29th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. 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 the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That marriage is an exclusive lifelong partnership between one woman and one man, which should not be dissolved at the will of one party after 12 months notice nor without a reasonable attempt at reconciliation and
That a husband should normally be responsible for maintaining his wife and children within marriage.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Family Law Bill 1974 be amended
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson, Mr Morrison, Mr McMahon, Mr Kevin Cairns, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr England, Dr Forbes, Mr Giles, Mr Kelly, Mr McVeigh, Mr Millar, Mr O’Keefe, Mr Thorburn and Mr Wallis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned, all being of or above the age of 18 years as follows:
Your Petitioners oppose and seek the deletion of those provisions of the Family Law Bill 1 974 which supplant the existing grounds by the introduction of the sole ground of irretrievable break-down, which remove any consideration of fault, and which will weaken the family unit while causing more widespread injustice because:
Your Petitioners commend the divorce legislation introduced in Great Britain in 1973, which acknowledges the importance of the family unit, mirrors community requirements, secures justice for innocent people and establishes a realistic definition of irretrievable breakdown, and call for similar legislation to be provided in Australia.
Your Petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will make provision accordingly. by Mr Adermann, Mr Kevin Cairns, Mr Cross, Mr Drury and Mr Hodges.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:
It is granted that the present law respecting divorce is deficient in some of its provisions, and needs reforming.
Your petitioners consider preservation of the family essential to the healthy function of society, and that every effort should be made to preserve traditional attitudes to marriage and child-bearing.
Certain aspects of the Family Law Bill 1974 conflict with these concepts, and endanger the security, welfare, education and development of children.
We request that the Bill be not enacted in its present form, and that consideration be given to our concerns in formulating amendments thereto.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Luchetti, Mr Lusher and Mr O’Keefe.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morrison, Mr Fry, Mr Mulder and Mr Thorburn.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of Parliament Assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: that the proposed Family Law Bill-
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will vote to defeat the Bill in its entirety. by Mr King.
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 there is great urgency to preserve the family as the basic unit in society and therefore the stability of family life requires the urgent attention of Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:-
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lusher.
To the honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will do everything possible to promote and preserve the permanency of the married state, and not admit into the law of this land any provision for such easy divorce that threatens the stability of family life- for although the present divorce system has weaknesses, these will not be righted by an even weaker and more unjust ‘Family Law Bill ‘.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett.
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:
Your petitioners humbly request that the Bill not be made an Act of Parliament in its present form.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser.
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 Family Law Bill will weaken the stability of the institution of marriage, it will place at risk the security and well-being of thousands of Australian children, it does not contribute any solutions to the basic problems facing the family in 1975.
Your Petitioners humbly pray that the House will not proceed with the Family Law Bill in its present form.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Family Law Bill 1974 would be an injust law if passed since the innocent party could be divorced against his or her will after a year’s separation.
That the Bill does not only facilitate divorces but changes the nature of marriage and the husband-wife relationship. Legislation ought to reflect public opinion, not attempt to condition it. Gallup polls indicate 75 per cent of Australians are opposed to the concepts of the Family Law Bill. Therefore Parliament has no mandate from the people to ask such a far reaching change in the nature of our society.
That children need a stable emotional and psychological environment in which to grow up. This stability is upset by divorce. A high proportion of criminals come from broken homes. Consequently any law which makes divorce easier is harmful to society.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Parliament so vote as to defeat the Family Law Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Lynch, Mr Gorton, Mr Fisher, Mr Fry, Dr Jenkins and Mr Mathews.
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:
We the undersigned ask the Parliament to speedily pass the Family Law Bill when Parliament resumes in February of 1975.
We also criticise the Government and Opposition members who voted against this Bill in December.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Cass.
To the Honourable, the Speaker, and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble petition respectfully showeth:
We support the Family Law Bill and regard it as long overdue legislation. We believe it shows a humane and balanced approach to the problems of family breakdown, and will reduce the level of bitterness presently generated by the Matrimonial Causes Act.
We urge parliamentarians to pass the Bill in its present form with the one year separation ground for irretrievable breakdown.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr King.
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 support the Family Law Bill 1974 which provides for
Your petitioners humbly pray that the House will pass the Family Law Bill without delay.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble petition respectfully showeth:
We are concerned that the Family Law Bill has been delayed long enough. Its contents represent a consensus view of community feelings towards family breakdown and it should be made law at the earliest possible time. We support the sole ground of irretrievable breakdown based on 12 months separation, and we ask the parliament to pass the bill in its present form.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Street.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas uranium found in vast quantities in Australia is the raw material for the nuclear fission reaction,
And whereas presently assured reserves of uranium in Australia represent a potential production of over 540 000 kilograms of Plutonium 239 if utilized in Light Water Reactors overseas,
And whereas the Maximum Permissible Inhalation of Plutonium 239 is 0.00000025 gram,
And whereas Plutonium 239 is one of the most dangerous substances human society has ever created, causing mutations and cancers.
And whereas there are no methods of safely and absolutely confining Plutonium from the biosphere for the requisite quarter of a million years,
And whereas Plutonium coming in contact with the air forms an aerosol cloud of micron-sized particles, its most dangerous form,
And whereas the export of uranium may return to us an import of Plutonium particles dispersed in the global environment via the circulaton of the atmosphere,
And whereas there are no sure safeguards against the military use of nuclear fission, and the nuclear proliferation represents a prime environmental threat to all forms of life on the only earth available to us,
And that it is therefore an act of self-preservation to demand a halt to all exports of uranium except for bio-medical uses,
Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in the House assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Barnard.
To the Honourable the Speaker, Honourable Ministers and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia in Parliament assembled, We, the undersigned Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia do hereby submit the following Petition:
By way of preamble we state that-
As time is of the essence of the attempted projects of actually getting the unemployed back to work, it is suggested that immediately squads of planners be organised to the various works set out in a to f above. In view of the urgency of the situation, such planning squads be so organised that there should be one on day work one on night work.
There is of course the important question of providing money to pay wages and for materials for this purpose, as it appears no money is available from Consolidated Funds or
Loan Account, there should be set up a Fiduciary Issue of currency. This is not a new thing. Back in the time of James Scullin and E. G. Theodore in the late 1920s such an issue was seriously considered.
Concurrently with the studying of a plan of Fiduciary Currency attention should be directed to consideration of a scheme under which finance was made available to meet the cost of building a section of the east-west railway line in Western Australia. Details of this scheme are to be found in a leaflet filed in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.
Your petitioners, Honourable Gentlemen, respectfully request that the Government give urgent consideration to the proposals outlined herein.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Mulder.
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:
Child Endowment received by families has declined relative to average earnings so that today it is about 20 per cent of its value in 1949.
The Interim Report of the Australian Government’s Commission Into Poverty recommended a substantial increase in Child Endowment as a way of alleviating poverty.
This report pointed out that increased Child Endowment deserved priority and would be advantageous to the community in the long run.
It specifically recommended increasing child endowment from50 cents to $ 1 . 50 for the first child; from $ 1 . 00 to $2.00 for the second child; from $2.00 to $4.00 for the third child; from $2.25 to $7.00 for the fourth child; and to $8.00 for subsequent children.
Your petitioners humbly request that the Government increase Child Endowment.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrStaley.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Government duly elected by the citizens of Australia to manage the affairs of our Nation have not carried out their election promises and have therefore forfeited the confidence of the people.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Members in Parliament assembled call for and hold a general election forthwith.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Wentworth.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. I refer to the promise by the Prime Minister in his policy speech in 1972 to abolish the means test on age pensions for people 65 years and over during the life of the then incoming Parliament, which in normal circumstances would have been by December this year. In view of the decision of the Government to defer until April this year the second stage of the abolition of the means test- that is, for people 70 years and over- is the Minister able to give an assurance that the original undertaking to abolish the means test for people over 65 years by the end of this year will be adhered to?
-The undertaking which was given last year by the then Treasurer in a speech to this House that the second phase of the abolition of the means test would occur, I think, in April this year, still stands. No comment has been made to the contrary. What further comments will be made on this subject will be a matter of policy decision by the Government. Could I challenge the Opposition to state in what time period it would abolish the means test on pensions? I challenge it to state unequivocally whether abolition of the means test is or is not one of the casualties of the rather massive public expenditure cuts which it is proposing as part of its economic administration of this country in which major welfare fields, such as education, welfare housing, urban and regional development, welfare services, hospitals and community health services will all be cut back substantially according to a secret document circulating among a small number of senior members of the Liberal Party.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education. Is it correct that a number of schools have been declared disadvantaged and are eligible for financial assistance for projects which are aimed at improving their educational opportunities and facilities? Is it competent for parent bodies or community organisations to participate by submitting proposals in that respect and, if so, to whom and in what manner should the submissions be made? Finally, who is the responsible authority for determining the priorities of any such projects?
– If the honourable gentleman looks at chapter 9 and appendix E of the Karmel report he will see that the concept of disadvantaged schools really rests upon disadvantaged areas and underprivileged people. The analysis is based on the smallest census districts and on the information there. A whole series of criteria of socio-economic disadvantage of the area is set out. There tends to be a belief that if a school has a class in a hat room it is a disadvantaged school but that may occur in an affluent area and that is not the concept of disadvantage. Karmel in this biennium, 1974-75, concentrated, and invited the State governments and, in practice, the Catholic education authorities, to concentrate on the 10 per cent most disadvantaged areas and to recommend what action should be taken to turn the schools into an instrument of compensation.
It is quite competent for parents in an area who can establish disadvantage which may have been overlooked and to make representations. In Western Australia, the State to which I presume the honourable member refers, the State Government nominates to me its 10 per cent most disadvantaged schools. I have to agree with its nominations. The State Government deploys its share of the $50m disadvantaged schools money in turning those State schools into an instrument of compensation. That list of schools could be amended but representations from parents would need to be made to the State Government. I would be perfectly flexible in this matter if the State Government amended its list. It could be quite important for it to do so this year, even if it did not expect action this year because the Schools Commission will be recommending for the next triennium. What Karmel conceived was that in the first biennium we should concentrate on the 10 per cent most disadvantaged schools. The recommendations of the Schools Commission for the next triennium have yet to be made.
– I address a question to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Is the Government engaged in seeking massive overseas loan funds from the Middle East? If so, will he make a full explanation to the House?
– I noticed a report concerning this matter in one metropolitan journal. Matters relating to the currency, loans and the commercial credit of the nation should be handled with the utmost discretion. I am acting accordingly.
– Is the Minister for Tourism and Recreation aware of the allegation contained in a special Press release by Senator Rae on 11 February that the Government had neglected on 2 occasions a request for a $20,000 grant by the Surf Life Saving Association towards administrative expenses? Further, is the Minister aware of the senator’s charge that the Government had made available only $50,000 for administrative expenses- an amount which, despite inflation, had remained the same for the last 2 years?
– I did see a small item, characteristically distorted, about a statement issued by Senator Rae. Indeed, one must suppress any sign of surprise at the Opposition’s quite incredible - (Honourable members interjecting) -
– Will the Minister start his answer again? I could not hear him for the noise greeting the arrival of the honourable member for Robertson.
-Order! Will the Minister kindly start his answer again?
-Yes, I will. But I suggest that the honourable member for Robertson is indicating, by his clothing, that he wants to join the RED Ministers. I did see a small item about a Press release distributed by Senator Rae. The contents of the release were characteristically distorted. The statement is another indication of the surprising and incredible tactics which have been used by the Opposition in both Houses of this Parliament. The simple facts are these: The Surf Life Saving Association received an allocation of $280,000 in the 1974-75 Budget for a variety of activities. In the previous Budget, its total allocation was $ 1 50,000. In the last LiberalCountry Party Government Budget, in 1972-73, the total allocation for this purpose was $50,000. Surely it takes enormous cheek for Senator Rae to try to grandstand about an issue which his Party and the previous Government had neglected so blatantly over the years.
The allocation to the Surf Life Saving Association, since Labor came to office, has risen by approximately 475 per cent. Even the Opposition cannot claim that this is the rate of our inflation. It is true that there was a request for an additional $20,000 and that it was refused. This Government thought that an allocation of $280,000 for one year was reasonable and decent. In the end, the Surf Life Saving Association sought approval and received permission to transfer $16,000 from our total grant towards administrative costs at the expense of equipment. Senator Rae mentioned only the matter of the extra $20,000 that has been refused. He did not mention the $280,000 that had been given to the Surf Life Saving Association. I should like to know whether that could be the greatest distortion of an already distorted week. I am not here to defend the policy of the Australian Government towards the surf lifesaving movement. Our record is exemplary. I am certain that Sir Adrian Curlewis, the national president of the movement, would be prepared to verify this fact publicly. I merely want to correct Senator Rae’s falsified version and to show the Press and the public one example of the dubious tactics of the Opposition in its frenzied bid to grab power at any cost, even at the cost of truth. At the same time I express my appreciation and the appreciation of this Government to the surf lifesaving movement and its members for the years of voluntary and dedicated service that those members have given to the public.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. As I understand it, the House is supposed to be dealing with questions without notice. Quite obviously, the Minister had notice of that question because he read a long prepared answer. Will you not rule him out of order?
-Order! I call the honourable member for Gippsland.
– I address a question to the Minister for Transport. Will the Minister give the basis for the assertion he made to ship owners that the Arab states are about to practise international blackmail by refusing to provide oil unless it is carried in either Australian flag ships or Arab flag ships?
-The Government has decided as a matter of policy that Australia should have its own tankers, which should be carrying at least 40 per cent of our crude oil imports.
– And to hell with the cost of the consumer.
-The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party does not know what he is talking about. That is typical of the irresponsible statements that he makes from time to time. When his Party talks about increasing the cost of crude oil by 40 per cent this indicates one thing to me: His interjection is not based on fact. He has no regard for costs.
– You are a fool; that is what you are.
-You are an idiot, if ever there was one.
– Order! Interjections will cease.
-As far as it costing most is concerned, when one realises that so much of our crude oil is being imported in uneconomic tankers of 30 000 to 40 000 tons one should not interject and make a stupid statement like the one that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party has just made.
As far as the question is concerned, the fact is that Australia has no tankers involved in overseas trade. The Government had decided as a matter of policy that it is going to have such tankers. Therefore I called a meeting of all interested parties- the oil companies, the shipping companies, that is, genuine Australian shipping companies whose ownership has a large Australian content, and the unions involved in the maritime industry- and outlined the facts to them. Australia should have these facilities in the national interest. As far as the allegation about blackmail is concerned, we are concerned to have tankers so that if there is an oil crisis at some time or another involving other countries whose tankers normally would be carrying Australia’s crude oil we will be in a position, if need be, to deal with the suppliers of crude overseas on a nation to nation basis using Australian tankers.
That, plus the need to have Australian involvement, is the basis of our thinking. Other countries have found themselves in the situation of not having any tankers when they wanted to use them for specific purposes because they were all flying flags of convenience. If that is what the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party wants, good luck to him. It is a clear indication of his attitude to flags of convenience.
– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, is in connection with the collapse of the Tasman Bridge in Hobart. By way of preface, I express the appreciation of the people of Hobart for the speedy way in which the Government committed itself to reimbursing Tasmania for the cost associated with repairing the bridge, the upgrading of what is now the shortest route and the provision of defence services so early in the piece. My question is: Will legislation be necessary to provide that finance? If so, when is it likely to be introduced?
– I can assure the honourable member for Denison that legislation will be introduced, probably next week, to honour fully and promptly the undertakings which I and my colleagues have given to Premier Reece and his colleagues about restoring and in fact improving communications within the Hobart metropolitan area and in particular across the Derwent River, both at the site of the bridge which has been destroyed and at other sites. The honourable member will remember that immediately following the disaster I pledged full and ready cooperation in restoring the bridge and making good the loss and disruption suffered by the people of Tasmania and its capital. The Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, subsequently confirmed that up to $ 13m would be provided for the works necessary to restore the bridge. The Minister for Transport said that the Australian Government would stand behind any legal commitments the Australian National Line may have. Navy divers and their equipment were flown to Hobart and Service air transport facilities were made available. Army landing craft have been located in Hobart to provide emergency services. Additional ferry services have been provided in Hobart and more are planned. The co-operation of the New South Wales Government in this regard is appreciated very much indeed.
Ferry terminal facilities are being upgraded and additional car parking facilities have been provided. Work has commenced in upgrading the Old Beach Road and many minor roadworks are under way to overcome deficiencies in roads which must be used. The State has acted to ensure that essential services are available in the eastern suburbs. The Minister for Defence has approved the provision, through the Army, of sufficient Bailey bridge material to allow construction of a temporary bridge upstream from the existing vehicle punt to carry essential commercial vehicles. Tenders will shortly be called which will provide for the clearing of the wreckage from the vicinity of the bridge. This will allow further examination and planning for reconstruction to be carried out. Arrangements have been made for committees of officers of the 2 Governments to consult to ensure that what needs to be done is done effectively and promptly.
In terms of the offer conveyed to the Premier, the Australian Government will stand behind the Tasmanian Government in meeting the cost of all the measures I have just brought together in my reply to the honourable member for Denison.
A further meeting of the interdepartmental coordinating group on the Hobart bridge was held yesterday to discuss the matter of compensation for economic loss and the matter of a second bridge upstream.
– I rise to order. I am very interested, of course, in what happens in Tasmania. Would the Prime Minister speak up so that I can hear what he is saying?
– I am very happy, indeed, to take the honourable member for Wentworth, whose electorate is in Sydney, into my confidence in this matter. I appreciate that among his other qualities is the recognition by his leader that there is no Tasmanian senator belonging to the Opposition capable of dealing with the affairs of Tasmania and, of course, in this Parliament there is no -
- Mr Speaker, I rise to order. The Standing Orders provide that members speaking in the House should tell the truth.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman knows that such personal reflections are quite out of order. The Chair is not in a position to know the details of every answer that is given at question time.
-Undoubtedly the Leader of the Opposition will be making another foray into Tasmania to counter his colleague the Leader of the Australian Country Party who was there last week.
- Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I believe that the Prime Minister has cast a reflection on members of another House. I would ask you to rule whether that is so.
– No reflection has been made on any particular person. The Prime Minister’s remarks are quite in order.
-Mr Speaker, I was referring in passing to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition did not designate to assist him in matters concerning Tasmania a Tasmanian senatorthere are some Liberal senators from Tasmaniabut he chose a Sydney metropolitan colleague.
– A point of order: That is a falsehood and it ought not under Standing Orders be left unchallenged. It is a falsehood.
-Order! I am not responsible for the way in which the Prime Minister answers a question. He is in order as long as what he says is relevant to the question.
-Mr Speaker, I have been in touch by telephone with Mr Reece, the Premier, about the second bridge. The Treasurer and I discussed the provision of the second bridge, the restoration of the old bridge and Tasmanian metropolitan transport in general with the Deputy Premier of Tasmania last week and I shall be discussing these matters with both the Premier and the Deputy Premier of Tasmania in Hobart this weekend.
-I direct a question to the Treasurer. Will he confirm or deny that the recent Australian Labor Party Federal Conference, where he and others learned to drive backwards in a desperate attempt to regain votes, cost approximately $100,000, including the cost of accommodation, overtime- including swimming time- transport, installation of a new switchboard and telephones, security, use of parliamentary typing pool staff, and even barbecues. Will the Treasurer advise the House who contributed more towards the staging of the conferencethe taxpayer or the ALP- and what was the exact total public cost of holding the conference?
-It is very easy for an honourable member to get to his feet and ramble on with unconfirmed and unconfirmable accusations of this kind. That might be the level which politics has reached in this House but I do not intend to descend to it.
-I am well aware of the bush fires that occurred in New South Wales and I am aware that they are said to be the worst in living memory. The honourable member for Darling is well aware of their extent and he has brought this matter to the notice of the Government on several occasions. The Government has already had some preliminary submissions from the Government of New South Wales seeking assistance to be made available to the local authorities and others in the area. The Government will provide for assistance, and I want to say to the local authorities concerned in the area of the bush fires that no retrenchments, no curtailment of normal activities should take place. The Government can assure them that adequate funds will be made available through the State Government for them to maintain employment at existing levels or to re-employ to reach those levels. The level of activity in these essential areas by the local government authorities in the area of the bush fires will not be cut back. We are ready to discuss with the Government of New South Wales the preliminary submissions it has made, and I can assure all those concerned that provision will be made by the Government to provide the kind of assistance of whose need we have been notified so far.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and is supplementary to a question directed by my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Speaking as a person with long experience of borrowing funds overseas, particularly during a time-
Government supporters- Ha, ha.
– You are getting into this field now. You might have been critics once but now you are in the field of wanting to borrow. You can giggle your heads off, but you show how insincere you are. I want to ask a sensible question of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will remember that for many years I was the Treasurer and the Liberal-Country Party Government had a record of borrowing money overseas that was unequalled. At that time, in order to be successful, we took it as a golden rule that there should be open government and that as far as was practicable we would let the Australian public and, more importantly, the Australian Parliament know what the purpose of the borrowing was, the type of operation and certain other facts -
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will ask his question.
– I am trying to do so, but I am going to give, as I believe is proper, the necessary facts on which the Prime Minister can answer.
-I know that sometimes it is necessary to have a preamble to a question, but make it as short as possible.
– I am, Sir, as short as I can. I therefore ask the Prime Minister 2 questions:
Firstly, why is it that a rule that has been observed since Federation, that is, giving the widest information that is practicable, with the exception of the total amount to be borrowed and the interest rate which are negotiated by the Treasurer when he is on the spot, is not being observed? Why cannot all the other matters be disclosed and why does the Prime Minister not approve of open government now that he is in office? Secondly, would it not be wise if he were to advise the Minister for Minerals and Energy that when a question asked is beyond that Minister’s intellectual capacity and jurisdiction the answer should be given by the Minister responsible who is much more capable of doing so than is the Minister for Minerals and Energy?
– I welcome a question so succinct and so coherent from the greatest of Liberal Treasurers in our country. I will give the same answer to him as he would have given to any question directed to him while he was Treasurer or Prime Minister on matters concerning the credit of our country. Open government has never applied in respect of loans or valuations of the currency.
– That is untrue.
-The right honourable gentleman has asked the question. He is now receiving the answer.
– It is a lie.
-The right honourable gentleman said in his first interjection that it was untrue. I think he has just said in another interjection that it is a lie. I am not going to ask for a withdrawal in these matters. What I do ask him to do is to bring to my notice any occasion on which he practised open government in matters concerning the valuation of the currency or loans being floated overseas by the Australian Government on its own behalf or on behalf of the State governments. Open government is never practised by any government in these matters and I refuse to be drawn into answering questions on such matters because there is some newspaper story about it upon which inevitably members will base a question. I will behave in this matter entirely as the right honourable gentleman did when he was Prime Minister and Treasurer.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Since the abolition of the superphosphate bounty sales of superphosphate have ceased completely. This situation does not look like improving, largely because of the
Government’s reference to the Industries Assistance Commission. Farmers will hold off purch asing superphosphate because of the possibility that they may miss out on some bounty recommendation that the Commission makes. In view of the fact that sales are down, that the agro-air industry- the people who spread superphosphatehas been brought almost to a halt and superphosphate manufacturing plants are virtually coming to a standstill, will the Government consider making a statement that any recommendation of the IAC which is accepted by the Government will be retrospective to 1 January this year?
– I do not accept the allegations which the right honourable gentleman has made by way of preamble as you, Mr Speaker, kindly describe such remarks. The fact is that the amount of superphosphate sold so far this financial year has beaten all records. The manufacturing companies have never produced so much as they have in this financial year. Farmers know quite well that superphosphate is valuable in production. They also know that superphosphate costs less in Australia than in practically any other country in the world.
– Have you ever been to New Zealand?
– New Zealand is the exception. New Zealand, like Australia, has for many years been carried by some of the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands. On Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, Nauru and Ocean Island for decades, ever since the first World War, the inhabitants have subsidised the Australian farmer. It is true that superphosphate like other basic commodities, particularly in the oil field, is now costing more. Producers are insisting on a better deal. Countries elsewhere, such as Morocco, which produce the ingredients have raised their prices immensely. It is inevitable that the cost of superphosphate in Australia should have risen, and it is quite likely that it will rise further.
Honourable members from the Australian Country Party do no service to their country or to primary producers by concealing this situation. Every subsidy involves a burden on the taxpayers as a whole. My Government is resolved to see that any burden on the taxayers is imposed after due consideration and in the most rational manner. The old superphosphate bounty was irrational. The larger your production, the less you needed assistance, the more assistance you received. The smaller your production- the less economic your production- the more you needed assistance, the less assistance you received. Because of the change in the economic situation in the superphosphate field and the fact that prices are rising so much, the Government has done 2 things: It has asked the Industries Assistance Commission to investigate any appropriate means of assisting the local production of superphosphate. There are very large deposits in north-west Queensland. In co-operation with the Queensland Government my Government is setting up a feasibility study on the development of north-western Queensland, as it did in cooperation with the Western Australian Government concerning the development of the Pilbara. One of the biggest components for developing north-west Queensland is the deposits of phosphate there, which are Australian-owned.
The other thing that the Government has done is to ask the Industries Assistance Commission to inquire into any forms of assistance which would be appropriate for the use of superphosphate over the whole of Australia. For many months there has been an inquiry into its use for virgin lands- new lands. The Commission has been asked to make an interim report by 30 June this year and a final report by 30 June next year. There can be no doubt that in this respect my Government will publish the reports as soon as they are received- that is, early July this year for the interim report and early July next year for the final report- and will give prompt consideration to them. The decision will be announced publicly and, if the Parliament is sitting in the Parliament.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. I refer to the Government’s recent decision on the Alwest project and the comments in the Press which followed that decision. I add that the Minister may have noticed the gratuitous comments made by the Opposition’s spokesman on the environment who travelled all the way from outback New South Wales to reveal to Western Australia his ignorance of the issues involved. I ask: What are the environmental conditions imposed by the Australian Government on the Alwest project? Will these conditions prevent the company from proceeding?
– Although asked without notice, I must say that this question was not unexpected because I certainly did notice both the newspaper comment and the comments made by some honourable members opposite. Quite clearly there appears to be some misunderstanding of what in fact the Australian Government has decided. So perhaps the best way in which to clear up this misunderstanding would be for me to quote from the letter the Prime Minister sent to the Acting Premier of Western Australia. I will quote the relevant portion of the letter in terms of the conditions that the Australian Government is seeking to impose, which was dealt with in the question. The letter was sent on 3 February and it reads:
From the Australian Government’s examination of the Environmental Review and Environmental Management Program-
I might indicate that they were prepared by the Western Australian people and not by us-
It is considered that these documents need to be supplemented by the provision of further information on wildlife research proposals, and the technical problems of refinery emissions and proposed solutions to minimise their effect. Further information is also needed on the details of the transport infrastructure, including the temporary storage of materials at terminal points and the environmental effects of these components of the project. The Australian Government is, as you are aware, committed to the principle of optimum public participation in discussions on environmental aspects of those projects in respect of which it has constitutional responsibilities.
There is nothing new in that; we have been saying that all along. The letter continues:
I should therefore be grateful if, following inclusion of the supplementary information suggested above, the documents were to be released immediately for public review and comment.
The Australian Government has also decided that its approval of the Alwest Project be conditional upon:
Here, in some people ‘s eyes, comes the rub-
The provisions of the Environmental Management Program being made mandatory rather than voluntary requirements as currently expressed;
New environmental protection measures being incorporated within the Environmental Management Program as they arise from ongoing research and are found necessary from monitoring or operational programs; and The MonitoringResearch and Environmental Management Programs being reviewed prior to commencement of the operations and at 3-yearly intervals, timed to precede the export licence renewal.
I could comment further on the way in which this decision has been misunderstood- I will put it as a misunderstanding- but the misunderstanding is fairly widespread, so in an effort to resolve the difficulties or the misunderstandings senior officers of my Department are in fact going to Western Australia tomorrow. The arrangement has been made for them to meet departmental officers and the responsible Minister in Western Australia. It is hoped that we can iron out the misunderstandings. But I believe that what we have proposed is completely consistent with what we have been saying all along and is completely encompassed by the environment protection Act which this House in fact enacted in December last.
-Is the Attorney-General aware that there are large numbers of applications for authorisations and clearances under the Trade Practices Act before the Trade Practices Commission with which the Commission will be unable to deal for many months? Can the Minister confirm that many of these applications relate to matters which have generally been regarded as being in the public interest and could be the subject of general exemptions from the provisions of the Act, thus saving time and expense for the public and the Government? Does the Attorney-General recall that, notwithstanding the suggestion of the Opposition, the Government refused to include in the Act a general power to grant exemptions? Will the AttorneyGeneral undertake to investigate this matter and take steps to bring forward an amendment to the Act which will enable general exemptions to be made?
– I thank the honourable member for the question because it does draw attention to the very important work that is being done in the field of anti-restrictive trade practices now that Australia has for the first time an effective piece of legislation in that regard. I have already had discussions on the subject with the appropriate officers and dealt with more general matters than the particular ones raised by the honourable member. I will certainly be continuing those discussions. If the honourable member cares to discuss the matters with me at some later stage I shall do so.
-Can the Minister for Housing and Construction say what effect the recently introduced provision for deductibility of mortgage interest payments for taxation purposes will have on the level of activity in the home building industry and the ability of home seekers to purchase homes?
-I regard this tax deductibility scheme as having a stimulatory effect on the home building industry in that it confers benefit on a number of people, some of whom aspire to secure a home loan assisted by the fact that they will obtain income on a payasyouearn basis from the tax deductibility system. For example, a person earning an income of $140 a week who has a $15,000 loan at permanent building society interest rates would derive a benefit of $450 per annum. That is a considerable amount of money. People in circumstances like that have that kind of benefit taken into account at the time they apply for a loan and as a result they are admitted to the home loan borrowing system. I believe it would be extremely deleterious if this system were to be abolished. I see the honourable member for Boothby nodding his head.
– I am not nodding my head. What about the people who do not have a home?
-In a recent debate with me the honourable member for Boothby made it clear that the Opposition had been offered this scheme and rejected it. He also made it clear that if the Opposition came to government and had the opportunity of ‘unscrambling this scheme’that was the precise terminology used by the honourable gentleman- it would do so. So if there were a change of government 1 300 000 people who are at present having benefits to the tune of $ 1 30m per annum conferred through this scheme would suffer as a consequence and the stimulation given to the housing industry by this scheme would be ended.
– Pursuant to section 1 1 of the States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act 1969, 1 present the annual statement on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30 June 1974.
– For the information of honourable members I present a record of decisions of the 16th annual conference of the Tourist Ministers’ Council held at Sydney on 18 October 1974.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. My personal explanation relates to an answer given by the Prime Minister to a question that I asked relating to the borrowing of money overseas. The Prime Minister said that I had adopted the rule of ensuring, and I might add, as far as practicable that exchange rates or changes in the value of Australian currency qua overseas currencies were treated as secret. I never raised the question of the exchange rates or the value of Australian currency qua the currencies of other countries. I was dealing solely with the borrowing of money overseas. The Prime Minister then said that he adopted exactly the same practices on overseas borrowing as I had adopted both as Prime Minister and as Treasurer. That is not an accurate statement of the facts. During the whole of the time that I was Prime Minister or Treasurer, I made the facts known as far as it was practicable to do so. That, of course did not involve the amounts sought or the interest rates to be paid. In other words, there has been an inaccurate presentation of my views to the House by the Prime Minister.
He asked me also whether I would let him have examples. I will do so. In the first year that I became Treasurer I went overseas to West Germany to borrow funds. Naturally, as I explained to the House at the time, I could not disclose the amount or the interest rates because they were negotiated overseas by me as the Treasurer. But to the extent it was practicable we got the maximum publicity because we knew it was in our best interests to do so. That was reflected in the fact that in 1966 and 1967 we borrowed 200m deutschemark in about 4 or 5 loans and over the next 9 years once the doors were opened, if my memory holds good, about 700m deutschemark, making a total of 900m at going rates of interest and, on the first occasion, at less than those of the World Bank.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been misrepresented by the Australian Broadcasting Commission as a result of remarks made by the Prime Minister at question time the other day. The Prime Minister misquoted me and the speech I made at a conference in Perth in Western Australia relating to the Opposition’s pricing policy and my statements relating to crude oil in Australia. At the time I made a personal explanation explaining that the Prime Minister was dishonest and had misrepresented my position. The ABC news report mentioned the statement of the Prime Minister without the qualification that I had given in my explanation. Some people accused the ABC of being biased and when this sort of thing happens, one wonders whether it is or is not. The Minister for Transport today said that it was the policy of my Party to increase the price of crude oil by 40 per cent.
-The right honourable member cannot say where his Party has been misrepresented. Did the right honourable member speak on behalf of his Party?
– I spoke on behalf of my Party and I corrected the misrepresentation. Of course for political purposes people exploit the situation. The media has a responsibility to at least report correctly. The policy of the Liberal and Country Parties is that there should be a review -
– I think it is necessary to explain -
-Order! Standing order 64 specifically states that a member must show where he has been personally misrepresented. He cannot debate the subject matter. That is why I asked whether the right honourable member had made the statement on behalf of his Party, and about which he claimed to have been misrepresented. In my opinion that is where the personal explanation finishes.
– I could return to where I have been misrepresented.
– That is correct and I want the right honourable member to stay on that point.
– I have been misrepresented by the suggestion that what I said was policy and a statement of it. To make the record clear, what I have said in the past is that the price could be increased to some producers without an impact on the consumers. I gave as an example, and I have to continue to repeat this, that there could be a 40 per cent increase in the price to producers and that this would mean 2c to the consumers. I underlined that that was an example, saying that while it was very attractive to the producer it means little to the consumer. However, for political purposes people have tried to interpret that as being a policy and a direction. It has never been stated that way and if people continue to say these things they are being completely dishonest and misrepresenting the point of view. If the media keeps saying this, it is showing a biased attitude in its political beliefs.
-! wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do, by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). When I asked the Prime Minister this morning- politely I thought- to speak up because I was interested in what he was saying about Hobart and what the Government was saying it was going to do there, he suggested that I was appointed by my Leader, Mr Snedden, to assist him in relation to Tasmania. That is only a half truth. The fact is that I have been appointed as the Opposition spokesman in the House of Representatives in relation to Tasmania. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is aware of that; perhaps he now is aware of it for the first time. It in no way reflects on the senators who represent Tasmania. They give me considerable assistance in relation to Tasmania, for which I am very grateful. May I add that the fact that I come from Sydney no further inhibits me in my representation of Tasmania than the fact that the Prime Minister comes from Sydney inhibits him from representing the rest of this country.
I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Prime Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes. I have been misrepresented by the last 2 speakers. The last speaker, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott), said that he had been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) as spokesman on Tasmanian affairs in the House of Representatives. My recollection is that the Leader of the Opposition appointed him as spokesman for Tasmanian affairs in the Parliament.
– Not so. Get your facts right.
– I can check this up. (Opposition members interjecting)-
-Order! The House will come to order.
– I cannot run that side of the House, nor can the Leader of the Opposition. It was quite clear from the media that the honourable member for Wentworth has been held out as the Liberal Party spokesman on -
– That is a misrepresentation.
- Mr Speaker, on a point of order.
– Ask for the misrepresentation, for goodness ‘ sake.
– I rise to take a point of order. It is the custom in this House that the asseveration of an honourable member is accepted. The Prime Minister is behaving in a most outrageous fashion.
-Order! Resume your seat.
– I am taking a point of order, Sir.
-The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the Prime Minister.
– The Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) again has stated that I misstated his attitude on oil pricing policies. I quoted the other day, when he first stated this, from the Melbourne ‘Sun-Pictorial ‘. I have since seen the West Australian’ reporting his foray into Western Australia last week. The report is headed: Anthony defends oil pricing view’. The article commences:
The Federal leader of the Country Party, Mr Anthony, yesterday strongly defended his attitude on crude oil pricing.
In an address to the Perth Press Club, Mr Anthony said that his comments before the last Federal election- which created some controversy- were right and they were proving more right ‘ every day.
And more of the like. The right honourable gentleman has given a figure for the increase of oil price at the well head. There is a difference of opinion as to the effect that would have on petrol at the bowser. But he did ask for a 40 per cent rise at the well head. The effect at the bowser is a matter of controversy. I do not believe I have ever quoted the right honourable gentleman except in the light of his reported remarks.
Mr ANTHONY (Richmond-Leader of the Australian Country Party)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. (Government members interjecting)-
-How long have I to put up with being misrepresented?
– You are not being misrepresented.
– I am being misrepresented. You mind your own business. Let me make it quite clear that I have never at any stage advocated a 40 per cent increase in the price of crude oil. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made that allegation one minute ago. It is dishonest to do it and he knows it is dishonest, but he keeps doing it. If he keeps doing it how can anybody have any confidence in his integrity?
Mr WHITLAM ( Werriwa-Prime Minister)- Mr Speaker, the right honourable gentleman has misrepresented me and I wish to make a personal explanation. The right honourable gentleman constantly uses intemperate words about me. I take those with equanimity. But the right honourable gentleman has just challenged precisely what I have just said. I shall quote from his own text of the speech he made at the Perth Press Club. He said:
I pointed out -
He is referring to what he said last April or May in Perth- that a 40 per cent increase in the well head price of oil would encourage exploration.
I will quote more if the right honourable gentleman likes. It ought to be quite clear from that that I correctly quoted what the right honourable gentleman said as recently as last week, repeating and justifying what he said last April and May. There may be controversy as to the consequence of such a 40 per cent increase in the well head price on petrol at the bowser. There can be no dispute that he has said again and again that there should be a 40 per cent increase in the well head price.
Mr ANTHONY (Richmond-Leader of the Australian Country Party)- I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker. Apparently if a person uses an example he is declaring an attitude. That is what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is stating now. I have given the example that a 40 per cent increase in the price at the well head would mean a 2c to 3c a gallon increase to the consumer. That is an example. That is not a declaration that that is what should be done. The Prime Minister can keep misrepresenting as much as he likes but if he wants to be so dishonest he will only prove that he is desperate to make a point.
-I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker. I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson), who I am sure knows that he has misrepresented me because he has remained in the chamber. The Minister dealt just a few moments ago during question time with the matter of the deductibility of interest payments on mortgages. I am sure that he said that I had said at some stage or other that in government we would unscramble the legislation. He is now nodding, which means that he did use those words. I say that that is untrue. I have never used that expression in relation to this legislation. The only thing he said that is true is that this idea was offered to us in government, as it was offered to the then Opposition, and we rejected it. We rejected this idea because it discriminates against renters, people who do not have homes, people on low incomes as against people on high incomes, people nearing the end of their mortgage repayments and people with little or no -
-Order! The honourable member is debating the issue. This is not a general debate on housing. The honourable member is allowed to make a personal explanation as to where he has been misrepresented. I think he has made his point. If the honourable member persists in debating the subject I will have to call him to order. He is entitled under standing order 64 to state only where he has been misrepresented personally and not to state Government policy or Opposition policy.
– I am not debating the policy, Mr Speaker.
-The honourable member is going into the policy area right now.
– I am making the point that some of what the Minister said was true. The part that was true is that this scheme had been offered to us.
– In making that point the honourable member is going into both Government and Opposition policy in regard to housing. That is not permitted under standing order 64.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will not push the point any further except to say that it is an untrue assertion and I would like him to produce evidence to substantiate it. In any case he was not the Minister who was at the table when the Bill was introduced- it was the former Treasurer. I would like to hear his comments on it.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). I would like to respond to his challenge as well. On 3 December the honourable gentleman and I were interviewed by Mr Bill Keyes of the Returned Services League about, in particular, defence service homes matters. I am sure that he will acknowledge that that event occurred. I have a transcript of the interview in front of me. The several paragraphs of it I wish to read have precise application to the point at issue. It reads:
Mr Johnson: I thought we had similar attitudes to tax deductibility. I didn’t think the Opposition was opposed to it or that they had committed themselves to eliminate it.
Mr McLeay: It’s discriminatory.
