28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (HonJ. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
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 many citizens more, particularly single people and working wives.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalisation . of health services which will lead to impersonalised and mediocre standards of medical care, the creation of a huge new bureaucracy, and will limit the citizen’s freedom of choice.
That the present health scheme can be amended to overcome existing deficiencies, and that the proposed scheme is totally unnecessary. 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. by Mr Gorton, Mr Thorburn and Mr Turner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance
Program and any National Health Scheme;
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a General Practitioner, Specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Adermann, MrBonnett, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Cooke, Mr Corbett, Mr Jarman, Mr Katter, Mr Killen, Mr McVeigh and Mr Eric Robinson.
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 measure to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and eonomically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Drury, Mr MacKellar, Mr McLeay and Mr Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the undersigned men and women of Australia believe in a Christian way of life; and that no democracy can thrive unless its citizens are responsible and law abiding.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will see that the powerful communicator, television, is used to build into the nation those qualities of character which make a democracy work - integrity, teamwork and a sense of purpose by serving, and that television be used to bring faith in God to the heart of the family and national life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Grassby, Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr Corbett, Sir John Cramer, Mr England, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Hunt, Mr James, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Keating, Mr MacKellar, Mr Martin, Mr Nixon, Mr Reynolds, Mr Thorburn and Mr Turner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education.
And your petitioners, asin duty bound, will ever pray.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shews: 1; Your petitioners believe in the principle that every Australian child, irrespective of the school he attends, is entitled to economic support for his basic educational needs from the funds placed at the disposal of the Australian Government through taxation. Further, they believe that this economic support should be in the form of per capita grants directly related to the cost of educaing an Australian child in a government school.
Your petitioners therefore ask that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education, and so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Kerin and Mr Turner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned respectively showeth that your petitioners oppose the proposed reduction of Commonwealth per capita grants to independent schools on the following grounds:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wilson.
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 immediately revoke all whaling licenses issued by the Australian Government and to reimpose a total ban on the importation of all whale produce.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Fisher
MrDRUMMOND - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. The proposed all-west project is of tremendous importance to the south west of Western Australia. It will mean regional development, the development of the Bunbury port, increased power generation at Collie and increased employment opportunities throughout the region. As this project was planned during 1969-70 and has been held up awaiting the development of the infrastructure, particularly the port of Bunbury, will the Government reconsider its attitude on foreign capital investment in this instance, bearing in mind the true decentralised nature of the project?
– As the honourable member would know, 4 studies have been carried out in Western Australia by the Cities Commission. Studies have been made of Salvado, north of Perth, and studies have also been made of 3 regional areas - Geraldton, Bunbury and Albany. The study is a continuing one and until such time as it is completed no decision will be made by the Government. Foreign investment in real estate in Australia is the joint responsibility of the Treasurer and myself and each case will be judged on its merits.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Conservation has been holding hearings about the advisability of placing deposits on nonreturnable drink cans and bottles. One of the submissions to this Committee, recently reported in the Press, makes the suggestion that a program of drink can reclamation instituted by a group called the Steel Can People was in fact some sort of public relations farce. Can the Minister confirm that this allegation is correct?
– It is true that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation is conducting this inquiry. The question was raised at the meeting of the Australian Environment Council in July. The Council, which is a meeting of all the State Ministers and myself, agreed that we sould institute such an inquiry into the question of a uniform substantial deposit on soft drink, beer and other nonreturnable drink containers. I immediately referred the matter to the Standing Committee. About 3 months ago it advertised this fact in the national Press. I understand that the Committee has received 80 submissions. The hearing is a public inquiry. The Committee has heard up to about 15 witnesses at this stage. One of them referred to the matter mentioned by the honourable member in his question. Since the inquiry is still continuing I do not wish to make any comment on the veracity or otherwise of the assertions in that submission.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I preface it by reminding honourable members that yesterday the Prime Minister told this House that he had made strong protests in China about Chinese nuclear atmospheric testing. Did the Prime Minister receive any assurances from the Chinese about their future behaviour? If he made such a strong protest, why was there no mention of it in the final communique?
– The attitude of the Chinese and Australian Governments on this matter is well known. It is unchanged. The conversation in which it was raised occurred with Chairman Mao Tsetung in the presence also of the Vice-Chairman Wang Hung-wen and Premier Chou En-lai. The understanding in which conversations are held with Chairman Mao Tsetung is that the details of the conversations are not published. The subjects can be, and in this case were.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has his attention been drawn to a reported statement by the Leader of the Australian Country Party yesterday in which he said that the Country Party welcomes multi-national companies in Australia and in which he suggested that responsible Government action to stop the sell-out of Australia was a kind of international apartheid? How does he believe primary producers would react to that kind of statement? Is it correct that primary production is one of the few remaining sectors of the economy that have not been very largely swallowed up by foreign interests?
– Order! The question refers to a statement made by the Leader of the Country Party. If there is any other part of the question that the Minister thinks should be answered he may answer it, but he should not refer to a statement made by the Leader of the Country Party because it does not come within the ambit of his portfolio.
– I am aware of the allegations made by the Leader of the Country Party.
– Mr Speaker, he is flagrantly ignoring your–
– Do not get excited.
– I am excited.
– The Minister will definitely be out of order if he refers to any allegations made by the Leader of the Country Party because that does not come within the scope of his portfolio. If there is any other part of the question that the Minister can answer without referring to that statement he may go ahead.
– It is quite clear that once again the Country Party is embarrassed. The primary sector of the economy is perhaps the only major sector which has not been taken over largely by foreign interests. This
Government will make certain that the primary sector of the Australian economy remains in Australian hands for Australia.
– My question is directed to the
Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Has the Government granted special licences to the Torres Strait Aborigines to export turtles and turtle meat? If so, will the Government also grant special licences to Aboriginal enterprises to export kangaroos and kangaroo meat? Will the Minister tell the House whether he has asked the AuditorGeneral for a report on the turtle farming and marketing enterprise in the Torres Strait? If so, will be make that report available to Parliament?
– The actual right or authority to export such products as turtle meat or anything else, I understand, flows from a decision by the Minister for Customs. So far as I know, nothing has been done on that account, but I will check on the matter. As to the export of any of these products, as the honourable member will be aware, the Government has serious doubts about such things as the export of kangaroos. The turtle project was a totally different proposition and, of course, was launched under the previous Government. As for the inquiry by the–
– Poor turtles.
– Do not pick on the turtles. It was the previous Government which started the project. The turtles are the innocent victims of my predecessors. The other point in the question concerned the inquiry into the operations of the turtle project. Several months ago I referred the matter to the AuditorGeneral to examine the way in which the project was being financed, accounts were being kept and all other aspects of it. So far I have not received his report, although I understand that its presentation is pending. When it is received, it will be the property of my colleague, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, in another place. What is done about it will be a matter for his decision.
– What action has the Minister for Immigration taken to remedy the widespread deficiencies in existing provisions in interpreting and translation facilities in the community revealed by the departmental survey of interpreting and translation needs in the community which he tabled, I believe, on 10 October?
– It is true that, in the report which I tabled, grave concern was expressed about the inadequacy of translating and interpreting facilities in this country. 1 might say that this is a sad state of affairs after 25 years of a very great migration program. The position is that a great need exists at present to have proper professional standards for interpreters and translators, together with proper pay and conditions for those persons. There should be a professional body to which they can all belong and which can police such standards to safeguari them and also to safeguard the people in that profession.
I have been having some discussions within the Department as to whether or not it would be possible to set up in Canberra a national school of interpreters. I think that this would give an opportunity to develop proper national standards for a service which is a basic need in our community at present. In fact, the discussions are continuing. The objectives are clear. I have had talks with some people already in the profession in the various States. I would hope to be in a position to make a report quickly to the honourable member and to the House on some of the progress we hope to make. I would hope to do that certainly by the new year.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is the honourable gentleman aware of the recent call by the President of the Australian Labor Party to increase the rates of personal taxation this financial year? Is he also aware of similar views expressed by one of the Government’s principal economic advisers, Dr H. C. Coombs? Will the honourable gentleman, in line with the Opposition, give a clear public undertaking that no such action will be taken?
– I think that the leading spokesman for economic affairs in the Opposition in this House ought to be aware that this is a matter of policy. I am not in the luxurious position of other people who can say what they like at any time they like.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. With the abolition of the means test for a pension in respect of people over 75 years and the taxing of these people, if it is expected that an amount of money will be owing to the Taxation Office by them at the end of the financial year, can any arrangement be made by the people with the Department of Social Security for the alleviation of this suddenly imposed burden?
-We are currently considering ways in which social security recipients could make regular contributions towards tax payments through the Department of Social Security. We are in the process of doing this and when we have reached a decision as to the most successful way, success being measured in terms of the acceptance by and satisfaction for people for whom this benefit would be introduced, I will make an announcement on the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Works. In the amalgamation of the Department of Works and the Department of Housing is it proposed to set up a very big construction department which will undertake major projects in all fields, both domestic and commercial? If this is so, is it contemplated that the new department will carry out projects on the day labour principle, as I understand is advocated by the Minister, or confine itself to supervision of a contract system? Incidentally, before deciding on projects is it proposed to consult with the Builders Labourers Federation and obtain its approval?
– It is intended that the 2 departments will be amalgamated. Consideration is being given to the type of authority to which the honourable member has referred. If such an authority were established it could probably utilise the 2 ways of employing people or getting work done; that is to say, it could involve a combination of a contract system and a day labour system. There would be no doubt that if we were setting off with such objectivity we would readily consult the trade union movement and similarly we would consult the Master Builders Association and all interested groups, because the success of such a venture would depend on their co-operation.
– Order! At this stage I desire to inform the House that His Excellency, Mr Adam Malik, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, is in the Speaker’s Gallery this morning. On behalf of the House I would like to assure Mr Malik of our warm welcome and wish him and Mrs Malik a pleasant stay in Australia.
Honourable members - Hear, hear!
– My question is directed to the Minister for Imigration. Is the New South Wales migrant task force recommendation for the creation of special orientation courses for migrants to be implemented? Will the Minister further consider urgently the use of hostels as orientation centres?
– It is true that the task force has recommended the use of hostels as orientation centres. I think also there was a suggestion that a survey should be made of the problems of single migrants. It is certainly desirable that orientation centres should be set up and that some courses in orientation should be given to people coming to Australia to enable them to settle in more easily. I do not believe that we should wait until a survey is completed to undertake this particular work. It is my intention that orientation courses should be established in selected hostels in various parts of Australia. I should say that we could incorporate some of the suggestions concerning a survey of single migrants in some of the survey work which is now proceeding. The important matter to be resolved at the moment is how long the orientation courses should be and what their content should best be in the interests of people coming to Australia. I intend to refer the matter of orientation courses, their content and the length of time they should occupy, to the Immigration Advisory Council. The honourable member and the House can be assured that selected hostels will be used for orientation courses to ensure that integration proceeds more smoothly and more effectively than it has done in the past.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In the light of today’s announcement by the Director of the National Gallery that the painter of the work ‘Blue Poles’ desires to repurchase the painting will the Prime Minister consider reselling it? Does the Prime Minister agree that the extra $100,000 to $200,000 which the painter is prepared to pay above the original price of $1.3m, making a total sale price $l.Sm, could be more effectively used in promoting works by Australian artists? In the light of this latest, and certainly fortunate, offer I ask why the Government wishes to retain this foreign painting of accidental value.
– I want to make it plain to people outside the House, even if it has not got through to some of the troglodytes in it, that the Australian Government has no objection to foreign paintings however old or however recent they may be. In fact it would like to have more foreign paintings available for people to see in Australia, whether they are residents of Australia or visitors to Australia. I would not dream of suggesting that ‘Blue Poles’ should be sold now for that price because we would get far more than $200,000 in addition to what we paid for it if we were to sell it now. The people who sold it to us would certainly like to get it back for an additional cost of a mere $200,000. The publicity which has been given to this painting makes it extremely valuable overseas and in Australia. The Gallery, whose foundation stone I laid yesterday at the invitation of my colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, I fear will not be large enough to accommodate the crowds of people who will come to Canberra from within Australia and from overseas to see Blue Poles’.
Slightly more seriously, I do not believe that members of Parliament, even leaders of government, should substitute their own judgments in all matters upon which they seek advice. I may take interest in artistic matters in accordance with the time or capacities which are available to me but I would not presume to substitute my judgment in these matters for the judgment of the gentleman to whom the honourable gentleman referred. That gentleman was appointed by my predecessor.
– He is a very good man.
– It was a good appointment - a very good appointment, as my predecessor as Prime Minister says. I agree with his assessment of him. I believe that now, more than ever before, he is being given the wherewithal to pursue his talents in the interests of the Australian people. Australian painters still resident in Australia are getting more assistance from the present Government than they received :”:om any of its predecessors. Many painters who left Australia are now returning to it because the country now appreciates their talents.
– Can the Minister for Minerals and Energy give further information on the negotiations between the South Australian and Australian governments on the establishment of a petro-chemical industry at Redcliffs in South Australia?
– The problems associated with the establishment of a petro-chemical refinery at Redcliffs in South Australia are now very close to solution. Yesterday I received a telegram from the Premier of South Australia indicating that a choice would be made as to the consortium, which will comprise ICI Australia Ltd, Alcoa of Australia Ltd and Mitsubishi. Associated with these companies will be CSR Ltd and Ampol Petroleum Ltd. In certain aspects the choice of consortium will be subject to the approval of the Federal Government, which will be readily given because the final arrangement will be for a 51 per cent Australian equity. In addition, an assurance will be given that the maximum amount of motor spirit will be extracted and that the necessary environmental precautions will be taken. Also there will need to be an appropriate indenture of agreement executed between the sovereign government of South Australia and the respective members of the consortium.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the latest report or speculation in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald’ concerning colour television sets, which contains statements as to what is proposed by way of low protection tariffs on television sets and other electronic manufactures. I ask the Prime Minister: Does the Tariff Board report include an assessment of the impact on employment and production in this key Australian industry which employs more than 40,000 workers - an impact which, according to reliable industry sources, could mean the dismissal of as many as 10,000 employees and the cessation of Australian production of a range of electronic components and products? Will this not put this country at the mercy of overseas interests charging prices for imports at a level which the market will bear, as witnessed by the higher import prices for many items following the recent 25 per cent tariff cuts, thus resulting in higher priced television sets anyway - and all this apart from the crucial importance of this industry for Australian defence?
– The honourable gentleman who asks the question came into this place with the reputation of being a free trader. It shows how quickly a man can be corrupted by joining the Liberal Party. No industry source which said that 10,000 people could be put out of work as a result of any pending Tariff Board report could be described as a reliable industry source. Any industry source which made such an allegation should be condemned by everybody, not least by honourable members who have the economic background of the honourable member for Berowra, as being thoroughly unreliable, mischievous and divisive in this community. I will not make the practice of discussing Tariff Board reports in advance of their consideration or tabling. I table some reports but in very rare circumstances do I do so before they have been considered. Obviously I cannot be expected to discuss Tariff Board reports before a decision has been made on them where that decision can result in profit or loss to particular investors or particular companies in which investments are made.
It is quite irresponsible for honourable members to suggest that the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which can result in profit and loss in that way, should be revealed ahead of a decision being made by the Government. That process will be followed in this case. The honourable member will remember that the reference to the Tariff Board which I made on this matter last December after consultation with my prospective ministerial colleagues required the Board to inquire into and report upon the prospective cost of colour television sets to Australian purchasers according to whether there was a larger or smaller imported component in those sets. There can be different views as to the relative weight that a government should give to employment or to price in these matters. My general impression at the moment is that unemployment in Australia is not as big a threat as inflation.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to reports from the United States of America that business and labour organisations are clamouring to get rid of price control and that even Mr Edgar Fielder, chief economist for the United States Treasury Department, among others, has now publicly condemned it as having failed? What are the Prime Minister’s feelings on the United States experience? Was the report in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 18 September correct when it claimed that the Prime Minister said that he always had reservations about the value of price controls? Will he now spell out those reservations?
– I have no doubt that business interests in the United States of America are clamouring for the end of price control. Such interests, of course, are bitterly resisting the implementation of any effective price stabilisation measures in Australia. That is why the honourable gentleman and his colleagues are pursuing the special sectional interests of such persons.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. That is a reflection on my integrity. The point of order is that the reports referred to labour organisations as well.
– Order! The honourable member can rest assured that I will protect his integrity to the best of my ability.
– In the United States, the honourable gentleman reminds us, the Federal Government can, if it sees fit, introduce prices policies and incomes policies. The same applies in the federal systems of Canada and West Germany. It does not apply in peace time in the federal system in Australia. So whatever one may think of such policies there can be no doubt that a national government, even in a federal system, should have such powers available to it. Even such powers which we believe the federal system in Australia reposes in the Federal Parliament, the honourable gentleman and his colleagues are opposing. Last night we had the extraordinary situation where they were wanting, in this House as in the Senate earlier, to defer any consideration of trade practices laws. I am reminded that the Leader of the Opposition is on record as saying: ‘The effect of a restrictive trade practice on the public and on the economy generally is to increase prices.’ The honourable gentleman who asked this question and most of his Party - certainly his current Leader - will have nothing to do with prices measures and they will have nothing to do with other measures which will have an effect on curbing prices. I wish the honourable gentleman would make up his mind, or help his leaders to make up their minds, on something positive to do about prices. They bellyache about what we do or try to do with such powers as we have, they criticise us and then they refer to what happens in other countries where the federal or national government has such powers. They are completely implacable. They will not let us do what happens overseas, and then they will not let us do what we could do here.
– You have answered only half of my question.
– I beg your pardon. The honourable members did ask me some question about my attitude to price control or price stabilisation measures. I have never believed that in themselves they were all-sufficient but I do believe and always have believed - I have advocated it for a quarter of a century and more - that the Federal Parliament should be armed in peacetime with the authority to have price measures. That is an important weapon in our economic armoury. In Australia we do not have it. Every other country, including those with federal systems, does have it.
– I ask the Minister for Northern Development whether he is aware of the criticism that by securing the basis for a long-term sugar agreement with China he undermined and damaged the Australian Sugar Board’s negotiating positon on quantities and price while the Board was engaged in negotiating a long-term contract with China. Is there any justification for such a suggestion?
– The criticism was made, of course, by the Leader of the Australian
Country Party. Not only is this allegation false, it is also stupid. First of all, the Leader of the Country Party does not even understand how sugar is marketed. Sugar is marketed and sold by the CSR Company as the legal agent for the Queensland Government in consultation with the Australian Sugar Board. Now let me answer the substance of the question. Firstly, the CSR Company in its commercial transactions in Hong Kong and Peking has never had any discussions on quantities and price with Chinese authorities for a long-term agreement. Secondly, it is true that the industry has been trying to secure permanent access for sugar to China but without success. Before I went to China the CSR Company, in writing to me, said that the CSR is anxious to do all that it can to enlarge the opportunity for permanent access to China and has welcomed the formal exchanges at government level which have undoubtedly strengthened the trading relationship established at the commercial level.
In China the Prime Minister and I achieved this access at permanent level. We achieved it for the sugar industry and we achieved it for Australia. Therefore, the criticism by the Leader of the Country Party is not only false; it is also stupid. In fact, the Queensland Government through the Minister for Primary Industry has officially welcomed this move and congratulated this Government. The only person in this country who is trying to throw water on this sale to China is the Leader of the Country Party who is in effect sabotaging the sugar industry and its future efforts in regard to the details of these negotiations. I ask him to stop his sulkiness.
– Take a sweetener.
– Take a sweetener. I ask him in all seriousness to stop these contemptuous childish remarks because all he is doing is making it more difficult for the sugar industry to negotiate the details of this agreement at the commercial level and for the Australian Government at the policy level.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Have deposits to permanent building societies fallen off alarmingly over the past 2 months? In order to secure funds, has it been necessary for these societies to disregard requests from the Reserve Bank of Australia and increase their borrowing rate by
H per cent, bringing it up to 9 per cent? Will this create increased costs to home seekers and place an added financial burden on home ownership? Has the Treasurer had an examination made of this most serious situation with a view to a satisfactory solution being determined?
– I almost hesitate to say anything about building societies. However, I should like to quote some figures. I am not one who quotes a figure for a month and multiplies it by twelve, nor do I believe that what can be called a trend can always be evaluated on the basis of a month. However, I quote what is purely factual information. Housing loan approvals by permanent building societies declined slightly in September - I repeat, slightly - after rising in July and August from the low June figures. At $82m, housing loan approvals by permanent building societies in September were well below the very high September 1972 level of $106m but well above the September 1971 level of $57m. The number of loans approved in September was 5,048, 29 per cent less than in September 1972 but 9 per cent greater .than in September 1971. My information goes on to show quarterly figures.
One has to be concerned about the availability of physical resources as well as the availability of financial resources. One of the difficulties in the building industry was that more approvals were being given than there was capacity to perform. At least there has been some settling down. If there has to be rationing of houses, we would prefer that it should be in the light of the physical availability of resources rather than to its being financial rationing. If too many houses were being commenced at one stage it is likely, if the matter sifts down sensibly, that at some stage there will be a fall in commencements. I suggest that that is what is happening at the moment. I find it rather curious that in one breath many people complain about inflation and excess demand and in the next breath they talk about an impending recession.
– I ask a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Paterson and I address it to the Minister for Housing. Is it a fact that only a minority of building societies have increased interest rates in excess of the 1 per cent increase previously announced by the Government, but that these have also adopted more restrictive attitudes than expected to extending periods of repayment in preference to increasing repayment instalments? If this is so, what action has or can be taken to bring these societies into line with similar institutions which are conforming to the Government’s guidelines? On a directly related matter, has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a reported statement by the President of the Western Australian Permanent Building Societies Association to the effect that what he referred to as Government distortion of the loan market would reduce home loans in Western Australia by 4,000 next year, leading to significant unemployment in the building industry at that time? How does that statement compare with the Government’s own assessment of the position?
– I doubt that the limitations of question time would permit me to do justice to the questions. Nevertheless, it is important to say mat the Australian Government does not have all the prerogative by any means in the administration of building societies. Substantially this is an area which is administered by State laws, and the laws vary throughout the country.
– Do the States control the interest rates?
– Yes, the States determine interest rates as has always been the case in the past without any influence from the Australian Government, so far as I am aware. That is not to say, of course, that it is a good thing that that kind of situation should be perpetuated. The building societies have reacted in varying ways to the attitudes expressed by the Treasurer. It is true that many have extended repayment periods. It has been the attitude of the Government, as expressed by the Treasurer, that it is more desirable to extend the repayment periods than to extend repayment rates.
In respect of the question about distortions, I am afraid that I am unable to respond because the answer to the question would become too long. There are distortions. It is true that the natural ebb and flow of the economic climate in regard to the building industry has been artifcally influenced and affected by government attitudes. But I think honourable members would have to be fair in iden tifying the justification for these decisions that we have taken. Honourable members opposite must accept a great deal of responsibility for the situation which gave rise to the decisions of the Treasurer which are designed to moderate the demand on the building industry. Let me cite to the House some figures as far as building societies are concerned. In 1970 loans amounted to $340m. In 1971 they amounted to $540m and in 1972 the previous Government allowed loans to go up to $949m, which is an increase of almost 300 per cent. That is a reasonable thing to do if the manpower and materials are increased to a like extent but the previous Government did not do that. As a result this Government has had to take regulatory action. I hope that in the short term the adverse effects on home seekers will be minimised and that in the longer term home seekers and home purchasers will ‘be greatly advantaged.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories who represents the Minister for the Media in this House. He will recognise these words: In the presentation of news, comment and current affairs the public interest is best served by the expression of a plurality of viewpoints throughout the media. Adherence to this principle will be taken into account in the consideration of applications for renewal of licences. I ask the Minister whether the radio stations 2KY and 2HD, which are managed by the Australian Labor Party, have broadcast policy speeches and advertisements for any political party other than the Labor Party during the past New South Wales election campaign. Will the Minister table for the information of the House details of time made available to political parties by 2KY, 2HD, 3KZ and 4KQ over the last 10 years?
– The Leader of the Opposition should have directed the question to me. I am not aware of the circumstances of the matters that he has mentioned or whether they are right or not. It is a fact that the Government seeks to remedy all the injustices that have occurred in the past in respect of radio and television broadcasting at election times. If these things have occurred, under the proposals of the Government there will be remedy and justice will be given to all. If these matters have occurred and if the legislation is passed by the Parliament it will be binding on all radio and television stations, be they politically owned, controlled or otherwise. What we seek to do under these proposals is to ensure that everybody seeking election to office in this country has equal opportunity on our radio and television waves.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Med’a aware of the alleged action of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper to force an Australian news service to curtail the news service to the new daily paper in Western Australia, the ‘Independent Sun’, thus forcing its closure today? What are the circumstances? If it is true, will he endeavour to see what may be done to ensure that the Independent Sun’ can be continued, thus ensuring true private enterprise and competition in the newspaper industry in Western Australia and an alternative source of information for the Western Australian public, and avoiding any unemployment in the printing and publishing industry which could arise from this action?
– I share the honourable member’s concern about what happened with the ‘Independent Sun’. I am disturbed that a handful of Press barons can indulge in this form of restrictive trade practice. I am sure that for those who put forth the theory of freedom of the Press this is a very good example of where it merely means licence for the Press barons to do what they wish. If we look for the reasons why the ‘Independent Sun’ had to close we find from a statement by Mr E. A. Wright, who is the joint proprietor, that the ‘Independent Sun’ was receiving an eastern States service from the ‘Age’. Also, the ‘Age’ receives a Western Australian news service from the ‘West Australian’. In Brisbane and Hobart its news services come out of the subsidiaries of the Melbourne ‘Herald’ similar to the service from the ‘West Australian’.
Last week the managing director of the West Australian’, Mr Keith Macpherson, blandly told ‘Age’ executives that if they continued to service the ‘Independent Sun’, the Age’ would lose its Western Australian services. This was a statement made by the proprietor of the independent group of newspapers running the ‘Independent Sun’. This ultimatum caused great concern for the ‘Age’ and ultimately the ‘Age’ bowed to the ultimatum. This leaves the ‘West Australian’ as the monopoly newspaper in Western Australia. These are the sorts of actions that the Government wishes to cover by the restrictive trade practices legislation. This sort of action shows why the Opposition is not prepared to support that legislation. I will have much pleasure in referring the honourable member’s question to the Attorney-General to see what can be done.
– For the information of honourable members I present to the House the final report of the Australian Council for the Arts on steps to implement the Government’s policies towards the arts. The report is a revision of the interim report from the Council, which I tabled on 24 May and which was circulated throughout the Australian arts community and to others who were interested. Perhaps I might add that the Government has accepted the Council’s report and has endorsed its recommendations, subject to the name of the new body being the Australia Council and to the Council’s determinations as to terms and conditions for the employment of staff being subject to the approval of the Public Service Board. Given the heavy program for this sessional period, it appears unlikely that the legislation will be introduced this year. I hope to be able to introduce it in the autumn session next year.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report on the activities of the Australian Wool Board for the period July to December 1972. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim report of the Australian Wool Commission for the period July to December 1972. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable members I present a White Paper entitled The Australian Health Insurance Program’.
– Pursuant to section 32 of the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964-1972, I present the ninth annual report on the administration and operation of that Act for the year ended 30 June 1973. An interim statement was presented to the House on 15 October 1973.
– Pursuant to section S3 of the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1947-1971, I present the annual report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission for the year ended 31 March 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented on 2 counts by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). First, the honourable gentleman in answering a question said that I, yesterday, in the debate on trade practices, had said .that the effect of a trade practice <s to increase prices.
– I never said that you said that yesterday.
– Well, whenever. I did in fact say it yesterday. The ground for claiming misrepresentation is this: The honourable gentleman then went on to say the Opposition was opposing the trade practices legislation when it knew - and he was quoting me - that trade practices increased prices. What I made clear was this: Trade practices do increase the level of prices. Trade practices do not increase the rate of increase in the level of prices. The rate of increase in prices in ,1973 is three times the rate of increase in prices in 1972.
Nobody can suggest that there are more trade practices in 1973 that justify the trebling of the rate of such increases. To suggest that the trade practices legislation would have an immediate impact on inflation is a false misrepresenttion. It will not. It will reduce the overall level of prices in the long term future. It is a mispresentation to say that we are opposing the legislation and, in opposing it, we are not contributing to efforts to defeat inflation. That is the first ground on which I claim misrepresentation, Mr Speaker.
The second ground is that the Prime Minister said that I and my Party were against price measures because of big business, that big business did not want price measures and that, therefore, we are taking that attitude. That is a false misrepresentation. The fact is that big business does not mind price programs at all because the prices commissioner fixes prices in order to have a price level high enough for the most inefficient of the producers of those goods. The consequences of this action is that it is the small man who fixes the price, not the big man, and big business is quite happy with price fixing because it knows that its level of profit will be maintained.
If there were an institution of price control, a prices commissioner, or an army of inspectors or whoever it may be would fix price levels at a rate high enough to guarantee the continuance in operation of the most inefficient and least able producers of the goods. What we say is that price control just plain will not work. It is bad economic management and it is bad economic management with which the Government is proceeding.
- Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence and the indulgence of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) to raise a point of procedure in relation to the White Paper on the Australian Health Insurance Program tabled by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) a moment or two ago. I have not been paid the courtesy of being furnished with a copy of that paper. I do not blame the Minister for that; he may just have received it. It seems to me rather strange that a document, one of the most important documents the Labor Administration has laid on the table of this House, should be simply tabled without the Minister tabling it making a statement which could be debated. As the White Paper relates to one of the most fundamental issues of the Labor platform I would have thought that the White Paper itself should be debated, as I understand that the substantive Bills following up the White Paper will not be coming before the House for a period of 3, 4 or 5 weeks. Will the Minister for Social Security or the Leader of the House give me an assurance that there will be a debate on this White Paper by members of the Parliament of all political persuasions within the next week or two?
– by leave - The White Paper has been tabled. There will be a debate this morning on the question of health on a motion that will be moved by one of the members of the Party of the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp). We do not wish to take up the time of private members this morning in debating this White Paper. I do not mind moving that it be printed, but I can give no assurance that it will be debated this session. There will be an opportunity during the debate on a health Bill that is to be brought in to cover the issues raised by the White Paper that has been presented, and all the contents of the White Paper will no doubt be under discussion when the legislation to be brought down by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) is being debated. As honourable members know, the White Paper is an extensive one, but I imagine it will be properly debated in conjunction with the health legislation that is coming down. That assurance is all I can give the honourable members.
Mr CHIPP (Hotham)- by leave- That explanation is completely unsatisfactory to me, because it makes a farce of the whole concept of White Papers. The whole concept of a White Paper is to put it down, allow members to consider it and then debate it. 1 would have thought that that was the whole purpose of it. In view of the stand taken by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) I give notice that at an appropriate time, after the Opposition has had a chance of looking at the
White Paper, we will be moving the suspension of Standing Orders so that this House can debate this very fundamental document.
Mr DALY (Grayndler- Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House) - by leave - This White Paper will be covered in the legislation that is to be introduced. We are giving the Opposition 3 weeks notice in effect of what is in the legislation by tabling the White Paper in order that the Oppositon will be fully prepared, and it as simple as this. We do not mind it being debated but time will not permit us to debate it outside the debate on the health legislation that is coming down. The honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) says that it is a strange procedure. There is nothing strange about it. It is an advanced procedure to let the Opposition know in full detail by way of a White Paper the contents of legislation to be introduced - something unprecedented in this House and a remarkable step forward.
– by leave- On the point that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) has just raised, surely the whole purpose of a White Paper is to develop an informed public opinion about matters which the Government considers to be important and about which it is foreshadowing. The purpose is completely distorted, indeed destroyed, if the Australian public and Oppositon parties are unable to react in this Parliament by debate to a White Paper before the legislation which it foreshadows is brought down. What the Leader of the House has said, as I understand it, is that the White Paper comes in as a prelude to proposed legislation but that no reaction to that White Paper can have any impact or effect whatever on what the Government is bringing down by legislation. In other words, as my colleague the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) has made clear, it is a total farce. It is paying lip service to the concept of open Government. Surely the Leader of the House will agree to have a debate on the White Paper so that the Government will be aware of the detailed response of the Opposition parties and the views of the many groups in the community which wish to make serious and substantial representations to the Government.
Mr DALY (Grayndler- Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House) - by leave - I can understand the concern of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) but may I point out firstly that this morning a debate will be taking place on a health matter in which this White Paper could be covered and during which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition could make the points he wishes to make. In addition the estimates for the Department of Health still have to be considered and the White Paper could be debated then. Thirdly, never in my time in this Parliament has any government presented a White Paper on legislation that is to be introduced, and it ill becomes the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to criticise this Government for not doing something which his Government never bothered to contemplate when in office.
– There was never any debate on the planning committee report.
– I am advised that there was never any debate on the planning committee report in regard to health and things of that nature. There is plenty of scope for honourable members to debate the White Paper. It can come up during the debate on health this morning; it can come up in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Health. There is a full and complete debate to be held on the introduction of the health scheme which is covered in its entirety by this White Paper. For once we have given the opportunity for the Opposition to inform itself before a debate is held in the Parliament. I would say to honourable members: You would not be in a position to debate this for a couple of weeks because it is such an informative document. I never cease to be amazed at all the rights the Opposition demands now which, when in government, it never gave to the Opposition in 24 years. Therefore I advise honourable members opposite to have a good look at the White Paper - it is worth reading - and bring forth all the arguments on it in the course of the debate that is to take place. What honourable members have said this morning will be borne in mind, but they have plenty of opportunity to debate the White Paper.
– Will you move that the House take note of the paper?
– Not at this stage, no.
– You said you would.
– You have changed your mind. You said you would.
– I said I would give no undertaking to debate it in this session.
– Would you move that the House take note of the paper?
– No. I told the honourable member that I will move that it be printed on the undertaking that the Opposition accepts that it will not be debated this session.
Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented in the ‘Canberra Times’ this morning. Reporting my attempts to have a change made by this House in the title of the Trade Practices Bill, it comments that this was disorganised larrikinism intended to disrupt the Parliament. The proposal I made was a serious one. The proposal was that the title be ‘Fascist Practices Bill’ and was based on 2 things: Firstly, the horrid arbitrariness inherent in the drafting of the Bill; and secondly, the fact that the administration of the Bill would fall into the hands of a government–
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I instruct Hansard to delete the latter portion of that explanation.
- Mr Speaker-
– Order! I asked the honourable member to resume his seat and he kept on talking, so the remarks he made after my request was made will be deleted.
- Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a short statement on the matter of the tabling of the White Paper on the Australian Health Insurance program which was previoussly being discussed.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted
– Mr Speaker, would you indicate when copies of the White Paper that has been tabled will be available to the Opposition?
– This will be a matter for the Government rather than the Chair.
– They are not available.
-I will speak to the Clerk about it shortly.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Speaker, did I understand the Leader of the House to move that the paper be printed? If so, was the motion put?
– No, the motion was not put.
– He promised that he would move that the paper be printed.
-Order! The motion was not put because the motion was not moved.
– Mr Speaker, are we entitled to know from the Government when this White Paper will be available to the Opposition? It is not a tin pot paper; it is a very important document. Can we have any indication when it will be available.
-Order! I am informed by the Clerk that copies are now being brought to the chamber for circulation.
– On behalf of the Minister for Defence I present for the information of honourable members the Defence Report 1973. I understand that copies of this report are available immediately.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the Senate does not press its request for an amendment which the House of Representatives has not made and has agreed to the Bill.
Message received from the Senate acquainting the House that the Senate does not insist on its amendments disagreed to by the House and has agreed to the amendments made by the House in place thereof.
– I present the report, together with minutes of proceedings, of the Committee of privileges in connection with the matter referred to the Committee by the House on 20 September 1973.
Ordered that report be printed.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That consideration of the report be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on Prices I bring up the Committee’s report on the import prices inquiry - Price Effects of Currency Changes, Report No. 1 - together with minutes of proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- This report on import prices - Report No. 1 - which has just been tabled is the second report presented to the Parliament by the Joint Committee on Prices. It is the first in a series of reports on this particular reference. As background, I draw the attention of honourable members to the complex nature of this particular inquiry. The Committee faced difficulties in its investigations by the lack of appropriate statistical information. There is no genuine import price index, nor is there other statistical information on import prices collected on a cost, insurance and freight (c.i.f.) basis similar to that which is available in some other countries. Furthermore, changes in selling prices in Australia of imported goods cannot be obtained from the information collected for the compilation of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics consumer price index and wholesale price indexes. There is, therefore, no overall measure of the effect of revaluation or of other changes in landed costs on the selling prices of imported goods. This is a matter on which the Committee proposes to comment in a later report on this reference. Because of this absence of adequate statistical information the Committee had to pursue a commodity by commodity investigation to find out whether reductions in landed costs had been passed on to the consumer or user. The commodities and services covered in Report No. 1 are inward freight rates, tyres and tubes, timber and pharmaceutical products.
Due to pressure of business in this House today, as I note from the blue paper, I shall not occupy the time of the House be reading all of the statement that I have prepared. The statement will be distributed to honourable members. One important finding of the Committee, which is argued in the statement as well as in the report, is that, against the background of continuing world inflation, upvaluation of the Australian dollar has restrained the increase in import prices. In other words, these import prices would have been significantly higher without upvaluation.
I turn now to the individual commodities and services covered by this particular report. Firstly, concerning inward freight, the Committee recommends that the Australian Government:
Secondly, concerning the import of tyres and tubes into Australia, the Committee finds that reductions in the landed costs of these imports are being passed on to the consumer and user because of competitive market conditions at home and abroad. Thirdly, concerning the imports of timber, the Committee found that there are restrictive practices of suggesting prices and profit margins in the timber industry and that these practices could reduce any advantage gained from upvaluation. The Committee therefore recommends that these practices be investigated by the relevant authority. Furthermore, the Committee found that export prices of timber have increased rapidly because of world shortages with the result that landed costs have also increased despite upvaluation. However, the evidence indicates that since in boom conditions exporters would not sell under the market price, upvaluation has assisted in restraining increases which would have been greater had there been no upvaluation.
Lastly, concerning pharmaceutical products, once again I will not read all of my statement but will say simply that the Committee recommends that the Australian Government should negotiate with the United Kingdom companies that export intal, lyndiol and ovostat with a view to recouping some of the benefits lost to this country at the time of upvaluation. The Committee also recommends that the National Health Act be amended to make it mandatory for companies to provide the Department of Health cost and financial information in respect of products in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
These, then, are the major findings and recommendations of the Committee in its first report on import prices. As I mentioned earlier, further reports on specific commodities will be tabled from time to time. I understand that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) will move that the report be noted and that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) will be making a statement indicating where he disagrees with one or two of the Committee’s findings. So at this stage I merely commend the report to the House.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I propose merely to put to the House some findings of members of the Committee who are not members of the Government Party. These findings vary in some degree from the findings in the report itself. The report was adopted unanimously by those who were present at the meeting at which it was brought forward, but that was only because no Opposition members were present at that meeting.
– That is a great explanation.
– That is all right. The honourable member may say that those members should have been present if he likes. I am merely explaining to the House why these findings are not embodied in the report but are being read separately. The findings of Opposition members of the Committee are as follows:
There is no evidence to show that revaluation has, except in unusual and isolated cases, reduced prices of imported goods. In the overwhelming majority of cases revaluation of the Australian currency was followed by increases in the prices previously charged by exporters supplying Australia. In most cases this increase in prices was sufficiently large to offset any benefit that might have been expected from revaluation. On the other hand revaluation of the Australian currency may have prevented the prices of imports rising to the extent that they otherwise would have risen.
A judgment on this question depends on a judgment as to whether prices charged by overseas suppliers would or would not have risen regardless of our revaluation. If such prices would have risen regardless of our revaluation then that revaluation has resulted not in lower prices but in prices lower than they would otherwise have been. If such prices would not have risen unless we had revalued then our revaluation has had no effect on internal prices but has merely been of benefit to overseas sellers. It is hard to see how a factual finding can be made on this. It must remain a matter of judgment.
The second finding is that evidence was presented by some witnesses that general freight increases and the application of a currency adjustment factor by overseas shipping lines are reducing the benefits of the revaluation of the Australian dollar. We are not prepared to state as a fact that this allegation is true but we have no objection to further deans being sought on the operation of the currency adjustment factor.
Indeed, the report itself suggests that further details should be sought. This makes it difficult to see how there can be a firm finding that it is already operating in the way the report says it is operating. We do not agree that the practice of trade associations suggesting profit margins and prices need reduce any possible advantage arising from revaluation, provided the associations make suggestions only and do not attempt in any way to enforce them. Mr Deputy Speaker, I want these findings put on record so that they can be considered in conjunction with the report when the time comes. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) - I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. I claim that there has been some misrepresentation which reflects on me inasmuch as 2 members of the Opposition parties were present at the deliberations on this report. One member was present and actually voted in favour of the report itself. I think that these facts ought to be known in view of the remarks of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). Senator Edgar Prowse was present all through the deliberations and he voted in favour of this report. He was the only member of the Opposition present during the entire deliberations when our advisers were with us on the Committee and, frankly, I believe, he could have answered the remarks of the right honourable member for Higgins.
