satisfied. If they were not given the time they would be grizzling because there was not enough time for debate. The Government is giving them enough time for debate and they are still not satisfied. Goodness gracious me, can honourable members opposite not make up their minds about what this Parliament should be doing, stick to it and do their job without wasting time grizzling and growling here? They are complete amateurs in Opposition.
– We have not had enough practice.
– They have not had enough practice yet. We will give them 9 years of practice for a start, just to see whether we can get them going. You might be ‘pros’ by that time but you are certainly not ‘pros’ now.
-Order! That expression is unparliamentary.
– I meant professionals, Mr Speaker. I would like now to comment on what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) said about our Leader appearing on Mr David Frost’s television program. It is a pity that the honourable member has not been talking to people around Australia who saw the program. It was one of the greatest programs ever shown on television in this country. The impact of that program has gone far beyond what might be imagined. It has given our Leader a new image for many people because of the way he conducted himself and the way in which he answered questions. The honourable member referred to the criticism appearing in the ‘Australian’, the only newspaper that took the interview apart. I would like to let him know why it did that.
– What about the Melbourne Herald’?
– It belongs to the same group.
– It does not.
– The reason is that the ‘Australian’ hates David Frost because he clashed with Rupert Murdoch. Ever since David Frost has been written down as a nincompoop by that newspaper. Because our Leader was interviewed by David Frost the ‘Australian’ came out with a ridiculous editorial. It is a bitter, vicious and vitriolic editorial with which I completely disagree, as do the great majority of Australians.
Honourable members opposite were once in government. What short memories they have. When a member of the Liberal Party was Prime Minister it was all right for him to give interviews on television, but when a Labor man appears on television outside Parliament it is said that he is doing something wrong. Why do honourable members opposite have 2 standards in this matter, one when they are in government and a different one when they are in Opposition? It just does not wear.
– Why do you have 2 standards?
– We do not. When we were in Opposition we were always fighting for more time to debate issues. As whip of the Party t know that. Now that we are in office we still want more time to debate issues.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I suggest that remarks be directed through the Chair. Honourable members who are not participating in the debate should remain silent.
– This motion will get the result it deserves.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.12 to 3 p.m.
– by leave - The defence vote for 1973-74 is$1, 345m. This compares with an actual expenditure during 1972-73 of $1, 285m. My purpose this evening is to set out some of the Government’s thinking on defence, with particular reference to the strategic situation we now find, the capabilities which exist in our forces, and in the light of these the financial and other provisions which should now be made for defence.
The nation’s security is the Government’s first responsibility. Labor policy calls for a strong and valid defence capability that will demonstrate beyond all doubt the nation’s intention to defend itself and its vital interests. There can be no neglect of defence. In determining policy regarding the shape and size of the defence force and its capabilities, at any time the government of the day will give first consideration to the strategic prospect facing the nation. It will assess the possibility of military pressure or threats against Australia and of other situations which might require evidence of defence strength or some involvement of the defence force.
Given the long lead time necessary to acquire and develop many of the capabilities of the force, it is necessary to assess not only the immediate situation but the likely situation in future. Shortly after taking office I called for such an assessment to cover the next 15 years. There are bound to be uncertainties about the future, particularly about the later part of such a long period. The principal findings, however, are clear and I believe that they allow us to plan our defence policy with a good measure of confidence. We shall regularly review the asessment made now to allow timely decisions for the development of the defence force should future assessments indicate a requirement for this.
At the present time, however, it can be said that Australia’s situation is favourable and that various important factors and trends in the international situation support Australia’s security into the longer term. We and our advisers do not at present foresee any deterioration in our strategic environment that would involve consideration of the commitment of our defence force to military operations to protect Australia’s security or strategic interests. This view of Australia’s long term security was, I may remind the House, the view accepted by previous governments in recent years. Yet they continued to commit Australian forces to unnecessary operations in Vietnam which were not only unwarranted, but counter-productive. They did not cease that involvement until the United States withdrawal with under way. This Government would, of course, be. prepared to consider the use of Australian forces abroad in support of United Nations peace-keeping operations, if this sort of situation arose and we could make a useful contribution.
Let me indicate briefly the nature of the factors and trends to which I have just referred. Australia is not a global power, but we have twice this century become involved in world wars and could not remain unaffected, and probably uninvolved, were global conflict once more to threaten. At present, however, there is a very strong trend away from this prospect. The ability of the 2 super powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, to destroy each other by nuclear exchange has placed substantial restraint on direct military confrontation. There is significant movement towards detente between them and co-operation in the handling of situations that could lead to critical confrontation. China for its part has effected some rapprochement with both the United States and Japan, and has strong interests in the avoidance of major international conflict.
Another important factor in the global situation is in the economic field. In particular, the growing dependence of large industrial economies on the uninterrupted, world-wide flow of raw materials places increasing importance on the stable management of international relations. This consideration is of particular importance to major economic powers such as Japan and the West European countries.
Political competition among the major powers can, of course, be expected to continue. Nor can we rule out the possibility of limited local conflicts during the years ahead in various parts of the globe. But present trends generally point to a prospect of relative stability in the global order. Any major, protracted conflict, drawing nations into general war, appears remote.
In South East Asia, any risk of military confrontation between the major powers has substantially receded. Fighting continues in Indo China, but in our view only the people of that region themselves can reach the political settlements necessary to bring an end to military conflict. This Government has ended completely all Australian military involvement in Indo China, and we have no intention of involving the nation there again.
The countries forming the Association of South East Asian Nations - Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia - have made substantial advances in nation building and regional co-operation. There continue to be many problems of development and areas of local insecurity. We can, and do, try to assist development, by our aid and co-operation programs. But we understand that the regional governments see internal security questions as their own domestic concern and are not looking for external involvement in internal security situations.
The ASEAN governments have been discussing proposals for a ‘zone of peace, freedom and neutrality’ in South East Asia that would preserve their security and independence and allow them to pursue their national and regional development free from disruption by military confrontation in the region. Such proposals have obvious interest for Australia and we have made clear our support for this initiative. Australia has an abiding interest in the security and peace of South East Asia and we welcome moves that can further reduce the likelihood of military confrontation there.
Pending neutralisation, this Government will continue to honour the Five Power arrangements. We do not accept that these arrangements require the stationing of forces in Malaysia and Singapore indefinitely and we have already arranged for the phased withdrawal of Australian ground forces from Singapore. However, a Royal Australian Airforce detachment of some 1,500 and our Mirages will remain at Butterworth at least until we review the situation again in 1975, and we shall continue to maintain a small naval presence in the area.
Closer to home, our largest neighbour is Indonesia. Honourable members will be well aware of the friendly relations we enjoy with that country and this Government’s intention to give central emphasis to the further development of these relations. We are maintaining the defence co-operation program with Indonesia begun under the previous Government and I have said that we shall support a successor program. Close defence understanding with the Government of Indonesia is at all times important to Australia and I much welcome our fruitful and friendly exchanges with Indonesia in this field.
In Papua New Guinea there is now a clear movement towards final independence and we are closely involved with the Government there in discussions about the development of its defence force. The process of localisation is proceeding effectively and at an increasing pace, although Papua New Guinea is likely to continue to require assistance from Australia for some time to come. No threat of external military attack against Papua New Guinea is foreseen and we see no major risk to Australia’s security arising there. Regarding internal security, honourable members will have noted the important statement on 20 August by the Minister for Defence and Foreign Relations in the Papua New Guinea Government, Mr Kiki. The Minister said that ‘Papua New Guinea was determined to look after its own security problems in the future’ and:
No country can lightly contemplate either the dispatch of their own forces or the acceptance of foreign forces to deal with an essentially domestic situation’.
I can say that Mr Kiki’s views are very much in accord with those of this Government, and, I am confident, those of all members of the House.
The favourable developments in the strategic environment that I have outlined strongly support our view that Australia is unlikely to come under strategic pressure or military threat. This is the current assessment. As I have said, we shall review it regularly so that as any changes are discerned they can, as necessary, be reflected in defence policy and in the development of our military forces. We can, however, at this stage responsibly look to the future in reasonable confidence that no significant requirement is likely to arise for the operational commitment of our forces. We believe that any change would take time and would allow us to develop the response necessary. We shall certainly maintain Australia’s security association with the United States and New Zealand under the ANZUS Treaty. We place much value on this association. It would be of the utmost importance to Australia should a major threat ever develop again in the Pacific area. In the meantime, it sustains contact and co-operation in a variety of practical defence fields and in consultations about defence and security matters that are of advantage to all 3 partners in the alliance.
This assessment of the situation Australia is likely to face in the next decade does not, of course, mean that Australia can dispense with defence strength. I have already referred to uncertainties in the longer term. In matters affecting the nation’s security it is necessary to move with prudence. I wish to stress also the extent to which Australia nowadays and in the future must accept the primary and independent responsibility for safeguarding our security and strategic interests. We are no longer simply a junior partner whose activities are largely shaped by the strategic and military policies of more powerful friends. We shall maintain our co-operative relations with them, which we greatly value. But we cannot assume that their interest in local and regional situations will necessarily be the same or as close as ours. Nor is it our wish or intention simply to sit back and rely on them to safeguard and protect us. We must maintain a defence capabilty that accords with our foreign policy.
The modern situation requires Australia to be more self-reliant than in the past, and this is very much in accord with this Government’s view of our independent national status. We must have forces in being for the surveillance and patrol of the environs of this continent. We must maintain our ability to be a source of military advice, technology and training which are helpful in the development of the defence capabilities of other countries in our region with whom we maintain defence co-operation and aid programs. There can be scope for further Service assistance to community tasks beyond what is already done. This is now being explored. Above all, it will be important to maintain in being sufficient skills and capabilities to allow timely expansion of the forces, should this again become necessary.
But the favourable strategic prospect allows us an opportunity to review and rationalise, to promote more efficient and economical defence capabilities. After the more or less continuous defence expansion of the last 10 years, it is a time for taking stock, for pruning back activities whose original purpose has changed and for eliminating redundancies that have crept into our force structure. We intend to make full use of the opportunity presented to us. Where savings can responsibly be made, we shall make them. Where new acquisitions of equipment and other costly defence expenditures can be reduced or deferred without prejudice to the essential capabilities of our defence forces, we intend to use the resources for higher community priorities. Balanced judgments must be made of the kind and extent of forces that would permit expansion in the time available if changes to the strategic position become apparent to the Government. The feasible rate of expansion would depend essentially on the size and nature of the base force - the core force - and the resources the nation would be able to put into the development of this force. The core force would not be a manpower intensive force. But it must have sufficient modern defence components and skills and be of the size and organisational framework that would permit expansion in time of need.
We should all be conscious of the fact that Australia has developed over the past decade a very significant level of defence capabilities. There has been a very substantial growth in manpower and equipment, and in some forms of defence facilities, although not in others, Much modern and complex equipment has been introduced or is on order. We are now self-sufficient in many areas where we were not so before. We have consequently reached a stage of force development where we should appraise the forces we have in being as a whole in relation to likely tasks. We must consider whether replacements of capabilities in the Air Force or Navy, or Army, or Supply establishments are all essential at this stage and whether they need to be on a one-for-one basis. We must be alert to the prospect that new needs will emerge for capabilities not now in existence. Along with this, we ought to reduce or retire any defence capabilities which we believe have a lower priority in the future or which can be readily re-developed. In our strategic situation, there can be military, economic and technological benefit in extending the life of some of the types of equipment we already have, so that advantage can be taken of foreseen improvements in technology later on. There can be some general reductions in the tempo of Seivice activities. All these considerations are leading to a thorough re-assessment of our defence forces.
I turn now to the current provision that is being made for maintaining and developing the capability of our defence forces. I shall review the position on a functional rather than a Service basis. The main elements of the maritime force are the ships and other vessels and maritime aircraft which provide for maritime defence, surveillance, patrol and other maritime roles. The present maritime force is centred around eleven effective fleet destroyers; one aircraft carrier backed by 19 fixed-wing attack aircraft and 15 fixed and 2 rotary-wing anti-submarine aircraft; 2 Royal Australian Air Force long range maritime patrol aircraft squadrons totalling 22 aircraft; 15 patrol boats (an additional five operate in the Papua New Guinea Division); and four submarines.