Mr Johnson: So you won’t uphold it if you come into office?
Mr McLeay: Well, I couldn’t say that. One of our problems is that there are so many eggs that you fellows are scrambling up. I don’t know how many well be able to unscramble.
I think I missed an earlier comment by the honourable member for Boothby.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister for Housing and Construction is hogging time that should be used by private members to express their grievances. The Government has ample opportunity to make statements in this House when it wants to do so. I say that the Minister should be asked to sit down so that the House can get on with the business of private members.
-No point of order is involved.
– I would like him to keep going, actually.
– The following paragraph preceded what I have said and I omitted to mention it.
Mr McLeay: The one of deductibility was put up to us before, when we were in Government and they were in Opposition. We rejected it.
– That is right.
-I am defending the veracity of what I said at question time this morning in answer to a question when I made the contention that the honourable gentleman had indicated that the then Government- the previous Liberal-Country Party Government- had rejected the tax deductibility proposal and that he had indicated a lack of enthusiasm for the scheme and when I referred to his mention of the term ‘scrambling’ and said that he would have an inclination to unscramble this one. That is the subject on which he has challenged me. I think it is apparent that I am establising the authenticity of the claims that I have made to the effect that the Opposition had rejected such a scheme and that if it became the Government it would most certainly oppose it and get rid of it.
Mr McLEAY ( Boothby )-Mr Speaker-
– For God ‘s sake shut up, will you?
-No, I will not. I claim to have been misrepresented, Sir. I will take only a moment. In relation to the specific legislation about which we are talking the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) implied that I had said that we would unscramble it. I believe it is probably unscrambleable and that we could never do it. He misrepresented me when he said that I said that we would as far as we could unscramble all of the Government’s legislation because none of it is any good. The Government does not have a housing policy. We will be unveiling our housing policy next week.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker.
-The honourable member for Boothby has completed his personal explanation.
– I was going to make the point that the honourable gentleman has gone past the making of a personal explanation. I think I should say to him, in reply, that I have produced the evidence he challenged me to produce and it is irrefutable evidence of the authenticity of what I contended he said.
Parachuting: Safety Standards -Proportional Representation in the Senate-Physically Handicapped Persons UnemploymentTaxation: Housing Loan Interest-Inquiry into Poverty in Australia-Meat Industry- Prime Minister
That grievances be noted.
– I wish to draw attention to the inadequate state of government regulation regarding the rapidly growing sport of parachuting. I am led to do this because of the information I have received concerning the deaths of 2 highly experienced parachutists at Rylstone in New South Wales during the 1 3th. Australian parachute championships on 29 December 1974.I am satisfied that the information which I have received is accurate and I believe that these deaths could have been prevented had the Department of Transport insisted on set safety standards being observed throughout the championship.
The authority of the Department of Transport is derived from the Air Navigation Orders designed by the Department of Civil Aviation. In Part 29 of those Orders, dated 3 September 1973, Order 8.1 provides that parachute operations shall be conducted under the supervision of an approved person and in accordance with the requirements of a parachuting manual which is specified by the approved person. In fact the approved person is an officer of the Department of Transport. The manual which is recognised by the Department of Transport is that of the Australian Parachute Federation. That manual enables the Federation to ground persons who do not observe certain safety standards. It seems to me most strange that the Department of Transport itself has not the actual power to ground such persons. But my grievance today is not with the deficiencies in the Department of Transport’s regulations so much as with the failure of the departmental officer to ensure that the manual is enforced, even if the enforcement agency is not the Department but the Australian Parachute Federation.
My information from skilled parachutists is that the manual of the Federation is comprehensive and that if it were enforced it would be sufficient to prevent accidents. As it is, however, 9 Australian parachutists died in 1974. Without wishing to embarrass the relatives of the deceased I believe it responsible to say that fellow competitors of the deceased at the Australian championships in December believe that the deaths were due to an excessive consumption of alcohol by the deceased and others immediately prior to the jumps by the deceased. Apart from the fact that such conduct is foolish in the extreme it is also contrary to provisions in the manual approved by the Department of Transport. The manual of the Australian Parachute Federation contains the following operational regulations: 5.3.19 No alcoholic liquids shall be in evidence on the drop zone or emplaning area while parachuting operations are in progress.
Regulation 5.3.20 prescribes:
No person shall make a parachute descent while affected by drugs, alcohol or fatigue. A person who has consumed alcohol in the preceding 12 hours shall be considered to be affected by alcohol.
The relationship between these manual provisions and the Department of Transport is not merely created by the air navigation orders but is reinforced by the statement of functions of the Department of Transport itself. There the functions of the air transport group are expressly related to safety. They certainly extend to the aircraft which fly the parachutists, even if they are not yet extensive enough to cover parachute drops. Yet, despite this responsibility, we have a situation in which these operational regulations were breached at the biggest parachuting competition in Australia in the presence of an officer from the Department of Transport.
The major incident report of the Australian Parachute Federation in relation to the double fatality of 29 December 1974 records the grim facts. Both deceased were experienced jumpers. Both in fact had made 370 jumps. They left the aircraft at approximately 5000 feet and planned to delay 15 seconds in opening their parachutes. Instead, they descended in 30 seconds without opening their parachutes at all. The report reveals that there was a full moon and the weather was clear. These were ideal conditions for jumping. It also records that the regulations were broken by all who went on the sortie. Three men jumped, one opened his parachute almost as soon as he left the aircraft. The others did not open their parachutes at all. The report graphically records:
The bodies were found about 2 hours after the jump. They were close together and ground impressions indicated they were still linked in a stable star on impact. No attempt appears to have been made by either jumper to activate any parachutes. Alcohol played the biggest part in this incident. It appears that they were around twice the legal limit on blood alcohol level at the time of the jump.
The report adds that there were other competitors who knew the jump was to take place and knew of the condition of the jumpers but who made no attempt to stop the sortie. One of the deceased was not even wearing a jumpsuit and wore only party shoes to protect his feet. Moreover, the same man had broken his ankle only 7 weeks before and had it prematurely taken out of plaster. The jump took place at 1.45 a.m.
– In a full moon?
-Yes, but unlike the honourable member who interjected they were not wearing red coats. The competition continued until lunch time when it was cancelled for all competitors for the remainder of the day. I am informed that the President of the Australian Parachute Federation made it clear that the Federation could not enforce regulations regarding the intake of alcohol. The President deplored the breach of regulations but could not protect people from themselves. Therefore, the Department of Transport must do it for the Federation.
If all this were not enough, two other facts add to the concern which responsible lovers of this sport feel. The night before the fatalities the same pilot from whose plane the deceased jumped flew his aircraft from an airstrip lit only by the headlights of one car. Some competitors tried to stop the aircraft taking off, especially when they realised that those on board had been consuming alcohol. The aircraft carried out a number of low passes below 100 feet directly over the camping area, sometimes without aircraft lights. No action was taken to stop those concerned in this spree from continuing in the competition. On the night of the fatalities, the same pilot flew over the camping area at approximately 50 feet while the one surviving parachutist was still descending over the same area. Again, no action appears to have been taken by the Department of Transport against the pilot.
One of the deceased had a wife and 2 children at the camping site and the enforcement of the regulations would have protected them as well as the deceased. My information is that the Victorian Relative Work Championships held 10 days before the fatalities had a similar pattern of conduct by some of the competitors. I understand that some competitors were openly drinking alcohol and smoking marihuana during the competition. The same pattern of conduct continued 10 days later in the Australian Championships and still no action was taken by the Department of Transport. Indeed, during the Australian Championships it was announced by the organisers over the public address system that the regulation requiring that no alcohol was to be consumed 12 hours before a descent would be reduced to 8 hours. My information is that even this reduced limit was not observed. Two men died as a result.
I am also informed that other regulations were varied or breached, including those relating to a low opening height after a free fall. It seems doubtful that permission was received from the Department of Transport to vary these regulations. The Australian Parachute Federation has failed to enforce its own regulations. One reason, of course, is the difficulty of fellow competitors to enforce regulations against others who are their friends and with whom they wish to remain popular. I believe that the Department of Transport has been most remiss in not insisting on the enforcement of these regulations. I trust that the Minister for Transport will examine and remedy this serious defect.
-During the past week this House, this Parliament and this nation, have witnessed the beginning of the end of the institution of parliamentary democracy in Australia. What commenced last May, when the Senate took the unprecedented step of threatening to withhold Supply, thus laying the foundation for biannual elections, has now culminated in the ending of proportional representation in the Senate. That in itself is not as significant as the fact that no longer is this Parliament governed by convention or tradition. No longer need this Labor Government nor any future Labour Opposition be in any way hidebound by the conventions or the practices of the Westminster parliamentary system. Make no mistake- the rule book has been torn up; the democratic system which we hold so dear to us, will be torn down. From now on anything goes and it is the great conservative party of tradition, the Liberal Party- not a dangerous bunch of wild-eyed radicals or anarchists, but the upholders of our institutions- which has wrecked the system.
That the members of the Liberal Party have done this is bad enough. Their day of reckoning will come in the not too distant future. After 23 years in Government, their utter disbelief that they could be thrown out of office caused them to make a grubby grab for power in May 1974. To their chagrin, the Australian people endorsed their decision of December 1972. Within weeks they were plotting once again to negate the popular decision of the Australian people. At that election the Australian people voted overwhelmingly for Labor candidates in the House of Representatives. Mr Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table entitled ‘House of Representatives Elections- 18 May 1974’ and a table entitled ‘ Senate Elections- 1 8 May 1 974 ‘.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows)-
-I thank the House. I might say that Labor increased its strength in the Senate from twenty-six to twenty-nine. In New South Wales and Queensland only a few votes stopped Labor from winning another 2 seats. Be that as it may, Labor gained five to five in New South Wales, despite receiving 50 per cent of the vote to 4 1 .7 per cent for the Liberal-Country Party coalition. Now the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Lewis, has announced his intention of filling the Senate vacancy caused by Senator Murphy’s elevation to the High Court with a Liberal or Country Party senator. Some of the less reputable sections of the media, the flunkeys of the conservative parties in Australia, have desperately tried to convince their readers that it is all part of the political game and that this is just another trick to the Liberals. They echo the cries of the raving right-wing fringe represented by Lewis, Bjelke-Petersen and the Leader of the Country Party by stating that if Labor wants ‘to pack the benches of the High Court to wreck the Constitution then it is fair enough for Mr Lewis to pay them back by playing dirty tricks also’. It is this scurrilous garbage that needs to be shown up as the utter humbug that it is.
For 71 years the conservative forces of this country have successfully controlled the composition of the High Court of Australia. Successive non-Labor Prime Ministers have loaded the court with jurists who, they knew, would interpret the Constitution in a manner favourable to the propertied and privileged classes of Australia. They saw the High Court -
– A point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to standing order 75. It states:
No Member may use offensive words against either House of the Parliament or any Member thereof, against any member of the Judiciary, or against any statute unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal.
This reference by the honourable member is clearly directed to the effect that the High Court has given corrupt judgments because of its political leanings. That is a most improper reference.
-The standing order is quite specific that no adverse criticism may be levelled at any judge of the High Court.
– I have not mentioned anyone in the High Court, Mr Speaker. What I said was that the composition of the court was loaded by non-Labor Prime Ministers. I have not made any reference to what the court has done or said. The non-Labor Prime Ministers saw the High Court as a bulwark against any dangerous flirtations with socialism or any attack against the privileges enshrined in the Constitution. They unashamedly stacked the court with former conservative politicians and known conservative sympathisers. Not satisfied with having control for 71 years, they made sure that whenever a Labor government appointed anyone who was anything but ultra-conservative they, along with their friends in the media, let out such cries of outrage that they were able to create the impression that what a Labor government was doing was in some way different from what they had been doing since Federation. What they lack in integrity they make up for in hide.
Let me inform the House of the history of High Court appointments. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a list of those appointments.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-I thank the House. Since its inception in 1903 there have been 30 appointments to the High Court. Of these, Justices Griffith, Barton, O’Connor, Isaacs, Higgins, Piddington, Powers, Knox and Barwick were members of Parliament, either State or Federal, representing anti-Labor parties. Three more, Justices Menzies, Windeyer and Owen, were members of the anti-Labor parties and the latter two were unsuccessful candidates for Senate preselection and State parliament respectively. It is possible that Justice Piddington should be excluded from this list. Being a small ‘1’ liberal when appointed by Andrew Fisher in 1913, he resigned his position before sitting on the bench because of the outcry from the conservative forces in the community. Even excluding Piddington, one still finds that eleven of the 29 justices have been active members of the nonLabor parties. Only three have been members of the Australian Labor Party. They were Justices McTiernan, Evatt and Murphy.
It should be very clear that the only politicians suited to be justices of the High Court, according to the Liberal and Country Parties, are those with former membership of the Liberal-Country Party coalition or its predecessors. Let us look at those who have held the position of Chief Justice, the highest legal position in the land. There have been seven: Chief Justices Griffith, Isaacs, Gavan Duffy, Knox, Dixon, Latham and Barwick. All but Dixon and Gavan Duffy were non-Labor members of a Legislative Assembly or members of the House of Representatives. None were Labor members of Parliament. So we listen to the non-stop hogwash about Labor stacking the High Court. It has always been stacked against the Australian Labor Party. There has never been a liberal-leaning High Court. It is long overdue for a few different points of view to be represented on the High Court. That is what the conservatives cannot tolerate and that is why they are prepared to destroy the whole parliamentary system.
– I am happy to see that there are 2 Ministers in the House because, despite their crusty exteriors, I believe that they are men of compassion, and what I have to say today is not political. In recent years we have become more aware of our responsibility to the Australian men and women and boys and girls who live with a physical disability or handicap. We have seen too the splendid endeavours by many organisations and service clubs to make a contribution to their welfare. We realise at last that physical handicap does not disqualify people from living a full life. They can, if given the opportunity, make a very real and valuable contribution to our Australian way of life, sometimes more than the ordinary person can. I have therefore been very pleased indeed to learn of a very special endeavour made by Quota clubs in my area in the very neglected field of assistance to the deaf. I have a very serious observation to make which I do not believe is always appreciated, and I do hope that the House will appreciate it. I do not want to compare the various disabilities and attempt to define which one would be the cruellest and the worst. They are all tragedies; we know of the tragedy of blindness which instantly and properly claims our sympathy and our desire to help those who are afflicted. But can I compare that with the usual general attitude towards deafness? There is no greater loneliness, there is no greater solitude than that great silent and unfriendly world in which the deaf must live. I say unfriendly very advisedly. Have you noted that even though people are kind towards other handicapped people they are not so towards the deaf ? Do you notice that deafness and hardness of hearing are often the butt of so many jokes?
– What did you say?
– I have compassion, Mr Minister. There is a lot of hurt done to this particular group of people because of their deafness. We have heard a multitude of jokes, have we not, about the deaf and about those who are hard of hearing, but not so about other handicapped people. Have you noticed too how impatient people become with the deaf? Because communication is difficult, because it requires some patience and some understanding, people turn away impatiently and ignore the deaf. They leave them in their isolation. That, of course, is why the deaf seek each other’s company, because no one else really wants them. I speak from experience- a very close experience- because I have a son who is totally deaf, yet he is a fully qualified carpenter and builder employed by the Queensland Department of Works. He is the equal of any with whom he works. Indeed, this should indicate that the deaf have the physical capacity to equal other persons. Their work is usually more thorough and it is better because they give their attention to it and they are not easily distracted.
However, some of us know only too well that many employers are not willing to give them work. There are so many fields in which deaf people could contribute so much which are closed to them. This is a fact of life. It is sad and it is unfortunate. I do not condemn it because it is very often due to misunderstanding, but so often deafness is treated like a disease and the afflicted are ignored. They are excluded from the things that we enjoy. They are excluded from normal conversation and the jollity on so many occasions. They are patronised and their company is just not sought, yet this is a loneliness and ostracisation that really very few people understand.
So it is that I so highly commend this project of the Quota clubs. I have commended this project to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). I would commend it to the Government. I would indeed commend it to anyone who can exercise influence in this field because it is for the sake of these very many lonely and neglected Australians. I hope I can explain why this project should and must be implemented. The deaf can watch television. They can see a film. They cannot hear a radio, music or the sounds of nature. They can see, but unless someone is there to give them a sign commentary the television news, the program or the film has no meaning, yet they have the same interest as other Australians. About once a year a program, usually a short one of about 15 minutes or so, for the deaf may be shown with captions or some sign language displayed on the screen. How their eyes shine on those rare occasions when they can not only see but they can also understand. Quota is making an appeal for captions or some accompanying visible commentary during television news broadcasts, documentaries and at least some television programs, because these people too are vitally interested in the news, in documentaries and in other programs in which we are interested. Is it too much to ask that we consider this appeal?
In this country we have done almost nothing but shrug off these people, yet in time of tragedy when they meet someone who is suffering or is sad-have honourable members ever noticed- I have never seen anyone so spontaneously sympathetic and generous in their love as are the deaf. In times like the Darwin appeal and others their response and their sympathy are outstanding. They seem to give this greater measure of love and sympathy to those in distress than almost any other section of the community. They give so much and they have so much to give, yet our reaction so often is to reject them and to turn them away, leaving them to their own devices to battle on in the best way they can- out of sight, out of mind. They do not want patronage and they do not want to be put away with a kind word and an invalid pension. They just want a chance, and very rarely do they get it. They will work as hard as any person if they are given the opportunity to show their ability.
I ask honourable members: Is there any more admirable project than this of the Quota clubs? In an age when we can devise magnificent computers and send men to the moon, cannot we provide a simple system of captions or signs for our television programs and, hopefully, eventually in some films to aid people who are deaf. The adoption of such a system would not inconvenience anyone who can hear, yet it would mean the whole world to these people. Colour television is prettier and more eye-catching but to the deaf it is just as silent. It is still a picture which communicates absolutely nothing about its meaning. A big screen or a small screen, what is the difference- there is still silence and there is still no message. Do we care and do we begin to understand. The answer is not a hearing aid or that old ear trumpet that is the butt of so many jokes. They are of no help to many people. If there is no hearing then no matter how loud the sound it is still not heard.
This is not just another speech for the Hansard record, I would hope. It is an appeal from many fine, wonderful Australians- men and women and boys and girls- to include them in our appreciation of television and perhaps films. We can be very deaf to that appeal. Do we care enough to get in behind this humane and very necessary project? It should not be beyond our capacity. It should not be beyond our compassion. The joy and the satisfaction this would give, the new meaning it would give to so many lonely lives would be one of the finest achievements to which we could aspire. I hope that the Minister will respond. I hope that the Government will respond. Indeed I hope that we will all respond because if we do not we are going to stand condemmed and all our talk about human rights and quality of life will be just so much useless and meaningless waffle.
– Before I commence what I have to say in this debate this morning perhaps I should indicate that I believe that the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) has done this House and the people who are disadvantaged because they are deaf a great service in pointing out to us the situation which exists because there is no doubt that these people are very much isolated in our society. I rise in this grievance debate to speak about something which is probably more serious for the parliamentary institution than anything else. I believe that there can be no more serious grievance in a parliament than feeling that the institution itself is placed in jeopardy. I believe that at the present time this feeling is held by members on both sides of the House. The action of the New South Wales Premier and his Cabinet in deciding to appoint to the Senate a person belonging either to the Liberal Party or the Country Party as a result of the vacancy caused by the appointment of the Honourable Lionel Murphy to the High Court is something that flouts the convention which has grown up and has been applied almost universally since Federation and certainly has been applied universally since the adoption of proportional representation.
The Westminster system of democracy depends on 2 things. It depends on a set of rules that have grown up and which to some extent are written into statutes, standing orders and other documents, and are observed by parliaments of all sorts. The system also depends upon the custom or the convention concerning appointments. The appointment of a member of the same party to replace a senator who retires or dies is a convention which has been adopted universally since 1949. 1 believe that it will be very much to the discredit of democracy in this country if this convention is not followed in this instance. It is not just a matter of having the numbers in the Senate because if convention is going to be altered in this way and we can get into a situation where people are appointed at the whim of various State Premiers or State Cabinets, where the political circumstances of the day decide how appointments are to be made and in what numbers, then the very fabric of our democracy will be in danger.
One would think that the people who are proposing this step would have the most to lose. Surely they are the people in our society who stand for the status quo, who stand for convention and who stand for the rule of law. Surely they are the people more than anyone else who would want to preserve the custom and convention of our parliamentary democracy, but no, in this case, as unfortunately in many other cases they have decided to disregard the convention. Liberal and Country Party voters must be most disturbed about this situation because as the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) pointed out, once you start to break the rules then the rule book goes out the door. No one can argue then that it ought not to be done because convention or laws say that it ought not to be done. The other day the Premier of Queensland was quoted on a news program as saying: ‘Oh, but that does not apply any more’. To what extent will that sort of argument be extended. Of course, the argument used by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Lewis, on this occasion to justify his flagrant breach of convention and rule is: ‘The Government acted improperly in appointing the Honourable Lionel Murphy to the High Court’.
As the honourable member for Robertson pointed out, former governments have appointed to the High Court members of this Parliament and other people who were known for their conservative views. Personally, I find nothing of concern in that, because that is the way the system operates. I do not like it and I would seek to change it. I would want to educate my fellow Australians to my point of view. But if I could not do that I would be prepared to abide by the rules, because once one stops doing that then everyone is in danger. Likewise, I have no particular objection to the appointments which were made by previous Liberal-Country Party governments. I have here a list of people who were appointed by previous governments. The list was supplied in an answer by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to a question asked by the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) last year.
– Give us a couple of minutes on Senator Gair.
-I will come to Senator Gair in a moment because all that that subject does is illustrate the point I am making at this stage. The list is too long to read but if honourable members would like to look it up they will find it in Hansard of 9 April last year. The list includes such distinguished persons as the Right Honourable Sir Garfield Barwick, Chief Justice of Australia; the Honourable Sir Howard Beale; the Honourable D. A. Cameron, the Honourable F. C. Chaney; and the former member for part of the area which I now represent in this House, Mr F. J. Davis. I could go on. The list includes party officials, senators and ex-senators. It also includes the Right Honourable Sir Paul Hasluck, a former Governor-General of Australia. All those people were either distinguished office holders in the Liberal Party or the Country Party or were distinguished members or senators of this Parliament. I find no objection to that. What I do find objectionable is the complete hypocrisy of some of the members of this House and some of the leader writers in the newspapers. Most of those people have done a distinguished job in their appointments. I am not concerned about them at all. An honourable member opposite mentioned Senator Gair before. His appointment was completely in accordance with tradition and custom.
– Ha, ha! You have got to be kidding.
– Honourable members opposite do not like it but the facts are here in the answer to this question concerning what was done in the past by previous governments of their own ilk. Senator Gair was appointed to his position in accordance with the custom that had grown up and also in accordance with the Constitution. At the next election- whether it had been for the House of Representatives or the Senate- his vacancy would have come before the people of Queensland. Then the decision would have been made. If the double dissolution had not occurred the person appointed to fill Senator Gair’s vacancy in the Senate would have been a member of the Democratic Labor Party. No one doubts that. But it was the political concern that at the next election, because there would have been 3 vacancies on each side, in the normal circumstances the Labor Party would have filled 3 vacancies in Queensland. That is what worried honourable members opposite. It was the political circumstances that worried them and nothing else.
– Worried them? That was the objective.
– It was the objective of the Opposition to flout every constitutional precedent that had been laid down so that it could grab the reins of government in this country, with complete disregard for what the people of Australia had decided before. The very proof of what I am saying is that the people of Australia agreed with the Labor Party when it went to the people in 1974 and they returned this Government. Not one honourable member opposite has ever been satisfied to accept the decision of the people of Australia. It is time that the people of Australia realised that some of the people who sit opposite- not all of them- and some of the people who back them are not prepared to accept democracy in Australia as we have come to know it. The Opposition will accept the rules only if they suit it. If they do not suit, the Opposition will flout them. It will go to any lengths to stop these things coming into operation so that the Opposition can keep the power which it desires, so that it can stop the reforms which the people of Australia want and so that democracy in Australia can no longer be viable as we all hope it could be.
– May I say in reply to some of the comments of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie), that the policy of the Australian Labor Party is the complete abolition of the Senate. It is sheer and utter hypocrisy for him or any member of the Australian Labor Party to stand up here and protect the Senate. The Gair affair is probably one of the most shabby deals in the history of this nation. It was a ploy adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to try to bring about a situation which would give the Australian Labor Party the majority in the Senate and get rid of Senator Gair who was a thorn in its side. I am not rising to speak about the groans and moans of members of the Australian Labor Party. I do not approve of what has been done in New South Wales, but the Labor Party has been caught out at its own game on this occasion. Ex-Senator Murphy- he is not a High Court judge yet- is known as the man who headed the raids on the
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. He has been placed in that position either to facilitate the speedy passage through the High Court of the challenges by the States to the Labor Government’s legislation or, alternatively, to get rid of him from the Senate.
Today I raise an issue which is affecting people- that there are 311 000 Australians unemployed. This is the worst unemployment in the nation’s history and it is a direct result of the mismanagement of the economy and the affairs of this nation. In my view, the figure of 3 1 1 000 is not a correct figure because of the many schemes implemented by the Government. There is the Regional Employment Development scheme and the National Employment and Training scheme which are draining off a number of the unemployed. Those people who are virtually receiving some form of assistance from the Government, are no longer shown in the unemployment figures. It would be appropriate to say that today unemployment has reached nearly 350 000. If anyone at home who is unemployed is listening to me and has not registered let me say: ‘For heaven’s sake, go and put your name down because many people have not registered and the accurate position is still being concealed.’
The Government, in a typical flurry when introducing a new scheme, has bungled and mismanaged the NEAT scheme. The NEAT scheme enables people to be retrained for some occupation. One of the greatest tragedies is that people who applied for retraining at the end of November and December last year still have not been told whether they are eligible for the training which is supposedly being made available. The crazy part is that right now- during the month of February- courses are commencing all over the country. Colleges are re-opening, schools where people can obtain matriculation are re-opening, as are sundry other courses which people need to embark upon to retrain for some occupation which may be available in the years to come.
I asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron), whom I informed that I would be speaking today, to take a personal interest in this matter because it is absolutely ridiculous that these people who have been given hope that they would be retrained after losing their jobs are continuing to sit at home awaiting word from the Government as to whether or not they have been accepted for retraining. These people are finding it impossible to get any reply from the capital city offices. The information they are given is that their application has been sent to Melbourne. Just about every applicant is awaiting the magic word from Melbourne to say whether he or she has succeeded. This is a totally unsatisfactory situation. It is inhumane and yet another example of the present Government having introduced a scheme without having thought it right through to the end. The grandoise schemes are hatched but no-one seems to consider the machinery necessary to implement them. In the meantime people suffer.
The second matter I raise in the chamber today refers to the scheme which was spoken of earlier today by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson). I also told him that I would be raising this issue in the Parliament during the grievance debate. I refer to the income tax instalment deduction scheme whereby a person or persons- a married couple- can have a new tax figure set, depending upon the amount that they pay each week in instalments towards the cost of purchasing their own home. What I am about to say will not please the Minister. The housing loan interest declaration form which has to be processed through the employer is nothing but an invasion of privacy. There are 2 ways in which to obtain the taxation deduction on housing loan interest. If a person has paid $1,500 at the end of the financial year to the building society, the bank or somebody else who has loaned him money, he can deduct that $1,500 from his taxable income and thereby receive a tax refund.
But the reason for the introduction of the scheme was so that more money would be put back into people’s pockets by virtue of the fact that they pay a decreased tax contribution. If that is what the scheme is all about, I can only suggest that the present Government has again failed to consider every aspect of its implementation. It is, as I said, carrying on a gross invasion of privacy. The point is that in order to obtain the benefit a taxpayer is required to supply to his employer details as to the greatest debt that the average income earner incurs in his lifetime. In addition he is required to sign a statement, under penalty of $1,000 or 6 month’s gaol. The scheme apparently places no burden of secrecy on the employer or any member of the staff.
The form which the applicant is required to sign is entitled ‘Housing Loan Interest Declaration’. The first section of the form requires the applicant to supply details similar to those supplied in obtaining tax deductions for dependants, and therefore raises no objection. But the second section of the form requires disclosure of the individual’s debts, interest rates and estimated gross income for the year. Such information could become the text of office gossip or disclosure, especially where papers are loosely handled by junior employees and others. The third section of the form requires that a taxpayer disclose to his employer details of income from investment, family estates and money gained from outside employment. This is highly objectionable. I do not believe that it is the business of the boss what commitments an employee has. In setting about to introduce this scheme without thought, the Government is forcing people to tell their employer all the details of their private life. Furthermore, a married man who has a working wife has to tell his employer how much his wife is earning in another job which is not at all connected with the male spouse’s employment. I do not regard this as being right.
The present Labor Government when in Opposition used to give me some hope that if ever the day arrived when it came to power it would be interested in privacy. But now that it is in government it has shown that it has absolutely no interest in the subject and obviously does not even take it into consideration when implementing some of its new schemes. It has been a failure. No matter what Government supporters might say, I have been consistent in my battle for privacy, both in the days when my Party was in government and now that it is in Opposition. I trust that the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), who is at the table and who I notice is greatly alarmed at the revelations that I have made in the House today, will tell both the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) that they had better read the grievance day debate today because Cameron said something of note again.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise this morning to make a request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). I make the request not on behalf of the Government, not on behalf of the members of this House alone, but on behalf of our country as a whole. I rise to ask the Leader of the Opposition whether even at this late stage he will not make it clear to the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Lewis, not with the equivocation which he has so far shown on the great issue before us all at the present time, that if the Premier does not retreat from the stand that he has taken on the filling of the current Senate vacancy he, the Leader of the Opposition, the man bound to uphold the traditions of parliamentary democracy in this country, will not appear with Mr Lewis on the platform at the public meeting which is to be held at Randwick race course next Sunday.
Very seldom in the history of our country has parliamentary democracy been tested or challenged as it is being tested and challenged at the present time. This is occurring at a time when democracy is under siege around the globe and when the lights are going out one by one around the world. Those countries in which a true parliamentary democracy can still be said to exist are few and far between. We in this House would all agree that the maintenance of parliamentary democracy depends upon the willingness of the people to be governed. It depends upon the willingness of the people to be convinced that they all have a real and meaningful say in the Government of the country. It depends upon their conviction, in 2-Party democracies such as our own, that when a Party wins an election and comes to office it will be allowed to put its policies into effect and that it will enjoy the protection not only of the letter of the Constitution but also of the great body of convention and tradition which has been accumulated in the parliaments of the English speaking world. I wonder whether the Liberal Party fully appreciates the consequences of compounding last year’s refusal of supply in the Senate with the appointment of a senator from its ranks or from the ranks of an associated Party to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Mr Murphy.
It is not so long ago that a majority of the members of the Australian Labor Party had to convince important sections of the Austraiian community, including tens of thousands who took part in Vietnam moratorium demonstrations, including hundreds of thousands who supported what were called ‘political strikes’, that despite 23 years of Liberal-Country Party rule they had not been disfranchised; that it was still possible for Labor Party governments to be elected; that when Labor Party governments were elected they would be given the same opportunities as the Liberal Party governments which preceded them; that they would have the same opportunities to put their policies into effect; that they would have the same protection from the conventions as the governments that preceded them. That assumption is now at stake. Last April the Liberal majority in the Senate shook it to its foundations. What Mr Lewis is proposing to do at present threatens to shatter it.
There has been a great deal of comment in the Press about the harm which is done by the assumption that instead of having 3-year Parliaments we will in future have one-year Parliaments in which the government of the day is constantly in hock to the Senate of the day because it knows that Supply can be withdrawn at 6- monthly intervals and therefore, it is argued, it will not persist with policies which are electoral liabilities. What is far more likely to result from the stand that was taken by the Liberal Senate majority last year, from the stand that the Liberal Premier of New South Wales is taking at present and from the stand that the Liberal Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) constantly foreshadow about the question of Supply in the middle of this year, is not so much that we shall have one-year Parliaments as that we shall have one-party government. What is being demonstrated is that there is one set of rules for Liberal-Country Party coalition governments and a different set of rules when the Labor Party is in power.
When the Liberal-Country Party coalition was in power the thought was monstrous that the Senate should withhold Supply. Sir Robert Menzies denounced it. Everybody recognised that it was wrong. But what is the position when the Labor Party is in power? Out of the window go the conventions. The rule book is torn up. A different set of rules is brought into play. Under the Liberal-Country Party coalition it would have been thought monstrous for a State government to nominate a person from a party other than the one in which the vacancy for the Senate occurred. But what is the position when the Labor Party is in power? Again, the rule book is torn up. The convention goes out the window. There are 2 sets of rules. We are being asked to accept a 2-convention parliamentary systemone set of rules for the Liberal-Country Party coalition when it is in office and a different set of rules when the Labor Party is in office. I can imagine the pieties that honourable members opposite will come up with when these situations occur in future years- I hope long postponedwhen they again occupy the government benches.
– You smashed convention when you nominated Murphy for the High Court.
– Oh, don’t be such a bloody idiot. What about Barwick, Latham? Read your records.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I draw your attention to the remark:
Don’t be a bloody idiot’ by the honourable member for Robertson. I ask him to withdraw that remark totally as it is ill-fitted to this House.
– It depends to which honourable member he was referring. I did not hear the remark, to be honest. There was so much interjecting going on I did not hear it.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, are you going to underwrite this attempt to rob me of my remaining speaking time?
– I withdraw the remark so that the honourable member for Casey will not have his speaking time reduced.
– The honourable member for Robertson has withdrawn the remark.
– What the Liberal Party is destroying-
– I regret having to interrupt the honourable member but I have said the words that the honourable member for Robertson said-
– He has withdrawn them. The honourable member for Robertson did withdraw the remarks.
– I am sorry. I did not hear him withdraw them.
– The Liberal Party may be under the impression that what it is out to destroy is merely a particular government. What it is in fact destroying is that consent to being governed on the part of half of the Australian people which forms the basis of parliamentary democracy in Australia. Parliamentary democracy depends on consent. It depends on the conviction of both sides in a parliamentary system that there will be some sort of alternation of office in the country and that when office is held it will be meaningful office operated under a common set of rules. That is the assumption that is being destroyed. I shall finish by quoting briefly from this morning ‘s ‘ Canberra Times ‘. It states:
And the tragedy is that even if Mr Lewis and his committee piously decide in the interests of the nation not to go ahead with their plan a great deal of irreparable harm has already been done. A man who flashes a toy gun at a hold-up has to be treated as if the gun is loaded. Mr Lewis may not yet have broken the convention- and it is the fervent hope of this newspaper that he will not- but he has made it unsafe.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-One cannot but comment on the hypocritical attitude of the Government, a government which is pledged to the abolition of the Senate, a government which is pledged to the abolition of the States. To draw a red herring across the trail of its own inactivity in the spheres of influence under its control, it has sought to interfere in a matter which is the sovereign right of the Parliament of New South Wales. I feel that it would be far more appropriate for the Government to show concern in a matter which is its complete responsibility and under its control.
No reference has been made in this debate to a finding of the inquiry into poverty released yesterday which said that there was real poverty, real reason for concern, in the rural areas of northern New South Wales and that if nothing was done about it the position could be chaotic in rural industries generally. No heed has been paid in answer to the query raised by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) and the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) in the discussion yesterday of a matter of public importance about what the Government is going to do for the meat industry which is now veritably on its knees. The committee inquiring into poverty equated the situation of rural people and farmers with the standard of living of Aborigines. I do not want to comment on the standard of living of Aborigines except to say that I find it most difficult to accept that a government would spend in excess of $ 1 1 7m per year on Aborigines and adopt an attitude to Australian beef producers of saying: ‘Let them stew’.
The beef industry is in a paradoxical situation. Beef numbers are growing and are now estimated to be in excess of 34 million head. Yet markets are decreasing. In 1973 836 210 tons of beef were exported and only 608 862 tons were exported in 1974. Interpretive economists say the future is bright. On the other hand we have world starvation and a shortage of farm products. Let us look at this problem of the beef industry in depth. There are 2 solutions- a sort term solution and a long term one. I hold firmly to the consensus that stock must be preserved and the industry must be helped over the bottoming of the market.
We must preserve jobs for people engaged in rural industry. I support the remarks yesterday of the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party. He made an emotional appeal to the Government to siphon off some of the $ 1000m it is using for displaced persons in industry under the Regional Employment Development scheme and the National Employment and Training scheme for unemployment relief to people in the beef industry. I ask the Government to consider, as a matter of urgency, the payment of unemployment benefits to people who are receiving no income from their properties because of the collapse of the meat market. I also ask the Government to cut the red tape these people have to go through in order to gain unemployment benefits. Surely the people connected with the beef industry are just as important to the future of Australia as people who are engaged in industries in the manufacturing sector, such as the car industry.
The position in Queensland is particularly serious. Queensland is the largest exporter of beef and in 1973 exported 208 178 tons out of a total export of 565 497 tons. There are also problems because of the Japanese Government’s deferred quota scheme and the European Economic Community’s intervention scheme. I deplore the cheap political propaganda which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) has made with his usual flowery rhetoric and platitudes when he said he went overseas in an endeavour to gain markets for our meat. In that respect his overseas junket served no useful purpose; it was useless in real terms except for its re-filling of the egotistical gas cylinders of the Prime Minister. On the other hand a Queensland mission, led by the Minister for Primary Industries in that State, the honourable Vic Sullivan, is going to South East Asia, not on a sightseeing tour, but charged with the specific responsibility of developing and exploring markets. This seems impossible for the Federal Government although it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to develop and explore markets.
I make a plea for short term carry on finance for meat producers. We suggest that a sum of $150m be given initially and that it be increased, depending on the severity of the winter and the market prospects in the short and long term. This money must be made available for a short period with repayments over 5 or 6 years at a rate of 4 per cent per annum. The availability of this money must not get bogged down in red tape; it must be made available immediately. It can be distributed through the agency of the Development Bank and local finance channels which have the expertise and know what is going on.
I think it is eminently suitable to advance the proposition that help should be given to those who are traditionally engaged in the beef industry people such as auctioneers and commission agents- whose income has been slashed. They are a vital sector in this most important industry. We deplore the present Government’s Shylock terms of 1 1 1 1/2 per cent per annum interest on the $20m granted to the Development Bank for this purpose. Surely the freight costs of transporting beef from the farm property to the markets could be subsidised by the Government. We have reached a situation where in many instances the proceeds received for the cattle do not cover the freight costs of getting them to the market. We have asked specifically that there be an abolition of the 1.6c per/lb levy on export beef but we have not heard one word of reply from the Government notwithstanding the many pleas that have been made to it.
It is particularly necessary to consider spending money on the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis. As we are approaching winter and farmers and graziers have built up large stocks and prices are relatively low it is a golden opportunity to restore our herds to a disease-free situation. It behoves the Government to give adequate compensation to people who destroy beasts infected with brucellosis and tuberculosis. Gainful employment could be engaged in under the auspices of the RED scheme to help with the speedy eradication of these diseases. We would then be in a first class position to supply the protein requirements of the world market if we had a disease-free herd when the prices increased.
In the long term, it is necessary at this time for us to look in depth at what can be done. I believe that the industry would accept a stabilisation’ scheme of say lc per lb when prices are high to be backed up with a Government contribution and a set floor price. One of the problems of primary industry is how to overcome and iron out the great rises and changes in production.