-I misunderstood the intention of the right honourable member for Higgins a moment ago when he sought leave to continue his remarks at a later stage. In fact, he was required to move the adjournment of the debate. Will the right honourable member do so?
– I will do so, Mr Deputy Speaker. I accept entirely what the honourable member for Adelaide has said. I did not realise that Senator Prowse was present when the report was adopted.
Debate (on motion by Mr Gorton) adjourned.
– As ViceChairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, I present the one hundred and forty-fifth and one hundred and forty-sixth reports of the Public Accounts Committee.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Mr JARMAN (Deakin) - I seek to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The one hundred and forty-fifth report of the Public Accounts Committee comprises two Treasury minutes relating to previous reports of the Committee. These reports were the one hundred and twenty-third report and the one hundred and thirty-third report which dealt with expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for 1969-70 and 1970-71 respectively.
In this report the Committee has found it necessary to make observatons on 2 matters relating to the treasury minute on the one hundred and twenty-third report and 2 matters in connection with the Treasury minute on the one hundred and thirty-third report. Briefly, the observations were concerned with the adequacy of training provided by the Treasury in the interpretation of output data from the Treasury computer system, incomplete evidence submitted by the Department of Works and the Department of Air, and delays in the payment of accounts by client departments of the Department of Supply. Further details are set out in chapter 4 of the report.
The one hundred and forty-sixth report concerns the Committee’s inquiry into aspects arising from the report of the Auditor-General for the financial year 1971-72. The Committee would again commend the Auditor-General and his staff for the sustained effort they have made over the years to present the report to Parliament during August. As we have indicated on previous occasions, the tabling of the report in that month each year has assisted the Committee considerably in this important area of its work.
In its inquiry the Committee took evidence from the Department of Air, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army, the Public Service Board, the Department of Supply, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Works. In all, our inquiries related to 8 matters.
In relation to the Department of Civil Aviation, the Committee inquired into fraudulent salary payments that occurred in the Department’s Victoria-Tasmania region. The frauds were perpetrated by a number of officers within the salaries section in collusion with other participants. The evidence shows that a significant factor in the frauds was the failure of departmental officers to observe internal controls and checks specified in Treasury regulations, Treasury directions and departmental instructions. Other factors that facilitated the frauds were a lack of sufficient staff to handle the volume of work and the general inexperience of the staff in the salaries section. It appears that appropriate action has been taken by the Department to prevent a recurrence of similar frauds.
The evidence taken from the three Service departments related mainly to inadequate checking of billings received from the United States services for equipment and stores supplied, which resulted in substantial overcharges of approximately $900,000 not being detected. The Committee considers it most unsatisfactory that inadequate checking of billings has persisted for so many years. The committee hopes that the measures proposed to overcome the checking deficiencies will be successful and has called for a report on the current position from the departments concerned.
In connection with the Department of Supply, the Committee inquired into the necessity to subsidise production, in 1971-72 for the first time, at the Central Drawing Office and the clothing factory by charging amounts to the appropriation ‘Reserve capacity maintenance’. The evidence shows that the Central Drawing Office did not have a viable work load after the transfer of much of its work and staff to the Defence Printing Establishment and productivity at the clothing factory had been adversely affected by a change in location and the Victorian electricity strike. On examination of the Auditor-General’s report for 1972-73, we note that the clothing factory seems to have regained its viability as there was no charge to the appropriation in 1972- 73 and the Central Drawing Office ceased operations as a separate undertaking as from 1 July 1973. Also in connection with the Department of Supply the Committee inquired into over-expenditure on orders at the Government Aircraft Factories. A number of remedial steps were taken by the Department following audit representations and the Committee is satisfied that each of them will contribute to the eradication of the problem.
In the case of the Department of Works the Committee’s inquiry related to a claim by the Department against a private consultant in respect of the cost of rectification of deficiencies in the design for the structural frame for the terminal building at Tullamarine Airport. The Committee was neither fully satisfied with the method used to select the particular consultant nor with the methods of selection generally prevailing and has recommended that the Department should examine the alternative methods of selection suggested during the inquiry. The Committee was also not satisfied that sufficient control had been exercised in the administration of the contract and considered that every effort should be made to prevent a recurrence of similar circumstances.
In addition to these matters, evidence was taken from the Department of Air in relation to accounting for supplies purchased overseas, the Public Service Board concerning incorrect payments to officers leaving the Public Service and the Department of the Treasury in relation to the Works Services Trust Account. I commend the reports to honourable members.
– I move:
That a Select Committee of the House of Representatives be appointed to inquire into and report on the effects on the Australian community if the present voluntary health insurance scheme is replaced by a compulsory, tax financed health insurance scheme as recommended by the Health Insurance Planning Committee and, in particular, to determine -
any likely inflationary effects;
any over-utilisation of medical and hospital services;
the cost to individuals, particularly in relation to hospitalisation;
any discriminatory aspects for certain categories of taxpayers; <e) any erosion of an individual’s freedom of choice of doctor or hospital, and
its effect on the national economy and the quality of health care for present and future generations of Australians.
This motion seeks to establish a joint committee of members of this House to examine all aspects of health insurance. The Government obviously has had some second thoughts on its proposed compulsory scheme. Only this morning, just 10 minutes or so ago, it tabled its much publicised White Paper. I think it is most unfortunate that this Paper could not have been tabled yesterday or at some other time in order to give us an opportunity to have a look at it. I have had a brief look at the White Paper and, so far as I can see, there is no alteration in the essential philosophy of the Government’s plan. I refer to paragraph 1.14 on page 13 of the White Paper which states that the Government accepts the essential elements of the recommendations of the Health Insurance Planning Committee.
There are ample precedents of the experience in other countries to suggest that the Government’s scheme is a bad one and that it will permanently damage the quality of public health care to which Australians have become accustomed. For months the Government has attempted, successfully I believe, to concentrate debate on the question of doctors’ fees. It has been helped by the lack of cohesion among doctors, their inexperience in political warfare, and the apparent lack of understanding by the media, with consequent public apathy. The misunderstanding of the scheme by the media was demonstrated only last Monday in a report which appeared in various Australian newspapers, including South Australian newspapers, commenting on the Minister’s proposed White Paper. The report states:
This is not the true position. It is no wonder that the public is confused. The scheme will not provide free public ward treatment for all in Australia unless State governments pick up the tab.
The Minister for Social Security should come out in the open and correct such inaccurate reports. The debate was not and is not about doctors fees. In any case, the doctors’ assessment of a fair and reasonable charge for professional attendance has been confirmed by the Government’s own tribunal which recently inquired into doctors’ fees and incomes. It was not to the Minister’s credit that he continued to attack doctors prior to the decision of the Tribunal, using the calculations of his adviser which were inaccurate and which he knew to be inaccurate. If the Minister’s adviser, who is an expert economist, can make an error of $10m, which he described as a simple mathematical mistake, one can fairly ask: How many other mistakes have been or are being made? If the Minister is prepared to use calculations which he knows to be false simply to promote his argument what other statements and estimates are likely to be inaccurate or, in parliamentary language, how many of his ‘plain facts’ as listed in the $750,000 booklet are false statements or only half true?
On 14 August in Perth the Minister said that the cost of Commonwealth benefits for health care during the years 1969 to 1971 - when we were in government - had risen from $350m to $670m. A study of the annual reports of the departments for this period, however, shows that his figures are wrong. The true costs were less than half the amounts he quoted. So much for the truth. He continues to assert incorrectly that over one million Australians have no protection - I notice that assertion in this document tabled this morning - that is, they are not covered for medical or hospital attention. This is also demonstrably untrue, and I ask him where are these people? If we exclude Queensland, where hospital treatment is already free without a means test, over 83 per cent of the population are members of the voluntary insurance scheme; 9.6 per cent are members of the pensioner medical service; 3 per cent are covered in the defence forces. The truth is that over 96 per cent of the population is formally covered, but in actual practice every person in Australia receives adequate medical and hospital treatment when he or she needs it.
The Minister has sought to give the Australian electorate the impression that doctors are making too much money and that he and his Government were trying to stop them. In one breath he denigrates doctors, and in the next he tries to bribe them with offers of $50,000 a year to work for the Government. Here again .the Minister or his expert adviser, or someone, made another simple mathematical mistake. He estimated, on 25 October last year, that the cost of Labor’s scheme would be in the vicinity of $700m. But the cost of paying the 16,000 doctors in Australia $50,000 each is $800m alone, without any other consideration. The truth has been taking a severe hammering. On 2 May last he told Parliament the average net yearly income of doctors was between $22,000 and $23,000. But his own department has progressively arrived at different estimates until now the average net income is shown as $3,500 less than his first statement. There has been no correction; no apology; only continuing offensive references to the medical profession.
To compound further the unfairness of the attack upon doctors we have the ludicrous situation of the Labor Government in South Australia fixing doctors’ fees under its price control legislation at a figure miles less than that assessed by the independent Tribunal appointed by the Federal Labor Government. This ruling must surely cast doubts on the impartiality and efficacy of a prices branch, especially under Labor. It must also indicate to the Australian public the cynicism of a Government seeking total centralised powers to control prices and wages. The South Australian Supreme Court has upheld the Prices Commissioner’s legal right to control doctors’ fees. What can possibly be the difference between doctors’ fees and plumbers’ fees, or between legal fees and building workers’ fees, for which we use the word ‘wages’? It seems to me that the ruling of the Supreme Court in South Australia means that if the Australian people give the Whitlam Government power to control prices they will thereby give it power to control wages, irrespective of the outcome of the wages question in the referundum. Once the powers are handed over they will never be handed back, and a vote ‘Yes’ for either proposal is a vote for ‘Big Brother’ style control over all our lives.
Labor politicians and Labor-loving sections of the media, of which there are many, continue to assert falsely that we have no positive plans on anything. They believe that if they repeat false statements like these often enough people will gradually come to believe them. The lessons of history, such as Hitler’s National Socialism in particular, tend to support this view. The truth is quite the opposite. The existing voluntary scheme is the product of Liberal-Country Party policies evolved perhaps slowly in the 1950s and 1960s but speeded up and expanded during the Prime Ministership of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). We do not claim that it is perfect, but we do claim that it is very good, and we do claim that it is the best in the world. Labor seeks only to destroy it. Our positive policy is to preserve the voluntary system and to improve it in the areas where we had already commenced to improve it when in government.
Such initiatives include the establishment of a standing independent Tribunal regularly to review doctors’ fees and the provision of proper publicity for an expansion of the subsidised health benefits plan, which will positively ensure cover for those under-privileged or newly arrived in Australia, as spelled out in items 17 to 19 on page 3 of the second annual report of the National Health Act, which I ask for leave to have incorporated in Hansard and which I have already shown to the Minister.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Subsidised Health Benefits Plan
This assistance is available to: -
– I would like to see the subsidised health benefits plan further expanded so that those on the lower scales of income could be phased into the voluntary funds at discounted premiums which would be related to such factors as family income and number of dependants. It would also seem practicable and sensible to include pensioners in the voluntary scheme so that they too can benefit from personalised hospital and specialist services and not have to rely on hospital out-patient departments and public wards; nor should their doctors have to accept lower fees to treat them.
By preserving the existing funds and applying a sort of tapered means test from full contribution to part or none at all, we can improve the quality of health care for the less fortunate in our community and still maintain freedom of choice both of doctor and of hospital. The community will also be spared the inflationary effect of another gigantic and unnecessary bureaucracy. I believe that this is entirely consistent with Liberal philosophy, which seeks to encourage the individual to stand on his own feet and to reap the rewards of his own diligence while always remaining conscious of his obligation to help those less fortunate or capable than himself and, applying this view to social security, those less healthy and less fortunate than himself.
This is the sort of positive policy the LiberalCountry Party puts forward in every area. We feel justified in attacking the stifling, heavy- handed, dehumanising theories of socialism exemplified in this phoney ‘free’ health scheme, which is not free, which does not provide freedom of choice, and which in fact is none of the things the Government claims it is.
The Government recently produced a booklet called ‘Plain Facts’. It cost the taxpayers $750,000 and was designed to sell to the taxpayer the Government’s scheme. A fact is by definition the truth; it is supposed to be a real state of things as distinguished from a mere statement of belief. The Government booklet does not deal in plain facts; it simply asserts certain views and projections and is an unfair collection of half-facts, which are bland and misleading. For example it reads:
Question: What hospital benefits will I get under the new program?
Answer: Everyone will be entitled to free treatment in standard wards of public hospitals. The means tests which now limit entry to public wards will be abolished. If you want to go into a private or intermediate ward or a private hospital, the program will sudsidise your costs to the extent of $10-$ 13 a day. You will be able to take out private health insurance to cover the rest.
The answer was truthful but surely it would have been more honourable to have told us what is involved in the words ‘the rest’. Very few people understand the significance of what has been left out of this answer. It is not untrue but it is grossly misleading, and in my experience nearly everybody who has read the booklet believes that it means that there is really no difference from the scheme as it exists today. People seem to think that they will recover, for example, most of hospital accounts under Labor’s scheme, as they do today under ours. I repeat that this is not true. The highest refund under the Government’s scheme will be $91 a week in a public hospital - from my quick reading of the White Paper this is unchanged - and the cheapest bed in a public hospital in most Australian States costs more than $140 per week. Guess who pays the difference.
The position is really much worse than this because most Australians - 70 per cent in South Australia and Victoria, I understand - go to a private, community or religious hospital when they are sick, and the cheapest bed in such hospitals costs at least $189 a week. The maximum Government refund is still only $91 a week - a public ward bed - and the patient will pay the difference. That is what I call a plain fact. It is a plain truth, and I hope the Minister will comment on it.
The news is even worse if you choose to go to such a hospital and use a private room. The maximum refund by the Government for private accommodation was to have been $70 a week. According to Press leaks this week it was to be $12 a day. A quick reading of this paper indicates that it will be $16 a day so I will base my figures on that. The maximum refund by the Government for private accommodation will be $112 a week. The average cost of such a room in South Australia and Victoria is $259 a week. It was not explained in the Government’s pamphlet that the patient would have to pay the difference.
The Minister’s propaganda is totally misleading. He says: ‘You will be able to take out private health insurance to cover the rest’. Big deal. On top of a compulsory tax surcharge, which will cost most Australians more than they pay now anyway, to finance the scheme, here is another plain fact and I hope that the Minister will take note of these figures and confirm or deny them.
– He is not even listening.
– I appreciate the interjection. The Minister is not listening and it is unlikely that we will get a comment on this. Take the example of a married couple with 2 children and only the husband working at a salary of $100 a week. One week in a private room in a private hospital will cost $259 a week. The Government rebate, updated to this morning, will be $112 a week. The balance is therefore $147. That is what the wage earner will have to pay. On top of that, the compulsory tax for this person will be $94.64 whereas at the moment he is paying $80.60. So this family would pay more under Labor to join the scheme and, in addition, would pay $147 a week for every week in hospital. As everybody knows, under the Liberal-Country Party plan which we all take for granted nearly 100 per cent of hospital bills is being refunded. Why does the Minister not put that fact in his propaganda booklet of plain misrepresentations? Any Queenslander who thinks Labor’s scheme is good for him should have another look at the position. Free hospitalisation is a fact of life in Queensland now, but if Labor has its way most Queensland taxpayers will pay a new federal tax for something they are already receiving.
The Victorian Government recently announced the possibility of running its own scheme, and who can blame it? The cost of the cheapest public bed in Victoria and South Australia is $140 a week. Labor’s scheme will refund a maximum of only $91 a week. If there are people who simply cannot pay the difference even for the cheapest bed, the State governments will have to pay it. State Budgets already are standing the true cost of beds in public teaching hospitals which is well over $350 a week. This probably explains the strange silence of the State Labor Premiers who really do not count for a row of beans with the Whitlam Government. The scheme is so bad, so incredibly doctrinaire in its determination to achieve centralised power over the whole community that the true facts are almost unbelievable. Who could believe that a government would deliberately destroy something which is working well and replace it with something inefficient, wasteful, impersonal and infinitely more costly? The Minister when in Opposition said on 24 October 1972:
It is always the taxpayer who has to pay . . . these things have an element of deceit in them. The Government should explain more forcibly to members of the community that they, as taxpayers, are always pumping in this extra money.
Now that he is the Minister he should explain to the community what it will and will not get under Labor’s nationalised health scheme. The scheme will not provide wheelchairs, dental care, false teeth, spectacles, physiotherapy, chiropody or ambulance services, many of which are all or partially covered under the existing scheme. It will not provide freedom of choice to any of those who do not enjoy it now simply because under the Labor scheme they will not be able to afford it. Labor’s scheme will also create over-utilisation of medical services as occurs in Britain and New Zealand where the waiting time for nonurgent admissions in respect of complaints such as hernia, tonsils, gall bladders, cartileges, varicose veins Or anything troublesome but not vital, has low priority. On ‘This Day Tonight’ on 27 August a New Zealand general practitioner, Dr F. Guyringa said:
The advice (to Australians) is to take politics out of the medical scheme as much as possible. Politics is one big bad bear, the other big bad bear is when the Government runs a scheme . . .
That is what is happening in New Zealand. Probably the most significant indictment of socialised medicine was made in Britain by a supporter of the British Government scheme, Professor Henry Miller, on a television interview during October 1967. Professor Miller is Professor of Neurology and Dean of the
Medical School at the University of NewcastleonTyne. This is what he said in the interview: the major problems of medical politics are our dilapidated plant, our failure to provide staff adequately to man even the existing service, our disproportionate dependence on immigrant doctors and the rising tide of medical emigration. I recently conducted a higher examination in medicine in a world famous teaching hospital, not half a mile from this studio, to the sound of rain water dripping through the ward ceiling and with buckets placed around the patient’s bed.
Disproportionate dependence on immigrant doctors will also become a feature of this Government’s health scheme. I ask the Minister whether it is true that he has written to doctors in the Australian Capital Territory indicating that if they refuse to accept salaried or part time positions he will recruit from overseas. If so, which countries will be involved? What standard of medical professional skill will be set as guidelines? There was a similar experience in Canada. The Health Minister in Canada, Mr John Munro, on 19 April 1972 had this to say:
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– -The motion before the House seems to have little to do with what was put to us by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). One would have thought that he would have gone to some pains to substantiate his case to justify the appointment of a select committee of the House of Representatives to determine the matters which he has enumerated (a) to (f) in bis motion as printed on the notice paper. I will work my way through them in a few seconds. What he said at best was vague generalisation and personal assertion. At no point was there a specific reference with detailed evidence to substantiate the case which he presented. Indeed, some of the references, vague assertions and personal points of view which he put were of such a quality that I immediately extracted a copy of the minutes of the Australian Medical Association’s South Eastern Suburban Subdivision meeting held at Bentley Coppins on Thursday, 4 October 1973 at 8 p.m. Bentleigh, of course, is in Melbourne. I should like to read a couple of extracts from the minutes of the meeting. They read:
Dr Wood introduced Dr M. Clarke, Chairman of the Federal Assembly. The subject of his address was ‘Are we on the Right Road?’. He believed that we were. He discussed 4 topical subjects:
Nursing home situation.
National health scheme.
It is to the fourth point that I want to refer because it is quite clear that the honourable member for Boothby not only has been assiduously attending to the propaganda which the Australian Medical Association has put out with various degrees of attractiveness but also has been believing it. This is what Dr Clarke said about point 4, the national health scheme:
Our advertising appears ‘terrible’ but it is aimed at a mental age of 12-13 years on the advice of advertising experts. It is apparently being effective.
Obviously, they have spoken to the honourable member for Boothby.
Let us get some essential ingredients of our program clear. First of all, as it relates to public hospital services, our scheme will be on a cost-sharing formula. We will meet 50- 50 with the States the cost of operating their public hospital sevices, net of patient fees. This effectively means that we will contribute in this coming financial year $80m more to the State hospital systems than they would have received under the present scheme. It does not take much imagination to appreciate the relief this will mean for the States. Anyone who has taken any interest in the operation of public hospital services in the community would appreciate this. Honourable members should bear in mind that our public hospitals are the most important services in the health delivery system in the community and that our teaching hospitals are most important of all because this is where the full range of facilities is available. It is a range of facilities which no private hospital or, indeed, no small public hospital could supply for the public but which are absolutely essential if we are to have available in the community adequate health protection. So, that is the first point of our new program. It is contained in this White Paper. There will be an extra contribution to the States of $80m to conduct their public hospital services.
I repeat that it cannot be emphasised too strongly that the public hospital systems in Australia in all states are in a deplorable state. There just is not enough money to maintain the standards that they should achieve and constantly maintain in the interests of the community. But we will do this. We have a practical program to do this. It has been lauded by none other than Mr Kelly the chairman of a private charitable religious hospital in Queensland, the Mater Misericordiae in Brisbane, who has asserted that this is the first occasion on which an Australian Government has taken positive steps to support financially a public hospital system and generously support the health delivery system overall. He has asserted that it is time that this silly misrepresentation stopped and the people settled down and appreciated what the Government was putting forward.
Because we are sharing SO-SO with the States the cost of operating public hospitals, our program will mean that public ward treatment will be totally free. It is an indication of how inadequately the honourable member for Boothby understands our program that he made the fatuous statements he made a few minutes ago about the cost of public hospital services which will arise under our scheme. Under the present system which 24 years of Liberal administration did nothing to rectify, there are prying, intrusive, demeaning means tests which establish whether or not one has a right to enter a public ward of a public hospital in most States. We will end that sort of demeaning of a person’s selfrespect. We are going to contribute ti 6 a day to the private hospitals and to any non-public ward patient in a public hospital. There will be $112 a week coming from the Government. Currently, the Government provides only $14 a week. As is clearly set out in this White Paper, we will take steps to ensure that the contributions to private hospitals insurance funds to cover the additional cost of private ward or private hospital care above the subsidy of $112 a week which will be granted by the Government will be at a level competitive with current rates of private health insurance. The calculations that we have taken out indicate that the 1.35 per cent levy on taxable income, plus the discretionary contribution for extra private hospital insur ance or private intermediate ward insurance which will be tax deductible, will still be less in total cost for the bulk of the people than is the case under the present scheme.
As the White Paper makes clear, we will take steps to expand freedom of choice of one’s medical practitioner under our scheme so that this choice will be greater than that which occurs under the present scheme. For instance, provided the States accept this proposal - we will fund it; it is provided in our scheme - general practitioners providing obstetric and delivery services for a mother in a public ward of a public hospital will be remunerated with a fee for service for the ante-natal care at the time of delivery on a hospital payment basis. That is a privilege that does not exist now. In fact, there have been powerful pressures from people such as the members of the AMA - there are some very powerful people in that organisation - to prevent any such choice from developing. They have effectively prevented this in the past. We have already entered into negotiations with the States - they determine these things in public hospitals, not us - to encourage them to expand the opportunity of choice on the part of the patient so that he may choose his doctor in public wards of public hospitals. Presently, that choice scarcely exists if it exists at all.
The private charitable hospitals will have their independence guaranteed. The scheme will be cheaper for 3 out of 4 married people, including those cases where there is a working wife, and 7 out of 10 single people. For a family where the wife is working, the break-even point is in excess of $10,000 a year. These are very generous levels. There will be an equitable distribution of the cost of this scheme. It will not be done under the inverse law to need which currently operates where the less well off people pay more in contributions after tax concessions are claimed than do the wealthy. I and everyone else in this place pay much less for an equivalent cover of health insurance under the present scheme than the great bulk of people in the community. That is a racket that has been worked for so long under this system. Because we will eliminate waste and the cosy little rackets that have been worked between the AMA and the private health insurance funds to their mutual benefit, because there will not be allocations of massive amounts of money to reserves - at last count, this amount was $124m - and because we will cut down on wasteful duplication leading to unnecessary costs of operation, IS per cent of collections for the latest year having gone into the cost of operating medical funds, we will be able to do much more for the same total cost under the new scheme. We can slash those costs by at least half and all the money now going into cosy little rackets enabling people running private medical insurance to go overseas, to have plush suites and to buy an aeroplane for movement about the community will go into improved benefits for the community.
Let us look quickly at the principles which have been enumerated by the honourable member for Boothby, but which were never justified by the honourable member. If he cannot justify them he cannot expect us to support his claim for an inquiry. He referred to the inflationary effects of our scheme. What would be the inflationary effects, given the statement contained at paragraph 8.38 of the Green Paper, which is the planning committee report. It states:
Between the 2 schemes - indicates that the new program imposes no additional net cost to the Treasury in 1974-75 beyond the amounts to which it is already committed.
The White Paper confirms that at paragraph 7.15:
The total net cost to the Budget, including the effect of tax deductions, will be approximately the same as would have been the case under the existing health insurance scheme.
What sort of nonsense are these people - these hired voices on the Opposition benches who come here and speak for the AMA and the private insurance funds - speaking? This scheme is a scheme based on equity and a fair deal for the taxpayers and the contributors. We will not allow this incredible waste of money that has gone on for so long to continue. That money currently being wasted will purchase benefits for the community. That is the fundamental principle behind our scheme.
The honourable member for Boothby quoted the situation in Canada. No doubt - although he never quite made the point in relation to inflationary effects - when referring to this matter he was thinking of the spurious argument put forward by the AMA about the increasing cost of health services in Canada as compared to this country. The AMA quoted an increase of about 13 per cent in 1972 when, in fact, it was about 11 per cent. But in any case let it have its error. It does not matter because the annual increase on average in the cost of health services covered by health insurance and associated services for pensioners and repatriation beneficiaries in this country since 1969 has been somewhere near 20 per cent. Would that we could achieve the same level of efficiency and operation that the Canadians achieve. Is the Canadian situation so bad really when we make a comparison between, say, that country and the United States of America? Canada spends 7.3 per cent of its gross domestic product on health services and it covers everyone in the community. The United States spends about 7 per cent of its gross domestic product on health services and a person has to be virtually a millionaire to obtain medical and hospital services in that country. Large numbers of people are being deprived on an increasing scale of these sorts of services, and that is the situation that is developing in our community.
Let me quote a letter from Dr LeClair in case it will be argued that people are going to flood doctors’ surgeries - for what purpose 1 will never work out. Are they going to buy bulk tonsillectomies and hysterectomies and maybe inspections of sore throats? Let me quote what Dr LeClair, the Deputy Health Minister in Canada, said in a letter recently to my Department. It states:
Recent data indicates, as does the McGill University study referred to in the article,-
That is the article in the Wall Street Journal which the AMA spuriously quoted - that medical care utilisation rates are levelling off in a number of provinces as the backlog of previously unmet needs have been met. The McGill study showed that there is about the same proportion of patients coming to see doctors ‘without reasonable cause’ since medicare as before. A study by the University of Alberta found thai in that province the average annual rate of physician visits per insured person was not significantly changed as a result of the introduction of universal coverage. These are ‘hard facts’ based on careful study as opposed to intuitive speculation.
So much for the spurious sorts of comments which are thrown up, often maliciously and with wilful misrepresentation, to try to discredit a scheme which will cover everyone in this community and not just ‘87 per cent. Make no mistake about the accuracy of that figure. The 87 per cent figure which we quote is based on the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics bulletin No. 17.7 of 31 May this year, not the questionable statistical returns that come from health insurance funds to the Department of Social Security which cannot check their veracity.
I have dealt with the likely inflationary effects. I have referred to the over-utilisation of hospital and medical services which has been mentioned today. I have mentioned the cost to individuals particularly in relation to hospitalisation. In regard to any discriminatory aspects for certain categories of taxpayers let me quickly quote this case. At the present time a man with a wife and 2 children in receipt of $70 a week pays $76 a year net of tax concessions for public ward and medical insurance in New South Wales. If he is on $400 a week he pays only $53 a year for private ward - much more expensive cover - hospital and medical insurance. So much for discrimination. We are going to reverse that sort of thing. In regard to any erosion of an individual’s freedom of choice of a doctor or hospital, our scheme has always been based on the concept of complete freedom of choice, essentially on the private practice of medicine in the community. Even the Opposition spokesman on health and welfare, the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) has said - and I have the statement here if anyone wishes to contest it - that our scheme is not nationalisation. He implies that clearly. It is based on the freedom of choice that we have always asserted. In relation to the effect of our scheme on the national economy, I have indicated that the total cost is no greater than the present scheme but because we do not waste money, because we do not stand aside and ignore the crooked little deals that have gone on for too long between private health insurance funds and the governments of the post, and the Australian Medical Association to some extent because it has been in this to a large extent through the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia and also certain other arrangements, we will cover all the community at the same cost and with greater efficiency.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– Earlier this morning I seconded the motion moved by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). The motion urges that this House approve of the appointment of a select committee of the House of Representatives to inquire into and report on the effects on the Australian community if the present voluntary health insurance scheme is replaced by a compulsory, tax financed health insurance scheme as has been recommended by the Health Insurance Planning Committee and, in particular, to determine any likely inflationary effects, any over-utilisation of medical and hospital services, the cost to individuals, particularly in relation to hospitalisation, any discriminatory aspects for certain categories of taxpayers, any erosion of an individual’s freedom of choice of doctor or hospital and its effect on the national economy and the quality of health care for present and future generations of Australians.
We have heard the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) running away from a challenge to have the proposals of his Committee tested by a select committee of this House. He tabled today something that he called a White Paper. I would describe it - I noted the colour of the cover and it is appropriate - as a whitewash paper. It is a whitewash of a proposal contained in the so-called Green Paper’, a most deficient and defective document which sets up a glorious economic plan for the rearrangement of the financing of health care in this country. But in rearranging the finance of the health care program of the Australian nation it ignores the most important person in the whole scheme. It ignores the patient; it ignores the important relationship that needs to exist between the patient and his doctor, the patient and his hospital. It takes away the freedom of choice and in spite of the Minister’s constant reiteration of his support for freedom of choice let me stress to the House that the Minister does not believe in the form of freedom of choice that those words usually connote in the minds of the average Australian. It was said a number of years ago by a leading United Kingdom diplomat when he was describing the attitude of mind of supporters of an East European brand of socialism that: . . they have always been characterised by their extraordinary ability to cultivate falsehood as a deliberate weapon of policy. They began by adopting an attitude of complete cynicism about objective truth, denying its value, if not its existence, declaring the lie to be no less useful and respectable than the truth if only it served the purposes of the party. Departing from this premise, they have systematically employed falsehood not just as a means of deceiving others and exploiting their credulity, but also as a means of comforting and reassuring themselves. It has seemed to them at all times easier, and in no way improper, to operate a militant political movement on the basis of convenient falsehood than on the basis of awkward truth.
On the vital question of freedom of choice, which relates primarily to the freedom to establish relationships in this policy area - relationships between patient and doctor, patient and the hospital - the Minister for Social Security, though he mouths the phrase freedom of choice’, nevertheless has in his mind a totally different concept from that held by the majority of his listeners. A leading Liberal, a founder of the Liberal Party of Australia, said some years ago of the Australian socialist:
The Australian socialist’s view bluntly expressed is that the individual is destined to be the servant of the State whose corporate political wisdom will direct and control his activities leaving him little freedom of choice but a clear duty to obey.
This is the mental attitude of members of the socialist Government of this country and every policy program that they introduce is based upon that philosophical mental attitude and needs to be tested against the philosophies which they spouse. When they talk of freedom of choice they do not mean freedom of choice between doctors and patients, between patients and hospitals. They mean the doctor that they direct, that they choose as a part of the corporate will that they wish to impose upon the Australian people.
The whitewash paper that was introduced today was debated by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). It was given to members of the Opposition 5 minutes before this debate came on. Reports of it have appeared in the Press and yet it was not supplied to the members of the Opposition. We have not been given an opportunity to study in depth any variations in the proposals of the Scotton and Deeble planning committee. A quick perusal of it in the limited time we have had available makes us wonder whether there are any changes. This scheme, which is based upon the Scotton-Deeble report, will take away freedom of choice from people to determine which doctor they shall attend. Every effort should be made to increase that freedom, not to take the freedom away from those who have it today. We should seek to raise the standards and opportunities for choice, not to deny them to those who have such freedoms today.
I turn now to the recommendations of the Scotton-Deeble report. Let us look at what it has to say on some other important matters, matters which the Minister for Social Security is unwilling to enable a select committee of this House to test by calling objective evidence. He invited submissions when he tabled the Green Paper, but what has happened to those submissions? Have we had an opportunity to see them? Can we be assured that they were given proper weight? Can the members of this House not be given the opportunity to test those submissions, to make comments about them and to make a judgment upon the philosophy contained in the report? As has already been pointed out by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), a White Paper is a paper which normally is brought into the Parliament to enable members of Parliament and the public to debate a major issue. But this White Paper is brought in and we are told that legislation will be based upon it. It is not a White Paper; it is a misuse and abuse of the concept of what people believe to be a White Paper. As I said earlier, it will be described aptly as a whitewash paper.
Let us turn now to the question of the costs of the proposals contained in the ScottonDeeble report. What the people of Australia want their governments to do is to devise ways and means whereby the quality of health care can be improved. So much of health care depends upon personal relationships. Much of what is proposed by the Government denies those features which will maintain and improve the high quality of health care in this country. Let us look at the cost that people will have to bear for a less effective scheme and one which shows less concern in terms of the contribution that it makes to their health care. In the first year we are told that there will be a tax levy. That is what it is. There was only one way to get around the promise that income tax would not be increased, and that was to label the new impositions as contributions. But really they are taxes. The amounts that are to be collected under this levy will not be related directly to the cost of the nation’s health care program. Insofar as they are directly related in the first instance, it will not be long before the nexus is broken. This is just another tax.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Robertson remain quiet and I suggest that the honourable member for Boothby remain quiet while I am speaking if he wants to hear the rest of this debate.
– I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Let us look at the cost recommendations in the Scotton-Deeble report. There is a recommendation that the levy should he 1.35 per cent of taxable income in the first year. In the second year the rate can be increased according to the relationship between the cost of the health care program and average weekly earnings. In addition to that, the maximum amount levied can he increased by multiplying the levy by average weekly earnings. At the moment the limit is $150. If average weekly earnings go up by $10 a week the levy limit goes up by $13.50 a year. If the levy is raised to 1.5 per cent because of the increased costs in a runaway cost program of health that delivers no greater quality health care - in fact, it will be a more inefficient scheme than that operating at the present time - the ceiling limit will rise not by $13.50 a year but by $31.50 a year.
Yet the Minister constantly repeats, to reassure himself that he is right when he knows that he is .abusing the English language and abusing the facts and statistics, that it will cost less for the majority of the Australian people. It will not cost less. It will cost more. If we look at the White Paper that has ‘been tabled today we find that in the Budget proposals pensioners are to have their pensions, irrespective of whether they are subject to the means test, subject to tax. The levy is to be imposed upon the basis of taxable income. If a person has a taxable income of $1,200 his contribution will be $16 a year. The Government does not tell us very much about whether that levy will be charged upon the tax-paying pensioner. We are simply told that it has been referred to a committee for investigation. But the last committee that investigated the question of the taxation of pension incomes put as one alternative recommendation the abolition of the age tax allowance. The consequence of that proposition as adopted by the Government is that many pensioners who today are in receipt of full pensions, and who are supplementing their income by working or are having it supplemented through superannuation payments, will find that the maximum amount they are entitled to earn or receive in that way without affecting their pension will be liable for tax.
This report would lead one to believe that every pensioner who has income over and above his pension will be liable to a levy under the health insurance scheme. The only outlet there is this vague comment that it has been referred to an inter-departmental committee. If it has been referred to an inter-departmental committee, why can that and other matters not be referred to a select committee of this House so that we can examine the whole question of the philosophy behind the proposals of this scheme; so that we can demonstrate this Parliament’s concern for the patient, for the patient’s health and for the patient’s personal relations; so that the patient does not simply become a punchcard in a Government computer which is the basis upon which the Scotton-Deeble report is founded. I urge the members of this House to support the proposal to have this matter investigated. If the House and honourable members are unwilling to support it, it is indicative of the fact that they are unwilling to debate the matter, that they have something to hide and something they wish to run away from because they know that the scheme they are about to introduce is bom out of their socialist philosophy.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired. Before I call the Minister for the Environment and Conservation I point out to the House that I will not allow this debate to become a shouting match from one side of the chamber to the other. This is an important debate and it should be conducted as such. I suggest that the honourable gentleman who is interjecting now take notice of me. I call the Minister for the Environment and Conservation.
– Much is made of the point that this scheme of ours is a socialist scheme and that it will lead to the conscription of doctors. I wish to quote from a letter which was published in the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 15 September. It came from Professor Sykes who is Professor of Public Law at the Melbourne University. The letter states:
While the medical professional organisations express concern at the prospects of the ‘socialisation’ of medicine it is somewhat doubtful whether they have any clear idea as to what they are talking about. Nationalisation in the sense of placing all doctors on the Government payroll and forbidding the carrying on of private medical practice is legally impossible without a drastic amendment of the Federal Constitution. Doctors are protected against nationalisation and they are also protected against any form of civil conscription . . .
Much is also made of the point that our scheme will remove the freedom of choice of the patient. What does this really mean? Let us examine how a patient goes to a doctor right now. A person has a pain in the back, in the head or in some other area. That person decides that he needs medical retatment. He goes to the doctor down the road. He does not sit with a phone book in front of him, go through all the names of the doctors listed there and make his choice by judging on the way that they spell their names or on the suburbs in which they live. A patient in fact limits his freedom of choice mostly to the geographical area in which he lives. A patient may know Dr Bloggs over the other side of the city because his father and his mother went to him. The patient may decide on this occasion to visit that doctor and will make the trek right across the city to see that doctor. That is all very well. That is freedom of choice. Our scheme will not change that freedom of choice one iota. The patient will still make up his own mind as to which doctor he will go and will go to that doctor. The patient, after the visit, will be given an account and the patient will pay it.
– What happens if a patient goes to a public hospital?
– All the rest of the mumbo jumbo is really an argument about how finally the doctor receives his money. Someone asks by interjection: How about if a person goes to a public hospital? The position will be no different under our scheme from what it is now in terms of freedom of choice when a person goes to a public hospital. When a person visits a public hospital now, that person sees the doctor on duty. The person has no choice. If on seeing a private doctor it is found that the patient has a disease which requires admission to the public hospital, that person has no more freedom of choice, other than if that person’s personal doctor is on the staff of that hospital. If the doctor is on that staff, he will arrange for the admission of his patient to the hospital under his care. He can do that now. He will be able to do that under our scheme. If the doctor is not a member of the staff of that hospital now, the patient cannot have that doctor treat him in the public hospital. His doctor can simply refer the patient to the doctors at the hospital. The personal doctor may have his pet surgeon at the hospital. He will refer his patient to that pet surgeon. That is the position under the present scheme. Under our scheme the situation will be no different if the staffing arrangements are the same. So much for all the poppycock about freedom of choice.
Then we are told that there is the enormous loss of the doctor-patient relationship, this sacrosanct situation that prevails between doctor and patient - here is the rub - - only if the patient can afford to pay the doctor some money. What a rotten basis for a relationship between patient and doctor. I would have thought that when a patient comes through the door a doctor does not size that patient up in terms of how much money he can pay or whether he is really going to pay, and on that basis decide whether he will have a decent relationship with him or determine whether the patient will be one of those coots that he will scoot off to a public hospital. Rubbish! The way a doctor sees a patient coming through his door is as a person who happens to be ill and who requires and deserves his personal attention.
– That is what happens at the moment.
– Precisely. That is right. It has nothing to do with the fee-
– It is not going to happen in the future.
– Oh! It has nothing to do with the fee which passes betwen the patient and doctor. Why should this make any difference with our scheme or with the present scheme? A patient walks in. It does not matter to the doctor how he receives that money - or it should not matter. All that should matter is whether the patient is sick. If the patient is sick, he deserves the doctor’s attention. It is a lot of garbage to suggest that, because the doctor is to be paid differently, he will adopt a different approach. The Opposition is insulting doctors if it suggests that, therefore, doctors will cease to treat patients as responsibly as they do now. Rubbish! I do not believe that. I do not believe that doctors are so inhumane, dishonest or disreputable.
In other words, our scheme changes nothing at all in terms of the freedom of choice or the relationship between doctor and patient. In fact, there is a good chance that by virtue of the fact that the patient knows that he does not need to find the money to pay for a particular doctor he will not have second thoughts about going to that doctor. A person who is ill at present may like a particular doctor, but the family budget may not be going as well as it might be because of the inflation that we are all complaining about. At present, that person may have second thoughts about going to a doctor, despite his illness. Under our scheme, the personal budget of a person does not matter at this stage of illness. If a person feels sick, he knows that he can afford to go to a doctor because the bill, largely far more than is the case now, will be paid by our comprehensive insurance scheme.