The maritime force will in due course be complemented by current projects for 2 additional submarines under construction and for anti-submarine - cargo helicopters which will replace some existing rotary-wing aircraft. A variety of naval vessels complements the main fleet units, including support craft, landingcraft, a destroyer tender, mine countermeasure vessels, survey and oceanographic ships and so on.
In line with our aim to achieve desirable economies, I have already announced the decision I have taken to pay off the ageing fleet transport HMAS ‘Sydney’, which would otherwise have required considerable expenditure to maintain her through to the end of her life projected for 1974. This expenditure would have been quite unjustified. It has been decided that the second training ship, HMAS Anzac’, can be paid off when HMAS Duchess’ completes her conversion refit in 1974. The naval component of the force provides a substantial force is being. From this could be developed a very much larger Navy should it be required. The Navy is most unlikely to be out-classed in strength or quality by countries in the Australian region of strategic interest within the time scale of the present strategic review. It must be noted, however, that substantial capital investment is necessary to maintain this comparative effectiveness. The distances involved in our area, and the lack of ports and naval bases, make long range and sea-keeping attributes an important part of the naval force component. This requires the maintenance of a core of substantial ships.
The naval component has the type of units which contribute - especially in conjunction with maritime patrol aircraft and aircraft providing strike attack and defence - to meeting the appropriate fundamental requirements for the protection of Australia and its immediate environment. The naval force can assist in coping with any intrusions into territorial waters and fishing and resource zones. It provides considerable support to civil authorites. It could, in the present strategic environment, deter to a great extent any minor harassment and interference with Australian sovereign control. As I indicated while in opposition and again earlier this year, I have been giving particular attention to the escort strength of the RAN and the need for new destroyer construction. The two Daring class destroyers in the fleet have recently been modernised.
A decision was taken by the previous Government to proceed with the modernisation of the 3 Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers. This will cover the overhaul and modernisation of the S-inch guns; updating the Tartar missile system to enable it to use the more advanced Standard missile; and installation of a computerised automated command and control system. Further, and in line with maintaining our existing destroyers as operationally effective fleet units, it is the Government’s intention to proceed with the refit and modernisation of some, at least, of the older River class destroyers during the latter half of this decade. The extent to which these ships should be updated is being critically reviewed, taking into account the assessed importance of the individual weapons systems to our likely strategic situation in the 1980s, the costs involved and the manpower and maintenance savings that can be achieved. Work is continuing on the Australian development of Project Mulloka - a new improved sonar which may be part of the update of these anti-submarine warfare ships.
The need for new destroyer construction has been examined against this background. The Government recognises the importance of naval strength to Australian defence preparedness, and has endorsed the need for a new destroyer acquisition program for the Navy to maintain its strength in the 1980’s. But before any specific decisions are reached on this important matter, more detailed study is necessary into a number of aspects. There is the question of timing and priority and looking to the best opportunity. The provision of 3 Australian designed and built destroyers for the RAN under the DDL program - has been estimated to involve $355m project cost over the next ten years, but experience of ship construction shows a strong tendency for costs to escalate. We have to bear in mind that a high proportion of defence expenditure is already committed to strengthening our maritime capability rather than other needs. After thorough consideration of all the circumstances the Government was not satisfied that the previous Government’s decision to acquire light destroyers of the particular Australian design and characteristics is the most appropriate solution. In the light of that decision I have directed the Defence Navy investigators to examine naval development overseas, taking into account also the current strategic assessment to which I earlier referred. The position will be further reviewed next year.
I realise this decision will come as a disappointment to many who have been closely involved in the DDL proposal. I would like to express the Government’s appreciation of the work of all the many participants in the project, in Government and industry, both in Australia and overseas. To date some $1.7m has been spent on the project, principally on design investigations and management consultancy. This work has been valuable and will provide a firm basis for the continued study of the requirement for a new destroyer construction program. The Government has decided to proceed with the construction of a new oceanographic ship. This ship will provide capability which will be of much benefit in both the military and civil fields for work in ocean research, including resource exploration. We have decided that there is no need to proceed at this time with the construction of a fast combat support ship, capable of underway replenishment of the fleet. It has been assessed that such a ship would not be required before about 1980, when HMAS
Supply’ is expected to be retired. I believe that a less sophisticated and less costly ship than .that originally proposed at a cost now estimated at around S69m might be more suitable. This is being further examined.
The need in the future for the acquisition of maritime surveillance aircraft continues to be examined. We have at present one squadron of Orion aircraft and one squadron of Neptune aircraft, the latter reaching the end of its life later in the decade. We are considering what is needed to meet projected military and, in conjunction with civil authorities, civil off-shore surface surveillance tasks. The Naval air power study will assist in this examination. That study will also contribute to the consideration of the possible future need for a seaborne aircraft platform when HMAS ‘Melbourne’ goes out of commission. But these matters are not for decision now. With the paying off of HMAS ‘Sydney, and other economies, savings in both Service and civilian manpower can be achieved. These are being put into effect- I shall refer to this again later.
I turn now to our ground force strength of which the Army naturally provides the major and essential component. The Navy and Air Force contribute associated support for sea and airlift and ground attack by land and sea based aircraft. Following the recent review of the Army, there is to be a better balance between the field force and the Australian support area. This has led to a planned increase in the field force of about 2,000 men this year with a corresponding reduction in the support area component. This increase will enhance our capability to provide effective ground forces should any low level situation arise to which the Government may decide it is necessary to respond; and it will provide a sound basis for expansion should our strategic circumstances change. As previously announced, the divisional structure will be retained for the Army, with 3 task forces, each 2 battalions.
– You have not got a division. Be honest.
– You should not worry. I have not yet decided to change the name of the helicopters. They are still known as ‘Katter’s copters’. I shall be examining critically the various combat and supporting elements, the need to maintain particular military skills at particular levels, and their balance in relation to the likely strategic situation. With the cessation of active operations and the phasing out of national service, the support component of the Army, both Service and civilian, has now become excessive in relation to the field force and the level of capability required. Less essential activities are being curtailed and numbers will be reduced accordingly.
As part of ground force maritime support, the acquisition of 8 heavy landing craft will provide the capability to transport men and material in coastal movement. For air support of ground forces, the present substantial Mirage force has a ground attack role, and Navy’s 19 Skyhawk attack aircraft, whether sea or land based, also provide an attack capability. Air transport support of the ground forces will be provided by 2 squadrons each of Hercules and Caribou aircraft and utility helicopters now in service, shortly to be complemented by the additional capability provided by medium lift helicopters. There are a number of armoured vehicle proposals now being studied including the replacement of the Centurion medium tank and the acquisition of fire support vehicles and bridging equipment. These and other proposals will be submitted to the Government for decision at the appropriate time.
Turning to our air capability, the main offensive and defensive units are 24 F111C strike . aircraft and 87 Mirage air defence and ground attack fighters. We have carefully reviewed the present provision for air defence capability. While recognising the dual role of air defence and ground attack for the Mirage fighters, and the need to maintain complex skills in both these areas, our strategic situation can no longer justify maintaining four squadrons of costly Mirage flying effort. Accordingly, it has been decided in the present circumstances to disband one of the Mirage squadrons. Two fighter squadrons will continue to be deployed for the time being in Malaysia, and the third squadron at Williamtown near Newcastle.
This will amply meet the present requirment. Our Mirage aircraft provide Australia with an air defence force that is very unlikely to be outclassed in our strategic area of concern. With the phasing out of one Mirage squadron, and the consequential reduction in overall flying effort, it is expected that the life of the aircraft remaining will be extended into the 1980s. This decision has the effect of deferring until later in the decade the need to acquire a new tactical fighter. The reduced flying of Mirage aircraft will also reduce the need for maintaining the present training effort on both the Macchi and the Winjeel trainer aircraft. Substantial manpower savings can be achieved. This decision also has an important bearing on the future of the aircraft industry to which I will refer later.
In support of our major air force elements, there is one Canberra squadron now being used for target flying roles and photographic tasks, and a number of other support and training aircraft. The acquisition of the New Zealand CT4 Air Trainer as a replacement for the Winjeel will proceed in the coming year. But as a consequence of the reduced flying training effort now required, there will be a reduction in the number of aircraft to be required. I have already referred to RAAF maritime and transport squadrons.
I turn now to the manpower position in the right of the Government’s general policies, the need for some restructuring of our forces to which I have referred, and the manifest scope for economies. This Government abolished conscription soon after it came to power. It decided to depend fully on volunteers for manning the Army, and the Navy and Air Force. There has been no shortage of volunteers, and more Servicemen are re-engaging when their terms of service expire. As I have said on many occasions, this Government has already successfully demonstrated that allvolunteer forces can be raised during peacetime if the right policies are adopted. Central to the Government’s policy on all-volunteer forces is the principle that terms and conditions for Service personnel should be no less attractive than those available for the community generally. This is essential if we are to have adequate forces with the necessary high level of efficiency and morale. I need not repeat here all that has been done by this Government in the areas of pay and conditions and in retirement, resettlement and repatriation benefits.
A central problem in developing an adequate force structure is to decide on the correct balance between manpower and equipment expenditures, capital works, communications and so on. During the last decade Service manpower, excluding national servicemen, increased substantially from 50,100 in June 1963 to 71,300 in June 1973. Civilian manpower increased from 36,600 in June 1963 to 51,300 in June 1973. Over this same period of a decade pay rates also increased substantially. In 1973-74 some $7 13m, that is, no less than 53 per cent of the $ 1345m appropriation for defence, is expected to be spent directly on Service and civilian pay. There is, of course, in addition, considerable expenditure on administration, stores, etc., which is closely related to manpower numbers. It is essential to make more money available for major equipments, for much needed improvements to Service accommodation, for improvements to defence bases and for other capital projects that will put Australia in a better position in future years to meet a threat should one arise. We have therefore decided to make way for capital programs to meet the uncertain future, by controlling expenditure on manpower in the present low risk period.
Flowing partly from the review of Service activities which I have already discussed, and partly from achievable economics in the use of manpower, reductions in defence manpower will be effected. Civilian manpower in the Defence group of departments will be reduced by about 4,500 or 9 per cent during 1973-74. Civilian employment in the Department of the Navy will fall by 880, in Army by 1,300, in Air by 400, and in Supply by about 1,850. These reductions will include the Defence Research and Developments Laboratories, supply factories and naval dockyards, to which I will refer later. The greater part of the civilian employment reduction will, however, be achieved through attrition; that is, by not replacing wastage. Terminations of employment will be kept to the practicable minimum and, where necessary, the Department of Labour and the Public Service Board will provide assistance with re-employment.
There will be a reduction of some 2,300 or 3.2 per cent in Service manpower. The Navy will come down during 1973-74 by 1,100 and the Royal Australian Air Force by 1,200. The Army, on the structure I have already indicated, will effect some economies in the Australian Support Area, which will be reduced by about 2,000 to about 19,600, keeping the Regular Army total strength constant at some 31,150 during 1973-74.
Almost all of the Service reductions will be made by not replacing wastage. Retrenchments of servicemen are unlikely to be necessary except for a relatively small number in certain ranks and musterings. Where they are in suitable categories they will be considered for inter-Service transfer. There will continue to be a need for a considerable number of recruits in 1973-74. I am satisfied that these cuts in manpower represent necessary and indeed in some cases overdue economies and will not impair the defence capabilities we need in present circumstances.
In association with the re-appraisal of our force structure a major re-appraisal is also being made of our defence industrial base. By their very nature defence industries are in large part sustained by the workload generated by the needs of the Defence forces. Much of our Government-owned defence production capacity was established in World War II and has been updated in part to carry out new tasks. It has capabilities for production on a scale far beyond that envisaged as necessary under current strategic assessments. It should have been reviewed by our predecessors in office.
In redirecting the activities of our defence industries there will be problems of adjustment. To a large extent these problems will occur because change has been avoided for too long. The changes in Service activity and equipment procurement which I have already mentioned will result in a lower level of orders being placed on industry and on naval dockyards and government factories in the next few years. Further, a major review is being carried out of the policies governing the Service’s stockholdings of munitions and other items. I find that these policies have remained unaltered since 1963, despite the great changes which have taken place in Australia’s strategic situation during the decade. In some cases unnecessary stockholdings, financed by the taxpayer, have been accumulated. The present review is expected to lead to a lower level of authorised holdings and the need to run down some of the existing holdings by reductions in orders covering peacetime usage. The Services have a combined stockholding valued at many hundreds of millions of dollars and more efficient management of a resource of this size is essential and long overdue. Because of these considerations, it is necessary to review and adjust the operations of the government munitions factories moving towards some definite longer term Objectives.