The Australian Meat Board has found new markets but it has difficulty in carrying out firm contracts on account of its lack of assets. The Government should consider guaranteeing any loss of markets written up by the Meat Board. There is a problem in rural industry, and the significant factor as far as the Government is concerned is that it has buckled the girders of that industry. The Government seems set on deliberately breaking that industry and it is not prepared to do anything about it. This is an intolerable situation. In the world market there is a shortage of essential foodstuffs, yet we have a Government which is hell bent on building up manufacturing industry and destroying primary industry. It will do nothing about getting out to obtain new markets. It will not lend a helping hand to people who are in dire need of a government contribution to help them over the long term. We are making an appeal to the Government to consider -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MartinOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I too join my colleagues the honourable members for Robertson (Mr Cohen), Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) and Casey (Mr Mathews) in expressing my concern and disgust at the actions of the New South Wales Government and the New South Wales Premier in particular. It is my belief that the action of the Premier of New South Wales squares very soundly with his action in threatening the power workers in that State. It was a most unjust action but eventually the issue was settled by negotiation. This typical authoritarian approach of the New South Wales Premier will become more evident in the future. I also join with the honourable member for Casey who said that if the Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable Bill Snedden, is really concerned that convention should be followed in this matter, he should not attend this wave of liberalism rally that the Liberal Party is holding at Randwick racecourse this weekend. I have a card which relates to the rally and I must say that the live entertainment has been chosen exceptionally well. The live entertainment consists of the Buffaloes and Premier Tom Lewis. That befits his approach to politics. Then, of course, there is the Boadicea group, together with the Liberal Leader, Bill Snedden. Most of his politics go back to the time of Boadicea. The card tells people to bring a litter bag to take away the rubbish.
On a serious point, I believe, as do my colleagues, that the parliamentary system, and possibly democracy itself, is in danger in many countries today. I believe we have the same sort of problem in Australia. The stature of this Parliament is diminishing possibly because of the nature of Australian society and the political parties it has spawned. But in this matter we are concerned not only about convention; I think we as parliamentarians, and any person elected to a parliament, must also realise that in parliaments there must be a large element of magnanimity. There must be a large amount of magnanimity in politics itself. Politics is also the art of welding communities together as much as it is of political parties trying to maximise their own gains within the community. I believe the Austraiian Labor Party is not entirely a socialist party, but it does stand for policy reform or change based on a social, democratic approach. Even if the Labor Party is not socialist in my terms, socialism is a proper ideal and it is proper for many members of the party to call themselves socialists. On the other hand, the Liberal Party is not liberal; it is not a true conservative party; and it is not even a party of free enterprise. It is a party that is completely irresponsible and is disappointing in Opposition. The Liberal Party in the Senate has taken upon itself a role that not only bucks convention and principled practice but also its leader there is developing a curious political theory to give his House an ascendancy never intended by the founding fathers.
If one takes the broad view of Australia’s political situation at present it must be stated that the failure of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) to give any leadership to the Opposition parties, the failure of the Leader of the Opposition to state whether or not he intends torpedoeing the elected Government of this country by denying supply are major destabilising factors in Austraiian politics at present. The Opposition is concerned only with the development and distortion of every popular prejudice. When in opposition the Australian Labor Party was told that it had no policies. When it developed the most thorough-going range of policies for every aspect of Australia’s political life it was told that it could not put them into practice. We have shown what we can implement. We have shown that the policies the people wanted can be put into effect.
What the Liberals are now doing in Opposition is exactly the same response by the conservative forces in Australia as occurred under previous progressive governments, particularly federal governments: Political thuggery, maximum mobilisation of every opportunistic Opposition force, the blowing up of minor issues out of all proportion. This has occurred whether the Labor Government be that of Fisher, Scullin, Curtin or Chifley. The denial of supply can be said to be far worse than what the Premier of New South Wales is perpetrating.
Here I would like to point out that he is simply not correct in what he is saying; it is simply a political ploy on his part. There is not an ounce of substance in what he is saying. Senator Murphy, now Mr Murphy, is eminently suitable for a position on the High Court. He has the exact legal background that is required for such a position. I do not believe, as some of my colleagues apparently believe, that by appointing people to the High Court with certain political leanings they are going to act much differently. If one looks at the High Court and the way it has ruled, it is an exceptionally, legalistic body. I have a lot of faith in Mr Murphy acting precisely as he sees the law. There is a lot built up about Lionel Murphy and the ASIO raids. I put it to honourable members that every other person in this place, if faced with exactly the same situation as he was, would have done exactly the same thing.
– I do not think so.
-Well, I do. I think we also should quote what other people have said about High Court judges. For example, one of the Parliament’s greatest traditionalists, Sir Robert Menzies, then Mr Menzies, whose Cabinets have seated more High Court judges than any other, reminded Parliament in 1946:
This was not, of course, a startlingly novel thought or yet one unshared by judges. Isaacs, for example, remarked in his judgment in the Commonwealth v. Kreglinger and Fernau Ltd in 1926:
As a living, co-ordinate branch of the Government, (the Court) cannot stand still and refuse, interpreting the law, to recognise the advancing frontiers of public thought and public activity.
A lawyer of ability who has had some parliamentary experience and preferably, in addition, some ministerial experience is likely to have an especially realistic feel for the issues arising in constitutional cases. I think on these grounds Mr Lewis, in saying that Mr Murphy is not an eminent jurist, is not only acting for the most blatant political reasons but also simply wrong.
Mr Lewis is wholly contained within my electorate; I am not saying I wholly contain Mr Lewis. I have long admired some of his political attributes. However, I not only disagree entirely with most of his political philosophy; I also disagree with the whole approach to his exercising of power. In acting in the way he is in this matter, not only is he acting arrogantly and in an authoritarian way, but also he is acting ‘arrogantly with respect to the wishes of the people he represents in New South Wales. His approach is not only a ‘boots and all’ one, that we all understand in this House, but also an arrogant and bullying one. There are many other examples in my electorate where he has followed exactly the same approach.
For example, the Minister at the table at present is the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard). Let us consider the Beecroft Heads issue in my electorate, which involved him. This was a situation in which the Beecroft Heads lease, which is used by the Navy, the Fleet Air Arm and the Air Force, was to expire on 30 June 1974- a simple enough proposition. We thought that the New South Wales Government would renew the lease, particularly in the light of the fact that we have defence powers and could acquire the land at any time. But no; Mr Lewis, as Minister for Lands, took the bullying approach that this matter was negotiable and that the future of the Sydney Harbour foreshores depended on whether he signed the lease over to the Australian Government for defence purposes. We simply pointed out that we were quite prepared to give the New South Wales people, as they wished, the Sydney Harbour foreshores. But no; we were not allowed to impose any other requirements, such as that we did not want the New South Wales Government to sell the land to real estate developers- this had to be negotiable. Mr Lewis, as Minister for Lands, adopted this bullying approach right through that issue. Eventually, instead of the New South Wales Government simply signing the lease and the Australian Government simply saying that it would hand over the Sydney Harbour foreshores, some money was supposed to have changed hands as a result of the transaction because, quite simply, we were not prepared to push this issue to such an absurd political position for the sake of the ego of one man, Mr Lewis.
The same situation could apply right in the middle of his electorate with respect to the Berrima airport issue. In this case there was a patch of Crown land between the township of old Berrima, the most historic village in Australia, and new Berrima. Funnily enough, some plans appeared in the Wingecarribee Shire Council that indicated an airport would be placed there. Funnily enough, some Crown land had been gazetted in a certain way by the Minister for Lands. Funnily enough, the people had not been consulted on this. Again, even last week, a Liberal member of the shire council put up a proposition that this area should be devoted to a small airstrip, against the wishes of the people but in concurrence with the wishes of Mr Lewis and his bullying attitude. I can name many other issues in that electorate.
– Where does Mr Lewis live?
– He lives at Darling Point and also in Moss Vale. But within 5 miles of where he lives in Moss Vale he wanted to have an airport. I wonder why he wanted one. I could nominate many other issues. I mention the Fitzroy Falls land issue where Mr Lewis happened to own some land that was ultimately resumed by the Water Board.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin) Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Many members of this House resent- if they do not resent it, I think they should- the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in this House at question time and at other times. He evades issues. He refuses to answer questions. He says things which are untrue and which I believe he knows are untrue when he says them. The Prime Minister’s attitude is one which does concern this House. I think that we should look at it with rather more care than we would look at the attitude of another member.
– I rise to take a point of order. It surely is not permissible for the honourable member to reflect on the Prime Minister in the terms in which he is doing. I would remind him that the Prime Minister, in common with him, is a member of this House.
-I was allowing a fair amount of latitude to the honourable member. I do not think it is competent for him to say about any member in so many words as he is doing that that member is a liar. That is what he is saying by his remarks.
-Very good. I will not press that point. What I will say is this: The Prime Minister will not accept the word of another honourable member as to what he has said and prefers to rely, as he did this morning, on Press reports. This is in contrast with what happened in regard to the Prime Minister himself, as Hansard reveals. The Prime Minister in reply to a question which related to the ‘nervous Nellies’ said something which was untrue in regard to his own previous remarks. I was able to produce in this House and subsequently put on file in the Parliamentary Library an actual tape of what the Prime Minister had said. It showed that he had said what I claimed he said. But he did not have the grace to apologise for his untrue statement, perhaps a mistakenly untrue statement, which he had made in this House about bis own speech. He was convicted out of his own mouth. The tape was there. This is quite different from a newspaper report. A newspaper report can be untrue. The tape was not.
That is not the only thing. I come now to what I regard as the main question of substance which has been spoken of by other honourable members today. The Prime Minister has stood in this House and said, in regard to the appointment of a senator to take the place of Mr Murphy in the Senate, that convention is being flouted. That is not true on the facts, because the fact is, and I have the papers in front of me, that since 1949, when proportional representation came in, there has been no test of what happens when there is a voluntary resignation. Let us examine the facts. In 1956 Mr Spicer resigned from the Senate to become a judge. He was a Liberal. It was a nonLabor government which appointed his successor. In 1965 Sir William Spooner resigned, as honourable members know, through ill-health. A non-Labor government appointed his successor. In 1968 Mr Gorton resigned from the Senate to become Prime Minister. A non-Labor government appointed his successor. In 1971 Dame Annabelle Rankin resigned in order to become our High Commissioner in New Zealand and a non-Labor government appointed her successor. Senator Gair resigned and no successor was appointed. In every case the Government which has done the appointing has been of the same character or of the same complexion as the person who had resigned. There is no test. There is therefore no precedent either way on the record as to what should happen when a senator resigns voluntarily.
This should be distinguished absolutely from the death of a senator or, I would think, even the resignation of a senator because of unexpected ill-health. An involuntary resignation is quite different. In the case of an involuntary resignation I think that the convention is firm. In the case of an involuntary resignation a replacement should come from the same party. But when there is a voluntary resignation there is no precedent established, and the principle does not hold good because the person who resigned voluntarily must know the consequences of his action when he makes that resignation. It is open to him before he resigns, if the States from which he comes is controlled by a political party other than his own, to make arrangements and to get an undertaking that he will be replaced by someone of his own party. If his resignation is for a proper purpose- to take up an appointment for which he is fitted- I think that undertaking would be given in advance. That is the proper way to go about it. It is not by chance, I think, that in all previous voluntary resignations with the one exception of Senator Gair’s resignationI do not think supporters of the Government would want to go into that one too muchthe resigning senator came from a State which was controlled by a party of the same colour politically as his own.
I wonder why in this case the resignation of Mr Murphy was so hurried. Why was it done in this particular way without any consultation? There must have been some very good reason for that resignation being conducted in that hurried way. Perhaps it was because it was felt that Mr
Murphy would not have been acceptable as a High Court justice. That may be; I do not know. But I think that the reason why this was done in a hole-in-the-corner manner without Mr Murphy going to the Government of New South Wales and saying: ‘If I resign will you appoint a Labor successor?’ was for a different reason altogether. I think that Mr Murphy resigned in order to beat the rap. I believe that he resigned because he hopes to have in the High Court a refuge from investigation into his prior misdeeds.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Honourable member is definitely flouting the Standing Orders. He knows that by this time tomorrow Mr Murphy will, I understand, be a justice of the High Court. He is taking advantage of the fact that Mr Murphy has been appointed to a position but is not yet sworn into that position to ridicule him and accuse him quite maliciously.
-There is some evidence in my possession -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! On the point of order, whilst technically the Honourable Lionel Murphy is not yet a High Court justice, I think the proprieties which are normally observed in this House should be followed in this case.
-The proprieties that are observed in this House are that misdoings in a public place and in a public office should be exposed. Those are the proprieties observed in this House. I have evidence in my possession- it is not conclusive evidence but it is evidence which requires further investigation- that there has been grave misdoing in the use of Commonwealth officers or the misuse of Commonwealth officers in the concealment of files which exist in the Post Office, in Qantas and in the Department of Overseas Trade. I believe that Mr Murphy would be very reluctant to have some of those files exposed. I believe that the abruptness of his departure to the High Court is, as I have said, party in order to beat the rap. He is going to the High Court very quickly- surreptitiously almost- - because he does not want certain things to be exposed and brought to the light of day. I move, as an amendment, that the following words be added to the motion that grievances be noted: and in particular the House notes with distaste the evasive and contemptuous attitude of the Prime Minister within it and his custom of making deliberately misleading statements with the objective of deceiving both it and the electorate.’
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
-We have just heard from a member of the Opposition a speech which is quite typical of the speeches coming from the Opposition. It would appear that the Opposition believes that what the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) said in this House at the close of the last session is what Parliament is all about. The honourable member for Boothby said on that occasion, when challenged by an honourable member from this side of the House, that it was true that he wished to smear under privilege. That is what we have just listened to. I think it is about time that someone exposed the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in this House. Some time ago as a Minister he came to my electorate to open an institution. While there he made a statement which was totally and utterly untrue and ruthlessly exploited people who needed help. I thought at the time that the honourable member, who was then a Minister, would give help. As a last minute parting gesture the Minister off the top of his head made a statement that space had been allocated for a rehabilitation centre in Geelong on the 3rd floor of a new Commonwealth building which was being constructed. That statement was denied by the Minister then responsible for Commonwealth buildings in answer to a question asked in the Senate some weeks later. The honourable member made a misleading statement which misled people needing rehabilitation services in the area.
It is unfortunate that this Parliament is denigrated by statements such as we have just heard. The history of courts in Australia, especially the major courts, has been one of appointment of men with political experience. The history of courts in Australia is one of men acting in those courts in a responsible manner and integrity irrespective of the political background from which they have come. I believe that an attempt to denigrate a judge in advance by using what is a technicality in the Standing Orders of this House is a denial of the traditions of Parliament. There are 2 sets of rules in Australia in relation to the appointment of men with political experience to judicial office. It is good, holy and wholesome for members of the conservative parties to be appointed to high judicial office. The list of members of Parliament who have been so appointed is long and stands examination. I do not think that there is a great deal of question about the performance of those men when they have left die Parliament. But I think it is fair to say that the performances of some of those men in Parliament would not have been such as would have led to trust in their performances by the Opposition parties.
I mentioned 2 members of Parliament who went to the industrial court, one of whom was a consistent attacker of the trade unions in this Parliament and almost the equal in his hatred for them of the honourable member for Mackellar. But there is no question now about his performance as a judge; I only question his performance as a politician. No one would say that the late Dr Evatt was not a controversial politician. He was possibly one of the most effervescent politicians in the history of this country. But as a judge his judicial record was beyond question. Mr Justice McTiernan, who was a member of Parliament, was appointed to the High Court under what must be considered to be controversial conditions. He was a politician when he was appointed exactly the same as was Senator Murphy- nothing more.
– An eminent jurist.
-An eminent jurist? One cannot be a jurist, Sir, unless one is a judge. He was a politician who was appointed under the most- I would say- sensational circumstances. But no one has challenged his judicial record thereafter. Whilst a tradition exists of appointment of men to courts from political office the political opinions of those men must be the subject of controversy. But let us get away from this situation where it is said to be good for conservative politicians to go on to courts but bad for nonconservative politicians to go on to courts. The courts are not an arm of the political arena. They are an area in which the judgments of men based on their legal training prevail. If we are to suggest that only conservative politicians have good judgment we are saying that the nation is not entitled to democratic government at all, in or outside of the courts.
-Talk about the ASIO raid.
-That was a political act, not a judicial act. That act was no different from some of the acts which the previous Government took against trade union members. It is good and holy to attack trade unionists- that is all right. It is only when one attacks the traditions of the conservative parties that one is wrong in this country. The honourable member for Mackellar is attacking the basis of Parliament when he says that a representative from a State in which the Government party has a minority representation in this Parliament is not entitled to be considered as a representative.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! It is now 12.45 p.m., and in accordance with standing order 106 the debate is interrupted. The original question was that grievances be noted. To this the honourable member for Mackellar has moved an amendment to add certain words. The question is: “That the word proposed to be added be so added’. All those of that opinion say ‘aye’, of the contrary ‘no’. I think the ‘noes ‘ have it. Is a division required?
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! We have not yet dealt with the matter before the Chair. Is a division required?
-A division is not required. I will put the original motion.
– Why is no division required if the honourable member called for one? I want to expose the honourable member. I want to show that he does not have the support of all of his -
-A division has not been called for.
– A division was called for by the honourable member for Mackellar. It is surely time to expose the honourable member for Mackellar for being a no-hoper and not even having the support of his colleagues.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. A division cannot be conducted unless at least 2 members request it. Is a division required?
Opposition members- Yes.
– Ring the bells.
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Wentworths amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
-Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes. Last night the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) claimed that I had misrepresented him when he said that I had claimed that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro had cast a reflection on the church. What I actually said, speaking about the honourable member for EdenMonaro, was that he had implied that the church was outmoded, that it was not needed and that nowadays there was no real thought about the principles and standards of the Christian church. I have read this morning the speech of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. I believe that that inference is still possible but I will accept from him the comment that he made last night that that was not what he intended. Whilst I still believe that there was some justification for my comment, I am prepared to accept what the honourable member said last night.
-The honourable member for Boothby claims to have been misrepresented and wishes to make a personal explanation.
-Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), speaking in the debate that concluded a few moments ago. I heard only pan of what he said but I believe I do not do him an injustice when I say that he accused me of smearing him in the adjournment debate on the last day of sitting.
– I did not say that.
– Perhaps the honourable member will tell us what he did say, but that is what it sounded like to me. He said that last night during a division. In fact he was not sitting at his seat. I object to what he said, because it is not true.
– Are you quoting from Hansard?
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I said ‘on the last night of last year’s sittings ‘, not ‘ last night ‘.
-That is exactly what I think I said too- ‘on the last night of the last sittings’. I have the Hansard in front of me and page 4722 is the relevant page. Honourable members may remember that I was in fact sat down by the Leader of the House. I rose at 10.5 1 p.m. and I must have spoken for about half a minute when we were gagged. Nowhere on page 4722 will the honourable member for Corio find his name mentioned, nor will anybody else find his name mentioned. I think it is very improper for someone who is a Deputy Speaker in this place to be making this sort of accusation. I could almost accuse the honourable member of smearing me.
-I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes. I did not say that the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) had smeared me. I said that the honourable member for Boothby had indicated in this House that he wished to smear under privilege. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Garrick) asked a straight question of the honourable member when he was sitting at the table. It was during a division and therefore it would not be recorded, but every member of this House heard it. The honourable member for Batman asked him if he wished to smear under privilege and the honourable member for Boothby said: ‘Yes, that is what I want to do.’ It was during a division, Mr Speaker, and every member of the House heard it.
– I should like to follow on by making this point, Mr Speaker. That is a very unfair and evil way of putting on the record something which is not on the record and which in fact was not said.
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the presentation and consideration of an Australian Film Commission Bill 1975 and a Public Service Acts Amendment Bill 1975.
Briefly, Mr Speaker, this is a procedural arrangement because the legislation has been before the House previously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Lionel Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
By way of background to this Bill, I will briefly recapitulate on developments which took place last year in relation to the Public Service Acts Amendment Bill 1974. That Bill was introduced in the Senate and during the Committee stage amendments were carried, on Opposition initiative, which would have had the effect of inserting certain provisions relating to oaths and affirmations in the Public Service Act. The amendments were not acceptable to the Government, and further amendment omitting them from the Bill was carried when the Bill came before this House. The Bill was then returned to the Senate, where that chamber failed to agree to the amendments made by this House.
With one exception the present Bill is, apart from formal changes, identical with the Public Service Acts Amendment Bill 1974, as that Bill was previously agreed to by this House. That exception concerns certain minor amendments to clause 12 which, as originally drafted in the 1 974 Bill, provided generally for the transfer of staff to Public Service Act employment with a department or with an Australian authority whose staff were employed under that Act. Proposed section 81ZN in clause 12 has been redrafted so as to ensure that the Division can be utilised to transfer staff to Public Service Act employment with an Australian authority which already has some staff employed under the Public Service Act and others who are not so employed. It will also be possible, under this redrafted clause, for the nonPublic Service Act staff of such an authority to be transferred to Public Service Act employment with the same authority. Both of these situations are likely to be relevant to the proposed Capital Territory health commission.
I think honourable members should be made aware of difficulties which will arise if this Bill is not passed in the near future. Several clauses are, for example, relevant to the proposed Capital Territory health commission, which is expected to be established by ordinance and whose staff will include personnel presently employed under the Public Service Act with the Health Services Division of the Department of Health. I have already mentioned clause 12 in this regard, which will probably be needed at the time of, or shortly after, the establishment of the commission. Additionally, clause 6 will enable the holder of an office established by ordinance to be vested with Permanent Head powers under the Public Service Act, whilst clauses 15 to 20 will extend the protections afforded by the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act to officers employed under the Public Service Act who become employees of an authority established by ordinance. These provisions are needed to ensure the effective establishment of the commission without significant disadvantages to the staff concerned.
Clause 12 is also needed to ensure the effective transfer to Public Service Act employment, as part of the defence re-organisation, of staff presently employed under the Supply and Development Act and the Naval Defence Act. The oaths and affirmations issue was fully aired when the 1974 Bill was before Parliament and I reiterate the Government’s opposition to any change. The substance of this Bill already has the Opposition’s support, and I trust that the present BUI can be passed through Parliament without delay. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Killen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Morrison, and read a first time.
– I move:
The form of the Bill before the House Will be familiar to honourable members. Its purpose is the same as the purpose of a Bill introduced in the Senate last year. It is brought forward by the Government early in the parliamentary session in an attempt to deal with major problems developing in the Australian film and television industries. Honourable members will know of the significant boost the Australian film industry has experienced in the last 2 years, with the emergence of a level of feature film production that has not been seen in this country since the heyday of the industry more than 40 years ago. They will also know that this level of activity cannot be maintained without a continuous flow of support from Government sources- at least until such time as the industry can generate its own adequate sources of investment and marketing expertise.
The previous Government made it plain, when it established the Australian Film Development Corporation, that the powers and functions of that body would be limited almost entirely to financial support, and that that support would itself be limited. That view has since been examined by the Tariff Board, and found wanting. The Board recommended in its report on the motion picture and television industries that Government support should not be limited to financial support, but that it should extend to a whole range of forms of assistance. It also recommended what was, in effect, a 100 per cent increase in the level of financial support available. That level of support, and those new forms of support, were both urgently needed late last year when the Government introduced the legislation for the Australian Film Commission. They are even more urgently needed today to maintain and increase production levels, and to provide and ensure employment opportunities. Without some form of urgent assistance, there is a grave risk that not only will the industry become static but that it will even begin to flag.
This Bill provides what is, in the Government’s view, the only sensible approach to this problem. It has been brought forward early in this session to allow for the earliest possible application of the support the film and television industries so desperately require. Its main differences from the Bill previously introduced in the Senate last year are ones which stem from Opposition criticism of that previous Bill. It contains provisions which are directly in line with amendments that were moved by the Opposition in the Senate or which indicate the Government’s intention to accommodate some Opposition and industry suggestions. It cannot be stressed too strongly that in economically difficult times the viable future of the film production industry in Australia to a large degree is dependent upon this Bill. I commend it to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Les Johnson, and read a first time.
– I move:
It is my privilege to introduce an entirely new element into Australian housing practice. This is a BUI that Will prove to be a most significant development in the history of Australian housing. The Australian Housing Corporation proposed in this BUI permits us to explore a fresh field of endeavour, that of direct relations between government and private enterprise, and between government and non-profit organisations, in the housing of the large number of ordinary Australian families. It is an anomaly of POliCY in this country that although the Australian Government possesses a substantial reserve of power in the housing field, that power has never been fully gathered together, concentrated and mobilised for the benefit of the people. But that is exactly what is done in the BUI I now present to the House.
The Chifley Government’s negotiation of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement of 1945 is almost certainly the outstanding event in our governmental housing history, enabling as it did the beginning of the great State housing authority movement which has resulted in the building of 280 000 houses. That scheme, effective as it has proved, concentrated on one area of action- State enterprise in the housing of the poorer families in our Australian population. Despite the growth of financial institutions catering largely for the middle income earners, there has never been a Government policy directed at the housing needs of that energetic and deserving section of the Australian people- those above the level of direct need, but who yet require a marshalling of the resources of the community if they are to attain the high quality home which should be the heritage of every family.
The Australian Government does not have complete constitutional power to perform all housing functions, but it does have substantial powers. Those powers have been used in this Bill to create machinery which will give this Government and its successors a powerful new vehicle, capable if properly directed of fulfilling our national housing aspirations. Honourable members will find in this Bill a general vehicle which can be used in many directions to create housing policy for emerging needs. We shall have a range of options. Some of those that come to my mind are second mortgage loans to cover the deposit gap for young couples; direct loans to special hardship cases; loans for private enterprise building to assist in limiting rentals and loans to co-operative societies providing middle-income housing.
Elsewhere I have said that the new Corporation is intended not to duplicate or supplant, but to complement State housing authorities. Our Government sees the work of those authorities as of cardinal importance in the creation of good living conditions for the lowest income strata of the population.
We have but one major criticism of State housing: It is our view that it has tended to perpetuate a culture of the poor by concentrating too many people of low income together, in circumstances of inadequate social provision. We want to diversify the social structure of housing estates by mixing in people of varying incomes and background. But I pledge the Australian Government to continue to support to the limit of our capacity State efforts to build for welfare housing. We have already lifted expenditure on State housing from $ 169m in 1972-1973, the year the LiberalCountry Party Government fell, to $345m this year, and we are currently considering still further increases.
Our main efforts, however, will go to a new area altogether. We want to do three things: We want to co-operate with private enterprise, directly and openly without inhibition, in the creation of good housing conditions for moderate income people; we want to fill in the economic gaps in our still faulty machinery for the housing of the people; and we want to create a mechanism for the relief of hardship created by the gaps and faults in our financial system.
Governments in the past have proclaimed their faith in home ownership, although towards the end of the Government we replaced in 1972 the proportion of home ownership actually fell. I want to reiterate that we too believe very strongly in home ownership. But if one looks at past policy one will see a curious policy lack; because our predecessors praised home ownership, they entirely neglected any positive rental policy in the non-welfare area, leaving private enterprise to struggle on as best it can in the provision of rental dwellings as a despised second best. But Australians need good quality rental accommodation, if only because much of the population requires to be mobile and move from job to job, and because many people are saving for a home. Why should the home renter be neglected? Families renting are often both poor and unprotected. The Australian Housing Corporation will be equipped to repair that neglect. Rental housing of good quality for families will be encouraged by direct partnership with private enterprise. We have some idea how to do this, but I also make an appeal to private enterprise to come forward with plans in this field which can be the subject of joint enterprise, where government money is allied with moderate profitseeking in the provision of high quality family homes.
This is only one of the ways in which we see the new Corporation working. Honourable members will not find in the Bill a great amount of detail. The functions to be performed by the Corporation will be effected by regulations embodying new schemes as and when they are required. Perhaps the majority of these schemes will be about home ownership, because close to seven-tenths of our people now own or are purchasing their homes. But the Corporation is not going to do the same work as a bank. We already have the Commonwealth family of banks, of whose work in housing we are justifiably proud. The Corporation will be primarily a lending institution, but of a different kind. It will not be designed to lend as a competitor with the banks and the building societies. Rather it will complement their efforts. I shall give, as an illustration only, one of the possibilities we have in mind.
This scheme would provide a means of overcoming the deposit gap. One in five of Australian famines purchasing their homes finds it necessary to take out a second mortgage. This is often done at high cost, employing, for example, the mechanism of the finance companies, which, in my view, would be better to concentrate on consumer goods and automobiles than on long-term durables such as housing. A scheme like this could largely abolish the deposit gap for those income groups who can take advantage of it. For example, we could provide second mortgages up to say $5000 to first time home buyers unable to bridge the deposit gap, to help cover the cost of their land. Naturally. such schemes will always be restricted to persons of moderate income and for houses of moderate cost, but I think honourable members will see that for a great number of young couples, a scheme like that could abolish the waiting time for saving for a house. I have in mind a repayment holiday of perhaps three or five years on this second mortgage. So it would incorporate some of the advantages of the so called deferred payment mortgage schemes.
Let me take another example. The present economic climate is hurting many people who took on substantial housing repayment obligations in good times when their prospects were excellent. These people may be temporarily out of work or they may, while still in work, be finding the current high interest rates an intolerable burden. I am sure everybody will realise the limits of action in such cases, since funds are not unlimited, but in selected instances the Corporation could move to give them easier financial conditions until their circumstances have improved. I want to open the way for the resources and initiatives of private enterprise to enter a productive partnership with Government. When I say that, I have in mind many overseas examples, some of which I have seen myself.
In Canada and the United States of America, for example, schemes such as I have outlined are already in force. Canadian governments, at both federal and provincial level, have shown great imagination in encouraging private enterprise.
The Ontario Housing Corporation, for example, acquires land, develops it and leases it at a ground rent which amortises developed cost of the land over 50 years. But it does not attempt to create housing estates itself; it works in close collaboration with builders. The land can only be obtained through builders selected by that Corporation. Houses are built by private enterprise on Housing Corporation land to a cost limit depending on the size of the home. A would-be home-owner can purchase a house from the builder on 5 per cent deposit of the house cost. After five years’ occupancy there is option to purchase the land by the home-owner at original market value. This scheme prevents speculation in land and assists home ownership in controlled estate developments. Concessional interest rates are offered to first home-owners.
Let me take an example from New York State, which has 2 organisations engaged in financing rental housing: the Urban Development Corporation and the New York State Housing Finance Agency. Both concentrate on rental activities. The Urban Development Corporation finances low income rental projects. The Housing Finance Agency lends up to 95 per cent of the mortgage value of the development scheme to private developers. These developers cater for occupants who can pay the rents necessary to liquidate all taxes, operating and debt service costs. They receive the loans on the condition that the rents they charge are well below market level. Thus entrepreneurs gain the advantage of public financing, keeping their rents down to agreed levels. The Housing Finance Agency has functioned without a single default among the 107 commercial housing developments which it has financed since 1960.
I want honourable members and the Aus.tralian public to see that we are breaking out of the cold ring of officialdom in housing. We are going to harness the financial resources of the public sector to encourage the creation by private enterprise of high-quality estates. Through their activity and imagination entrepreneurs will earn just, but moderate, profits. We do not have a monopoly of ideas, and I appeal to the builders and developers of Australia, as well at to the Opposition, to come to us with their proposals over a wide area. In some cases, for example, we may provide the land, in others entrepreneurs may develop their land to our standards. I promise one thing: We will avoid excessive control and bureaucracy.
To come to the detailed provisions of the Bill: The Corporation, as I have said, will be primarily a lending institution. It takes over the responsibilities of the Director of Defence Service Homes, which will be continued without diminution. In addition, so far as it can within its resources, the Corporation will make housing loans available to families, using the family allowance provisions in the Austraiian Constitution, and it will also make loans to those other specific categories of home-seekers for whom the Australian Government has a constitutional responsibility. These may include, if the Government so decides- any future government- persons living in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, migrants, students, Aborigines and persons engaged in work for the Australian Government. It is not a comprehensive list, but it will enable us to do a great deal of work in supplementing the activities of other lending authorities.
The Corporation will have powers similar to those at present contained in the Defence Service Homes Act, including the powers of construction. But at present we do not see it as a major constructor. It will be able to provide housing assistance to persons other than eligible exservicemen, much in the same way as homes are provided to ex-servicemen under the defence service homes scheme. In those cases where construction resources are required to give effect to new housing initiatives by the Government, as may happen at times in the future with housing for serving members of the forces, the Corporation would utilise the existing resources of the Department of Housing and Construction, or by arrangement those of State Government authorities and the private sector.
The Corporation will be granted a large measure of financial autonomy. The Bill provides for the corporation to operate the defence service homes scheme from the date the Act comes into operation, so that it will have a large revolving fund. The Bill requires that all other forms of housing assistance to be provided by the Housing Corporation shall be in accordance with regulations to be made under the authority of this legislation. The Parliament will have full control of each extension of its activities. For example, the Corporation will have a power to acquire land, but any proposals to acquire land for a specific development purpose would need to be in accordance with regulations made for that purpose. As a matter of general policy the Corporation would not seek to compete with government or private enterprise in land purchase and in all its actions will be concerned to keep land prices to a minimum.
I propose to work in closely with my colleagues the Ministers for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and Services and Property (Mr Daly) on these questions. The Corporation would purchase land on its own account only to the extent that land required for its programs was not available from land commissions or their equivalents in the States. The capital of the Corporation will consist of assets taken over from the Director of Defence Service Homes, together with any amounts paid to it by the Treasurer out of moneys appropriated by Parliament for its purposes. The first payment will be the amount of $25m which has been specifically included in the Budget for the purposes of the Corporation.
I hope that speedy passage of the Bill will ensure that we spend the 1974-75 budgetary allocation before 30 June. So as to provide a further stimulus to the building industry my own preference would be to begin first on a second mortgage scheme designed to cover the major cost of land for selected young newly married couples.
Let me say a word about staff. To ensure a business approach we are setting up the new body as a statutory corporation, which means moving people from the Public Service to a new independent employer. The rights of officers to be transferred to the statutory corporation are covered by the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act, and although this Act does not as it stands fully protect the rights of officers in this situation, the Government plans very soon to amend the Act. So we do not intend to absorb the abovementioned staff into the Corporation until such time as the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act has been amended to deal with such a situation in a better way. There is no intention of transferring technical staff in any significant number to the Corporation, though, in due course, it will obtain from whatever source it can a nucleus of highly competent technical staff who can give a sound lead in housing practice.
This Housing Corporation is the first fruit of a great process of rethinking about housing and related matters which is now under way, the first since the Curtin Government’s 1943 Commonwealth Housing Commission. The Prime Minister has initiated a far-ranging review of national housing policy by the Priorities Review Staff, in which we as a department and other departments are collaborating. I myself am engaged in the preparation of a green paper on all aspects of housing policy, which I hope to present to the House before the end of the present sittings. The Government has assisted the Australian Council of Social Service and its daughter organisation Shelter’ with a grant of $50,000 to undertake a grass-roots examination of housing policy as it affects the people at large. This process of examination is to go on throughout the first two-thirds of this year, and will culminate in the ‘Shelter’ groups and ACOSS joining in a plenary housing conference. That conference will be organised jointly by the Australian Institute of Urban Studies and my Department. The AIUS will appoint a task force to review the results of the grass-roots discussions, and hopefully to present to the public and the Government recommendations distilled from those discussions. This way we will get an amalgam of what I might call the gut-feelings of the people and the views of the experts.
I believe we are well on the way to correcting the recent low level of activity in the building industry both by releasing more money for lending and by giving unprecedented amounts for State housing authorities. As honourable members know, we have initiated a massive inflow of capital into the housing industry. Next week I am presiding over the first meeting of the Housing Indicative Planning Council, which we hope will enable government and industry to undertake successful joint forward-planning.
Australia’s Federal Government has always lacked its own general vehicle for housing policy, which could step in when all else fails. I know that a perfect vehicle cannot be fashioned while Federal powers in this field remain fragmentary. But I am confident that the vision and hope which have gone into the creation of this Aus.tralian Housing Corporation will result in a much more constructive approach to housing in Australia for the benefit of the Australian people. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Killen) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Enderby, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to make racial discrimination unlawful in Australia and to provide an effective means of combating racial prejudice in our country. My predecessor, Senator Murphy as he then was, introduced a Racial Discrimination Bill into the Senate for the first time on 2 1 November 1973. The Bill was introduced again on 4 April 1974 and again on 31 October 1974. These Bills were similar to the original Bill and included some improvements. The present Bill is identical with the Bill introduced on 3 1 October 1974 and which has now been withdrawn.
The Bill introduces into Australian law for the first time the obligations contained in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It is asserted in this Convention that aU human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and without any justification. I need hardly say that I am sure all honourable members would agree with these sentiments. Eighty-one countries have already ratified or acceded to the Convention. The Convention was signed on behalf of Australia on 1 3 October 1966 and the ratification of the Convention by Australia is, I believe. urgent and overdue.
Legislation has a vital role to play in the elimination of racial discrimination and the enactment of this Bill is a fundamental step, a condition precedent, it could be said, that must be taken if Australia is to ratify the Convention. The common law provides few effective remedies against discrimination in the exercise of human rights, whether it is based on race or colour or on any other grounds. The proscribing of racial discrimination in legislative form will require legal sanctions. These will also make people more aware of the evils, the undesirable and unsociable consequences of discrimination- the hurtful consequences of discrimination- and make them more obvious and conspicuous. In this regard the Bill will perform an important educative role. In addition, the introduction of legislation will furnish legal background on which to rest changes reflecting basic community attitudes. The fact that racial discrimination is unlawful will make it easier for people to resist social pressures that result in discrimination.
In making racial discrimination unlawful, the Bm follows the definition used in the Convention. The BUI Will thus make it unlawful for a person to do an act involving discrimination based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which impairs the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. The Bill will guarantee equality before the law without distinction as to race. It also deals in detail with racial discrimination so far as it concerns access to places and facilities. the provision of land, housing and other accommodation, the provision of goods and services and the right to join trade unions and employment
The creation of practical and effective legal remedies against discrimination is an important objective of the Bill. Legislative declarations of principle are of little value unless they can be given practical expression. The remedies provided by the Bill will include those of an injunction restraining the doing of discriminatory acts, an order requiring acts of a remedial nature to be done, an order cancelling a contract and damages in respect of the loss suffered by an aggrieved person and the loss of dignity, and the occurrence of humiliation and injury to the feelings of an aggrieved person.
In addition, the Bill establishes formal administrative machinery for the examination of complaints of racial discrimination on a systematic basis and for the settlement of complaints by conciliation. The Bill recognises that reliance on the spasmodic operation of judicial action or review for the enforcement of the legislation would be unsatisfactory. The Bill also for this reason recognises that an emphasis on mediation and conciliation is a more satisfactory way of tackling individual instances of racial discrimination and the tensions that are associated with individual disputes A Commissioner for Community Relations will be established as an independent statutory authority to undertake these tasks. Where settlement cannot be achieved, the Commissioner will have power to commence legal proceedings before a court to have the legal issues between the parties determined.
To ensure that the operation of the Act is not frustrated by a lack of co-operation on the part of a respondent, the Bill gives the Commissioner the power to call a compulsory conference for the purpose of inquiring into a complaint and endeavouring to effect a settlement. The Bill will also authorise a judge to require a person to give evidence in relation to a matter that is the subject of an inquiry under the Act. Evidence so obtained will not be admissable in other proceedings except proceedings for giving false evidence. In Canada, compulsory evidence gathering powers are given to the human rights commissions and similar powers are vested in the conciliator established by New Zealand legislation. The absence of evidence-gathering powers in the United Kingdom legislation has been said to impede seriously the effectiveness of that legislation.
The Bill recognises the importance of developing programs of education and research and other programs to combat racial discrimination and to promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among racial and ethnic groups. Overseas experience has shown that the success of legislation dealing with racial discrimination depends very much on the effectiveness of programs of this kind. The changing of community attitudes is a matter of vital significance in the field of race relations. Both governmental and community-based programs to combat racial discrimination are necessary. Under the Bill, the Commissioner will have the function of conducting and fostering programs of education and research to combat racial discrimination, and a Community Relations Council will be established with an advisory role. Australia will be required by Article 7 of the Convention to conduct programs of this kind to combat racial discrimination.