This brings me to the point: Just what is this argument all about? It is really about how the money is collected. Let us not talk about increased costs as if our scheme will suddenly cost the Australian community more in total. If one says that, one must answer the question: Who the hell is going to get the money? It will not be the Government because I can assure the Opposition, on the basis of the recommendations of the Nimmo report, that a comprehensive national insurance scheme will be less expensive to run administratively. Do not argue on that aspect.
– Of course we will work on that aspect. That is not yet demonstrated.
– It has been demonstrated by the types of closed funds which have been operating for years. It has been found that they are more efficient than the open funds, the competitive funds and the funds that spend a lot of money competing with one another. Our proposal is in essence the closed scheme which was found by the Nimmo Committee to be far more efficient.
Now, the money is collected. The cost to the community is where the money goes, who takes it. Opposition members are all saying that it will suddenly cost us a hell of a lot more. Are they suggesting that hospitals are suddenly going to earn more than they are getting now or that doctors will be receiving more than they are getting now? If that is so, it can be for one or two reasons - either we as a Government are naive and suddenly overgenerous and are just handing the money out or, alternatively, costs have genuinely gone up as they do now. Even now, increases have occurred in the benefits and the contributions. How else will you pay the costs which are increasing today and which have increased over the last umpteen years? The cost is not now what it was 10 years ago. Costs have continued to rise and they will continue to increase.
We are simply saying that by collecting the funds through a comprehensive national insurance scheme a lot of administrative wastage which goes on with the multiplicity of funds will be saved. The amount of money paid over will still essentially be the same. Where does it come from? The Opposition keep blabbing about increased tax. At present, a person is ill. That person goes to a hospital, sees a doctor and receives an account. If that person has not voluntarily joined a voluntary health insurance fund, that person cannot get any refund from the fund. That is obvious. But, under the present system, that person cannot even receive the Commonwealth benefit for which he has paid by way of taxation. That is paid automatically today. But, if a person does not belong voluntarily to a benefits fund, he cannot receive the payment from the Commonwealth for which he has contributed. In other words, under the present scheme, a person robs himself unless he has voluntarily joined a benefits fund.
So, let us cut the garbage. There is nothing voluntary about the scheme today. It is compulsory. If a person wishes to get back his taxation contributions, he must belong to a benefit fund. All we are saying is that we must face up to this fact and accept that everyone ought to pay in order to maintain hospital services. At present, the community pays via the taxation scheme. We have just discussed that. In addition, people pay by way of voluntary benefits funds contributions. I am suggesting that that is a clever form of taxation which the people do not realise the former Government imposed on them. But it is a tax.
In addition, there is the section of medical or hospital bill which is not covered by the benefits funds or by the Commonwealth contribution. This cost which has varied from as much as 36 per cent or more down to, in optimistic times, if one is lucky, about 19 per cent or 20 per cent of the total cost of the service, is borne directly by the individual who happens to be ill. In other words, that essential amount of money is a form of punishment of the sick for being sick by forcing them to pay. In my view, that is social injustice. Why should one, on top of the taxes that one pays and the benefits funds contributions that one pays, then be forced if one happens to be unfortunate enough to become ill, as if to be punished for allowing oneself to become ill, be forced to pay an additional fee which is not covered by the Commonwealth contribution or by the benefits fund contribution? I would have thought that social justice and humanity would suggest that one does not deserve to be ill and that in suffering the affliction of being ill one should not be punished by being taxed further.
The answer surely is to say that health services are a service for the whole community. All of us at any time may need these services. We have had a couple of examples here recently where unexpectedly some people have required medical services urgently. Why not let us say that the whole community through its taxation contributions will maintain the health service so that if any one of us should be unfortunate enough to become ill we can receive the treatment that we need in a service which is maintained to an adequate standard and not at the same time suffer by being forced to pay for the luxury of receiving that specific treatment? The total sum of money required is in essence the same. The question is whether you wish to penalise the ill in the community or whether you wish to recognise that there ought to be a service provided by the whole community for the whole community in moments of need.
Finally I come to the question of standards. We have a lot of braying about how efficient the present health scheme is. There is no real measure of the efficiency or quality of the health care in this country. In some public hospitals we have the beginnings of it in surgical and medical orders, but in fact there is no real measure. Some have tried to assess what the quality of medical care might be in terms of the rate of operations. A Dr Lawson some years ago wrote that the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy rate in Australia for doctors paid on a fee for service basis was seven per one thousand, whereas in the United Kingdom and the United States where doctors are paid salaries the rate was 3.6 per thousand. Is the Opposition really suggesting that our children are twice as ill as the children in America or England? In like fashion women in this country have twice the chance of losing their uterus as have women in the United States in services where the doctors are on salary or in the United Kingdom. Is the Opposition suggesting that our women are twice as unhealthy as the women of America and England? In other words, what in fact is happening is that fee for service increases the tendency, in my view, to unnecessary surgery. All the blab about the quality of medical care has no relationship with the reality of whether or not these sorts of procedures are necessary.
– One of the main points made by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) related to the social injustice and double payments that supposedly occur with the existing health scheme. I would have thought that he would have kept very quiet about that point, because if there is any question of double payment and social injustice it is in the proposed new scheme, under which a husband and wife who both work will both be taxed. The majority of households in which this occurs are those of the working people, the believed supporters of this Government. In an endeavour to earn sufficient income both husband and wife work. Both will be taxed on the full amount they earn irrespective of what their health care needs are. So I do not think we should bother to hear too much about social injustice and double payment from the Government.
Australia is a democratic society. It is a gradualist society; it is not a revolutionary one. We believe in change by evolution rather than revolution. The Government’s proposals for a new health scheme are revolutionary; they are not evolutionary. The Government is saying in effect that the present scheme is so sick that everything has to be tossed out and we have to start again. If one looks at the results of what happens in revolutionary societies one can imagine the confusion, the uncertainty and the problems that the Government scheme will create. The basis on which the Government assumes that our present scheme is so sick is incorrect. All of us acknowledge that there are weaknesses in the present scheme - weaknesses that have been exacerbated by the unwillingness of this Government to do anything to update some of the features of the scheme so that it can keep up with inflationary costs. It has done this in an endeavour to create a climate of public opinion in favour of its scheme, and just as it did when it tried its hand with the doctors and their fees it will fail. The medical fees tribunal report on doctors’ fees completely exonerated doctors and showed how false the arguments and the propaganda of the Government were.
– Why is there a shortage of doctors and hospitals throughout the country?
– That is a good question to ask, and it is far better asked of your socialist societies in countries such as the United Kingdom, where a person has to wait up to 3 years for any sort of surgery. So if the honourable member wants to talk about shortages let him have a look at the socialist societies. The basis of the Government’s claim that it has to bring in this revolutionary change, or try to bring in this revolutionary change, is that there is not universal health insurance cover at the present time. It keeps claiming that IS per cent of the population is not covered. The figures that have been cited repeatedly by various sources show that about 96 per cent of the population is covered. But what is of particular interest emerges from reading the report of Scotton and Deeble at paragraph 1.18 on page 4 where they give the percentage of the society they claim will be covered under the new scheme. The report states:
From these 2 sources-
It is referring to child endowment records and electoral rolls, the 2 sources the Government claims it will use- an estimated 80 per cent of the population will be covered. The remaining 20 per cent will include-
The report then lists the 20 per cent of the population that will not be covered by the new scheme. That is a far greater percentage of the population than that not covered at the present time. The report goes on in paragraph 1.19 to state:
To register these groups it may be necessary to mount a publicity campaign advising people of the introduction of the plan-
One of the great criticisms that this Government made of the present subsidised medical scheme is that it is impossible to publicise it sufficiently well so that the person who should be reading the advertisements about the scheme wakes up to what his possibilities are and takes advantage of them. Yet the Government is saying with its scheme 20 per cent of the population will not be covered and it will mount the same sort of futile publicity scheme which it claims was the cause of the failure of the present subsidised medical benefit scheme.
Another point is that I believe the present scheme - I think we all acknowledge this - is unjust to pensioners through the operation of the pensioner medical scheme. Coupled with this is the problem of hospital finance. Surely the way to overcome these problems is to adjust and update the present scheme so that pensioners are included in it on a just basis, as are other members of society, at the same time making sure that the hospital finance, the cost of treating these people in hospital, is adequately covered. This can be done with the present scheme far more efficiently and far more quickly than with the new scheme.
It is very hard to ascertain exactly what the proposed scheme will be, because whenever one tries to debate the Scotton and Deeble report - we were not allowed to debate it - or put up a proposition based on the report the Government says: ‘But we will not necessarily adopt Scotton and Deeble on that aspect; we have something else in mind. We have modified that particular point’. We were confronted with this approach when the Government tabled a White Paper on the Australian health program today. Once again we will not be allowed to debate it. A Bill will be introduced and will be passed before Christmas because the Government wants its scheme to start on 1 July next year. When looking at the Government’s proposition we have to ask whether its proposal is any better and whether the problems that exist could have been overcome in a better way by the present scheme. The answer is that the new scheme will not be better; that the job could be done far better far more quickly than with new scheme.
What will the new scheme do if it can be introduced by 1 July? Rows are going on in the Department of Social Security about it and there are problems about whether or not the health funds will be needed to help the Government out of its trouble. After the Government has been criticising the funds for some time it now finds that it will have to use them for several years if the scheme is to work. Constitutional difficulties arise with the States, which are the sovereign bodies responsible for financing hospitals. Two States say that they will not have a bar of the scheme. In this situation it will be impossible for this scheme to be introduced on time on 1 July. At the same time all it will do is create confusion in the minds of the people about the most essential service that any community can provide, health service. It will create uncertainty about what people will be entitled to, what is will cost and whether they will be able to receive support if they go into a private hospital - all for something that will not provide the cover that can be more adequately and efficiently provided by updating the present scheme.
Why is the Government trying to do this? Why is it trying to bulldoze through to the people of Australia something that will be to their disadvantage? At every level, every time we have tried here in the Parliament to say that the Government should let the people of Australia have time to study the proposal and let us air these questions in Parliament, we have been denied the opportunity to do so. We have been refused an opportunity to debate the Scotton and Deeble report. We have been refused an opportunity to debate the White Paper on the Australian health program. We are to have a Bill forced upon us and forced through Parliament, no doubt with the assistance of the guillotine, sometime between now and Christmas.
I think that the suggestion in the motion for a committee is a very sensible proposal because it will allow the people of Australia time to study what is before them in the White Paper and the Bill. It will allow other people to provide expert viewpoints on health care. We should remember one other thing about the Scotton and Deeble committee. Representatives of a big area of expertise in this country were not allowed an opportunity to provide evidence to that committee. A whole area of health expertise in this country has had no opportunity at any time of presenting to this Government its views properly considered on what should be the best health scheme for Australia. Why does the Government not slow down for its own political good even if it is not worried about the uncertainty it will create with respect to health care throughout Australia? It should consider the setting up of the committee that is proposed and during its considerations the people of Australia would have time to study the Government’s proposal. If such a committee were established, during its investigations it could examine some other aspects of health care that Scotton and Deeble did not consider, including a more adequate cover for ancillary services in Australia. If people want to talk about a more universal health care service and wider cover, this is an important point; which has not been made by Scotton and Deeble.
I hope that this motion is passed so that the Parliament and the people can look at the overall situation. I suggest that when the proposed Bill comes before the Parliament its consideration should be deferred until the autumn session. This will give all people a chance to study its implications before it becomes law. I am sure that if this happens the Government will become aware of the growing opposition to its proposed national health scheme. I hope the message will sink in and that the Government, for its own political future if not for the good of health care in Australia, will slow down and do the decent thing by improving the existing scheme rather than throwing it out of the window for something that is completely uncertain and extremely costly.
That the motion (Mr McLeay’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Order! The time allotted for the precedence of General Business has expired. I call on Government Business.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation, as do other honourable members.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the debate just concluded the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) used an expression which I find repugnant. He described us on this side of the House as the hired voices of the Australian Medical Association.
– And the health insurance fund.
– And the health insurance fund. He has compounded the evil by repeating it. I consider this to be guttersnipe tactics. What he says is untrue. So far as my colleagues and I are concerned, we pay all our own expenses; no one pays for us. I ask that the Minister withdraw those remarks.
-Order! The honourable gentleman cannot ask for the withdrawal of remarks that were made at a previous time. He can make a person explanation on the matter but he cannot ask for a withdrawal.
– I feel that I was maligned by that statement also.
-Order! I suggest to the honourable gentleman that the honourable member for Boothby has made a personal explanation on what was a general comment. I am afraid that I could not accept a personal explanation from every member of the Opposition on a general comment.
– I would just add that if one is fighting for a just cause one does not have to be paid by anybody.
Consideration resumed from 7 November (vide page 2952).
Clauses 2 to 28.
– I was speaking at the time when consideration of the Trade Practices -Bill was interrupted in Committee last night. I do not wish to say any more on the clauses before the Committee at the present time. Other honourable members wish to speak on these clauses, but there are certainly other clauses on which I would like to speak later.
– I would seek your indulgence at the outset, Mr Deputy Chairman, to offer an apology to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) for my remarks last evening. On reflection, they were certainly intemperate. The only basis upon which I would seek any exculpation would be the fact that I was considerably aroused by the harshness of the guillotine put down by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). But I do offer my friend, the honourable member for Corio, my apologies. He is unfailingly courteous in the conduct of the business in the House, and if I have distressed him in any way I can assure him that it is a matter of regret to me.
I turn to the definition section in this Bill. I observe that it is one of the most incredible definition sections which has ever been inserted in any statute of this Parliament. Some of the terms of definition in it are barely intelligible. I am quite sure that honourable members, and the public in particular, will be concerned with the sheer vagueness of some of the terms used. I will give an illustration. In clause 4 (2) this language is used:
For the purposes of this Act, a corporation shall be deemed to be in a position substantially to control a market for goods or services if that corporation and any related corporation or related corporations are together in a position substantially to control that market.
With respect, this is almost gibberish. I ask the Minister for Services and Property, in the absence of the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby), to give us the advantage of his advice. What does he understand by the expression ‘substantially to control a market’?
– What clause are you on?
– I am dealing with clause 4. It is on page 4 of the Bill. It starts at line 29 and commences with the word ‘For’. I hope the honourable gentleman has been able to find his way. If the Minister looks at that language I am sure that he will be puzzled by it. Indeed, the look of puzzlement sweeps over bis face - not for the first time, mind you, and probably not for the last time. What does the Minister understand by the expression ‘substantially to control?’ This is not mere control. If one is dealing with, say, 100 units in relation to some particular arrangement, the ‘acquisition of 51 units would obviously suggest that there is control. But mere control, majority control, is not enough for the purposes of this Bill. It must be a substantial control. What does the Minister understand by this expression? The explanatory memorandum put out by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) is deafening in its silence as far as these vague terms are concerned. It is quite silent on the point. It seems to me to be a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money to put out explanatory memoranda which do not explain the crucial points.
– What does it say in the present Act about substantial control?
– It provides for one-third control. There is a definition in the existing Act and the language used in the existing Act refers to a dominant position, and then that dominant position is explained in terms of one-third control. Substantial control in some context could well be 60 per cent; it could be 70 per cent. I am sure that this is a fair question which I put to the Minister. I am sure that in his typical courteous fashion he will take an early opportunity to give us the benefit of his advice.
While my friend is on his feet possibly he would care to explain to us what is meant by the word ‘market’? Does it mean a market in terms of an entire State, or of a region, or, indeed, of Australia? If one were to take as an example the market of the sale of galvanised iron at Cunnamulla, that would be the Cunnamulla market.
– That is a good example to use.
– Yes, it is indeed, and it is in an area represented in a most distinguished fashion by my friend from Maranoa. If one takes as an example the Australian market for galvanised iron, one is dealing with an entirely different market. What is meant by the word ‘market’ in this context? To give a further illustration of the desperate absence of intelligibility in the definition section, let me turn to what is held out to be the definition of a consumer in proposed section 4 (4). That proposed section reads in this fashion:
For the purposes of this Act, unless the contrary intention appears, a person shall not be taken to be a consumer of goods or services by reason that -
he uses goods or acquires services for the purposes of, or in the course of, trade or business or for a public purpose; or
he acquires goods for the the purpose of resale.
With very great respect, if that clause were to be the subject of analysis by post-gratudate students in English I think they would come up with some curious results. What does the Minister understand by that clause? I know that by the majesty of his intellect we are but mere mortals, but no doubt we could be open to persuasion. I have enjoyed jousting with him for 18 years but I find him agreeable on some occasions. Mind you, one has to press hard on occasions to find the agreeableness, but I am sure that my friend will respond and tell us what he understands by the word ‘consumer’ in this context.
I turn to clause 5. Again I invite the honourable gentleman to assist us please. We come as simpletons. We seek advice, and we seek some guidance from the Minister for Services and Property with his scintillating - one could almost describe it as seismographic - mind and the lovely, delicate, light touch which he flourishes in this place. I am quite sure that he will be able to reduce this matter to terms of intelligibility so that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and I - the two of us combined - may possibly be able to reach some measure of understanding.
– Now you are drawing the long bow.
– That might well be. My friend says that I am drawing the long bow. My friend the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) was a Professor of Economics and that is a rather heavy weight to carry in this place. But I am quite sure the honourable gentleman also would welcome some advice or instruction as to what is meant by clause 5 of the Bill.
I come now to clause 6 of the Bill. During the course of my second reading speech I asked what were to be the qualifications of the members of the Commission. It is not as though it is a fatuous question. I respectfully submit that it is a crucial question. How many members are to be on the Commission? Plainly, according to the further provisions in the Bill there must be at least 3 members on the Commission. But is that number to constitute all of the members of the Commission? What puzzles and concerns me is the qualifications of the members of the Commission. They will be called upon to wield enormous powers - most significant powers. An error of judgment on their part could bring ruin to an industry - not merely to those who may own the industry in a material sense but to all of those people whose livelihood and entire material existence as employees depends upon that industry. They are called upon to exercise their judgment having regard to the most extraordinarily vague criteria ever put in a statute, certainly of this Parliament and I see nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Last evening, of course, I made some allegations regarding the slap-happy nature of the drafting of the Bill and my honourable friend from Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) joined me in those remarks. I submit that the criticism is well merited. I will give an illustration of the curious fashion in which the drafting has been done by turning to clause 19 of the Bill, which describes the way in which the Commission may sit in divisions. The language of clause 19 (1) states:
The Chairman may, by writing signed by him, direct that the powers of the Commission under this Act in relation to a matter shall be exercised by a Division of the Commission constituted by the Chairman and such other members (not being less than two in number) as are specified in the direction.
Chairman’ in the definition clause of the Bill also includes a person acting as Chairman of the Commission. I invite this Committee to acknowledge that that definition encourages the question of whether it applies to a person not acting as a chairman on an ad hoc basis for a day, but acting as Chairman. The same clause 19–
Sitting suspended from 1.3 to 2.15 p.m.
Clause agreed to.
– I move:
After sub-clause (1), insert the following subclause: - “ (1a) Any direction given to the Commission under sub-section (1) shall be in writing and the Attorney-General shall cause a copy of the direction to be published in the Gazette as soon as practicable after the direction is given.”.
– This is a simple illustration of the thesis which the
Opposition has been propounding during the course of this debate both in the second reading stage and in the present Committee stage, namely, that this Bill has been drafted in a hurry and lacks what one may describe as the perfection of draftsmanship It is incredible to believe that these amendments would now be circulated so soon after the Bill had been drawn. It is not as though the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has given us any simple explanation of why this amendment has been brought about. One would have thought, having regard to the circumstances, that he would have endeavoured to have given something in the nature of an elaborate explanation, but he was brevity in the extreme. It was a welcome change, I am bound to observe, but why was there no explanation from him? There are 5 amendments. This amendment seeks to add a further provision to clause 29 without explanation. I wonder why? I only hope that the people of the country will take heed of the manner in which the Minister has treated this Committee. It is a little difficult to encourage him to be at his charming best all the time, but we have been trying to deal with this Bill in a quiet, reasonable fashion and all our attempts have been treated with contempt by the Minister. This is a simple but emphatic illustration of the hurried fashion in which this Bill has been drawn.
– I follow on the observation that the honourable member from Moreton (Mr Killen) has made. It is peculiar that we should be faced with an amendment circulated when the Bill is being debated in the Committee stage, bearing in mind that the Bill was introduced into the Senate by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) himself. This carelessness apparently was overlooked when the Bill was in the Senate, and it apparently was overlooked when it was introduced into this House. This is the sort of carelessness that members of the Opposition ought not to tolerate, particularly when it is presented to us without a syllable of explanation.
– I was interested in the comments of the honourable members who have spoken on the need to explain matters carefully because last night they reduced the debate on this Bill deliberately to a farce and were not a bit interested in the contents of the legislation other than in trying to ridicule very easily understood clauses in it. It is interesting to note today that they are coming to a serious strain of mind which is all the more commendable. I am delighted to have 2 eminent lawyers asking a layman like me for my interpretation of the legal aspects of the legislation. It brings me to the situation of agreeing with Mr Justice Bowen who said that there are probably too many lawyers in this Parliament and that those who are here are not much good anyhow. Surely one would not need an LL.B. or a leading Bar practice in Brisbane to understand the reason for this amendment. Clause 29 (1) states:
The Attorney-General may give directions to the Commission in connexion with the performance of its functions or the exercise of its powers under this Act other than its functions and powers under Part VH. and the Commission shall comply with any directions so given.
That should be clear to any observant person. Surely that does not need any explanation. As a layman I understand that it means what it says and surely the lawyers should. However, the Government has added a sub-clause (1a) which says:
Any direction given to the Commission under subsection (1) shall be in writing and the AttorntyGeneral shall cause a copy of the direction to be published in the Gazette as soon as practicable after the direction is given.
Surely that is an ordinary reservation that could be made to ensure that there is no secrecy about what is done, that directions are known to all and that therefore there is no subterfuge or desire to evade. I would have imagined that, far from tackling this amendment in the style that has been adopted, the Government would have been commended for the open government approach it has shown to this clause. I hope the explanation I have given is satisfactory. I am sorry that the honourable members had to waste their valuable time asking this question. I did not realise that it would be necessary for such eminent personalities associated with the law to do so, and I trust that my explanation is to their satisfaction. This is a machinery amendment and I hope it will be accepted because it does improve the Bill.
To move an amendment or to accept an amendment is not an acknowledgment of scrappy drafting or anything of that kind. It shows a commendable approach, even at the risk of it being said that one was wrong in the first place, towards improving legislation that is brought in. This practice is not new to any government. On several occasions the previous Government brought in a number of amendments to its own Bills and far from criticising this amendment I would have expected the honourable member for Moreton to have paid a tribute to the Government for trying to improve its legislation, difficult as it was, with a commendable amendment of this kind.
– I am not one who decries an amendment being moved by a government or being accepted by a government. I say to the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), whom I regard as a nice fellow but a rather poor substitute for the type of person who should be representing the Government during a debate on this Bill, that we on this side of the House pointed out in the earlier stages of the debate other gross errors which have been made, yet the Government has not been prepared to accept the suggestions that we have made when underlining the existing weaknesses. The Bill is ill-conceived. It took the Government 10 months to prepare it after bringing in so-called expert advice from the United States of America. It introduced the Bill and gave us a matter of days to try to work out its ramifications.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable gentleman that he debate the clause and not the Bill which was the subject of a second reading debate.
– I will follow your instructions, Sir, with all the respect that I can accord. Another matter for concern is that this Bill once again takes this matter out of the hands of the Parliament. Proposed subclause (1a) states:
Any direction given to the Commission . . . shall be in writing and the Attorney-General shall cause a copy of the direction . . .
The point we have made time and time again is that this Bill hardly spells out anything. There are so many areas where discretion can be applied. There will be people who are illequipped to make judgments on other clauses of the Bill-
– Order! The matters which the honourable member is now debating are not the subject matter of this clause.
– I think I have made my point, Mr Chairman. I will allow the debate on the Bill to continue and cease my comments at that point.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I rise to speak on this group of clauses because they propose the setting up of a Trade Practices Tribunal. From what one can gather, the Trade Practices Tribunal will perform much the same function as does the Commissioner of Trade Practices under the Act that this Bill proposes to repeal. One of the reasons given for dissatisfaction with the present Act by the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) in his second reading speech was the delay and the slow progress that has been made by the Commissioner and his officers in examining examinable agreements. Because of the way in which the new Bill ds framed, there will be a complete turnabout of emphasis, but I suggest that the amount and volume of work which will be placed on the shoulders of the Trade Practices Tribunal will be exactly the same as the work now cast on the shoulders of the Commissioner of Trade Practices and his staff. So we are not going to be any further advanced by the substitution of the Trade Practices Tribunal for the Commissioner of Trade Practices. It seems to be a pointless exercise and the only basis for it is the suggestion by the Minister that somehow or other it will lead to greater efficiency and expedition in dealing with matters of monopoly.
– I wish to draw attention to clause 31, subsection (2), which states:
A person shall not be appointed as a member of the Tribunal other than a presidential member unless he appears to the Governor-General to be qualified for appointment by virtue of his knowledge of, or experience in, industry, commerce or public administration.
The point I made last night when I referred to the Trade Practices Commission is that the manner in which this legislation will allow this Government or any future government to appoint persons to these very high positions is a matter of grave concern. It was pointed out that the Commission does not require any qualified person or persons and that the Government, which already has established the practice of appointing friends to high places, could do the same thing with the Commission. Apart from the Chairman of the Tribunal the situation again is open for exploitation. We recall the fine words of that learned State President of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Jack Egerton of Queensland, after his appointment to the board of Qantas Airways Ltd. He said that it was spoils to the victors. In my view, responsible government entails more than just handing out spoils to the victors. It is a case of selecting the most highly qualified persons available and putting them in these highly responsible positions.
This Bill has so many clauses where discretion has to be applied that it is worrying. I again draw attention to clauses 45, 46, 47, 49 and 50. The terms of this Bill are so wide that it will take someone a little short of a genius to apply a proper interpretation to those clauses. My fear is that the bias of the types of persons who will be appointed by the Australian Labor Party is such that there will be so many companies in court in the next few years that the courts will be clogged. We are creating a situation where businessmen will not be game to move one way or the other because they will not know for certain whether or not they will be breaking the law. This situation is not good enough, when we consider that the legislation provides for penalties of up to $250,000 and even gaol terms. It is far from good enough.
– Hear, hear!
- Mr friend, the honourable member for Moreton says: ‘Hear, hear!’ He is far more qualified than I and the Minister at the table, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), to pass judgment on the justice of this because he is qualified in that regard. But, speaking as a layman, it gives me concern. I do not understand why the Government refuses to define these matters more clearly, unless it is that there is something sinister and evil behind its intentions. Unfortunately the Minister representing the Attorney-General is not even with us to try to explain what the Government has in mind.
– Do I take it that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) is opposed to judges being appointed to the Trade Practices Tribunal? His statement was far reaching and covered everybody. He said that the Australian Labor Party would give jobs to the boys. Can he name a couple of judges whom the Labor Party has in mind to appoint to these positions? The honourable member’s statement was sweeping.
– I did not say judges.
– The honourable member referred me to clause 31, line 24, which covers the appointment of judges to the Federal Court. I should like to know from the honourable member whether he thinks the judges to be appointed will be corrupt. Does he infer that? Does he quibble at any appointments that have been made already by this Government? Members on the other side of the Parliament have commended the trade union officials who have been appointed to certain boards. Is it good enough for the Liberal Party to appoint only members from big business who support the Liberal Party while other sections of the community are unrepresented? The record of the previous Government was one of patronage deluxe, from diplomatic posts right down to industry, commerce and everything else. It was all right while the Liberal Party was packing the boards of Qantas Airways Ltd and all these other concerns, but there is some criticism of what may happen under Labor.
When all is said and done he said that this Act provides for penalties ranging to gaol sentences. Why should not people who exploit the people by corrupt trade practices be gaoled, if necessary? Who are they robbing but the pensioners and the people on wages and incomes for whom the Opposition says it speaks so much? Why should not there be huge penalties for those who indulge in corrupt trade practices? The real fact of the matter is that the honourable member for Griffith is a defender of corrupt trade practices and does not care who is exploited as long .as the offenders can go unmolested and unchallenged. Instead of making this broad statement about who will be appointed and who will not be appointed, the honourable member should cite some people that he would not like the Labor Party to appoint. I remember when in days gone by honourable members opposite did not like the appointment of Sir William McKell but honourable members opposite followed line with the present Governor-General. Was that patronage? He is a notable man.
I could go right down the full pattern of appointments made by the previous Government. Why should the honourable member make these broad statements? This Government has an honest record in respect of appointments and to say that all those appointed under this Act will be supporters of the Labor Party is not only very unfair but also is a far-reaching statement that can never be justified. It is all right to create this kind of fear. The honourable member - a member of the Liberal Party - would challenge the integrity of the judiciary! Let us not forget that the honourable member for Griffith did not qualify his statement. He said that, starting from the top, there were going to be jobs for the boys. I wonder what Mr Justice Bowen would say if he heard that comment. Would the honourable member for Griffith be agreeable to Mr Justice Bowen being appointed? Would he say that he was a corrupt man, even though he was a Liberal before he became a judge? Of course he would not say that. The fact of the matter is that this is just a fear tactic from the other side of the Parliament designed to protect the great interests that honourable members opposite represent and to stop any restriction being placed on their capacity to exploit by adopting trade practices which hold the community to ransom, economically and in every other way.
The criticism that has been levelled by the honourable member for Griffith will have to be better based. Of course, it is easy for honourable members opposite who have never studied the Act at great length to stand and question every line; they sound’ a bit intelligent that way. Honourable members opposite know that they are speaking this way only for something to say and, of course, to protect the interests that they on that side of the Parliament represent. For my part, I have no doubt that the Labor Party, setting that high standard that it always sets, will pick the men of the highest integrity and ability. The Opposition may think that judges are crook but we on this side do not think so. We pay a tribute to them for their just and proper approach to things.
– They have all been appointed by the Liberal Party.
– Yes, all so far have been appointed by the Liberal Party. Let the honourable member for Griffith get up and tell us which judges should not be appointed to the Tribunal. Before he names any of them he should make sure that he is not going into court. These statements will not bear investigation. I point out the false approach of those who sit opposite. It is like their approach to health services and everything else. It is an attempt to spread fear in the community as to which of these sinister people will be appointed. If honourable members opposite were on this side of the Parliament every supporter of the Liberal Party, every big businessman would probably ‘be given the right to be on this Tribunal. We on this side will be fair and just. We will pick the right men for the right positions - men of integrity, wisdom and judgment. Honourable members may be assured that predominantly they will have the interests of the community at heart and in that way will give effect to the provisions of the legislation in the interests of the people generally and not one particular sector of the community.
– I listened with some attention to what the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) said and I must say that I was not particularly impressed. This may be a weakness in my character, I do not know. I think that he is right when he points out that in the Act which this Bill supersedes - and I refer of course to the Restrictive Trade Practices Act of 1971 and particularly to sections 7 and 8 - there is a certain looseness. I think that there is in that Act the possibility of a government misusing its powers. I think this is right but in point of fact the past Government did not misuse those powers. This stands on the record and the Minister admitted it a moment ago. The Minister said a moment ago that the people we had appointed and whom he proposed to continue in office are - I think he said - fit and proper persons, and so they are. The past Government did not abuse its powers but I think it was loose and lax in leaving loopholes in the law. Those loopholes have been adopted by the present Government. The present Government cannot be trusted. Let us be quite clear about it. I go back and take up what the Minister was saying. The present Government is at the behest of a corrupt organisation, namely the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference and Executive. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) standing at the table in this place admitted that he took his riding instructions from the corrupt objectives of the-
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member come back to the clauses under discussion. Reflections on members of this House should be made the subject of a substantive motion, especially allegations of corruption which the honourable gentleman is making. I suggest he come back to the debate on the clauses before the Committee.
– I have made no reflection on honourable members. I have quoted what the Prime Minister has said. I have made reflections on people outside this chamber.
– Order! The honourable gentleman said that the Minister at the table was the head of a corrupt organisation and that could not be other than a reflection on the Minister.
– I did not say that. I suggest that you, Mr Chairman, have a look at Hansard. I said that the Prime Minister had agreed that he took his riding instructions from an outside body.
– Order! The honourable gentleman followed his previous remarks with that statement. I suggest that he come back to the clauses under debate.
– I am coming back exactly to the point that the Minister at the table made.
– Which Minister?
– The Minister for Services and Property, who is at the table, said that this Government will not appoint corrupt people. I am saying that it is not for the Minister at the table to say that because his Leader, the Prime Minister, has said that he took his riding instructions from an outside body. That is not Parliament. I know it is a corrupt body. The Australian Labor Party Conference and Executive are corrupt.
– The honourable gentleman will be asked to resume his seat if he continues to make reflections on members of this House as he is doing.
– I make no reflections on honourable members.
– Order! The honourable gentleman cannot be so naive as to believe that to suggest that a statement that the Prime Minister is instructed by a corrupt body is not a reflection on the Prime Minister. No one in this House can be that naive.
– Apparently the Prime Minister is that naive because he himself has said at the table - I heard him myself and it is in Hansard-
– Order! The honourable gentleman will either debate the clause under discussion or he will not debate anything.
– All I am saying is that the Minister for Services and Property did not impress me very much because what he said cannot be substantiated. It is directly contrary to the observed facts and as evidence for that I cite the words of the Prime Minister. Surely I am not liable to be sat down if I cite the words of the Prime Minister.
– The words I asked the honourable member to withdraw were not the words of the Prime Minister; they were your words.
– I go back to the loopholes. I agree that the old Act did have within it certain loopholes. They were not abused and this is admitted.
– We do not trust them.
– We do not trust this mob, that is right, and the country does not trust them. The country has every reason to distrust them. I have seen the police reports of what has gone on inside the ALP - and by the way-
– On a point of order. This is sheer abuse.
– Order! If the honourable member for Mackellar makes one further reference of the type which he has made and which has nothing to do with this Bill I will ask him to resume his seat and I will deal with him.
– I quite understand the sensitivity and I will therefore-
– Order! The honourable gentleman will make no reflections on the Chair. It is my job to conduct the business of the Committee in a proper manner. If the honourable gentleman is not prepared to comply then I will make sure that the Committee can carry on its business.
– Thank you. This Tribunal will have very wide powers. It is not, of course, within my power to discuss those powers in relation to the set of clauses under discussion because you, Mr Chairman, would very properly rule me out of order if I were to do that. But I make the passing observation that the Tribunal will have very wide powers. I therefore say that in the present context it would be much better if a limit were set on the number of possible appointees. I look, for example, at clause 30 of the Bill. The number of people who can be appointed to the Tribunal is unlimited. This seems to me to be wrong. Let me agree with the Government that this laxity was in the previous Act but that Act was drafted by an honest government and it was not abused. During the whole of its operations that Government did not abuse the powers. We were wrong to leave this loophole. I do not think we should readopt it now that we have sitting on the Treasury bench a government of a less trustworthy kind.
– I very much regret the turn of the debate in Committee that has been brought about by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). One of the greatest things that we have tried to do is to take away the secrecy and dealing and wheeling of the past in relation to business and government that is well known to members on all sides of the Parliament. I am not saying that it is illegal. I am just saying that the Australian people have the right to know the sorts of things that are done and the sorts of things that are paid for. There has been a reference to outside bodies influencing government. It is a very interesting thing to me-
– The Minister will not be in order in debating those things.
– He should be-
– Order! If the honourable member for Griffith wishes to take over the control of this place I suggest that he take the necessary action. But if he does not I ask him to remain silent and let me run the Committee.
– I was saying before I was interrupted, in relation to the remarks that were made by the honourable member for Mackellar, if he was interested in this aspect the legislation that we are now considering I would have thought that he would deal with the fact that every year $220m is spent in our country by overseas firms to influence Australian opinion and Australian politics.
– I take a point of order, Mr Chairman. I am not wishing to teach you how to run the Committee or anything, but this is completely off the Bill. The Minister has come into this Parliament like a little parrot, not even knowing what is going on.
– Order! The honourable member may not debate a point of order. He has questioned the relevance of the Minister’s remarks, and I will ask the Minister to restrict his remarks to the clauses of the Bill, as I have asked other honourable members to do.
– I rise particularly in relation to the debate which is now taking place in the Committee and in relation to matters which were raised by the colleague of the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) who took the point of order. If he felt that these remarks were not germane to the debate I suggest that if he had any honesty in him he would have risen before when his colleague was on his feet. But I noticed that he remained silent then. Therefore he stands condemned in his seat, sitting as he does regularly to display his height in debate. I rise particularly to rebut the suggestions that were placed before this Committee by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who has just resumed his seat. I feel that the rebuttal is called for because, as you pointed out very properly, Mr Chairman, in accordance with the Standing Orders it should not have been dealt with.
– I take a point of order. We are discussing some clauses of the Bill. Perhaps the Minister was not here when the Committee decided which clauses we were going to take. May I ask you, Mr Chairman, to inquire of the Minister which clause he is addressing himself to now.
– The clauses before the Committee are clauses 30 to 44. The Minister may address himself to any of those clauses or all of them collectively while he is speaking. There is no point of order and there is no requirement in the Standing Orders for an honourable member to name the clause to which he is speaking. He is required to speak within the general framework of what is contained in the clauses. It is also in order for an honourable member to comment on what a previous member has said. I have taken certain action with regard to the honourable member for Mackellar and I will not allow the Minister to tread too far on the path of rebutting what the honourable member for Mackellar said on those matters which I would not allow him to debate. I draw that to to the Minister’s attention. I think he should pay the Chair the courtesy of not debating those matters.
– The only point I would make is that the point of order that has been taken by another Opposition member is surely a point of order taken in hypocrisy, because he should have taken it in relation to the honourable member for Mackellar and then I would not have risen in my place to rebut what he said. I respect the Chair and its ruling. Of course it is perfectly right and proper. The point I wanted to make was that this particular measure and the clauses to which we are addressing ourselves at the moment are designed to take the wheeling and dealing out of many of the matters that have been dealt with in the past in less than an honest manner. If that hurts members of the Opposition then it inspires me, because perhaps it means that their conscience now has changed. It has now become more tender and more susceptible to the sort of reason that is enshrined in the legislation which the Committee is considering. Quite frankly, what went on in the past in relation to many of these matters was less than desirable as far as the Australian people are concerned.
– I take a point of order, Mr Chairman. If the Minister is discussing whether the hearings are to be in public I would draw his attention to the fact that that is provided for in clause 106 of the Bill and nowhere in any of the clauses that we are debating at the present time.
– I do not recall the Minister saying anything about debating matters in public, but I would point out to the honourable gentleman that the honourable member for Griffith, rather than the honourable member for Mackellar, made a number of allegations that appointments would be made in a certain fashion. It is not my prerogative to debate that. But I think that the Minister is entitled to rebut the suggestion that improper appointments would be made.
– I take a point of order. Mr Chairman, may I just remind you that what I said was in rebuttal of what the Minister for Services and Property said. I did not initiate this; it was initiated by the Minister for Services and Property.
– Order! I acknowledge that. I also ruled that some of the honourable gentleman’s remarks were not in any way in line with the Bill. The honourable member for Griffith made certain remarks which were of a completely different chaaracter but in line with the Bill. Honourable members are entitled to rebut those remarks provided that they stick generally to the appointments or other matters concerning the Tribunal.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. The whole of the matter that I have been attempting to raise is a matter of principle in relation to these appointments. I notice, of course, a great deal of sensitivity by Opposition members in relation to these appointments. Perhaps they are wondering whether some of their past appointments may be up for review in various spheres. I want to make it quite plain and quite definite that any appointments that are made in a technical sphere and technical capacity by the Government should be made on technical ability and not on like sympathies of a political nature. So if we are raising the matter of political appointees I suggest that members of the Opposition go and commune with themselves and decide whether in fact over the last 25 years the majority of their appointments have not been actuated by political motives. If they come back here after a proper examination of their consciences and tell me that they are quite satisfied that they have never let political considerations actuate them in any of these matters, then I will say that they should go back to confession.
I want to make the point that what the Government has tried to do on all occasions in the legislation that it has brought before the Parliament and which is presently before the Committee is to remove some of the political jobbery which has characterised appointments in the past. If honourable members opposite would like me to deal with this in detail I would be delighted to do so. I seem to remember that as the previous government was dying and was going to the people on 2 December last year it made a whole series of controversial appointments and placed people in office when it knew very well that it was no longer the Government - that it was a caretaker. But between the time the election was actually announced and the writs were issued and when the election took place appointments were made and confirmed. We live with those appointments today. So if honourable members opposite have anything to say about political jobbery I suggest that they look to themselves very carefully.
– Are you saying that they are bad?
– I welcome the interjection by the honourable member for Mackellar. Is he defending that particular matter? Is he defending that practice?
– If the honourable member wants to stay here he should keep quiet.
– He is answering me.
– I do not care whether he is answering the honourable member; the honourable member is out of order in interjecting. I will ask the Minister to direct his remarks to the Chair, but if the honourable member keeps talking when I am calling for order there will be no remarks.