We want to dispense with those activities which have outlived their usefulness while retaining those of a continuing validity and providing for their future development in line with our prospective needs in the 1980s. Progressive rationalisation of activities and concentration in fewer sites will be examined. In the short term, the reduction in orders from the Services will mean an unavoidable contraction of workload in the munitions factories. Where possible the associated reduction in employment will be made by non-replacement of employees who resign or retire. But retrenchments will be necessary in some factories. In city areas the present full employment’ situation should ensure quick reemployment of those displaced. Efforts are being made to lessen the effect on country areas.
– The honourable member will be pleased to know there will be no reductions at Lithgow. Early this year I announced that a study was being made aimed at rationalisation of activities in the aircraft industry. The Government has examined this question, but it was evident that the decisions which needed to be made on equipment for the Services and the level of service activity had a vital bearing on the future workload and size of the industry and hence on the direction of rationalisation. The Government has now taken these decisions and I will press for a rapid conclusion to the rationalisation discussions. Also there will be significant alterations to the pattern of future workload for our naval dockyards. The extensive modernisation of our 3 Charles F. Adams class destroyers was to have been carried out in United States dockyards. This work involves updating the missile fire control systems and the installations of new digital data systems. I have directed that ways be developed to do at least two of these modernisations in Australia. This work will be undertaken at Garden Island, and as a consequence, it will be necessary to transfer significant amounts of other refit and fleet maintenance work to the other 2 naval dockyards.
As I have already indicated, the Government will proceed with a project for the acquisition by the Royal Australian Navy of a new Oceanographic ship. Construction work will be undertaken at Williamstown Naval Dockyard to offset the results of the various decisions taken in reviewing the defence program on the workload of this dockyard. As a result, it will be necessary to decline all tenders submitted for construction of this ship.
Other new work of importance to the naval dockyards will include the refit of some of the older River Class destroyers to which 1 referred earlier. Planning is now underway to redirect the future development of the naval dockyards to these new circumstances. In the short term, there will be a need for some reduction in the work force particularly at Williamstown dockyard. Where possible this reduction will be made by normal attrition.
In line with our across-the-board reassessment of the structure of forces a review has been made of the expenditure proposed on constructing, procuring and maintaining defence facilities. In present strategic circumstances, I have decided to extend the completion of the next phase of the Western Australian naval support facility, HMAS ‘Stirling’, at Cockburn Sound, by 3 years, that is, from 1975 to 1978. Some components of the project which can be regarded separately, the armament depot and jetty and the large ships wharf, have been deferred for later decisions as to commencement.
As previously announced, a comprehensive study is proceeding within my Department to assess the most suitable location for all Australian defence bases. The study will embrace not only considerations of strategic need but also the relationship of defence establishments to urban development proposals and the need for Service personnel to be integrated as fully as possible with the general community. The study will pay particular attention to the question of the Services’ land requirements and to the identification of areas of land now held by the Services which might be released for other uses. The Government recognises that much of the living and working accommodation at the various defence establishments at the present time is old and substandard and that significant expenditure will be necessary to provide servicemen and service women with facilities that can be regarded as acceptable by today’s standards. It is planned in future years to spend considerable amounts on replacing war-time facilities which are still in use.
In the same way, we will be diverting considerable sums towards the provision of adequate housing for Service families. In 1972- 73, expenditure on Service housing throughout Australia was some $6m. We are planning to more than double that amount in 1973-74.
Apart from new construction, we are looking at the possibilities of purchasing established dwellings, and we are pursuing a policy of upgrading and improving the older married quarters which were built to standards hardly acceptable today.
The persistent theme of my remarks this evening is the need for careful appraisal of our present force structure and defence activities in the light of present strategic circumstances. We must provide those capabilities which are essential at present and as a basis for possible expansion, prune those which are excessive or redundant, and be alert to the needs of the future. Adequate defence strength is necessary to the more independent posture of this Government. Vigorous management will ensure that the size and shape and support of our forces meet our real security needs with the maximum efficiency and economy. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 237).
– We now return to the point we had reached before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, when the House was debating whether the stringent denial of the usual time off enjoyed by the Parliament should apply according to the wishes of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) or whether, as was proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), at least the time for party meetings on Wednesdays should be restored to what traditionally has been the case in this House for many years. I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I do so for many reasons which I hope to amplify as I go along. Before I do so, might I be allowed the luxury of saying as a former fighter pilot that, if I heard the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) correctly, I would hate to be flying a Mirage into the 1980s. I think I would rather fly an aerial pushbike and hang on sky hooks. However, to return to the debate-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable member is debating the statement on defence which has just been made by the Minister for Defence and on which the debate was adjourned. His remarks are not related to the motion before the Chair.
– Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair.
– Certainly, Mr Speaker. The amendment to which I intend to speak tonight, which I have already mentioned but which the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) seems to forget, would affect this place in many ways. Let me start not in a philisophical way but in a pragmatic sense by referring to the organisation and running of this House.
– You were the mover of the gag-
– Exactly; I was just about to mention it. We were on the government side of the chamber for a long while and during that time we saw many of our own faults and many of the faults of members of the Opposition. We saw, as did every honourable member who was prepared to think, that the government’s job in our democratic society was to produce its legislation on the floor of this House and get it through. We on this side of the House have no complaint with that principle. We understand that principle; we have had experience of it. Given any degree of reasonable treatment, I am sure that we as an Opposition would help the Government to put through worthwhile legislation after a reasonable degree of debate.
But the answer does not lie just with that one statement of the Government’s role. In any democratic situation - at any rate, in areas which founded their system of Government on the British system - there is another factor to be considered, that is, what we on this side of the House are for the time being, namely, Her Majesty’s Opposition. The Opposition is not a rabble. It is not something that the Government can wipe off. It is not something which should be treated lightly. It is - let us accept it - the alternative government in this House. I do not claim to have a capacity to see into the future any further than that. But any government that aims to have a proper program and to have its measures debated in a proper fashion must take that into account.
Might I demonstrate my point? I can remember when I first became Deputy Liberal Party Whip some years ago to my blank amazement seeing a man who now sits on the front bench of the Government put off 4 times debating a Bill on which he was the Opposition’s spokesman. I certainly do not intend to lower the status of this place by saying who he is, but I think I should inform the House of the reasons he gave for not being present. As I remember it, the first reason that he could not debate the Bill was that he had to go to a diplomatic party. We were in government and we put off the Bill to accommodate him. The second reason was that he had leave and wanted to go interstate. Fair enough; we put off the debate again. The third reason was that he had a headache and wanted to go to bed. The fourth time we got around to debating the Bill. It was not an important Bill, but if a government wants the co-operation of the entire floor of the Parliament, it must take these matters into account and must bend over backwards to accommodate a reasonable Opposition when it is behaving reasonably. If it does not do that, the democratic process, to which I believe this country over many years owes a great deal, can be brought into disrepute. The system could become an anachronism and purely a matter of impregnating numbers into a situation.
I demonstrate this by making another point. I cannot remember being told when we were in government that we had to come back on a Saturday if we wanted to continue a debate. This happened during the last session. I cannot remember having 5 continuous weeks of sitting when we were in government.
– You never worked as hard as us.
– In that situation, even the honourable member for Luna Park could not get back to contact his electorate. This is what we are faced with under the proposals put forward by the Leader of the House. If honourable members disagree with what I say, let them look at the program. We are being asked to sit for 5 continuous weeks and 2 of those weeks are to be 4-day sittings. It is easy enough when in government to say that there is a lot of legislation to put through. We saw a sample of it today, I suppose. Frankly, if this principle had been adopted during the last sitting of this House, we would not have had the situation that we reached where the
Opposition forced the Government to sit for a few more days. 1 notice that honourable members opposite have no answer to that.
What we want is a certain amount of give and take to make sure that the democratic process is allowed a fair crack of the whip. That is all that this matter should mean to members of this House. For instance, we do not object to having a proper consideration of Bills, but just think what this would mean to parliamentary committees. When would they find time to sit? Just consider what would happen to the party meetings on Wednesdays. This is the nitti gritti of this amendment. I do not know whether honourable members opposite are prepared to so prostitute the art of government as to allow their executive to steamroll them in li hours or whatever time will be available on Wednesday mornings. Even if honourable members opposite are so supine as to agree with that, we on this side are not so conveniently placed.
The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) put his finger on this very matter, but he forgot to explain to the House that the Government has departments which back up the opinions of the Labor Party executive. They can talk to honourable members opposite with some authority. I think it is a reasonable proposition to put before a national parliament that an Opposition, having perhaps had the surprise of a certain Bill sprung on it, needs more time than would honourable members on the Government benches. The Opposition is without departmental help in considering those Bills. But the Government is going to take away the traditional time for Wednesday morning party meetings when these Bills received a proper airing, not only by the Government, even if now it is prepared not to consider them, but also by Opposition members. We must have an opportunity to consider the Bills. Sometimes we might represent a majority opinion and sometimes, perhaps, we will represent ‘a minority opinion. This is surely what the principle of democratic government is kil about. I ask the Leader of the House to give some degree of tolerant thought to this aspect. The amendment before the House seeks to reinstate Wednesday mornings as the time for the meetings of the major parties represented on the floor of the House. I do not think that the honourable member for Luna Park or anyone else can give proper consideration to all new Bills that come before this House in the limited amount of time that will be left for party meetings under the Government’s proposal.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Angas has made a number of flippant remarks in referring to the honourable member for Chifley as the honourable member for Luna Park. If he is to continue these remarks 1 think this side of the House should object very strongly.
– I did not hear the remark but the honourable member for Angas should refer to him as the honourable member for Chifley.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I forgot that the electorate was Chifley. That is really as far as I wish to go. There are other aspects of this problem that entail how much time the Opposition is given to look at Bills between the second reading speech of a Minister and the resumption of the debate. I ask the Leader of the House to take those matters into consideration again. I must finish these few remarks by saying that I think it is important that members consider these matters. When will parliamentary committees sit under this new arrangement? Will they be able to look at matters in depth or does the Government not want them to be looked at in depth? When can party committee meetings be held? Traditionally of course they meet at meal times so that members can fit in a proper degree of functional activity during the day. Now we find that meal times are to be cut down. When can members consider matters in depth and not just skate over the surface? Anybody who denies the importance of these committees in Parliament does not understand their function, does not understand what they are all about and does not understand that the forum of Parliament is not the be-all and end-all. Long may members in this House remember that policy-making committees and functional party committees are important. To ignore this important part of the whole process of the democratic British method of government is to deny the proper functioning of a place like this. I do not know whether the proposed alteration of sitting times is a panic measure or whether the Government does not want its own Bills to be considered properly by its own party. But I think one can be excused for pondering about this. I do not know, for instance, why we should have to sit for 5 weeks running. I do not know why - this has been reported in the
Press, at any rate; we have not yet heard from the Leader of the House about it - we should have to consider private members’ business only on Fridays. I have seen the Leader of the House reported as saying this. Does he intend to do away with the traditional practice of devoting Thursday morning to private members’ business?
– I told the honourable member we were not going to do that.
– I have no doubt that you will tell me in due course.
– I told you.
– It is not in the reports I have seen so far.
– You do not listen. The honourable member should read the speech I made when moving the motion we are debating.
– The Leader of the House says that I do not listen, but he has his weekly conference at the table and therefore got plumb off the ball before dinner over another matter.
– I rise on a point of order. 1 point out to the honourable member that in moving this measure I told him that genera] business on Thursdays would continue but that if business was held over the House could decide whether it would sit on Friday. So if the honourable member would clean out his ears and listen he would know what it is all about.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– As I do not have at my disposal the staff, paid for by the taxpayers, that many honourable members opposite have I suppose I may be allowed to quote from a past debate on sitting times. I shall quote from the Parliamentary Debates of 9 May 1972:
From the way the Minister speaks one would think that the principal function of members of this Parliament is to get away from Parliament House as fast as possible. It does not matter to me if we sit beyond 25 May.