The Bill represents an important step in the Government’s program with respect to human rights. It will provide the basis upon which Australia can comply with the obligations imposed by the Convention on Racial Discrimination. The Bill is based on the view that laws proscribing discrimination are vital, but not in themselves alone can they be sufficient. The educative role is at least as significant and the Bill recognises that there must also be effective and systematic enforcement of rights and the promotion of education and research, if the elimination of racial discrimination in this country is to be achieved in fact as well as in theory. The Government commends the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Killen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 12 February on motion by Mr Daly:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Electoral Bill 1974 has been described by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), who is in charge of it, as a Bill which relates to electoral reform. The Minister has a remarkable command of euphemism but he reached dizzy heights when he described this Bill as a Bill relating to electoral reform. The honourable gentleman has reached a new zone of accomplishment. At least I suppose one could and should congratulate him on that achievement, and I do so. It is a most extraordinary Bill and it is introduced at a most extraordinary time. The Australian economy is lurching towards disaster and more than 300 000 people are out of work. But what is the Government’s response? It introduces a Bill relating to electoral reform. In point of fact this
Bill represents one of the most significant attacks ever made upon the rights and liberties of individuals, parties and bodies. Honourable members should not be taken in by the smiling, cheerful, cavalier countenance of the Minister for Services and Property because behind that countenance there lurks the spirit of Tammany Hall. A close examination of the Bill will confirm in each and every particular the assertion I make of it. The Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) has just delivered a second reading speech relating to racial discrimination. This Electoral Bill is a violent expression of discrimination. The Australian Labor Party is fond of prattling about rights guided steadily, it states, by the stern philosophy that there should be a minimum invasion of privacy, yet embodied in this Bill, which seeks to amend the Electoral Act, is a savage, singular and sweeping invasion of privacy. Of course the philosophy of the Party to which the Minister for Services and Property belongs is to achieve complete control. When he displays that insouciance of manner what, in effect, that really is is a resolution to do everything possible to confirm the Labor Party in power. That is the objective to which his every endeavour is directed.
I would find it difficult to describe appropriately and in proper and fitting language what the Bill would achieve if it were implemented. However I propose to look at some of the provisions in the hope of encouraging some Government supporters opposite to abandon the Bill because I am sure that when they realise precisely what is in it many of them may be persuaded to have second thoughts, although, speaking for myself, I feel that for some honourable members opposite to have primary thoughts is a rather elaborate process and for them to have second thoughts almost an impossibility. In summary, what does this Bill seek to do? It seeks to require all candidates for Parliament to disclose from what sources they receive financial support. It also requires all political parties to disclose from what sources they receive support. At first blush this may seem to be a quite unexceptional provision and objective but the way the Minister and the Government seek to go about this can be described only as unbelievable. The Minister in his second reading speech said, in effect: ‘We believe that all people should be equal in the matter of election contest’. As he said it, that is a quite unexceptional sentiment but in point of fact what he is saying is: ‘Oh, yes, we are all for equality provided that we remain in front’. I have never seen, and I doubt very much if the Australian nation has ever seen, such an incredible Niagara of expenditure by any government on public relations- the glossy paper, the celluloid and cartloads of literature week after week are deluging the tables of members and the Press Gallery. The Government now seeks not merely to confirm that, but to entrench it.
Let me turn to some of the more extraordinary provisions of the Bill. Electoral expenditure is defined in the definition provision- I hope honourable gentlemen will listen to this- as meaning:
Expenditure for or in connection with promoting or opposing, directly or indirectly, a party or the election of a candidate or candidates or of influencing, directly or indirectly, the voting at an election.
The clause goes on to give a couple of exceptions. Electoral expenditure ‘ does not include:
Expenditure for the purchase of electoral rolls;
That is just persiflage. It does not include:
Reasonable personal living and travelling expenses of a candidate;
Is the Minister serious about this? Who determines what are reasonable living expenses? Will the Minister determine it? Am I to be awakened at 2 a.m. by a knock at the door and go out to see the smiling, insinuating face of the Minister? I could ask him what he was about and he could say: ‘Good morning, I have come to see the style in which you are living because I believe you are living in an unreasonable fashion.’ Then the Minister could say: ‘Here is my warrant, this is my authority’. He could point to section 145 of the Electoral Act and say: ‘There it is; you know I can come in. ‘ So he could come inside and say: Where is the refrigerator?’ I might say to him: What do you want to do there?’ He could go to the refrigerator and say: ‘What is all this meat doing here?’ I could reply that the meat was not for me. He could ask: ‘Who is the meat for?’ I might answer: ‘The meat happens to be for the Great Dane dog’. Under this Bill, the onus of proof would be on the Great Dane dog and not upon me. The honourable gentleman could say: Where is your laundry account?’ I would say: Really and truly I only have my suits pressed every other week and I do not resort to dry cleaning very much’. The Minister could say: ‘You can have them pressed only once a week or once every 10 days’. Really and truly, what does the Minister think he is about by putting in such an inane, stupid, needless, irritating provision in the Electoral Act? Then he could say: ‘Where is the grocer’s account?’ I suppose I would have to find the grocer’s account and show it to him. He might say that I was indulging myself too much in the matter of living because there was too much tinned fruit on the grocery account. ‘Eat more camp pie’ the Minister might say, ‘so that we can help the Country Party’, his solicitude for the Country Party and the beef industry being so well known to us all.
Who is to determine this? Is the Minister going to determine it? I suppose the Minister would be pursuing a more profitable occupation if he were to engage in that sort of activity than he does when he engages in this sort of activity. Is the Chief Electoral Officer to do it? Am I to stand in contemplation of Mr Frank Ley- he would always be welcome- coming into my home? He would not come at such an outrageous hour in the morning, because he would have a finer instinct for the proprieties of life. But I am a little doubtful about the Minister. Or would it be the Chief Electoral Officer for Queensland or one of the agents. What the Minister would have to do in order to police this, would be to set up an entirely new government department.
– It might be a judge of the High Court.
-Without doubt we would get a fragrance of conversation if that happened. The Minister gives no explanation for this provision but, beyond that, it does not apply merely to members of Parliament, it applies to any candidate. What of the position of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at election time? He is a candidate within the meaning of this Bill. Would the Minister seriously assert that it would constitute reasonable travelling expenses’ for the Prime Minister to go around the country in a Mystere aircraft or in a BACIII? Is that reasonable? Again, who determines it and by what process is it determined? It is idiocy and it is a pretty fair indication of the palseyed hand of socialism. That is the idiocy of the Bill. Another provision in the Bill states:
A person (other than a registered party agent or an official agent) who incurs any electoral expenditure without the prior written authority of a registered party agent or of an official agent, is guilty of an offence punishable on conviction
In the case of a person being a party or a body corporateby a fine not exceeding $20,000; or
In any other case- by a fine not exceeding $10,000.
May I briefly explain the way this scheme works? Every candidate for Parliament is to have an agent. The agent has to be registered and his name appear on a register. This is a splendid opportunity for Parkinson’s law yet to vindicate itself once more. The register would be drawn up and no doubt the agents would have their identity cards and everything would be available. If a person wishes to give money to a candidate- I will deal with the candidate first- he must first of all get the written approval of the agent. A person cannot out of any sense of spontaneity or of political allegiance say: ‘Well, I donate X dollars towards the campaign’. He must get written approval. Privacy and liberty of the individual! Tut, tut; what humbug comes from the Minister. But after having done this, if the requirement is infringed in any way the person is punishable by a fine of $10,000. But take the case of a corporation or a body that is not incorporated, for example, a trade union movement, or, if honourable members like, the Australian Teachers Federation. If it wishes to place an advertisement in a newspaper arguing one way or another in support of a particular candidate or in support of a particular party or concerning the outcome of a referendum it cannot do it. Just think, Mr Minister, the bodies that come under the umbrella of that provision. Not one trade union would be at liberty to support the Australian Labor Party. Not one trade union would be at liberty to wage any point of view on the outcome of an election or of a referendum. Has the Minister thought his way through that? Take the case, and I do not argue the merits of it, of the last referendum campaign which dealt with prices and incomes. A very old and one of the finest industrial organisations in this country, the Toowoomba Foundry, which has employed generations of people, father and son, took a specific attitude towards the referendum question. Surely it is its right in a democratic society so to do. It placed its advertisements in newspapers throughout Australia. Under this proposed law, it would not be at liberty to do so and could be punished by a fine of $20,000. Does the Minister persist in seeking to put this sort of provision upon the statute book?
Let me take as a further example another organisation, the Institute of Public Affairs in Victoria. Honourable members may agree or disagree with the sentiments that that most erstwhile organisation expresses in its various journals. If that organisation places an advertisement in a newspaper which may either directly or indirectly affect the outcome of the election, too bad; a fine is imposed. The Minister has chosen these words ‘either directly and indirectly’ as a matter of conscious intent. This is the language chosen by him. He has not stumbled upon it. One wonders indeed why any government would have such a fierce insistence to invade the fabric of our society in this fashion.
Let me move on to give some further illustrations of what I would describe as the clear erraticism in the Bill. There are various categories of electoral expenditure, I remind the House; indeed, there are 5 categories of electoral expenditure. If a Senate election is being held, the organisation is entitled to spend only 1.5c upon each person living in the State. But if a general election for the House of Representatives is being held each candidate in a division is entitled to spend 7.5c. So far so clear. If a Senate election and a House of Representatives election are being held together, one can still spend 1.5c per person living in the State on the Senate but one can spend only 6c in respect of the House of Representatives election. As a matter of simple logic, what is the explanation for this variation? Possibly the Minister, in his familiar urbane way, will tell us when he replies. If a double dissolution is held, the rate of Senate expenditure increases to 2.5c and the amount permissible in respect of the House of Representatives rises to 7.5c. If a referendum is being held, the allowable expenditure is lc per person in each State. No explanation is given by the Minister as to why he has hit upon these provisions at all. Why 1.5c? Is that reasonable? By what yardstick is it determined? I would have expected of the Minister some explanation. We have heard from him precisely nothing on the point.
Let me give another illustration of the curiosity of the Bill. Charity is invading me a little now; I am getting frightened. I refer to proposed section 149 which provides:
A candidate, official agent or registered party agent shall not incur or authorise any electoral expenditure in relation to an election, other than expenditure Tor or in connection with -
Various provisions are set out including advertising, broadcasting and televising, publishing, stationery, committee rooms and public meeting places. It so happens that in years gone by in my electorate, I have had in support of me what is known as the Slacks Creek Bushrangers Band made up of a couple of mouth organs, a couple of piano accordions, a triangle and a few gum leaves. Under this provision if that band played for me, it could be fined $20,000 if it was incorporated, which it is not. If I in any way condoned its actions, I could be fined $10,000. The Bill simply makes no provision for something like a band.
Let me go a little further to illustrate the absurdity of this legislation. Under proposed section 152- and I am grateful that the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) is following me -
– Well, it is not hard to get in front of you.
-That may well be, but the only time when the Minister would be in front is when
I am crossing him. In proposed section 152, it is provided that gifts shall not be made by a candidate for an election to or for the benefit of any club or other association within 3 months before the day next following the day fixed for the polling for the election. Let us take the last election which was held in May 1 974. The date when that election would be held was not known. One could say with some reasonableness that we live in some measure of uncertainty today with respect to elections. Does the Minister mean to say by this provision that if I had given a ludo set to an organisation within the prescribed period, I would be fined in terms of this provision? What is the defence? It is a defence to a prosecution -
– A crook ludo set.
– Well, the honourable gentleman at least would be able to arrange the dice. Under this provision, it would be a defence to a prosecution that when I made the offer, promise or gift the date of polling had not been fixed. But look at the rigmarole that has to be gone through. There would be a prima facie case for prosecution. The prosecution would be launched. The defence would have to be made. Paper work would be required. This would be followed by an appearance at court before the magistrate. I take it that this offence is dealt with summarily. The person concerned and his legal representatives would have to go along to the court. The onus is on the individual to say: ‘Look, I just did not know. ‘ But the Minister who is in charge of electoral matters and who would have a hand in fixing the election date in such an instance may know that date. Mr Minister, it is needless to have this sort of odd provision within this Bill.
I turn next to gifts which may be made to a person. Let me say this, and I hope that I am not infringing good taste: It so happens that the mother of a person on the staff of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) sent to me from Tasmania a jar of marmalade jam. Under the terms of this Bill, I stand in prospect of conviction. This is the incredible feature about it. But this is par for the course.
– What was the jam like?
– I have not tasted the jam but the honourable member would be welcome to share it with me.
– It is not the jam; it is the sugar that you must worry about.
– The sugar industry is about the only industry that this Government has not ruined so far. It so happens that people do make donations to political parties.
-Yes, they do. I would like to tell the honourable member for Bowman something about the multinational support with which I have met. During the last federal election campaign an elderly lady- a pensioner- raffled one dozen fresh farm eggs and made $25. 1 was humble indeed when the $25 was passed over to my campaign committee. Under this Bill that little old lady would have to go along and get the written approval of my agent before she could do that.
– That is right. That is the basis upon which the Government is proceeding. It wants to control, regulate, register, direct and guide as much as it can. Let me go further. If a Party receives money from any organisation, any company or any individual away from an election it will have to pay that money into a separate account. That is completely unreal because all political parties in our society are alike in that their expenditure is a continuing process. They have running expenses. It is very rarely that a party allocates a fixed sum for a particular election campaign. Indeed, there have been so many elections in recent times that most parties, with the notable exception of the Australian Labor Party, are impoverished. The Labor Party calls upon its wealthy friends- the Marrickville Margarine group- to help it. It should not be thought by the Minister that we of the Opposition sit here not knowing the time of day. Under this provision, of course, that money must be paid into a separate account and if any of it is used for any other purpose- if it is used for an election- it will be an infringement of the legislation and the agent or person within the party who may be responsible for it could face the prospect of a fine.
Then, of course, there is the quite extraordinary provision that, with respect to the register, there must be a return of gifts authorised by the agent filed within 12 months after the day fixed for the polling. He has to authorise in advance before he can receive anything. He has to make a list of them and he has to vouch for them in a particular fashion. As the provision in the Bill provides, he will have to lodge a return in the form prescribed. Not only will he have to do that but also the accounts will have to be audited. He will have to go out to an auditor and get the certificate of that auditor. That may be all right in the case of very large political parties- the Aus.tralian Country Party, the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party. However, what would be the position of a person who feels a particular grievance on some issue at some time and who wants to run for Parliament? It is the right of any person to stand for Parliament. It is the right of any group of individuals to say: ‘We believe that there is a cause to fight and we believe that there is a cause to be argued and therefore we propose to contest the next election by putting forward candidates for either the House of Representatives or the Senate’. Such an organisation would have to go through all the rigmarole of appointing an agent before it could get into the field to authorise any donations which may be given to that body. It might become quite an ephemeral body and disappear after the election campaign. At the end of it all it would have to go and have aU of its proceedings audited.
The names and addresses of every person concerned must be shown. That is plainly in terrorem because the fact of the matter is that many people simply do not want to have their names made known. The Minister’s Party is supported by companies and individuals who, for eminently sound reasons, do not want their names to be made known. I have known of an occasion when a cheque forwarded to the Labor Party has arrived at the offices of the Liberal Party and the Labor Party has received the Liberal Party’s cheque. The difference in favour of the Labor Party was quite substantial. It rather hurt us to have to send it back. Why does the Minister resort to this extraordinary form of mechanism to regulate and to control? He set out by describing it as a Bill to reform the electoral system. I for my part conclude where I began: This Bill represents a clear, savage and emphatic blow against the whole structure of democratic society in this country. I can assure the Minister that it Will be opposed by the Opposition with all its force and in every forum.
-It is apparent that there is yet a further split, a further rift, inside the Liberal Party of Australia. One thing that has emerged clearly from the superficial, supercilious speech just made by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is that he is at great odds with his leader. On 17 October 1973, as reported on page 2238 of Hansard, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, said:
We support legislation which provides for the disclosure of political party funds.
That is what the Leader of the Opposition said. The de facto leader- one of the many candidates for leadership- has now laid down the gauntlet and said that the Opposition will oppose this measure. Another schism. I am staggered that a lawyer of such high reputation, a lawyer who has extolled his own virtues over such a long period of time, should have looked at this Bill in such a superficial manner. Firstly, he does not understand it. Secondly, I doubt whether he has read it thoroughly. Thirdly, I doubt very much whether he has read the Bill in conjunction with the current Act. The honourable member for Moreton said that the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) had reached dizzy heights of euphemism when he called this measure electoral reform. I say to him that he has reached astronomical heights in hyperbole and inaccuracy. I refer, for example, to his great play on the words ‘reasonable expenditure’. You are aware, Mr Speaker, and I take it that a lawyer of such moment as the honourable member for Moreton is aware that ‘reasonable expenditure’ has a legal interpretation and definition. Indeed, it is already in the Electoral Act in section 147 and has been there for half a century or longer. I invite the honourable member to have perhaps a cursory glance at that.
The honourable member for Moreton said that this Bill is a violent expression of discrimination. Against whom? The multi-national corporations, his rich and powerful friends? I will come to that in more detail in a moment. He said that the Bill is a savage invasion of privacy. What right has the Australian public to know from where he and his colleagues get their money! What an ourageous proposition that the Australian elector should be able to determine who pays the bill! ‘Where is the money coming from?’ used to be the Liberals’ jibe. Now we take it up and say: ‘Let us find out where the money is coming from.’ Only guilty men- those who have something to hide- will oppose this proposition. I say that it is not a savage invasion of privacy. In fact, the public has a right to know. How can it be a savage invasion of privacy, a violent expression of discrimination, when in fact it extends the right to spend money in respect of candidates from $500 to about $3,000 in the average case? So the legal entitlement to spend funds for election purposes has been increased 6 times. Despite that the honourable member for Moreton has said that that is discrimination of the worst kind.
The honourable member for Moreton then tried to draw another red herring across the trail by referring to the Institute of Public Affairs, the Teachers Federation and others not being able to spend money. I invite the honourable gentleman even at this late stage, just to look at the definition of ‘party’, ‘party’. If he looks at it he will see the organisations, with the possible exception of the bushrangers band which would be able to spend funds in accordance with this Bill. I find it not only amusing but interesting that that gentleman would have playing for nun a band called the ‘Bushrangers’ because I think it is probably singularly appropriate that he and his colleagues from the Australian Country Party would be represented in that way.
This Bill, if approved, will clear out the slush funds, and not before time. Let us let the air in to political fund raising in this country. The legislation will create far greater public confidence in government, parliament and political parties. It is one of the most important pieces of legislation to be introduced in this Parliament for more than a generation. I for one congratulate the Minister on having the courage and foresight to introduce such far-reaching legislation- legislation which will let the light in.
Naturally there will be opposition, as we see today- opposition based on inaccuracy. There will be attempts to cloud the issue. Debate obviously will proceed on everything except the relevant clauses of the Bill. Those who seek to influence national political events by the power of wealth and finance rather than by argument and logic will be forced into the open. Their agents in this place are quick to respond on their behalf in spite of the earlier assertion by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden)- the current Leader of the Opposition- that they would support it. The political ghosts will be laid to rest when this legislation is adopted by this Parliament, as I feel confident it will be. The rich and powerful corporations will have only the same power as the less affluent groups in the community to influence events. Those who seek to buy favour and privilege will be frustrated in their attempts. Those who genuinely support the policies of political parties will be able to contribute funds as much as they like, but not in secret. Everyone will know, and that is what gives the honourable member for Moreton almost epilepsy. His blood pressure rises at the thought of the secret, furtive meetings in the night- the knock at the door at 2 a.m., not by the Minister for Services and Property but by some rich and powerful friend of his from outside this Parliament; some representative perhaps of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation or United Fruit or one of the other international conspirators who will knock on his door, not to take something out of the fridge but perhaps to leave something under the bed or some other appropriate place. The electors have a right to know the source of funds used by political parties and candidates.
The Australian Constitution expressly and specifically prohibits the acceptance of fees and honoraria by members of this House or senators for actions on behalf of constituents, persons or estates. Yet, under the electoral law, in spite of that provision, we find it is possible for such persons to make a contribution to party funds or campaign funds and thereby frustrate the clear wish of the Australian Constitution. It defies credibility that such a prohibition in the Constitution could have envisaged a system where socalled campaign donations could be used to reward members for services rendered, and reward them in secrecy and stealth. Steps have already been taken in various parts of the world to protect the democratic system from serious abuse in electoral funding. Rigid and strict controls have already been introduced in Canada and the United States of America.
Scandals have rocked the democratic world in recent years. The disclosures of the Watergate inquiry have shown us all that there is no room for complacency. The fact that no evidence of corruption or improper practice has been available in the past is no indication that it cannot occur in the future, and that is the clear lesson of Watergate. Similarly, the absence of evidence of corruption does not guarantee that rich and powerful corporations and even foreign governments cannot influence, or attempt to influence, events by donations to political parties or persons holding influence in them. This is a serious issue. There are rumours currently circulating that the Palestine Liberation Organisation and its offshoots are making funds available to some in the community. There is also the suggestion that large amounts of funds will be made available to defeat candidates who support the right of Israel to sovereignty. These are very serious propositions and they cannot be glossed over lightly. They ought to be out in the open for all to see. If someone wants to be financed by favour or fund by a foreign organisation, foreign company, domestic company or some rich friend it ought to be out for the public to see. Those who seek to deny that proposition in my view at least establish prima facie that they have something to hide.
The ‘New York Times’ of 29 December contained an article headed ‘The Watergate Trial Leaves Many Questions Unanswered’. The article stated:
Next, there are the intriguing money questions. One of them is whether Mr Nixon was knowingly involved in the falsification of his income documents for which a former
White House lawyer has been convicted and sentenced to prison. Another is why H. R. Haldeman ordered $350,000 in campaign cash stashed in the White House. The White House explar- tion that it was for conducting polls has always been dubious. But it was transferred there before anyone knew there would be a need to pay hush money to some clumsy burglars or to finance John Dean’s honeymoon. Was that money intended eventually for Mr Nixon’s private use? And what of the $100,000 in cash Bebe Rebozo collected from Howard Hughes and the $50,000 he collected from a Florida businessman?
Although that has not occurred in Australia, does anyone say that the Australian democratic institution is stronger and better protected than was that of the United States prior to 1972?
– The honourable member says ‘yes’ and presumably later he will say why and how that is so. I say it was not. I say it is not now. I say that in Australia there is no evidence because there is no way of ascertaining where the funds of political parties come from. I would like to see the honourable member who insists on interjecting stand up and say here that he opposes this proposition because there were significant funds spent in his electorate which I would hope was without his authority, which I assume was without his authority, but which undoubtedly played a significant part in his election.
– I rise on a point of order. If the honourable member is challenging me, I accept his challenge. He knows full well that neither I nor any other member of the Australian Country Party -
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member’s recourse is to raise this after the honourable member for Phillip has finished his speech.
– I refer honourable members to the annexure attached to the Minister’s second reading speech which was incorporated in Hansard and which refers to donations to the Nixon campaign funds by some most dubious types with very stange connections. What are the amounts that are donated in Australia? Who are the people who contribute? What is the source of the funds? What is the source of funds which can allow $30,000 to $40,000 to be spent in an individual electorate. The Minister in his second reading speech pointed out that if one makes a calculation probably more than $5m was spent during the last election campaign by all parties. I want honourable gentlemen opposite to understand this: This is not discriminatory legislation; this is legislation which applies to every Party and every candidate irrespective of his political affiliation. This being so, what is the complaint?
Everyone is restricted in the same way; everyone has to disclose the source of the funds. Is it that we on this side of the House have less to hide? Perhaps that is the truth of the matter. Perhaps it is that the guilty men want to protect their rich and powerful friends.
A great deal has been said and proved about the activities of certain multinational corporations. Mention has been made of United Fruit in Guatamala in the 1950s, Union Miniere in Katanga in the 1960s and the ITT scandal in Chile in the 1970s where $ lm was spent, according to evidence given before the United States Congress, in order to influence an election. The evidence also shows that ITT was on both the sides during the Second World War. Are we to witness silently or to see the active intervention and interference by foreign owned mining companies in Australia later this year? Rumour has it that we will. If we are to have the privilege of their company, if we are to have the pleasure of their active intervention and interference in the Australian political scene, let us know about it. There is no reason why there should be ghostlike figures stalking across the political horizon. Let us see who they are; let us see where they are; and let us see where their money is coming from. Bribery and contribution to political funds are separated by a very thin line indeed, a very thin line. Sometimes we can see very little difference between the 2 situations. What we have got to watch is that the sordid, sorry history of bribery, corruption and intrigue which we see in these multinational corporations that I have named here, the scandalous interference in domestic political affairs, does not occur in Australia or, if it does occur, that it is out in the open for the Australian public to see. In Australia we are not arguing about a few bananas, we are arguing about thousands of millions of dollars worth of minerals, the mineral wealth of this country which certain mining organisations would not be past paying substantially to obtain. When we have members of this Parliament advocating policies which would put millions of dollars into the pockets of these rich corporations one does not have to think long or hard to know that it would be a worthwhile proposition for the corporations to contribute to the defeat of this Government.
Limitation of expenditure is good for the democratic concept. It gives an equal opportunity to all to state their case to the Australian electorate. The risk of people being ruled by a wealthy and privileged class is diminished. What is likely, if the trend continues on its present way undisturbed, is that the Austraiian people will be ruled by well organised, well financed pressure groups. Such risks will be eliminated; the rights of Australians to express themselves freely at the ballot box, with equal knowledge of all the candidates’ views, will be guaranteed by this legislation. Those who exercise authority should be clearly seen. Those who have the authority should be open to public scrutiny. They should not operate in the secrecy of the boardroom or from beyond Australia’s shores. The days of the puppeteers organising political events to suit themselves are over as soon as this legislation is adopted. If the legislation is frustrated, either here or in another place, let those who frustrate it explain to the Australian electorate the reason for their activities; because the Australian people will wish to know the answer to the question: What have you got to hide?’ Tell us what it is. Cleanse yourselves. Stand up and be an open book. If you do not, then accept the association of guilt which obviously must fall upon you. The slush fund concept should be destroyed. It has lived too long. In the past, election expenditure has been too high. In fact, the high expenditure is denying the ordinary citizen the right to contest an election because he cannot stand up to the onslaught of power and wealth which is organised by political pressure groups. In my view, an expenditure of $3,000 in each electorate is sufficient and ought to be sufficient. It is 6 times the amount currently allowed by law. Of course, we all know that most political campaign expenditure is wasted.
The Opposition has so far put forward this superficial argument that is not based on any examination of the Bill but is some kind of attempt to draw red herrings across the trail, to try to disguise what this legislation is about. We have the contradiction between the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). I put it to this House that this proposition is designed to safeguard democracy. It is designed to expose any corrupt practices which may exist. I see nothing wrong with that and I should be very surprised if any member of this House were engaged in that sort of activity, but it is possible for members to be caught on the leash, as it were, to become the victims of the puppeteers who will seek to influence events in Australia as it grows in natural wealth and importance. It is possible to laugh, to sneer, it is possible for unthinking people to ridicule this argument. But let me say this to them: The Australian people will not sneer, the Australian people will not ridicule because, whether you like it or not, they are worried about present events and they are concerned about the role of foreign-owned corporations in this country. The Australian people want to know the source of political funds. The Australian Government is determined that the people will know the source of political funds. Those who oppose the Bill can explain their impossible position to the electorate.
– I must say that the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) has followed the usual pattern in a debate of this type by trying to scare the nation about the presence of multinationals and their activities in the Australian community. We know that multinationals have perhaps not developed the best reputations in the United States and some other countries, but I have not yet had proved to me that multinationals in this country have been engaged in underhand activities. If we have any such evidence, if we have any such proof, surely this, the national Parliament, is the place in which we should be receiving this information from the Government in power today. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) presented a number of very powerful and persuasive arguments against this Bill and he has left no doubt in our minds about just how far this Government is prepared to go in intruding into the freedom of people in this country. The honourable member for Phillip said that the Government wanted to clear out the slush funds and let in the light. The real fact of the matter is of course that the Australian Labor Party wants to know who supports what particular party. In other words, I see this as a Bill which gives some demonstration of the stickybeaking nature of the political party that now governs this country. It does not want to let in the light, it wants to let in the Labor Party. The Labor Government wants to be in the know so that it also might get on the bandwagon.
The charge against the Opposition- against the Liberal and Country Parties- that it has received money from multinationals falls pretty shabbily to the ground when it is well known that prior to the last election in May an attempt was made- and I think a successful attempt- by Ministers, ministerial staffs and other Labor stalwarts to obtain money for the purposes of their election campaign. There is evidence to prove that, I understand. I believe that photostat copies of letters are available for those who doubt that this is so. So it is a pretty hypocritical situation when we hear these charges levelled against the Liberal and Country Parties for opposing a measure such as this simply on the contention that we are trying to deny the Government and the community generally information about what multinationals do or do not support particular parties in this country. It comes before us in the guise of a further attempt by the Minister to achieve electoral reform in Australia, but none of us should be deluded about the real purposes of this Bill. While I am the first to agree that the Electoral Act needs certain reform and amendment I see this Bill as being in violation of the spirit and of the principle of the secret ballot. I shall explain why. While a voter is free to cast a vote by secret ballot under this Bill he will not be free to support in an anonymous way the political party of his choosing or a candidate belonging to that political party because his financial contribution, if he wishes to support his vote in that way, will be available for public scrutiny. So it does break down that anonymous approach, that right to privacy that the individual is entitled to when he is casting a vote.
Basically this Bill provides the machinery to force candidates and parties to disclose publicly their sources of funds and the Bill limits electoral expenditure by parties and candidates. One of the dangers of this provision is that a person may feel inhibited about contributing to a central fund of a party. I think that all political parties need to bear in mind the fact that one may wish to support an individual candidate and not necessarily the political party as such. Those of us who have had experience in political organisationsthere are a great number here- must concede that point. How many people have made donations to political parties, large and small, on the condition that it will not be made known public- because they wanted it to be kept a secret. Those people have a right, in my view, to make that decision so long as they do not try to impose upon the political party concerned a concession in return for the donation. It seems highly probable to me that the great bulk of funds that are contributed to political parties are spent certainly at the State and national campaign level, but a considerable amount of money is subscribed or sent to the local political organisations purely and simply to assist the candidate or the person who is favoured by the individual who is giving the donation. Often an individual may have voted Labor, Liberal or the Country Party at one time or another because an individual candidate has appealed to the person concerned.
– Not necessarily in that order.
– I will concede that it was not necessarily in that order. The honourable member has been a member of a political organisation for a long time and I think he would be the first to agree to the point I have made. In any event, how does this legislation prevent undisclosed contributions to either the political party or the candidate in kind? Needless to say, any limits on the size of individual campaign contributions or on total spending may create underground effects. There may be ways of getting around the laws- there are sure to be- and indeed the law may be ignored as it was in the United States until the introduction of the most recent legislation. I do not know what the situation is at the moment. In any event, how does one track down contributions in kind which have been made to political parties or to candidates. When I say ‘in kind’ I am referring to assistance such as free television advertising time, free radio station time and free newspaper advertisements. Newspapers may give advertising space or indeed ^disproportionate news space to a political party or candidate. It is extremely difficult to impute values against the multitude of all the contributions that may be made in kind. This fact of life makes a farce of this legislation unless of course the government intends to control or is capable of controlling the media to ensure that the media is restricted in respect of the amount of space which they may give to a political party or a candidate. But if that does happen that would be the first step towards the abolition of the freedom of the media and the freedom of the Press.
Probably the strongest argument against the disclosure of all particulars of all gifts including donations made to political parties or candidates through or with the authority of the party agents or official agents is that it could lead to political retaliation against the donor. It could take the form of social ostracism, industrial activity or political discrimination by an opposing party if it gains power. This is always a probability. It is always possible because it has happened in the past. You cannot easily wipe out some of the more nasty features of human nature.
The Opposition subscribes to the view that individuals have the right to express political points of view freely, and indeed I am sure the Government supports that view. An individual has the right to support any political party. In the Opposition’s view he has the right to vote for a political party candidate by secret ballot and not declare his political sympathy publicly by having to disclose a donation that he gave to a party. The individual has the right to support a political party financially whether minimally of substantially, and to remain anonymous. Why should an individual have this freedom to be anonymous taken away from him? In today’s political scene all major parties must have access to large sums of financial support. The trend has been set with the use of television, newspapers and radios. High costs are involved in getting people from point A to point B, from electorate to electorate and from state to state. This applies particularly in federal elections. If this Bill becomes law it will tend to reduce the level of financial support to political parties especially from those donors who would wish to remain anonymous. It would more seriously affect the Liberal and Country Parties than it would the Labor Party. Let us be frank about this.
– They spend more money.
– It is not because we spend more money. I would not say that. The Labor Party has a more constant and more reliable source of funds from the trade union movement in this country than have the Liberal Party or the Country Party. The Liberal Party and the Country Party do not have continuing access to a source of funds that the Labor Party has and that is a fact of life. But in New South Wales the Australian Country Party has a total membership of over 20 000 subscribing financial members. I do not think there is a political party in the State of New South Wales which has a higher number of subscribing paid up members than the Australian Country Party. This applies right throughout most of the States. I think we have something like 100 000 subscribing members throughout the Commonwealth and the Country Party has had to exist primarily on its source of funds coming from the payment of subscriptions to the Party organisation. The ALP, I think, has a relatively small membership, but most of its funds have been available to it from trade unions within which the membership pays dues and in many cases pays into special funds for special purposes.
This Bill which provides for campaign funds disclosures will favour the incumbent government. This is another point that needs to be made. It will favour the govenment that is in power. It will favour the incumbent member of Parliament, whether he be on the government side or on the opposition side. Does the Minister really believe that this Bill will succeed in its stated objectives? Under this Bill no union, no association, no ad hoc group, no organisation can support a political party or a candidate publicly without the authority of the party agent. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), I think, clearly demonstrated the futility of the nonsense that is involved in clause 146 of the Bill which reads in part:
A person . . . who incurs any electoral expenditure without the prior written authority of a registered party agent or of an official agent, is guilty of an offence punishable, on conviction-
in the case of a person being a party or a body corporateby a line not exceeding $20,000; or
in any other case- by a fine not exceeding $ 10,000.
He talked about the little old lady who raffled a dozen fresh farm eggs. I think that that was a rather damning example of what the Bill can achieve.
– It cannot.
– The honourable member’s union or my union, if it chooses to support the political party of its choice- without obtaining the written authority of the agent of the party concerned- by way of advertisement, by way of public advertisement, by way of spending money on television is liable to a penalty of $20,000.
– Read the definition of ‘party ‘.
– Let the next speaker read it to us. The honourable member is talking about definitions. Let him give me the interpretation of this one. The Bill says: electoral expenditure’ means expenditure for or in connexion with promoting or opposing, directly or indirectly, a party or the election of a candidate or candidates or of influencing, directly or indirectly, the voting at an election, but does not include-
reasonable personal living and travelling expenses of a candidate;
What does ‘reasonable’ mean? Who determines it?
– You did for a while.
– It is incredible. We are talking about the definition.
– Here you are, it is in section 147 of the Act.
-I do not mind reading it out. We are talking about definitions. One cannot define that. The Minister may be able to and I may be able to, but the interpretation is the important issue. I do not care whether it is in the Act or not. It probably is a stupid word. I think it is high time that we started to define things in legislation. I did not write that 50 years ago. I do not take any real blame for the word ‘reasonable’. Let us not get away from the point about which honourable members opposite are sensitive, and that is that where an organisation or a group of people, having no connection with a political party, decides that its policy suits them best at an election time and they choose to insert an advertisement in a newspaper supporting that party, they are liable to a penalty unless they go cap in hand to that political party and obtain an authorisation from the agent. That is claptrap and I think it is an infringement of the rights and privacy of the individual.
It is undoubtedly an authoritarian law. It smacks of an attempt to achieve a totalitarian control of the political freedom of people and of their right to act outside public scrutiny. Our society is made up of individuals who have ideas of their own, often similar to one another’s. There are people in the community who are not satisfied with the existing political parties. There are people who will want to form their own political organisations. There are people now trying to form parties of their own. But under this legislation there is no future for them because it favours heavily the existing major parties in this country. It will militate against those groups in the community that in future may want to form a new party. So it is an impediment and a disadvantage to people who are politically involved, not with the major parties- those who are dissatisfied with the major parties, those who are wanting to express their own views through a new political organisation.
Let nobody deny it. No one who has had any association with political parties or organisations can deny that because it is a fact of life. As I said earlier, this legislation is a vicious intrusion into the rights of the individual, of the little peoplenot just the big people, not just the multinationals. I think that the Government is using a sledgehammer to try to crack a peanut. It must be very careful that it does not bring down laws that will ultimately work against the principles upon which this society of ours is based- the freedom and the rights of the individual.
-There is an old saying: ‘Methinks he doth protest too much’. I think that that applies to the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). He cited one passage of the Bill which, in his opinion, is completely uninterpretable and unreasonable. The section and the wording of it were contained in the Act during the time when he administered it. My memory does not indicate any attempt by him to remove that section of the Electoral Act during the numerous amendments which he introduced into this House and, if I may add, subsequently voted against when they were introduced into this House again by this Government, not having been passed by a previous Parliament. It appears to me that what is being said in this debate is that it is better for persons to use financial influence on candidates and members in secret than it would be to have funds and sources of funds disclosed in order that, where there is a suggestion of influence or a suggestion of some decision made which may benefit a large contributor, there is an open situation where everyone will know exactly what has happened. It is unfortunate that Australian politics are becoming a continuing source of innuendo about political funding. The Australian Country Party is one of the victims of this and I would have thought that its members would be very happy to see this situation totally eliminated.
– What about the trade union funds?
-The trade unions contribute to the Australian Labor Party. They present balance sheets to their members, and their contributions are public knowledge and are used by our political opponents whenever they feel there is some advantage in using those contributions for political purposes. What the Opposition is saying is that they should be public knowledge but that the contributors to the Opposition’s funds who may or may not derive benefit from those contributions are entitled to make their contributions in secrecy. The Electoral Act has been described as an undemocratic Act. It has been described as a removal of the rights of secrecy. I suggest that there are certain things which are public knowledge. Under the existing Act, ostensibly a candidate is required to disclose his expenditures on an election, but it is now said that he should not be required to disclose where the funds to cover those expenditures came from.
The Canadian Parliament unanimously- with the support of all members and all parties in that Parliament- recently passed legislation which was almost identical in form to the legislation being proposed to this Parliament today in the disclosure of funds. It appears that in Canada all political parties believe that there is benefit in the disclosure of funds. In the United States of America, whose Constitution enshrines the domocratic rights of the individual to an extent which is almost beyond belief in a modern society and which is the cause of some problems in that country, the rights of the individual are totally protected and there is no question that the Supreme Court of the United States would upset any attempt to take away from any individual his rights of secret ballot and his rights to participate properly in an election.
In the United States political contributions are regulated by the Federal Corrupt Practices Act. That Act applies to a candidate for election to Congress or to a political party which seeks to influence any two or more States in an election for Federal office. The Act defines a contribution as including a gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of moneys or anything of value and includes a contract, promise or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make contributions. That is a fairly wide sweeping clause. It is applied to organisations promoting candidates for the Congress of the United States. I take it that if that sort of thing were proposed here it would be said to constitute a denial of the individual’s rights and a denial of the rights to secrecy of the ballot. But apparently this provision is upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States and does not contravene the Bill of Rights section of that country’s Constitution. I would add that the Treasurer of a political committee is required to keep an account of all contributions made to or for the committee, and a person who receives a contribution for a political committee must account to the Treasurer for the contribution.
I wish to make another comment on this point. Much of the present political problems which are besetting the United States Congress and the presidency arise from the non-disclosure of political campaign contributions- from keeping such campaign contributions secret. In the United States it is thought that if a person makes a large contribution to a political campaign fund and seeks to hide that contribution- to keep it secret- there must be some ulterior motive behind it. In Australia there is little or no evidence of corrupt practices in Australian politics, but there are repeated suspicions and innuendoes about certain organisations which benefit substantially from certain political parties taking office. It is not unreasonable to protect both the political parties and the contributor by ensuring that any contribution made will be known, and publicly known.