– I might just say that this Government stands on the matter of principle in all these administrations. The honourable member for Mackellar, sitting there with his royalist rose and looking pretty - I commend him for his brightness today - has ignored the appointments made in the last week of the last Parliament.
– Mr Chairman, the honourable member for Mackellar is not wearing a rose.
– That is not a point of order.
– It is a pansy. I apologise. I just want to sum up in this way: As far as the appointments that we are debating today are concerned-
– Mr Chairman, the Minister has confused me with another honourable member, unfortunately. It is very easy to do. He does not know whether he is Arthur or Martha.
– It is the type of confusion that was once dealt with by a committee of this House but no action has ever been taken. It is someone else’s misfortune that the names of honourable members and seats are confused.
– I am sure that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) will regret the rather extravagant observations he has made concerning one or two honourable gentlemen on this side of the House. The fact that one of my friends happens to be wearing a rose - it has been described by the Minister for Immigration as a royalist rose - I do not think would sear the feelings of the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) in the least. I simply observe to the Minister for Immigration that on some occasions I fear for his safety because I am sure that he could be imprisoned in a bowerbird’s playground. I want to draw the Committee’s attention to what I regard as being a very serious deficiency in the Bill. I hope that the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) will be persuaded to agree with me. That is on the question of appeals on a question of law from the Tribunal to a court.
– Is this in relation to clauses 30 to 44?
– Yes, dealing with the composition of the Tribunal.
– Which one is it?
– I am dealing with the composition of the Tribunal and the fact that there is nothing in this respect in those clauses. If I can illustrate my argument to my friend by turning to the existing Act, we find in the existing Act that there is a Review Division of the Trade Practices Tribunal. It is composed of 3 presidential members, other than the presidential member who may have sat on an issue and been a party to a determination. From that Review Division of the Tribunal provision is made in section 65 of the existing Act for the Tribunal on its own motion, if it thinks fit, or on the application of a party to refer a question of law arising in proceedings before it for determination by the Court. The Court here, of course, is the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
I posit this situation to the Minister for Secondary Industry. The Commission has a matter before it and it makes an adjudication; it gives a determination. If the party which has been brought before the Commission has a sense of outrage, be it justified or not, it has the right of appeal-
– I rise to take a point of order. This matter is clearly covered in Part IX of the Bill.
– It is not.
– Of course it is. If the honourable member wishes to include some additional provision, when we reach Part IX must surely be the time when he can move his amendment or make his suggestion. It is certainly not appropriate for the honourable gentleman to be raising at this time, when we are considerthe appointment and the constitution of the Tribunal itself, questions of appeals from the Tribunal on matters of law.
- Mr Chairman-
– Order! I will rule on the point of order. Applications for review are covered by Part IX of the Bill. But the general outline and the major functions of the Tribunal are covered in clauses 30 to 44. These clauses include provisions relating to the composition of the Tribunal. I think that it might suit the purposes of the Committee-
– Not the functions of the Tribunal, Mr Chairman.
– Well, the structure of the Tribunal. I think that it might suit the purposes of the Committee if at this stage we debated the question of the Tribunal, as we may not even debate Part TX.
– If the honourable member for Phillip looks at Part III and Part LX he will find that they are very much interlaced and interwoven. We cannot have a clear division one from the other. I think that the position is as simple as that. Under these proposed provisions, let us take it that the Commission makes a determination. The party aggrieved can then appeal to the Tribunal on the question of fact. That is substantially the case. But take the assumption that the Tribunal makes an error with respect to law. This is where the difficulty arises. Is any person seriously saying that there should be no right of appeal where an error has been made with respect to law. It is all very fine for people to say that the prerogative writs are at their disposal. Given a set of circumstances, they could be extremely difficult to invoke.
I hope that the Minister will give some consideration to .the deficiency, as I have seen it. The last observation that I make pertains to clause 31 which is one of the clauses which we are taking together. The Minister will see in this clause that the qualifications of the lay members of the Tribunal are broadly sketched. This morning, I asked his colleague, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), why there was no statement of qualifications with respect to commissioners? I think that this is a fair question. I invite the Minister to answer it.
– Mr Chairman, since I entered the chamber in the course of this Committee debate, the principal part of the time taken up in this discussion on this Bill causes one to bring to mind the credibility of Opposition spokesmen.
– Oh, come on!
– I mean that quite seriously. Let us consider the clauses that are under review at this time. They are clauses 30 to 44 of the Bill. I exclude from my comments the last speaker, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). If one considers the remarks of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and what he carried on with - I put my description of his behaviour in those words - one cannot help but ask: What is the level of credibility of Liberal Party spokesmen on this issue? Whatever the issue may be, credibility must always be relevant to the question of that issue. If one is hearing an opponent argue against one’s case in which certain propositions are put forward, one is always entitled to attack the credibility of one’s opponent. That is certainly the case by any standard with which I am familiar. I wish to attack the credibility of some members of the Opposition in this regard. I do exclude the honourable member for Moreton from this attack, not because I like him or because he is a friend, although I must admit that that plays a little part as I have some respect for him - sometimes-
– I am glad that you smiled when you said that.
– Order! I remind the Minister that that matter is not before the Chair.
– I repeat what I said last night. Some politicians, it seems to me, must be judged more by what they do and the actions which follow from what they do than be judged on what they say. If one reviews the history of trade practices legislation in this country, one sees a most serious reflection on the credit of honourable members sitting opposite. They have used one smokescreen or another and one device or another in approaching this debate. The best example of what I claim was seen last night when honourable members opposite commenced the Committee debate by playing around and seeking to amend paragraph 1. They were arguing about the title of the Bill. What the situation really comes down to is this: Honourable members opposite know that, because of their behaviour or, if they like, their determination to frustrate, giggle and laugh at, and sabotage the passage of this most serious measure, the Government imposed a guillotine on the Bill. That is what the position boils down to. The Government is allowing so many hours of debate on this measure because the consideration of it cannot go on forever while honourable members opposite giggle, chatter and carry on in the way in which they have.
– Order! May I suggest to the Minister that the matter which he is discussing now is not before the Committee in the clauses under consideration but refers to the subject of a previous debate.
– Certainly. It seems to me that this is relevant to this discussion of clauses 30 to 44 which simply deal with the constitution of the Trade Practices Tribunal. How is one to interpret what members of the Opposi tion are saying? They know that the time allotted for this debate will expire at 4.45 p.m. They know that the time now is 3.2 p.m. With the exception of the honourable member for Moreton, honourable members opposite are not interested in debating the merits of this legislation.
– Cut it out.
– They are not interested in the merits of this legislation. Yet these are the people who in the second reading stage of this Bill complained that they did not have time to debate it. How much time do honourable members want to consider clauses 30 to 44? How much time do they want? The need for legislation on trade practices was first raised in Australian public life in 1961. The thinking that lies behind clauses 30 to 44 was first raised in 1961 when Sir Garfield Barwick drew attention to the great scandal that existed in Australian life in that Australia did not have any effective anti-restrictive trade practices legislation. That occurred 12 years ago.
– Order! I think that I must draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that the time available for this debate is not unlimited. The Minister has the privilege of unlimited speaking time. I think that he must deal with the clauses of the Bill now before the Committee.
– I will. I come back to the clauses. Essentially, their purpose is to set up the Trade Practices Tribunal. The Trade Practices Tribunal, as we know, consists of a judge of a Federal court, not being a judge of the High Court or the court of an external Territory or a person who has the status of a judge of the Court. Those qualifications are set out in clause 31 (1) of the Bill. Clause 30 of the Bill provides:
This is the body set up by the former Government. This is what is established. We say that what was established shall continue. Yet honourable members opposite carry on in the way in which they have behaved because they are talking the Bill out until 4.45 p.m. notwithstanding that yesterday they said that they did not have time to consider the proposition and notwithstanding the history of this matter, it must be said, commenced in 1961. In 1965, a toothless, gummy piece of legislation was introduced by the then Attorney-General, Mr
Snedden, who is now the Leader of the Opposition. That legislation was described as toothless by most of the eminent critics on this subject in Australia. That legislation achieved one thing after some 7 or 8 years of operation. It repealed the one piece of effective legislation the country had, the Australian Industries Preservation Act. The Opposition should be judged by what it serves, not by what it says. It serves procrastination. It serves the interests of the people who do not want effective restrictive trade practices legislation, and it has been doing so consistently. Under the guise of saying that it did not have time to think about the Bill, last night the Opposition argued for 10 or 15 minutes on what the Bill should be called.
– Order! The Minister is again debating a matter which is not before the Chair. I suggest that he come back to the clauses of the Bill.
– The clauses set out the constitution of the Trade Practices Tribunal. As I have said, they list the qualifications of members of the Tribunal. To be appointed a member may be a judge of a Federal court, not being the High Court, or he may be a person who has the status of a judge. What is wrong with that? That is what we are talking about.
– That deals with the President. Go on with the rest.
– What is wrong with that? Subclause (2) of clause 31 states:
A person shall not be appointed as a member of the Tribunal other than a presidential member unless he appears to the Governor-General-
What is wrong with the Governor-General?
– He abides by the Government, for a start.
– Is that not the procedure the former Government followed? Is there not precedent over 500 or 600 years for that form of words? The subclause goes on: . . to be qualified for appointment by virtue of his knowledge of, or experience in, industry, commerce or public administration.
What held me up in coming to this debate was that I was addressing a group of leaders of Australian industry. Some of them may well be qualified to sit on this Tribunal, I do not know. But what is wrong with writing into the Act that he shall be qualified by virtue of his knowledge of, or experience in, industry, commerce, or public administration?
– Nothing is wrong with that.
– Well, what is your complaint?
– I am not complaining, if I may interrupt my friend politely; I am comparing the differences with respect to the Commission.
– The roles are very different. Let me illustrate the absurdity of my good friend’s position. The present Act, toothless and useless as it largely is, serves one purpose only, and that is to make people aware of how useless and toothless it is. That is the only useful purpose it serves. We know what we do not have. We have one commissioner, Mr Bannerman, a fine public servant. Does the Opposition level its criticisms at him? He is one man.
– I have the utmost respect for him.
– So do we. Because of the increased amount of work in large measure that the Commission will have, the proposition now is not to have one man but to have many men, several men, doing the work, because there is wisdom in collective thinking, in groups of people, committees, working together and exchanging ideas. Every criticism the Opposition has levelled at the Commission can be levelled at the Commissioner whose position the former Government created. Every criticism can be levelled at one individual. Where does the Opposition’s argument stand now? It bears repeating that every criticism the Opposition has levelled at the Commission can be levelled at the Commissioner whom it appointed. The Opposition does not criticise him because he was virtually its man, and a good man. But the Opposition does not approve a whole system of upgrading to serve the needs of the Australian people. It must be said again in the context of clauses 30 to 44 that the Tribunal, consisting of the most eminent men in the country, will be set up to consider, review appeals from the Commission and to consider whether the matter should go to the industrial court, again consisting of some of the most eminent men. There is a relationship there. One must have regard again to the credibility of this Opposition which chatters, talks and stalls as it does. It is determined to delay the passage of this Bill as long as it possibly can, and it has been very successful. Its success can be measured by the fact that it has denied Australia proper trade practices legislation since 1961. Then when it could not delay any legislation any longer it brought in toothless legislation in 1965. An excellent former Attorney-General, Mr Tom Hughes, who is now practising at the New South Wales bar, on 7 September 1971 had something to say which touches on the question of this Tribunal. He was driven almost to despair by the procrastination and delay of the Government of which he had once been a member. When he was leaving this Parliament and going back into private practice at the bar he said:
The Government now has an opportunity as a result of last Friday’s decision of the High Court of Australia to make a great impact for the public good upon the commercial life of this country. It can enact legislation-
Where is the legislation the former Government enacted? Perhaps Tom Hughes resigned as a member of this Parliament and a member of the Liberal Party because of the sense of frustration he expressed. One does not know, but that was his thinking. Also inherent in the role that the Tribunal will have to play is the fact that that gentleman also touched on the basic philosophy running through this legislation - the fact that generally contracts and restraintive trade offend all of us, and offend us for good purpose. They work against the public interest, and the common law recognised it in its wisdom hundreds of years ago, and the honourable member for Moreton, whom I single out for special attention - if you forgive me, Mr Chairman, I do tins - recognised that in his speech the other night. He was the one contributor from the Opposition bench who did not say: ‘We have not had enough time’ because he has been living with this problem, as we all have since 1961.
– For 12 years.
– For 12 years. But he does not say: ‘We have not had enough time*. He is too honest to say that, but the credibility of the other gentlemen who sit alongside him will not measure up to that standard. Let me come back to what the then Attorney-General said when he talked about the principles running through these problems. On 29 February 1972 he said:
I regret to say that I am bound to say that it is a matter of disappointment that it has taken so long. I hope it will not be much longer.
That is a long while ago, 18 months ago. He went on:
How much longer, oh Lord, how much longer?
There is the anguish of Mr Tom Hughes, then the honourable member for Berowra, whose successor sits at the table. He said:
I hope it will not be much longer. How much longer, oh Lord, how much longer, one might ask, to introduce tough effective trade practices legislation to deal with the problem of these generally pernicious horizontal restrictive trade practices?
It took a Labor Government to introduce the legislation. It took the Party that Mr Tom Hughes once tried to serve in this House again to stall, again to go right through the ritual that drove him to despair back in February 1972. It took that Parry to delay and frustrate again and say: ‘Defer it. We still want more time to think’.
– Order! I think the Minister has bad a very good go in this debate. As he has unlimited time and as this is a guillotine debate, if he does not debate the clauses of the Bill and arguments that have been brought up-
– I take your point, Mr Chairman. I will finish on this note. Clauses 30 to 44 are standard forms. We are debating the Trade Practices Tribunal. I will finish on one point that my honourable friend from Moreton mentioned, namely, the relationship between the Tribunal and the courts. One aspect of it was the doubt about constitutionality. The boilermarkers case establishes a certain principle about that, and the question of stating a case of law before the court was considered to be in doubt.
Mr KILLEN (Moreton) <3.13) - The answer which the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) has given regarding the absence of any right of appeal on a question of law seems to be unsatisfactory, to put it at its very lowest. Surely any government dealing with a power is at liberty to be somewhat venturesome. Why the timidity? Timidity does not particularly become the present Government. I am at a loss to understand why the Minister refers to the boilermakers case and the division, the dichotomy, between administrative and judicial functions. We all understand that. But we are dealing here with a question of law. If an error is made, for example, within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, it is not appealable. It is appealable only when there is no jurisdiction. That, I think, is a shorthand way of describing the manner in which a prerogative order could issue.
I am dismayed that the Minister has given such an unsatisfactory answer. I make it clear - pluperfect clear - that the Opposition is not complaining about clause 30 and the following clauses dealing with the composition of the
Trade Practices Tribunal. I draw the Committees attention to what I regard as being a manifest deficiency in these provisions. I have stated the case. I can do no more. As for the excessive praise and generosity of language which the Minister used with respect to myself, I am bound to tell him and the Committee that I now understand how Lazarus must have felt when the dogs licked his wounds.
– The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is concerned about the lack of appeal from this Tribunal on matters of law. I invite his attention to an Act in which he has some expertise and under which he has practised at various times. In the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act he will see a somewhat similar position. Industrial tribunals are frequently in the same position. The way in which one enforces the law or, to put it another way, appeals on a matter of law, is by way of prerogative writ. There is nothing exceptional about the provisions of this Bill. Its provisions are exactly the same as one would find with respect to all types of administrative tribunals set up under Federal law. I frankly do not see why the honourable member is becoming so agitated on this point. This is normal, standard procedure - a procedure which commended itself to the previous Government of which he was a prominent member.
Prior to 1956, and before the boilermakers case with all its ramifications, in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act there was provision for the appellate tribunal - the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration - to direct a conciliation commissioner on a matter of law. There were such appeals. The previous Government introduced this provision. It will also be seen, as a matter of historical record, that it dropped this provision because it did not work and its validity was, to say the least, highly questionable. One thing is certain and that is that if there is to be a review on a matter of law it could not be by this Tribunal because that would be in the very teeth of the boilermakers case.
A much more fundamental matter was raised in this debate by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who attempted to scandalise the Government and the authors of this Bill. In many debates he insists on trying to use a very broad brush which is watered, as it were, by a bucket of tar or mud. He attempts increasingly to smear people. I do not think that that is desirable, particularly when we are speaking about the appointment of persons to a very high and responsible office. Those who are to be charged with the responsibility of administering this law will occupy most important positions which require the exercise of great responsibility. I have had some experience of appearing before and arguing with members of various tribunals for about 22 years. In that period I have had the opportunity and the duty to appear before persons who were appointed in New South Wales by Labor governments and Liberal governments and in the Commonwealth sphere by Liberal governments and Labor governments. I can say without doubt that the political complexion of those who made the appointments made not one scrap of difference. I challenge the honourable member for Mackellar, who now seeks to cast doubts in anticipation of likely appointments, to nominate a case from the past where a person performing judicial or quasi-judicial functions under any law of the Commonwealth or of a State has so disgraced his office as to carry out, as it were, the obligations of political patronage. I know of no such case. The reason, of course, is that there is a great tradition in Australia which the great majority of people are prepared to carry out. Those who are not prepared to carry out the tradition of impartiality and fairness are usually well known and are rarely if ever - and never to my knowledge - appointed to such positions.
My experience has been that whether a person who has been appointed to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or to any other industrial tribunal was appointed by a Labor government, whether he had a trade union background or an employer background, it made no difference. Indeed, some of those whom I regard as being the most favourable to the trade union cause came from employer circles. It may be that the honourable gentleman is worried about nothing, but when he attempts to smear by making his wild and unsustainable assertion that the Government is at the behest of a corrupt organisation one must wonder whether his contribution is even worth answering. However, the way he puts it is that there is some corrupt organisation directing the Government, so presumably it follows that any person appointed by the Government will be corrupt. Such a contention does no credit to him or any member of this Parliament who would listen to him without raising voice in protest. I object in the strongest terms to any member of this Parliament making such an assertion which is unsupportable having regard to either history or likely future events.
I believe that when Australians go before the Governor-General or some other appropriate person to take an oath of office they are not perjuring themselves when they take the oath that they will carry out the law without fear or favour. I, for one, am prepared to believe them. If the honourable gentleman is prepared to say that there are Australian citizens who would perjure themselves and who would accept high office on a tribunal such as the Trade Practices Tribunal and would then deliberately prostitute that office, he has an obligation to stand now and name in advance those persons so that if they are to be appointed the Government will be able to have the benefit of his knowledge. If he does not have any such information - I seriously suspect that he does not have it - he should be man enough to withdraw the imputation that those who will be appointed to this tribunal are in that category. In other words, I am appealing to him to act like a gentleman and to act with responsibility in respect of this important legislation.
– I was rather intrigued by the remarks of the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) who discussed prerogative writs and the boilermakers case. Of course among the people there is a common description for those who are not lawyers but would think of themselves as lawyers or expect that they have sufficient legal knowledge to be able to expound the law. These people are described as bush lawyers. One does not have to sit in this House long to know that there are bush lawyers on the Government side. When it comes to a matter such as we are now discussing I think also of the common saying ‘He has jumped in where angels fear to tread’. When one thinks of it, this remark. could apply to the honourable, member for Phillip. Having done that, we can recognise immediately that the honourable member is no angel.
– He is trying hard.
– Indeed he is. The honourable member for Phillip spoke of prerogative writs and said: ‘You know, you can get an appeal against a question of law by a prerogative writ’. Let me tell him, in the most elementary terms, that it is well recognised that a preroga tive writ is an act of review and not of appeal. I suggest that the honourable member have a closer look at the Commonwealth Law Reports. I suggest also that he should look more closely at the boilermakers case because, in simple terms, that decided that for Federal jurisdiction there had to be a separation of the judicial from the non-judicial functions and where they were judicial functions they had to be carried out by a judge appointed in accordance with the Constitution.
The point raised by my colleague, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), about the lack of appeal on questions of law has nothing whatever to do with the decision in the boilermakers case. From what the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) indicated, the decision not to include a right of appeal was because of doubts thrown upon the legislation by the boilermakers case but that will not save the legislation if, in fact, it contravenes the decision in the boilermakers case. The provisions establishing the Tribunal and the functions that it will perform may well contravene the boilermakers case. If there are judicial functions to be performed by the tribunal then it would do so, because ail that clause 31 does is to render a judge of a Federal court, not being the High Court or a court of an external territory, qualified to be appointed as a member of the tribunal.
When I read clause 32 I wonder how that applies to the term of appointment of a member of the tribunal who is a judge of a Federal court, because his term of appointment is for only 7 years. If he sits as a member of the tribunal and exercises his judicial functions - I would hesitate to anticipate what the decision of the High Court would be, but in that event - the legislation could very well contravene the principles of the boilermakers’ case and so the activities of the tribunal could be brought to the ground.
Then I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to clause 42 of the Bill. By that clause the Government acknowledges and recognises that questions of law will arise for determination by the tribunal. Having recognised that, it clothes the presidential member presiding over the particular division of the tribunal with the exclusive right to determine a question of law, and all other questions - nonlegal questions, one might say - are to be determined by a majority of the members. This brings me to the very point that the honourable member for Moreton raised, namely, that if in the legislation it is recognised that a question of law can arise on a review by the tribunal of an authorisation refused or granted by the Trade Practices Commission, then why on that question of law should not a party aggrieved have a right to appeal to the High Court or, indeed, some other court which is given an appellate jurisdiction.
It is a quite inadequate answer for the Minister for Secondary Industry, who is himself a lawyer, to say: ‘Well, the boilermakers’ case throws doubts upon the matter, so we will not give any right of appeal’. It is a quite inadequate answer to the valid question raised by the honourable member for Moreton, and I am disappointed that the Minister could not do any better in answering the point. I hope that he will give further consideration to this question and to the situation in which an authorisation is not granted, thus prohibiting the applicant from conducting his business in trade or commerce in a particular way, because of the provisions of the Act, and thereby making him liable to a penalty of up to $250,000. A person who has had an authorisation refused and who takes that refusal to a review and finds that, on review, the question of law is decided against him on the one voice - on the single voice of the presidential member - may be liable to a penalty of $250,000, and he cannot take that question of law higher.
I would have thought that this Government, which espouses in the name of the rights of the individual, fairness within the community, open government and all of these high flung phrases that honourable members are prone to use which announces that it intends to bring in an administrative review tribunal, would ensure in a piece of legislation which according to the words used by Government supporters is acknowledged to be of far-reaching significance and importance within the commercial community of Australia, that this elementary right of appeal against a decision on a question of law should not be denied to people who are brought within the purview of this Act. I do not understand the objection of the Government to the proposition put forward by the honourable member for Moreton. The answer given by the Minister is totally inadequate, and I would have expected more from his as a lawyer.
– I think I should reply to some of the matters raised by the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan). I have never made any criti cism of a judge, nor indeed can I make any criticism of somebody by. name who may be appointed in the future, because that would be entirely unfair, not knowing who will be appointed. To be asked to do this is quite monstrous. But I do know from first hand what happens inside certain parts of the Labor Party. I remind the honourable member of something in which I was personally concerned. It was I who took the action which initiated the Doyle Commission. The terms of reference of the Doyle Commission were artfully drawn to prevent the real truth from being known. I make no criticism of the judge, but I do say that Joe Arthur carried the can–
– . . . for a large number of his colleagues.
– I rise on a point of order.
– On a point of order-
– Order! I take it that the honourable member for Mackellar knows he must resume his seat when a point of order is taken. I would suggest that honourable gentlemen wishing to take a point of order wait until they are called before they start addressing the Chair. I call the honourable member for Phillip.
– I raise 2 questions. Firstly, I raise the question of the relevance of the remarks now being made by the honourable member for Mackellar who is concerned - -
– He is replying to your irrelevance.
– Order! The honourable member will remain silent. He seems to think that he can chair this Committee from his seat. I can assure him that he will not remain in that seat if he continues this type of activity.
– Secondly, I ask whether it is proper in a debate of this kind for the honourable member to abuse privilege by now naming people, one of whom was a constituent of mine, in the most improper way that he started to do.
– The honourable member may name any person in this House. Hr may in this place make any charges that his conscience will allow against any person other than a member of this House or this Committee.
– The other question I raised was related to relevance.
– With regard to the question of relevance, it is necessary for me to know what the honourable gentleman is saying before I can rule on whether it is relevant. He has referred to a Commission. He made certain remarks which I think are in line with remarks which I asked him not to make previously. But until he has reached the stage where he has made certain remarks I am not in a position to judge what his remarks about any particular commission or anything else are all about.
– He is talking about a royal commission.
– Order! The honourable gentleman for Mackellar has reached the stage where I would ask him not to continue with his line of argument because he is back on the track which I asked him not to pursue.
– The honourable member for Phillip- Hansard will show this - put out a challenge to me. I was taking up and answering that challenge. He now takes a point of order to prevent my doing so. So I will not proceed. I was answering directly the challenge which he gave. I have an answer to it. But if he takes points of order he stands condemned himself. He should know this. However, I say something to his credit. I know that in the past he has been instrumental against Communist corruption in trade unions. I give him credit for this. I ask him to remember his own past.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Chairman. During my remarks in answering the honourable member for Mackellar you drew my attention to the fact that some of the remarks which I was answering were not really germane to the particular clauses under discussion. I accepted your ruling. I am suggesting that the Committee should come back to a consideration of the clauses. If it does not do so I will have-
– Order! I think that the honourable member for Mackellar has finished his remarks, but I think in fairness to the Committee I should inform the honourable member that some of the clauses which are before the Committee are concerned with the appointment of people to the tribunal. Honourable members have referred to the manner in which appointments may be made and that is germane to the consideration of the clauses before the Committee. The honourable member for Phillip did so, as did the honourable member for Griffith and other honourable members. I will not allow debate of the type which I have ruled out of order, but I think there is no point of order involved in this case. I think I should say that in fairness to the Committeee.
Clauses agreed to.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I wish to take this opportunity, in these terms, to make some remarks in reply to the remarks that the Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply (Mr Enderby) made, which I think were barely in order, in the course of his lengthy discussions, and to dispel in particular the suggestion that was made about honourable members of the Opposition, excepting my colleague the honourable member for Moreton. I do not know how honoured he is-
– I excepted the honourable member for Berowra. In fact, I was looking over his head.
– I stress that we on this side of the House are every bit as concerned to achieve an effective measure to combat harmful trade practices and monopolisation as is the Government. Our protest at this stage is about the lack of prior time for consideration of a measure which, as will be shown later in this Committee discussion, is a radically different approach and one which therefore calls for a lot of consideration. It is a measure which also fits in the category, as I said yesterday, of long haul policies.
– Order! The honourable gentleman sought leave to make a personal explanation. I think that he is now debating the second reading of the Bill. He cannot really continue to do that.
– I just want to make the position plain. The Minister had the opportunity to make those remarks. I shall leave it at that.
Mr GRASSBY (Riverina - Minister for Immigration) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. I also want to couple with my remarks an apology to the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar). In fact I was paying tribute to his floral and sartorial elegance. I confused him with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). So I take the opportunity to put the matter right.
Clauses 45 to 51 - by leave - taken together.
A person shall not, in trade or commerce -
– I move:
In clause 49 omit sub-clause (4), substitute the following sub-clause: - “(4) A person shall not, in trade or commerce -
– knowingly induce or attempt to induce a corporation to discriminate directly or indirectly between different purchasers of goods of like grade and quality in relation to a matter referred to in paragraph (l)(a), (b) or (c); or
enter into any transaction that to his knowledge would result in his receiving the benefit of such a discrimination, if the discrimination is of a kind that is prohibited by this section.”.
The gist of the difference between the original wording and that of the amendment is that the word ‘knowingly’ is inserted before the prohibition on inducing or attempting to induce a corporation to discriminate in the manner set out in the earlier part of the clause. I think that honourable members will appreciate that it is a step in the direction of recognising that people should be prevented from doing something only if they really have an awareness of what they are doing rather than something that is done perhaps innocently. Perhaps this is an opportune time to say that in considering these clauses which deal with price discrimination, mergers and certain other practices which are dealt with in the Trade Practices Bill - it of course really could be called the Anti Restrictive Trade Practices Bill - the Government recognises, and I certainly recognise, that the vast majority of businesses in Australia are conducted by extremely well meaning, responsible, civic minded men and women who are wholly devoted to their duties and to the weight of the task which they shoulder in trying to administer their businesses so that they can fit in with changing circumstances in Australia.
I have always said that. But when one recognises that, one has to say also that the purpose of this Bill, recognised by so many people who wrote on the subject over so many years, is to strengthen Australian industry; to strengthen its efficiency by strengthening its competitive qualities. I suppose that this Bill really could have been given a different name were a government so minded to give it a different name. Instead of the Trade Practices Bill, although that is a well understood term, it could have been termed the Competition Bill because that is really the theme underlying it. It is a theme designed to encourage and bring about competition. It leans against those forms of agreement which are opposite to competition - those forms of practices and agreements which are occasionally, and perhaps more than occasionally, resorted to by some sectors of industry which negate competition and which result in monopolies and monopolisation. It is that practice that brings about by inducement a lack of efficiency in Australian industry. It is that practice that sometimes allows Australian industry to shelter behind excessive tariff laws and an undervalued Australian dollar as was the case in the past.
As honourable members and the listening public would know, it is an essential part of the Government’s scheme for strengthening and making more healthy Australian industry and Australian business generally that it should recognise the fact that competition is basically good. As I said before the common law recognised this many years ago. At the risk of giving undue preference to the previous honourable member for Berowra I should like to quote him again on this subject. I quote something that he said on 7 September 1971. He was then a prominent member of the Liberal Party which was in government. As I remember he was not a member of the Government but he had once been the Attorney-General. He said:
I think we must return to what is after all a very good basic common law principle and that is that he who undertakes restraint of trade must have cast fairly and squarely upon him the onus of establishing that the restraint serves the public interest.
It was the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who mentioned the Nordenfeldt case the other night, which of course is consistent with that principle. Mr Hughes, the then honourable member for Berowra, went on to say:
I have heard it said - I do not think rightly said - that it is somehow unjust to cast upon parties to anti-competitive agreements the onus of justifying those agreements as being in -the public interest. The common law was quite clear about this, and I think we should return to the sound common sense of the common law. The onus should be upon the person who wishes to restrain competition to show that that restraint serves the public interest.
That is of course essentially and basically what this Bill seeks to do - to implement that basic thinking that has come down to us through history, that healthy instinct, that collective wisdom that was a feature of the Anglo-Saxon people in Britain and which has spread right around the world, to the United States of America, large parts of Canada, Asia, India and other parts of the world. I refer to that basic common sense principle that practices, contracts and agreements that restrict competition are basically bad. It was that principle that we moved away from. It was that principle that the previous Government refused to face up to. The right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) has come into the chamber. I seem to remember - I had not been a member of this Parliament very long - when Mr Hughes who was then the honourable member for Berowra spoke on this subject in the last year that he was here - that was shortly after the concrete pipes case had been decided - he turned to the then Prime Minister, as the right honourable member for Lowe then was, and indicated that these sorts of measures were necessary and desirable and expressed the hope that soon they would be introduced. The Hansard record confirms this.
However, we are talking about clause 49 and the other provisions which really are typical of the measures which the Government seeks to implement. They reflect tHe common law thinking. They reflect the better thinking in the Liberal Party, ‘I suggest, certainly when the previous honourable member for Berowra was a member of this Parliament. I commend the amendment.
– The Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply (Mr Enderby) mentioned that the amendment to clause 49 was typical of the series of clauses that the Government had brought down. I accept that judgment. But they are typical not for the reasons that the Minister has mentioned; they are typical because they are consistent with so many of the other clauses of this Bill. They are imprecise, uncertain and confusing in their application and they highlight the regrettable absence of dialogue between the Government and the many community groups throughout Australia which are the subject of this legislation.
I turn first of all to clause 46. It seems to me that there are 2 evident problems in clause 46, which seeks to prohibit monopolisation. Firstly, the clause provides no guidelines for determining any of the circumstances in which a company may be considered as a monopolist. In the present Act a monopolist is defined as a person who controls more than one-third of a market. This test was rejected by the Attorney-General because ‘the certainty which it appears to give is illusory’. The second problem with clause 46 is that there are no guidelines for differentiating between legitimate competitive behaviour and conduct Which is proscribed by the Bill. If .the courts of this country are to be given .the power to determine who is a monopolist, then it is vital that the Bill include some guidelines for the purpose of determining who is and who is not a monopolist. One of Australia’s acknowledged experts in restrictive trade practices legislation, Professor Baxt, clearly reflected the general concern which we on this side of the Parliament have about this legislation when in an editorial in the September ‘Business Law Review’ he stated:
It is hoped that any legislation introduced in this field will lay down sufficient criteria to enable our courts to operate as effective tools in implementing a realistic, -and certainly worthwhile anti-trust policy.
There are a wide diversity of international precedents which merit examination by the Government and this Parliament. For example, an approach similar to that adopted in the European Economic Community is feasible. Article 86 of the Treaty of Rome prevents improper exploitation by one or more undertakings which have a dominant position in the Common Market. A company in a dominant position is defined as one which has the power to behave independently of its competitors, its purchasers or suppliers, with the capacity to determine prices without reference to demand and supply conditions in the market place. A similar definition could usefully be examined in respect to this Bill. I ask the Minister for Secondary Industry, who I am sure has been taking very careful note of the many positive and constructive suggestions put forward by the Opposition parties, to make a specific comment on that observation. If clause 46 is given a literal meaning, practically all conduct by a monopolist, whether legitimate or illegitimate, is prohibited. For example, a monopolist can maintain his monopoly position only by maintaining low prices. In the absence of other artificial barriers to entry, if a monopolist charges consistently high prices other competitors will be induced to enter the market. Accordingly, simply by maintaining low prices he will be eliminating competitors and will thus be guilty of conduct proscribed by the Act.. I invite comments from the Minister specifically in relation to clause 46 and the practice in the European Economic Community.
I turn now to clause 49, which imposes wide prohibitions on price discrimination. The wording, as in other areas of the legislation, again is confused and bound to lead to an unacceptable degree of uncertainty throughout the Australian community. Unlike other practices prohibited by the Bill, there is no provision for authorisations or clearances for price discrimination. Broadly speaking, clause 49 is based on section 2 of the United States Robinson-Patman Act and, like that Act, it suffers seriously from a lack of precision of expression, is likely to be a source of a substantial volume of litigation and undoubtedly will provide very good business for the legal profession in this country. However, in any such litigation, even leaving aside the reluctance of Australian courts to follow precedents set by their United States counterparts, only limited reliance can be placed on corresponding United . States decisions because of the often significant differences in the wording of the 2 provisions. To establish price discrimination under clause 49 it will be necessary to show 2 sales by the same seller to 2 different purchasers of goods or services of like grade and quality. The question of like grade and quality will be an integral part of the interpretation of the Bill and will undoubtedly cause many difficulties, such as in determining whether unbranded or private label goods are of like grade and quality to similar goods sold under an advertised brand.
As does its United States counterpart, clause 49 prohibits direct or indirect discrimination not simply with respect to price but also in relation to the provision of services or facilities in respect of those goods, and the making of payments for services or facilities provided in respect of the goods. This includes discrimination relating to the manner and dates of delivery, after-sales service, co-operative advertising, promotional allowances and year-end rebates. The comparable provisions in the Robinson-Patman Act have been strongly criticised in the United States. The principal ground of that criticism is that the prohibition has discouraged types of price differentials which might have improved competition by lessening the rigidity of oligopoly pricing and by encouraging new entry into the market place. These criticisms apply with equal force and validity in the Australian context in respect of the legislation which the Government is seeking to introduce. Before price discrimination is prohibited it must be shown that it will or may either substantially lessen competition or tend to result in a person being in a position substantially to control a market for goods and services. The question will be whether the test will be a quantitative one measured by reference to the amount of money or volume of goods affected, or a qualitative one based on a review of the market as a whole. I take this opportunity to quote from the Neal report which dealt with the Robinson-Patman Act on which this clause is based. I hope that the Minister will comment in detail on the observations of this report. The Neal report said:
The Robinson-Patman Act has been the subject of extensive and well-earned criticism. Enacted in 1936 to tighten and supplement the price-discrimination prohibition in Section 2 of the Clayton Act, the RobinsonPatman Act was intended to curb price discrimination that unduly favours national over local sellers and to protect independent merchants from unfair competition from large buyers obtaining the benefits of price discrimination.
Over the years, the Robinson-Patman Act has come to have unintended anticompetitive effects. The price- discrimination prohibition has discouraged types of price differentials which might have improved competition by lessening the rigidity of oligopoly pricing or by encouraging new entry.
Then the report goes on to highlight a number of major areas of criticism, quite substantially, which I believe can be directly applied to the provisions of the Bill which is now before the House. The Neal report continues:
The Robinson-Patman Act has impaired competition and the development of new methods of distribution in numerous other respects; by discouraging sellers from passing on cost savings to buyers, it has impaired experimentation with possibly more efficient methods of distribution integrating wholesale and retail functions . . .
The report concludes by maintaining that the Act requires a major overhaul to make it consistent with the purpose of the anti-trust laws. Because clause 49 is based on the RobinsonPatman Act I ask the Minister to comment on the critical observations in the Neal report. I also ask him to provide this House with an assurance - although I doubt that he can provide it - that this legislation, in particular clause 49, will not suffer from the same major defects. Without such an assurance, mis clause and so many other clauses in the Bill will cause the type of confusion, uncertainty and imprecision which lead to a tremendous degree of havoc throughout the business community. This is a bad Bill. It is badly drafted and it is rejected by the Opposition parties.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– If there is confusion in the minds of honourable members and listeners, it would have been caused primarily by the language used by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). It might have been very technical and very legalistic but what are we talking about?
– I was at my courteous best.
– The honourable member was quite courteous. I have no objection to his manner for a change.
– I expect that you will be too.
– I am always polite, as you well know. What are we talking about? Simply price discrimination that occurs in a number of instances in trading in Australia and throughout the world. These are the sorts of things that happen. Company A purchases a range of refrigerators at a price of, say, $100. Company B wants the same type of refrigerator and is told that it can buy a greater number but it cannot have the particular refrigerator that this company has at the moment, So they manufacture the same refrigerator with slight variations and they charge a different price to another company and sell the goods at less than the price charged to company A. That is what it amounts to.
– You are taking clause 49, are you not?
– Yes, clause 49. These companies get around the Restrictive Trade Practices Act by minor alterations to the product any by selling it at a different price which undercuts the opposition. That is what the second provision of the clause is all about - the bulk purchasing of goods. It is one of the most common occurrences in business today. A small retailer cannot purchase goods at the same price as a large retailer. In fact, what happens in a great number of cases throughout the country is that the small retailer is buying the goods at the same price as the large retailer is selling them. This is a most common occurrence in business today. Does anybody here suggest that that is not an unfair method of trading and that it should not be outlawed?
– But if a man produces a large quantity, his production costs will be less than if he has to serve a lot of individual customers.
– That may well be true and there may possibly be some excuse for providing for a minor advantage for bulk buying. I do not argue with that. We are talking about purchasing rather than manufacturing. Nevertheless, the differential between the prices of some goods is the difference between the wholesale and retail prices. As I have said before, I have seen instances where people have purchased a line from a manufacturer at the same price as the big retailer down the road was selling that line. That is more than simply a discount for bulk purchasing. There was another habit which used to be prevalent in the trade that I was in.
– The rag trade?
– No, this was when 1 was in the sporting goods game. We had 4 different columns of prices - manufacturing, wholesale, trade and retail. It was a common occurrence just to show the price list appropriate to whomever we were selling to. If one was selling to a big retailer, he received the manufacturer’s price. The next person, who was a small retailer, would get the wholesale price and the bloke who walked in off the street to buy at a discount received the trade price. There were vast gaps between these various prices. It was a common practice that should be banished.
If we do not create some equity in purchasing, what we will do is seek to channel all goods through a handful of large retailers and drive every small retailer out of business. This has happened already in the grocery industry where there are simply 2, 3 or, at the most, 4 major grocery retailers in Australia today. That is how it has happened; the small man could not compete because he could not buy in bulk or at a price even remotely close to that paid by the big retailer. Even if he could give the little services that a small retailer can give, he could not overcome price. I know enough about the business world to know that there are some areas in which personal service would count, such as in the clothing industry. But when one is buying a 9 oz pack of peas, or marmalade or whatever it may be, it has nothing to do with service, quality, style or fashion. It is a product and that is the price one pays for it. People will go where they can buy the product at the best price. That is simply what has happened in our food industry today. All the small people have been forced out of the industry. I can understand that there are some instances where these practices can possibly be justified but they are very rare instances. The essence of this alteration to the Act, is, that the onus of proof shall be on those restricting trade to prove that their practice was justified in the public interest.