That was the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) only a very short time ago. I should like to pick up the point where that sincere if sometimes misguided gentleman left off, because I think this is very important.
I hope that the Opposition parties here today will sit if need be through until Christmas. We will not easily agree to an early rising to let four-fifths of the present
Government go hiking around overseas, and I hope that this Opposition will make sure that it realises that its functions, if it is elected as the Government of this country, remains to govern the nation, and I hope that it does not try to get this House up when it should be responsibly carrying out its job on behalf of the nation.
– in reply - Nothing brings the Liberal Party and the Country Party back to the ground more than a term in opposition. Never have I heard so much rot in my life as what has been said in this debate. I suggest to the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) that instead of members of the Liberal ‘Party and Country Party having breakfast in bed they get up in the morning and meet at 9 o’clock as members of the Australian Labor Party do. The honourable member said that the former Government never asked the House to sit on Saturday. Of course it did not but we sat all night and we went home at a time when only the perverts, the police and the prostitutes were on the streets. That is what happened under a Liberal Government. We sat here in the middle of the night. Listening to Liberals talking in the day time is bad enough without having to sit up in the middle of the night and hear them warbling on. The honourable member spoke about the committees that are meeting. Shortly I will be introducing a measure - we will see. if the honourable member votes for it - that will give appropriate times for committees to meet.
The honourable member said that the Opposition wants more time for debate; yet the Opposition has moved an amendment seeking to reduce by an hour and a half the time we have allowed for debate. How silly can you get? The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), said that it is monstrous to change the hours of sitting as we have proposed. He said that it would upset the whole Parliament; yet he is supporting an amendment that reduces the sitting time by an hour and a half and he is going to vote for everything he says is monstrous. I wish honourable members opposite would sort themselves out. Fancy talking about their record of open government. Remember the 19 Bills that were dealt with in 17 hours - 5 minutes for a Bill dealing with rural subsidy and a minute and a half for a Bill dealing with the telescope at Siding Springs Observatory. Remember those days. This is the record of those men who tell us they want freedom of speech.
The honourable member for Angas says that he should not be here 5 days a week. He is getting $14,500 a year in salary and $4,000 in tax-free expenses. He is paid to be in this place. Let him go back and tell his electors that he does not want to be here. Having a good look at him, I wonder why they ever sent him here. The honourable member talked about days for private members’ business. We never had a day for private members’ business when the present Opposition was in government. General business was never discussed. It disappeared into the limbo of the forgotten. Honourable members opposite talk about free speech and they talk about staff. I sat on the Opposition side of the Parliament for 24 years. In that time an Opposition member could not get a typist to help him. The honourable member for New England, who was in the Ministry for 7 years and who has been a member of Parliament for many years says that the Opposition wants staff and attention, but I say to the honourable gentleman: You never gave a damn for us; you never gave a hoot about us; and today you are sitting there cringing for assistance from a Government to which, when it was in Opposition, you gave nothing. Having a good look at him, I can say that he wants assistance. The situation now is that the Opposition is crying out for clerical staff and for attention. For 24 years previous governments let us take it. We got nothing at all. They thought that our ignorance would keep us out of government. But they realise how bright we are now that we are sitting on this side of the Parliament We won office without assistance and without staff. The Liberals would not give us anything. Tonight they are talking about what they ought to receive. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) nearly made me sick when I heard him talking about these things. Why does the Opposition not make time for its party meetings and committee meetings? Members of the Labor Party are in the party room for 2i hours from 9 o’clock on Wednesday mornings when the Parliament is in session. After the recess of a couple of months I strolled around Parliament House and saw on the notice board outside the party room of the Opposition - the alternative Government - that it would meet at 12 o’clock on the day that the Parliament first met after the recess. That shows how interested Opposition members are. They are going to spend only li hours discussing what would happen here because they could not be bothered coming from Melbourne, Booligal, or wherever they come from, a day earlier to discuss matters.
The honourable member for New England says that he wants longer hours. A man named Lynch moved the amendment and a man named Sinclair seconded it. I could not help thinking that they must both be of Irish extraction because only Irishmen could move a motion for extra hours that would mean that the hours would be reduced. That is precisely what happened. The Government moved a motion to sit at 11.30 a.m. Honourable members opposite said: ‘No. We want longer hours. We move that we sit at 2 o’clock’. They would not get away with that even in Belfast. The honourable member says that he wants adequate time to discuss and debate matters. He referred to 5 Bills being introduced every day. If one considers what happened in this Parliament under the previous Government one will see that we are giving members a luxury of discussion. Since this Government came to office, every night that the Parliament has met there has been an adjournment debate. Every Thursday that private members business was set down it was called on. Every day that a private members Bill was brought on it was discussed and debated, much to the annoyance of honourable members opposite who wanted to hide from a lot of issues such as abortion on demand. This Parliament has put through more legislation than has ever been put through before.
Honourable members opposite spoke about the guillotine and all that is associated with it. Since this Government came to office the Parliament has not sat past 11 o’clock at night; whereas, as I said earlier, we were here all day and night when the previous Government was in power. Honourable members opposite raised the point of an honourable member not being allowed to speak today. The Government cannot be sorting out their troubles. It is shocking to see the Liberal Party and the Country Party fighting in public. It upsets me. I do not become upset easily, but I hate to see the distress of the Opposition parties. Let me say that in this session if there is to be an
Opposition spokeman there will be only one, and the Opposition parties can work it out amongst themselves. The Government will not sort out their troubles. The Liberal Country parties pose before the public as being unified, yet they want to speak in this Parliament as 2 separate entities. Honourable members opposite have said: ‘Let us sit longer’. In the last session they challenged us to sit longer and we accepted the challenge.
– We made you.
– Of course you did, and on the final night you had 39 members here out of 58. They all went back to their businesses or their country farms. The Opposition challenged the Labor Party to be here. We had the full complement and the Opposition was nearly 20 short. What would the Opposition’s elder statesmen, or backwoodsmen, in the other place say if we made honourable members opposite sit here until Christmas Eve and they had to come there on Christmas Day to knock back our legislation? They just would not like it. I give this warning to honourable members opposite: They have challenged us to sit longer. If they waste time as they have on this motion they will ‘be here until Christmas Eve, and they can have their turkey and duck in the chamber. This Government will put its legislation through. I do not want to hear from the Opposition phoney arguments about wanting extra time to discuss things and then supporting motions that reduce the actual time that the Government is allowing. What extra time in a week would the Opposition suggest that we give?
The trouble is that, as the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) said, honourable members opposite are inexperienced in Opposition. They have a lot to learn. They are now about up to the stage I was at 30 years ago, and that is a long way back. They have to learn to have their meetings at 7 o’clock at night. They will have to get out of bed and have their breakfast at the table early instead of staying in bed. They cannot let the honourable member for New England go back to Armidale with a rural Bill that has been introduced without telling them anything about it for a week. They must reform. They must get together. I know their problems. The unity ticket over there is obvious. With one party courting the Democratic Labor Party, things are really desperate. As honourable members know, the Country Party has turned its back on the one it knew so well to go to that strange old lady. This brings complications. I can understand the problems. Let me repeat for the nation to hear that this Government has given private members of this Parliament more than they have been given by any other government in our history. I was on the Opposition Executive for more than 10 years and I could not get extra secretarial help from the previous selfish Ministry.
I believe that members of this Parliament are entitled to a fair deal and to assistance of all kinds, but it is made exceedingly difficult when 2 former Ministers, who for years had all the plums of office, ridicule the Labor Party for not giving assistance to the Opposition as they refused to do for 24 years. Now they say that they want to debate major Bills. Of course they should. But what respect can be given to an Opposition that spends a couple of hours debating whether to sit extra hours in the time that they are paid by the taxpayers to be here and then wants to reduce the sitting time by a couple of hours? They have no right whatever to resist the proposed hours because it is time that should be spent debating great legislation. All honourable members have electorates and they have constituents to look after. All honourable members have to attend to their requirements. But I have always accepted that, as a member of Parliament, my primary responsibility is to be in this place. That is what every Government supporter believes. Tonight we have seen Opposition members condemning the motion for extra hours, moving a tinpot amendment to reduce debating time and yet insisting that they want extra time. That is the weirdest argument I have ever heard in my life. There is only one good thing about it, and that is that the Country Party and the Liberal Party are united. That will make me happy for a couple of hours. The only thing on which they are united is that they both oppose the extension of the sitting times of the Parliament.
Let me remind the honourable member for New England and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), that they are both former Ministers not in Government now. We run the country, and it is a good thing. It seems, when I look at those 2 ex-Ministers opposite, that they have not read the election results. They are not running this Parliament. They are not bringing down the legislation. We are the Government that is bringing it down. We will call the tune because we have been elected by the Australian people to run this country. We want the hours of this Parliament to be changed. If honourable members opposite want more money for less work, that is their business; but we have responsibilities and we will sit here day and night, if necessary, to see that they are carried out. I invite honourable members opposite to vote against an extension of the sitting times of Parliament. The extended hours still will not take us within a fraction of the sitting hours of the Parliaments of Great Britain, America and Canada. I invite honourable members to vote against this motion, and to go back to their electorates and tell the people that they do not want to be in Parliament because they want to be back in their electorates looking after the cows, if they are in the Country Party, and God knows who, if they are in the Liberal Party.
Reference has been made to the guillotine and the gag. It was said that the gag was applied 40 times in the last session. I will give honourable members some good news: I am still 350 behind the Liberals. Let me say on a more serious note that this motion was moved to give the Parliament the opportunity to debate legislation in detail. If honourable members opposite do not want to co-operate, if the Country Party and the Liberal Party want to show their disunity from time to time and if they do not want to debate the issues that really matter and want to give preference to issues such as those we are debating today, they can take their chance with the Australian public because the public knows what pay and allowances they receive. They know the facilities that honourable members opposite have and I am a bad judge if the average Australian believes that they ought not to be in this place to do their work and to carry out their responsibilities. Members of the Liberal Party and Country Party can do what they like but we know our responsibilities and we intend to respect them. We have moved the motion in order that this Parliament can put through legislation that means so much to everybody in this country and particularly to those people who depend for their salvation on legislation of the kind we are bringing down. I commend the motion to the House. I hope it will be carried. ‘ ! will be delighted ‘to see those members who have said that they want extra time for debate voting to reduce the time we are allowing now.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Lynch’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That a Joint Committee be appointed to inquire into, report on and make recommendations for-
In the previous debate in which we discussed the times of sitting much time was taken up, or comment was made, that the committee system could not function with the new sitting hours. Consequently this motion gives us an opportunity to debate this aspect and that is why I hope that ultimately this motion will be supported. This is a very important motion. It seeks that the proposed committee will make recommendations for a balanced system of committees for the Parliament, the integration of the committee system into the procedures of the Parliament, and arrangements for committee meetings which will best suit the convenience of senators and members. Those 3 terms of reference should, I think, be supported by all members of this Parliament because this is an opportunity and an attempt to bring to the Parliament some formality in regard to committees.
In the first place I list the number of committees as shown on the notice paper for the House of Representatives and the Senate and seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Select: Road Safety.-
Standing: Disputed Returns and Qualifications, House, Library, Publications, Privileges, Regulations and Ordinances, Standing Orders
Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees: Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Education, Science and the Arts, Finance and Government Operations, Foreign Affairs and Defence, Health and Welfare, Indus.ry and Trade, Social Environment.
Select; Civil Rights of Migrant Australians, Foreign Ownership and Control, Securities and Exchange, Shipping Services between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne.
Estimates Committees: Estimates Committee A, Estimates Committee B, Estimates Committee C, Estimates Committee D, Estimates Committee E, Estimates Committee F
Joint Statutory: Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, Public Accounts, Public Works
Joint: Australian Capital Territory, Foreign Affairs and Defence, Prices
– Fifteen committees in the House of Representatives, and 25 committees in the Senate are listed. It is true that some of these are also amongst those shown on the House of Representatives notice paper, but suffice it to say that there are many committees functioning at the present time. The committee system is a very important part of the legislative machinery of many parliaments throughout the world. For instance, in the USA most of the work of Congress is done by standing committees. These are permanent, specialised committees to which relevant legislation is referred for hearings and recommendations. There are also select committees created for special work and there is also the Committee of the Whole, which is the whole legislative body acting under relaxed procedures for the sake of speedier action. In Canada there are 14 standing committees in the House of Commons. They include committees on privileges and elections, railways, miscellaneous private Bills, public accounts and banking, commerce etc. Before a committee in Canada can act at all a Bill must be referred to it. Committee hearings provide legislators with the opportunity for questioning witnesses in order to gain information on Bills. After it has completed their inquiries a committee must then decide what action to take and report to the Commons.