I presume it was the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who mentioned the little lady who raffled the eggs. If I may say so, if the little lady who raffled the eggs had contravened the Commonwealth Electoral Act and it contained the penalties which were enshrined in it during the period when the honourable member for Gwydir was the Minister she would have been placed in gaol for almost all of the offences covered by the Act. The judge who heard the case would not even have a discretion; she would have to go to gaol. The Act did not provide for monetary fines to cover the majority of penalties.
– You are talking a lot of nonsense- rotten eggs.
– The honourable gentleman may say that. I suggest that he looks at the scale of penalties in the Commonwealth Electoral Act and looks at the amendments to the Act that we proposed to this House not so long ago. The Commonwealth Electoral Act, as it now stands, contains a provision by which no person who has contested an election to this House in the last five or six elections and where any scale of competition for the seat has taken place can abide. The Act sets a maximum expenditure of $500 on the election campaign of any candidate for office in the Federal Parliament. The average size of electorates in my State, and I suppose in the Commonwealth, is in excess of 60 000 people. I could not have printed and distributed how to vote cards, let alone any other form of election material, for that price at this time. Yet we are confronted with the situation that that state of affairs is to continue.
The Electoral Act contains a number of other provisions, but the most important provisions are the ones dealing with the disclosure of funds and the regulation of expenditure. Both of these provisions have a number of influences. The disclosure of funds ensures that no person will be giving funds to candidates in the hope of receiving future benefits. Such a person cannot hope for secrecy. The amount of money, whatever it may be, must be disclosed. The penalties for nondisclosure are high, but they are maximum penalties to be imposed at the discretion of the court. If the penalties are not high, the stakes are high, and unless the penalty matches the possible gain it can become worthwhile to breach the law and thus achieve an end which could have a profitability far beyond any monetary penalty which may be applied. I hope that the members of this House will have sufficient confidence in themselves and the Australian electorate to vote for a measure which will take away from elections in Australia, from governments in Australia, the continued innuendo which must follow if substantial contributions to election funds are reputed to be from sources which could receive substantial benefits in return.
– Like the way they did in the United States.
-The United States is in all sorts of electoral troubles.
– Because of the sorts of laws.
-If the honourable gentleman really believes it should continue to be open for people to buy political influence, I will give the honourable member one instance of that type of thing in Australia. I refer to the period immediately before the 1961 elections when the then Government extended the 2 airlines agreement in Australia for a period of 14 years to give it a currency of 17 years in order to protect the interests of the private operator who was a party to the airlines agreement. By co-incidence or otherwise, the private operator spent considerable sums of money on newspaper advertisements in support of the Government of the day. The case to which I refer is known, so there is nothing dishonest about it. But the fact that that sort of thing is happening in private- and it does happen- is quite clearly something which should be known by the Australian electorate.
– It quite obviously is; you are telling us.
Mr SCHOLES I said that that instance is open; obviously there are other cases which are not open. I would mention another factor which is equally important. It has been said, by innuendo or otherwise, that certain political organisations have promised to give financial benefit to certain overseas mining and mineral companies.
-If the honourable gentleman does not know what is going on in the country I really do not think his education is my responsibility. The fact is that allegations have been made and are repeatedly made -
– By your Party when in Opposition.
-They may well have been justly made, but the fact of the matter is that if a political party is reputed to be getting secret contributions from a source and in return is publicly offering that source contributions from public funds in the form of subsidies, suspicion must exist. If the public disclosure of contributions to political parties is required, no suspicion can exist. It is as simple as that. It is possible in this day to buy electoral victory. It is possible to spend sums of money in such proportions so as to deny totally the democratic process. If the Press is freely available to one political party and denied to another, as happens in some areas of Australia, if unlimited funds to purchase television time are available to one candidate and not available to another, a democratic expression of the electorate is not possible.
– The Labor Party was not short of funds in Queensland in the last State election.
-I will lay odds that the Labor Party did not spend anywhere near as much as did the Country Party.
– It did not get the seats either.
-No, but it got more votes than the Country Party. I think the honourable member ought to acknowledge that fact. The only thing that it did not get is the seats. That is another matter that is not covered by this -
– It shows that one cannot win elections without money.
– Yes, but we just do not get the opportunity because Labor voters get only one vote and Country Party voters in Queensland get five. Metropolitan people in Queensland are second class citizens. Everywhere in Australia the Country Party would have that the case. It believes that people who live in the cities are not entitled to a full vote. That is the practised policy, it is in legislative effect in every State of Australia where the Country Party exercises influence and it is currently in effect in this Parliament under the existing boundaries.
I support this Bill. I believe that it will have a very good influence on this Parliament and will ensure not only that no political party can be accused of secret deals and secret funds but also it will ensure that no person can be misled into believing that by making secret contributions to a political party he can buy influence. I think they are both important aspects which must be dealt with and eliminated if possible. Amendments of this nature may or may not advantage political parties. I believe that these amendments will be to the advantage of no one. But they will be of advantage to the electoral system and to the democratic process itself. This requirement is not something which does not exist anywhere else; it is a provision in almost every democratically elected Parliament with which we would like to compare ourselves. The disclosure of the source of funds is required under Canadian law. The honourable member for Gwydir would hardly describe that country as totalitarian. It is a requirement of the law of the United States and I believe that it should be a requirement of the law of Australia.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In a letter written to the Australian Financial Review’ of this morning, Thursday, 13 February, by Senator Peter Walsh, Senator for Western Australia, Canberra, I have been misrepresented in 2 respects. The first is an allegation that the previous Government, in which I was Minister for Primary Industry, instructed the Wheat Board not to sell wheat to Chile following the election of President Allende. The misrepresentation is repeated in another form when he states: ‘There is a long history of
Government interference in wheat marketing’. There was a negotiation between the Wheat Board and the Government while I was Minister for Primary Industry relating to the degree to which Export Payments Insurance Corporation cover would be accorded to the wheat that the Wheat Board wished to sell to Chile. No instruction was given to the Australian Wheat Board at that time. There was a failure to agree on terms by which EPIC cover would be provided. The Wheat Board was perfectly at liberty to sell wheat to Chile but was not able to gain appropriate EPIC cover under the terms that it sought to cover that sale. As to the second misrepresentation, there was no Government interference with respect to any sales undertaken by the Australian Wheat Board either while I was Minister for Primary Industry or at any time while I was in the previous Ministry.
– I open my remarks on the Electoral Bill 1974 by simply asking: Why, oh why, does this present Australian Labor Government feel that it has to poke its nose into every corner in this country? Everything it has put its hands on has gone wrong in the last 2 years, yet it continues to reach out. It finds it so difficult to leave anything alone. One of the tragedies is that the Australian Labor Party members are victims of one huge inferiority complex. In their speeches in the past all they did was talk about the multi-nationals and their investment in Australia. They stamped about the country condemning multi-nationals. As a result of their hostility and their refusal to allow overseas capital into Australia we had a huge downturn in the economy. Recently we witnessed the spectacle of the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns) in New York pleading and assuring the multi-nationals that they were welcome to come to Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) in talking of his recent 6-week trip overseas the other night also said how he assured foreign investors that they could come to Australia. Members of the Labor Party are slow learners. Their complex about money in that respect has been proven to be without reason. They also have a complex that the Liberal and Country Parties are receiving huge donations from multi-nationals so they feel that at all costs they have to change the legislation to ensure that every donation is declared.
The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) spoke earlier of the nation being run by a privileged class. He talked of thousands of millions of dollars. As one who has to raise his own campaign funds because I belong to a Party in a State where the headquarters does not give a candidate a razoo even to bless himself with on polling day, I have had to go out and raise my own money. I can assure honourable members opposite that it is a complete fallacy that nonLabor Parties are rolling in money. They are under a misapprehension. They are dreamers. They are not realistic, just as their approach to government has been unrealistic. They do not know what they are talking about.
But let me talk about some of the money that the Australian Labor Party handles. I have as my authority a document titled ‘Precis of Campaign Directors Report to the Queensland Central Executive on 25 June 1974’ by Bart Lourigan. He is the boss of the ALP in Queensland where the Labor Party suffered a disastrous electoral result on 7 December. Perhaps it would like to forget that Queensland even exists. But it is a fact of life. I asked the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) whether I could have this very interesting document incorporated in Hansard. He found it so interesting that he said: ‘No, it is not on’. I assured him that I had learnt a lot from it. I wish that he had had time to read it all. Let us tura to the money page. The Labor Party supporters stand up in this House crying poor. Speaker after speaker talks about the great funds available to this side. Under the heading ‘Campaign Budget’ it states:
The Queensland Central Campaign Committee decided to work on a budget of $45,000, which received Executive approval. However, following the announcement of a Double Dissolution, the budget was raised to $60,000. Yet, when final costs incurred by the QCE campaign are tallied, it is expected that the campaign will have cost a record $80,000. Never has such a large sum been spent on a Federal campaign in such a short period. This compares to the $60,000 in 1972, made up of an estimated budget of $40,000, and $ 1 8,000 from the National Campaign Committee.
Of course this report does not even make mention of the amounts which were spent by the various candidates in the various electorates. I have read time and time again of the problem that the ALP in Queensland had when my opponent the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Clem Jones, put in his bill for $10,000 which was only part of what he spent in a joint ALP- Jones effort to unseat me in Griffith. The Labor Party spent some $30,000 in the one seat of Griffith.
– How much did you spend?
– I did not spend as much as the Labor Party did. I can assure honourable members that I was not caught sleeping. Because I anticipated the tactics that would be employed, as is my right in a democratic society, I took counter measures to ensure that money did not win Griffith for the Australian Labor Party and that people made their judgment on the qualities of the candidates and the policies of the parties. At the end of this document, Mr Lourigan states:
It should be reiterated that in this election, the trade union movement both financially and physically gave their best performance.
The document does not list the unions, it just uses the general term. If we talk about corruption by the use of money, let us be realistic and honest. The Labor Party has exploited the political system of Australia more than any other party in the history of this nation. It has established throughout Australia a network of public offices with public relations officers and Press secretaries. Nobody can put a price on them. They are working with one aim- the return of the Australian Labor Party to government. On page 7 of the report Mr Lorrigan says:
Brisbane is the only State capital without a Federal Minister and the facilities which would normally be made available to one. To remedy this, the State President and the State Secretary requested Mr Whitlam to open a Press office in Brisbane manned by a member of the Prime Minister’s staff…
In Brisbane we now have a new spy unit. Nobody is aware of its faculties, but we are told it has machinery worth more than $500,000. It can photograph newspaper articles and send them to Canberra so that the Prime Minister’s staff can see them and shoot back through the same machinery a reply for release in Queensland. Do honourable members opposite regard this as a fair advantage? The Labor Party has taken 2 people from Sydney to man this unit. One is an extra political stooge who worked on the last campaign for the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh), and who was removed from the Public Service and employed in this unit because he has local political knowledge which the southern imports assuredly would not have. This unit costs the taxpayers at least $100,000 a year to run. This unit will be used by the Australian Labor Party come another election. But because the Labor Party is in government, it thinks it does not have to divulge the relevant figures. The Labor Party is giving itself an unfair advantage over those who are not in government. There are people who do not believe in the Liberal Party of Australia, the Australian Country Party or the Australian Labor Party and who seek to form their own parties to platform their own beliefs. I will continue to fight for their rights even though regrettably their preferences do not always come my way. But it is still their right to have their own beliefs and to try to see what electoral acceptance they can gain. The Labor Party is not being fair dinkum. It is introducing a Bill to stifle freedom in this country.
The amount of expenditure prescribed by the Minister in the Bill would mean that in a Senate election in the Federal division of Griffith no more than $900 could be spent to promote the Senate team. No more than $600 could be spent on a referendum. As a candidate I would be able to spend about $3,000 or at the most 7.5c per elector. During the last election I wrote to 1 3 000 people in my electorate. Fortunately this was at a time when the postage rate for a letter was 7c but it is now 10c. The proposed expenditure would force me into a situation where I could not write to more than a quarter of my electors. The Labor Party says that that is as much as I could spend. I believe that the limits which have been set are totally unrealistic.
I turn my attention now to the fact, as stated by the honourable members for Moreton (Mr Killen) and Gwydir (Mr Hunt), that this Bill completely restricts an organisation in placing advertisements as to their viewpoint either directly or indirectly without the permission of a person who has been nominated by a political party. The Labor Party talks about freedom in Australia but once again it sets out along the path of tying people up more and more. We have become a nation of restrictions since the Labor Party came to power. The thing that troubles me- I expected it from the Labor Party as a government- is that individuals who were once so outspoken on the preservation of liberty are sitting silently in this House like mutes. It is time Labor Party members plucked up courage and spoke out in their party room if they have the intelligence to recognise some of the long term effects of the legislation that their Party is introducing.
I now turn to the question of political parties being forced to divulge their source of income. We must remember that this legislation is introduced by men who are preoccupied with the belief that the Opposition parties are rolling in money -
– Hear, hear.
– The honourable member for Brisbane says ‘Hear, hear’. If the seat of Griffith is abolished and I go after the seat of Brisbane the honourable member will say more than ‘Hear, hear’. He will need more than money to save him. But to get back to this point, if we force political parties to provide lists of who has donated to their campaigns and small businesses, or not so small businesses, are on that list, we could well reach the stage in this day and age when some of the more militant extremist trade unions could say: ‘If you give to the Liberal
Party or the Country Party again we will introduce measures in this shop or factory which will be to your disadvantage’. It is all very well for Labor Party members to cite as examples the United States of America and Canada, but the difference is that in Australia the Government of today, the Australian Labor Party, is built on the foundation of the trade union movement. It is shackled to the trade union movement. It is the Labor Party’s beginnings and that is where it continues to exist. It is the very roots of the Labor Party organisation. Many members of the Government party have come from the trade union movement and that is the difference. In the United States of America the trade union movement can in some years support the Republicans and in other years the Democratic Party. In Australia, the trade union movement on the whole supports the Australian Labor Party. When the movement is not happy with the Government it does not turn to the Liberal Party, it just withholds its generous support from the Australian Labor Party. That is its silent protest.
The fact is that if we provide lists of those who in this country have given money to political parties, they could well be the victim of trade union blackmail. Furthermore, I believe that as a citizen of Australia it is my right to give to the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Country Party, the Democratic Labor Party, the Australia Party, the Liberal Party of Australia and even the Communist Party. It is my right to make a donation without that donation being blazed across the sky for all to see. It is a private act between myself and the recipient party.
– How much have you given the Labor Party?
-When the honourable member for Bowman joined the Labor Party I cut off my donations. That was the end of them. I believe that this legislation contains a danger to the right of the citizens of this country to donate to the political party or parties of their choice.
In 1 974, the Labor Party moaned and groaned at the fact that it appeared that the Liberal Party and the Country Party had more money than the Labor Party had. But in 1972, the Australian Labor Party had far more money at its disposal than did the Liberal Party and Country Party team. The fact is that the level of money donations to political parties indicates the feelings of persons to the government of the day. If people who are interested in politics do not believe that the Australian Labor Party is doing a good job for Australia- I know that 3 1 1 000 people who are unemployed at least will testify to that fact- they will switch their donations to another political party. Yet, regrettably, the Minister for Services and Property and those who sit behind him regard donations to political parties as sinister and something that must be stopped at all costs, particularly if people wish to make those donations to the Liberal Party and the Country Party.
I conclude simply by asking the Minister to think out clearly what he is doing. It may be to the advantage of the Government today to stop the Liberal Party and the Country Party. It may be to the Government’s advantage because it has vast machinery available to it through the enslaved Australian Public Service which has no alternative but to do what the Government tells it to do. The Government also has the facilities which it has opened in each State at which people, paid by the Australian taxpayer, service the Australian Labor Party. But every doggy has his day. The day of this Government will come at the next election when it will lose access to aU these benefits. The Liberal Party and the Country Party Will be back in power. If the honourable member for Grayndler, the Minister for Services and Property, who has been here since 1943 and acts as though he came here in 1873, is still a member, he will be bleating from this side of the House about the unfair advantages that the new government has over his Party. At that time, let him reflect on the legislation that he has introduced this week for the short term advantage of his Party. That legislation will stifle democracy in this country in the future. In my view, this is a most retrograde step.
-One of the difficulties in a debate of this nature obviously is the fact that most members of the Parliament- and I talk of members on both sides of the Parliament- do not understand the relationship between candidate and Party, party and business and /or trade union, and all those elements and the media. Without looking back over the history of campaigning in Australia there can be no doubt that we will head into great problems in this field if something is not done about it. Added to this aspect is the standing of parliamentarians in the society in which we live. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has done a great deal to assist members and to lift the standing of members. I believe that a great many more of us ought to stand up to argue the role of the parliamentarian and the work that we do. Parliamentarians should be beyond any suspicion at all. There can be little doubt that whilst the present system prevails there will be great suspicion not only about political parties and machines but also about parliamentarians themselves.
It is all right for members to say that they go out and raise their own money from their own supporters in their own electorates. But the party which wins or loses each electorate, I believe, in a national election, is not determined by the campaign in the individual electorate. In some country electorates it may be from time to time where the candidate can become very well known; but this is not the case in the cities where the vast majority of electorates are. Very few local campaigns win or lose elections. An election is won or lost by the massive propaganda which is put across radio and television. This is completely outside the hands of the candidates. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) objected to the term ‘agent’ and the role the agent would play in terms of the new Bill. If we substitute the term ‘campaign director’, it would become obvious to us all that we are talking about the people who for decades have been running the campaigns in our electorates, our States and nationally, on behalf of the political parties.
My criticism of the BUI is that it does not go far enough. I would have no donations at aU to political parties or to candidates. I think all the money that is used to educate the people about policies of the various political parties ought to come from the public purse. There should be absolutely no suspicion about the source of funds for members of Parliament or candidates for Parliament. We are going to head into trouble. There is some evidence to suggest that campaigns have been assisted by vast sums of money. Incidentally, I have heard all the allegations from the other side of the House about how much money the Labor Party had in 1972. 1 ran the campaign for the Labor Party in 1972 and no one has come within $600,000 of the amount we raised. AU the talk about Sim and $ 1 .5m held by the Labor Party that year is absolute nonsense. However, I do recall the campaign of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) who lost his seat in 1969 and spent the next 3 years as the candidate- which was a valid exercise- in winning it back. But there is no way in which the candidate for the Australian Labor Party who was an outstanding politician, Norm Foster, could compete with the avalanche of money and propaganda that was poured into the electorate of Sturt. When one pulls on the Bonython family in Adelaide one runs into a fanbit of trouble.
As I said, my criticism of the BUI is that it does not go far enough. The attitude of the Country
Party, which has been espoused by its Leader as far back as October 1 973, is recorded in the Hansard of that date. It is made perfectly clear, in his own words, that Mr Anthony is opposed to the declaration of political donations. Also, he wants to make them tax deductible. This would mean that a major company donating moneys to any of the political parties would really only be paying half the amount of the donation. But there are many problems about the divulging of donations and making an accurate assessment of whether all the donations have been put on public display so people can make up their own minds.
Let me say a few words about the multinationals. I do not have a phobia about them or the role they play but they do hold some danger to countries like our own. Major Australian companies hold similar dangers, I suspect These are matters of which we ought to be aware. I think we would be doing ourselves a favour if every member of the House, not as members of a specific political party but as persons who have been given the great privilege of coming in here and representing electorates, were to clear the air in regard to political donations. Members from the other side of the House have said it is untrue to say that in 1974 the Liberal and Country Parties were rolling in money and the Labor Party was battling to raise funds. But if one looks at the 26th Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board it will be seen that wherever it was able the Board ascertained the time taken up in broadcasting political advertising on metropolitan and country radio for the 1974 elections. The Australian Labor Party spent $90,000 and our opponents spent $210,000. 1 do not believe these to be accurate figures; I think a great deal more money was spent that has not been divulged. In television throughout Australia, the Labor Party supposedly spent $290,000 in the 1974 election campaign and our opponents $900,000. Do not tell me that the Opposition parties have so many old women raffling eggs that they can raise that sort of money. Just in one series of” advertisements that were used on television in Victoria alone $138,000 was spent. These were called the Sam Holt advertisements and were the brain child of that now well known character in Australia, John Singleton, who seems to be the darling of the Liberal Party at the moment. These advertisements included the one showing the Latvian woman telling us about the fears she held for the future of Australia.
The raising of funds is going to become a growing problem in Austrafia. Whilst the playing time will not be greatly changed with the advent of colour television the production costs will go up immeasurably. So political parties will have to go out and find a lot more money than they have found in the past. Where are they going to find it? They will not be able to get it from their supporters in the electorates. One is flat out raising enough money in one’s electorate to put out how-to-vote cards and pamphlets. So the campaign directors or the agents, as they are called in the Bill, will have to devise means whereby they will be able to go out and raise these vast sums of money.
What are we doing in the field of advertising? Because we are reasonably immature in our attitude to advertising, especially political advertising, we are falling for all the advertising card tricks in the world. We are not looking at whether we can educate the Australian people on proper policies; we are falling for the advertising gimmick. No one is clear of that charge. The Labor Party has used such gimmicks and the Liberal and Country Parties have used them. The Australian Democratic Labor Party used them back in the mid-1960s when it showed Chinese soldiers marching across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It should be the responsibility of this Parliament to devise media laws and electoral laws that will involve the Australian people in becoming conversant with the point of view of every political party. But, because the advertising agents tell us that the best way in which to persuade someone to buy a particular commodity or to vote for a political party is by way of 30- second scatters, we are putting on all the nonsense in the world. A person like John Singleton and all his mates can march up to a political party and say: ‘If you want to win this election this is the way to do it: Forget about telling someone for 10 minutes that you have a good policy on a peace zone in the Indian Ocean or that you support equal rights for women because that is not the way in which to win votes’. So there are 2 things that we have to do about the electoral laws in Australia.
We are putting on absolute nonsense. The 30- second advertisement is not only nonsense but also the most expensive way of advertising because it has to be played on a lot more occasions than would have been the case under the old system when television was first introduced into Australia and everything produced by the political parties was done in terms of explaining policies to members of the public and allowing them to judge logically which was the best party to vote for. But now the commercial television stations do not want 5-minute political speeches because they say that the people will switch from their station and will not come back to it. They want the 30-second scatters. So we have been forced into using them. The only organisation which has retained a sensible attitude to the manner in which political parties ought to go about their business is the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which demands certain proper content in the political advertisements it allows the political parties to run.
Not only in the commercial sector is the Australian Labor Party, which is the largest political party in Australia, only receiving something like 24 per cent of the complete exposure given to political parties at elections but also the ABC has a policy of giving political parties equal time so that the Liberal and Country Parties get exactly the same amount of time as the Australian Labor Party. Perhaps that is the way it should be in that respect. But when one switches over to the area in which money is spent one finds that the Labor Party is falling further and further behind. The multi-nationals or the large companies are certainly going to have an increasing role to play in this field. I may go out, as we all may go out, to raise money for how-to-vote cards, pamphlets, and a slide to be shown at the local drive-in, but they really have little effect on how people may vote in the electorate in which that is done; they are going to vote on the national issues. So the people who are running the campaigns from the central offices are the people who determine which members of Parliament will sit on these benches. They are the ones who go out and get the money.
An honourable member may stand up in this chamber and say quite indignantly: ‘I am an honest man. I have never been a party to going out to get money. I do not know where the money comes from, but I think that the people who give it are entitled to give it for whatever reason it may be given’. I have seen what the Minister has said previously about having to look at the proposition of government funded campaigns. But members of Parliament really do not know what their campaign committees are doing, or from where the money is coming or for what reason it is given. There may be a perfectly legitimate reason for a company to support one party or the other. It may be because of a party’s policy. But there is always a grey area. People are always suspicious because whatever one does someone will say: ‘That company must have donated to that political party’. Large sums of money are involved. The Liberal and Country Parties spent $ lm on television coverage in 1 974. What will it be in 1977? Will it be $2m? Where will the money come from and for what reason will it be given? Perhaps the money will be provided because some major companies wish to get rid of the Labor Party?
-No one will have $2m by 1 977 if you are still in power.
– The honourable member would do well to listen. To my knowledge the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd officially does not make any political donations. I do not have any knowledge that it has made any donation officially to any other political party. But BHP may be opposed to having to go before the Prices Justification Tribunal on the number of occasions that it has been forced to do under this Government. It may be that BHP will change its policy on political donations and support substantially the Liberal and Country Parties which, after the next election, undoubtedly will have a policy for the abolition of the PJT. Are we to say that that is a source of corruption? Is doubt to be thrown on every member of the Liberal and Country Parties because of the actions of BHP? Everyone knows why Chifley was defeated in the great campaign of 1949. He was defeated because the banks poured into the campaign the greatest amount of money that had ever been poured into one election campaign in order to get rid of the Labor Government.
– He was defeated because he was going to nationalise the banks.
-That is true. Chifley had a policy on the banks. The banks in return gave £lm to the Liberal Party in that year. The campaign did not run for 2 weeks and 3 days which is the traditional length of a campaign in Australia; it ran for months. All honourable members will recall the campaign run by John Henry Austral. It was the greatest propaganda campaign conducted without television. The sum of f lm was given to the Liberal Party. Is it corruption because the banks wanted to come in and support a policy? If we are to go halfway, as is suggested by this Bill, of course all donations should be made public; there can be no doubt about that. There should be no grey area. At least members of the Parliament ought to stand above the suspicions of the electorate about who supports political parties. There is no way of completely overcoming the problem. There are ways of course, as has been proved in the American scene, of going around the laws. One can always employ smart people to see how one can get around a law and make a donation or give free broadcasting time.
In 1972 when the late Sir Frank Packer thought that things were going bad for the Liberal Party, he was not content only to make his donations or to assist the Liberal Party wherever he could, but he started putting 5 -minute free editorials on Channel 9 and talking to more people in Australia than anyone else was able to do. He was never given a licence to run Channel 9 as a voice for the Liberal Party. Honourable members may say: ‘It is not fair because when we are in government we have people working for us, Press secretaries and so forth’. That is a pretty poor armament when it is ranged against the Frank Packers, the Warwick Fairfaxes and the Phillip Joneses of the world who never deviate in their political support and who run the media of this country down a straight line behind the Liberal and Country Parties. I do not think that the Press secretaries and the working journalists in this Government are any real armament against that sort of political force in the field of the media in Australia
The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) read out a great deal about the role of the multi-national companies throughout the world and the disgraceful involvement of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation in Chile. Not only did that company spend US$1 m on its involvement in Chile and involve the Central Intelligence Agency, but it made an offer to Dr Kissinger. The company was as bold as to make a US$1 m offer to Dr Kissinger to involve the United States in some takeover of the Allende Government in Chile because the company did not happen to like the Government. So some of these forces are buying the government of the day.
I rather like the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). I do not think he contributes very much to the House, but I do Uke him. But it may be that one of these days a major company will want a smart candidate in Griffith and they may decide to replace the honourable member. They can do it under the system if we allow it to grow. Money will be the determining factor and we will aU be held in suspicion about what is going on in Australia. We ought to look at what is happening and how we are to survive.
If honourable members opposite want people to think we are part of some plot, that we are being supported and that on the basis that where there is smoke there is fire all the allegations that are being made are true, we will continue to be criticised and they will not only be doing the national Parliament a great disservice but also they will be doing themselves personally and the electorate and Australia a great disservice. The political parties will survive under a better system than we have at the moment.
The Minister asked me not to speak for too long so I want to conclude on these points. It is very important that the Electoral Act of Australia and the media laws of Australia are structured so that the political parties are putting over a view which is doing something to lift the consciousness of the Australian people. The Australian Government, not long after it took power in 1972, gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. Do honourable members opposite want the John Singletons of Australia to be the determining factor of how those young people progress politically? Do they want them to look at 30-second ads as though they are looking at an Omo, Rinso or some other kind of commercial, or do they want people to get up and debate the issues so that the electorate can determine what is right and what is wrong?
It is extremely important that members of this Parliament and people outside think seriously about what is going to happen in Australia if these laws are not altered. As a first step information about the moneys that are donated ought to be made public. Also, we ought to be looking at the media laws to make sure that some decent political content is given out to the electorate.
– The first question to ask oneself in a debate such as this is: ‘Why the need for such sweeping changes?’ I refer to them as changes. I do not choose the word ‘reform’ as the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) apparently chooses. Of course, the purpose of the Bill is to make certain that any political association of political parties is registered. The legislation requires political parties to disclose the sources of their funds and limits their expenditure. Of course, this is a curious approach but I suppose one has to see it in the context of the Minister’s career in his present portfolio. This is not the first reform’ that he has introduced into this House. We had a Bill before us which sought to change the electoral laws with regard to redistribution of electoral boundaries. We are yet to judge the outcome of that legislation. The Minister introduced a Bill in respect of optional preferential voting. Does anyone suggest that optional preferential voting would not distort the result of a House of Representatives election? Such a system might not have much impact upon a Senate result but it would certainly have a vast impact upon a House of Representatives result.
I have noticed that many of the changes, not only in respect of this legislation but also in respect of other legislation, have been proposed after a Minister and his colleagues have been on an around-the-world trip. This happened with respect to legislation dealing with trade practices, urban and regional development, and taxation. The iniquitous capital gains proposal came after a hurried trip around the world. No one objects to Ministers travelling overseas as long as they bring back something of value to this country. It seems to me that a trend is developing in which the most regressive forms of approach, all designed as part of a socialist objective, are being put forward by ministers after they have made trips around the world. I ask: Why have we this phobia about having to follow slavishly overseas countries? Surely within Australia we can identify our own problems and find almost all the solutions. The member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), said that although there is legislation of this kind in the United States of America, it can be got around. Of course there is a tremendous number of cases of corruption and malpractice in the United States and in other countries where they have had legislation of this type. When we go overseas to learn, let us bring back something of value, not just policy areas for us to follow slavishly.
What is the justification or need for these sweeping changes in our electoral laws just now? The Australian Electoral Office enjoys a very desirable reputation. I am not aware of any concern within the community or within the parliamentary system throughout Australia of the need for sweeping changes. Of course there are some imperfections in the Electoral Act but these authoritarian, discriminatory policies which the Minister for Services and Property has brought into the House are completely unacceptable to us. The real problem today is not within the Australian electoral system; it is within the Australian economic system. Furthermore, Labor Party speakers concern me enormously when they continue to talk about malpractices in the electoral system. In the 2 years that I have been in this place I have heard Dorothy Dix questions addressed to the Minister- no doubt we will hear more of them- and we have heard innuendoes, inferences and accusations about malpractices. I do not think such talk does us any good as an institution. I do not believe it does the parliamentary institution or the profession of politics any real good to have these constant innuendoes and inferences. The honourable member for Port Adelaide said: ‘I do not have a phobia about multinationals’. The fact of the matter is that the Labor Government has a phobia about multinationals. If the Government and its supporters continue to make these accusations it will be quite fair for us on this side of the House to look at the conscription of trade union funds and to look at some of the friends that this Government has made in communist countries. After all, the left wingers of the Labor Party have some very curious acquaintances and there is now evidence of Government liaison and co-operation with some of those countries.
Nobody denies that private enterprise supports the Liberal Party and the Country Party. We give it all the support we can and we reflect its views in Parliament. Naturally it gives us its financial support. It took this Government 2 years to discover what private enterprise was all about. It was only in Terrigal a week or two ago that the Labor Party wrote acceptability of private enterprise into its conference record. It is natural that, apart from a few misguided people, the bulk of private enterprise support will come to those who intend to implement private enterprise policies and to provide a higher standard of living for Australians through that system.
I do not want to go into the Bill in detail because we have been asked to reduce our time of speaking as a number of honourable members on both sides of the House want to contribute to the debate. However, I want to refer to a couple of details. The first is the requirement that all political parties or associations have to be registered. To me, that is an unacceptable invasion. It is too limiting on Australian society. People in this nation have every right to engage in political activity. If a conservation council wants to engage in political activity over an issue in its State or area it has every right to do so. This aspect of the Bill strikes at the very heart of democracy. It seems to me that probably the main thrust and the real long term intent of the Minister for Services and Property is to get a twoparty system. This brings his phobia in regard to the Country Party into proper relief.
The second detail I am concerned about is the matter of fund raising and the need, in the mind of the Government, for all donations to be disclosed, whether at party level or at candidate level. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) indicated how ridiculous some of the proposals were. To my mind, this intrusion into privacy is unacceptable in Australian society today. Another provision of the Bill limits expenditure, and here we have a host of arbitrary rules and figures which are going to be placed on parties and candidates- if there is a House of Representatives election, if there is a separate Senate election, if they are both held together, if there is a double dissolution, or indeed if there is a referendum. They are very arbitrary rules and if they are broken substantial penalties are imposed by means of fines. This could lend itself to creating tremendous distress for righteous and very honourable members of the Australian community.
We in the Opposition oppose the legislation. We oppose it on the ground that no evidence has been given by anybody- by the Minister or by any of the Labor speakers- which demonstrates that there is a need for such sweeping discriminatory and authoritarian changes, no evidence whatsoever. I should hope that the Government can get its priorities in order. This is not a major issue within Australia. There is no concern in the Australian community that there are malpractices within the parliamentary system. I am not aware that any concern has been expressed by the Australian community that political parties are dishonest. I should think that the average Australian would regard it as important to maintain his or her rights on the question of political affiliation and on the question of what contributions are made to help a candidate or a party. This Government ought to get its priorities in order. It is not the electoral system that needs reform; it is the Government’s economic pOliCY Instead of spending some hours this afternoon on this debate we would have done better to spend the time discussing the tremendous problem of over 300 000 unemployed in Australia, a government which has still not recognised the need for new economic policies and the fact that continuing inflation is going to drain the resources and the growth of this country. I should hope that the Minister will give thought to having a second look at this Bill. If a Bill were introduced which sought to remove in a reasonable way some of the imperfections in the present Act then I am quite certain that the Opposition would support it, but the Bill in its present form is completely unacceptable to us, and of course it will meet its rightful fate in the other chamber.
-The purpose of this BUI is to provide for the disclosure of financial support received by Australian political parties, not from their own members, not from the little people in our society, to use a term that the late Mr Chifley used to use, but from powerful business interests or others in this community who might from time to time, given one election or another or given the issues that come before the people at those elections, place substantial amounts of money behind a political party in order to give it an unfair advantage, in order to wield real economic power. I am interested that in this debate on very sensible and pragmatic changes to the electoral law, on several occasions speakers on the other side have mentioned that they are concerned with the economic situation. They have admitted that they are the spokesmen for private enterprise, for free enterprise in the Australian community. The Government is not contesting any of those things, but I was interested in some comments made by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), who said that his central party organisation put no significant amount of money into his campaign. I think he said that it did not give him a brass razoo, and I would think that this is the position with many, if not most, honourable members. The finance which is raised for our local political campaigns is raised by the sacrifices of little people like the friend of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) in the poultry industry. It is raised by the people we know who belong to our party branches who perhaps run a small function in their home. They might run a small- doubtless illegal- raffle at a party branch, raffling some small thing to make a few dollars for the party. No one wants to inhibit that sort of political activity. It is the activity of the ordinary, decent Australian. Honourable members will notice that the limit on subscriptions to a political Party is $100. In Queensland the subscription to the Labor Party by a member of a branch of the Labor Party is $5 for the current year.
– It is $3 in Victoria.
– We are trying to raise the standard of the Party in Queensland. Relatives of mine who, for reasons best known to themselves, are supporters of the Country Party pay a subscription of about $100 to the Country Party. Those subscriptions are perfectly legal. Let us cut the reality away from the myth in these areas. This BUI is not one which is designed to restrict the ordinary activities of decent Australian people, whatever their political persuasions might be, when they support the political party of their choice. It applies equally to the Australian Labor Party in that donations made by trade unions or business people to the ALP must also be disclosed. This BUI is not one which requires only the Liberal, Country, National or other non-Labor parties to disclose their sources of income. It requires all political parties to disclose their sources of income.
The honourable member for Moreton referred to an occasion on which the wrong cheque arrived at the Liberal Party office. He said that he was embarassed at the amount. Let me remind him- he knows of it- that there is an arrangement between political parties when these things happen. The Labor Party participates in an exchange of cheques when, through some defect on the part of somebody’s secretarial staff, a cheque goes to the wrong political party. Let me tell him that I have vivid recollections of an election campaign some time ago when the Labor Party in Queensland received a cheque for $20,000 which was made payable to the Liberal Party. When we exchanged it with the Liberal Party for the cheque which should have come to the Labor Party our cheque was for $5,000. I assure the honourable member that these accidents are not peculiar to the Liberal Party. They have been known to happen to the Labor Party as well. Without any doubt the vast forces of capital in this nation are behind the conservative parties on the other side. In the 1972 election campaign National Party candidates in Queensland were given up to $20,000 in some cases towards their local campaigns. Some candidates for city seats got $12,000 towards their campaign, plus what the party organisations raised locally.
This matter was one of concern not only to any Australian who believed in democracy but also to the Liberal Party because National Party candidates were contesting Liberal Party seats. I note that the honourable member for Griffith quoted from a document which he attributed to the Labor Party. He said that it was an extract from a campaign report. Allow me to quote from a letter dated 19 December 1974. It is addressed to a businessman in the Federal Division of Griffith. It is signed by D. M. Cameron M.P., member for Griffith. It reads:
I mention another point of concern. During the recent State election campaign I became aware of that the Country Party was plundering the Griffith electorate for funds. In fact one Liberal candidate, fighting a once called impossible State seat in Griffith, was informed, upon requesting financial help: ‘We Ve just given $X to Mr Y from Party Headquarters.’
The donor was rung by another man and was genuinely surprised and regretful when it was explained that not one cent of the donation would be given by the National/Country Party to the lone local non-socialist candidate, or the Liberal Party.
Granted, there is no law to stop them obtaining funds from any place, but please ensure your friends who share non-socialist views fully understand the difference, because it’s crazy when we have difficult, more sensitive, metropolitan Federal seats, for money to go straight into the blue ribbon country areas. Each electorate should raise its own finances. The Liberal Party is Australia’s largest free enterprise and non-socialist Party, and the vote on 7 December confirmed this.
Having pointed out that there is some dispute about the way in which money is raised, I might add that it was not always that the Country Party was opposed to the disclosure of political party funds. I quote from Hansard of 1 7 October 1 973.
The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) is reported at page 2243 to have said:
The Prime Minister and Mr Daly will no doubt be disappointed to learn that the Country Party has no concern at all about the proposal to legislate for the disclosure of the sources of political parties’ funds.
However, we will be proposing at least one amendment to the legislation when it is introduced, and that is that donations or subscriptions to party funds should be tax deductible- as are the union dues which help finance the Labor Party.
Further, I am wondering why the disclosure requirement is to apply only from now, and is not retrospective.
Perhaps the members of the Country Party who are present might care to do something about the views expressed not very long ago by their Leader. I am under a commitment to restrict my speaking time in this debate, but I would like to say that the Labor Party in the federal Division of Brisbane has never received any financial assistance at all from the central organisation of the Party in Queensland. We raise our money by the sacrifices of the little people who make up the Labor Party, the ordinary people who not only pay their party dues but by various means, by a self-imposed levy or by running small social functions or the like, raise the money that is necessary to fight election campaigns. This is the support from the ordinary people that ought to determine what the political balance is in this country. I venture to say that none of us would object to political fund raising of that kind. What we are concerned with is that where political parties are receiving vast amounts of money from mining companies as the National Party received in 1972 and doubtless later, the sources are disclosed. We have heard infinite talk about the wealthy trade unions behind the Labor Party. We are not afraid to disclose the sources of our funds. Why is it that those on the other side of the House, the members of the Liberal Party and of the Country Party, are afraid to disclose the resources and the faceless men who stand behind their political parties?
-This Bill belongs to a long category of Bills introduced since December 1972 which illustrate that this Government believes that if there is a malady or a potential malady in the community there is only one way in which to excise it or stop it and that is by regulation. In other words, bring in a law which says that you cannot do that or you have to do this. This legislation, like so many other pieces of legislation, is based on what I believe to be a totally false proposition. On reading the second reading speech of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) I note that he himself does not really in his heart of hearts believe that you can cure wrong doing or you can stop wrong doing by passing laws because there is a very interesting paragraph in that speech at page 132 of Hansard which reads:
Up to the present Australia has been most fortunate in that it has not suffered any serious electoral malpractices or Watergate ‘ and as Australians we tend to pride ourselves in this regard.