– I rise at this moment to discuss clause 49 of the Bill, relating to pricing arrangements or what is more familiarly called price discrimination. I do so because I believe this clause clearly illustrates one of the great difficulties we face in analysing the Bill and making up our minds as to whether or not it is in the best interests of the consumer and the Australian economy. I make the preliminary comment that it is extremely difficult to understand exactly what clause 49 means. It lacks precision. No Bill should be pushed into law unless it is clear to the average person what is meant by it and unless the business people who must carry on commerce and trade and matters of that kind know precisely what are their legal rights and obligations. I do not think there are many people on the opposite side of the House who would argue very effectively about that proposition.
I made it clear when I spoke in this place yesterday that I did not like the provisions of sub-clause (4) which relates to restrictive practices - that is, contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade, monopolisation, exclusive dealing, resale price maintenance, price discrimination, mergers and matters of a similar kind. As I have said, I believe clause 49 crystalises as perfectly as I can imagine all the difficulties that I want to put before the Committee today. This clause provides:
A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, directly or indirectly, discriminate between different purchasers of goods . . .
I believe that summarises pretty effectively what sub-clause .(1) of clause 49 means. But it has been realised that some difficulties have been thrown up in the past relating to pricing arrangements that ought to be protected because they would be in the interests of the consumer. Proposed sub-section (2) therefore states:
Sub-section (1) does not apply in relation to a discrimination in relation to prices if -
the discrimination makes only reasonable allowance for differences in the cost of manufacture, sale or delivery resulting from the differing methods by which or quantities in which the goods are sold or delivered to the purchasers;
Proposed sub-section (3) provides that the onus of proof in showing that sub-section (1) does not apply in relation to discrimination by reason of sub-section (2) is on the party asserting that sub-section (1) does not apply. I never like the onus of proof being on any party other than the Crown itself. The Crown has a responsibility of ensuring that the law is observed and if it has the courage and determination and the goodwill of the people at heart, it ought to act in the interests of society as a whole and should take the full responsibility for taking action that it regards as right and in the interests of the economy, society, the consumer and, for that matter, all people.
I think it would be pretty well known by now that clause 49 is roughly based upon the Robinson-Patman Act of the United States. I believe it is regrettable that we have relied a little too heavily in this case on importing people from overseas to do a job that can be done far better by the members of the Attorney-General’s Department of this country and the Parliamentary Counsel. They know the law as it exists here. They know the customs and practices and the environment in which changes to the law have to be and should be made. From my long experience with that Department, I would put them in the forefront of legal and intellectual quality. I would not want to be introducing Americans to do a job, particularly when they come here with little or no knowledge of Australian conditions.
However, I return to the Robinson-Patman Act because I think it has been found that that Act, parts of which, as I have said, have been roughly incorporated in this Bill, has proved to be ineffective. It has clearly shown that it has the tendency to impair competition, to restrict technological change and also to restrict innovation. It has also been frequently said - and I believe commonly accepted - that in the United States itself it is believed that the Robinson-Patman Act is in need of major over haul. I therefore regret to a considerable extent the fact that this has not been treated in a way that I believe could be readily understood and readily accommodated by the business community.
I believe that subclause 2 is deserving of very substantial amendment and very considerable change because there is no doubt whatsoever that in certain circumstances there can be great benefits to consumers who are able to purchase in quantities; in other words, if we are able to go to a manufacturer and say T will take 200 items.’ when we purchase those 200 items we will get them at a cheaper price than if we ordered one or two items. Let me illustrate the position with regard to discount stores. Discount stores order in large quantities. Consequently they are able not only to get a more satisfactory and a lower price but also because of their merchandising methods they are able to pass on the advantages to the Australian consumer. In the case of discount houses, as you would well know, Mr Deputy Chairman, it means that mum, dad and the kids are the people who will benefit. It means that the person who wants to purchase one or two items wants to get the very best price that he is able to get. In other words, purchasing in bulk, as is done by discount stores, is anti-inflationary and the Australian people are the beneficiaries. The Australian people are the ones who will benefit.
I believe that this applies equally in the case of many of the big retail stores that exist in capital and other cities because if they buy in bulk, because of the economies of scale in production resulting in a reduction both in overheads and probably through a more efficient use of resources and better techniques, they are able to sell at a better price. If we use this Bill in the way in which it is intended to be used - and the motivating force is trying to restrict these activities - I believe it will have an inflationary impact and it will do harm to the Australian community. In other words, I believe that the clause under discussion is capable of ever so much more precise definition.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer. For some reason, absolutely unknown and not capable of comprehension by me, the Bill itself specifically provides that in the case of price arrangements under clause 49 the corporation involved will not have the opportunity under the relevant part of the Bill - I believe it is clause 88 - to go to the Commission and ask for an authorisation in a particular case. Why were corporations discriminated against? In a situation in which great benefits could be given to producers why were not they given the opportunity to be able to get an authorisation as is provided in the main provisions under clause 45 in relation to a contract in restraint of trade or commerce whether the contract is made before or after the commencement of operation of the subclause?
In summary, it is clearly indicative that this Bill has not been given enough attention. It can have disadvantages for the purchaser and it can therefore be inflationary if it is carried to any great length. It means that people cannot purchase in bulk and expect to get exactly the same advantages. In respect of authorisations, I believe they should be put in the same position as those other contracts, conspiracies or whatever else it might be in restraint of trade. They should be placed in exactly the same position. They should not be discriminated against. I believe this is a bad clause but I believe that there are other clauses that are equally as bad.
– This Bill will bring to the people of Australia, to the consumers and to many many thousands of businessmen alike a protection and opportunity that has long been lacking within this country. Business of today has learned to live with the existing legislation much of which has been based on the United States legislation particularly in relation to clause 45 which is based largely on the Sherman Act and in relation to clause 49 which is based on the RobinsonPatman Act. To listen to the comments of mem.bers of the Oppoosition one would think that the United States measures had failed completely but in fact the United States has learned to live with that legislation and it has progressed. It is to the discredit of the present Opposition that in its long period of office in government it did not do something for the Australian people as far as consumer legislation is concerned.
Much has been said about clause 49, particularly by the previous speaker, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon), in reference to economies of scale. It is all very well to say that if you buy in bulk or you buy in large quantities - though really it is stage 1 of the economies of scale of manufacture - that ought to enable a manufacturer or a distributor to gain a saving that ought to be passed on to the retailer. I think sub-clause (2) (a) of clause 49 very clearly sets this out. It says: the discrimination makes only reasonable allowance for differences in the cost of manufacture, sale or delivery resulting from the differing methods by which or quantities in which the goods are sold or delivered to the purchasers;
In practical terms that describes the savings that can be effected. If there are savings to be gained from larger orders or larger deliveries they ought to be the only reason for a differential in price in supplying goods to retailers or to intermediate wholesalers. It is a fact of businesslife within Australia that price discrimination does exist on a very wide scale and as one of the previous speakers said, one has only to look at the food industry to see the massive diminution in retailing that has taken place and the tremendous growth in sales per head over the last 20 years in this country. I cannot see any more practical way of describing how the differential that may exist can be defined than that set out in clause 49(2)(a). If on the other hand manufacturers, importers, distributors or wholesalers are able to have a particular vague area of discrimination this legislation will have been of no avail at all. Clause 49(1) refers to directly or indirectly discriminating between different purchasers of goods of like grade and quality. Again it is a very common practice in Australian business life for a firm to turn out different brands, as happens with one of the refrigeration manufacturing companies in Australia making 32 different brands of refrigerators which are delivered out of the same factory. It must of course follow that many of those brands are very much alike - the cubic capacity, the cost of operation and the general design. The differences in the product are only superficial. From actual business practice a broad type of definition is needed to group those products together. I feel that the expression ‘purchasers of goods of like grade and quality’ is very apt.
Let us look at clause 46 which was mentioned by the previous speaker in relation to the definition of monopoly and the comment that has been made that there ought to be some mathematical definition of what constitutes monopoly. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the original proposals of Sir Garfield Barwick in 1962 when he defined monopoly as acquiring or using monopoly power, which was essentially the power to fix or influence market price or prevent competition, with the intention of stopping entry into the market or an expansion of it.
From business practice it is a very well known fact that one could have 32 per cent of the market and have much more influence within the market than a firm occupying 33 per cent of the control of the market. It is quite impractical to suggest that there ought to be a mathematical definition of what constitutes monopoly. Of course, it will be left to the court to decide what constitutes monopoly power or monopoly influence. At some stage one has to deal with the practicalities of business life. It has to be left open in that way to determine where power has been the influence. It is quite possible that IS per cent to 20 per cent of market share could be sufficient to influence the market and to be exercising all those advantages which flow to the monopolist or oligopolist in exercising that 15 per cent to 20 per cent power. We hear continual requests from honourable members opposite for clear and precise definitions. They know very well, if they examine business within this country, that business does not operate under clear and precise definitions. It goes where there is a profit and it makes its own rules as it goes along. It does not operate strictly on percentage margins, on percentage shares of the market or on who gets what. It is ‘grab what you can while you can’.
It is very interesting to say that the large buyers in bulk or those who are able to gain a discriminatory price at the expense of the smaller retailer or wholesaler are passing on to the consumer some saving. That is arrant nonsense. What happens within this country is that those companies or sellers which are able to extort for various reasons - whether by share of the market, interlocking boards of directors, connections or shareholdings in the companies concerned or a vertical organisation - and are able to gain a price lower than is available generally on the market, taking into account costs of delivery and the other practical and real costs incurred in delivering goods, are then passing on to the final stage of the consumer stream those prices and gaining profits which the other retailer cannot obtain. So in effect the consumer who is buying from the smaller retailer pays a higher price, which subsidises the operations of the firm obtaining the discriminatory price. It is absolute nonsense to say that this is anti-inflationary in its nature.
It is obvious from practice in Australia that if one has the pressure, the weight and the connections one gets the right price. To refer to some of the discount houses as being antiinflationary and helping mum, dad and the kids is just so much rot. If one has the power and can obtain the right price one can make a greater profit at the consumer level. What really ought to be happening is that a price ought to be available to all business people, after having taken into account the different costs in delivery. It is very well under clauses 46 and 49, when one refers to the advantage that will flow to a smaller business as a result of this legislation, at some stage to compare the ability to purchase of the smaller businessman and the consumer. I would say that the untrained consumer and the smaller businessman without the benefits of the expertise of large-scale buying and large-scale organisations, are no match at all for the highly skilled, nationally organised vendor with all the benefits of the law available to him and all the benefits of inter-company connections.
– Competition in business is not complete virtue. Monopoly per se is not wicked. The purpose of government in this field has always been to chart a course between the Scylla of unbridled competition and the Charybdis of ruthless monopoly power, and the star to chart that course has always been the public interest.
– Who said that?
– I did.
– How do you define ‘public interest’?
– I am glad for the interjection asking how one defines public interest because that is the chief distinction between the existing legislation and the proposals in this Bill. What we have in the Bill, as exemplified by the clauses to which we are speaking at the moment, is an importation of an American concept of trust busting into an Australian business environment. The United States of America has a massive mass market and a population many times that of Australia. The Americans have always approached this question on the basis of busting the trusts - busting the monopolies. They had the bald statement first of all in the Sherman Act that monopolies are wicked; no one is to have a monopoly power. I suggest that they have mistaken the existense of a monopoly for the ruthless exercise of monopoly power. There are state monopolies which exist in Australia. I refer to the post office and the railways. The way in which postal charges have been manipulated bv this Government in the Budget may well be regarded as exercising a monopoly powers which is pernicious. So this does not apply only to private enterprise. These practices and the exercise of ruthless monopoly power can be exercised by state monopolies. For example, they can be exercised by monopolies such as the Pipeline Authority which this Government has attempted to set up.
All through history there has been a concern for the public interest. How to define it. of course, is a matter of some concern. But it needs to be defined in the Bill. The definition in these clauses is so vague and meaningless as to give no guide at all to what is meant by pernicious monopolies or what is contrary to the public interest. Let me refer the Committee to the proposals in the existing legislation. In section 37 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1971 where it defines the public interest as one-third of the market. It defines that market and it refers to a dominant position of trade and the supply of goods in a particular market. That is something which a court, a tribunal or a commission, or even the ordinary citizen, could look at and test the operations of a business enterprise against the criteria in the Act to decide whether what is being done is contrary to the public interest.
Let me turn to the clauses of this Bill to see what they say about the public interest. In dealing with monopolisation the Bill says that a corporation that is in a position substantially to control a market for goods or services shall not take advantage of that position. It then goes on to list the things that it is not supposed to do. But what does it mean by saying that one is in a position substantially to control a market for goods, and what market Ls one speaking about? Is it the market in relation to a suburb? Is it a market in relation to a city, a State or the Commonwealth? The legislation is silent on this, the legislation that this Bill seeks to repeal contained a clear definition of what the market was going to be. How does one work out from this definition and how does the Restrictive Trade Practices Tribunal or the Commission that is proposed to be set up determine what is contrary to the public interest? What criteria are they to use? We are not told in the Bill, and presumably this will be left completely wide open. I pointed out that it is not simply a question of saying that all monopolies are wicked.
All through history legislation has been sought to attack what has been known traditionally in common law as a pernicious monopoly. There have been monopolies in previous days which were created by royal patent. I am reminded that John Peeche in 1373 obtained a monopoly patent to become the sole retailer of sweet wine in London. Also, Sir Walter Raleigh was the holder of a monopoly in wine licences and a monopoly for the export of broad cloth. It was because of the power exercised by monopolies in Elizabethan and Tudor times that the Statute of Monopolies of 1624 was introduced by the Parliament of that time. That Statute struck at pernicious monopolies - not monopolies, per se, but pernicious ones - those which affected the public interest to its detriment. Perhaps the Committee might remember the most recent type of government monopoly which was broken by a very famous gentleman in India. Before independence, the Indian Government had a monopoly in salt. That monopoly was broken by Mahatma Gandhi.
These are instances of monopolies. They may exist. They may not be pernicious. In some cases, they may even be in the public interest. So, it is the criteria of whether these monopolies are contrary to the public interest that is the important function to look at. This Bill proposes to change the system which we have in Australia and to convert it more into an Americanised procedure. As I said, the American approach is entirely different from the approach that Australia has adopted. What we have done in Australia has been to have regard to the market size of the country and the stage of economic development that we have reached. We have looked at the business community in a realistic way and we have proposed legislation which has been modelled very largely on the British experience.
In the 1971 Trade Practices Act certain practices are prohibited altogether. Collusive tendering, collusive bidding and unlawful resale price maintenance are some practices, for example, which have been prohibited. Other practices are declared to be examinable agreements or practices. Persons engaged in them are required to register them with the
Registrar of Trade Practices so that they may then be examined by a commissioner to see whether they are contrary to the public interest. That seems to me to be a most sensible way of approaching the question of monopolies and restrictive trade practices in Australia. It seems to me to be more sensible to approach the question in that way than to declare all of these practices to be illegal and then to have some commission investigate people to see whether they are infringing the legislation. Such an authority will be swamped with prosecutions and the argument that business will be the better for it or that the consumer will be the better for it is fallacious in the extreme. The British Act seems to have produced remarkable success. We are still faced with remarkable cases in the United States of America of the naked exercise of monopoly power notwithstanding the fact that that country has had trust busting legislation since almost the turn of the century.
– The frequent references that are made to the American influence on this Bill call for an answer. I can assure the Committee that the officers who are responsible for this Bill and certainly all of this detail were the very officers who were responsible for the trade practices legislation enacted by the previous Government.
– But you have American advisers.
– Yes. They did have the benefit of some advice and some assistance on the way in which the American system works.
– From America.
– Yes, indeed. But you are criticising the drafting. I will say a few words about that in a moment. I wanted to be brief. But if the honourable member wishes to interject, I cannot be brief. Those officers had the benefit of some advice. Indeed, why should they not have that advice? It is a reasonable assumption that in a situation such as this we could benefit from the experience of Britain, America and Canada. The Americans and the Canadians probably have had more experience In this field than any other countries. A Mr Dietrich who was General Counsel to the United States Federal Trade Commission gave the Parliamentary Counsel the benefit of his advice. I am informed that the draftsman who actually did this work - and we are proud of the quality of his work - is Mr Geoff Kolts of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. As is well known, the First Parliamentary Counsel is Mr Charles Comans. I pay a short tribute to the work done by these men. Honourable members opposite again have used their time by being critical–
– Yesterday, honourable members opposite were saying that they did not have enough time to discuss this legislation. Today, they are talking irrelevancies. They knew that the problem was there for solution since 1961. Now honourable members opposite want more time to debate the legislation. I wish to pay a short tribute to the work of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. The officers of that Office have done a magnificent job for the Government since it came to power. They have done an absolutely magnificent job. It was always thought that the bottleneck to an imaginative course of legislative reform would be the shortage of parliamentary counsel because this is a world-wide problem. But the Office of Parliamentary Counsel under the direction of Mr Charles Comans has reacted magnificently and his officers have worked extremely hard and extremelycapably. This magnificent Bill in large measure is the result of their labours.
I wish to make one point in response to the remarks of the last speaker, the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke), who talked about market and monopolies. He used the expression ‘one third of the market’, which is an alternative to the one used by the Government in its legislation. I suggest to the honourable member that, on reflection, that is really a term that is illusory. If one has to determine what is a market, I point out that a market involves a consideration of the substitutes and the alternatives to a particular commodity, as the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) has mentioned. The better test surely is to leave the determination of a market to the professional bodies which will investigate that aspect and reach decisions in that regard. Ultimately, if it becomes necessary, determination rests with the Industrial Court.
On the question of. monopoly, I refer again to the remarks of the previous speaker whose speech was typical of the contributions made, if I may so, by Opposition members. He said that the offence, as it were - it is not really an offence - is the offence of being a monopoly.
That is not the case. One has only to read the Bill to see that. If one looks at clause 46 of the Bill which deals with monopolisation, and not monopoly, practices, one sees that that clause describes the course of conduct that is to be discouraged - I will put it in that form here - as that conducted by a monopoly, but the actual behaviour is spelt out in 3 paragraphs to the first sub-clause of clause 46. That clause provides:
That defines a monopoly -
What could be more specific than that? These terms are well understood in courts of law. The clause continues:
. directed to -
It is the conduct by monopoly, not the actual situation of being a monopoly, that is to be discouraged. It goes on:
Those forms of conduct are frowned upon and discouraged. It is behaviour and conduct of that type that is the gist of the legislataion.
I put it to the honourable member for Petrie that he is way off the beam when he says that it is monopolisation as such that is involved. In many ways I would agree with him when he says that one must look at the way in which monopolies and competition works. One surely must take a stand as the common law always has in these matters and say, prima facie, that competition produces a healthier situation than monopolies produce because there are greater dangers from monopolies than there is from competition. I have already taken the Committee through the remarks of the former member for Berowra on that point in which he described the benefits of competition.
– I rise in an endeavour to obtain information from the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) about clause 51 of this Bill. I am mindful of the restricted time in which we are able to debate the clauses of the Bill. In general practice I agree that competition is sound and should be encouraged. I hope that the Government takes that aboard and heeds it in the things that it does. I want to raise certain aspects relating to services within this Commonwealth of ours. I will name an organisation and a certain co-operative to obtain the information from the Minister about their position under this Bill, or this Act as the Minister hopes it will be. I refer to the Co-operative Bulk Handling Company of Western Australia which is in fact an agent operating, in the main, for the Australian Wheat Board. There we have 2 establishments which have been set up under Acts of Parliament which have been proved to be operating in the public interest. My question is simply this: Under this Bill what is the position of operations similar to those of the co-operative I have mentioned? I think that this matter is dealt with in the exceptions set out in clause 51, but it is not clear to me precisely what would be the situation relating to such establishments. The Minister mentioned that it is the action of the companies involved in such a practice - that is a practice of trade or providing services - which is relevant to this Bill. Organisations such as the two I have mentioned for purposes of reference to this clause, have proved themselves to be efficient. I am sure, in the mind not only of the people of Australia and the people whom they represent but also of the governments of the various State and the Commonwealth Government of Australia. We hope that they will be able to continue to play the role they have been playing for the last 20 odd years. I would like specific clarification by the Minister on the point I have raised. I have raised it only in a limited way. I am conscious of the shortage of time. There would be many more cooperatives and establishments such as those I have mentioned that have been set up, and I would like a clear definition as to what their situation will be under this Bill.
– It is exactly 23 minutes to 5. I draw the attention of the Parliament and of the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) to the fact that we are still talking about clause 50. There are 169 clauses in the Bill yet we have been given some 200 minutes to discuss the Bill. I regard this as a disgraceful exercise of the most ruthless bulldozing I have seen in a long time. The Government has given us no time to discuss such an important and far reaching Bill as this.
Quickly I pass to some other points. The aspect of monopoly has been discussed at length. I would like to turn quickly to clause 47 sub-clause (1) and again underline the lack of definition that pertains in this Bill. That sub-clause states.
A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in the practice of exclusive dealing if an effect of the corporation engaging in that practice will be or may be substantially to lessen competition-
I foresee the day in the not too distant future when the courts of Australia will be clogged with people trying to get definitions and explanations on whether they have done the right thing.
I turn to clause 50, which deals with mergers. This is a beauty. Clause 50 sub-clause (1) states:
A corporation shall not acquire, directly or indirectly, any shares in the capital, or any assets, of a body corporate where an effect of the acquisition will be or may be substantially to lessen competition or to tend to result in the corporation being in a position substantially to control a market for goods or services.
We know that sub-clause (9) of clause 90 enables the Government to ensure that a merger is permissible if in the Government’s view there are special considerations which conform to the interests of the national economic policy. What a lot of fine words. But who the devil will know what in the mind of the Government, particularly if it is an Australian Labor Party Government, are considerations which will conform to the interests of the national economic policy?
With 5 minutes of the debate on this Bill remaining it is unfair of me to hold the floor any longer, but I would like to record my protest at the manner in which this Bill has been rushed through the Parliament with so little discussion. The debate has been totally inadequate. It is a terribly important Bill, yet with 5 minutes of the debate to go we are only a short way through the Committee’s considerations. I hope that my friend from Western Australia, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) who is to follow me also chastises the Government.
– I was going to rise before but I knew .that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) wanted to speak on this Bill and so I held my place. But I cannot let the opportunity go by without rejecting what the honourable member for Griffith had to say about the Bill.
– Where have you been all afternoon.
– I have been in the Parliament and I have been listening to the debate. I know what has been going on. I am disappointed at the attitude of members of the Opposition, because as far as I can see they do not have the real interests of the consumers in Australia at heart. They are representing a sectional group of people in this country. If there were any validity in their arguments, surely they would want to see legislation come before this Parliament which would protect the people of Australia - not only the consumers, of course, but also the people who manufacture goods. A few years ago it was my privilege to have dinner with a senior executive of S. S. Kresge and Co. of America who was in Australia for negotiations about operating K Marts in Australia in cooperation with G. J. Coles and Co. Ltd. He told me that he agreed with the trade practices legislation in the United States. He said that it was good for competition and that it protected individuals in that country against unfair competition. He informed me that it did not matter whether one bought one unit or a million; the price to the producer was the same. As he is a very big business man and somebody representing big business in his country, he held that this was in the interests, not only of the consumer but also of business as a whole. I hope that the Committee considers carefully the clauses of the Bill, because I believe that they are a very important and integral part of the Bill. I believe that the carrying and putting into operation of this Bill will be of benefit not only to the consumer and the manufacturer but also to the country as a whole.
– I thank the Committee for the opportunity in the last couple of minutes of this dying debate to have a final word to say. I hope I will not prevent the Minister answering many of the questions that have been put to him this afternoon. I will cut even what I have to say very short. I would like to have discussed at greater length the operation of clause 45 of the Bill, and I direct the Minister’s attention to it. By subclause (1) all contracts in restraint of trade or commerce are declared to be unlawful - insofar as that contract confers rights or benefits or imposes duties or obligations on a corporation. I have tried to look very carefully through the
Bill to find out whether there is any saving of the common law, because we know that at the common law contracts in restraint of trade are not absolutely void. Some contracts in restraint of trade may be found by the courts to be not against public policy either because they are in the interests of the individuals or corporations who have entered into the contract or because they are in the public interest. But as I read this Bill, wherever the Bill, if it becomes an Act, applies to a contract in restraint of trade, the courts are excluded from considering whether that contract in its particular terms and the persons to whom it particularly applies, is not unlawful. If I am right in my reading of the Bill, this provision operates in a way in which I would expect the Government does not intend it to operate because clause 88 provides for an authorisation of a contract in restraint of trade, but it does not cover the particular instance I have mentioned. I take my remarks no further. I ask the Minister for an explanation.
– Order! The time allotted for the Committee stage of the Bill has expired. The question is: That the amendment be agreed to’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question now is: That clauses 45 to 51, as amended, the remainder of the Bill and amendments circulated by the Government be agreed to and that the Bill be reported with amendments’.
Government amendments -
In clause 88, sub-clause (2), before “having”, insert “(other than a contract between, or a combination of, persons in connexion with the production, manufacture, mining, supply or acquisition of goods by those persons on a joint basis)”.
In clause 88, sub-clause (2), omit “or services”.
In clause 90, after sub-clause (5), insert the following sub-clause: - “(5a) Nothing in paragraph (5)(b) affects the question whether a contract or combination is in restraint of trade or commerce for the purposes of section 45.”.
Question put. The Committee divided.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Enderby) - by leave - proposed:
That the report be adopted.
– I move: -
That under the provisions of standing order 236 this Bill be recommitted.
This is one of the most extraordinary episodes in the parliamentary history of Australia. This House has been given 4 hours to debate a Bill of immense economic and social significance. Honourable members were given 3± hours in Committee to consider 169 clauses - 210 minutes to consider 169 clauses. This works out at approximately 1.25 minutes per clause. If there is any reason why the Bill should be recommitted that reason will be found in the speeches of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby). It is quite clear that neither of those honourable gentlemen, who at one time or another have been in charge of this Bill, has read the Bill. If the Minister for Services and Property had to put his hand on the Bible and swear to whether he had read the Bill the honourable gentleman would find himself in an acutely embarrassing position. What a disgrace it is to find in charge of a Bill 2 Ministers who have not read that Bill.
What is the argument used by the Minister for Secondary Industry? He said that we have had since 1961 to consider this measure. Let that be conceded. The humanities have had thousands of years to consider the ramifications of sin. We on this side of the House are not concerned about the outlawing of monopolies or restrictive trade practices - we are agreed with the Government on the need for this to be done - but we are concerned about the system by which it will be done. Our submissions have been along the lines of pointing out to the Government, and in particular to the Minister for Services and Property and the Minister for Secondary Industry, that this is an imperfect system.
I will illustrate that point very quickly to the honourable gentlemen. Surely it is not* within the Government’s consideration that an everyday arrangement such as, say, a hire purchase agreement should be caught up and enmeshed within the provisions of clause 45 of this Bill. There are more than 1.2 million hire purchase agreements in existence in this country today. But conceivably under this provision hire purchase agreements can be completely outlawed. Surely it is not the intention of the Minister that that should be so. I invite him to consider the ramifications of that one illustration which I have given.
The second ground upon which this Bill should be recommitted is in the attitude of the 2 Ministers. The Minister for Services and Property was asked this morning in a very civil and proper fashion to give some explanation of certain matters. Has he given that explanation? No, he has not. He was asked questions such as would he please explain what is meant by the expression ‘substantially to control’. Does it mean a control in terms of 60 per cent or 70 per cent? It was pointed out to the Minister that a mere control was not enough; it had to be a substantial control. The honourable gentleman was asked to give an explanation of this. The honourable gentleman was asked a series of questions by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner), the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) and the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke). Were any answers forthcoming from the Minister? No, there were not - not one.
I come now to the speeches made by the Minister for Secondary Industry. At least he did, under considerable pressure, offer an explanation as to why there were no appellate provisions on the question of law as distinct from on the question of fact. The honourable gentleman gave a reply which can best be described as dubious. The fact of the matter remains that the parliamentary tradition is heavily embarrassed and heavily attacked when the Parliament itself behaves in this fashion. Let me say to honourable gentlemen opposite that I have always objected to the guillotine device, and I have done so more particularly when matters of great moment have had to be discussed. During the time when I sat on the other side of the House I raised my voice in protest and my vote was in protest against what took place. What has occurred today is quite beyond all realms of toleration. I refer to the fact that a Bill of 169 clauses and of immense significance has been debated and dismissed in 210 minutes. Is there any member of the Australian public who would regard this as being a satisfactory way for the national Parliament to behave? I say to the Minister for Services and Property that he has behaved in a disgraceful fashion, and that is about the kindest thing that I can find to say of him.
I invite the Government to consider what it is doing on 2 grounds. I ask it to consider the significance of the measure. We are agreed as to the need to control and to regulate the practices which are involved, but we are concerned with the imperfection of the system which the Government offers. It has given scant attention to this system itself. It has thrust the Bill through all stages in a matter of 210 minutes. I appeal to the Minister - I hope it will not be a forlorn appeal - to regard the attack, the savaging, of the parliamentary institution on that basis, if on no other. I hope that the honourable gentleman will respond to the appeal I make so that the House can go into Committee and consider with a fresh and, I hope, a patient eye some of the implications which are involved.
– You did not move a single amendment in Committee.
– It is not a case of being able to move a single amendment.
– You did not even try.
– The Minister is now saying that we did not try. We reached the stage of considering clauses 45 to 51 when time ran out. There are another 120 clauses to be considered. I can assure the honourable gentleman that if I had the opportunity when we came to considering clause 90 he would have found out whether he had some amendments on his hands. The honourable gentleman apparently wants them engraved in Sanskrit or something and dumped on his table in front of him before he would understand what is involved. The appeal I make to the House is based on 2 grounds. The first is the absolutely clear fact that the Government itself has not the foggiest idea of what is in this Bill. It is all very fine for the Minister for Secondary Industry to say that the officers who drafted this Bill were the same officers who served governments of our kith in years gone by. That is not in contest. The reputation and integrity of the officers :s in no way under challenge. What is under challenge and in question is the quality and the character of the instructions which the Government gave to those officers to draw this Bill. It is all very fine to use such robust language as: ‘We need a Bill with teeth’. I suppose some lions have teeth, too - maneating lions at that. Surely the Minister will not regard that as a satisfactory explanation for dismissing consideration of a Bill of this significance.
The second ground, and I suppose the more substantial ground in the ultimate, for wishing to have this Bill recommitted is the damage which is being done to this Parliament by the fashion in which massive legislation is pitched through the House in scant time. What is the point in having a Parliament? If the Parliament cannot and will not consider matters of significance, the only other place in which people will be given an opportunity to consider them is in the street. Surely that is not the wish of honourable gentlemen opposite. As long as we can preserve the right of free men and free women .to discuss in a free, responsible and rational way matters of policy and matters which concern the safety of the state then the state is in effect assured of a safe position. But honourable gentlemen opposite, brick by brick, are demolishing the safety of the state by the manner in which they are behaving. I make this appeal to them today. Maybe it will be a forlorn one. Yet at some time people will come back into this House and show them how to behave with responsibility.
– Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, I second the motion. I endorse the remarks of my friend the honourable member for Moreton (Mt Killen). I feel as he does, that this is a complete disgrace and an abuse of the parliamentary forms and practices. We had completed consideration only up to clause 44 of the Bill. Clauses 45 to 51 were under discussion when time ran out. I remind you, Mr Speaker, that at the time the guillotine came down the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) had asked a question and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) had not replied. This perhaps may not be considered altogether significant because nearly all the questions that have been asked from this side of the House, many of them technical questions, have not been replied to. The most important parts of the Bill are those parts which have not been debated.
If you will look at the Green Paper which was presented to this House yesterady, Sir, you will see that it was the Government’s original intention to complete consideration of the Bill yesterday, almost without debate. The third reading was put down. When we started to bring up matters in regard to this Bill the guillotine was applied. This did not give us time to speak about the really relevant matters. I mentioned that at the time the guillotine came down we were considering clauses 45 to 51. Related to these clauses is a drafting provision which may well exercise the attention of the Government. I was hopeful of bringing forward this matter, but I was not allowed to do so. It would appear that an error has been made because these clauses which impose liabilities, the neglect of which constitute offences, have been drawn in such a way that in the Territories - I speak only of the Territories - the trade unions will be brought within the ambit of these clauses. I think that this was not the intention of the Government. I do not think that the Government meant to do this. But as I have said there has been a drafting error. These clauses apply to corporations.
If honourable members look at the Bill they will see that the definition of ‘corporation* includes a body corporate that is incorporated in a Territory. Outside the Territories it applies only to financial and trading corporations. But in a Territory it applies to all the bodies corporate. That would include for certain the North Australian Workers Union and it may well include the branches of other unions which are operated inside the Territories. I do not think that the Government meant to do this. I think it is just a drafting error. But because we- have not had time to debate the Bill, because I did not get a chance to raise this matter and ask the Minister a question in regard to it, it would appear that this Bill as it is going through this House does not even carry out the intentions of the Government. Many honourable members have drawn attention to the slipshod and ambiguous terms in which this Bill is drafted. For example - here I have to say something which, I am afraid, is of some significance - the Industrial Court can apply penalties up to $250,000 for very ill-defined actions.
-Order! The honourable gentleman must confine his remarks to the reasons why this Bill should be re-committed.
– Yes, that is what I am saying.
-The honourable member is now starting to discuss the substance of the Bill. I ask the honourable member to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Bill should be re-committed.
– Yes, Sir. I am endeavouring to do that. What I am saying is that there are matters which have not been considered in Committee. The matter to which 1 referred was never considered in Committee because it was never reached in Committee. Because this matter is of such importance and has not been discussed in Committee the Bill should be re-committed. That is one of the reasons why the Bill should be re-committed. This very important matter was not reached in Committee and has never been debated in this House.
Under the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which established the Court there is no provision for appeal from the Court. It is a fair and a good Court as it stands today. But I find that yesterday an amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed by the Senate, and it empowers the Government to destroy this Court because it removes the limit on the number of judges that can be appointed. Now we can have a kangaroo court which the Government can-
– Order! I have already requested the honourable gentleman to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Bill should be re-committed, not to the substance of the Bill.
– This is the reason, Sir. I am saying that these are matters which have not been debated in Committee and for that reason the Bill should be re-committed. Surely I am within the bounds of Standing Orders in saying this. I am not trying to deal with the details of the Bill. I am pointing out that there are major matters in the Bill which require consideration in Committee and that these matters have never been reached in Committee and they have not been discussed by the Committee. This is a reason for re-committing the Bill.
I want to reiterate what has been said by my friends on this side of the House that the Opposition is not opposed to the principle of this Bill. In many ways we think it an ineffectual Bill but we think also that the real purpose of it has not been revealed as yet. It seems to us that the real purpose of the Bill goes far beyond what its sponsors put forward. We want to control abuses in business and the abuses of monopolies. These are cries which find an echo on this side of the House. We started the process when we were in government. It is quite right and proper that we should help the process to proceed. But we are very dubious as to the methods by which this Government proposed to proceed. We are very dubious indeed as to the bona fides of the Government. It seems to some of us that the Government is lying low. It has its plans of socialisation. This Bill is part of them. This little quirk about the Industrial
Court dovetails in with the contents of this Bill.
We have not had a chance to discuss this. We have not had a chance to look at it. It is very easy for the Government to come forward and say that it is in favour of open Government and of telling the people everything. The Government says that it is in favour of letting the House debate these matters. But the House has not had an opportunity of debating them. We loked at the blue business sheet when this matter was first brought forward by the Government and we saw that it proposed to proceed to the third reading stage on that same night. This Bill is perhaps one of the most far-reaching that has ever been brought into the Parliament.
-Order! If the honourable gentleman reads Hansard tomorrow he will see that he is debating the substance of the Bill. I ask the honourable gentleman to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Bill should be re-committed.
– The real reason why it should be re-committed it that this is a most important Bill with very far-reaching consequences - a Bill of which the Opposition has the very gravest suspiscions, although it supports the professed intention of the Bill. While these things are true, we have not as yet had an opportunity to debate those matters. This basically is the reason for the recommittal proposal. There are 2 sides to the argument. The first side is that we have not had a chance to debate the Bill in detail. As I said, of the 169 clauses, including the most important clauses, debate was concluded on only the first 44 clauses. Debate on clauses 45 to 51 was part heard. But the clauses after clause 51 had not been considered at all.
This is disgraceful. It is quite clear that much more time should have been available for the consideration of this measure before it came into the House and for the debate on this measure in the House. I am not saying for one moment that there need to be indefinite delay or an indefinite deferment of the legislation, but we were faced from the start with evidence of Government bad faith in the handling of this Bill. The Government has to be thoroughly ashamed of itself and it has to take to odium and the blame for what it is doing in this Parliament with this Bill, as in other matters. Time and time again important
Bills have been brought into this Parliament by this Government and steam-rolled through at the last moment.
– Order! That has nothing to do with the recommittal of this Bill.
– Except that it shows the pattern, Mr Speaker.
– Order!, What the Government has done on other occasions has nothing to do with the reasons why this Bill should be recommitted. I ask the honourable gentleman to confine his remarks to the reasons.
– Let me join up the argument for you, Sir, if I may. I am saying that this Bill should be recommitted because there is bad faith on the part of the Government behind it, and as evidence of that bad faith I am showing what the Government has done in other cases to show pattern - to show system, I think is the lawyers’ phrase - in regard to these matters. This is part of a pattern and the Opposition has the gravest suspicions. That could be argued by the Government but what could not be argued by the Government is that the questions asked in Committee on the earlier clauses of this Bill have not been answered by the Minister. The Minister from time to time evaded not all but I think 95 per cent of the questions that have been asked on technical grounds by honourable members on this side of the House. The drawing of the Bill is sloppy. The definitions are very ambiguous. Nobody will know where they stand. It has a horrid arbitrariness about it, and this is something which opens ‘the way to all sorts of fear and malpractice. To some extent, this Bill will be ineffectual in repressing those evils which we on both sides of the House agree should be repressed. The Bill in some respects should be strengthened and made better. I hope I have made a case to the House. I am sorry that I have from time to time offended you, Mr Speaker, and that you have had to call my mind to some technical transgressions. I think I have been within my proper terms of reference throughout. I have given to the House sound and solid reasons why this Bill should now be recommitted and should not be steamrollered through as the Government is trying to do.
– I do not intend to spend much time on the greatest time-waster and biggest humbug in the House. All I want to point out is that never have I heard-
Motion (by Mr Cooke) negatived:
That the question be now put.
– The 2 members who moved the motion last night, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who today stated that they had had no time to debate this measure, that they had had no time to consider the implications of it, last night came into this Parliament and treated this whole subject as a joke.
– That is nonsense.
– I will prove it. Last night in relation to clause 1 the following amendment was moved by the honourable member for Mackellar:
Omit the word ‘Trade’ and insert in its place the word ‘Fascist’.
Following that ridiculous approach to what the honourable member knows to be major legislation, he then held up the business of this House for an hour, wasted one hour of the Committee stage, treated the Parliament with contempt and did not give a damn about debating the issue. Now he, one of the princes of humbuggery in this place, comes in and says that he has not had time to debate the Bill. Last night the honourable member for Moreton was also guilty. Their time-wasting was to be deplored.
– Guilty of what?
– Wasting the time of this Parliament. The honourable member treated this Parliament with contempt. The honourable member said that the Government had this Bill listed on the blue sheet as one which was to go right through in a day. The honourable member knows that that statement is false. This paper is only a guide and shows that every Bill goes through the first, second and third reading stages. In making that statement the honourable member deliberately intended to mislead the Parliament and let the one or two outside listening to him think that that was the case. The situation is that there has been 91 hours debate on this measure. In another place they spent 3i hours deciding whether to put consideration of the Bill off until next February. Even before the Opposition knew how long it would have to debate the issue the
Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) had the honourable member for Moreton move this motion:
The House is of the opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until there has been more adequate time to consider the implications contained in the provisions of the Bill.
How did he know the Government would not let the Opposition debate it till next Christmas? Of course, he did not know anything about it. Honourable members opposite talk of the guillotine and of wasting time, but let them remember the 19 Bills in 17 hours that the honourable member for Moreton and the honourable member for Mackellar voted for on one occasion. What has happened today? There are 58 members of the Opposition but to deal with this momentous measure the Opposition could muster only 46. Opposition members will not even attend Parliament to debate it yet they want extra time. As you well know, Mr Speaker, this is humbuggery de-luxe. Today they had all the afternoon, and there was all last night, to debate this Bill. The honourable member for Moreton, who says that he did not get a fair go, spoke 4 times on it today and spoke a lot of rot every time. The honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) spoke 4 times. The honourable member for Mackellar spoke twice and the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) spoke twice. Only 8 Opposition members out of 58 wanted to have any say on this momentous piece of legislation. Not one member of the Australian Country Party spoke.
– That is not true.