In Great Britain, committees are not given the importance of committees in, say the United States, although many Bills are considered by a Ways and Means Committee. The point I make is that in these three Parliaments, the committee system is well advanced and streamlines the proceedings of the Parliament while at the same time giving a better informed presentation of the legislation to the Parliament.
The purpose of this motion therefore would provide for inquiries into the functioning of committees such as these, firstly to sec if the committee system could be effectively used in our Parliament.
It is essential that a balanced system of committees of the Parliament be decided upon and, at the same time, the incorporation of the committee system into the procedures of the Parliament, such as is happening, say in Great Britain, Canada and U.S.A. might well be of advantage to this Parliament.
I believe this would enable us to overcome many of the problems associated with matters in the Parliament and discussions that have arisen in recent times. An extension of the committee system might well provide longer hours for debate, better presentation of debates in this Parliament and more information and in many ways might not only speed up the processes in Parliament but make it possible for us to make better informed decisions. The practical side of the committees is one that must receive consideration. Members of both Houses are finding it exceedingly difficult to regularly attend Parliament and at the same time attend meetings of committees of which they are members. Sittings of the House interfere with committee meetings. For instance, such things as the calling of quorums can interfere with them, whilst committees are in session divisions may take place. Interference occurs and all these factors are making it most inconvenient for members to attend committee meetings. This Committee could inquire into the question of pairs, of quorums and of how the Standing Orders could be amended to allow members to participate in committee meetings and at the same time how these committees could within the functions of Parliament, be useful in the deliberations that take place in this chamber. In any case, it is quite true that the present system must be investigated in order to give the committees a real standing in the parliamentary sense and also to fit them into the Australian parliamentary system.
It is inevitable that we will not be able to continue with the sittings of our Parliament without some arrangements being made in an orderly way for the committees to function not only independently in their inquiries and all that goes with that but also at the same time for their deliberations and their decisions to be presented to this Parliament in a way that will provide for better debate and speed up the practice and all that goes with it. 1 suggest in all good faith to this House that this matter must be faced up to. It was mentioned even in a debate earlier tonight that members were finding it exceedingly difficult to attend committee meetings because of the sittings of the Parliament. As I have mentioned, there are numerous committees. It is only right that these committees should have been established. They are all important committees when they are appointed and members should be given the opportunity to attend meetings. But there is nothing more annoying or distracting than when in the middle of hearing a witness in a committee a quorum of one of the Houses of Parliament is called or there is a division or something of that nature. I think at this advanced stage we should be able to arrange for the committees to function effectively. Some arrangements should be made amongst responsible men for the committees to function without interruptions.
This is only one aspect of this matter. More importantly, committees could play a tremendous part in the deliberations of this Parliament. It is idle to suggest otherwise. We cannot continue in this Parliament with the kind of procedures we have at this time and avoid criticism from the Opposition - probably this could be brought forward quite rightly - that full time has not been given to some debate that some member is interested in. I think that if this proposed committee could study closely the workings of the committee ‘ system in other countries and bring back here its findings and we could then incorporate them in our parliamentary system, that would be beneficial to both sides of the Parliament. The proposed Committee will consist of 5 members of this House and 4 members of the other place. The chairman will come from either House.
Honourable members have all read no doubt the terms of reference that I have suggested. We are open to correction if honourable members thing the terms of reference could be suitably amended whereby the system could be improved.
– Where are they?
– They are on the business vaper. They are there for discussion. I hope that the House will not dismiss this lightly. If there is one issue on which honourable members might well take a non-party view it is the functions and the workings of committees and what can be done to improve the committee system in this Parliament. It is in all good faith that I submit the motion to the House. Naturally it has Government support. If honourable members opposite have constructive suggestions that might help, if they think there is a way in which we can improve what has been suggested here, if they feel that their suggestions could be of benefit to the Parliament, I hope they will come forward with those suggestions, because it is very important not only in the ordinary routine workings of these committees that something be done to give them set times to meet and set responsibilities and also internally to bring them into the parliamentary system. I think it is vital in this day and age, and something must be done.
This is an unusual motion; we are asking the House to set up a committee to inquire into committees. But this matter has been so long delayed, and 1 think it is well worthy of the consideration of this House. I submit it in all good faith and I hope that the Opposition parties will consider it carefully. Let us see if we cannot work out some proposal that will allow us not only to let the committees function without the interruptions I have mentioned, but at the same time give some contribution to the deliberations of this House and the other House. I think would be beneficial generally.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21 August (vide page 182), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In the brief time I spoke on this matter last night I did commend the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) for continuing the work of the previous Government and the previous Minister for Education in setting up the Commonwealth Teaching Service. The amendments contained in this legislation will assist the teaching service in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory and it is for this reason that I am in favour of it. The introduction of a superannuation scheme whereby teachers from New South Wales and South Australia may be influenced to change their mode of life and to start a career in the Northern Territory will assist in the development of the education of Territorians, both black and white. I note that the Minister said that one of the main responsibilities of the Commonwealth Teaching Service will be the teaching of Aboriginal children and that they will be taught in their own language.- I wish the Teaching Service every success. It did take a lot of getting off the ground. I think it is still taking up quite a considerable amount of organisation, effort and thought. The Teaching Service will considerably assist education in the north. Mention was made that the Teaching Service may be employed in Papua New Guinea and overseas at a later date but at the moment 1 would query such a proposal. I would like to know whether the flow of teachers is to come from the Territory of Papua New Guinea into the north of Australia or vice versa. At present I think it is operating very much towards Australia.
– There are still many in training to go to Papua New Guinea.
– Thank you. I am very pleased to hear that. But I am looking at the situation in the Northern Territory. I think this Service is a grand scheme. If we can assist not only Papua New Guinea but also other places then we will be doing a service to humanity and particularly to those people in areas in which Australia should be playing a part. We talk about development on the economic side, military assistance and so on but I think that we should still be looking into the field of education. I am certain that the Minister in his capacity as the head of the Department responsible for the Teaching Service will be looking at ways to assist other areas. 1 believe that the teaching of Aborigines in their own language has already commenced. I hope that the teachers will be asked to get through to the Aborigines the importance of respecting their environment. We hear much about their attachment to. the land from which they came and this is very true. They love their land. But I think they still have to be taught from childhood to respect it and to care for it. I am not singling them out. I hope that especially in the areas in the north where the Teaching Service will operate - I am talking mainly about the Northern Territory - the teachers will get. it through to the young Aborigines and Europeans that they must respect the environment because we see it ruined from top to bottom by people of various ages. We see the environment burnt. We see it littered with every-day rubbish. We see trees and shrubs cut down. It may be that a person has cut down 1,000 fence posts for his own use but by the same token we see in the Territory bare areas which should be cared for. In every direction one sees flora and fauna wasted or ruined.
I hope that these teachers will try to get the message through to the young people in the Territory who are growing up because it certainly would be worth while. We hear so much about the Aborigines and the areas in which they have lived and which are sacred to them but one has to go there to see the devastation which a tribe or a gathering of Aborigines can cause in any one area. They used to live off the land. In the old days they used to move on to the next area which had potatoes, water, wallabies or whatever they were using for their survival. There was no such thing as replanting those areas. In fact I do not think you could replant them. There is a great deal of native flora which is very very hard to replace. It is up to us to find some way to educate these people.
I do not want to say any more on this subject other than to wish the Minister success in his endeavours. I am certain that he is looking into this matter very seriously. The amendments in this Bill must do good for the Territory. They will improve the Teaching Service. I commend the Bill and wish the Service every success.
– I thank the House for the support which has been given to this measure. I would also like to make a comment on some of the observations of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) in relation to Aborigines. One thing that is happening as a result of the program of education in the vernacular for Aboriginal children is a new identity of parents with the schools, and the coming into being of Aboriginal parents councils in association with schools. Recently I was at Papunya. During the Christmas holidays when the school was empty much damage was done to the school. The people in the Papunya area include many very great artists, not as yet celebrated like the bark painters, not as yet celebrated like the Albert Namatjira school of the Arunta tribe. But they produce what I consider to be some of the most! beautiful abstract art I have ever seen because everything in their paintings is a symbol. After the school at Papunya was damaged the headmaster asked some of the Aboriginal artists to illustrate Aboriginal child stories and about 12 of them did so. They are the most beautiful paintings you could imagine. They have been affixed to the walls of the school. Each artist told the children the story of the painting. It appears now that the affixing of these to the school has had the effect of making the place a sacred place. It is treated with great respect. Very often we think that we will teach Aborigines in our categories of thought instead of in their own categories of thought. As the honourable member will know, some very interesting experimental work is being done in Alice Springs at the present time on the question of how to really communicate with Aborigines, to find out not merely whether they know English but whether, when matters are discussed with them in one’s own thought categories, in fact anything is being conveyed at all.
I was very impressed at Warrabri by the identity of an Aboriginal council with the school. I was very impressed with the whole attitude of the teachers in that area. I believe that some psychological advantage has been achieved, in the respect that is being shown for their languages for the first time, in trying to teach the Aborigines in their own languages with Aboriginal teachers or teaching aids. I was impressed by the work of a young Aboriginal man of about 20 who, while he would not have the qualifications of a European teacher, is able to write Aboriginal stories for primers and to illustrate them. No doubt he will grade them. We arranged for his work to be shown at a conference in Darwin where these problems of education in the vernacular were being discussed. Some df these matters are the most hopeful things I have seen in Aboriginal education.
The honourable member will be aware that the program for the construction of the new Aboriginal school near Alice Springs is almost complete. I think it will be quite a crucial place as indeed Kormilda College will be - in producing young people who can be Aboriginal teachers in the vernacular. I was interested to see that throughout the Northern Territory this idea appears to be treated with a good deal of respect by a good many Europeans also. I think that this section will be one of the most interesting sections of the
Commonwealth Teaching Service. Of course, what will be written on my heart if I am found dead is housing for the Northern Territory. I refer particularly to housing for teachers. I think that if we can provide houses we can obtain the teachers. I think it is beginning to dawn on many teachers in the south that neither Darwin nor Arnhem Land is a mar.larial swamp. Some of the most attractive teaching careers that can possibly be imagined can be pursued in the Northern Territory. It is one of the most fascinating regions of the world. I am grateful for what the honourable member said.
Question resolved in the affimative
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24 May (vide page 2642), on motion by Mr Whitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I suppose that this is a very curious time of the day to be discussing what appears to be a Bill of no great consequences. The Bill, in my view, nevertheless represents an historic mark in the march of our people. It seeks to change the royal style and titles of Her Majesty the Queen as the sovereign of this country. According to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), 2 specific changes will be made. The first change is an amendment to delete from the royal style and titles all reference to the United Kingdom. The second change is to delete reference to the title ‘Defender of the Faith’. I suppose that at first blush this would seem to be no other occasion than merely one upon which in some curious nostalgic way to trace the development of the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ and to look at the links which this country has with the United Kingdom. I intend to excuse myself from such an excursion.
I wish to look at what I regard as the significant feature of this Bill. In my view, it does more than make 2 rather meagrely casted amendments. It does far more than delete reference to the United Kingdom in the royal style and titles. It does far more than merely seek to delete the title ‘Defender of the Faith’. One of the curious things in life - I hope I will be forgiven for engaging for a moment or two in a philosophical foray - is that so seldom does any generation believe that it is actively associated with history. I suppose most of us take the view that history, by the large, is something which has gone before us and is in no way actively associated with us. We tend to regard the times in which we live as in no way actively participating in the great spread of history. Of course, a moment’s reflection shows that this simply is not the case.
I can vividly recall on one occasion at Easter, shortly after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslavakia, going across the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia. I hope, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I will have your indulgence to speak of this occasion; you will see the relevance of it in a moment. Just near the border of those 2 countries is to be found what remains of an old Roman fort. The fort was part of a Roman line of communications stretching from Rome itself right through the whole of Western Europe and to the British Isles. All that remains of the Roman Empire today, as far as that part of the world is concerned, is a collection of stone and rock. As I looked at it - I can see it in my mind’s eye - these words came back ‘to me:
Have stood against the world: now lies he there And none so poor as to do him reverence.