Has it ever occurred to the Minister or to the speakers who have supported him in this debate that it is in those countries that have the sort of absurd restrictions and absurd requirements that this Bill invites that the malady which the Minister seeks to stop with this legislation has occurred? Does he recall that it was in the United States of America with the most complicated laws for the disclosure of political funds which suffered the tragic experience of the fate of both the President and the Vice-President? Does it not sink in to the members of the Government that you cannot stop political dishonesty by making laws and passing rules? You cannot do it in that way. You cannot cure all the ills of the Australian society. You cannot stop new ills emerging simply by passing legislation.
I for my part am totally opposed to the concept which is enshrined in this Bill. I do not believe that the Government has made out a case for this legislation. Throughout the speeches of Government supporters we heard innuendos and suggestions about where there might have been some kind of corruption. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) started to talk about an example. He did not offer any proof. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) expressed tremendous fears about what might possibly happen in the future unless we did something about the situation. He gave absolutely no proof or evidence of political corruption. No case has been made out for this legislation. No demonstrable need for this legislation has been advanced by the Government. Therefore I do not think the House ought to endorse the invasion of privacy, the deprivation of confidentiality and the sheer prying into people’s private affairs which are inherent in this legislation.
The absurdity of the consequences of some provisions of this Bill has already been pointed out very well by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). This Bill represents a natural culmination of a long and paranoic campaign and obsession on the part of the Australian Labor Party about business contributions to the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. I was a little astounded at the speech made by the honourable member for Port Adelaide. I listened to it with great interest. I respect the contribution which the honourable member for Port Adelaide made as a member of his Party’s organisation to the efforts of that Party during the 1972 election campaign, but I was absolutely astounded to hear a man of his political experience say that election campaigns are won and lost during the 3 weeks before the election according to the volume of media advertising which is conducted on a central basis. Surely a person of his political experience realises that if a candidate does not have an election won four or five weeks before the election day he is really uphill to win it.
What is so really farcical, quite apart from the philosophical objection that can be mounted against this legislation, is the proposition that the expenditure of huge sums of money in an election campaign can change the result. What evidence has been demonstrated to show that elections are won or lost according to the volume of money that has been spent? The honourable member for Port Adelaide cited an example. He talked about my colleague, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson). Did it ever occur to him that my colleague, the honourable member for Sturt, may have won his seat back because the people of Sturt, after they had heard my colleague’s predecessor, realised that they had made a mistake in 1969?
I would like to give him an illustration. My predecessor in the 1961 election campaign faced one of the most expensive efforts ever mounted on behalf of an individual member of the Australian Labor Party in the person of the former Lord Mayor of Sydney. The volume of money expended in the Bennelong campaign on behalf of the Australian Labor Party in 1961 would dwarf to pigmy proportions the amount in examples cited by members on the Government side. The amount spent in Bennelong did not alter the result. My predecessor still hung on. So the proposition that elections are won or lost according to the quality of advertising or the amount of money spent on an election campaign is absolute nonsense. I am astounded that people with the political experience of the honourable member for Port Adelaide, and indeed other honourable members who have spoken in this debate on behalf of the Government, should advance that proposition.
The other thing that intrigues me about this piece of legislation and the arguments that have been advanced by Government speakers is this: 1 wonder how some of the expenditure incurred by the Department of the Media in the name of informing the Australian public would stand examination under some of the clauses and provisions of this Bill, because since this Government came to power we have witnessed a massive increase in the amount of public money expended in the interests of propaganda on behalf of the Government. We even had a situation at the time of the 1974 double dissolution campaign where a very large sum of money was spent on behalf of the Australian Electoral Office, designed to reduce the volume of the informal vote in New South Wales. That sum was expended for one reason- to reduce the volume of the informal vote. Of course, we all know that the Australian Labor Party was petrified that the volume of the informal vote would cause it to lose ground in New South Wales. A great deal of money has been expended on behalf of the Department of the Media in order to explain things to the Australian people- of course, in a completely impartial and non-political manner. These publications often bear, with their pithy, non-political message, a nice glossy photograph of the responsible Minister. I think of that gentleman who is to go to higher places tomorrow. His photograph looked out at me from the information about the Trade Practices Act. I am sure that other honourable members can think of plenty of other examples.
In the past 2 years we have seen public funds used to put around propaganda on behalf of the Government. This piece of legislation is a phoney piece of legislation. No need has been demonstrated to bring it in. It invades privacy. It is designed to entrench the electoral status quo of political parties in Australia. Why should a political party not find it hard to raise money if it is doing a bad job? My party found it hard to raise money in 1961. 1 speak with some experience of the fund raising fortunes of the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party. Anybody from any side of this House who suggests that political parties find it easy to raise money is, to use an old saying, talking through his hat. All political parties find it difficult to raise moneywhether they are Labor, Liberal, Country Party or otherwise.
This campaign of vilification of business, this campaign designed to paint a picture of collusion and collaboration between business and the parties with which I am happy to sit on this side of the House, has got out of all proportions. The truth of the matter is that all of us have difficulties in raising money. This piece of legislation is a piece of legislation for which there is absolutely no demonstrable need. I strongly support the rejection in toto of the legislation.
-The Electoral Bill 1974 tackles yet another area of overdue electoral reform. Along with the principles for which the Australian Labor Party has fought of one vote one value, the easing of voting procedures and the facilitating of results to express the wish of the people, the Government now wishes to bring in legislation that will enact 2 demands by the public- for the limitation of electoral expenditure and for public disclosure of the source of funds. I will deal first with the matter of electoral expenditure. The Bill sets out to increase the allowable amount to be spent by parties and candidates. Obviously the current limits are hopelessly inadequate. I ask honourable members: Who can run a reasonable campaign on the present limit of $500 for each candidate for the House of Representatives or $1,000 for a Senate candidate? The simple answer is that the limits are outmoded and unrealistic.
I remind the House that the $500 is required for a whole range of campaign materials and media- for instance, to purchase advertising, to print pamphlets, to pay for petrol, to pay for rental for an office, to print and distribute howtovote cards and to pay for broadcasting. I give an example of what is spent. I thank the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard) for raising the example. One example of big spending in a campaign occurred in 1972 when his colleague, the present honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson), swamped the former honourable member for Sturt, Mr Foster, with a deluge of advertising. It was claimed by the present honourable member for Sturt in an interview which was printed in the ‘Australian’ that he was proud to say that he spent on campaigning the equivalent of the cost of 2 chocolate bars and a pie and sauce, I think it was, on each elector in his electorate. I ask the honourable member for Bennelong why the honourable member for Sturt would spend this amount. I recall that the total amount was $28,000. Why would the honourable member for Sturt spend that amount of money if he did not think that it would bring results? Is he going to say: ‘I spent $28,000 anyway, despite my rhetoric, despite my ability, despite my arguments and my policies and platform, to persuade the electorate’? I think only an idiot would believe that course of argument. In my own campaign I had to suffer my Liberal opponent spending what has been estimated to be 4 times the amount that I was able to spend.
The current law is flouted and must be repealed. The present position is a farce. There would not be a politician in any State or in this House who does not generally contravene the provisions of the Act. Under the legislation politicians are limited to spending no more than $500 on their election campaign. The average expenditure in an electorate, even forgetting some of the larger rorts in spending on advertising, is around $5,000. In fact, if we were to claim our expenditure was $500 we would be committing perjury. So most of us fail to fill in our declaration forms showing the amounts we have spent. Electoral officials say that they cannot remember anyone ever being prosecuted for breaching the law. The present law encourages neither obedience nor prosecution for disobedience. The limits on spending, as I have said, are farcically low. Many candidates have said both publicly and privately that their campaign has cost many more dmes the amount they have claimed on their expenses returns. As the Minister summarised so aptly, unenforcible, unrealistic law is bad law.
If we must change the law we might ask: What is a reasonable limit that will not favour the encumbent over the challenger? What amount will not give large parties an advantage over small parties or an individual? What amount will permit each candidate to canvass thoroughly his platform and policies and not restrict the flow of information to the electors, which is so vital for them to make a judgment and a proper deliberation on the alternatives available? But substantial amounts of money should not be spent on pop’ advertising. What balance can we strike between unfair advantage and political freedom? Australia’s people have requested that the changes be made. Not only in Australia but also overseas has there been demand for a limit on advertising. The United States House of Representatives on 1 1 August last year passed a Campaign Financing Reform Bill which is designed to halt fund raising abuses such as those which occurred in the 1972 presidential election. So I would remind the honourable member for Bennelong that, rather than preceding the debacle called Watergate and all its attendant impact on democratic elections, the restrictions followed the abuses and were a direct result of those abuses.
This Bill is designed to prevent, to circumvent, those sorts of abuses. The United States legislation went through almost unnoticed amid the furore of President Nixon’s resignation. The Bill was passed by 355 votes to 48 less than 2 hours before he tendered his resignation. In other words, the voting numbers showed almost across the board agreement, regardless of party, that this was a desirable limitation on electoral expenditure. The Bin limits presidential candidates to an expenditure of $10m. The general election expenditures were set down at $20m. But for individual candidates the House set a $60,000 limit on congressional campaign spending and $75,000 or- this is the important part- 5c per citizen of the State for Senate contests. We have taken a leaf from the United States book. We have taken a similar perspective after taking into account the different sizes of our electorates and the style of our campaigns.
I would tike to point out one factor that has been overlooked. The present Act set an absolute limit. There is no growth factor to take account of the increase in the size of electorates. By gearing a set amount to each of the electors we have an inbuilt growth factor. For example, now I am required to spend a maximum of $500, the same amount as my predecessor, Mr Jess, was able to spend when he won the seat in 1969 with only 55 000 electors. When I was elected in 1972 that number had crept to 69 000. Now if an election were held tomorrow, heaven forbid, I would have to spend not more than $500 to campaign to 85 000 voters. If we do not put a limit on spending, the Australian counterparts of the Kennedys and the Rockefellers would be the only ones who could run for office. We do not support the attitude of the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) who advocated the abolition of any limit. It must be the right of all to run for Parliament. To allow unbridled expenditure would deny poorer citizens and independents equality of opportunity to effectively stand for Parliament.
The other aspect of this very important reform in electoral matters is the public disclosure of the sources of party funds. This will end the secret donations system by which outside organisations can supposedly exert financial pressure on governments. The fear the public has is that these secret donors exert a behind-the-scenes influence on Opposition pontics and policies, and on governments. How far is this fear justified? In a book called ‘Looking at the Liberals’ launched by the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon), and edited by an ex-Press Gallery journalist, that journalist claimed that Central Intelligence Agency money was available to the Liberals to fight the last election campaign in May. He said the funds were available without asking and with no strings attached. The right honourable member for Lowe, the former Prime Minister, stated that to his knowledge his Party did not receive money from the CIA. But whether the Liberal Party did or did not receive that money is only half the story. The public will not be content unless it is aware that this is not occurring. Freedom from outside interference, particularly from a foreign country, must not only be a fact but also must be seen to be a fact, and this is what this Bill does.
The honourable member for McPherson (Mr Eric Robinson) said that the Bill is authoritarian. This Bill has full public support. According to a Gallup poll published in September last year 80 per cent of all Australians think that political parties should say where their money comes from. The poll questioned 2014 people aged 16 or more in all States and asked: ‘Do you think that political parties in Australia should be required by law to reveal the sources of their funds?’ The replies varied only slightly according to political opinions. A total of 85 per cent of Australian Labor Party voters answered ‘Yes’ compared with 77 per cent of Liberal-Country Party voters. But single polls are often misleading so I turn to yet another poll taken one year earlier and published in September 1973. That poll found that 58 per cent of Australians were against companies or individuals making large donations to political parties. A convincing 78 per cent said that political parties should be obliged to supply full details of the sources of their income, they key to the proposals in this Bill.
The Opposition can make small talk of the public’s concern. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) can talk of his little old lady’s omelette and of his gifts of loaded dice and ludo sets to his colleagues but his act of frivolity gives the he to his concern and to any substance in his rebuttal. Perhaps a snakes and ladders set might have been more appropriate for his Party and his friends in New South Wales who are sliding down too many snakes and have not climbed a ladder for many years.
– Why not a monopoly set?
– As my friend has said, why not a monopoly set? That would be more in the Opposition ‘s line. The difference is that when this Bill goes through they will not collect an unexplained $200, passing gaol or not. But rising above all this nonsense is the concern of the people which can be summed up in these words: ‘Beware of those bearing gifts’.
-In the few minutes that Government supporters have left me there are one or two things I would like to say about this Bill.
– Take your time.
– I will not take all my time because I assured the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) that I would give him ample time to conclude this debate before the sitting was suspended. However, I am a little disappointed with some Government speakers who perhaps overstepped their mark a little. I want to refer firstly to the remarks of the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young). I believe that he summed up the real reasons for the introduction of this Bill. He made great play of the multi-nationals and the Liberal and Country Parties having more funds than the Labor Party. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) started talking about buying political support. If one puts these 2 issues together it is obvious that one of the reasons why the Government has introduced this Bill is that it believes that outside this place it cannot match the Opposition parties in any way in getting office so it will try to do it through legislation.
In this House last night I spoke about cheap political propaganda. This was mentioned again this afternoon by the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard). I draw attention to a simple little card about community relations which states: ‘Nice people come in all coloursAustralian Government’. That looks pretty good until one turns it over and sees where is comes from. On the back is a photo of a certain gentleman with his wife and family, a former member of this chamber, the honourable A. J. Grassby, who is now an appointed officer. We do not employ his family, so why should we get cheap -
– It is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money.
– Yes, of course it is a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money. I am informed that Government sources paid for that Christmas card. Another point I want to raise is in answer to a number of Government speakers who made allegations of a great contribution of funds to the Australian Country Party. I will venture to say that most individual contributions on a dollar basis are given to political parties other than the Australian Country Party. In other words what I am trying to say is this: The Country Party’s campaign funds are dependent on individual membership of the Party and there are very few donations outside that.
Under the present Act, in accordance with the provisions laid down some years ago, a candidate is permitted to spend $500 in a campaign and he must put in a return within so many days after the election. As far as the parties are concerned the funds are unlimited. The Minister for
Services and Property (Mr Daly), in his own words, said that this provision is being ignored. I agree with him. Why do they ignore it? This is the all-important point. The simple reason is that the candidates are unable to run a campaign on such a miserable sum of money. Of course this Bill proposes to increase the amount according to the number of constituents within an electorate and specifies the amount that may be contributed by the candidate and by the Party, with different amounts according to whether the election is for the House of Representatives or for the Senate. If an electorate contained 50 000 electors a candidate would be entitled to spend $2,500 and the party would be entitled to spend a further $3,750, a total of $6,250.
There are any amount of electorates throughout Australia in which it is absolutely impossible, on today’s costings to run a campaign for that figure. I mention the average country electorate which may have up to 20 newspapers. If one looks at the cost of advertising at $1.50 an inch and works out how much a reasonable amount of advertising would cost one will find that one could not do much for less than $300 per paper. Multiply that by 20 and see what is the result. There are how to vote cards which would cost about $ 1,000. No honourable member can run a campaign without having a pamphlet. That accounts for another $1,000. What does that total? I have not even mentioned radio, television, hall hire, postage and all those sorts of things. It is absolutely impossible to conduct a campaign on this budget. So this legislation will force people to try to campaign either in a dishonest way or to carry out a very poor campaign.
I will agree that if every party were to expend no money at all we would still get a similar result. Nevertheless, we are not prepared to do that. Now that the Government has decided that it will introduce a redistribution plan to enlarge many of the country electorates, where some country electorates might have had 20 newspapers- if they were anything like some of the ones in Victoria such as the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) who will take over some of the electorate of Wimmera- they will finish up with about 30 newspapers. How could a candidate campaign on these amounts as outlined? Really what will happen is that the Bill will force candidates to appoint agents. No doubt any genuine, honest agent will not be able to make the declaration required, so he will carry out a pretty poor campaign. Virtually, what we are doing is inviting outside, irresponsible people to take part in campaigns, make statements in support of candidates, make donations on the quiet and all those sons of things. I believe that we will do more damage by the introduction of this Bill than we would if we were to leave the situation as it now stands.
It is all very well for honourable members in some electorates. For example, I refer to the Minister for Services and Property. Dear oh dear, the Minister would not even need to hand out a how-to-vote card in his electorate and he would still win the election handsomely because he holds a blue ribbon Labor seat. The people in that electorate do not know how to vote any different way. I do not know how the previous speaker in the debate, the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Lamb) and the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) will carry out efficient campaigns. I might add that during the campaigns for the next election they will not want to spend a similar figure to what they spent during the last election campaign. They will need to add another nought to the figure that they spent otherwise they will not see which way the Liberal candidates went.
Personally, I have no objection to making public the donations to political parties. I am proud of the money that flows into Country Party funds. It is absolutely clean money with no strings attached. As I said before, the bulk of it is collected from individual members within the Party. Make no mistake about it; this Bill sets up the machinery for a real Australian Watergate. I ask honourable members to mark by words. If this Bill is introduced within a few years we will see plenty of Watergate-type incidents in Australia. The Bill represents an infringment of the rights of the individual. It will squeeze people out of political life and bring about the establishment of the old principle that the Labor Party of today wants. It wants a 2 -party system finishing up with a one-party system as soon as it gets the opportunity to do so.
What will it mean if this Bill is implemented. Does it mean that we should carry through its principles to State elections, municipal elections, union elections and all sorts of other elections? If an example is set in this place, of course it must be carried through. The Australian Labor Party is quite happy to accept the way the trade union movement carries out its elections but it wants a different set of circumstances to apply when it has strong opposition from parties like the Liberal and Country Parties. I am sorry that I cannot make further comments on this matter because there are a lot of other things I wanted to say tonight. I promised the Minister that I would finish my speech in less then 10 minutes and that is what I do. I oppose this Bill as strongly as I possibly can.
– I want to reply very briefly to some of the comments that have been made. Irrespective of the side of the House on which members sit I think they will agree that the debate on the Electoral Bill has been an interesting and informative one. It has shown that honourable members are keenly interested in this problem. I thank honourable members for their co-operation in terminating their speeches a little earlier than might have otherwise been the case. Let me say to put the record straight that this Bill has not been introduced for any ulterior motive. Its provisions apply to every political party and every candidate standing for office in this nation. There is no discrimination whatever. We believe that the BUI represents an attempt to end the secrecy that surrounds the funds collected not by any particular political party but by every candidate and party running for office. In effect, it will make known to those people in the community who are contributing to campaign funds what candidates are receiving. In every way, it Will make the position open to the public.
The previous speaker, the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), mentioned that the present law is farcical. A candidate for the House of Representatives can spend $500 on his campaign, regardless of how big the electorate may be, and a Senate candidate may spend $1,000 on his campaign. I doubt that there is a member of this Parliament who has not spent many times that amount in election campaigns. The number of members who Will not obey the law and who will not make a return of expenditure is too great to add up. Yet I understand that since Federation no member of Parliament has been prosecuted for breaking this law. Conversely, every second citizen who breaks the law is immediately charged under the law and is expected to comply with it. Until we change this system members of this Parliament can be elected to Parliament and break that law by receiving funds donated from God knows where. We believe that in that secret way the whole of our democracy is being upset.
This is not a socialist plan or anything of that type. Most conservative countries in the world have implemented such legislation. For instance, Canada and the United States of America have such laws. In Canada similar legislation was supported by all political parties. It was introduced by Mr Trudeau himself and it Will take effect. The Canadian legislation is more extravagant than our proposed legislation. The Canadian legislation gives members the right to post letters to their constituents two or three times a year and in addition enables the making of subscriptions to the campaign commitments of members. The expenditure, however, is restricted. Australia is dragging way behind on the question of party funds which can influence the opinions of candidates.
Let me give a simple illustration of what can happen. If some chap gives a member $ 1,000 for his campaign that person would be dead unlucky if he could not get in to see the member, but if poor old BUI Smith comes in from the street wanting to see the member the member would say he was too busy to see him. However if word came through that Bill Smith had paid $1,000 into the kitty the member would get this campaign organisers to usher him in. I do not cast any reflections on honourable members but there is always the inference that donations given to parties or to members can have an influence. Now is the time to flush out any such suggestion. Any member of Parliament and any party is entitled to receive donations from any source but the amount members and parties spend should be public knowledge and everybody should know who it is that is supporting the candidate or the party.
I am amazed at the change of opinion that is evident in the Opposition. When the Labor Party challenged the Opposition about receiving contributions from multinational corporations the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) entered the chamber and said: ‘We will support this legislation’. The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) is on record, as mentioned by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), at the same time as saying: ‘We have nothing to fear in this legislation and will make only a minor amendment to see that such donations are tax deductible’. Why the change of attitude? Members of the Country Party tell us that they are not afraid to disclose the source of their funds, but they must be ashamed if they do not want the public to know about them.
I do not say that the Labor Party does not have a skeleton or two it would want to reveal but I suggest that this Bill gives an opportunity for all parties in Australia and for aU candidates to lock those skeletons in the cupboard and to go straight in the future. From now on, if this BUI becomes law, everybody will know the source of money that helps to elect members to this Parliament. Is the Opposition afraid to let the people of Australia know where it gets its campaign funds? If it is not ashamed of the source of those funds why should not the people sitting in the galleries of this chamber and the millions of people who are listening to me at this moment know where those funds come from? Why should the public not know these details? The Labor Party is not afraid to reveal such information. It has introduced the legislation, will support it and will see that it is carried out. If members opposite are not afraid to indicate the source of their funds they should support the legislation.
In 1973 the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country Party said, in effect, that they welcomed it. At that time their parties were not getting the dough because they were on the skids, but now their coffers are full. The money is coming in so they will not let the nation know where it is coming from. They should take the good with the bad. When the money is not coming in large amounts they do not mind revealing those who support them but when it is coming in, as it is now, they should likewise let the people know the source. Little did I dream that this once great party- if I might coin a phrase- opposite would ever be ashamed of the source of its campaign funds. I should like to know, for instance, who put in the $50,000 that each of the Country Party members got during the last Queensland elections.
The honourable member who led the debate for the Opposition, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) made a speech which I would describe as extravagant, entertaining and empty. Undoubtedly he had not read the Bill and consequently was unable to advance any sound reasons for not disclosing the source of his funds. The honourable member is a top grade lawyer in the small debts court but he is out of his depth when debating electoral reform. Honourable members curtailed their speeches so I will not talk further. I conclude by suggesting that almost every member of this Parliament is breaking the present electoral law. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) said that people and members cannot be told to do this or that. The present electoral law says that a candidate for the House of Representatives can spend only $500 and a candidate for the Senate $ 1 , 000 on an election campaign but if some honourable members opposite did not spend fifty times the prescribed amount I will give 100 quid to the Liberal Party. The situation is that every member is breaking the law. Funds are being poured into all parties at different times and the public does not know their source.
It is time that the people of this country knew what members or what parties are dominated by various interests. It is time that the sources of all funds were revealed. We do not want any Watergate in this country. We do not want a Watergate in any shape or form. The revelations of Watergate have brought to the attention of every domocratic country the need to know these things. The funds paid into political parties and to candidates must be known to the public, vouched for and restricted. Every poor man is entitled to have as much opportunity to get into Parliament as the richest man in the community has. How can anyone compete with the Liberal candidate in the Macarthur electorate who has said that he will spend $40,000, even though according to the law only $500 can be spent by an individual in his campaign. I do not care much whether he spends that sum but I think that we are entitled to know where he has obtained that money.
I summarise the debate in this way: This is a sincere attempt by the Government of the day to make political parties reveal the sources of their funds and to require candidates to do the same. I am ashamed to think that the Leader of the Liberal Party (Mr Snedden) and the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) have backed down from the welcome that they gave to these proposals about 1 8 months ago. But I say to the Australian people that this legislation represents a forward step in line with thinking in democratic countries which seek to keep politics free of the implications and imputations which go with money power poured into party funds. We have had great records here as parties and individuals of high integrity in our parliaments. We can make that record better by knowing where party funds come from. We can give all people the opportunity to be elected, knowing full well that their expenditures, incomes and other related matters will be known. Above all else, we can take the great democratic step forward in this country and keep in line with other great democracies which have realised how necessary this requirement is.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I move:
In clause 3, omit sub-section ( 1 ) of proposed section 153G, substitute the following sub-sections:
In this section, a reference to a gift, in relation to a return, does not include a reference to a gift the value of which is less than $100 unless the value of the gift, together with the value of any other gift or gifts made by or on behalf of the same donor during the period to which the return relates, exceeds an aggregate value of $ 100. ( 1a) Within 12 weeks after the day fixed for the polling for an election, every person who was at any time the official agent of a candidate for the election shall file with the Chief Australian Electoral Officer a return in the form prescribed, setting out-
all gifts authorized by him as provided by section 151; and
all gifts received by him on behalf of, by arrangement with, or with the concurrence of, the candidate, during that time and the names and addresses of the persons by whom the gifts were made and the amount or value of each gift; and
particulars of all electoral expenditure authorized by him as provided by section 146 during that time, the names and addresses of the persons by whom the expenditure was incurred and the amount of the expenditure incurred by each of them. ‘.
– I seek leave to incorporate the explanations of the amendment in Hansard.
– Is leave granted?
– I do not object to this procedure being followed. I merely indicate that no inference can be drawn that we approve of the contents of the amendment or indeed of the Bill.
– There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Mr Chairman, as foreshadowed in my second reading speech, I have circulated an amendment to the proposed new section 153G contained in clause 3 of the Bill, to provide that a gift of less than $100, or gifts by the same person aggregating less than $ 100, made to a Party or to a candidate with the authority of or through the Party agent of the official agent of the candidate, will not have to be disclosed in the return required by the proposed section.
In addition, the amendment which I have circulated proposes that the return filed by the official agent of a candidate should disclose details as to the expenditure incurred or authorised, and to gifts recieved or authorised, by him at any time while he was an official agent. As presently drafted, such disclosure is limited to the period between the issue of the writ and polling day. In short, the amendment will ensure accountability for gifts received- including donations- and for expenditure made by the official agent of a candidate at all times but only for gifts exceeding in value $ 100.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment; report- by leave- adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly)- by leave- read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 12 February on motion byMrWhitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Stewart had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: ‘whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House is of the opinion that the Bill should give expression to the following principles:
that the family is the basic and stable unit of the Australian society;
b ) that marriage should be buttressed;
that marriage should be permanent and secure;
that full and proper recognition be given to the status and rights of a woman as wife and mother;
that there should be full and proper protection of the wife and children in the event of the dissolution of a marriage;
that there is need for children to be reared and cared for by a present parent; and
that marriage should be dissolved only when a Court is satisfied on objective grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down or that the parties have lived separately and apart for not less than two years ‘.
The effect of carrying the amendment would be that the question for the second reading of the Bill would not be carried.
Those words led people to the conclusion that because the question for the second reading of the Bill would not be carried the Bill would therefore die. I raised the question with you for the purpose of clarifying the point. I would like to refer you- perhaps you have had an opportunity of looking at it in the interim since I raised the matter with you last night- to the booklet entitled ‘House of Representatives- Short Description of Business and Procedures’. I refer in particular to the reference at page 41 of that booklet to a ‘reasoned amendment’. I would agree that the amendment that has been moved by Mr Stewart and seconded by Mr Howard is what could be described in parliamentary terms as a reasoned amendment. The booklet entitled Short Description of Business and Procedures’ on page 41 states:
The effect of carrying a ‘reasoned amendment’ is not technically conclusive. The House refuses, on a particular day, to read the Bill a second time and gives its reason for such a refusal. According to modern practice it would appear to be unlikely that, after a ‘reasoned amendment’ had been carried on the second reading of the Bill, any further progress would be made. But incumbent amendment, if agreed to, does not necessarily arrest the progress of the Bill, and a government could, if it saw fit in particular circumstances, take procedural action to restore the Bill to the Notice Paper and have the second reading moved on another occasion.
I think what the House needs to do is to direct its attention to the difference between this Bill, which is a Bill on which there is a free vote, and a
Government Bill. I readily say that if it were a Government Bill and such an amendment as this were carried it would be incumbent on the Government to consider whether it had lost the confidence of the House or whether it would redraft the Bill and bring in a new Bill to test the confidence of the House with the new Bill. That would be the position if it were a Government Bill. But as we all know, quite clearly and conclusively in all our minds, this is a Bill, although it has been introduced by the Government, which was introduced for the purpose of testing the Parliament. It was so treated in the Senate and it is being so treated here.
I therefore acknowledge that this situation is possibly unique. I know of no precedent for it and because I know of no precedent for it I must argue what I think is the correct course that should be followed. If you will excuse me, Mr Speaker, I will make reference to the amendment as it is. The amendment reads:
Whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading -
In those words it indicates that it wants the Bill to goon- the House is of the opinion that the Bill should give expression to the following principles:
I interrupt myself to say that I do not think there would be conflict in the House on paragraphs (a) to (f), but when one comes to paragraph (g) one finds it reads:
That is in fact an issue which will have to be determined by the House.
May I put this to you, Mr Speaker, for your consideration when ruling on the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition which is similar to the point I took last night: It seems to me that 2 matters are involved. One is, of course, the proposition that all words after ‘That’ be omitted. This means that if the amendment is carried the Bill would not proceed at this stage. One should then bear in mind the practical aspects of this matter because, as the Leader of the Opposition said, this is not a Government measure; it is merely a measure introduced by the Government to elicit the thinking of the House, as it was in the Senate. A free vote is to be taken on the legislation which will indicate the opinion of honourable members. As I have said, if the amendment is carried the Bill at this stage will not be able to pass the second reading stage.
Then there is the second proposition, namely, that ‘whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading’- I interpose my own thought here- at this stage or at some stage in the future, if it is brought back in here by me or someone else at some other stage, the House indicates certain opinions that it has now as to what should guide the House on a future occasion when this Bill is again considered. Of course, we know that this House cannot bind itself in that regard. It might express an opinion in regard to the second proposition but could subsequently change its mind. But as the Leader of the Opposition has said, a number of propositions are set out in the second part of the amendment. One of the parts of this section is paragraph (c) which states that a marriage should be permanent and secure. One likes the turn of that phrase. It has a ring to it. But one also has to bear in mind that when one asserts the opinion of this House that marriage should be permanent and secure, on the face of it that is in complete conflict with any concept of divorce or dissolution because -
-Order! I think that the Attorney-General is now debating the matter.
– I do not wish to do that. May I put this to you in conclusion? It would be my view that what you should rule on is that inherent in the amendment are 2 propositions.
The first, if carried, certainly stops the second reading and the progress of this Bill at this stage. It stops it cold. Then it would be for me, or someone else, either not to be bound by the expressions of opinion offered by the House, or to take it away and proceed to give effect to those expressions of opinion, and to have it brought back either in the form of a private member’s Bill or presented by a Government spokesman, for further consideration at some stage. But the essential thing is that the carriage of the amendment stops progress of the Bill at this stage.
- Mr Speaker -
-Does the honourable member for Kingston wish to speak to a point of order?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. I took the opportunity today to discuss this question with the Clerk of the Senate because, as honourable members probably know, the Senate quite frequently adds a rider to a motion for the second reading of a Bill in that chamber which does not have the effect of killing the Bills. The important difference between that and what is in the amendment moved by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) is that that is a rider added to the words ‘that the Bill be now read a second time’ in this form, ‘but the Senate is of the opinion . . .’ There is an important difference here in that the amendment we are discussing commences by saying ‘whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading’. I refer briefly to the fourth edition of ‘Australian Senate Practice ‘ by Mr Odgers which states:
Attention is drawn to the amendment in connection with the Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill 1964. This amendment, ‘whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading . . .’ has the effect (if carried) of sweeping away the motion for the second reading. The amendment is contradictory and not consistent with itself because, if the amendment had been carried, the passage of the Bill would have been arrested (though this would not be fatal to the Bill) and the motion for the second reading would have had to be proposed again. Thus the amendment defeated its own object. This type of amendment is not now permissible in the Senate.
The point I wish to make is that I believe that on that precedent in the other chamber- this probably is the only thing we have to go on- such an amendment if carried would have the effect of defeating the Bill, as I believe was the intention of the Minister in his short speech to the House last evening. I submit, Mr Speaker, that you should rule that if this amendment is carried it defeats the Bill outright. I do not believe that we should take the opportunity merely to bail out the Leader of the Opposition. I think that if a man like him who aspires to be Prime Minister of this country -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He rose to speak to a point of order and now he wants to go into a full debate.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker.
-I do not see why we should debate this matter all night. I have the answer to the problem. Honourable members will resume their seats and listen patiently. There are many honourable members on both sides of the House patiently waiting to debate this Bill. This is my opinion on this matter
Last night when clarifying the position in relation to the amendment before the House I concluded my statement by stating:
The effect of carrying the amendment would be that the question for the second reading of the Bill would not be carried.
Subsequently in answer to a point raised by the honourable member for Mackellar I stated:
The Bill will be defeated entirely if the amendment is carried.
This statement has been reported in the Press. It is not correct. The effect of carrying a reasoned amendment of the second reading of a Bill is referred to in May’s Parliamentary Practice on page 488. The relevant passage reads:
It must be borne in mind, however, that the amendment, if agreed to, does not necessarily arrest the progress of the Bill, the second reading of which may be moved on another occasion. The technical effect of such an amendment is to supersede the question for now reading the Bill a second time; and the Bill is left in the same position as if the question for now reading the Bill a second time had been simply negatived. The House refuses on that particular day to read the Bill a second time, and gives its reasons for such refusal; but the Bill is not otherwise disposed of.
I think this states the position quite clearly. The effect of carrying the amendment to the Family Law Bill would be that the question for the second reading of the BUI would not be carried, but this would not necessarily prevent further progress of the Bill which I would assume would be a matter for Government consideration.
- Mr Speaker, I raise this matter under the guise of a point of order. It is really a point of clarification. I thank you for the ruling you have given and for the clarification you have given to it. I should like to take the opportunity, through you, Mr Speaker, of reminding the Attorney-General of the proposition that I put, which was that if the amendment were carried it would ‘arrest’ the Bill for the time being but it would not defeat the Bill, and it would then be imcumbent upon the Attorney-General to redraft the Bill to give effect to the opinion of the House as expressed. I should like the response of the Attorney-General to that.
-That is a matter entirely for the Attorney-General.
– Accepting the invitation of the right honourable gentleman, the point that you put, Mr Speaker, seems to me to make good sense. What I would be urging upon the House in such a course is that, in view of the fact that this is not a Government measure, the Committee stage is the proper stage at which to move such amendments and to put in the Bill what honourable members want.
-Order! The business before the Chair is the Family Law Bill. I call the Attorney-General, speaking for the Bill.
- Mr Speaker, I thank you. I support the Bill which comes to this House from the Senate. As I have said several times, it is not a Government measure. It is a response to an acceptance by the Government of concern in the community about the existing state of the divorce laws of Australia. I should also say that the Government accepts, and began the proceedings on, the basis that there is to be a free vote to enable honourable members both here and in the Senate to express their wishes. Speaking personallyand that is the only capacity in which I speak- I also have to say that I oppose the amendment because, as I said when I replied to the last remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), I would urge that the form that this Bill should take is a matter for honourable members to decide themselves in the Committee stages as this debate proceeds.
There are so many things that could be said about this Bill. May I start by trying to qualify in an unusual way, perhaps, why I as an individual have strong views about the Bill. Firstly, as a lawyer I had a fairly extensive divorce practice. I would not want to know how many divorce cases I have fought and lost, as the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who sits opposite, would not want to know how many he has fought and lost. But that does give one an insight into the nature of the problem. One is also minded to say that it is a pity, but an unavoidable pity, that so many honourable members, so many people, so many citizens have not really had that experience. I make those comments so that honourable members may attach whatever weight they wish to my following remarks. On a personal point, I should also add that I have been divorced once and I have been happily married twice, so I have had some personal experience of the nature of the problems that can flow from a marriage that has failed.
Having made those 2 points, let me describe what I believe to be wrong with the existing law, because that is what we are here for. If this Bill is given a second reading that will be an indication that the present law needs to be changed. In 1959 Sir Garfield Barwick introduced the measure which is the basis of our existing law. At that dme it was regarded as perhaps one of the most advanced pieces of legislation of this kind in the world. It is an indication of changing community attitudes that only 15 years later there is almost universal agreement that it is no longer appropriate. That is the rate of change which we are experiencing today. Even the supporters of the amendment seem to concede that the existing law is completely out of date and that community attitudes have changed fundamentally in 15 years.
The question is: What is wrong with the existing law? If we cannot answer that question we cannot really put ourselves in the position of deciding what should be done about it and what sort of changes are necessary. I suggest that the problem with the existing law is that essentially it rests on the basis of fault. If one looks at the sections in the existing Act one finds 14 grounds set out. They come down to us from the old ecclesiastical law. They were good and proper in their day. There is on doubt about that. For many years they have been universally under attack because they cause emotions and feelings of guilt. They detract from the dignity and the respectibility that individuals claim to have for themselves. The concept of adultery, the concept of bestiality and all the other grounds are nothing but symptoms, I would suggest, of some malaise that has overtaken a human relationship- a relationship that forms expression in conjugal rights- a marriage. When the marriage begins to fail, for a million different reasons, symptoms emerge. Adultery takes place, cruelty takes place and all the other examples take place that any honourable member can turn to in the 14 grounds that are listed in the Act.
Another basic fault with the existing law is the concept of the application for relief by the spouse, the husband or the wife, who wants to be protected, wants to call it quits, wants to wind it up, who cannot put up with it any longer or is simply just fed up with the passage of time. Two human beings have grown apart, as surely happens in this world today when wives work and husbands are busy. There is the tension, the rat race if you like, that is a feature of modern life. Civilised people with ordinary, inherent degrees of responsibility say: ‘Look, as adults we want to call it off. This law does not take account of those factors. This law says that a petitioner for relief must go to his or her solicitor and say whether he or she has committed adultery. The petitioner must reveal the secrets of the bedroom and the secrets of the coffee table and the breakfast table. If the divorce is under challenge, as it often can be as a result of the way in which the guilt aspect is built into the existing fault concept, it can affect the property settlement. If a wife or a husband has been indiscreet or if he picks his nose at the breakfast table too often- I exaggerate to make a point- in the long term it could adversely affect a possible property settlement, the resolution of the property disputes that might properly exist between the two. It can certainly affect the right of access to and the right of custody of one spouse or the other of the children.
This feeling of fault is written deep into our existing law. It assumes that one person is guilty and one person is completely innocent. I notice the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) is looking at me. I know he is a lawyer who has had similar experiences to mine. I know that the law adjusts itself to this sort of thing. There are good judges and bad judges. The cases, as they have come down to us from the appellate courts, say that a person must live with this. Nothing could be so bizarre or so extreme as the examples I have put. For those honourable members who have not had experience of the courts, that is the basis upon which the existing law rests. I can recall cases- I am sure every honourable member can- in which this adversary principle which is built into the law and which assumes that there wil be conflict between the parties produces cruel, vexacious and expensive results. All of us who have done this sort of work in the courts know of cases where the inheritance of the children is dissipated because the parties have been encouraged to hate each other to such an extent that they fight on. We have all known cases with silk on both sides, sometimes several silk, which have gone on for years and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent with the result that there was nothing left for the children. I can remember a case- I do not have the name of it- in which Mr Justice Mcclemens of the Supreme Court of New South Wales drew attention to this very matter because the whole thing rests on this fault basis. If you are encouraged to get a divorce by finding the other spouse in bed with somebody else or you try to invent some cruelty ground you feel guilty, you respond and there is an adversary situation and everyone ends up hating everyone else. In effect, you have to hate. You have to fight otherwise you do not get the matrimonial home or you do not get the share that you think you are entitled to- so the lawyer tells you- and you might lose some degree of access to your children.