– There was only one. I withdraw that. One member late in the piece staggered to his feet and said a few words. And this is on the great issue the Opposition wants to discuss. Only 8 honourable members opposite were interested enough to rise to speak on the Bill. Does not that make a mockery of the Opposition’s claim? The Opposition is holding up the business of the Parliament, yet every honourable member opposite voted against the extended sitting hours for the Parliament that I proposed. These are the people who try to mislead those outside. Honourable members talk about steamrolling the Bill. The wasting of time by this Opposition is known to all and sundry throughout the community. All it is endeavouring to do is frustrate this legislation. Let me remind honourable members opposite that they did not have even a member in charge of this Bill in the Parliament last night, and that is why they got out of control like a lot of hillbillies. There was no one here to look after them and keep them in check. There was not one leading member of the Opposition front bench leading the Opposition on this Bill. There was nobody who could understand it. Now today they come up with this rot.
Of course honourable members opposite will hold up the business of this Parliament and the 2 honourable members who moved this motion are the most guilty men in the Parliament for time-wasting and phoniness. The honourable member for Moreton stood up today fresh from his small debts practice and asked me a lot of legal questions. What is more, it is generally accepted that I gave him ‘better legal answers than he charges for. I think I have shown the Opposition for what it is. It is just wasting time. I give the Opposition this warning: Keep on wasting time and we will all have Christmas dinner in this chamber. It will not worry the Government but I can see that if the Opposition can get only 46 members today it will have about six here on Christmas Day. If honourable members opposite want to debate these measures they should bring their members into the Parliament and see that they vote. When there is a Bill coming in they should rustle up more than 8 of their 58 members to talk on it. But do not let people outside think that honourable members opposite are interested when only 10 per cent or 15 per cent of them are interested in talking on this Bill. The 2 honourable members who moved this motion are condemned for all time as the major time-wasters. They deliberately filibustered this Bill and stopped the Committee getting to all the clauses. Then they say that the Government would not allow them to debate the Bill. I ask the people and the Parliament to judge, knowing full well that they will come down on the side of the Government. I move:
That the question be now put.
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Killen’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr Enderby) - by leave - proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I will not take up a great deal of the time of the House. On a number of occasions Government supporters have said that members of the Opposition were only wasting time in relation to the discussion on this Bill, the implication being that they were not really concerned about the subject matters contained in the Bill. I should like to point to one matter which I think justifies the action that has been taken by members of the Opposition. I refer to a question asked in the speech by my colleague the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett). It relates to the very important matter of where cooperatives and similar organisations stand in regard to this legislation. There is a great deal of confusion in the minds of certain sections of the business community in relation to this matter. That question was not answered. I believe that one of the major reasons why it has not yet been answered is because there is no answer for it at this moment and ‘because there is confusion in the minds of Government supporters in relation to it. I think that completely justifies the action of the Opposition in trying to impress upon the Government the importance of further time being given to consideration of so important a matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Clyde Cameron) agreed to:
That the amendments be taken into consideration of the Committee of the Whole forthwith.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Senate’s amendments -
No. 1 - Page 2, clause 4, line 12, leave out “repealed”, insert “amended -
by omitting the words ‘Commonweauth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’ and substituting the words ‘Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’;
by omitting the words -
Part IV- The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration (Sections 89-97).’; and
by omitting the words ‘Commonwealth Industrial Court’ and substituting the words ‘Australian Industrial Court’ “.
No. 2 - Page 3, clause 6, lines 27-35, leave out paragraph (a), insert the following paragraph: “(a) by inserting after paragraph (e) of sub-section (1) the following word and paragraph: - ; or(f) being an officer, delegate or member of an organization, has done, or proposes to do, an act or thing which is lawful for the purpose of furthering or protecting the industrial interests of the organization or its members, being an act or thing done within the limits of authority expressly conferred on him by the organization in accordance with the rules of the organization.’;”.
No. 3 - Page 4, clause 6, lines 2-24, leave out proposed sub-sections (2a) and (2b).
No. 4 - Page 7, clause 19, lines 21-23, leave out paragraph(c) of proposed sub-section (2), insert the following paragraph: “(c) it is not in the public interest that he should certify the memorandum or make the award or order.”.
No. 5 - Pages 7 and 8, clause 19, leave out proposed sub-sections (2a), (2b), (2c), (2d) and (2e), insert the following sub-section: “ ‘(2a) A member of the Commission shall not certify a memorandum in accordance with this section unless, in relation to each organization that is a party to the agreement to which the memorandum relates, there is produced to him a statutory declaration by an officer authorized by the committee of management of the organization declaring that the committee of management has approved the principal terms of the agreement.
Page 12, clause 33, line 20, leave out “under sub-section (2d) of section 28, and”.
Page 12, clause 34, line 35, leave out “under sub-section (2d) of section 28, and”.
Page 13, clause 35, line 9, leave out “under sub-section (2d) of section 28, and”.
Page 13, clause 36, lines 16 and 17, leave out “under sub-section (2d) of section 28, and”.
Page 13, clause 37, line 27, leave out “, subsections (2c), (2d) and (2e) of section 28,”.
No. 6- Page 9, clause 22, lines 19 and 20, leave out paragraph (a).
No. 7- Page 10, clause 27, line 19, after “working hours”, insert “but subject to any conditions provided by the relevant award”.
No. 8 - Page 10, clause 27, line 25, leave out “any employee on those premises”, insert “any employee, being a member or a person eligible to be a member of his organization, on those premises, but an officer so authorized shall not hinder or obstruct an employee in the performance of his work during working time”.
No. 9 - Page 11, clause 30, lines 42-44, leave out paragraph (b).
No. 10- Page 14, clause 38, lines 7 and 8, leave out paragraph (b) of proposed sub-section (5), insert the following paragraph: “(b) it is not in the public interest that the memorandum should be certified.”.
No. 11 - Page 14, clause 41, lines 15-17, leave out paragraph (b), insert the following paragraph: “(b) by omitting from paragraph (a) the words seven other Judges’ and substituting the words nine other Judges’.”.
No. 12 - Page 14, clause 44, line 37, leave out paragraph (d).
No. 13- Page 15, clause 45, leave out the clause.
No. 14 -Page 15, clause 46, leave out the clause.
No. 15- Page 15, clause 49, leave out the clause.
No. 16-Page 15, clause 51, leave out the clause.
No. 17 - Page 20, clause 57, leave out the clause.
No. 18 - Page 20, clause 58, leave out the clause.
No. 19 - Page 21, clause 62, leave out the clause.
No. 20-Page 21, clause 64, leave out the clause.
No. 21 - Pages 22 and 23, clause 65, leave out the clause.
No. 22- Page 23, clause 66, leave out the clause.
No. 23 - Page 23, clause 67, leave out the clause.
No. 24 - Page 23, clause 68, leave out the clause.
No. 25 - Page 23, clause 69, leave out the clause.
No. 26-Page 24, clause 70, lines 3 and 4, leave out “sub-section (5) of section 158k”, insert “this Part”.
No. 27-Page 24, clause 71, leave out the clause, insert the following clause: “71. Section 159 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section (3) the words ‘the next succeeding section’ and substituting the words ‘sub-section (4)’.”.
No. 28 - Page 24, clause 73, leave out the clause.
No. 29 - Page 24, clause 74, leave out the clause, insert the following clause: “74. Section 168 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (4).”.
No. 30 - Page 25, clause 77, leave out the clause.
– I move:
That the amendments be agreed to.
I must say on behalf of the Government that it is a bitter disappointment to me that the Senate saw fit to reject the 6 clauses dealing with amalgamation because one of the things that is plaguing industrial relations today is the demarcation dispute which arises as a result of having too many unions and which cause employers to be the innocent sufferers and bystanders in these stupid, inane disputes over which union shall cover which particular occupation. This tragedy - and it is nothing less than a tragedy in industrial relations - will never be resolved until the Parliament alters the Act in such a way as to make it easier for unions to amalgamate and thereby to reduce the number of unions. We have 303 unions for 13 million people. In West Germany there are 16 unions for 61 million people. But we never see demarcation disputes in West Germany - disputes as to which man will pull which cord or touch which button. I am bitterly disappointed that these clauses were rejected by the Senate.
I am also disappointed that the Senate rejected the provision in the House of Representatives Bill which made it obligatory upon a commissioner to ensure that before he certifies an industrial agreement he is satisfied that the employees bound by the agreement have been consulted, because if the employees are not consulted they cannot be blamed if subsequently they repudiate the agreement. When there is a dispute or an attempt to repudiate an agreement union officials ought to go to the meeting, talk to the strikers and say:
Listen, fair go. This is not my agreement that I am asking you to honour. I am asking you to honour your own agreement, the agreement that was put to you a year ago or 6 months ago, or whenever it might have been, explained to you, understood by you and voted on by you. Having heard the agreement, you authorised me to sign it. Now do the right thing.’ Whenever a union official walks into a strike meeting with that trump card in his hand he will win every argument. I have done it time and again. If you ask them to honour an agreement that was made by somebody without their knowledge, that is a different thing;but if you ask them merely to honour their own agreement, you go in with a very powerful weapon.
I regret that the Senate saw fit to refuse the amendments which I sought to give the Minister for Labour the right to administer all sections of the Act. We are in the ridiculous stiuation now where the Minister for Labour has the right to lay a complaint to the Industrial Court for a breach of an award hut has no right to make an application to the court for the interpretation of an award. A breach of the award is bound up with the meaning of the award.
– No it is not.
– Yes, it is. Very often when you sue for a breach of an award the result hinges on the court’s interpretation of the award. By these indirect means the Minister for Labour can get an interpretation anyhow, but because of the amendments he can no longer make a frontal attack on the interpretation without prosecution. Now he can get an interpretation only by prosecuting. Very often the employer is not deliberately breaking the award; all he wants is to know what the award means. The Minister for Labour can find this out only by prosecuting. It is true that the Attorney-General can do it by application for interpretation, but that is the odd situation that we have. The Minister for Labour can intervene or be heard before the court in prosecution for a breach of award, but the AttorneyGeneral is the only one who can be heard in the court for an interpretation of an award. I must say that I am very disappointed that the legislation has been accepted in this form. My Party has instructed me that it will acceptthe Bill in the form in which it has been presented.
– I can appreciate that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) feels somewhat disappointed - he used the phrase ‘bitterly disappointed’ - at the fate of this legislation. I can well understand that feeling because his legislation now lies in tatters, and well it should. He ought to be the first Minister in this chamber to recognise that it was bad legislation, biased legislation and prejudicial to the best interests of industrial peace and the industrial jurisdiction of this country. When that Minister now comes before this Parliament and accepts some 30 Opposition amendments I recognise that he is not simply bitterly disappointed but that this is a volte-face; it is a climb down; it is a capitulation.
– That is the importance of the legislation; it will encourage people.
– I will come to the question that the honourable member for Casey is raising. I hope that the honourable gentleman will be able to control himself.
– Order! The honourable member for Casey is not in his place.
– The honourable member is not in his place and he may not engage in debate while seated in the chamber or unless he receives the call. I suggest that he remain silent.
– The honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), in that interjection, commented on the procedure for ensuring industrial peace in this country. He ought to be the first person to recognise that industrial peace requires dialogue between parties. If there is one principle to which this Government pledged its commitment it was the principle of dialogue with community groups - a principle which it has so effectively denied time after time, debate after debate, in this place. It is interesting to look back upon the record of the Australian Labor Party during the past 10 months because not one member of this Parliament and few people in this country do not recall the pre-election pledge - a pledge for industrial peace. This Government stands indicted for not producing industrial peace. It has produced industrial confrontation of a type that Australia has not seen for a long time. What does the record of 10 months show?
– Because of your irresponsibility.
– The honourable member says that, but let us analyse his comment. He is so far away from the Cabinet of this country that he cannot be seen. I recognise that he is anxious to make his point. Of course, he used the same tired old argument which the Minister for Labour has so falsely sought to perpetuate in public debate on this issue. We have been told that the reason why there has been such an alarming degree of industrial confrontation in this country is simply that the Government’s amendments in the new legislation have not been carried into effect. However, the facts indicate that during the whole of 1972 there was a marked fall in the number of strikes, the number of mandays lost, the number of workers involved and the value of wages lost by the Australian wage earner. This year there has been a marked increase in each of those 4 major indexes. The number of strikes has increased, the number of workers involved has increased and the value of wages lost is already $24m for the first half of this year. I predict that it will reach $50m by the end of this year. There is no difference in fact between the 2 periods in terms of legislation. The legislation has not changed. What has changed during that period has been the Government and the manner of application of the legislation in the industrial jurisdiction. I mentioned before in reply to the interjection by the honourable member for Casey that this is a matter requiring good and effective industrial relations achieved by consultation. One regrets that that is absent from the industrial relations scene at the present time.
May I also take this opportunity to put at rest the statement made by the Minister for Labour early this week when, in response to a question, he charged that when I was Minister I had denied him, by instructions to an officer of my Department, access to the strike statistics which are produced in a weekly and monthly form. He knows full well that nothing could be further from the truth. To my recollection and to the recollection of the former Assistant Minister, the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), no such instruction was issued. The Minister should recognise that such information as he requested and each officer to whom he sought access for the purposes of briefing were always provided. I know of no occasion on which an officer was refused permission to appear before the honourable gentleman for the purpose of assisting him to better understand the industrial legislation of this country.
The Opposition parties welcome the fact that the Government has at last decided to accept these amendments.
As I stand here looking across at the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) I hope that the fate of this Bill will be to that Minister a salutary lesson on the disabilities of forcing legislation through this chamber. The Minister might well understand that he can force legislation through this chamber, but in the Australian Senate it becomes a counterproductive exercise. I take no sense of pride in that, and it is regrettable that any member of the Parliament should even be speaking to that point. But if this Bill had received the examination, scrutiny, analysis and judgment it ought to have received in the first place and had not been subject to the ruthless guillotine, the fate of the Bill might have been better than he imagined. Thirty amendments have been accepted by the Minister.
– What about the electoral Bills? There was plenty of time to debate them.
– The Minister wants to refer to other legislation. I cannot remember any industrial Bill put through during the past 10 months which has been a satisfactory Bill for the Government. The Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill has now been deferred pending consideration in the Senate. Again, it was forced through this chamber. I think also of an earlier Bill when this Government surreptitiously sought to apply a concept of compulsory unionism on the Public Service. I have recounted the first failure and the second failure. This legislation is the third failure.
Now, we do not seek here to take credit for these failures. But I make the point, because of the loose assertions which have been made by Government members opposite in terms of dealing with industrial legislation. I emphasise it again because the point is worth making to those many Australians who are driving home and listening to their car radios. (Government supporters interjecting) -
– They will be interested to hear the guffaws of the jibbering gentlemen who sit opposite, so unconcerned about the rash of strikes which have taken place. But there are motorists in South Australia who have been-
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that the motorists of South Australia may well be subject to South Australian legislation. They are certainly not subject to this set of amendments.
– With great respect to the Chair, I point out that a considerable number of workers and salaried employees in South Australia are subject to Federal administration. Those few of them who are able to obtain petrol to drive home in their cars will remember-
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that he discusses the clauses under consideration.
– I am referring to the whole question of the provisions of this Bill which obviously deals with industrial peace. What I am saying is that the amendments which have been accepted by the Minister represent-
– Under protest.
– Under protest- well, it is a capitulation, and I recognise that. But I am using this opportunity as a positive and constructive forum to say to those people listening in South Australia that they should remember the recent strike in that State which led to petrol rationing for the first time in many years in Australia. I ask those - together with the people in Victoria who are suffering a power strike which has been running on for too long, the people in New South Wales who are subject to the activities of the Builders Labourers Federation and the people of Australia generally - to recognise that under this Government and because of its distorted approach to legislation there has never been in recent years a period of greater industrial confrontation. Why? Do not blame the legislation which has been on the statute book because the legislation in operation in this sphere last year is exactly the same as the legislation which has been in operation for the first 10 months of this year. The difference, as I mentioned before, lies in the method of application of that legislation.
I hope very much indeed, in common with the people who are listening to this debate, that this Government will be prepared to stand up and be counted and to bring a sense of dialogue into the industrial relations area and not to take a prejudicial view, a pro union view or an anti-employer view. A detailed look at the legislation which has been introduced and the proposals that have been put forward, highlights the Government’s partiality for what it is. The Government therefore, I believe, stand indicted for what it has done and what it has failed to do. That I believe to be a very important and positive message to put before the people of this country.
– I do not want to take up a great deal of the time of the Committee, but I wish to reply to some of the jibbering idiots who have spoken from the other side of the Committee and to show what they mean by industrial relations, what they mean by industrial peace and how they would go about achieving their ends. What we need to recall here is the fact that it is the sheer irresponsibility of an anti-Labor Senate and its anti-workers Senate which is holding the industrial peace of this country to ransom. Looking at the industrial disputes which are current, we find that disputes exist in Victoria and New South Wales. Both of those States have State Liberal Governments. The attitude taken by those 2 State Liberal Governments forces organisations ultimately to take the position that they have taken there. They see no alternative. There is no endeavour by those governments to negotiate or to conciliate; they try to bludgeon workers into submision.
Let us look at the history of industrial peace and the way in which workers have been subject to the pressures applied by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government to obtain industrial peace. The methods used did not include conciliation or the flowery propositions put by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). The former government dealt with industrial matters by creating a pool of unemployed. It used the plight of human beings to hold the workers in subjugation.
The whole of the industrial concept now before the chamber has been developed by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). It is a crying shame that the workers of this country will not be able to reap the benefits of what was very good legislation which had as its end the achievement of industrial peace, to help to streamline areas of industrial relations and to get matters before the various industrial tribunals of this country. The whole pattern was laid down in this Bill.
The Opposition has been under the pressure of the people who run it. I refer to those who own and control the means of production, those who see the communists under tram tickets and those who see penal provisions in industrial relations as the only answer. This Government put its industrial proposals to the people and received a mandate at the last election. It has endeavoured to implement the mandate that it received on 2 December to carry out a reform of industrial relations by placing the accent on conciliation and not in the first instance on arbitration, and not to use the penal provisions to batter workers into submission. This Government seeks to encourage those involved in disputes which arise from time to time to sit around the table and to discuss those problems.
Let us look at one or two other aspects of interference by previous Ministers for Labour and National Service. In the course of one of the disputes in the oil industry in 1972, the question before the parties was an industrial agreement that had been running for some considerable time. What occurred? We saw the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon), intervene not for the purpose of trying to resolve the dispute but to put pressure on the oil companies to ensure that agreement was not reached by them with the unions.
– It did not do them much good.
– No, it did not do them much good, as the honourable member for Phillip puts it. They capitulated. The oil companies were reported in the Press as saying that, as far as they were concerned, they had had enough of carrying the can for the then Federal Government and that they were not going to be intimidated any more. They sat down with the unions and, through the processes of negotiation, were able to resolve that dispute which should have been resolved many weeks before. That is the history of the previous Government.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition shed crocodile tears about this legislation which has been somewhat mutilated by the Opposition parties in the Senate. But those people who are travelling home at present and listening to this broadcast will place the blame for the current power disputes in Victoria where that blame properly belongs. That blame should be placed at the feet of the Liberal-Country Party Government in Victoria, as should blame be placed at the feet of our friend, Sir Robert Askin, for the industrial problems in New South Wales. Other pressures that arise from time to time come from individuals who are still doing the bidding of people such as Hamer and the like.
All this talk that we hear from the Opposition parties in projecting an image of having provided a formula for achieving industrial peace and a solution of industrial problems is rubbish. On the contrary, what they have done is to delete some very important aspects of this legislation with respect to amalgamations. As the Minister for Labour has properly categorised it, one of the useless exercises that we go through in this country is tolerating a whole host of small organisations that impede to a great degree the realisation of proper industrial relations and which certainly frustrate some of the aspects of our industrial life. I do not propose to take the matter any further. I simply say that the Opposition parties in the Senate are creating a situation in which workers in this country, both in the compensation field and in the private sector, will realise how their position has deteriorated as a result of the destruction of some aspects of the legislation. They will keep that well in mind when Bills such as the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill are held up in the Senate. When we go back to the people on these issues the members of the Opposition will be the sufferers. It is certainly a tragedy that some aspects of the Bill have been removed but I hope and trust that a more responsible attitude will be taken by other members of the Opposition. If honourable members opposite are to get compromise, they do not want to come into the Parliament and adopt the attitude that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition adopted, and conduct themselves as he did this evening.
– In the brief time available before the sitting is suspended I wish to deal with the 3 points that were made by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), his 3 tears of regret over this Bill. The first one was in relation to amalgamations. He said what a dreadful thing it was that the Bill was not amended with the amalgamation provisions he wanted because that would have put an end to demarcation disputes within Australia. Then he expressed concern, as he has done outside the House publicly, at the fact that demarcation disputes have nothing to do with an employer, and it is a great pity that an employer is put to the loss of production, the loss of working time and all the disturbance to his business that comes from a demarcation dispute which is solely the concern of the unions involved. This expression of deep concern by the Minister for the welfare of employers is intriguing to hear and must be gratifying to the employers in Australia. What I would have thought the Minister, who is so acutely aware of the way in which industrial problems can be solved in Australia, would have done to solve this problem of demarcation disputes is to have passed legislation - I am sure Opposition members would agree to it and give it a quick passage - which would require solely inter-union demarcation disputes to go to arbitration so that strikes over demarcation disputes should not be allowed, so that employers would not be harmed as the Minister does not want to see employers harmed. I would be interested to hear why the Minister has not considered such legislation, in view of what he said publicly outside the Parliament and inside the Parliament, to heal this running sore of industrial relations in Australia. Let us get it clear and put in perspective very quickly that demarcation disputes represent only a very small percentage of time lost in industrial disputes in Australia.
The second matter I want to mention is the tear of regret that the Minister shed over his proposal that before an agreement can be certified it should be put to the workers concerned and receive their agreement. Again his concern for the workers is intriguing, because what he was proposing by his legislation was to exert legislative coercion upon union officials to compel them to do what one would expect they ought to do in any event. I would have thought that a good union official would always take to the members affected by the proposed agreement the terms of that agreement, and that that would then maintain the responsibility upon union officials which is at the heart of the union movement. The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) shakes his head. I presume that by shaking his head he means that when he was a union official he never consulted the membership. If that is what he means by the shaking of his head, he ought to be ashamed of himself.
The third matter over which the Minister shed a tear of regret was the fact that the Minister for Labour will not now be able to obtain an interpretation of an award, and that in order to do that he will have to bring a prosecution. The Minister omitted to mention to the Committee, until across the chamber I pointed out to him that he was obviously wrong, that under the existing legislation the
Attorney-General can apply for an interpretation. I would have thought that it would be very easy for the Minister for Labour, who is in charge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to issue an administrative request to the Attorney-General to apply for an interpretation of an award. That should be a very simple administrative task even for this Minister to perform. In that way he would obtain the interpretation that he wishes.
In the end what has the Minister achieved by this Bill which was introduced with great trumpeting and heraldry as being a fundamental requirement for better industrial relations in Australia? Really what the Minister has salvaged is 2 extra judges and his own inspectorate. We all know full well that he desires to appoint one of his outside friends as one of the 2 extra judges. He will now be able to grant the accolade of friendship to the gentleman concerned.
– If you behave yourself I might put you there.
– I think I will be in this Parliament for a long time to come. Perhaps you will be seeing me for at least a couple of years. The inspectorate that the Minister has salvaged will be his industrial police force to complement Senator Murphy’s FBI. Perhaps it is some consolation to him that he has his own industrial police force, but we on the Opposition side will be watching the operation of that inspectorate very closely to see that it is not misused or abused; that it is not used to terrorise employers, but that it is used responsibly to see that employers observe awards and used responsibly to see that unions observe awards. So in the end the Minister has salvaged these 2 things. He complained about 3 things and he has agreed to 30 amendments. I would have throught that that was cause for satisfaction on the part of Opposition members and for the Opposition spokesman on labour affairs, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who unfortunately cannot be here tonight, but he will be well satisfied with the way in which the Bill has been handled by the Senate. The amendments which he moved in this House have been approved by the Senate and agreed by the Minister.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
My purpose this evening is to introduce 3 Bills to alter the Constitution. The first proposes an amendment to the Constitution to provide for simultaneous elections of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The second is designed to amend the Constitution to ensure that members of the House of Representatives and members of the Parliament of the States are chosen directly and democratically by the people. The third is designed to allow the Australian Government to borrow moneys for and to provide financial assistance to local government bodies. Each of these Bills will have the effect of putting into operation proposals contained in the platform of the Australian Labor Party. Each of them represents a reform which I believe will receive wide popular support. May I also intimate to the House before proceeding in detail to introduce the proposal for simultaneous elections that I intend next week to bring forward a fourth proposal for amendment of the Constitution. This relates to references of powers between the Parliament of the Commonwealth and the Parliaments of the States. I had hoped to introduce it together with the other Bills but we are still in discussions with the States about the precise form of the amendment. I expect these to be completed next week.
I now turn to the Constitution Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) Bill. In the national Parliament, in the 11-year period from December 1961 to December 1972, we have had 8 national elections. They are too frequent by all tests - too frequent for the people, too frequent for the good working of the Parliament, and too costly. Only one of these elections - that in December 1961 - was an election for the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. I do not for one moment question the electoral process. On the contrary, I . believe it to be of the essence of our democracy. It is the fair, simple and authentic way of letting the people speak, as indeed they did on 2 December last year. But I do fundamentally question the present out of phase state of our electoral process, requiring us to conduct in each 3-year period one House of Representatives election and one separate Senate election. This is to the detriment of the public purse certainly, but also and very importantly, to the detriment of the Parliament and the people. The elections were put out of phase in 1963. They have not been brought back. For the reasons I have given it is time they were - and permanently.
My simple proposition is that, as a general aim, elections for the national Parliament should be held every three years - for the Senate, as to that half of it which is due to retire, and the House of Representatives simultaneously. There is no derogation in this proposal from the authority or responsibility of either House. But there are great benefits in public convenience and worthwhile savings of expenditure. Most of all, there is the benefit to the Parliament - the reflection in both Houses simultaneously of the people’s will so that the Government and the Parliament may get on with the job.
This Bill honours an election commitment by the Australian Labor Party. Also, it takes up the proposal I foreshadowed at the recent Constitutional Convention in Sydney. And it takes up the unanimous recommendation, dating back as far as 1958, of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Review. The 1958 and 1959 reports recommended that the terms of senators should ‘be changed from 6 years, as they now are, to 2 terms of the House of Representatives, so that the elections for both Houses could take place simultaneously. This is the basic change we want to make and for which we seek authority. The principle of the rotation of senators will, of course, be preserved. The proposal is simply that at each House of Representatives election, be it at the normal 3-year interval or earlier, half the Senate also will face the electors.
The key provision in this Bill is a proposal for a new section in the Constitution. Let me give the details briefly. The new section will give senators a term of service equal to 2 terms of the House of Representatives. This is the general proposition. There are 2 exceptions. One concerns a double dissolution where the normal term of a senator can be cut short, as is the case now. The other is a special provision for senators whose terms, as to half, commenced on 1 July 1971 and as to the other half will commence on 1 July 1974, each of whom would in accordance with the existing constitutional provisions have a 6-year term. It is purely a transitional arrangement designed to adjust to the new system the terms of those existing senators whose terms expire on 30 June 1977 and the terms of those who will be elected at the forthcoming Senate election. In normal circumstances, there will be elections for the House of Representatives in 1975, 1978 and 1981. lt is proposed under the transitional arrangement that a currently sitting senator, whose term began in 1971 and would in accordance with present constitutional provision expire in 1977, will continue in office until the second House of Representatives election after the constitutional alteration comes into force, that is, until 1978 unless there is a double dissolution or early election for the House of Representatives. Further, a senator elected at the forthcoming Senate elections for service from 1 July 1974 will have a term running until the 1981 House of Representatives election - again unless there is a double dissolution or earlier election for the House of Representatives. This will mean, in normal circumstances and, of course, excluding any senators elected to fill casual vacancies, that the senators serving when the constitutional alteration becomes law could have a term of up to about 7i years.
It might be said that these senators will be advantaged by having an extended period of service without facing the electors. But we think that the alternative of reducing their term of service to certainly less than 6 years would be less than in accordance with the terms of their election. A third course would have been to let them serve for a 6 year term under the old arrangement. This would, however, almost certainly mean that it would take longer to get to the point of simultaneous elections.
I should add that when a double dissolution occurs under the new arrangement, the senators then elected will be divided by the Senate into 2 classes as at present, but their terms will be equal to 2 House of Representatives terms in the one case and one House of Representatives term in the other.
There is a further point. In future, under this legislation, the Australian Parliament will have the authority to make laws for determining the times and places of election of senators.
This is a logical consequence of bringing elections for both Houses of the Australian Parliament together. There are also some amendments of a consequential nature which can be found in clauses 2 and 5 of the Bill.
These reforms are long overdue. I am confident they will have the support of the Australian people. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
At the Australian Constitutional Convention held in September this year in Sydney, I said on behalf of the Australian Government that we would propose to the Parliament, for decision by the people, an amendment of the Constitution which would write into it the principle of substantial equality of electoral divisions for all the Parliaments of Australia. There is no such equality today. It is time there was. This Bill therefore seeks an alteration to the Constitution so as to establish electorates within each State in which the number of people is, as nearly as practicable, the same. I also said that the Government would want to include a provision that the State Houses of Parliament be elected directly by the people. There is today no uniformity of practice in the Australian States in this. It is time there was. Therefore we propose also a new provision for this purpose.
The Bill therefore, simply stated, is a Bill for an Act ‘to alter the Constitution so as to ensure that ‘the members of the House of Representatives and of the Parliaments of the States are chosen directly and democratically by the people’. I remind honourable members that on 13 March of this year my colleague the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) brought before the House the equality of electorates question in the course of debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973. That Bill could not, for practical reasons, include any proposal to change the basis of representation from numbers of electors to numbers of people. But my colleague, in very clear terms, referred to the provision in the
Australian Labor Party’s platform that in electorates the number of people should be as nearly as practicable the same. He went on to say:
Section 24 of the Constitution requires the number of members in the several States to be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. The Constitution thus ensures equitable representation of the people in the House of Representatives, State by State. Applying similar constitutional provisions, the United States Supreme Court has, for the last 9 years and more, declared any form of malapportionment within a State to be unconstitutional. We should not accept regional discrimination for or against particular regions within States any more than the Constitution allows us to accept discrimination as between States. Honourable members will know of very great variations in the numbers of people in the different electoral divisions represented here. For example, Aborigines, migrants and electors with young children are not uniformly dispersed throughout the various regions.
The principle was there proclaimed - that representation should be based on numbers of people, not on numbers of electors.
I have myself drawn attention to the inequality of electorates on many occasions. In 1968, in a submission to the Chairman of the Distribution Commissioners for New South Wales I gave an example of what had happened in the far western and southern suburbs. I said then:
The two post-war groups of Distribution Commissioners have failed to anticipate the growth of population in the far western and southern suburbs. In each distribution they have recommended divisions with enrolments only slightly smaller than the quota; but the maximum permissible number at each distribution has been exceeded before half the time has elapsed for the next distribution; and by the time of the next distribution the enrolment has been grossly in excess of the new quota and the permissible margin of allowance.
Honourable members may recall that, in 1968 in the Senate, my colleague the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy), in his capacity then as Leader of the Opposition in that House, also introduced legislation to provide for the establishment of electorates within each State in which the number of people was, as nearly as practicable, the same, and to democratise the election of the members of all Houses of State Parliaments.
I referred earlier in this speech to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973 which, honourable members will also recall, my colleague the Minister for Services and Property, introduced in this House first in March of this year to moderate the blatant malapportionment of electorates. My colleague’s measures were frustrated by those sitting opposite. Now it is proposed that the people should decide - by referendum at the time of the Senate election. As things stand today we have no reasonable equality amongst electorates. At the time of the last census - 30 June 1971 - the Division of Werriwa in this House had a population of 142,568; Chifley 138,665; Kalgoorlie 135,790; Burke 135,547; and Melbourne 131,127. At the other extreme, and excluding Tasmanian divisions for which the Constitution makes specific provision, the Division of Wakefield had a population of 77,195; Wimmera 77,526; Lyne 80,475; Maranoa 81,500; and Hume 82,365. Between censuses, the malapportionment of electorates can be readily discerned from the number of electors enrolled. For example, the Divisions of Diamond Valley and Mcpherson currently have enrolments of 83,970 and 81,835. Maranoa has 45,800 electors and Darling has 46,815.
We propose that the new provision in the Constitution should deal with State Parliaments also. In the States, unfair malapportionment is no less rife. Let me cite examples based on recent enrolments for State Lower Houses.
In New South Wales the average enrolment is 26,980 with variations between 32,977 (23 per cent above the average) and 19,011 (29 per cent below).
In Victoria the average enrolment is 29,192 with variations between 63,396 (117 per cent above) and 17,825 (39 per cent below).
In Queensland the average enrolment is 12,692 with Variations between 20,062 (58 per cent above) and 6,391 (50 per cent below).
In South Australia the average enrolment is 15,646 with variations between 27,197 (74 per cent above) and 8,510 (46 per cent below).
In Western Australia the average enrolment is 11,617 with variations between 19,971 (72 per cent above) and excluding the north west zone 6,935 (40 per cent below). Similarly, in those States with Upper Houses elected directly by the people very large inequalities exist as the following examples show.
In Victoria the average enrolment is 118,391 with variations between 200,868 (70 per cent above) and 50,621 (57 per cent below).
In Western Australia the average enrolment is 39,497 with. variations between 84,999 (115 per cent above) and 5,457 (86 per cent below).
In Tasmania the average enrolment is 10,718 with variations between 18,760 (75 per cent above) and 5,362 (50 per cent below).
The New South Wales Upper House is elected not by the people but by the existing members of the 2 Houses. The Bill also proposes an amendment of the Constitution so that each House of each State Parliament will be elected directly by the people of the State. Thus the amendment will require New South Wales to alter the voting system for its Legislative Council so that all of its members are elected by the ordinary voters of the State. Also, it will make it necessary for States to do away with the remaining cases where election of members is by only a privileged class of voters. These reforms which my Government proposes to put to the people will require action in the Australian and the State Parliaments. For that reason - to allow time for this action to be taken - the date when the new arrangements will come into operation is proposed to be 1 July 1976.
Mr Speaker, section 25 of the Constitution provides that if by the law of any State persons of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of the State, then in reckoning the number of people of the State or of the Commonwealth, persons of that race resident in that State shall not be counted. This is an archaic and objectionable provision. It is not within the spirit of the amendments we are proposing, and the Bill provides for the repeal of that section. By these measures, Mr Speaker, I believe we will add much to the durability of our parliamentary systems, and remove injustices which have lived too long.
Before closing, I draw the attention of honourable members to a further provision in the Bill. It is designed to ensure that cases can be brought before the High Court in relation to matters arising in the electoral provisions of State or Australian law. The way in which this is done is to include a new section of the Constitution that will permit an elector of the Commonwealth to bring a relevant matter before the High Court, and an elector in a State to raise a matter relating to that State. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
CONSTITUATION alteration (local government bodies) bill 1974
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
(8.23) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Speaker, I introduce a Bill to alter the Constitution in relation to borrowings for, and financial assistance to, local government bodies. The aim of the proposed amendment to the Constitution which will be submitted to a referendum at the time of the next Senate election is to make funds available direct to local government, both by way of grants and by loans at lower interest rates, so that urban and rural councils and other local government bodies can be freed from the straitened circumstances of the past. It is part of the Government’s policy, not only to ease the increasing burden of rates on the people of Australia but also to make possible significant improvements in municipal services which for 23 years under previous Australian governments have been shamefully neglected. It is therefore a matter of importance to every Australian including every home-owner and aspiring home-owner in the country.
It is high time an Australian government used its authority and its resources to make it easier for local governments to have access to the funds they need to help the people in relation to their streets, drains, sewerage and all other local civic services to which as taxpayers they are entitled. The Australian Government is wholly committed to this. I said in by policy speech last year:
Let there be no mistake about Labor’s determination to make local government a genuine partner in the federal system’.
At the more recent constitutional convention in Sydney I said:
If the financial agreement were being drawn up today it would be inconceivable that these authorities - that is, local government authorities- would be overlooked.
In May of this year the Australian Government asked this Parliament to pass the Grants Commission Act which empowers the Commission to inquire into, and report on, applications from approved local government bodies for grants. This was one of our election under takings and one of the first to be honoured. And in October - last month - at a meeting with the heads of government of the States I took new initiatives on behalf of local government. I made 2 proposals. One was that elected local government should have both a voice and a vote in the Loan Council. The other was that the Australian Government be empowered to borrow on behalf of elected local government. The meeting was abortive. There was no consensus to enable the Australian Government to proceed without delay.
This Bill, therefore, is designed to deal with one of those proposals - that is, to add a new placitum to section 51 empowering the Commonwealth to borrow on behalf of local government - and at the same time to add a new section 96a empowering the Parliament to make grants of financial assistance direct to local government. It will take us another step along the road towards giving local government its rightful place in our affairs.
At present the local government authorities raise loan funds themselves - subject to the gentlemen’s agreement - or obtain loan funds from the States. The loan funds from the States are raised as part of the ordinary loan programs of the States under the financial agreement. The Bill will give local government an additional source of funds. It will give the Australian Parliament express authority to make provision for the borrowing of loan funds by the Australian Government on behalf of local government bodies.
Honourable members will recall that at the recent constitutional convention I said perhaps the most important amendment that could be achieved for 1973 and beyond would be an amendment to do just this - make it possible for the Australian Government te borrow directly on behalf of local government bodies. The Bill will also give this Parliament power to grant funds to these bodies in the same way as it does to the States. The intention is to grant financial assistance only to elected local government bodies. This access to public funds on better conditions and in a more direct way has been a facility sought by local governments through the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. My Government considers the need to be both real and urgent. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mir Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill before the House establishes the Health Insurance Commission as a statutory authority to plan and establish an organisation to administer the Government’s health insurance program. Before proceeding to outline the salient features of the Bill, I would like to emphasise that this Bill provides for the planning and establishing of an organisation to administer the receiving and payment of medical and hospital benefits claims. This broadly is the function of the Commission. Those details of the Government’s health program relating to medical benefits and hospital payments will be contained in other legislation to be introduced into the House in the near future. At that time the House will be able to fully consider the Government’s proposals for universal health benefits coverage, which have been outlined in the White Paper titled ‘The Australian Health Insurance Program’, which I tabled today.
The Commission will be a semi-autonomous authority consisting of 7 commissioners. Six will be part-time commissioners, one of whom must be a medical practitioner and another who shall be nominated by the DirectorGeneral of Social Security, and one full time commissioner, the General Manager. The Bill provides for all 7 commissioners to be appointed by the Governor-General for periods not exceeding 5 years. All are eligible for reappointment. Similarly, the termination of a commissioner’s appointment can only be effected by the Governor-General. The staff of the Commission will be appointed on terms and conditions determined by the Commission with the approval of the Public Service Board.
The creation of this authority implements an undertaking given by the Prime Minister in his policy speech that ‘in staffing the Health Insurance Fund, employment preference will be given to the employees of the present private funds, who will enjoy the entitlements, status and conditions and terms of employment accorded to Commonwealth public servants’. Special provisions are contained in the
Bill to enable employees of registered medical and hospital benefit organisations, employed by the Commission, to retain their existing entitlements in relation to such matters as superannuation, sick leave, furlough, etc. These special provisions, again, are subject to approval of the Public Service Board. Amendments to - other legislation - for example, the Superannuation Act - are being effected to assist in the implementation of this undertaking. In this respect I draw the attention of honourable members particularly to clauses 30, 31 and 32 of the Bill.
Provisions are included in the Bill to enable officers of the Australian Public Service to be seconded to the Commission for short periods. Officers engaged by the Commission would be covered by the Officers Rights Declaration Act. The finance provisions of the Bill relate to funds of the Commission required for administrative purposes. As I have indicated previously, authority for the Commission to make payments by way of medical benefits and hospital payments will be contained in the main body of the legislation governing the Government’s universal health insurance plan.
The Bill also contains provisions requiring the Commission to prepare an annual report, which will be tabled in both Houses of Parliament. The report will principally relate to the Commission’s operations for a particular year, but the Bill also provides for any direction, in respect of a matter of policy, given by the Minister to the Commission, to be published in the annual report.
One further point which I would like to mention, although it does not specifically relate to provisions contained in the Bill, concerns the confidentiality of personal medical records and other information which will be required by the Commission in receiving and paying medical and hospital benefits claims. I would point out to honourable members that the information the Commission will need will be less in content and less invasive of privacy than that now required and held by the present private health funds, whether in computer or manual systems. Further to this, I would like to draw the attention of honourable members to the special committee which has been appointed by the Attorney-General to advise on the protection needed to ensure privacy under the Government’s health program. This inquiry is part of a larger project being carried out by the Attorney-General to examine what measures will be needed to guarantee the individual’s right of privacy under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Honourable members will readily appreciate that the Commission, as a statutory authority, will be the most appropriate form of organisation for the provision of an efficient service to the community in the payment of medical and hospital benefits claims.