The Roman Empire disappeared, and today we are involved in the consideration of the disappearance of yet another empire - the British Empire. I voice no complaint about that. The complaints of years gone by largely went unnoticed, indeed by some in this House. But that is a controversy of years gone by. The simple fact is that we have been and we are involved in this tremendous change. Probably the last generation has seen more change in this Australian institution and probably more change in the Commonwealth of Nations and the Empire than has been seen in any other empire.
I think it does us good occasionally not to pretend that something has not happened but to look back and to see what in fact has happened and why it has happened. The position of the monarchy in relation to Australia and its position in relation to what I might without offence describe as being the other Crown countries in the British Commonwealth of Nations, are by no means identical. This is the substantial thesis that I want to put to the House this evening, to beg of its time for a few moments so to do. The fact remains that the British Empire, which Field-Marshal Smuts was able to describe in the 1930s as one of the 4 great powers, has gone. The Commonwealth of Nations today is one of those amorphous gatherings of nations from which it is very difficult to distil anything in common. If one comes more definitively to those countries which still regard themselves as monarchies one finds great changes indeed going on in relation to the nation in its corporate sense and to the monarchy as an institution.
In 1961, when the United Kingdom sought to join the European Economic Community it was a move which I must confess - I suppose the national Parliament should not be despised as being a confessional box - was the end of what I regarded and held deeply as all prospect of the Commonwealth emerging as a third world force - something to fit in those days between the messianic mood of Moscow and what I might without offence describe as the egregiousness of Washington. I thought the Commonwealth could act as something to bridge the two. I saw that hope and that world shattered before me. I wrote at the time about it. I know that a lot of people thought that what I wrote at the time may have been a long distance away from reality. Be that as it may. But at times we all are victims of dreams and of hopes, and if men ever get to the stage where they are not to be inspired by hope or not to be persuaded by dreams, we will live in a pretty desperate and dull world.
In 1961, when Britain sought to join Europe, I wrote to the ‘Times’ of London on the point of the royal style and titles and on the effect on the monarchy. This is what I want to put to the House. I wrote:
Mr Macmillan has given assurancesto Commonwealth leaders that Britain will not join the Common Market without seeking to make adequate provision to safeguard their respective trading positions. These . assurances have been welcome. Nevertheless, Mr Macmillan has given no assurance whatsoever regarding the ultimate political consequences of British membership of the Common Market.
What is to become of the monarchical institution within the framework of European unity? No British Minister has made the slightest attempt to answer this question. How, one may ask, can allegiance be given to a European Parliament and to the monarchy? What if circumstances promoted a conflict between the allegiances? Which allegiance would have priority?
I raise that not to seek to vindicate a view, be it regarded as puny or substantial, of 10 years ago, but to persuade a reflection upon the importance of institutions within our framework. If one reads a White Paper prepared by the Lord Chancellor in May 1967 on the legal and constitutional implications of the United Kingdom membership of European communities one is left with an overwhelming impression that British membership of Europe transcends completely any consideration of joining some tariff, some economic or some merchant operation. For example, I shall read from paragraph 4 of the Lord Chancellor’s paper. He said:
The novel features of the European Treaties lie first in the powers conferred on the Community institutions to issue subordinate instruments which themselves may impose obligations on the Member States or may take effect directly as law within them;
This proposition, of course, expressed to any person with a tolerable acquaintance with the legal relationship between the monarchy and Parliament and the monarchy and the individual, can only be described as being profound. As confirmation of that view I refer the House to the views expressed by that distinguished writer, Professor Wade, when writing in the ‘Law Quarterly Review’ of January 1972. He observed:
We are now to enter a new sort of international club where the rules require more than mere restraint: they require the integration of 2 legal systems which may conflict at many points. Our obligation is to ensure that community law is paramount.
Again, with a view to pointing out what has happened I refer to what was written by Lord Denning when he was Master of the Rolls and who is again Master of the Rolls, in a foreword to a book entitled ‘Common Market Law’ which I think was published in 1961 or 1962. With typical Denning perception and vigour he wrote:
Our Constitutional law must be rewritten so as to show that the sovereignty of these islands is not ours alone, , but shared with others. Large parts of our Statute and common law must over the years be adjusted.
His Lordship continued:
The last word on the Treaty will rest, not with our courts, not even with the House of Lords, but with the Court of Justice at Luxembourg.
What I have quoted is in my opinion evidence of one simple but very profound prop osition, namely, that the political consequences of British entry into Europe upon the institution of the monarchy are as yet unseen and this even by those who live in the United Kingdom itself. The consequences in an indirect way for Australia 1 shall seek to invite the House to consider in a moment or two. It is impossible to read the Treaty of Roma without coming again, I would submit, to the conclusion that what is aimed at ultimately is a political unity.
Within the context of the United Kingdom these propositions emerge. It is the Queen, in Parliament, which makes the laws. When a person seeks a writ from a court it is the Queen’s writ which flows. When a person seeks an order of prohibition, an order of certiorari or an order of mandamus it is the Queen’s orders which flow. The Common Market treaty seeks ultimately to have a common citizenship. How can the citizenship of the British citizen be diminished without affecting pro tanto the position of the citizen in relation to the monarchy? Merely to ask these questions is to identify what is happening. In relation to Australia that happily has not happened. Let us not forget that the Prime Minister is Her Majesty’s Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) is Her Majesty’s right honourable Leader of the Opposition. Every person who comes into this Parliament commits himself in one way or another to allegiance to the Queen. Part I, section 1, of our Constitution states:
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called ‘The Parliament’, or ‘The Parliament of the Commonwealth’.
Do not for one moment think that this is talking about some abstruse point of law. This is a Constitution not to be lightly altered and which, indeed, experience has shown cannot be lightly altered. The three - the Queen, the Senate and the House of Representatives - make up the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. I know there are some who take the view that this is mere fiction - something which over the years has degenerated into a formality where the Prime Minister gives advice to the GovernorGeneral, the Queen’s representative, and that advice is automatically taken. I wonder whether the Prime Minister will forgive me if T remind him of the words of a very distinguished predecessor of his, not in the office of
Prime Minister, but as Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the right honourable Dr Evatt who, in his great treatise, ‘The King and His Dominion Governors’ wrote:
Surely it is wrong to assume that the GovernorGeneral … a mere tool in the hands of the dominant party.
Those words were written with very great authority. Wherever one goes one finds that that is the case. It would not be out of point to observe that Professor Eugene A. Forsey in Royal Powers of Dissolution’ - the word ‘dissolution’ is on the lips of a surprising number of people on both sides of this Parliament - wrote: the danger of Royal absolutism is passed; but the danger of Cabinet absolutism, even of Prime Minister absolutism, is present and growing. Against that danger, the reserve power of the Crown, and especially the power to force or refuse dissolution, is in some instances the only safeguard. The Crown is more than a quaint survival, a social ornament, a symbol, an automation with no public will of its own. lt is an absolutely essential part of the Parliamentary system. In certain circumstances the Crown alone can preserve the Constitution or ensure that if it be changed it shall only be the deliberate will of the people.
I refer again to Part I, section 1, of the Australian Constitution. Whatever the Prime Minister’s views may be on the -
-Order! It being 10.15 p.m., in accordance with the Order of the House, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I have not been in this House a long time but during the election campaign, and ad nauseam since December, we have heard the Government tell us how it espouses open government. This is a high sounding phrase which rolls nicely off the tongue. It is a nice cliche. Let us look at what it means, or what it means to me as a new member of this Parliament, by relating it to the performance of this Government. It seems to mean an AttorneyGeneral in the Australian Government in the dead of night, with Commonwealth Police officers, raiding the premises of a’ security organisation and holding its officers and staff and preventing them from telephoning or advising anyone of what was happening. It means the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to this day, in my opinion, not giving the Parliament an answer as to why this was done. It means the Government using its members to push through a vote of confidence in the Attorney-General - this same AttorneyGeneral. For what was this a vote of confidence? In the Prime Minister’s own words it was for the greatest mistake committed by this Government since it assumed office. That is’ a strange thing about which to move a vote of confidence. It seems to mean a lack of desire to clarify the contents of a supposed telex message which would indicate whether a full, frank and truthful answer had been given by the Prime Minister to a question which was asked in this House. If this is what open government means and if this is an exposition of open government, I do not like it. I prefer democracy as I have known it and as I understand it.
Perhaps we should look in some other direction to see what open government means. It seems to mean - the Prime Minister admitted this in answer to a question - that very often policy details and important announcements are released first at Press interviews and the Parliament is advised, if at all, second, third or fourth hand. It seems to mean that this Parliament should not complain if statements are not made initially in the House of the elected representatives of the people of Australia. It seems sometimes to mean that the further away from Canberra a Minister is the better the opportunity to make an announcement of some import. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) chose Paris to make a devastating statement about primary industry in Australia. The Prime Minister made a statement from Ottawa and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) made statements from diverse parts of the world. I want to be fair. I know that the House was not sitting at that time, but I think too many policy announcements are being made anywhere but in the Parliament of this country. Open government seems also to mean the baring of a soul on a television program conducted by an overseas compere and then at question time clamming up and not being drawn further when questions are asked about this interview. If this is open government I do not like it. It is not parliamentary government; it is not government by the elected representatives of the people.
Perhaps it does not mean these things. Perhaps it means something else again. Perhaps it represents a unique way of silencing the
Premiers of our States and denying them the right to discuss the allocation of moneys and other matters which are essential to a continuation of the States. How is this done? By the simple expediency of cancelling Premiers’ conferences after next year. Perhaps it means an incursion into and a usurping of the rights and powers of the Australian State Governments which, incidentally, are elected by the same voters who elected this Government to office. Perhaps it means promising help to the States and local authorities; then, if help is offered, ensuring that it has so many strings attached that they have no real say in how the money is to be spent; and then taking all this into account when making allocations to the States. If this is open government, I do not much like it, nor do the State Premiers, irrespective of their political philosophy, and no more does the Australian electorate like it.
Perhaps open government means something else which is of real concern to me - the consigning into oblivion of all Australians who are unfortunate enough to live in country areas. Perhaps it means the creation of fewer and fewer rural electorates and the removal of those considerations of area, considerable distances, difficult terrain, sparsity of population and other things which, when taken into account, at least gave them some small voice in government. Perhaps it means making their petrol so dear that they will not be able to travel these distances, anyway. Perhaps it means the criticism and removal of subsidies and tax concessions which compensated them for disastrous seasons and1 fluctuating and uncertain prices. Perhaps it means action to make Postmaster-General’s charges so prohibitive that, in an endeavour to silence country protests, country newspapers will be forced out of business. Perhaps it means reduction of capital expenditure which would deny them telephones. They then could not talk to each other and compare notes. Perhaps it means reducing the frequency of country mail services. I have spoken of this before, but it is still happening with alarming frequency.
Perhaps it means the dangling of election promises of $500m for rural finance for long term credits at 3 per cent. What have we seen? An amount of $20m was provided in this Budget, but I suspect that it is a reallocation of money that was not appropriated in the last Budget anyway. Perhaps ‘open Government’ means the announcement of funds for rural reconstruction, a good portion of which had already been committed by the previous Government. Perhaps we are expected to accept the reassurances from the Treasurer (Mr Crean) that the removal of the exemption of sales tax from carbonated beverages will not hurt at all, that the Government is standing by. We heard a lot last night about the Government standing by and that is what I am afraid it will be doing. It will stand by and see the primary producer go into oblivion. This is a disaster for fruitgrowers. It will result in a substantial loss of sales of fruit juice and a promotion of synthetic products. Already, I have started to send to the Treasurer some of the protests I have received. Perhaps it means removing the means test on pensions for a very small number of elderly Australians and then taking some of the benefit back in taxation. Or perhaps it relates to debate in this House, which I understand is the forum of the elected representatives of the Australian people. We heard today that the Government aims at a type of sausage machine production of a record number of Bills, the mechanism of achievement apparently being the number of Bills which are put out by this House. How is it done? By the use of the gag and the guillotine. Does it mean that when the Prime Minister makes a statement relating to overseas visits a significant Party in this Parliament - the Australian Country Party - is denied the opportunity to provide a single speaker in comment?