That is the basis upon which our law rests. It has to be said in passing that some judges, being human, are unnecessarily prurient and sometimes partake of being voyeurs of the difficulties in which these unfortunate people place themselves. The whole legality, the wig and gown, the formality and the rigidity of the system have to be considered. I have known people- and I am sure the honourable member for Balaclava, the honourable member for Moreton and the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott) know of this- who were terrified to go before a court in a simple undefended divorce. This brings me to another point. Ninety-five per cent of divorces are undefended. Ninety-five per cent of divorces are for practical purposes by consent. Ninety-five per cent of divorces reflect that the marriage has broken down but the parties are obliged to go through this cruel ritual of saying: ‘I have never done anything wrong. It is all your fault. You have been sleeping with someone. You have been bashing me, picking your nose or farting at the breakfast table’whatever it happens to be. The whole thing takes on an unreal aspect and it prejudices the civilised resolution of the property settlement which has to be a feature of any system of dissolving a marriage and certainly custody and access of children.
I remember a case here in Canberra not many years ago in which a man petitioned his wife for divorce on the ground of adultery. The marriage had long since ceased to exist and because of that they had lived separate and apart for years and the man had formed a relationship with some other lady. He had broken off that relationship years after his relationship with his wife had ceased to exist. But when he went to the court seeking a divorce from his wife so he could marry again he did not put in a discretion statement. He fibbed to his lawyer who said to him: ‘I have to ask you these questions: Have you ever slept with anyone? Have you ever committed adultery?’ The man lied to the lawyer. The lady with whom he had had a relationship put him in to what used to be called the Queen’s Proctor- the Attorney-General’s office of the day- which under the existing law is charged with probing in an inquisitorial manner the morals of people in this way and his conduct was revealed. The divorce that had been granted was set aside. No one wanted it set aside. The lady who was divorced was happy in her life. Many years had passed. She wanted a divorce. It was virtually a consent situation. The petitioner wanted a divorce. The lady he wanted to marry wanted him to be divorced. The public interest would have been satisfied and it would have been advanced if he had been divorced, but because of these ridiculous barbaric rules which we still have he was not divorced.
Defences exist in the present law which are called condonation- forgiveness, if you like; connivance, which means bringing it about; and collusion, an agreement to produce grounds for a divorce. I can remember an English case with which honourable members who know a bit about the law will be familiar. I do not say that it is necessarily followed today, because judicial attitudes change. A man came home and found his wife in a compromising situation with some chap. The marriage was at an end. The couple were not unhappy about that fact. They were civilised people. The husband had had a few drinks and he said: ‘If you bloody-well want to go to bed together, why don’t you? He went away and slept on a couch somewhere. His wife and the other chap did go to bed together. Later on when the husband sued for divorce he failed because it was held that he had put them up to it, that he had connived at the commission of the adultery. How absurd. The marriage had finished. It had been finished for years. He was denied relief and his wife, who wanted to marry someone else, was denied relief. So one could go on.
– Will you speak about this Bill?
– I am telling you why this law as we have it today cannot continue. The people who support the amendment will defer at this stage our opportunity to change the existing law, because that is what the Speaker has ruled.
– Under your law you could not bring that matter up.
-That is right. Under our law you could not bring it up because it would be irrelevant, and it should be irrelevant. This law- it is not my law but I support it- seeks to introduce a simple objective test: Has the marriage ceased to exist? It gets rid of those considerations which are symptoms -
– That is not the test.
– I think it is. Please may I finish, because my time is running out. One of the great features of this Bill that comes to us from the Senate is that it gets rid of a lot of the aspects I have mentioned. It gets rid of the legalism because it establishes family courts. It tends to reduce the influence of the lawyer. I speak as a lawyer who has the role of deciding these matters. It introduces people with other qualificationsI am sure the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) would appreciate my point- in the humanities and social sciences and welfare work to try to bring about conciliation in a less rigid, less legalistic, less frightening way than under the present system. May I remind honourable members that basic to this Bill is not only the removal of the whole adversary system of proving fault and non-fault and having to say: ‘Who has the greater degree of fault? Is my adultery better than yours?’ This incredible investigation takes place, today often financed by legal aid. It should not be financed by legal aid because the fault provisions should not exist. Is there to be a more civilised and more rational approach through family courts? One of the major things which for practical purposes will be stopped under this Bill, if the amendment is carried, is the great advance that that has been written into the Bill to reduce this rigidity and legalism by substituting family court procedures.
The Bill, as it comes to us from the Senate, where it has been accepted by our Senate colleagues, says that it is time we got away from the fault concept. We will never change human nature to a great extent- we all know that- but there is no good inflaming it. It is no good creating an abrasive situation in which people have to defend themselves for the sake of defending themselves and in which private inquiry agents have to be engaged to spy through windows, to raid houses, to slip in and take photographs with cameras with special sophisticated electronic equipment and use electronic listening devices in bedrooms to ascertain whether couples are using words of endearment to each other. The private inquiry agents say: ‘If they are using terms of endearment we might be on to something’. What is a term of endearment? They say: ‘We will come back tomorrow night or the next night’. That is the law we have at the moment. We put up with it years ago. If progress of civilisation means anything it means growing up. It means moving, as one writer said- I forget who it was; it was Mayne or someone- from the old concept of status to contract. That should appeal to members of the Liberal and Country Parties. It reflects the paramountcy, the primacy, of the human spirit and individuality. People should be able to make their own lives and not be caught up in a system of this sort.
The Bill provides for a simple breakdown test. I personally take the view that the Bill does not go far enough, although I support it wholeheartedly. Later when this Bill goes into the Committee stage, as I hope it will, I will be seeking to introduce yet another principle. I do not for one moment hold out any great hope that it will succeed. The amendment I will be moving can be moved only in the Committee stage. I intend to move it because basically I believe in it. It is this, that subject to proper and satisfactory arrangements being made for the welfare of children, and particularly if there are no children, what adult people do is primarily a matter for themselves as long as they do not break the criminal law, do not offend their neighbours and are not guilty of breaking the law of torts.
Our whole criminal law rests upon the notion of individual responsibility. That is the whole basis of Judeo-Christian society and the upward progress of men and women so that when they reach adulthood- whether it be 18 years of age or 2 1 years of age- they are allowed to do what they want to do as long as they do not break the law. It is true that they make mistakes. I will be introducing an amendment that will say that, in the case of consent, where satisfactory arrangements are made for the children, if the parties are adult and responsible the period can be reduced to, say, 3 months. I am a happily married man. My children are grown up. My wife is a responsible woman. If for some reason or other wc decide to get divorced it is no one’s business but ours, although that will not happen because we are happily married. That is the principle that I commend to honourable members although I know full well that it will not gain very much support. I put it to honourable members as the road we are travelling and as the road we must continue to travel because it is the road of progress.
As I have said, I support the Bill. I think it reflects everything for which this country should stand. All the arguments that are being used against it were heard in 1857 when the first matrimonial causes law was enacted in Britain. If one reads the parliamentary debates of 1857 one will find that the opponents of that measure used exactly the same arguments that are being used here today in relation to this measure. As every step has been taken to improve the law the same arguments in opposition have been put.
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
-I have not the advantage of being a lawyer but the social and legal consequences of this Bill are so great that I do not judge that fact to preclude me from expressing a view about it. In the first place I intend to express a view about the basis of the Bill and about some of the points that have been made by the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby). I can understand his position and, were he to go some way along the road which will be contained in the amendments to the Bill- some of which I will propose- I would assume to have his vote in support. The first question to be asked in respect of this Bill- it is so obvious that it cannot be ignored- is: What is its conception of the family? The Bill concerns the Australian family. What is its view of that?
I go for my answer to that question not to the former Senator Murphy, I go not to the present Attorney-General because he has admitted that he was not intimately acquainted with the substance of the Bill until a day or so ago, but I go to one of its principal architects. I think that it is acknowledged around Australia that he has been an unofficial adviser to the Government. I go to Mr Ray Watson Q.C., a Sydney silk, acknowledged to be a defender, an architect, almost a father of this Bill. Mr Watson and another architect of the Bill, Mr Turner, at the Sir Thomas More Society meeting in Sydney in late November 1974 were asked: ‘What does the Bill do with respect to the family?’ There are some quaint illogicalities between this view and a view later expressed. They were asked by a Sydney Q.C., Mr Gormly:
The question I will then put in the light of Mrs Lonergan ‘s remarks is this. What comments do Mr Watson and Mr Turner make on Mrs Lonergan ‘s contention that the Bill in effect changes the structure of marriage? Because if a change in the structure of marriage is effected you have changed considerably the structure of Australian society. If you introduce a Hindu concept of marriage into Australian society it is a different one. If you introduce a Muslim concept of marriage you have changed Australian society considerably. What comment do you make on this?
Mr Turner, speaking on behalf of Mr Watson, had this to say:
If I might say, Mr Gormly, the way you put that question, and one cannot run away from it, and within the terms that you used, I would say the answer to what you say is yes.
There is a very fundamental change and alteration proposed in the nature of Australian society. So I was a little puzzled when the same gentleman, speaking on the radio program ‘PM’ the night before last, which in time is closer to the debate taking place on this Bill and when its contents are perused a little more closely, had this to say when asked what conception of family there was in the Bill:
There ‘s no philosophic change in the concept of the family which I would see as one of the building bricks of society.
So at least there is flexibility and changeability in the minds oi those who have proposed the Bill. They are certainly not sure of their philosophical grounds. I think it is appropriate and fair to go, as a source, to its defender and its originator.
One other point that I would like to make in this regard concerns a comment made by Mr Watson who is a Sydney silk and therefore a legal luminary in these matters. He has this to say in terms of the advantages of the Bill:
But more importantly, they’re -
Children, that is- given the right to separate representation, and this is particularly necessary . . .
That is one of the great new virtues proposed for the Bill. I mention that in passing. But Mr Watson knew that, in a case which came before Mr Justice Selby in Sydney more than a year earlier, that right was given on the interpretation of the present Act and that right has been given subsequently throughout the State. So virtues claimed for the Bill, if passed, are doubtful, and the philosophic nature of it has to rest in extreme doubt. I say no more than that, except to add that the argument that this Bill is merely a logical extension of what occurred in 1959- the Act came into operation in 1962- must be regarded with some doubt. It is not a simple, logical extension; it is a very radical and fundamental change, and it ought to be seen to be that very radical and fundamental change.
I need to mention one other matter in this regard before I come to what would be the power house of the Bill and those sections of it which require sensitive matters of justice and fairness to be implemented. For the first time in Australian law and Australian practice, the Bill, in clause 6, recognises polygamy within Australian society. According to the proposed Australian law, a person going overseas, whether he is married or whether he is unmarried, can obtain a wife in a country which recognises polygamy, and that is recognised as a marriage for the purposes of Australian law. I merely point out those matters to indicate that if it is suggested that the Bill is merely a simple, logical extension of the present law and the present social structure such as we have known it, that is not the case. After all, divorce is based upon the precept that there is one marriage. If it breaks up another one may be negotiated. Polygamy does not even rest on that foundation.
So, Mr Speaker, you can understand that not being a lawyer I do not intend to sit by and allow what I regard to be fundamental changes in Aus.tralian society and life to go without at least some legitimate content. Divorce is a dreadfully sad thing, and if it is to be dealt with it has to be dealt with in terms of sympathy, firmness, fairness and justice. I do not believe there is a person in this chamber who would want to go back to the arguments advanced just after the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century. I do not want to do that and nobody else in this chamber would. Society has altered, but I have looked at what would be a fair thing under the precepts of this Bill. I refer to clauses 48 and 49 of the BUI. They are its powerhouse. They are the ones which contain the no fault provision, which is the package under which this Bm is sold. But what are the consequences of the application of that no fault provision? Let me give three, and I think it is appropriate to look at these. Imagine a marriage which may be very unhappy and in which one of the partners to it is guilty of behaviour that would not be acceptable in the Australian community. Let me mention the behaviour. Let us say that one of the parties to the marriage is guilty of incest, bestiality, sodomy or some other very grave misdemeanour. Under the present position a petition for divorce rightly can be served and once the ground is demonstrated the divorce is granted. Imagining the position of a woman in such circumstances, that is a fair comment and it is a fair practice.
Under this BUI, except by way of some very complicated procedures which may or may not be valid, the other party to that marriage would just have to sit out the time, the 12 months, and the other party would be paying a price for the package of this BUI which has a so-called no fault concept. What the members of this House have to ask in their sense of justice is: Is that a fair proposition? Is that a valid proposition? Is that a proposition which would then enable them to say to what would be the guilty party in that situation: ‘You have been a good law abiding citizen according to Australian law’. That is the power which this BUI gives, that is the power of judgment which this BUI would confer were Parliament to make that the practice in Australia. An amendment covering that situation will be moved in the Committee stages and honourable members in this House in their judgment will have to decide on the fairness of that proposition.
I will mention two other consequences. They relate to the proposition that a 12 months separation, which can be a separation in mind, is all that is needed. When one looks at a 12 months period it seems to be very little longer than the period it takes from conception to the birth of a child. I will give an illustration of the events that can and will occur under this BUI. A child is conceived and, not on account of it but coincident in time with it, the male partner to the marriage says: ‘I want to be separated’. So a separation occurs in mind and goes through the 12 months. At the 9-month stage the wife goes into a maternity hospital and has a baby. It might be a couple of weeks overdue and perhaps it is 916 months later. Within eight or nine weeks of that event whilst the mother is in the post-natal condition, whilst she may even be in the position of having what is termed post-natal madness, the problem that comes on women who have had a difficult childbirth, the 12 months is up. As soon as the courts can hear the case the computer comes down and the divorce is through. There is no point in her saying: ‘Judge, I did no wrong. I tried to be a good wife. I have just had a baby’. The one test, and there is no other which is required, is the 12 month test.
– You are completely right.
– The honourable member for Moreton with his great sense of justice and knowledge agrees with that. What is to be proposed? What the honourable members in this chamber W111 have to decide is what is their sense of fairness and their sense of justice in that situation. They will have to decide ultimately whether that man- obviously I refer to a man in this case- is a good decent law-abiding citizen by the precepts of Australian law. That is the title which this BUI, if it becomes an Act, will enable you to pass upon people who participate in that situation.
I will cite a third case to honourable members. It is proposed that this is a BUI that has a great deal to do with the equality of women. I do not want to scarify or mention Mr Watson again but he said in the interview for the ‘PM ‘ radio broadcast that the BUI was a charter of equality. Consider the other case. On 1 January in a particular year the husband may get into that mental state that a separation is under way. They are young people who were married in their middle twenties. The separation continues whether or not they live in the one home, and whether or not the household services are performed one for the other- they are not defined in the BUI- but by the eighth month, perhaps by August, the wife is rather anxious to rebuild her marriage. Perhaps the husband is also. That is a fair proposition. So, anxious to rebuild the marriage in terms of clause 50 of the BUI they cohabit. Presumably, this means they sleep together again, which is fair enough. They are anxious to rebuild the marriage. They sleep together again for 3 months. At the end of October the husband may say: ‘I have had enough of this. I have found somebody who is a little more interesting. I want to resume the separation’. Under the terms of this Bill, 8 months of the 12 months separation needed for the divorce have been served already. The husband has only to wait another 4 months until the end of February of the next year. The computer time has been set at 12 months. The marriage is over. The woman may have fallen pregnant. It is no good for that woman who is still carrying his baby saying: ‘What have I done? I have tried to be a good wife. I have tried to be a good mother’. There is no point in her saying that because the one condition contained in this Bill has been satisfied, that is, the computer condition of 12 months separation, however determined. Consider the position of that woman.
– But there is a period of time under existing legislation.
-But that is 3 months in 5 years which is very different from 3 months in 12 months.
– It is still computerised in your terms.
– But this is computerised in the sense that this is the only test under this proposed legislation. The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) has raised a point that under this legislation, that is the only test. There is no qualification upon it. That has to be remembered. In June of the subsequent year when the woman has the child and is a patient in the maternity hospital, are honourable members going to say that that is divorce without indignity? Are honourable members going to say that that is divorce with justice? Are honourable members going to say that that is a fair go? Are honourable members going to say with respect to the person who may wilfully or otherwise have gone through this series of actions that he is therefore a good law-abiding Australian citizen, a very respectable Australian citizen? I merely put those cases. They are 3 cases which can occur and which will occur and which every divorce lawyer who has a practice in various capital cities of this nation, whom I have been able to consult, says will occur. I believe that very intimate and careful judgments have to be made with respect to these matters.
During the committee stage of the Bill these cases will be explored and amendments will be proposed. They will not be amendments going back to the 1959 or 1962 legislation, but amendments which will allow a little more flexibility in respect of the time and the conduct of the marriage to be explored than occurs under this Bill. I believe that this Bill does not give the dependent partner in a marriage, whether a male or female- most often a female- sufficient guarantees. Are young people entering upon marriage to be asked to place themselves in that dependent position with respect to their work- to leave work- to place themselves in a dependent position of having a child or place them in a relatively dependent position of being home makers. I ask honourable members to ponder whether there are sufficient guarantees for women or for both partners of a marriage to enter into marriage.
The principles contained in clause 43 of this Bill should be acceptable to everyone. But the principles in clause 43 have almost no effect because they are contrary to so many other clauses of the Bill. They are quoted by people. They are even quoted to public audiences by the eminent Sydney Silk. He knows, as every member of this House knows, that principles stated in that way contrary to the laws stated explicitly elsewhere have almost no effect. Every politician knows that when in a difficult situation and not wanting to give an answer, he might say: ‘In principle I agree, while in substance he may arrive at a completely different decision. I have dealt only with two provisions but they are the power house clauses. They concern the nature of the marriage itself and make it clear that the package no fault is not a package that has any truth; that the socalled relegation of indignity and bitterness is not relegated. All that is done is that it is swept under the carpet and allowed to fester in the hearts, minds, activities and feelings of those who have been wronged, which in most cases is the dependent partner in a marriage. It certainly is not a Bill which has anything to do with the rights or equality of women in that situation.
-This Bill is the subject of a motion for amendment. I do not believe that the House will prevent this Bill from going through to the Committee stage. I think the common sense of honourable members will enable this Bill to go to the Committee stage whatever happens. I find it very difficult to take one side or the other with regard to the amendment because I believe that there are some parts of this Bill that are basically good and there are others which should be changed. When one examines the object of this Bill in clause 43(a)- the need to preserve and protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life- one might well expect the remainder of the Bill to carry those objects into effect. Those of us who approach the Bill will no doubt search through it to see whether this is so. There are many aspects of the Bill which clearly are aimed at achieving them- for instance, the provisions encouraging counselling and reconciliation. There were, of course, provisions for this in the existing Act. They were introduced in 1959 and have been effective to an extent. The provisions in this Bill go further and I believe they are better.
It is proposed to establish separate courts in the States designed to deal with matrimonial matters with a minimum of formality and publicity and, broadly speaking, in a closed court. I believe that the introduction of closed courts is a good move forward in the area of family relations. It will afford great protection for people. Their private lives can be exposed without any other person present other than those who need to know. Then, of course, there are provisions for the welfare and custody of children and the general requirement that proper arrangements in all the circumstances have to be made for the welfare of the children before the decree nisi becomes absolute. The proponents of the Bill are to be congratulated on these and other like provisions. As I said, they represent in some respects, though not in all, advances over existing provisions in State and Commonwealth law.
Significantly, if it becomes law, this Bill will represent the first broad encroachment of this Parliament into marital relations in the period between marriage and divorce. Previously, our basic concern has been with the formation and dissolution of marriage and ancillary questions. This Bill would cover the whole field and would enable it to be governed by one system of law. This is surely a highly commendable and desirable objective. The attempt to cover marital relations from the time of marriage to divorce may meet constitutional objections. If it does, it is to be hoped that complementary State legislation will be passed to enable the objective to be achieved satisfactorily and within a State family court system.
In one important respect the Bill provides means for adopting what I believe to be the best means through which to exercise the jurisdiction created by it. We have already debated in this House the Superior Court Bill and we then became familiar with the reasons why federal jurisdiction could best be exercised by State courts. Similar considerations apply to jurisdiction over family matters. There is no reason why the whole jurisdiction within a State should not be exercised by family courts controlled and established by State law and assisted by Federal money.
The Bill, however, does provide for the appointment of Federal family court judges, six in all and more if prescribed by regulation. These judges must be appointed for life. It will not be possible for constitutional reasons to appoint to the Federal family court the type of judge regarded as ideal for State family courts by section 41 of the Bill, namely, those who cannot hold office beyond the age of sixty-five. If the Bill becomes law it is to be hoped that steps to appoint these Federal judges will not be taken. They are unnecessary.
The jurisdiction in the Territories can be exercised by the Territory judges. In the States, until the State family courts are set up, the jurisdiction can be exercised by State judges. Indeed, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his second reading speech, which is recorded at page 4322 of Hansard, said that. It would be divisive, inefficient, confusing to the public and a waste of public funds to set up a Federal family court with all the trappings of courts and court officers alongside a State family court in the same city, established in accordance with section 41 of this Act. It is suggested that the Federal family court judges will exercise appellate jurisdiction from State and Federal family courts. Appeals under the present Act go direct to the State full courts. Although there may be isolated instances of diversity between them in construing the present Act over 15 years, no case is made out which justifies the setting up of a special itinerant court at public expense to deal with family court appeals. If diversity existed in the State courts it could be cleared up by appeal to the High Court and the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth could take power to ensure that this could be done at his instance by removing diversity appeals into the High Court.
It is to be hoped that the Government will not proceed to appoint judges to the Family Court of Australia but will instead get on with the task of establishing State family courts under section 4 1 . The importance of doing this will be more apparent when one bears in mind the constitutional problems which the Bill raises and to which I have already referred. So much, Mr Speaker, for the constitutional and jurisdictional matters.
The focus of the debate on this Bill inevitably rests on clause 48. Two broad proposals are in the air at the moment. The first is that contained in clause 48 itself. The effect of that would bring in what is called ‘no fault’ and a general ground of whether the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The Bill then goes on to say that the only way in which it can be established that the marriage has broken down irretrievably is by having separation for a period of one year. The other proposal is that contained in paragraph (g) of the proposed amendment, which states that marriage should be dissolved only when a court is satisfied on objective grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down or that the parties have lived separately and apart for not less than 2 years. First of all, let us be clear that each of these proposals represents a significant advance on the present law. It is not true to say that there are progressives on one side and conservatives on the other. Indeed, each of these proposals is fully consistent with the elimination of fault
Let us understand what no fault means. When we speak of no fault we mean that we shall not have a system whereby one party has to prove that the other party is at fault. That is the present system, and there is no need to continue it under either proposal, certainly not under the Bill and, I believe, certainly not under the proposal in paragraph (g) of the amendment. The other thing that I think should be clear is that the second proposal should not be regarded as a rejection of the principle behind the Bill. What is the principle? It is that in determining whether dissolution of marriage should take place you look at the marriage and ask: Has it broken down irretrievably? Or a lawyer in court, because he is getting paid for it, would say: Has the consortium vitae, the life of the marriage, come to an end. You do not approach it on the basis that one of the parties must be shown to be at fault. This is a perfectly humane and, if I may say so, Christian approach to the problem. That is what no fault means. It does not mean that you do not look at the conduct of the parties.
In the area of matrimonial relations we delude ourselves if we think we can deal with the legal problems associated with them without considering conduct. For instance, clause 48 sub-section 3 of this Bill states:
A decree of dissolution of marriage shall not be made if the court is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.
If I may be pardoned for saying so, that is either window dressing or it means what it says. I am inclined to think, knowing a little about divorce courts, that it could be window dressing. Very seldom would there be any evidence before the court to determine that question, because nobody is obliged to bring it. But if that question were to be looked into you could not possibly determine it without looking at the conduct of the parties. Again, custody cannot be determined without looking at the conduct of the parties, nor can maintenance or property. Clause 75 ( 1) (m) relates to other matters and that would cover conduct. Clause 79 (4) (d), which relates to property would bring in all the matters that can be considered in relation to maintenance. So throughout this Bill there is brought into play a consideration of conduct. Do not let us delude ourselves into thinking that we will just have a healthy, clean look at the matrimonial relationship and not go into the question of what the parties have been up to. It is just not possible to do so. Clearly enough marriage may be irretrievably broken down for a number of reasons other than lack of cohabitation. Other honourable members have mentioned this before and referred to cruelty, adultery and other things.
Let us look at what clause 48 does. In effect it says: divorce is a very unclean thing. It is a nasty business and we will not look at what is really worrying you or what is really bringing the marriage to an end. We will play a little game. We will have a charade. The charade is that parties must live apart for 12 months. If they do that and go along to the judge and say that they have lived apart for 12 months he will give them a divorce. It does not matter whether the real circumstance that caused it is cruelty, attempted murder, adultery, habitual drunkenness or some other form of what we have called matrimonial misconduct but what does not have to be called that any longer. We have to engage in this charade to get away from the nasty aspects of divorce. Matrimonial relationships and the breaking up of them are naturally unpleasant things. It is no good running away from the reality of the situation. What this Bill does, I believe, is to introduce the fiction, the charade. It does not get down to the reality of the position. How unreal and unjust it is to tell somebody: Yes, it has been cruelty that has brought it about, but you must be separate for a year before we will give you a divorce ‘.
Let us consider these cases taken from the type of conduct referred to in the present law. Let us imagine the position of a woman who goes to a solicitor and says: ‘He has committed adultery and I have proof’, and whose solicitor says: ‘I am sorry, lady, but you cannot have a divorce. You have to be away from him for a year’, who then says to the soliCitor. ‘I have been putting up with his conduct for 10 years and he has been cruel. He bashes me once a week. He comes home drunk’, and whose solicitor replies: ‘I am sorry, lady, but you have to be away from him for one year’. One could go right through such situations. She could say: ‘He attempted to murder me and has been convicted for it and is in Long Bay’. The solicitor would still have to say: ‘I am sorry, lady, but under the law you will have to go away and be separated from him for one year’. How unjust that really is. One has only to go through other cases to show that it is not only unreal but also unjust.
Of course the marriage has irretrievably broken down when one finds adultery. These are not grounds that have been dreamt up by some celibate cleric in the middle ages. They are not grounds that have been thought up by the Church. They are things that have come out of the matrimonial relationships through the history of time and they are still the types of conduct that break up a marriage, sever the marital relationship and break down the marriage irretrievably. To bring in a Bill that adopts as the ground for causing the divorce something that is artificial and unreal is, I suggest, not doing justice and is sure to cause harm.
If this Bill becomes law it will mean that existing rights will be defeated. Some members of the House often talk about the preservation of property rights. An examination of section 8c of the Acts Interpretation Act will reveal that if an Act of Parliament is repealed the existing rights are maintained, but for some reason that will not be the case under this Bill. Under this BM they will not be maintained; they Will be destroyed. A man or woman who, at the time this Bill becomes law, has suffered injustice for 10 years, for instance, will, immediately it becomes law, lose any rights he or she has at present because he or she has not taken out a petition having been concerned to maintain the marital relationship. We are concerned about preserving human rights, yet I believe that we are going to see a direct injustice in this provision. Clause 48 is unreal and unjust. For those reasons I reject it. It is so because it fails to carry out a principle upon which the Bill is based.
One cannot avoid the consideration of the unfortunate behaviour of spouses and at the same time do justice. In the middle ages there were developed in England fictions which the law adopted and there were famous people called John Doe’ and ‘Richard Roe’ who appeared in most property actions. In the 19th century these John Doe’ versus ‘Richard Roe’ actions were discontinued and the forms of action died. The Bill, in section 48, contains a form of action in the nature of a charade. It is unreal, it is a fiction. It is saying to people: ‘The marriage has broken down for some other reason, but we are going to make you perform a little play, a little charade, and then we will give you a divorce ‘. I suggest, if I may, that this Bill, in clause 48, could be suitably amended in this way: I am happy with subclause (1). I suggest that sub-clause (2) could read as follows
Subject to sub-section (3), in a proceeding instituted by such an application, the ground shall be held to have been established, and a decree of dissolution of the marriage shall be made, if, and only if, the court is satisfied that-
My proposed sub-clause (3) would read:
The court shall not grant a decree based on section 48 (2) (a) where the only behaviour relied upon is lack of cohabitation.
I would leave in sub-clause (3) which appears in the BUI. I believe that if that clause were adopted there would be a general ground of irretrievable breakdown that could meet the injustice to which I and previous speakers have referred. It would also give respect to the institution of the family to which clause 43 refers. I do not believe that we can do that by adopting simply one year’s separation. I know that it is a qualitative and subjective judgment that each of us must make on this matter, but I do not feel that the provision of one year’s separation does sufficient justice to the institution of marriage. I believe that 2 years is a more appropriate period to adopt. If I must be logical about the matter I WU say to honourable members quite honestly that I cannot be logical, but I feel that I owe this attitude to the institution of marriage. It is not enough to say that one can show that in many cases the marriage has broken down within that period. One must show respect for the institution. I believe that this can only be done by adopting a period of 2 years. Apart from that, a party who had an immediate ground for relief could go to the court, get his or her divorce and thereby be adequately protected.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Whether one is for or opposed to this BUI- I am opposed to it- it has ceased to be a coherent piece of legislation and it should be redrafted. When the former Senator Murphy presented his BUI in the Senate he had a coherent piece of legislation which, whether one supported it or not, expressed a consistent philosophy. After 90 amendments were put into the BUI in the Senate it comes to the House of
Representatives with all sorts of selfcontradictory features to which I propose to draw attention in the course of my address. Although 90 of the 135 amendments moved in the Senate were successful and have made the Bill a poor piece of drafting when it is considered technically, no amendments were accepted to clauses 48 and 49 which are the most doubtful clauses of the Bill. In point of fact it could be said that the former senator in his tactics stood with clauses 48 and 49 as a fort and was prepared to allow all sorts of other clauses to disappear. Whatever the Bill provides with regard to irretrievable breakdown of marriage, in many of its features it is an irretrievable breakdown in logic.
-I wonder whether the honourable gentleman would speak into the microphone because many Opposition members are anxious to hear what he is saying.
-I was saying that whether the Bill satisfactorily dennes irretrievable breakdown, the contradiction between clauses such as 43 and 48 produces an irretrievable breakdown in logic. I will ask a little later how a judge can hold both in his mind unless one treats clause 43 simply as window dressing. It is so incoherent as a piece of legislation that it is no testimony to the Senate’s claims to be a House of analytical review. The Bill professes to get rid of indignities, distress, embarrassments and costs. It professes to bring in more just elements of maintenance, custody and property settlements. It confuses what may in fact be a unilateral declaration of divorce as irretrievable breakdown of marriage. It has been sold on the philosophical appeal of the words ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage ‘. Of course, everybody believes that if an irretrievable breakdown of marriage has occurred people should not be forced to live together. But what is irretrievable breakdown of marriage? The Bill has been sold on that expression and on the emphasis put on counselling provisions to buttress marriage which are presented as if there were no counselling provisions in existing law. But the fact remains that one parry can be cast off without having any say.
One defence of the Bill is specious. It professes to get rid of the concept of fault. It is perfectly impossible to determine questions of custody or to have the best interests of a child determined without taking into account the character and conduct of the spouses. Do honourable members think a judge, in determining to which of the parties the child is to be assigned, cannot take into account whether one is a drunkard, or one is a basher, or one has committed some of the matrimonial offences that existed before?
– He does.
-Of course he does. That is why we cannot get rid of the concept of fault. This is another attractive feature that is supposed to have been put up in the Bill, that here we have a magic formula for getting rid of fault. We cannot get rid of fault.
– Why then are you attacking it as being still there?
– I am not attacking it as being still there. I am talking about terminology that confuses-
– But you want fault.
-Of course you have fault.
-Order! The honourable member for Prospect is to speak next and he will then have an opportunity to answer the arguments put forward by the Minister.
-I do not want fault, but I do not believe that the former Senator Murphy was able to abolish sin. The Bill in clause 43 professes that the courts should take into account the need to preserve and protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life. Where did the framers of the Bill get that? It looks as if they went around to the vicar and said: ‘Vicar, give us a definition of sacramental marriage’. When they were given a definition they then said: ‘Look, you will have to cut out all references to the Holy Spirit but let us have the effects of it which is the permanent union of man and woman for life to the exclusion of all others ‘.
The judge has to have clause 43 in mind when determining the meaning of marriage. But the court cannot have any regard for any such principle because without allowing any judicial discretion clause 48 overrides this with the consideration that the marriage has broken down irretrievably if, and only if, the court is satisfied that the parties separated and therefore lived separately and apart for a continuous period of not less than 12 months immediately preceding the date of the filing of the application for dissolution of the marriage. Even that plural expression ‘parties separated’ has confusing implications, for the condition is met by the decision of one to leave the others. It is not a mutual consent. I can desert my wife and then divorce her after 12 months. So do not say it is a decision of the parties, in the plural. It can be a decision of one party. As it stands its connotations are that both are deciding to separate but this may not be the case. Obviously indignity and hurt are not eliminated if one party dumps another, especially if there are weaknesses in the maintenance provisions, as there are in this Bill. In dissolution by consent provisions it has been proven that it is easy for the interests of children to be swept aside. Irretrievable breakdown should clearly rest upon objective tests not open to self interested manoeuvres. As a bare minimum the period of separartion should be more than a year. The existing law that divorce proceedings cannot be instituted within 3 years of marriage should continue to exist with existing qualifications to prevent a kind of Pseudo marriage racket.
– It is perfectly possible. I can cite the case of one celebrated Tommy Manville who used the law in this way: You have a honeymoon, you desert your wife and then you take another wife at a little later time.
– What percentage of people are like that? How many Tommy Manvilles do you know?
– If they do not marry it is all right.
-Oh no, he wanted the advantage of marriage because many ladies would not go with him unless they were married. The drafting of the provision is so appalling- perhaps the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) will shout about this one- that it is probable that if a serviceman were sent on service to Butterworth in Malaya his wife could divorce him if the fact of separation because of his service was of a year’s duration. The continuance of maintenance, affectionate correspondence by letters and the belief on the part of the husband that the marriage was still in force apparently might not count. I do not say that with certainty -
– Read the following clause.
– I do not say it with certainty because I do not see the defensive provisions. The Bill is thus proposing- I think the present Attorney-General (Mr Enderby) was very clear about this and what I say is not an attack on the Bill- an alternative philosophical basis of marriage and family while professing not to do so, because the theological part in clause 43 is a profession not to do so. It proposes something which can be broken unilaterally without any fundamental breach in the relationship- and ‘unilaterally’ means by one party alone. The word marriage’ has its content altered so that marriage becomes in fact an impermanent association, while with astonishing inconsistency- I understand that the former senator who drafted the Bill or was responsible for its introduction in the Senate did not want this clause- it uses the expressions of sacramental marriage in clause 43. The existing Barwick divorce law is attracted by the action of parties to take steps to divorce, but this law is attracted by the fact that people marry because it is changing the nature of marriage in the Australan community. Justice takes a hammering.
Clause 114 would allow a wife or husband to take action against the spouse by way of injunction on suspicion. These injunction proceedings cannot possibly be considered without the concept of fault. They have to be established. Although the aim of the legislation is to make the proceedings less expensive, no lawyer seems to believe it will succeed. The Family Court is to be Federal. Jurisdiction is vested at present in State courts and a purely Federal court cannot deal with adoptions or most trustee questions. It is virtually impossible for Federal judges to go on circuit and therefore many petitions have to come to the State capital cities. That is a factor of expense immediately.
A man on $500 a week could leave his wife to draw the pension- say, an invalid pension- and have no obligation for maintenance no matter how callous his action in casting her over. The honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun), strongly supporting the Bill, questioned this odd provision that if the person who would ordinarily have to be maintained can draw social services, or has that degree of support-, the maintenance obligation has gone. If this arises after a desertion it seems pretty unfair that this cost may be the cast upon the whole community. This sets the tone, unfortunately, for the maintenance proceedings. Rights are minimised almost necessarily and logically if it is pretended that wrongs or faults do not exist. The 14 present grounds of divorce are to be replaced by one grand ground of 12 months separation with no analysis of responsibility for the separation.
Three things need be said about injunction proceedings. The first is that they are likely to overload the courts. Infamous conduct in marriage can take place without 12 months separationwithout any separation at all- but under the main provision for divorce in clause 48 it is incapable of remedy. A spouse may humiliate the partner for instance, by producing a de facto partner under the matrimonial roof. Since adultery and mental cruelty, which this action would be, are not grounds for divorce under the terms of the Bill, the only real redress provided for in the Bill would be presumably by way of an induction ordering the spouse to send the de facto partner from the matrimonial home. The second thing is that the injuction proceedings must then in fact make it perfectly clear that there is a fault, in spite of the efforts of the drafters of this Bill to get rid of fault. The court will presumably order the injunction if callous, cruel or malicious behaviour is established, but by that action you will be establishing faulty behaviour. The third thing is that the injunction proceedings, because they must become so crucial in getting any justice done under the terms of an unjust Bill, will be the downfall of any effort to get the costliness out of matrimonial causes. Injunction, the path to some effort at justice in an essentially unjust Bill, will call for high legal skill within the framework of this legislation.
The maintenance provisions are a major weakness in the Bill. Apart from the appalling considerations mentioned before, namely, the injustice of a cast-off wife having to prove that she cannot maintain herself and the injustice of the obligation to maintain her being cast on the State in certain circumstances, there is also the possibility of injustice to the husband. If a woman enters into a de facto relationship, the present presumption is that the obligation to maintain her rests upon the de facto partner, but if she proves while in a de facto relationship that she cannot maintain herself the way in which this Bill is drafted means that the husband must pay alimony to sustain the adulterous relationship. I ask the House to look at clause 75(1) (1). When a woman is in a de facto relationship it can still be a duty of the husband to maintain her. If the court orders that he should maintain her because the de facto husband is not wealthy enough to maintain her in the style to which her former husband accustomed her, then he has to pay alimony to sustain an adulterous relationship.
– That is the case now.
– Yes, and it should be eliminated. I am not talking about the present legislation. I have got the Bill before me in this House; I have not got the Barwick legislation before me. If you want to ask about the present Act, let me tell you that I voted against aspects of the Barwick legislation and if they are repeated I am going to vote against them again. That is all. It is not illogical. The point is that it would be left to the judge, one would hope, but clause (l)(b) looks very mandatory, from the expressions of opinion which I have got.
– It is a basis of need. You have heard of that.
-Yes, but if you expect the husband to pay for a wife who has chosen another man, then I think you are suffering an irretrievable breakdown in realism.
– It is a question of sin.
– It is not a question of sin. There may be many husbands who are quite glad to continue to pay the wife because they are glad to get rid of her. I cannot cover every single situation. Nevertheless, this provision seems an extraordinary one to perpetuate in our matrimonial legislation. I think that this Bill makes real marriage- the stability for marriage from which children derive mental stability- depend more heavily upon custom without the benefit of legal support. Quite clearly, I do not think that the law ever made marriage good. It is the integrity of the parties to the marriage which creates a good marriage. There is no question about that. But the law ought to buttress, as far as possible, sound custom. It cannot do it entirely.
This Bill provides less security to a marriage than is provided by some societies where the State takes no cognisance of marriage at all. In those societies there may often be divorce by mutual consent, but there may often also be, by custom, many safeguards. This Bill provides for divorce by consent of one, with minimal security in the period of separation of only 12 months, and with no security of requiring previous duration of the marriage over any set period. The court has no discretion other than to pronounce a decree if the fact of 12 months separation is established. The Bill cannot be just if there are no objective tests to illustrate irretrievable breakdown of marriage. A wide section of the public would support divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the expression is retained in the Bill for the propaganda value of the words.