The Government has already established an Interim Executive which has been involved in the initial planning of the Commission’s work. The Interim Executive has already commenced investigations into efficient and modern methods of operations. The Executive recommended, after consultations with the private health funds concerning transitional arrangements, an arrangement whereby the present private health funds act as agents for the Commission for periods up to 3 years for receiving claims and paying customary ‘over the counter’ benefits. This advice has been accepted by the Government. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Daly, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to provide for a full-time Deputy Chairman of the Commission on Advanced Education. The Commission was established in 1971 with a full-time Chairman and nine part-time members. The operations of the Commission have increased since 1971 both in volume and complexity. The number of colleges has increased from 48 in 1971 to 83 in 1973. including 39 former teachers colleges. Student enrolments in the colleges have increased from 45,000 in 1971 to 95,000 in 1973. This growth in the colleges of advanced education has substantially increased the demands made upon the Commission, for all institutions look to it for help and guidance with developmental problems.
A close liaison must be kept with the colleges to maintain the effective work at present being done by the Commission. It is essential, in the interests of ensuring the proper development of institutions, that regular personal contact be made with State co-ordinating authorities, members of college councils and college staff. Visits to institutions do much to facilitate the Commission’s work and are necessary if the Commission is to provide objective advice to this Government on the development of advanced education.
Initiatives of this Government in the fields of health, education and welfare are making heavy demands on the Commission which is actively involved both in the formulation of policy concerning the education of professionals in the areas mentioned, and in the implementation of other decisions and initiatives supported by the Government in respect of the colleges of advanced education. As will be recalled, new arrangements will apply to the funding of advanced education from 1 January 1974, and not only will provide for the assumption by the Australian Government of the existing financial commitment of States in respect of approved programs but also will include some innovation in the method of financing which will make allowance for cost rises during a triennium.
The Government recently reviewed the demands upon the Commission and has decided to appoint a Deputy Chairman as an additional full-time member. The Deputy Chairman will assist the Chairman in his program of discussions with State Government bodies and colleges, and may co-ordinate a defined area of the Commission’s activities. In so doing he will enable the Chairman to devote more time to other areas of policy in the field of advanced education. A full-time Deputy Chairman was appointed to the Australian Universities Commission in 1971 for essentially similar reasons. Provision has been made in the Bill for the Deputy Chairman to chair meetings when necessary, and to act as Chairman, if appropriate, in the Chairman’s absence. This will ensure the continuing flow of the work of the Commission at all times. As is the case with the term of appointment of the Chairman, it is envisaged that the Deputy Chairman will be appointed for a term not exceeding 7 years.
The opportunity has also been taken, at this time, to make other minor amendments to the Act. The word ‘Australian’ is to be removed from the title of the Commission, in line with Government policy, and account has been taken of the inclusion of the remuneration and allowance of statutory officers in the Remunerations and Allowances Act 1973. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Charles Jones, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
When the previous Government introduced the Airlines Agreements Bill 1972 towards the end of the previous Parliament, we who were then in opposition expressed the view that it was inappropriate to enter into a further important agreement between the Government and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd and the Australian National Airlines Commission at that particular time. Nevertheless, the Parliament passed the legislation approving the 1972 Airlines Agreement. One of the provisions of the 1961 Airlines Agreement broadly states that the Commonwealth, while implementing its policy of full recovery of the cost of facilities properly attributable to civil air transport, will not increase air navigation charges by more than 10 per cent in any one year. The 1972 Airlines Agreement re-affirmed this provision but added a further clause in which the airlines agreed that the Commonwealth is entitled to recover fully from the air transport industry the costs properly attributable to the provision of facilities for civil air transport and that they would facilitate the implementation of measures taken by the Commonwealth for the purpose of achieving that objective.
Despite the clear reference to a policy of full cost recovery in the 1961 Airlines Agreement, the previous Government took very little positive action to achieve full recovery. In fact the recovery rate never reached 50 per cent. Also, notwithstanding the undertakings of the airlines in the 1972 Agreement to facilitate the implementation of Government measures to achieve full recovery, that Government did not increase air navigation charges last year by the full amount allowable under the agreements and in 1971-72 it made no increase at all. Consequently, the deficiency of recovery of operating costs has continued to increase each year as is demonstrated by Table A, which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House. This deficiency represents a subsidy, in varying degree, for each user of the civil aviation system. For instance, if considered from a view point of airline passengers and regarding each passenger carried as a separate individual, each of the 8 million passengers who travelled by air last year was subsidised by an average of $8.60 per journey. While this amount should be reduced to some extent to take account of other users of the facilities, it illustrates quite dramatically the extent of the burden borne by the taxpayers who do not participate in the aviation industry or avail themselves of the facilities provided. Although the previous Government did not take the opportunity to increase air navigation charges to the fullest possible extent in the last two years, the limitation of any increase of the charges to TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd to 10 per cent in any year, as provided in the Airlines Agreements Act, did not permit the policy of full recovery to be effectively implemented.
The Government believes that the taxpayers who receive no benefit from the aviation facilities are entitled to seek relief from the burden of meeting the deficiency and that the Government would be remiss if it allowed the situation to continue unchecked. Therefore the Treasurer (Mr Crean) announced in his Budget Speech the Government’s conclusion that the cost recovery program should be expedited and that a positive target recovery rate of 80 per cent within 5 years had been set. It was clear to the Government that, to implement this policy, the maximum increase in any one year to TAA and ATI of 10 per cent as provided in the Airlines Agreement Act would have to be increased. Accordingly these two airlines were advised of the Department of Civil Aviation forecasts of growth in the revenues and expenditure attributable to the operation and maintenance of airports and airway facilities and, to their credit, they readily agreed that an increase of more than 10 per cent was necessary. Calculations show that, if charges were increased by 15 per cent each year, there would be distinct prospects of achieving the target, provided reasonable growth of aircraft operation continued.
Amounts paid on aviation fuel tax have been included administratively as an item of revenue to offset the cost of operating and maintaining aviation facilities. Here the aviation industry is in a favoured position when compared with road transport, because more than the amount received from aviation fuel tax is provided in aviation capital works whereas the fuel tax collected from road users is over one and a half times the Australian Government’s capital expenditure on roads. This is illustrated by Table B, which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. >(The document read as follows)-
– I again thank the House. Also this Government has decided to spend $32. 09m on upgrading urban .transport. In 1972>-73 capital expenditure on civil aviation works was $24.57m. It is estimated it will reach $25.22m in 1973-74. May I make the observation that an average of about 23 million people use urban transport each week, whereas air travellers are a very much smaller cross-section of the community, there being only about 160,000 airline passengers each week. Trans-Australia Airlines and ATI have now entered into a further agreement with the Government under which it will be possible for the Government, if it considers it necessary, to increase air navigation charges by up to 15 per cent in any one year, including the year 1973-74. This agreement is attached to the Bill and is now submitted to the Parliament for approval.
Other provisions of the new agreement are to the effect that (a) any increase in air navigation charges will be considered in relation to submissions by the airlines for increases in air fares and freight rates; (b) the agreement itself will be reviewed in the second half of 1975 to have regard for .the progress being made towards the desired cost recovery level; (c) international aircraft operators will be treated in the same way as the domestic airlines insofar as increases in air navigation charges are concerned; and (d) revenue from aviation fuel tax will be taken into account in assessing the level of cost recovery. This provision merely formalises the practice that has been followed for some time.
The new agreement does not mean that charges to TAA and ATI, who provide the bulk of the air navigation charges revenue from domestic airline operations, will automatically be increased by 15 per cent each year, nor does it depart from the principle contained in the 1961 Airlines Agreement that, in implementing the policy of full recovery, the Government will take into account the level of air fares, the rate of growth of the industry and the requirement of the airlines to provide a reasonable return on capital. It may be of interest to honourable members to know that the recent fare and freight rate increases granted to the airlines increased their tariffs by an average of 11.5 per cent, 8 per cent of which was a direct result of increases in wages and salaries while 3 per cent resulted from increased fuel tax and one half of one per cent from increased air navigation charges announced in the 1972-73 Budget. However, because of the substantial deficit in 1972-73 and the expectation that this deficit would increase in 1973-74 unless corrective action were taken, the Government has decided to raise charges from 1 December 1973 by 15 per cent, with additional increases related to the general aviation industry. These increases are embodied in the Bill to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1972, which I am presenting to the Parliament for approval.
The Government is conscious that there is an obligation on it to ensure that expenditure on aviation facilities is kept to a minimum, consistent with safe and efficient operations. It has therefore instituted a very close scrutiny of the program of development of these facilities, with significant results. For example, capital works of the order of $3m which were included in the works program for the current year will be deferred, and proposals for later years are being carefully examined. The Government believes also that it would be beneficial to consult with TAA and ATI on civil aviation works proposals each year to assist in minimising the costs which have to be recovered. The agreement provides accordingly. The Government acknowledges the co-operation of the two major domestic airlines in entering into this new agreement, and recognises the need to administer its part of the contract in a responsible manner. However, it must have the option to increase air navigation charges by up to 15 per cent if it is to have a reasonable chance of moving towards the 80 per cent recovery objective during the next 5 years. The alternative is for the general taxpayer to continue to meet a substantial part of the rising costs of operating and maintaining the facilities used by those who travel by air.
This new agreement will provide for a more even handed approach to the question of meeting the costs attributable to civil aviation, with proper regard for the interests of the community as a whole as well as those of the airlines and the users of their services. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Charles Jones, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In his speech on the 1973-74 Budget, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) referred to the difference between the annual cost of providing and operating airport and airway facilities and the revenues derived from their use. He indicated certain steps which the Government proposed to take to narrow this gap between revenue and expenditure, and this Bill is designed to implement one of these measures, namely, to increase the rates of air navigation charges payable by aircraft operators.
I have recently tabled in the Parliament the report of the working group appointed by a previous Minister for Civil Aviation to study the costs and revenues of the Department of Civil Aviation. Using the basis of calculation proposed by the working group, the costs attributable to the maintenance and operation of civil aviation airports and airways facilities in Australia and Papua New Guinea during 1972-73 exceeded the relevant revenues by some $69m. This deficit represents a subsidy, in varying degree, for each user of the civil aviation system. For instance, if considered from the viewpoint of airline passengers, and regarding each passenger carried as a separate individual, each of the 8 million passengers who travelled by air last year was subsidised by an average of $8.60 a journey. While this amount should be reduced to some extent to take account of other users of the facilities, it illustrates quite dramatically the extent of the burden borne by the taxpayers who do not participate in the aviation industry or avail themselves of the facilitites provided.
The loss situation for 1972-73 is not an isolated instance but is merely an extension of the experience of previous years. Table A, which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard, clearly demonstrates this.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– The shortfall of recovery of the operating costs has, in absolute terms, increased each year. The limitation of any increase of the charges to Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd to 10 per cent in any year as provided in the Airlines Agreements Act did not permit the policy of full recovery to be effectively implemented and the position only got worse as time went by. This was compounded by the action of the previous Government in not increasing the rates in 1971-72 and by raising them by only 5 per cent last year.
Amounts paid on aviation fuel tax are included in the revenue used to determine the extent of the cost recovery. Here again the aviation industry is in a favoured position as compared with road transport, because more than the amount received from aviation fuel tax is provided in aviation capital works whereas with roads the tax is over H times the Australian Government capital expenditure on roads. This is illustrated by Table B, which I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– Also this Government has decided to spend $32.09m on upgrading urban transport. Last year capital expenditure on civil aviation works was $24.57m, and in 1973-74 it is estimated to be $25.22m. May I make the observation that an average of 23 million people use urban transport each week, whereas air travellers are a very much smaller cross-section of the community. For example, in 1972-73 only about 160,000 people used airline services each week.
Clearly this situation cannot be allowed to continue and the aviation industry must face up to the fact that it must contribute more to the cost of operating the facilities upon which its existence depends. The Government has decided therefore to raise the limit on the rate of increase in charges to 15 per cent and the Parliament currently is being asked to approve an agreement between the Government, ATI and TAA which enables this to be done. Further the Government has set the target of 80 per cent recovery of costs over 5 years. The Bill provides for the 15 per cent increase in respect of the airline services from 1 December 1973 and the resultant additional revenue during the current financial year is estimated to be $2. 25m.
It may be of interest to honourable members to know that the recent fare and freight rate increases granted to the airlines increased their tariffs by an average of 11.5 per cent, 8 per cent of which was a direct result of increases in wages and salaries while 3 per cent resulted from increased fuel tax and half of 1 per cent from increased air navigation charges announced in the 1972-73 Budget.
The revenue received from the operators of general aviation aircraft is far below the costs of operating and maintaining the special aerodromes provided for their use. General aviation aircraft are those in the private, aerial work and charter categories, and last year it cost the Government about $8. 25m to operate the six special general aviation aerodromes at Moorabbin, Parafield, Bankstown, Archerfield, Cambridge and Jandakot. However, the total revenue including fuel tax received from the general aviation industry was only some $3. 6m.
There are also disguised costs at other aerodromes which are incurred largely because of the activities of general aviation aircraft. The Department of Civil Aviation has to upgrade its air traffic control, flight service and fire service units as the numbers of aircraft movements at particular aerodromes increase, regardless of whether the additional movements consist of light or heavy aircraft.
As an example of the type of problem which can be attributed to the general aviation industry, the Department has to decide whether to provide a flight service unit at Dampier in Western Australia because the number of aircraft movements at the airport has exceeded the normal criterion of 12,000 per annum. However, only about 3,000 of these movements are airline aircraft, the balance being general aviation movements. The capital cost of the additional facilities would be some $400,000 while annual operating costs would be $150,000. There would be no compensating in crease in air navigation charges because charges for general aviation aircraft are paid on an annual basis.
Again corrective action is required. The Bill therefore increases the rates of charges for general aviation aircraft by 15 per cent while the weekly charge payable for private and aerial work aircraft will be doubled, and that for charter aircraft will rise by two-thirds. However, a rebate of one-third of the higher charges payable from 1 December 1973 will be made in respect of such aircraft as are not normally based at a government aerodrome or at an aerodrome which is subject to government financial assistance under the Aerodrome Local Ownership Scheme.
Some heavy general aviation aircraft load the civil aviation and airway facilities almost to the same extent as airline aircraft, and it is proposed that these aircraft, namely, those weighing more than 9,000 kilograms, will be subject to double the normal rates of charge. These measures affecting general aviation are expected to yield approximately an additional $300,000 in the current financial year.
The Bill contains other provisions which are designed to clarify the liability of aircraft operators for charges when they operate aircraft on demonstration flights, ferry flights and positioning flights, and it also makes it clear that all flights operated by the holders of an international airline licence are to be subject to charges under the First Schedule rather than the Third Schedule. These are provisions designed to improve the administration of the Act and they have no significant effect on revenue. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Enderby, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill, foreshadowed by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in presenting the 1973-74 Budget, proposes amendments to the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967-1972. The amendments are designed to impose a limit on the amount of financial grant payable under the selective grant provisions of the Act, and to allow consideration of applications for grants from companies carrying out worthwhile industrial research and development, but whose research and development supervisors do not possess the existing professional qualifications required by the Act. The amendments may be regarded as interim measures aimed at correcting what are 2 significant shortcomings of the current Act, pending a more fundamental and comprehensive review of the scheme
The Industrial Research and Development scheme, as it exists currently, aims generally at promoting an awareness within Australian industry of the importance of technological innovation and the central role played by research and development activities in the continuing process of development and introduction of such innovation in the form of new and improved products and processes. In broad terms, the scheme operates as an incentive to Australian manufacturing and mining companies to increase their own spending on industrial research and development activities, basically by means of financial grants related to their increased spending on research and development activities in a particular year - the grant year - over their average annual spending on such activities during a 3-year moving base period. Additionally, industrial research and development plant expenditure is subject to separate special provisions for the purpose of grant calculations. General grants are provided for eligible research and development expenditure of up to $50,000 during a particular grant year. The rate of general grant currently being applied is 50 per cent of eligible expenditure. Selective grant provisions apply to the eligible outlays of a company in excess of $50,000 in the grant year.
The position in Australia, as in most industrialised countries, is that a significant proportion of research and development is carried out by the larger enterprises. It is however a fact that a large part of industry in Australia is small to medium sized. Published statistics show that over 93 per cent of all manufacturing establishments operating at the end of June 1969 employed fewer than 100 persons, and less than one per cent employed 500 or more persons. Given the pattern of industrial research and development performance in Australian industry, there are strong reasons for supporting the contention that the largest corporations are in most cases already well aware of the commercial benefits of research and development and are in far less need of a government incentive for this purpose than firms in the small and medium-sized bracket. A large percentage of grant payments under the industrial research and development grants scheme, however, have gone to the larger companies. Out of the total $14m allocated in grant payments by the Board during 1972-73 about 2 per cent of grant recipient companies received almost one-third of the total grant payments made.
The Government proposes, therefore, to amend the Act to allow a limit to be imposed on the amount of selective grant payable to any one company or its wholly-owned subsidiaries for any one grant year. The Bill proposes an initial limit of ‘$200,000 on selective grants for 1972-73 industrial research and development, the bulk of which will be paid out of the 1973-74 Budget allocation. This would mean that the maximum total grant payable to a company for its 1972-73 industrial research and development spending would be $225,000, made up of a general grant component of $25,000 and a selective grant component of $200,000. The Bill contains provision to vary, by regulation, the selective grant limit in succeeding years should circumstances so warrant.
The Government, in proposing this amendment, recognises, however, that there may be cases where there would be significant national interest reasons for providing levels of support exceeding this limit. The Bill therefore contains provision for waiver of the limitation, where a particular company can provide compelling reasons, in terms of benefits in the national interest. As the particular circumstances in which a case for such waiver may arise will vary significantly from company to company, each case arising will be judged in terms of its particular individual merits.
The Bill also proposes an amendment to the professional qualification requirement of the scheme. To be eligible for grants, the existing legislation requires that research and development must be carried out by a professionally qualified person, or someone in a position of direct technical assistance to him. The basic objective of this provision was to provide some assurance that the industrial research and development undertaken by companies could be expected to be of a satisfactory technical standard. Additionally, the requirement was aimed at facilitating the adoption of modern technological developments from academic and other fundamental research institutions and to encourage the provision of employment opportunities within Australian industry for professionally trained research and developmental personnel and laboratory assistants.
Although these are desirable objectives, the provision has meant that a number of Australian companies - principally smaller concerns - performing worthwhile research and development have been unable to receive consideration for grant purposes solely due to an inability to meet the professional qualification requirement. In a number of cases companies have their research and development performed or directed by people with a high degree of skill and experience but lacking formal qualifications. It is the Government’s intention therefore to extend the current provisions of the Act to all companies which have skilled research directors and the necessary capability to carry out systematic experimentation and analysis. The Bill provides for applications for grants to be considered when either the person supervising the research possesses a formal professional qualification, or when, by virtue of proven practical experience, the research supervisor can reasonably be regarded as being able competently to supervise industrial research and development.
The proposed amendment is designed to allow recognition of grant applications from companies with persons whose skills, ability and experience fit them to carry out work by way of industrial research and development for the company without lessening the quality of supervision and direction of industrial research and development in companies. It is envisaged that companies seeking to avail themselves of the new provisions would initially make a request in writing to the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board detailing the particular skills and experience possessed by the person or persons directing or performing their research and development. The Board would then refer such cases on to an advisory committee for examination. The committee will make recommendations to the Minister for Secondary Industry, who will, in turn, advise the Board of his decision as to whether the company’s nonprofessionally qualified industrial research and development director has been approved and that therefore the company’s industrial research and development expenditures may be admitted for consideration for grant purposes. The company will, of course, have to satisfy all the other criteria for grants, as is the case for companies whose research is conducted under the supervision of professionally qualified persons.
The Government is aware that the existing scheme, first introduced in 1967, has had some measure of success as a fairly broad incentive aimed at making Australian industries recognise the importance of industrial research and development. Having achieved such a level of recognition, however, the Government is concerned that increasing attention should be given in future to channelling assistance not only into areas of greatest need but also into areas showing the greatest technical and commercial promise. To this extent, then, the current proposals may be regarded as interim only, pending the fuller and more detailed consideration of the whole question of Government assistance for industrial research and development which was announced in the Budget Speech. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Molten) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
States Grants (Home Care) Bill 1973.
Delivered Meals Subsidy Bill 1973.
Aged Persons Homes Bill 1973.
Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill 1973.
Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill 1973.
Superannuation Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Territory Authorities (Financial Provisions) 1973.
Air Accidents (Australian Government Liability) Bill 1973. Atomic Energy Bill 1973.
Aliens Bill 1973.
Air Navigation Bill 1973.
Consideration resumed from 25 October (vide page 2758).
– Mr Deputy Chairman, may I suggest that consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Health, the Repatriation Department and the Department of Social Security be postponed?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Does the Committee agree to that suggestion? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be adopted.
Department of Housing
Proposed expenditure, $9,149,000
Department of Services and Property
Proposed expenditure, $60,284,000
Department of Works
Proposed expenditure, $104,801,000 (Quorum formed)
– In discussing these estimates, I wish to deal first with the Department of Housing. A great need exists for progress to be made in the housing field. I feel that perhaps greater attention could be given to housing needs in country towns. I hope that the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) can hear me in spite of all the competition in his area.
– I have no trouble in hearing the honourable member.
– I am very pleased to know that. Recently I was in Roma, a town in my electorate, which I think is a typical country town. The need in Roma for housing is very real. I attended a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce there. That body was most anxious for houses to be provided. Many people in that area need homes, and I hope that consideration will be given to these needs. I point out that housing development in country towns serves a greater purpose than making homes available for people. The provision of housing in country towns serves the great need for decentralisation and tends to lessen pollution because it is a redistribution of population to some extent. Finally in this respect, I emphasise that the cost of servicing homes in country areas is much less when compared with the cost of servicing houses in metropolitan areas.
There is a lot to be said for a careful examination of housing activities. I know that overlapping occurs between Commonwealth and State responsibilities with respect to housing. Because of the need for additional homes, I hope that full co-operation in the housing area will occur. In one of his speeches, the Minister for Housing has mentioned the need for co-operation between all sections of the industry. I hope that that objective will apply also to-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! I ask honourable members to observe a little more silence while the honourable member is speaking.
– Thank you, Sir. I appreciate your assistance. I did draw attention earlier to the noise that was going on, and I appreciate your help because it is pretty hard for a member to talk over the noise in the chamber although, I admit, it is not so hard for me.
The next point that I wish to mention is topical. I refer to the need for building standards. In a Press release on 30 October, the Minister for Housing said:
The need for a national approach to reduce costs and at the same time set standards of safety, health and amenity in housing is urgent.
I commend the Minister on that statement. I draw attention to the great damage that resulted to homes in the city of Brisbane recently after storms that raged there. Before repairs had been carried out, another storm hit the city. This has created a great deal of difficulty. An examination of building standards is to be undertaken. I hope that the Minister will use this inquiry as a basis for considering the needs for future housing.
What has occurred with respect to houses constructed in the last few years emphasises the necessity for an improvement in the type of building erected in this area so that future houses which are subject to the stress of cyclonic winds will be able to withstand those forces. I understand that there are measures which can be used, perhaps not to cover completely this need but which will assist to pre.vent or at least minimise damage of the type done recently in Brisbane. One realises that this action will not only protect the asset that homes are to people but also reduce the grave danger to life and the extent of injuries that result from such damage. The problem cannot be eliminated. A limitation must be imposed on costs, I know. But I believe that a good deal more could be done. I am aware that the Minister has invited experts from all over Australia to attend the first meeting of the Australian Housing Standards Conference which is to be held in Canberra on 17 November. I hope that that meeting will take this aspect of housing into consideration; I am sure it will.
I refer also to the progress that is being made in my own great State of Queensland. I thank the Minister for some comments he made when he was there recently. He referred to the fact that permanent building societies had existed in Queensland for many years. Several in fact were formed in the nineteenth century but it is only in the last few years that strong growth has occurred and I know that this growth is due partly to the excellent government that Queensland enjoys. The Minister also said:
Although the increase in the number of societies in Queensland has generally followed the rest of Australia, the growth in net deposits here-
He was speaking in Queensland:
I am pleased to note that this development is taking place. Despite what the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said today about his hopes, in the past he was almost diffident about the subject of building societies. It is pleasing to note the progress that has been made in this area.
The Minister referred also to another aspect with which I wish to deal. That is the inflationary situation. No doubt exists that the shadow of the current high level of inflation hangs over every aspect of development in Australia. Housing certainly comes within that field. The Minister said that permanent building societies cannot divorce themselves from responsibility in this field. Nor can the Government. I hope that the Government will keep a careful watch on inflation and its causes to help protect the assets of the community at large, and to assist people who so badly need homes. I believe that the Minister has taken this matter most seriously to heart and I am happy to see that he is endeavouring to cope with the lag in home building. Action in this area is necessary. At the same time, unless the Government as a whole is prepared to do a better job with respect to the inflationary trends in this country, the efforts of the Minister with respect to housing and of development generally will be so undermined as to cut away the benefits that would otherwise be available to the people.
I would like to continue to deal with housing but I wish to touch for a moment on the Department of Works. I will not have very much time to devote to this subject. As a member of the Public Works Committee, I am well aware of the value of the works that are being carried out throughout the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Department of Works. I am interested to note too that the Department of Works and the Department of
Housing are to be amalgamated. The new department will be a very large department. I am hoping that the amalgamation will bring about the benefits that the Minister apparently sees. But the Department of Housing and the Department of Works are 2 very large departments. Speaking from memory, I think there are only 2 departments - perhaps there are three or four - for which more funds are provided than are provided for the Department of Housing. So the Minister will have a very big responsibility. I sometimes wonder whether amalgamations provide the benefit they should from the standpoint of economies of scale.
In relation to works generally, I believe that the Public Works Committee has been very successful. I pay tribute to my colleagues on the Public Works Committee for the dedication they have brought to their work. I exclude myself from those remarks. As I have had experience of what they have done, I believe it is fair enough for me to pay a tribute to them. The Minister for Housing, of course, was formerly a member of that Committee. One example has been set by that Committee. For how long I do not know, but at least during the whole of my term as a member of that Committee - that is 4 years now - the Committee has not divided on Party lines. I see the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) sitting in the chamber. He stood alone on one particular occasion, and the decision he made on that occasion was justified by later events. This is something that is sometimes forgotten. While I criticise the Government in many ways, I want to say that the Public Works Committee has maintained the tradition that has been set down over the years. I hope it is a tradition that will be maintained.
I conclude by quoting from a report of the secretary of that Committee. It states:
The very existence of the Committee and the fact that major Commonwealth works proposals are subject to detailed parliamentary scrutiny has a salutory effect on client departments in formulating proposals which involve public works and public money. This and the examination of client departments on the need for and effect of the proposed work are the most obvious and important aspects of the Committee’s investigation.
There is a move to increase the minimum cost which must attach to a project before it is necessary to have it submitted to the Public Works Committee, but that is only because of the pressure of work on the Committee. There is also a suggestion that statutory authorities might be brought under the Committee’s consideration too. I think that the Committee is a very good body. I think it should be mentioned here that it serves the very useful purpose that I have outlined.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Housing I pay tribute to the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) for the way in which he acted so promptly after obtaining his portfolio. On 16 January, not very long after his appointment as the Minister, he made certain announcements. Among the measures he announced was an increase in the maximum war service homes loan from $9,000 to $12,000. On the same date he also announced a special grant of $6m to the States for the construction of 1,500 homes. The amount that was allocated was restricted to some extent by the amount of housing that could be constructed by the State bousing authorities. The money was to be used for the construction of homes for rental to needy families. This announcement is an indication of the concern that the Australian Labor Party has placed on housing, not just now but over the years when it was in opposition. I can recall the Minister for Housing, in the years that I sat alongeside him on the opposite side of the Parliament, expressing his concern for the need to provide housing for needy people, to endeavour in some ways to catch up with the backlog.
I have mentioned 2 announcements that the Minister made on 16 January - an increase in the maximum war service homes loan and the special allocation to the States for the construction of homes for rental to needy people. I am sorry to say that my own State of Queensland accepted the lowest amount. It was very slow to take advantage of the generosity of the Australian Government, even though I believe there is a great need for housing in Queensland. I find that in the cities of Bundaberg and Maryborough there is a need for homes for rental. The Government has acted in the provision of such homes. But before going on to this matter I refer also to another announcement which the Minister for Housing made on 16 January, that is, that the Government had decided to extend eligibility for benefits under the War Service Homes Act to national servicemen and members of the
Tegular forces without overseas service. This was an entirely new move, something different, to give encouragement to those who joined the Services to work and act in the defence of Australia should the need arise.
Many of these people offered their lives for their country. Thank goodness - and we can all be thankful for this - we have not had to ask them to honour that offer. Some members of the forces have had overseas service; others, through no fault of their own, had previously not qualified for a war service home because they had had no overseas service. As from 7 December 1972 members of the regular forces who had 3 years service and national servicemen who chose to serve the remainder of their time became eligible for what was then known as a war service homes loan. It is now known as a defence service homes loan. Eligibility for such a loan was also extended to include single and widowed nurses and ex-service women without dependants who had previously been debarred from obtaining a war service home. These 3 announcements were made on 16 January, a little less than a month after the appointment of Mr Les Johnson as the Minister for Housing.
It has always been a matter of concern to members on the Government side and I think to members generally, and more particularly to those people who are buying a home, that the rate of interest on a housing loan should be kept as low as possible. For the first time, in February the Minister for Housing attempted to negotiate with the various State housing authorities a 5-year loan by the Australian Government to the State housing authorities, and in addition he sought a continuation of the provisions attaching to previous Commonwealth-State housing loans. He fixed the interest rate for the loan to the States at 4 per cent. Since the inception of CommonwealthState housing loans money had been advanced to the States at an interest rate one per cent below the ruling interest rate. The Minister has tied the interest rate that will attach to the moneys that will be advanced to the State housing authorities at 4 per cent, which must mean cheaper homes for a majority of people, particularly those who have to live in rented homes. I pay a particular tribute to the Minister. Some State Ministers expressed doubts about his announcement because conditions were laid down that so much of the money that was to be made available was to be used to construct houses for rental only, as it was felt that these homes should be available to those people who were not able to purchase a home.
The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) has spoken of the damage done to houses by storms. It has always intrigued me that certain insurance companies have disclaimed any responsibility for meeting the cost of damage caused by certain storms. They have regarded them as acts of God and have accepted no responsibility for making good the damage. I note that in relation to defence service homes - I draw the Minister’s attention to this fact - some insurance companies are now disclaiming any responsibility for meeting the cost of damage if a roof of a house has not been breached, if a window has not been broken. I would like the Minister to have a particular look at this aspect of insurance. Previously when there has been some damage and iron has been lifted - I can recall one particular case - there has been disputation with an insurance company. The owner of that home showed me how pollution from megass from a sugar mill had been floating between the tiles of his home. This is pollution through a type of carbon which expands when wet. Over a period of years it had expanded to such an extent that it had actually lifted the tiles and allowed the rainwater to go through into the home. This is just one aspect to be considered with insurance for homes.
Something that has always amazed me is that one finds very often after a storm that, for seemingly no reason at all, a home has been completely deroofed, completely devastated by the storm while, alongside, an old home, in some cases 50 or 70 years old, remains untouched. I hope that much will come from a study of the effect of the storm on houses; I think it will bring a great benefit to all of us for it is an ill wind that blows no good. I recall that following cyclone Ada the views on building construction, particularly in the tropics, were reviewed. I certainly feel that if we do not take advantage of knowledge gained from these things that beset us from time to time and if we do not discover how we can overcome them and, more particularly, how these homes can be adequately insured, we will not be making full use of the assets that are available to us.
It might interest the House to know that this year an additional $2 12m has been advanced to the States for housing. Grants to the States total $6. 8m for housing for underprivileged people which is similar to the amount granted last year. For defence services homes the increase this year is $27.7m making $102m for the full year. It is also interesting to note that the amount of repayments-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) congratulated the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) upon his good work. I do not .think that anybody can deny that the Minister has been an enthusiast. He is an enthusiastic man. We have crossed swords a few times over housing in our parliamentary careers. However, my complaint is that he unfortunately has a one-track mind concerning housing. Still, this is true .to his principles because, after all, he is perhaps one of .the most dedicated socialists in the House. He has one purpose and one purpose only: He believes fundamentally in government ownership and he believes sincerely that controls will cure all ills associated with housing. He has airy fairy notions but he will find in the end that these airy-fairy notions will not work. The fact is he just does not understand the fundamental principles of housing.
Labor policy has never altered because, as I have said before in this House, the leopard never changes its spots. My old friend the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) knows it: The leopard never changes its spots. When Labor was in power prior to 1949 it tried to establish a Commonwealth housing commission and to get complete Commonwealth control over housing, but it found that this was illegal. Under the Constitution it is a State function. But now in devious ways Labor is trying to get around that problem and it is not going to stop until it gets complete Commonwealth control. Labor is now trying the tack of providing very cheap money to the States. We heard tonight of direct grants of money to the States from the Commonwealth Government, and that is to be debated later. Should the referendum on prices be approved then of course this Labor Government will have complete control over prices.
I warn the people of Australia that if the Commonwealth gets complete control over prices it will be in a position to dictate whatever terms it likes for the control of housing throughout Australia. If the people are foolish enough not to vote ‘No’ at that referendum they will find out later the danger that exists. It is true that this Government is hellbent on 3 things in housing, as I see it. Firstly, the building up of a rental community. Honourable members will find that that is its policy. Labor is discouraging and always has discouraged home ownership in its true terms. What is more serious, it is destroying the building society movement throughout Australia and is hellbent on doing so. This Government fought the States on the latest CommonwealthState Housing Agreement on all these matters and accepted only what it could get finally in the negotiations. But its idea was to get control of these matters. This means of course to get complete control for the central government.
The Minister for Housing claims that there is a housing crisis. I have said before that there is no such thing. There is a welfare problem concerning very low income groups; I grant that. But this is a self-inflicted wound brought about by the very control system which the Labor Party espouses. This is the result of controls that were laid down after the war years and is particularly evident in New South Wales where the problem is greatest. A Labor government was in power in New South Wales for 24 years and it established the position whereby it completely destroyed the investment in rental homes so that anybody who owned a home as an investment and who rented it go rid of it. Therefore there is a complete scarcity of rental homes, especially for the low income groups in New South Wales. This program of course, was subsidised in a very unfair way by the owners of these homes. It was not done by all the people; it just happens that the people who owned the homes subsidised the low rentals because of the control system that operated at that time. But now the taxpayers of Australia are to foot the bill. We are told - and the Minister is very proud of it for he has just mentioned it - that $290m is to be made available to the States at 4 per cent interest and $102m to the Defence Services Homes Scheme at 3i per cent interest. The people do not seem to understand what this means. We are paying 8.5 per cent interest on loans in order to give this money to the States so that they can provide this housing for low income groups. This means, just in respect of those amounts, a subsidy for rental purposes of over $15m by the people of Australia - and that is a pretty substantial sum of money to come out of the taxpayers’ pocket. To the contrary home owners interest rates are to go up to 8i per cent and 9i per cent. This is a clear breaking of a promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during the election campaign.
I know it is troubling members of the Labor Party and that they are trying to get round it in all sorts of ways. But they will find that they will be running up against more trouble because while they are trying to close a door here, another opens there. They will find that they are in real trouble in connection with this matter. The fact is the Government is discouraging home ownership by raising interest rates - which is very unfair to hundreds of thousands of people in this country.
The building societies of course are gradually being destroyed, notwithstanding the mouthings that the Minister preaches at their conferences. Building societies have been the backbone of home ownership in this country in recent years. Yet we hear that a new Bill will be introduced to provide for the control of building societies in the same way as the Government controls the insurance companies and the banks. The Bill will enable the Government to control the way in which building societies use their money. Honourable members can imagine what will happen to it. We know, too, how the savings of the people in Australia are to be diverted through the Australian Industry Development Corporation, a huge socialist organisation which will destroy the incentive for people to deposit their savings with the building societies. The deposits will be directed and diverted into the AIDC to finance the huge socialist enterprise of Government ownership again.
The Minister has some weird notions and I hope he does not mind my talking about them. One weird idea was revealed in his statement the other day when he blamed the master builders for locking out the builders labourers. Why do the builders labourers not go back to work and do all the jobs that they should be doing? Why does the Minister segregate those that have a green ban, as it is called? The Government is aiding and abetting these people to do that kind of thing. The Government is bringing this situation about itself. I never heard the Minister complain about the builders labourers banning certain jobs. Who are these builders labourers that they shall dictate what jobs shall go on and what jobs shall not and defy the proper elected authorities of this country? That is what is happening and the Government is aiding and abetting them.
The Minister thinks that land prices can be controlled by pegging land prices. This just cannot be done. It has never been done anywhere where an attempt has been made to control land prices. The Minister thinks that a Government monopoly of land let out on leasehold will finally reduce the price of land. It will not. Speaking from experience extending over 50 years I can assure the Minister he will find that that system will not ultimately reduce the price that people will have to pay for land. The Minister admitted in answer to a question I asked today that he will now have a huge construction organisation in which it is intended to employ day labour in the construction of homes and bigger buildings in this country. God help us if we have to pay for that. Taxpayers will know what they are up against if he ever brings that kind of big construction department into being. There is no doubt that it will not operate. His plans for mobile homes on park lands are simply pathetic and almost laughable. He just does not understand housing.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to deal with a matter relating to electoral affairs which comes under the stewardship of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). It is a very sordid display, in fact a treacherous display, of lack of unity between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party in the State seat of Murray in New South Wales. This despicable act of treachery on the part of the Country Party is an attempt to destroy the Liberal Party candidate in that seat, Mrs Meillon, on the basis of a charade of a public meeting which was held to endorse a candidate by the Country Party as an independent Country Party candidate. In an attempt to deceive the electors of Murray the Country Party broke an agreement with its Liberal partner and went to these lengths. I should like to read from an article that appeared in the Deniliquin ‘Pastoral Times’ under the major heading ‘Jeffrey Goes Again’ and the sub-heading ‘Electors Dismayed’.
– I take a point of order. I doubt whether this is relevant to the discussion before the Chair.
– I was watching that point very carefully myself. I have been listening very carefully to the honourable member. As I gather, he is speaking of a matter which is under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Services and Property or comes within the electoral matters which that Minister controls. Until such time as I can see that the speech is not referring to that issue I will have to rule that the honourable member is on order.
– I take a point of order. Mr Deputy Chairman, for what reason do you rule that the matter to which the honourable member for Blaxland is referring comes within the responsibility of the Department controlled by the Federal Minister for Services and Property?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I am not going to give reasons.
– Oh! You are not going to give reasons?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I beg your pardon.
– I said: ‘You are not going to give reasons’.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I do not want any inferences against the Chair, or I will take the appropriate action.
– I just said: ‘You are not going to give reasons’.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The point which I have made in ruling on this matter is that what the honourable member is speaking about is an electoral matter and as such comes within the area of the Minister for Services and Property.
– I intend to solicit the Minister’s assistance on the basis that this matter will prove that an amendment is required to the Australian Constitution and to the electoral laws of the Commonwealth. We provide state electoral rolls and the matter comes completely within the Minister’s jurisdiction. Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to continue reading from the Deniliquin ‘Pastoral Times’. It goes on to day.
At a large public meeting held Tuesday- (Quorum formed.) I will continue the story. The Country Party was to endorse this Mr Jeffrey for the State seat of Murray.-
– I raise a point of order. The matter about which the honourable member for Blaxland is talking has nothing whatsoever to do with the portfolio administered by the Federal Minister for Services and Property.
He is talking about a State electoral matter which has nothing to do at all with the estimates before the Committee.
– On the point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman, I point out that the Commonwealth pays to the States a very substantial sum of money for joint rolls. We have a joint agreement with the States, confirmed by the Executive Council and the Governor-General. The Commonwealth, with me as the appropriate Minister, is responsible in a big way for co-operation with the States and the administration of sections of their Acts dealing with electoral affairs. I suggest to the honourable member for Indi that he have a look as the electoral Acts and he will see incorporated in them expenditures of this kind. He will know then that this matter is within my province.
– On the point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman, the matter to which I am referring relates to corruption and an offered bribe by the Country Party candidate to the Australian Labor Party candidate for the State seat of Murray. That bears upon the responsibility of the Minister for Services and Property who, through his office, makes possible the election in that electorate. Not only that, but I am suggesting also to the Minister that the matter should be investigated with a view to changing the Acts of this Parliament. My remarks are totally relevant to this debate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Very well. It is not a point of order.
– The Country Party held a discussion to endorse its candidate and then decided not to endorse a candidate. A public meeting was held and that public meeting decided to endorse an independent Country Party candidate.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.