When I came to this House I was naive enough to imagine that open government meant adequate opportunities to participate in full debate on legislation in which we were interested. How wrong I was. It is all very well to blame previous goverments for what they may or may not have done; this Government will be judged on its actions. If this is the Government’s definition of ‘open government’, all the comic speeches in the world will not alter the fact that it is an atrocious type of government. I am bemused and confused, and I think that many other people are also. I do not like open government as it is presented by this Government.
– I wish to address some remarks to the important subject of sport and sporting facilities. The surf life saving movement in Australia is constituted by a dedicated band of young men who devote their time and energy to a noble community service. Their role is one of protection and assistance. They patrol the surf beaches of this country in order to prevent accidents. If accidents should occur, in spite of their efforts, they give such assistance as is necessary. If surfers get into difficulty, they render assistance to them and, in many cases, save lives. In many annual surf club reports presently being published the words ‘no lives were lost’ appear. In that very negative statement a very positive ideal is expressed. It is a positive achievement beyond the expectation of most. These young men give up their time free of charge. They risk body and limb in order to protect other human beings. They supervise rules and regulations which are designed to prevent accidents on the beach and in the surf. They prevent accidents such as collisions between surfers and board riders.
Surfing in this country is a wonderful sport; it is a magnificent recreation. In some circumstances, however, it can be a very dangerous sport indeed and lives have been lost. Freak accidents can and frequently do occur. The vagaries of the surf and the sea are unpredictable things. The surf life saving movement is engaged in a task which deserves the gratitude of the whole community and the recognition of this Parliament. What is not generally recognised about this movement is the work that is done for the very young. Small boys are trained to be good young Australians. They are taught to develop healthy bodies and they are taught and encouraged to have a healthy spirit - a spirit of fellowship and tolerance. Their cause is one of dedication to their fellow man.
Last night we heard that a sum of $150,000 is to be set aside for their work in the coming financial year. This is $100,000 more than was allocated previously and it is a real incentive to these young men who have to beg for the provision of facilities by which they save lives. Surely there is no parallel to this in our community. Surely there is no other group which has to go out on the street, to run raffles and to take around the hat. as it were, to raise the funds to provide community services and who give all their time free to save lives of other Australians. This Government has now brought forward a plan whereby dollar for dollar will be matched on the basis of $100,000 being made available for this noble work.
There is a national inability to relax. We find today that more and more of our funds are being spent on pills and potions to assist our population to relax from the cares of life. We are developing into a nation of pill takers. Previous governments have not felt it necessary or desirable, for reasons best known to themselves, but which are obscure to me, to try to prevent this tension and hypertension which are pervading our society. I strongly believe in the statement that prevention is better than cure. The encouragement for people to relax - the assistance to encourage an attitude of relaxation and recreation - is something which we should put to the fore. This proposal, which was outlined by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart), is an encouragement, not for our citizens to win at every sport or to engage in excessive, competitiveness, but to have a go, to relax. We need a scheme of adult recreation and relaxation. The aged as well as the young have needs.
To improve the quality of life is perhaps the central and basic theme on which this Government was elected and the central and basic theme on which this Government has acted so far. I believe the present allocation is only the start. It is a vital break-through of government attitudes in Australia. It is a break with the attitude of indifference which have characterised the past. This is not just for champions; this is for everybody. Champions are not to be denigrated. They are the ones who create the inspiration for others to follow. We have put forward a scheme to provide facilities for those who do not have the capaicty to win but every citizen has the capacity to participate in some form of relaxation, whatever the limitation of capacity and whatever the disability may be.
Australia is the last developed country in the world to accept the reseponsibility for encouragement of proper use of leisure time. Automation and advanced technology which is developing at a rapid rate must create the means for greater leisure. The question is: How do we spend it? Is it to be wasted or is it to be used for useful pursuits? The performing arts were given real encouragement in the Budget introduced last night, but sport has not been neglected on this occasion and there is real encouragement. I hope and believe that this Government recognises that our youth needs encouragement. The establishment knocks the youth of this country. They are ridiculed because of their hair styles and their mode of dress, but under the long hair, under the unconventional style of dress there are very fine young men, the young men who will develop this country and make it a better place to live in. What we need to do in this Parliament is to recognise that and to recognise that they need encouragement and assistance to cope with the strains that we have developed for them.
We must not neglect the need for healthy bodies. It has been proved beyond doubt by serious study that better work and better performance will be achieved when there are healthy bodies, when the population is physically fit. European countries are spending large sums of money on physical and mental recreation. The German and Japanese industries spend huge sums of money on physical fitness of employees. They have found that it reduces absenteeism, and much more importantly it reduces the accident rate in industry I believe that the Minister is considering measures designed to encourage industries to play a more active role in this direction, and I am sure that he will have the support of the trade union movement and responsible employers in his efforts, and he certainly has and deserves the support of members on this side of the House and, I hope, on the other side. The central point to be remembered is that employees are people.
It is possibly significant that Australia’s greatest success in the last Olympic Games was in water sports - 6 gold medals in swimming, 2 in yachting. Australia has been very fortunately blessed with natural resources for water sports. They do not need to be provided; they are already provided by nature. The cheapest subsidy is in respect of water sports because we have the facilities specially provided. I think that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation has made a most auspicious start in pioneering a new concept, a new aspect in Australian Government. August 21 is a day which will be remembered for generations as the day we started this new concept. The Minister deserves the gratitude of Australia and the encouragement of this House, and I believe he will receive both. We must not denigrate, we must not underestimate the natural resources we have in this country for sport and. recreation. Bondi Beach, which I have the privilege to represent, is famous throughout the world as a magnificent water sport area. It is a symbol of the Australian way of life, of relaxation, of the surf, the sun and the sand. It is to Australia, and particularly to the great city of
Sydney, what Times Square is to New York. I wish to place on record my appreciation and that of my electorate of the attitude the Minister for Tourism and Recreation has adopted and the steps he has taken so far in this Parliament.
– It seems strange, almost to myself, that I should be speaking tonight on a subject of tremendous importance in this adjournment debate when few will listen and perhaps my words will have no effect whatsoever. Nevertheless I think these things must be said. I believe that the present urgent events make it necessary that they should be said now. What I say now I hope to have an opportunity to repeat in this House and elsewhere, and I hope that other people may also find some capacity to support it. The primary duty laid on this Australian Parliament is the duty of ensuring Australia’s security. Without this everything else we say about our prosperity and standards of living means nothing. If we fail in this duty we fail in everything. I shall mention 2 things that happened in this House’ today. Firstly, when a statement on foreign affairs was made no opportunity was given to debate it. It was obvious that we in . this House were not to be given an opportunity to express our views.
– I take a point of order. The honourable member is not accurate in his observation.
– This is not a point of order; it is a deliberate attempt to interrupt.
– I am taking a point of order because the honourable member made a statement which is not true.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. That was a very unwise intervention by the Minister.
-Order! I shall look after the honourable member’s interest.
– Thank you. The second thing that happened in the House, and I make only a passing reference to it, is that we had a defence statement which virtually set out the liquidation of any effective defence capacity. What is the situation in which these things have occurred? First, in Australia’s immediate neighbourhood the situation has deteriorated almost beyond belief. The domino theory was ridiculed. The only trouble about the domino theory was that events are verifying it, but nobody wants to look at the facts and nobody wants to listen. Already the security which we thought we had on our northern frontiers seems to be vanishing. Our friends, the friends on whose support we could have relied in the past, seem now either reluctant or powerless or alienated. Britain and the United States of America in a sense seem paralysed in this sphere. France is the object of our execration. Australia’s defences seem weaker by this. At the same time boiling up over the northern hemisphere there seems to be the risk of insipient famine such as we have not seen for many decades - a famine which no doubt, if the seasons do not improve, will produce problems which we have not yet faced, because the hungry people will not easily endure the sight of our abundance. Australia is threatened. In these circumstances it almost seems as if we had changed sides. Perhaps the word ‘almost’ is an exaggeration. It seems that we have changed sides. Is this safe? Is there any real security for Australia in believing that the communist forces-
– Yes, I know. I hear from honourable members opposite screams of ridicule. They are coming now. These are the guilty men. These are the people who have persuaded Australians that they have nothing to fear. This campaign of ridicule - it is occurring now - is one of the matters on which the Government has a guilt towards the’ whole Australian population.
I want the House, if it thinks that there is some security in this changing of sides, to look at what happened in Europe last month at the so-called Conference on Security and Co-operation which was held in Helsinki. I want the House to see what this implies. Two things happened: Firstly, the members of the Russian bloc came forward with the highsounding protestation that they wanted to respect the principles of non-intervention, integrity of frontiers and inviolability of neighbouring states. That is fine. But when it came to the point they said: ‘This does not imply that what we did in Czechoslovakia was wrong’. Perhaps this is a matter of semantics. They come forward with this hypocritical pretence of believing in the territorial inviolability of their neighbours, but when they refer to their attack on Czechoslovakia they say: ‘This is not violation of territorial integrity’. That is what the Russians said at that conference. I want the House to realise the double dealing - the double standard - that lies behind the Russian protestations in this regard.
The second thing was even more important. At that conference the Russians refused to allow the free world to have any contact with their own people inside Russia. They want to maintain inside Russia the propaganda of hostility - the propaganda that makes war possible - and they will not give us any information access to their people. They want to keep their people ideological prisoners in the same way as they are prisoners behind the Iron Curtain by physical fact. If there is to be freedom of information it must be a two-way traffic. What Russia did at Helsinki in this one matter entirely destroys any pretence of good faith which it may have put forward. It is no use our talking about a detente and a relaxation of tension when all we are called upon to do is surrender. Let us have a detente; let us have this relaxation of tension, by all means. But if there is to be this, it must be without surrender and it must work two ways. We must have the same freedom of access to their people as they have to ours.
The Russians have their propaganda agents in this country. Their voice is heard. Their voice is vociferous. Their effect, I fear, may be immense. That is well and good. But why should it be a one-way traffic? Why are we not allowed to have a corresponding access to the people behind the Iron Curtain?
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– During the Budget Speech yesterday it became apparent that the Government, whilst believing in keeping prices down - although it did nothing of any significance to stop inflation - in one area of great concern to my electorate put prices up. I refer to soft drinks - that commodity which is so important to all school children, to mothers with families and to everyone else. By removing the sales tax exemption yesterday the Government will force up the price of soft drinks by 5c to 6c for a medium sized bottle when the exemption becomes completely applicable. I point this out because I do not think that many people realise yet that this is one of the ruboffs of that action. That is a general remark. The Government has put up the price to the consumer very significantly by removing the 15 per cent deduction from sales tax that was applicable to all fruit soft drinks - in fact, all non-alcoholic beverages. The only two drinks that were not affected by the sales tax exemption were soda water and tonic water. All other non-alcoholic beverages have contained Australian fruit juices. This deduction, which used to encourage the use of fruit juices, was lifted by the Government in its Budget yesterday.
To the growers at the top end of my electorate this means that Washington navel oranges - they cannot be used for fruit juice because of their slight bitterness, as compared with Valencias, and can be used only in soft drinks and cordials - may well be put on the scrap heap. As honourable members with knowledge of the citrus industry will know, all these Washington navels come in in one seasonal flush, as distinct from the Valencia oranges that come in throughout a reasonable period of the year. So these Washington navels will be flung on the scrap heap if no alternative outlet is found for them. This will cost the citrus growers in my area in the region of $500,000 during the first year. I make this comment because 1 noted that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in passing said in his speech yesterday that the exemption from sales tax gave no significant return to the primary producers. In that one small pocket of my area if alternative outlets cannot be found for Washington naval oranges, the growers will be short of 5500,000 in the first year. This is a terrible blow to the electorate of Angas.
– Not as big a blow as their member.
– The Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories may be whimsical, critical or humorous if he is capable of being so, but this is a serious matter to my electorate, and I hope that he will regard it as my right and responsibility to point out in this Parliament the effect that the Budget will have on people in my electorate. I have mentioned the consumer and the increasing prices of these products brought about by Government action. I have mentioned the loss from the pockets of growers in my electorate caused by that action.
I would now like to mention a much mere important matter. In my electorate there are co-operative factories, not the least of which is Berri Fruit Juices Co-operative Ltd. This company has taken up the challenge flung to the citrus industry on American trends and figures and today produces more than half of the total juice requirements of this nation, lt does so not out of imported products but out of Australian fruit growers’ raw material. This matter is so serious that that modern, first class factory is now threatened financially in a very real way. It currently holds stocks worth about $500,000. The orders placed for wholesale purposes and soft drink manufacture are considerable but nobody knows which way to go. One of the purposes of my rising to speak tonight is to try to impress on the Government that not only will individual growers suffer real loss, not only will the consumer have to pay considerably more for soft drinks, but there is also a very real problem whether the co-operative factories - the factories owned by farmers in these communities - can remain solvent. A great deal of finance is required to ensure that alternative outlets of growing importance for fruit juice are kept open and encouraged in some way to operate efficiently and capably for the sake of the nation.
I would like to mention a fourth matter which may strike home even more forcibly to honourable members. When the proposed legislation comes into effect about 95 per cent of soft drinks produced will not contain fruit juice as a natural food. What is the alternative? Unquestionably this short sighted action by the Government will mean that in order to remain solvent many soft drink manufacturers will immediately search for an alternative product. It does not require much imagination to realise that they will turn away from a natural foodstuff to some form of artificial colouring, flavouring and so on.
– It is all artificially coloured.
– I am acknowledging that. My point is that as an alternative to pure fruit juices alternative artificial commodities will be used. There is no question about that. They may not be used in the first week or two after the legislation is passed but the encouragement is provided by this Government virtually to subsidise research into alternatives. That might sound like a wild statement but it is the main fear of people in the community from which I come who think about these matters.
I do not have time now to go into another dire matter that will affect my electorate. It concerns brandy. The brandy producers in my electorate provide about 92 per cent of the brandy produced in Australia. They have now been hit by the valuation of stock laws but I will not debate that now. One can argue either way. They have been hit also because the differential they have had all these years as against Australian gin, rum and vodka is to be removed over a period of years. People might say: ‘Fair enough. Why not?’ I remind the House that the grapes with which I am concerned have only 2 production outlets - wine or brandy. There are no alternative outlets. That restriction does not apply to the raw materials for Australian rum, vodka and whisky. In the production of those liquors the by-products of major industries can be used.
Away back in 1953 the Government of that time made the same mistake as this Government has made. It tried to equalise the excise on brandy with that payable on competing products. The industry fell into a state of complete disrepair in a very short time and the differential had to be reintroduced. I have put these matters forward as calmly as I can but they are matters of very great moment to the people involved in the industries concerned. The sales tax exemption applies across the apple, pear and soft fruit growing areas in the other section of my electorate but that problem will remain for discussion on another occasion.
– I have been listening to the bleat of the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). It followed the normal line.
– It is a very real case. You cannot dismiss it like that.
– I am not dismissing it like that.
-Order! There is no provision for private arguments. The honourable member will address the Chair.
– Had the honourable member taken the trouble to find out a little more about the matter to which he referred he might not have been quite so concerned. The Gosford-Wyong area in my electorate of Robertson is the biggest producer of lemons in Australia. It produces 35 per cent of Australia’s lemons. There was some confusion and panic in the area this morning as a result of the Budget provisions. I have taken the trouble to find out from the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), who is also concerned about this matter, what is to happen. As I understand it, the amount of $25m which was the subject of the exemption was primarily going to multinational producers of pop - fizzy drinks. I am referring to the makers of Coca-Cola and that type of drink. Very little of the exemption was going to the benefit of the fruit growers for whom it was intended. I understand that about $5m ultimately finished up with the producers so that the Treasury was losing about $20m. I do not see any great benefits in the general run of the mill fizzy drinks for the average Australian child or adult so we cannot properly argue that the exemption resulted in nutritional benefits for the country. It can be argued that there was some benefit for fruit growers. I have had some discussions with the Minister for Immigration about the following statement in the Budget:
In such abolishing the exemption the Government stands ready to provide such funds as may be necessary to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruit growing industry that may be affected.
I understand that the amount of money set aside will be approximately the sum that normally would have finished up with fruit growers; that is about $5m. It will be put aside to assist fruit growers so that they will receive the same amount of money as before. I have been in touch with Mr Eric Goldswain, one of the biggest producers of lemons in the Gosford-Wyong area. He was notified by the Jusfrute company that it would not accept any more lemons for some time. There was some confusion as to the period for which it would refuse to accept lemons. The company just put up its hands and said: ‘No more’. A meeting of the local Lemon Board is taking place in the Gosford area this evening. It has been asked to put forward proposals as to the best use of that sum of $5m.
I understand that the processors, growers and other interested parties will be meeting over the next few days to work out proposals as to how the$5m can be used to assist the industry. If a system can promptly be worked out by the industry in agreement with the Government fruit growers can receive the same amount of money as before. I feel sure that they will work out an equitable system which will enable them to produce the same amount of lemons for processing so that it will be attractive for the processors to continue to purchase the lemons. I agree that similar problems arise in respect of oranges. The ultimate result will be that everyone will be as well off as before and the Treasury will be $20m better off. One hopes that certain fizzy drinks will be less used by the Australian community in general.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.59 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
What (a) increase in number and (b) percentage increase in the labour market was due to: (i) migrants and non-migrants (ii) males (iii) females (iv) juniors and (v) adults in each of the last 10 calendar years.
– The answer I provided to the honourable member’s question is set out at page 1463 of Hansard of 12 April 1973. I now provide the following information to supplement that answer.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
New South Wales
Crimes Act 1900-1968 (Part IIIA)
Pistol Licence Act 1927-1970
Police Offences Act 1901-1970 (Part 1IA)
Only pistols are required to be licensed and licences are not issued to persons under the age of 18 years.
Excepting air guns, a person under the age of 16 years cannot use, buy or sell a firearm.
The use of machine-guns, sub-machine guns, silencers and certain military rifles, as defined, is prohibited.
Firearms Act 1958-1972
All firearms are required to be licensed. Licences are not issued to persons under 18 years of age.
The use of machine guns, sub-machine guns, and silencers is prohibited.
Firearms Act 1927-1967
Only firearms capable of being concealed on the person and capable of being fired from one hand are required to be licensed.
Licences for concealable firearms are not issued to persons under the age of 18 years. In the absence of a special permit, a person under the age of 17 years cannot discharge, carry, buy, sell or possess any type of firearm.
The use of machine guns, sub-machine guns, silencers and disguised firearms is prohibited.
Pistol Licence Act 1929-1971
Firearms Act 1958
Pistols are required to be licensed and licences are not issued to persons under the age of 21 years.
All other firearms excluding air guns are required to be registered.
A person under the age of 15 years shall not carry, use or possess a firearm and a person under the age of 18 years is required to hold a licence before he may use, carry or possess a firearm.
The use of silencers on pistols is prohibited.
Firearms and Guns Act 1931-1969
All firearms are required to be licensed. A pistol licence will not be issued to a person under the age of 21 years and a licence for any other type of firearm will not be issued to a person under the age of 16 years. The use of silencers is prohibited.
Firearms Act 1932
Police Offences Act 1935-1963 (Division III)
Only pistols are required to be registered.
A person under the age of 18 years will not be permitted to purchase, possess or carry a pistol and a person under the age of 16 years shall not use, discharge, carry, keep or possess any type of firearm.
The use of silencers is prohibited.
Australian Capital Territory
Gun Licence Ordinance 1937-1971
All firearms are required to be licensed
Pistol licences are not issued to persons under the age of 21 years and licences for other firearms are not issued to persons under the age of 16 years. The use of silencers is prohibited.
Firearms Ordinance 1956-1971
All firearms are required to be registered but only pistols and high powered firearms, as defined, arc required to be licensed.
A person under the age of 21 years will not be issued with a licence for a pistol or high powered firearm.
The use of machine guns, sub-machine guns and silencers is prohibited.
The Firearms and Dangerous Weapons Act 1973 of New South Wales has yet to come into operation on a date to be Proclaimed.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
What organisations have received grants from the Commonwealth for the operation of child care centres.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As at 25 May 1973 the following organisations and child care centres have been approved to receive recurrent grants. Claims in relation to centres at Part A of the list have been paid or are in the process of being paid. Initial claims are being sought from the centres at Part B of the list. Payment of these will be processed as quickly as possible.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This replaces the Answer to Question No. 420 which appeared on Page 3036 of the Daily Hansard of 31 May 1973.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question ‘as at 25 May 1973 is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Comparable figures for other years are not available. (2), (3) and (4) The Australian Government has approved in principle the provision of two thirds of the cost, over a five year period, of approved projects aimed at improving urban public transport. A detailed program is currently being developed in consultation with the States.
To facilitate long-term planning, studies will be made to urban, inter-urban and regional passenger and freight movements. Among other things the Government will be examining the feasibility of introducing new land transport technologies into Australia. These studies will be as comprehensive as possible withinthe constraints of availability of time and resources.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
With the exception of one storage building in the Australian Capital Territory, neither the Department nor any of the authorities under the control of the Minister for Education has exclusive occupancy of any of the above buildings.
Range of Rentals:
New South Wales- $3.24-$6. 50 per sq ft per annum.
Victoria - $4.25 per sq ft per annum.
Queensland - Not applicable.
South Australia - $3.60 per sq ft per annum.
Western Australia - $3.58 per sq ft per annum.
Tasmania - $2.00 per sq ft per annum.
Australian Capital Territory - $0.87-$6.38 persq ft per annum.
Northern Territory - $l.50-$4.60 per sq ft per annum.
New South Wales - $3.76 per sq ft per annum.
Victoria - $4.25 per sq ft per annum.
Queensland - Not applicable.
South Australia - $3.60 per sq ft per annum.
Western Australia - $3.58 per sq ft per annum.
Tasmania - $2.00 per sq ft per annum.
Australian Capital Territory - $2.80 per sq ft per annum.
Northern Territory - $3.02 per sq ft per annum.
All premises not owned but occupied in New South Wales. Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory are located in the respective capital city. Accordingly, the above rental figures also apply to the capital cities.
Commonwealth Departments and Authorities:
asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Has his attention been drawn to the reply by the Minister for Services and Property to my question No. 174 (Hansard, 16 May 1973 page 2250), in which he suggested that details relating to occupancies by Commonwealth authorities in buildings not owned by the Commonwealth should be obtained from the Ministers concerned.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority -
Bank House, Ainslie Avenue, A.C.T. (420 sq ft)- $4.20 per sq ft
Gollin House, 40 Clarence Street, Sydney (850 sq ft)- $8.60 per sq ft
I am advised that answer (1) to question No. 174 asked by the Honourable Member includes the premises occupied by my Department.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is set out in the following table:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Exemption of a motor vehicle under item 135 in the First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act is available to a person who has served in the Defence Force or in any other armed forces of Her Majesty and who, as a result of that service:
Exemption under item 135a in the First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act for a motor vehicle for use in his transportation to and from gainful employment is available to a person who has been certified by the Director-General of Social Security, or an officer appointed by him for the purpose, to have lost the use of one or both legs to such an extent that he is permanently unable to use public transport.
(a) The number of individuals in receipt at 30th June 1972 of a special pension under the Second Schedule to the Repatriation Act 1920-1965 in respect of blindness was 395.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
States will manage their operations so as to keep approvals within the limit of SI 15m in 1971-73 without a hiatus in the Scheme;
In managing their operations . . . the States would work to a programme of approvals and expenditure . . . .;
It is an understanding that the States will endeavour to deal with applications at such a rate that approvals and expenditure are spread as uniformly as possible over the period . . . .’
In a letter dated 25 May 1972, the Minister for Lands in New South Wales advised that the summary ‘. . . is acceptable to me as a record of the outcome of the review”.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Australian Government also bears all the costs of the campaign in the Northern Territory.
Territory to compensate owners for stock condemned as tuberculosis reactors. The funds being made available to the mainland States are subject to those States matching at least half the Federal contribution from their own resources or from their existing compensation funds.
In respect of the Northern Territory, the Government will contribute the full amount of the compensation paid.
The allocation of the compensation funds for 1973-74 is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730822_reps_28_hor85/>.