– Tell the honourable member for Blaxland to sit down. The camera is not on him.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I suggest that members of the Country Party do not get so excited. The Chair is able to look after itself.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, can you explain to me how the Country Party’s method of preselection has any relevance to the tasks of the Minister for Services and Property? The honourable member for Blaxland is talking about the preselection procedures of the Australian Country Party for the State seat of Murray. I submit that he is totally out of order because this has nothing to do with the portfolio of the Minister for Services and Property. You should rule his remarks out of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- It is not the prerogative of the Chair to explain the logic behind the statements of honourable members in this chamber. It is the prerogative of the Chair to determine whether a speech is in order. There is no point of order.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, my point of order is that in his speech the honourable member for Blaxland is detailing the preselection procedures of the Australian Country Party for the State seat of Murray and I submit that it is not within the province of the Minister for Services and Property.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I have already ruled that this is not a point of order. I have made it clear, and the point was raised by the Leader of the House, that the honourable member for Blaxland has been referring to an election campaign. Although the connection may be a little remote the honourable member has been dealing with an election campaign which does come within the province of the Minister for Services and Property because of the joint arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States concerning certain electoral costs. Such costs are included in the estimates for the Department of Services and Property. For that reason, there is no point of order.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I take a point of order. In your ruling you mentioned, as did the Minister for Services and Property, that because the New South Wales Government pays some money to the Commonwealth Government for the preparation and compilation of joint electoral rolls this affords any honourable member an opportunity to talk about State electoral laws and something that has happened in State elections. In my opinion, Mr Deputy Chairman it is not correct to give as a reason-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Will the honourable member come to his point- of order?
– I am coming to it. You gave as your reason for ruling that there was no point of order - the Minister for Services and Property did the same - that because the New South Wales Government pays money to the
Commonwealth Government to prepare a joint electoral roll the honourable member for Blaxland was in order, but that factor has nothing to do with the honourable member’s statement.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I have already ruled on the point of order. The honourable member is raising the same point of order, and it is not a point of order. I am afraid that the time of the honourable member for Blaxland has expired.
– I propose to deal with the estimates for the Department of Housing. Like some of my colleagues, I also pay a tribute to the energy and enthusiasm of the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) and at the same time express to him a measure of sympathy for the position in which he now finds himself. Like former Ministers for Housing he now finds himself in the somewhat uncomfortable position of being in the nutcrackers. He has a policy for housing and the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and the Government as a whole have a financial and economic policy and these two policies are in direct conflict. I am sure that the Minister will readily admit that a tremendous boom is occurring in the housing field. In fact we are trying to build houses greatly in excess of our capacity. About two or three days ago an article in the Financial Review’ pointed out, among other things, that we were now attempting to build houses at a rate about 40 per cent above that which we have the capacity to achieve.
Faults in the housing situation are not really due to the Minister; they are, in fact, a byproduct of financial and economic policy. Another essential party to the present situation is the Labor Caucus. The top range of the Government has formed a policy which has resulted in the imposition of higher interest rates and a credit squeeze - a credit squeeze which, in the course of about two or three months, will become an economic squelch when higher interest rates become effective. This policy hits most directly at housing which the Government clearly wishes to slow down. The main point of higher interest rates is to make housing more difficult, more expensive and to reduce its scope. I would say that at the moment in order to combat inflation this is one of the few things which the Government is doing which is likely to be extremely effective in this direction but, of course, the Government’s policy, which is well conceived, is subverted by the free vote of Caucus. That
Caucus consists of a number of people who, above all else in life, are frightened of becoming unpopular to any degree. In order to combat inflation housing must be slowed down and this is what the Government is doing. Interest rates have gone higher. I know that the Labor Caucus has passed various resolutions ordaining that interest rates shall be reduced to the extent that it is successful in achieving its objective but the economic policy of the Government as a whole will be falsified and will become ineffective.
Like the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) I also express considerable interest in some of the initiatives which the Minister is taking. The first Australian Housing Standards Conference is to be held on 19 November. To this conference have been invited builders, architects, building materials manufacturers, unionists, representatives of State departments and local government, the Standards Association of Australia, universities and other leaders such as representatives of banks and building societies. This is a most important development which has taken successive Ministers of Housing a long time to achieve. I hope that the Minister will keep the House informed of the proceedings of this conference and will spread around details of the proceedings and of the suggestions brought forward.
Whatever happens in the current inflationary situation certain structural changes in the housing field designed to reduce costs remain of permanent importance under all and any circumstances. As the Minister pointed out in his Press release the other day, the gross national expenditure of housing in 1972-73 was S2,075m. The possibility opened up by this exercise, employing just these factors alone, is a potential saving of not less than $125m per annum. I hope, if he can, that the Minister will add to this particular group one or two things which add to the cost of Housing.
One of the unnecessary costs to home owners in the construction of houses arises from delays caused in solicitors offices. When one considers the number of houses which suffer one month or 2 months delay in settlement one realises how enormously this adds to the interest bill and to the cost. This is brought about simply by the dilatory nature of solicitors. I do not wish to insult all the lawyers in the House - a very big proportion of honourable members are lawyers - but this is one of the necessary and wicked costs which housing has to bear and which somehow should be eliminated. If the Minister strives also for reform in that area I feel sure that he will deserve the support of the House.
The Minister understands very well the housing problems of New South Wales. One of his faults in dealing with the States, judging by the New South Wales situation which has certain problems quite different from those of the other States, is that he designs a Procrustean bed which he tries to force on the other Housing Ministers throughout Australia. Without going through articular political affiliations of the State Ministers, the fact is that the situation in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland is thoroughly and fundamentally different from that in New South Wales. The policy adopted in New South Wales is very good as far as that State is concerned. It is very well designed for the de facto situation there. But the Minister goes astray in trying, by direct and indirect means of pressure, to force this policy on the other States.
Fortunately this year there is to be a tremendous increase in government housing. Despite the great increase in government housing, the actual construction of government houses has been falling. In fact, the current housing program really tops off a situation of over-pressure and over-expansion of the private sector. The Government’s program worsens the situation by adding to the pressure. The only redeeming feature is that until now much of the program has not been put into effect. 1 hope and I think that the House will wish the Minister success in his drive to reduce the cost of housing. Of noticeable interest also is the combination of the Department of Housing with the Department of Works. I feel sure that many honourable members will watch with interest the experiment in industrial housing, in factory type housing and all other things which the Minister has initiated and discussed. However, as yet he obviously has not had time to get very far with these projects.
I would like to say a number of other things about the total situation but I realise that my time is about to exire and I will not have time to mention them. However, I would like to point to one statement made by the Minister recently to the Queensland permanent building societies. I thought his statement was a little rash. He said that in the next 5 years we will need to construct at least 1 million houses. If one looks at that figure against existing construction one realises-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to speak about conspiracy and bribery by the Country Party in the State seat of Murray in New South Wales. My remarks are related to a bribe offered by a Country Party-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. What has conspiracy and bribery by any party to do with the Federal Parliament?
– There is no point of order.
– Sit him down.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Honourable members will wait until I hear the point of order.
– We know what it is. We do not want to hear it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I have to make sure whether it is a point of order or a point of view. The honourable member for Indi.
– The point of order is that the honourable member for Blaxland started off his speech by saying that he wanted to speak about conspiracy and bribery by the Country Party in New South Wales. I submit that this has nothing whatsoever to do with any of the estimates before the Committee at present-
– It has. Why do you not listen?
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I am addressing you, not the rabble opposite.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order!
– The point of order I make is that the subject matter raised by the honourable member for Blaxland has nothing to do with the estimates before the Committee.
– On the point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Do you wish to speak to the point of order?
– Yes. Under the estimates for the Department of Services and Property you will see an amount of $9,000 for the printing of supplementary rolls for State purposes, and this affects a roll for an election in which the candidates have taken part in bribery and corruption in the State seat of
Murray in New South Wales. My remarks are applicable to the administration and the payment of that money.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I will rule on the point of order.
– On the point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - The honourable member for Maronoa will wait until I have ruled on this point of order, if he does not mind.
– I wanted to speak to it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I rule that if the honourable member relates his remarks to matters connected with the Department of Services and Property - I have not had much chance on this second occasion on which he has spoken to find out whether that is the case because immediately the honourable member got to his feet a point of order was taken - he is in order. However, I do think that he has to be very careful that his remarks are related to that Department and the duties of that Department.
– The Department of Services and Property-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.
– What are you frightened of, Jim?
– I am not frightened of anything. The adjournment motion is coming up shortly and the Minister can speak then if he wishes. My point of order is that the remarks of the honourable member for Blaxland up to the present time have had no relation to the only item in the estimates that has any bearing on this matter, namely, the rolls that-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is no substance in that point of order. I have to treat this speech of the honourable member for Blaxland separately from the earlier speech he made. He had only just started to speak when a point of order was taken. It has been rather difficult to determine precisely what he intends to speak about, and until honourable members give me an opportunity to find that out, it is very difficult for me. However, I make the point to the honourable member for Blaxland that he must relate his remarks to the Department of Services and Property and not stray from that Department.
– The Department of Services and Property allocates funds to the-
– I rise on a point of order. I seek your ruling, Mr Deputy Chairman. I wish to take part in the debate at a later stage and talk about the pre-selection methods that were adopted in the electorate of Shortland before the last election. I want to know whether it is proper for me to talk about bribes and corruption with the pre-selection in the electorate of Shortland.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I will resume my seat but I want to know your ruling.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– We await your ruling, Mr Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The honourable member is dealing with purely hypothetical matters. He is not dealing with preselection or an internal Party matter; he is dealing with an election campaign. I call the honourable member for Blaxland.
– I am dealing with the holding of the State election campaign. That State campaign embraces the State seat of Murray, which electorate has been prostituted by the Country Party. An independently endorsed Country Party candidate offered the Australian Labor Party candidate, Mr Drew, $1,500. There is a tape recording to substantiate this. I have the transcript of the tape recording with me. I want to read it to the House to demonstrate the seriousness of the charges. It states:
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I rise on a point of order. My point of order is that you have ruled that the Minister for Services and Property has some relation to the New South Wales electoral organisation. But I submit to you that nowhere in his portfolio does he have any jurisdiction-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Blaxland will resume his seat. I ask the honourable member for Warringah to come to his point of order quickly or he will be asked to resume his seat.
– Nowhere within his jurisdiction does the Minister have any authority over the treatment of allegations such as are being made-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Warringah will resume his seat.
– I have not finished my point of order.
– Order! I again ask the honourable member for Warringah to resume his seat.
– Are you not going to listen to his point of order?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There will be a little bit of silence. I have not the slightest doubt that frivolous points of order are being taken to prevent the honourable member for Blaxland from speaking.
– Mr Deputy Chairman–
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat while I give a ruling or he will be out of this chamber. I have already ruled that the honourable member for Blaxland is dealing with matters associated–
– That suit the Labor Party.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting. The honourable member for Blaxland is dealing with matters associated with the Department of Services and Property and with an election campaign - not pre-selections or anything else. As such they are connected with that Department as that Department shares the costs of the printing of the electoral rolls, etc. I call the honourable member for Blaxland.
– Mr Deputy Chairman–
That the ruling be dissented from.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I will read from the transcript of the tape.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Blaxland will resume his seat. The honourable member for Warringah has moved dissent from my ruling.
That the ruling be dissented from.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. L. Armitage)
Majority . . . .17
Question so resolved in the negative.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! It being after 10.15 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House, I shall report progress.
– Order! The question is:
That the House do now adjourn.
– The birth of a child is normally an event of great joy to the parents.’ But when that child is found to be handicapped - whether mentally or physically, or both - the joy can turn to sorrow and anguish. In the tragic case of those children who are totally dependent on their parents and the other members of their family, no amount of affection can ever overcome the despair which is generated by the totality of their demands. This usually takes the form of intensive nursing and assistance with each of those everyday things we normally take for granted such as dressing, eating, bathing and so on. Certainly, the parents’ affection for their child sustains them and provides them with the fortitude to face up to their situation and gives them the energy and stamina necessary to continue - in many cases, virtually 24 hours a day every day of the year. Most parents carry on until their financial resources, or their emotional capacity are stretched to breaking point before they seek assistance. This situation is outlined with considerable poignancy and clarity in the following letter, sent to me by one of my constituents, Mrs N. McKay, of Frankston, who has given me her permission to read it to the House on the basis that reference to it would be helpful to the House in understanding the very difficult problems facing the parents of handicapped children in Australia today. She begins with reference to her daughter, Fiona:
I am in this world but, it seems, ‘not of it’,
God gives me breath, but His world denies me,
I burden my mother, God give her strength,
Every need she must anticipate and perform for me,
Promises and words are spoken, but my problems remain.
I am a handicapped child - of Australian birth!
So might the petition read, were my little daughter, Fiona, able to give expression to her situation. But in her absolute and complete innocence, she is unable to communicate in any way at all, but she knows’ her own familiar things and, as a loved member of her family, is intended to remain in that circle of security.
But what of her mother who, of necessity, prepares her special foods, feeds, bathes and dresses her, attends to her personal hygiene, washes and irons, lifts and carries Fiona, loves and cares for her every need . . . who anticipates, plans and applies solutions to her every problem - not for the5 or 6 years of a normal child’s complete dependency, but in monotonous repetition, every day of every week, of every year, without relief, or even the bare comfort of a compassionate Government subsidy to perhaps permit assistance in sharing the burden?
Mother simply cannot afford to be sick or even repair to bed in such circumstances. She cannot ‘take time off or a weekend away, as the entire gamut of every waking day revolves round her concern and knowledge of Fiona’s special requirement; constant care and attention.
The letter from Mrs McKay of Frankston goes on to say:
The vexation, frustration, psychological strain, constant fear of ailments not diagnosed in time, anxiety complex in Fiona’s absence - indeed every facet of human stress - compounds in the mother in such circumstances.
Mother has to achieve all the organising and implementing management of a normal household, in addition to the complexly of providing for her handicapped child. The household budget must be expanded beyond normal requirements to the detriment and even exclusion of her own personal dress and comforts, precluding the possibility of well-earned holidays, with nil return for her own personal exertions.
Mrs McKay concludes:
Caliper/ boot replacements cost $25 (not $8 to $10), provision for wheel chair, equipment such as special living and walking aids to attempt some relief from Fiona’s immobility, the capital and running costs of seasonal heating and cooling to protect the child against temperature extremes, an annual contribution of $140 to the day centre, the costs of transportation, etc., etc., are some of the facets where we might expect some sharing from Government expenditure, and dispensation from taxes paid each year. Yet our return in this regard is nil.
Without introducing boredom into this communication, it may perhaps be agreed, that the asociated problems and costs of caring for a handicapped child are deserving of your every attention and the immediate action of our Federal Government to grant essential priority, to bring some relief to such a household as ours, forthwith by payment of a subsidy of weekly value, at least 25 per cent of the costs, which would otherwise be paid by the government, should they be charged with the responsibility of support for our child!
Much more could be said, in favour of paying the mothers of handicapped children for the service they perform, in relieving government expenses which would otherwise undoubtedly be incurred.
Mrs McKay continues:
Please do not introduce into your speech to the House the insulting inference that the matter is of State not Federal’ responsibility, as without fear of any form of contradiction, administering the benefit is infinitely secondary to the fact that the subject matter concerns every citizen in this country. It is a shameful reminder of the existing inadequacy of our democratic society.
I am sure, Mr Speaker, you will agree that Mrs McKay’s letter spells out a major problem of considerable magnitude throughout this country and that in fact her letter is compelling and touching. Obviously, something must be done to reduce the burden which parents like Mrs McKay throughout Australia are carrying. But, of course, Mrs McKay does not speak for herself alone. She simply vocalises a problem which is of increasing concern to many families in all parts of this country.
In fact, it is not being melodramatic to say that the pressures bearing down on parents endeavouring to cope with a handicapped child are so great that they have caused some of them to suffer psychiatric problems serious enough to demand treatment, have led to the breakdown of a not inconsiderable number of marriages and, according to a recent survey in the Melbourne area, have caused an unspecified number of suspected suicides. The same Melbourne survey showed that many of the brothers and sisters of retarded children also were suffering, to the point where they were under psychiatric care or attending child guidance clinics. Finally, there is the question of physical damage to the house itself when the handicapped child is cared for by his parents at home. In a large number of instances, it was found that because of the ‘disturbed’ behaviour of the retarded children - many of them hyperactive - their homes were subject to considerable wear and tear. It is in fact a dismal and depressing picture. I do not need to develop it or to dwell on it further. The need is obvious and urgent. The need is for the Commonwealth Government to make a total assessment of the problem throughout Australia, to ascertain in cooperation with the State Governments the major areas of deficiency in terms of institutional accommodation, personal assistance and educational facilities, and then endeavour to devise a program which will bring maximum benefit to the greatest possible number for the most economic outlay. Current inadequacies are costing too many young people - and those who seek to care for them - far too much. For both parties only assistance of the highest quality is real help.
I hope that the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) who is sitting at the table will sympathetically examine the problem and bring forward positive initiatives which will receive the commendation of this House. I recognise - and I say this deliberately - the omissions of the past. But the credibility of the future in terms of the action which can be taken by this Government cannot, of course, rest on the omissions of the past. I have raised this matter on the adjournment debate not as a matter of party politics or to seek to score any political points whatsoever but to use it as the forum to bring before the Minister what I personally believe to be one of the most glaring areas of need in the whole field of social welfare in Australia.
– I desire to raise a matter which relates to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I request the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) to make investigations concerning the transcript of a tape recording involving corruption between 2 persons involved in electoral affairs in the New South Wales State seat of Murray. I would like to read from a transcript of a tape recording so that the Attorney-General’s Department can make an assessment of the content of the material. The transcript reads:
Drew: Yeah, well, I understand you’re not nominated by a party so it’s not a party deal. It’s a private one.
Jeffery: It’s a private deal - and if - do you think a thousand can swing it? Do you think fifteen hundred will swing it? Well - you will probably-
Drew: I wouldn’t know until I put it to them! See? But I had to have something specific! It’s no good talking-
Jeffery: Well, all right. Can you go back and say, How does a fat thousand sound’? And if they say, No’ - I don’t know - honestly don’t know till I put it to the boys-
Jeffery: Yeah, well, it’s no good making preferences with the Libs because you are not going - they are not going to be distributed. And mine are not going to be distributed so it comes back to - ah -
Drew: I know that’s mine-
The manuscript continues:
Jeffery: Someone who can afford - someone who can afford - the other independents have got - they cannot afford it.
I hope, Mr Speaker, you will excuse the English that these people use. It continues with Jeffery saying:
We have got - all right - all right - we might be able to afford it - I don’t say we can but, ah -
That is the transcript of a tape recording of a conversation between the Independent Country Party candidate for the seat of Murray and the Australian Labor Party candidate who were apparently seeking to secure ALP preferences to assist in defeating the Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Murray. This is another illustration of the deceit with which the Country Party tries to deceive the electors of New South Wales.
I would like to read from an article in the Southern Riverina News’ of 30 October which states:
Mr Lange said both Mr Jeffery and Mr Graham had strong Country Party links and their nomination was a device which could be seen as a breach of the agreement between the two coalition parties that neither stood a candidate against the other.
That article went on to state:
Mr Lowing told the SRN
That is the ‘Southern Riverina News’ - on Friday he regarded the nomination of Mr Jeffery as a ‘Country Party Independent’ candidate as dishonourable.
-Order! I was not in the chair during the Committee stage and I did not hear the debate at the time. I will seek guidance from the Clerk as to what happened. Having spoken to the Clerk I rule that the honourable member may refer to the same matter as long as he does not refer to the debate itself.
– The newspaper article continues:
He said the parties had a gentlemen’s agreement and he was sorry the Country Party in Murray was not sticking to it.
However, I think that all right-thinking people can see what’s going on and I am sure they will reaffirm their support for Mrs Mellion even more strongly,’ he added.
That is an indication of the deceit with which the Country Party carries on and the way it treats its coalition partner.
Just by contrast I will refer to the position with regard to the New South Wales seat of Temora which is just next door. I will give the Liberal Party due credit because it says, in its official how-to-vote sheet which is issued State-wide, that it recommends a vote to the official Country Party candidate, the sitting member Mr J. H. Taylor, in the Temora electorate. So in the seat of Temora the Liberal Party is at least sticking to its agreement but in the seat of Murray the Country Party is up to its usual miserable tricks. I should like to read from an article in the Deniliquin ‘Pastoral Times’ of 26 October. It says:
At a large public meeting held Tuesday Deniliquin following a Murray Electorate Council Meeting of the Country Party, Jerilderie man, Mr Bruce Jeffery, was re-endorsed to stand at the State Election to be held on 17 November. The meeting endorsed Mr Jeffery as an Independent Country Party Candidate.
The article goes on to suggest that the Country Party, of course, thought that if it endorsed a Country Party candidate it would have to abide by its agreement, so it endorsed an Independent Country Party candidate. That candidate then got in touch with the Labor Party candidate to secure his preferences. This is a matter that the Attorney-General should look at. He should try to get all the facts on this matter. As the New South Wales Parliament is in recess at the moment there can be no review of this matter in that Parliament before the election is held in that State. It is high time that there were Commonwealth laws to protect the rights of electors in some of the corrupt States. New South Wales is becoming more and more corrupt under the regime of Cutler and Askin. I think that is well known to everybody. I ask the Attorney-General to investigate this matter urgently and to notify the State Electoral Office within the State seat of Murray in New South Wales.
Is this not indicative of the rotten borough approach the Country Party has, of its shoddy, crook deals that it has perpetrated in the past, right back to the days when Sir Earle Page slunk up the back stairs to see the Liberal Party leader Bruce, when all the dirty deals were done? There is a tradition of dirty deals and of course this is the dirtiest of the lot. The Country Party has ratted on its coalition partner. It said: ‘No, we are not standing a Country Party candidate’. But the ALP candidate, Mr Drew, in public service, not only rejected this offer but he also recorded the contents of the conversation. So at least the electors of Murray who take part in this coming election will know that there are at least 2 honest candidates, the Liberal Party candidate and the Labor candidate. The Country Party candidate will get the treatment he deserves. I hope that his endorsement is withdrawn.
What ought to be looked at is the corruption within the New South Wales Country Party structure, because no one can say that at the head office level the Country Party would not be aware of this sort of dealing or that it would not be aware that a public meeting endorsed an Independent Country Party candidate within 2 hours of the Country Party meeting finishing. They all moved from one meeting hall to another, and they then proceeded to adopt this character as the independent Country Party candidate. Then, not losing any time, this chap scurried down and then obviously offered from the Country Party’s coffers and slush funds $1,500 or $1,000 whichever he thought the Labor Party would be prepared to accept by way of a bribe to give its preferences to the Country Party in an endeavour to beat Mrs Millen, the legitimately elected Liberal Party member for the State seat of Murray who was returned at the last election for that seat.
These facts do indicate how true are the claims that are made about the Labor Party’s position. We have always said that the Australian people ought to be looking for a 2-party system made up of the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party, although we disagree with the policies of that Party. I believe that the Country Party - this agrarian pressure group, this shocking rump - has illustrated once again just how corrupt and how crooked it is and to what lengths it will go to win a seat in any Parliament in Australia. We need only to consider that in Queensland the Country Party governs with 17 per cent of the total State vote. The tail is wagging the dog in New South Wales. If the truth be known, if we were to investigate what has happened in each electorate held by the Country Party in New South Wales, we would probably see examples of this corruption and double dealing all the way through.
It is high time that the Commonwealth Electoral Office, the Attorney-General’s Department and the State Electoral Office looked at this matter. I ask the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) to look at the matter personally. I ask him to encourage his colleague, the Attorney-General, to look at the matter personally. I ask that the State Electoral Office in New South Wales and, if necessary, the New South Wales Police Department be informed of the details of this disgusting offer by the Country Party of an amount of money to secure Labor Party preferences. Once again the Country Party has prostituted the electoral system and it is high time that the Country Party was found out. I am hopeful that, in the course of these investigations the Labor Party candidate and all the people concerned in this matter will testify to show the Country Party for what it is.
– If by descending into the gutter is the only way that the New South Wales Labor Party has any hope of faring well in the New South Wales State election campaign, well, good luck to it. That is about all-
-Order! The honourable member for Murray will resume his seat. Honourable members on both sides are interjecting. There is far too much noise. I intend to maintain order in the House. If any honourable member insists on ignoring and defying the Chair, I will take action no matter from which side of the House the offender comes. I call the honourable member for Murray.
– The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) in his usual manner has laid serious charges tonight. I intend to answer those charges and to lay some in return at the foot of the Labor candidate, Mr Drew. I suggest to the Labor Party that if it is so anxious to draw the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to this alleged malpractice, it also should look at what its own candidate has been up to, and I have no doubt what the end result of such an inquiry will be. A by-election for the seat of Murray was held recently in New South Wales.
– I rise to take a point of order. Mr Speaker, Country Party members said that this had nothing to do with electoral matters. Now, the honourable member for Murray rises and seeks to defend this aspect of the matter. I suggest that he is off the beam.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not allowed to refer to the subject matter of the earlier debate, but he is allowed to refer to the matter raised by the honourable member for Blaxland. The point of order is without substance.
– This seat was won on the preferences of the Labor candidate who polled very badly in that by-election.
– What about the Country Party?
– On this occasion, the Country Party topped the poll. On this occasion, the same candidates with some additional independent candidates are running for the seat of Murray. Bruce Jeffrey, who was the Country Party candidate at the by-election, is standing as an Independent. That is correct. He is standing without the authority of the New South Wales Country Party. As a private citizen in this country, if he wants to run as an Independent candidate, he can.
Earlier this week the charge was made that one of the candidates for the seat of Murray in the State election had offered to buy the preferences of the Labor candidate. No names were mentioned until tonight under the privilege of Parliament. If Mr Drew was honest and sincere in his attempt to overcome a malpractice, why did he not announce the name of the person who made this offer? All of the candidates for the seat of Murray in the State House have denied the charge, including Bruce Jeffrey and his campaign manager, Mr Norm McDonald. No verification of the tape recording is available. If Mr Drew wishes to be the honest broker for honest politicians in Australia, why does he not say who it was who made the offer - if it ever happened? Bruce Jeffrey and his campaign team have said publicly that the incident did not occur.
I return to the subject of the by-election. Why does not Mr Drew reveal what he did in the course of the by-election campaign when he offered Labor Party preferences to the highest bidder? He and a State member of the New South Wales Labor Party approached Country Party members and said: ‘You can have the Labor preferences for $3,000.’ These Country Party people said that they would have nothing to do with this offer. If there is to be any investigation by any AttorneyGeneral into malpractice in the course of this election, why is not the true malpratice investigated in respect of which witnesses are available who can verify what occurred? If Mr Drew wishes to carry out his public service, instead of relying on some intermediary in this gutter type attitude that we have heard about tonight, why does he not support such an investigation? This attitude is symptomatic of the attitude of the New South Wales Labor Party.
What about what happened with respect to the Federal electorate of Shortland, and the pre-selection ballots there? I quote from the House of Representatives Hansard of 24 May 1972. The then member for Shortland, Mr Griffiths, is reported in this way:
The pre-selection of Peter Morris as the Labor candidate to represent the scat of Shortland by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party last Sunday concludes one of the most sinister -
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that the matter now being raised by the honourable member for Murray is the subject of at least one case pending before the New South Wales Supreme Court. Will you please rule, Mr Speaker, whether the honourable member for Murray is allowed to continue his remarks on this subject?
-Order! I understand that a writ was issued in regard to some remarks made outside this House concerning the Shortland pre-selection ballots. Once a writ has been issued with respect to a subject, it is out of order for an honourable member to refer to that matter. I ask the honourable member for Murray to deal with some other matter.
– What has occurred demonstrates again the point that it is all right for members of the Labor Party to dish out mud but when the facts are being thrown directly into their face, all those Labor members who say that they want the truth to emerge and who talk about our members taking points of order, are very quick to resort to the same action themselves. If honourable members read through some of the speeches made by Mr Charlie Griffiths while he was the member for Shortland they will read some most interesting material not only about the pre-selection for the Federal seat of Shortland, to which I will not refer, but also about the whole attitude of the Labor Party in New South Wales to vote rigging and bribery. The honourable member for Blaxland would probably know more about those things than many.
I return to the subject of the State seat of Murray. If the Labor Party and the honourable member for Blaxland are sincere in claiming that they want the truth to emerge, why do they not ask their own upstanding, publicspirited, public-minded candidate, Mr Drew, to reveal what has happened in Murray in the course of the last 2 elections for that seat. Let us hear the facts about how he went around and on behalf of the Labor Party in New South Wales, as the official Labor candidate for that State seat, offered Labor Party preferences to the highest bidder. He had no thought as to policy or to public attitudes. He offered those preferences to the highest bidder, and the offer was refused by the Country Party then. Government members can laugh and carry on if they wish, but why do they not carry through their threats and go ahead with the nice little charges that have been made by the honourable member for Blaxland and then see what the facts are, not just some alleged tape recording but something in which witnesses are involved who can speak if required, and so see how the offer made by Mr Drew and the New South Wales State Labor Party, made obviously with the support of the Labor Parry, happened in the course of that by-election?
We might also learn about Mr Drew’s attitude in this election. If he was going around offering his preferences to everybody then, if he was ready to sell them, he will probably do it now. He will probably do it again, because that is the type of candidate that the Labor Party attracts. If there is any attempt by the Labor Party to cloud the real issues in the New South Wales election, particularly in country areas if there is an attempt to draw attention away from its dismal failure, its antirural attitude, its belabouring of all areas outside Sydney - which will count heavily against it in the New South Wales State election - if the best it can do is to draw a smokescreen over the position, it is a pretty poor attempt and it typifies the gutter attitude it has to politics in this country. I repeat that if the Labor Party is keen to pursue the question of Mr Drew supposedly being offered a bribe or an amount of money for preferences, let us see what Mr Drew himself has been up to during both elections.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order, and it is with the utmost respect to you, Sir, that I do so. I know that it was the practice followed by your predecessor
-Order! If the honourable member wishes to raise a point of order he should not make a speech as ,a preamble. The honourable member will state his point of order.
– My point of order, Mr Speaker, is that you were incorrect in ruling that something was sub judice. The Parliament has precedence-
-Order! No point of order is involved. I have given my ruling, and it stands.
– I rise tonight to speak on the subject of local government and regionalism. The Labor Party made 3 specific commitments to local government while it was in Opposition. Firstly, we promised at the 1973 Constitutional Convention that direct representation of local government would be a condition of the Australian Government’s participation. Secondly, we promised to amend the Grants Commission Act to authorise that Commission to inquire into and make recommendations on grants to regional groupings of local government. In May we passed the Grants Commission Act 1973. Thirdly, we promised to restructure the Australian Loan Council so that local government representatives from all States could have a voice and a vote on that Council. On 11 October the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) met with the Premiers to resolve this question. It is unfortunate that some of the Premiers would not accept our proposal. Having failed to fulfil our commitment in this way, we are now proposing to hold a referendum on the matter early next year.
The meeting the Prime Minister had with the Premiers on this vital matter of providing access to increased finance for local government services is a timely reminder of some of the outdated attitudes of the Liberal and Country parties towards this problem. Let me quote from the previous Prime Minister’s policy speech before the last election where he dealt with his philosophy on local government. He said:
We acknowledge the vital role of representative local government in its special, decentralised field. We oppose the stated policies of Labor, which seek to destroy the structure and role of local government by massive amalgamations of areas and by centralisation of control in Canberra. Our aim is to preserve and to strengthen the Federal system at each of its three tiers - recognising that local government is essentially the province of the States.
What a classic statement of ignorance and buck-passing that is! That quotation is the same old dogma that was practised for 23 years and because of which local government is now in such serious financial difficulty. It is the dogma that passes the responsibility for local government to the States. I am not aware of any evidence which shows that the Liberal Party has in any way reformed its outmoded thinking on this vital and pressing matter.
I said earlier that I wanted to refer .to the question of regionalism. Under the Grants Commission legislation, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is responsible for approving regional groupings of local councils through which submissions to .the Grants Commission must be made. The Department of Urban and Regional Development has completed its initial investigations into regional delineation criteria. Its report was presented to the Parliament recently and has since been sent to every local council in Australia. The appropriate Minister in each State - in my own State it is Mr Hunt, the Minister for Local Government and Planning - has been asked for his comments by the Federal Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). The regions recommended by the departments to their Minister are interim regions only. In the Melbourne metropolitan area, 8 sub-regions have been suggested. The report by the Department of Urban and Regional Development sets out some of the problems with delineating the subregions in Melbourne. Specifically, the report states in paragraph 6-4:
As a recreation and rural area the four most easterly local government areas of Melbourne’s outer Eastern Region - Sherbrooke, Lillydale, Healesville and Upper Yarra - may need to be identified as an area for specal consideration within a strategic plan for Melbourne’s East.
Honourable members will be aware that in the recent Budget, an amount of $3m was set aside for an area improvement program in the western sectors of Melbourne. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development has recently informed us that his Department, through the Cities Commission, has started to prepare a general collection of information on the availability of services within the Melbourne metropolitan area as a whole.
Clearly, the Department will need to have discussions with a number of Australian Government departments and authorities who will wish to contribute information to such a general collection of data. The study of the Department of Urban and Regional Development may well lead to proposals for similar area improvement programs as is presently envisaged in the western part of Melbourne and in other sub-metropolitan regions. The initial collection of material will provide valuable background for discussion with Australian Government departments, State governments and local governments.
The 4 municipalities I have mentioned have one feature in common that distinguishes them from the other municipalities with which they have been grouped in the outer eastern metropolitan region. They have large areas of non-ratable land in the form of conservation and recreation areas. The shires of Lillydale and Sherbrooke contain the beautiful Dandenong Ranges that could well be threatened by over-development unless these councils have access to funds other than those derived from increased numbers of ratepayers or increasing rates to an exorbitant degree. The shires of Healesville and Upper Yarra hold the largest water catchment areas for Melbourne and extremely beautiful scenic and recreation areas. At present these shires, largely from their own resources, are providing amenities for all of Melbourne’s day and weekend trippers to this place, as well as interstate tourists. The ratepayers of these shires cannot go on bearing the cost. Fortunately there will be assistance in providing recreation and tourist facilities from the Federal Government’s initiatives in the Department of Recreation and Tourism. But it is equally important that any arrangements by the Department of Urban and Regional Development take into account the needs of these shires as opposed to other municipalities in the region which can rely on expanding population and increased rates. Large recreation and tourist areas close to metropolises such as Melbourne are a rapidly diminishing asset and these areas must be preserved at all costs. I believe that by the initiatives of this Government and if the needs of this sub-region are recognised or treated as a separate region, these areas of great beauty and rural charm will be preserved.
These policies of this Government in regard to the third tier of our Federal system are still evolving; they are only a beginning. I am not one to claim that they are the panacea to all local government problems. But let us compare our policies with those of our opponents. Our opponents still speak of centralisation in such cliched terms as ‘centralisation’ and ‘bypassing the States’. It should be quite clear that regionalism is not centralisation. That consultation with each State Minister and the distribution of the report on regions is not bypassing the -States or local government. Those State leaders who are so willing to cry centralism whenever the national Government takes a new initiative can do well to examine their own house. In practical terms, the Liberal governments of New South Wales and Victoria have centralised the economy, the commerce and the administration of their States in their own capital cities to an alarming degree. The present Australian Government is determined to upgrade the resources of local government and make it a more effective partner in our federal system.
– In the remaining time available I wish to make a few points on behalf of the Illawarra Regional
Health Committee with respect to the report of the Committee on medical schools to the Australian Universities Commission. As honourable members are aware, the Committee recommended that in New South Wales the existing 2 schools should either increase or maintain projected output of graduates, that the University of Newcastle should establish a school in 1977 and that the question of a school at Australian National University in the Australian Capital Territory should be deferred for 3 years. This decision was a bitter blow to members of the Illawarra Regional Health Committee, as a wide cross-section of the community had participated in forwarding its submission. People from industry, government, the University of Newcastle, hospitals, and medical and nursing professions made submissions. The Committee had the services of Dr W. Corlis from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Dr John Stevens who is familiar with the ramifications of the content of the submission and who has had experience in the universities of Birmingham and London.
The Committee’s submission concentrated on the regionalisation of comprehensive health services and the integration of medical education with the delivery of health care to be achieved by services to be delivered to the community by an integrated health care team. The Illawarra region is typically a densely populated industrial area with every social problem in clear focus. To cope with modern conditions and to give a lead in medical training in areas where everyone is affluent the Committee felt that a new type of medical graduate trained to deliver personal medical care should be produced. It maintained that a new type of doctor was needed - a person trained as a clinician of the highest order, sure of his role in society, willing to learn and teach and capable of working with other health personnel. The involvement of the trainee in the community from the commencement of his undergraduate program was to be an essential feature of the training period.
-Order! It being 11 o’clock the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Monday next.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
With reference to his answer to question No. 707 (Hansard, 25 September 1973, page 1502), why cannot he make available the names of the 147 companies in the manufacturing, electricity, gas and water group, and 112 in the wholesale and retail industry, and their actual turnover in each case for 1971-72, which are subject to the Prices Justification Act.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The names of the companies referred to in my answer to Question No. 707 (Hansard, 25 September 1973) cannot be made available because my information did not include the names of the companies concerned. The figures I gave were supplied to me by the Commissioner of Taxation from the income tax statistics of ‘companies for the 1970-71 income year. As the right honourable member will appreciate, the secrecy provisions of the income tax law operate, with certain exceptions which are not relevant to the right honourable member’s question, to prevent the Commissioner of Taxation from divulging information concerning the affairs of any person (including a company) disclosed or obtained under the provisions of that legislation.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Department of Civil Aviation:
Interdepartmental Committees (Question No. 1076)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
Will he provide a list of the interdepartmental committees, which have been established since 2 December 1972, of which officers of his Department are members.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. On 20 September 1973, my colleague, the Prime Minister, informed the right honourable gentleman in reply to a question without notice about interdepartmental committees, that if he wished to know the composition and function of any interdepartmental committee, and for what period of time it had been active, the PrimeMinister would be happy to provide him with that information.
If the right honourable gentleman wishes to have information about a particular committee on which my Department is represented, I will assist him as far as possible having regard to the Prime Minister’s answer to Question Nos 964 and 1057.
asked the Minister represent ing the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
To sort out from all of this the precise percentage which can be ascribed to imported inflation is an exercise the outcome of which is dependent, among other things, on assumptions about what would have happened to domestic prices, including the domestic prices of imports, in the absence of abnormal international influences. Such a situation does not lend itself to the kind of analysis which appears to be implicit in the honourable member’s question and I am therefore unable to furnish him with such an analysis. The central point, however, is that this Government has taken the steps available to it to reduce imported inflation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following information in answer to the honourable member’s question:
Tyre Disposals (Question No. 1250)
asked the Minister for the
Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What directives issued to the States on the planning and operation of school dental clinics have been based on (a) the discussions and report of the Conference held on 8 and 9 March 1973 attended by representatives of the Australian Government, the Territories and the States and (b) the recommendations of the Australian Dental Services Advisory Committee.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The initial aim of the Australian School Dental Service is to provide dental care for children attending infants and primary schools after which the scheme will be expanded to cover pre-school and secondary school children under fifteen years of age.
The agreed arrangements are that the Australian Government will provide for payments to be made to the States for expenditure on the School Dental Service under the following general headings:
The Australian Government will meet the full capital and operating costs of approved training facilities, including associated hostel facilities for dental therapists, as well as the capital cost of providing school dental clinics. In addition the Australian Government will meet three-quarters of the cost of operating the clinics established in, or providing services at, the various schools.
With regard to the prior approval for expenditure, the Committee agreed to the following arrangements:
In order to enable the Minister to determine whether any expenditure of a capital nature (including the replacement of capital equipment) should be approved by him, the State authorities shall ensure that:
Any assets acquired or services or facilities provided by a State the cost, or part of the cost, of which has been met by the Australian Government under these arrangements shall not, without the prior written approval of the Minister, be used otherwise than for the purpose for which approved.
To facilitate the provision of funds by the Australian Government the States will be required to submit annual estimates of expenditure by 1 April in each year for the ensuing financial year (1 July-30 June) and if necessary to submit revised estimates during the course of a financial year by 1 February in that year.
Auditor-General certification in respect of expenditure against advances for specific capital projects will be required following the completion of the projects and annual statements of expenditure in respect of running or operational expenditure, duly certified by the AuditorGeneral, should also be furnished. These certifications will enable any adjustment necessary to be made in respect of the advances provided by the Australian Government.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In circumstances where the maximum quantity is insufficient for one month’s treatment of a chronic condition at the prescribed dosage level, a doctor may, if he considers it to be in his patient’s interest, apply to the Director of Health in his State for authority to prescribe a quantity of a benefit in excess of the listed maximum. Under this provision, a quarttity of a benefit item sufficient for a month’s treatment and two repeats may be authorised. This quantity would then be sufficient for three months’ treatment.
I must stress, however, that action in this regard is a matter for the patient’s doctor to initiate at his own discretion.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Whether or not the ANL will add to its present share of the fleet is one of the considerations of the study. A decision on this matter is expected at the next ANL/ ACTA co-ordinating Board Meeting to be held in February 1974.
The honourable member will therefore appreciate that it is too early to state whether the ANL will add further tonnage to its fleet of two in the Independent Service, or where any additional tonnage will be built.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731108_REPS_28_HoR86%2520(2)/>.