The Bill does not really provide for a petition of dissolution of marriage. It makes it an automatic application for dissolution of marriage. Infamous behaviour on the part of the person applying does not deprive him or her of the initiative in dissolving the marriage. The Bill is badly drafted. This is no doubt due to the fact that so many amendments were inserted in the Senate and the fact that the proponents of the Bill would accept any amendments other than amendments to clauses 48 and 49. The functions of the family law courts have not been fully thought out. I believe that the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott) who preceded me in this debate and who pleaded not to establish the federal courts because of certain disabilities they had but to vest State family courts with federal jurisdiction made points which every lawyer whom I have questioned upon the clause agrees are true.
There are a number of provisions which illustrate the Bill’s capricious injustice. It would be surprising if there were logical coherence in a Bill which was drafted in one form and studded with amendments from senators who thought quite differently. If a wife is deserted and defends her right to maintenance she will pay for that defence. As one distinguished lawyer puts it, the proposed ground and the proposed cost provisions make marriage the only form of contract which can be broken at the option of the other party, with the offended party then having the right, pleasure and privilege of paying for the breach of contract if he or she opposes the other party. I think these things have not been thought out fully. We need an amendment to divorce law, but we cannot have a Bill brought into the Senate with one philosophy, have hurled into it a battery of contradictory amendments and say: Isn’t this a marvellous piece of legislation? This ought to be our permanent divorce law ‘.
-The Minister’s time has expired.
-Unlike the previous speaker, the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), I do not believe in sin, original or otherwise, and I certainly do not think it is the function of this legislature to define and punish sinners. I wish to make only one other point in reply to the Minister. He made a point about somebody being in the armed forces overseas for a year, I think at Butterworth, being a ground for divorce. He said that he had not read all the clauses of the Bill. Apparently he read only the ones which were underlined for him by people who have been pushing against the legislation. I point out to him that clause 48 (3), which deals with dissolution of marriage, states:
A degree of dissolution of marriage shall not be made if the Court is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.
Surely the fact that a person had been sent to Butterworth by the Royal Australian Air Force would bring such a marriage within the ambit of that clause.
My view of the Bill is lukewarm. I am quite happy with the grounds for divorce in the present Act plus consent or the proposed single ground plus consent. I agree with the amendment proposed by the Attorney-General (Mr Enderby). I can see some of the disabilities that were pointed out by the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott) if we abolish some of the grounds for divorce. I would have no objection to including other grounds for divorce, apart from what I agree with him is the potentially artificial ground of one year’s separation. I cannot get excited about this aspect of no-fault divorce. As the Minister for Education and I think some of the previous speakers pointed out, if people want to bring fault into it obviously they can do so. If people are upset because society or many members of society do not behave in the fashion which the Festival of Light would like us to believe is the norm for society then I do not think it hurts if society knows that the Festival of Light does not represent typical society.
I would like in passing to refer to a point made yesterday by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) which he considered to be important. The honourable member felt that he clinched his case when he claimed that 80 per cent of Pentridge inmates- that is a gaol, I take it, in Melbourne- came from broken homes. I would like to reply to that in the following way. It is probably not true but in any case I would say that most of their parents were not divorced but were living under the tensions existing in house holds where incompatible people had to live together so as to make happy some selfappointed interpreters of God ‘s will.
I feel that this is basically an argument between those who have little faith in their and other people’s morality, but need laws to buttress it because they are scared that all marriages will dissolve if divorce is available, all women will have abortions if they are available and everybody will act in a homosexual way if that becomes legal. I think that is the basic argument. It is between those people who want not only to say that certain things ought to be done because they are the moral and right things to do but who feel defensive and pessimistic about the outlook for society unless a law is used to buttress that sort of belief. They are the ones who continuously tell us what is and what is not natural but they do not believe that people will behave naturally unless the weight of the law forces them to do so. To those people who have not got very much faith in what is natural I say that I would be interested to hear what is the definition of natural’ if they believe that people normally behave in an unnatural fashion.
Basically I appeal to honourable members to be careful not to be pressurised by small outside groups. When I refer to small outside groups I include organisations such as the Abortion Law Reform Association and its opposite, the Right to Life Association; the Women’s Electoral Lobby; resident action groups; the Festival of
Light; and the Vietnam moratorium organisation, to make the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Sullivan) happy. I include all those groups. I think it is important that people ought to vote for or against this amendment according to their beliefs and more importantly I think that after having defeated the amendment they should deal with the actual contents of the Bill in the Committee stage. They should vote for or against certain propositions if they really believe in them but not because a vocal pressure group tries to stand over them. The last time that honourable members opposite gave in to one of those pressure groups was on the issue of parliamentary salaries. Members of the Country Party now sitting in the corner are about to give in to an outside pressure group. They also did it on that previous occasion and anybody who has talked to them since then knows very well that they have regretted it ever since.
When this legislation was discussed in the Senate only seven out of 60 senators voted against the Bill after a very long discussion. In this House it appears that the proportion of God-fearing representatives who not only know how everybody ought to behave but who also want to enforce this will be much greater. For example, all the Country Party senators supported this measure in the Senate but here nearly all the Country Party members seem to support the peculiar beliefs of the honourable member for Riverina that nobody in the rural areas wants a clean divorce but is satisfied with the spouse and livestock.
– I raise a point or order. The honourable member for Prospect has just suggested that I made some ridiculous statement, and I deny it.
– There is no point of order. If the honourable member has been misrepresented he can ask to make a personal explanation when the honourable member for Prospect has finished his speech.
– When the honourable member for Riverina was a distinguished officer in the Australian Army he was in favour of separating married couples for years or even permanently, but I suppose he feels that death is preferable to divorce. Arguments of the Festival of Light and the Right to Life are minimal. These organisations send out material suggesting that we should prevent or discourage divorce, abortion and contraception because the countries of eastern Europe do so. Let me tell them now that as far as I am concerned the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites, or
Spain, have a certain policy is a prima facie argument against it.
I should like to look at some of the arguments of the opponents to the Bill in this House who pretend to be against specific clauses but who are really opposed to divorce in general. I think the important thing for us to remember is that many people oppose the Bill for religious reasons. I do not for one minute dispute that they have a right to hold this personal belief that a marriage is a permanent institution. A person is perfectly entitled to that belief, and obviously I would defend his right- not that it has ever been challenged, as far as I know- not to have a divorce if he does not want to have a divorce. What I object to is that they want to impose their views on the rest of society. That surely is where this House comes into it and has to take a stand, and I would hope that honourable members are prepared to take a stand.
Some people oppose the proposed legislation because they oppose divorce. I think the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), whom I normally consider to be a very rational and reasonable person, as he knows, ignored the position under the present legislation. I made some points by way of interjection when he was speaking, but I should like to make one point now. I should like to quote from a Press release dated 20 October 1974 by Sir Kenneth McCaw, then Mr McCaw, who has just retired as AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales. I respect my colleague’s view that marriages should be permanent but I would appreciate it if he would see what is happening at the present time. Under the heading ‘Speed-up in divorce suits’ the Press release states:
Quick 8-week divorces will be available in NSW under a new ‘speed-up’ scheme introduced by the Attorney-General, Mr McCaw. The ‘quickie’ divorces will apply only to undefended petitions. It takes at least 6 months now for an undefended divorce petition to come before the court.
Under our legislation the period is one year. People who are opposing the legislation feel that that is too short. The Press release goes on:
Two Supreme Court judges, assigned exclusively to speed up divorce hearings, will deal with at least 400 undefended petitions a week. A spokesman for the Family Law Court Registrar said this week: ‘Mr Justice Waddell and Mr Justice Yeldham each will hear about 200 divorce petitions a week. Another 100 undefended petitions a week would be disposed of by other judges sitting in the Family Law division. ‘We hope that by next month an undefended divorce will take about 12 weeks to reach’ the courts and by the end of the year only 8 weeks. ‘
Under the present legislation a person can get a divorce in 8 weeks in New South Wales. The Press release goes on:
There are 10 undefended divorce petitions to every one defended in NSW. The spokesman said that additional petitions would make it necessary for petitioners and their legal representatives to keep up to date with the list numbers published each morning.
Talk about computers, as somebody was talking about them earlier. A person awaiting a hearing for his divorce has to look at the newspaper every morning because his divorce could be on in the afternoon. The Press handout concluded:
A twenty-four hour telephone service (241 342 1 ) will list numbers of petitions for hearing the following day.
A person may ring that number to see whether he is on the computer for tomorrow. This is the sort of proposition that honourable members opposite are defending as being a reasonable way of dealing with divorce. They are opposing the propositions that are being put up in this legislation as being unfair and against the concept of permanent union. As far as I am concerned- I think the honourable member for Fremantle agreed with me- the State cannot prevent marriages from breaking up. I think the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart), who last night moved the amendment, himself said that. He said:
The fact is that marriage counselling can only be successful if the 2 persons involved want their marriage to work. The Bill does not, and indeed cannot force an unwilling party to attend for counselling.
He then went on to cite Mr Basil Hogan, a barrister with wide experience, who agreed with that proposition. The point is that no law can prevent a marriage from breaking up. I think that, as far as possible, society should supply the sort of facilities which would enable as many marriages as possible to continue. Whether it be a question of finance, a question of help in the home or a question of help with the children, obviously it is the duty of the appropriate government- State or Federal- to come in and help. But beyond that it is certainly not possible for a government in any country to prevent a marriage from breaking up.
The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) has returned to the chamber. He spoke about the case of a young woman who had fallen pregnant and who had then been deserted by her husband. He said that she could be divorced when the baby was possibly only 3 months old. Obviously, that could happen, but surely the proposition is this: Is she any better off being theoretically married to some man when no divorce is possible? Is there any advantage from her point of view? Is there any advantage from the child’s point of view? I put it to the honourable member that the marriage has broken up. It is a terrible thing to have happened, but that is the case. The fact that in theory people are still married does not help the woman or the baby in the least, as she knows. On the contrary, a divorce is likely to lead to some son of financial and emotional settlement which she is not able to obtain at the present time. After all, 75 per cent of all divorcees remarry. Last night the Minister for Tourism and Recreation in attacking the Bill summarised what he considered to be the likely evil social and economic consequences for the community in this Bill. He said:
The first consequence will be an increase in the number of divorces in the community.
That is probably so, but the point I would like to make is that it will not necessarily increase the number of broken marriages. In fact I would argue that it would not make any difference to the number of broken marriages. What would make a difference to is the number of people who are divorced rather than the number whose marriages have broken up. The Minister went on to say:
Secondly, the provision of support services will impose a financial burden on the community.
I say: So what? I am surprised that the Minister who is a distinguished member of the Australian Labor Party Government is concerned that the provision of support services for people who have been adversely affected by broken marriages will impose a financial burden on the community. Finally he said:
The parties to broken marriages will suffer financial and emotional burdens in making new homes and establishing new personal relationships.
That is obviously true. That is what a broken marriage is all about. The people involved suffer financial and especially emotional burdens in making new homes and establishing new personal relationships. Certainly this piece of legislation does not alter that and does not improve on that. That is why I cannot get terribly excited about it. But it certainly does not make it any worse.
Last night the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) opposed this legislation. One can understand his point of view in opposing this legislation because he is very friendly with and is indebted to inquiry agents. He uses inquiry agents himself in politics and he probably feels that he is indebted to those inquiry agents. No doubt very shortly we will hear the result of his last dealing with inquiry agents. So I am not surprised that he feels he has a debt to inquiry agents.
– Could you repeat that? I was talking to the honourable member and he did not hear you.
– Yes. I have enough time to repeat it. The honourable member for Mackellar has been sleeping at the back of the chamber, though admittedly this time with the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), who probably is a more attractive sleeping partner than he has had for a long time. The honourable member for Mackellar opposes this so called no-fault divorce concept. He believes that adultery should still be a cause for divorce because he is friendly with inquiry agents. He uses inquiry agents in politics. He is proud of it. A court case is coming up in the near future. One cannot deal with that in detail, but the honourable member has used inquiry agents and their activities will be dealt with in a case coming to court in the near future.
The amendment moved by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation and seconded, I think, by the honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard), if carried, would mean the destruction of the Bill as it stands at the present time. The final clause of the amendment, clause (g), reads: that marriage should be dissolved only when a Court is satisfied on objective grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down or-
I emphasise the word ‘or’- that the parties have lived separately and apart for not less than two years.
I put it to the House that it would be a retrograde step if the mere fact that people have separated by itself is a ground for divorce. As the Minister for Education pointed out and as the honourable member for Riverina would undoubtedly be aware, the separation can be a separation which has nothing to do with the aims of the people concerned. People can be separated because they have been forced into separation. Surely the important thing is whether the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and surely the word that should be used in the amendment should be and’ and not ‘or’. Those 2 factors should not be alternatives, but they should surely both be present at the same time.
Let me conclude by appealing to honourable members to vote according to their beliefs and not to give in to pressure from the Festival of Light or the clergy who are professionally employed by their churches to impose their beliefs on the rest of society.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
-I do. I find it necessary to bring to the attention of the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) first of all the advantage he has tonight in having his speech broadcast whereas last night I had to deliver my speech to a closed House. Consequently the honourable member’s statement that the honourable member for Riverina would have the House believe that all people in the country or in the Riverina are against divorce is completely wrong.
– That is what you said.
-I did not make that statement. If the honourable member listens very carefully he will hear again what I said last night. I said:
The message from the people of the Riverina is crystal clear They do not like this Bill.
I do not like the Bill either. I was misrepresented also by the honourable member for Prospect in that he said that as an Army officer I was responsible for separating people. That is either a denigration of the profession of arms or it is a weak attempt by the honourable member for Prospect at humour. I would point out to him that this is a serious Bill to be treated seriously, and his weak attempt at wit would be better suited in some dirty, sleazy hotel which he probably frequents.
-I ask for a withdrawal of the reference in the last sentence to a dirty, sleazy hotel. Those people in this House who know me would know that I am much less likely to finish up in one of those hotels than is the honourable member for Riverina.
-Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) a few moments ago made some allegations regarding inquiry agents and me, and those allegations were utterly and completely without foundation and untrue. But I do not accuse the honourable member of lying because I know that this sort of thing has been spread by members of the Cabinet and by the propaganda machine which Mr Murphy controlled. Senator James McClelland spoke to a friend of mine on this matter and tried to peddle the same lie.
-Order! I can understand the honourable member wishing to reply to an imputation against his integrity but I ask him not to debate the matter. I think he has made his point in regard to the misrepresentation.
– I can understand this but I wish to speak in view of the gravity of what the honourable member has said. I do not accuse him of lying because I think he is just repeating Cabinet propaganda which has been falsely put about for a malicious purpose and I instance that Senator James McClelland, the new Minister, used this to a friend of mine in King’s Hall and the Press men from Mr Murphy’s office have been saying the same kind of thing -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is debating the matter.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbett) adjourned.
-by leave-The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety has recently been giving close attention to the implications and effect in the United States of America and Victoria of the reduction in the number of traffic fatalities as a result of the reduction in absolute speed limits which were applying in 1974.
On preliminary statistics it has been shown that the number of accident fatalities in the United States was reduced by 9400 or about 17 per cent while in Victoria it was 131 or about 14 per cent. While there is no conclusive evidence available as yet, preliminary investigation would suggest that the reduction in the speed limit has had a major contributory effect in the reduction of the road toll. In a statement issued in Washington on 21 January 1975 Dr James B. Gregory, the federal highway safety chief, said:
These statistics clearly demonstrate the life-saving value of lowered speed limits and less driving. Still more can be done and we hope these deaths decline even more dramatically as the States intensify their efforts to enforce the nationwide 55 mph (88 km/h) and continue their efforts to implement effective highway safety programs.
The House of Representatives Committee is of the unanimous opinion that the full implications of the statistics should be fully investigated as soon as possible. The Committee recommends however that in the meantime all States follow the lead of Victoria and undertake to have implemented an absolute speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour on all highways. The Committee strongly urges that a reduced absolute speed limit come into effect from the commencement of the Easter week for a trial period of 3 months or until the end of the June quarter.
The Committee considers that the implementation and enforcement of the speed limit would cause minimum discomfort and inconvenience and be of little or no cost to the public. With this in mind, the Committee can see no valid reason why a trial period of reduced speed limit cannot be implemented throughout Australia as a means of reducing Australia ‘s road toll. This is a unanimous decision of the Committee. I thank the House for giving me leave to make this statement.
Bill presented by Mr Enderby, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975, which I now introduce, is the same as the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1974, which my predecessor in office introduced into the Senate. The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the securities industry in Australia to operate on a sound basis with an effective system of controls administered nationally by a commission to be called the Corporations and Exchange Commission. More specifically the Bm aims to maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of the capital market in the interests of economic development, efficiency and stability. This is in accordance with the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. I am sure it is also in accord with the wishes of all honourable members.
The introduction of legislation to establish a commission such as the one provided for in the Bill was promised in the policy speech of the Australian Labor Party prior to the election in December 1972. The Bm has been tailored to the requirements of the securities industry in Australia. Many of the provisions are derived from existing State and Territory legislation. But a number of changes have been made. As the classic example of a Securities and Exchange Commission is to be found in the United States of America, due regard has been paid to the laws and practices in that country. In some areas proposals have recently been made in the United Kingdom and some of those proposals have commended themselves for inclusion in the Bill. In other areas the Bill has taken the opportunity to implement changes recommended by the reports of the Company Law Advisory Committee, which was under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Eggleston.
The Bill is, of necessity, a lengthy document, as honourable members will discover, and it covers a wide range of complex matters. In its consideration of those matters my Department was fortunate in having assistance from eminent persons from the United States of America. I mention only two of them in the interests of brevity: Mr Sol Freedman, a former senior officer of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and Professor Louis Loss, Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard University and the author of an authoritative work on the securities industry in the United States. Professor Loss submitted a report setting out his comments in the light of American experience. That report was tabled on 12 September 1973 and comment invited to assist in the preparation of legislation that would be suited to the needs of Australia.
Professor Loss’s report was followed by the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, which was tabled on 18 July 1974. The Senate Committee’s report revealed a disquieting and worrying state of affairs about the way in which the securities industry was being conducted in Australia. The Committee’s main finding, which underlined the need for the present Bill, was that there was a need for the immediate establishment of an Australian Securities Commission to regulate the securities market in Australia and the conduct of those engaged in that market. The Senate Committee’s report was studied closely, and changes were made to the draft Bill that had already been prepared in the light of the matters discussed in the report and the recommendations made by the Committee.
The many detailed provisions of the Bill cover a wide range of important matters that have deserved close consideration. Because of this, my predecessor in office introduced the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1974, at the end of the last sittings so that its provisions could be studied during the recess and the representations and comments of interested organisations and members of the public made known. Before the introduction of the 1974 Bill, my Department had had the benefit of much useful discussion and consultation with the stock exchange committees and other interested organisations and individuals. They were generous in the time that they gave to the task of assisting to formulate legislation that would be workable and effective. During the recess, my Department has received a number of representations and submissions. These are now being given close consideration. Where amendments appear to be desirable I shall move them in due course. Our aim is to get the best possible legislation- legislation which will provide protection for the interests of investors and restore confidence in the capital markets in Australia.
The Bill deals with a wide range of matters that are currently contained in the companies legislation of the States and Territories, and it therefore represents a first step towards the objective of national companies legislation, to which the Government is committed. Other matters of company law, being matters that are not so closely related to the conduct of the securities industry, will be the subject of a further National Companies Bill, which I propose to introduce at an early date. The further Bill will be integrated with the one I am now presenting so that the 2 Bills together will then make comprehensive provisions on a national and up-to-date basis for both company law and the control of the securities industry in our country.
When my predecessor moved in the Senate on 1 9 March 1 970, for the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange he referred to the series of company crashes that had occurred in the 1960s and to the widespread evidence of improper practices during the speculative boom in mining shares in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He drew attention then to the fact that members of the public had been induced by false rumours to buy shares, that inside trading was rife and that selfregulatory bodies seemed either powerless or unwilling to act to protect the public against this and the many other market abuses that were prevalent at the time. I have heard it said that the boom time in which these market abuses prevailed is over and that there is no point now in introducing legislation which will merely lock the stable door after the horse has bolted. It would be irresponsible for the Government to base its policies on such a short-sighted view. The need remains for effective legislation which will, so far as practicable, prevent a recurrence of such abuses at any time in the future. Before indicating the nature of the main provisions in the Bill I shall say a word or two about some of the basic requirements for such legislation.
The need for national legislation
The report of the Senate Committee on Securities and Exchange drew attention to the need for the securities industry to be subject to national legislation rather than legislation of individual States and Territories. The report made it clear that the securities industry functions on an Australiawide basis, and that control on any other basis is bound to be inadequate. The requirements of the law and the administrative procedures should be the same throughout Australia. The persons responsible for the administration of such legislation must have direct access to information in all parts of Australia. In addition, there is the consideration that there are many large corporations operating across the Australian continent for which the need to comply with the requirements of separate State and Territory laws involves pointless frustrations, unnecessary costs and duplication of resources.
Uniform State and Territory legislation is not the answer. That approach has been tried and has failed. Efforts to achieve uniformity are invariably slow, and seldom more than partially successful. Even where uniformity has been achieved problems arise from differences between the separate administrations of individual States and Territories. The only satisfactory course, and the course which is adopted by this Bill, is national legislation, and a single administrative agency with jurisdiction throughout Australia
The need for continuous reform of the law
One of the problems we have had with company and securities law in Australia has been that the need for changes in the law has occurred more rapidly than the responsible legislatures have been able to make those changes. It has become increasingly evident that it is just not enough to have an expert committee examine certain aspects of company or securities law once in every 15 to 20 years or so. There is a need, which was recognised long ago in the United States and in the First Interim Report of the Eggleston Committee, for an expert body with continuity of existence to be charged with a responsibility for seeing that the laws are kept up to date at all times. There are many matters of detail with respect to which the expert body should be trusted and empowered to make rules of its own having the force of the law. It is sufficient for Parliament to have a power of disallowance over such rules. In other matters of more fundamental importance the expert body should be responsible for submitting reports recommending changes in the law which it considers desirable.
The need for a preventive approach
The experiences of recent years have made it clear that it is not sufficient for legislation with respect to securities to prescribe rules and provide remedies that are available when those rules are broken. AU too often the remedies prove to be worthless, either because the trail of the offender is well-covered or because he has placed his assets beyond the reach of the persons who have been defrauded and deceived. There is a need for more emphasis to be given to the prevention of fraudulent conduct. The BUI that I now present recognises this need in a number of ways, but mainly in providing for the establishment of a strong administrative agency, which will have access to relevant information and effective powers to intervene where intervention appears to be desirable.
The self-regulatory role of stock exchanges
The management of a stock exchange in Australia is in the hands of a committee elected from its members. The committee has responsibility for a range of matters including the admission of new members, the disciplining of members who act improperly and the listing of securities to be traded on the market of the exchange. The Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange found that in the discharge of those regulatory responsibilities the stock exchanges in Australia had been ‘seriously wanting’. In fairness to the exchanges I hasten to add that the situations that they had to deal with during the boom years were anything but normal. But the fact remains that the Senate Committee’s report has shown very clearly the need for some changes to be made in the selfregulatory roles of the stock exchange committees.
Criticism of the stock exchange committees should not overlook the fact that the committees perform valuable functions. But there is a need for the committees to be brought under some degree of surveillance by an official body representing the public interest generally. In the United States of America this has been recognised. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been given what has been described as a ‘lookingoverthe shoulder’ role. That is to say, the immediate day to day management of an exchange remains with that exchange, but the Commission is responsible for ensuring that the rules of the exchange are satisfactory, that those rules are properly enforced and that generally the exchange is conducted with due regard to the interests of the public.
The present BUI provides for a similar role for the Corporations and Exchange Commission in Australia. In doing so the BUI recognises that the stock market of a stock exchange is like any other market in the sense that it is a place where the public may buy a commodity- in this case securities of corporations. The public needs protection as it does in any other market, and the protection should be provided by appropriate laws coupled with a strong adminstrative agency representative of the public interest.
The need for prompt and adequate disclosure by corporations
Legislation cannot protect the individual against his folly or lack of judgment in the making of investments in securities. But there is a need, which the legislation should recognise, to ensure that the investor has access to information which is both relevant and up to date. It should not be overlooked that the funds of public companies come from the public. Relevant information should not be regarded as the exclusive property of the controllers of such companies. There is, in particular, a need for the financial position of companies to be properly disclosed in its accounts, for information concerning matters significantly affecting a company’s prospects to be made available promptly and for the identity of the persons beneficially entitled to major shareholdings to be ascertainable.
The need to prohibit undesirable market practices
The report of the Senate Committee on Securities and Exchange disclosed a number of undesirable market practices. Practices such as market manipulation, insider trading, short selling and dealing in undesirable conflict of interest situations, to name just a few. These are referred to in the report. They need to be dealt with effectively by the legislation if public confidence is to be restored in our stock markets.
The need for proper examination of prospectuses
It is also clear from the report of the Senate Committee on Securities and Exchange- if indeed it was not clear before the report- that there is a need for prospectuses by which the public is to be invited to contribute funds towards companies to be subjected before issue to a more thorough examination by the administering authorities than has been the case. The lack of adequate investigation into prospectuses during the boom years plainly led to millions of dollars being subscribed by the investing public for worthless ventures. Apart from the inevitable losses to the individuals concerned, this involved a substantial misallocation of the country’s resources.
The need for appropriate investigatory powers
If one thing has been made clear in recent years it has been that the existing method of investigating the activities of companies and the conduct of their officers is altogether too ponderous. All too often reports that are made following investigation action do little more than provide a record for history. It is of the utmost importance that company investigations be made in good time and that they are no longer impeded by the irrelevancy of State boundaries. In recognition of this fact the present Bill contains provisions which will enable the Corporations and Exchange Commission to act quickly and effectively throughout Australia in the conduct of its investigations.
Mr Speaker, as the Bill is a particularly long one and as its provisions are indicated in considerable detail in the explanatory memorandum that I have distributed, I do not propose to detain honourable members at this stage by describing its provisions in detail other than to say that they give effect to the requirements and objectives that I have already outlined. There can be no doubting the need for legislation of this kind to provide for the securities industry in this country. If there was ever any doubt about the need for such legislation that doubt was finally dispelled by the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange- the well known Rae Committee report. The Bill that I have presented contains a great many provisions that will have an important bearing upon the functioning of our securities industry in the future. I am confident that they will cause the industry to function much more efficiently and with better regard for the rights of investors. A great deal of careful consideration has been given to the provisions of this Bill. It is an extremely important piece of legislation and the Government commends the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Ellicott) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
Unemployment: Growing of Opium Poppies - Miss Junie Morosi- Motor Vehicle IndustryBeef -Superphosphate
– I want tonight to draw the attention of members of the House to some newspaper articles and in particular one headed: ‘Jobless may flower in Port Fairy’. The stories that we have seen have related to the joint State and Federal action in Victoria where the growing of certain opium poppies has been restricted by government action. This government action, the reports have stated, has threatened the jobs of 40 people in Port Fairy. It is alleged that 7 per cent of the workforce in that city will in fact be out of work as a result of the loss of these jobs. These people are employed in the factory of Glaxo Australia
Pty Ltd. Opium poppies are in fact grown in Australia now. The growing is restricted to Tasmania where some 3000 acres are permitted to be grown. It appears that a security risk is alleged if opium poppies are grown more widely than simply in Tasmania as at present. There are, and have been set out in reports, detailed security arrangements that are given effect to in Tasmania where these poppies are presently grown. It seems that those arrangements can be given effect to at a certain cost. It has been estimated, for me, that the cost is approximately $10 per kilo of the product.
The company has sought to expand the places at which it can produce the opium poppies to fulfil its needs. It believes that it can market opium derivatives more widely than it can simply in Australia. There is, in fact, a world shortage of legitimately produced opium. The medical uses to which opium derivatives can be put are probably well known. The alkaloids of the opium poppy yield several related drugs, some of which have use in medical practice. Others have certain undesirable side effects and are not permitted to be used for medical purposes. Neither opium, nor its derivative heroin, is used medically in Australia. The opium poppy derivatives which are used medically in Australia include morphine, which is a potent analgesic which relieves most kinds of severe pain. Its addictive qualities make it necessary for its use to be medically necessary and carefully supervised. There are certain morphine derivatives such as codeine, which is a mild analgesic and cough suppressant. There is the papaverine group of drugs which are used in the management of coronary and vascular disease cases. There is methadone, which is an addictive drug, and which is at present used in a limited way for weaning heroin addicts. Although addictive, it offers the heroin addict an improved chance of successfully ending his period of addiction. It has been put to me that the wholesale value of opium derivatives used in Australia is probably in the area of $1.5m per annum. Nevertheless these drugs are significant agents in medical practice.
The world situation in relation to supplies of opium is rather confused, especially because of the attempts of the United States and the United Nations in recent years to reduce the amount of poppy cultivation to that level which is actually required for licit and medical purposes. Despite the fact that Turkey has reduced its poppy cultivation, there is probably little doubt that world production is considerably in excess of licit demand. However, the growth in demand for medical products is rapid, and the fact that illegal drug users pay higher prices than are paid by legal users may serve to divert a large proportion of opium production, creating an artificial shortage for legal users. A newsletter was produced by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in the United States which records certain evidence given to a United States committee. Appearing before that committee was a representative of the 3 licensed importers of opium in the United States of America. Included among the companies named in the Newsletter were Merck and Company, S. B. Penick and Company, Bristol Laboratories and Riker Laboratories. The Newsletter states:
McGrew’s supply and demand projections for opiumbased products during 1975 and onward were bleak.
That company’s representative said that during the first 10 months of 1974 the sales of codeine exceeded the imports of crude opium by more than 100 per cent and that the only reason why all 3 processors were not closed down and shortages had not been felt yet at the pharmacy level was the release by the Government in December 1973 of 238 tons of opium from the strategic materials stockpile. The Newsletter went on to state that more than 60 per cent of this stockpile, which was meant to extend over a 5-year period, was already exhausted. The representative of the company predicted that a slight increase in India’s poppy production, if the weather improved, and further use of the stockpile would provide about 80 per cent of the medical demand in 1975. He went on to say:
The impact will gradually reach the consumer level as it becomes difficult, and then virtually impossible, to fill codeine prescriptions at the pharmacy and in the hospital.
The company has suggested that a formal program of rationing bulk codeine will be inevitable in 1975.
I do not know and have not been able to check adequately for my own purposes whether those projections are in fact correct, but it does seem to be a fact that stockpile sources in the United States have been eaten into by this demand and that that is why people are worrying. I do not know whether in fact we have any strategic stockpile in Australia. I suspect that we probably do not, although it seems apparent that we are able to produce sufficient for our own purposes at the moment, it does seem to me that larger quantities or these drugs could be genuinely produced for licit purposes and could provide employment opportunities for people in Australia. It think it is pertinent to note- I certainly have noted- that the employees of the particular company that are suffering unemployment are in the electorate of the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I spoke to him today to ascertain his attitude before I spoke on this important matter. He agrees with the comment that I have made that it would be most desirable, provided satisfactory security arrangements were madeand I believe that they can be made- if the resources were actually widened and it were made possible for more growers to enter the market.
It seems quite clear from the public comments that have been made that poppy cultivation is more difficult than the growth of other possible crops in Tasmania. Despite a substantial increase in the contract rates by Glaxo Aust Pty Ltd, the company has been unable to attract a greater contract area than 3000 acres in Tasmania. It seems to be generally agreed by the company that if it wanted further acres in Tasmania the Government there would probably be persuaded to permit it to expand in that area, but the farmers seem to be unwilling to grow poppies. I have also seen articles in the South Australian Advertiser’ that indicate that a number of farmers on Kangaroo Island are considering a proposal to produce poppies for codeine. Their proposals have been put to the Government of that State.
My submission is that the Government ought to review these decisions. I believe that the security steps that we would all demand and see as necessary could be taken and, as a result, we could produce this product for world purposes, supplying not only our own needs but also the needs of other countries- needs that, from what I have read, seem to be very apparent and immediate. As a result we could also improve the employment opportunities in the Port Fairy area, which have been jeopardised by the decisions which have been taken to date.
– Briefly, let me say in reply to the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock) that these matters are under consideration by my Government and by the States concerned. The security of dangerous drugs is the main consideration which exercised the minds of Ministers for Health in their conference when they discussed this matter earlier in the year, and no doubt they will be discussing it again at their meeting in April this year. I am concerned, as we all are, about the need to provide adequate supplies of essential drugs, whether they be dangerous or not, and about the need to restore or to preserve employment. But the overriding consideration is that we should not add to the world problem of drug abuse. This is the overriding consideration which determined the decision that has so far restricted the growing of opium poppies to non-mainland areas.
While it is true that there are many useful products of the opium family, in every case there are alternatives. So even if there were an absolute shortage of opium derived drugs and doctors were not able from time to time to obtain the supplies that they prescribe, the situation could not be seen as a major tragedy because there are effective alternatives such as the pethidine family. We should not rush into the position of just making up a shortage of that kind in the light of the very grave and growing world problem of containing these drugs and securing them from the illicit drug traffic which is a growing problem in all countries, not least in our own.
– I had not intended to speak in the adjournment debate tonight but something that occurred in the House impelled me to do so. When I was making a rebuttal of certain remarks made by the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) Mr Speaker, who was then in the chair, felt that the Standing Orders did not allow me to make clear the full facts of the case. I now take this opportunity of so doing. The honourable member for Prospect accused me of having employed an inquiry agent in relation to a court case which was shortly pending. That accusation was completely and utterly without foundation. There is no truth in the matter whatsoever. I do not believe that the honourable member for Prospect, who said something which was untrue, did know that what he was saying was untrue. I do not accuse him of lying.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I do not want to restrict what the honourable member is saying, but I would suggest that he should not refer to a debate that has taken place during this day. I think that he can set out the facts without referring to the debate.
-Yes, Sir. I make it clear that no honourable member in this House is accused by me of having said something which he knew to be untrue. But I think that certain honourable members may have been a mouthpiece for people in the Ministry in this regard. I have some evidence of that. Let me cite three or four pieces of evidence. In the first place, there was, as is well known, a break-in at the house of Miss Morosi. This occurred and it was reported in the Press. When this break-in occurred suggestions were made that Senator Greenwood and I were in some way concerned with the matter. As far as I am concerned- Senator Greenwood has spoken for himself in the same manner- this suggestion is utterly and completely false.
– Who suggested it?
– It was suggested, among other people, by the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Senator James McClelland, who spoke to a friend of mine in this regard. It was suggested tonight in the House by the honourable member for Prospect. I must not make too much reference to that. But the suggestion was made. The honourable member for Prospect made the same allegation by way of interjection in the House yesterday. So it is going on.
Two things are notable. The first concerns the Morosi affair. Naturally I have made some inquiries into this subsequently by reason of the fact that my name was falsely linked with it. I have made some inquiries and I have come to the extraordinary conclusion that the Commonwealth Police and not the State Police were involved. I have formed the quite inevitable conclusion that this was done corruptly by Mr Murphy in order to cover up evidence that would have been to the detriment of himself or his friends and that the thing was a political frame-up from the beginning. I do not know the details of how this was done, but I have heard from pressmen that the story that I was involved was put out from Mr Murphy’s office. This is the kind of thing that one has to contend with. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that Mr Murphy knows a great deal more about the background of the Morosi affair than is currently believed.
– What about John Singleton?
Mr WENTWORTH A name has been mentionedthat of John Singleton. I do not know that he has anything to do with the Morosi affair. But the honourable member may have the advantage of me in that regard. If he has the advantage perhaps he will let the House know. But it is on the record that Mr Murphy corruptly used his position as Minister to use the Commonwealth Police in order to prevent the obtaining of evidence in regard to a friend. This is not something for which I need any evidence. The evidence is here and completely open. It is on the record. Why were not the State police brought into this? It is a State offence. Why was it kept from the State police? Perhaps Mr Murphy may be able to enlighten us on these matters.
I have evidence of a long association of Mr Murphy with this group of people. It is quite conclusive evidence and it goes back for some years.
There has been a cover-up by the Government of quite monumental dimensions. The Government is using all of its propaganda facilities to denigrate those people who are making an attempt to find out what has really happened. It is using innocent members in this House as a mouthpiece for what it is doing and innocent members- I regard the honourable member for Prospect as an innocent and deluded mouthpiece- do not perhaps realise what they are being used for and what is really going on. I have named certain files which I have every reason to believe are in existence. I know that those files have things in them which Mr Murphy would not Uke to have revealed either regarding his friends or perhaps his attempts to cover up for his friends. I do not think I need take the matter any further.
– I wish to raise a matter that is of considerable concern in South Australia. It relates to what appears to be a breakdown, or a partial breakdown, of an agreement made between the Australian Government and the major motor vehicle manufacturers about one month ago. Honourable members will recall the substance of this agreement, which followed repeated negotiations between Government officials, a number of Ministers and representatives of the motor vehicle manufacturing companies. The Government gave certain undertakings to adopt measures to support the motor vehicle industry by stimulating the purchase of motor cars. In exchange the manufacturers undertook to defer any retrenchments they had foreshadowed.
In the case of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd the undertaking was for a period of 3 months and in the case of Chrysler Australia Ltd the period was 30 days. I do not recall the period for Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. You, Mr Deputy Speaker, may be able to tell us the period because the activities of that company affect your electorate, but I think that it was 30 days as well. In any event, every concerned Australian breathed a sigh of relief when this agreement was made between the Australian Government and the car manufacturing companies that there would be no retrenchments, at least for the time being, that certain substantial support would be provided by Government action for the motor vehicle industry, and that we would wait and see what happened after that. I am concerned that there seems to be a partial breakdown of this arrangement so far as it concerns Chrysler Australia Ltd.
On Monday of this week Chrysler called up a number of toolmakers and advised them that they would have the option of accepting work on the production line. As they were all tradesmen this would mean a substantial reduction in pay and they would no longer be working in their trade. They were told that the only alternative was that they could put in their resignations. It is very interesting that the company did not offer retrenchment as an alternative. I understand that some of the workers were led to believe that the company would not retrench people because of the agreement with the Government. That is not quite the same as the excuse that was subsequently given by the company but that was the advice given to me by a couple of the employees at Chrysler. Some of these people contacted me. They did not wish to resign. They felt that if they did it would prejudice their chances of assistance under the National Employment and Training Scheme and might prejudice their chances of receiving the unemployment benefit.
It seems to me that the company has adopted a rather circuitous method to try to avoid retrenchments. A lot of people contacted me about this matter because they thought it was a breach of the undertaking made with the Australian Government. The result has been that many of these tradesmen, but not all of them, have refused to accept a transfer. An occupation of that section of the factory took place. In the light of everyone’s understanding of the agreement between the Government and the company it is hardly surprising that this occupation of the factory did take place. I am sure that no one could blame those employees for refusing to accept a transfer.
The next statement I heard from the companyit was not first hand- was that the company claimed to officials of the Amalgamated Metalworkers Union that the agreement with the Government applied only to workers on the production line and not to these tradesmen. I have tried to check on the actual undertaking given by Chrysler to the Government. The company claimed that it was going to guarantee employment only for people directly engaged in the manufacture of cars. I suppose the company would try to justify the retrenchment of these tradesmen by saying that as they were working on design operations they were not directly involved in manufacturing. In my opinion, that is complete sophistry on the part of the company and seems to be to be a back door method of trying to evade their undertakings with the Government. The Government entered into this agreement in a very solemn manner. I think it is worth reminding the House of the very substantial assistance that has been given to the motor vehicle industry by this Government. As everybody knows, this Government is pledged to support a viable vehicle building industry in Australia and it lays particular emphasis on supporting the motor vehicle industry in South Australia.
Last November the Government announced a policy of an 85 per cent local content plan. At the same time it was announced that there would be a 35 per cent tariff on the import of completely built up units and that if the number of vehicles imported exceeds 20 per cent of the domestic market there would be a penalty tariff of an extra 10 per cent placed on those vehicles. To add to that, later on- I think this was part of the agreement made between the Government and companiesthe Government introduced an import quota system. This of course has been a very hefty slice of protection to the Australian car industry. In addition to that, as part of the same package deal, the Government undertook, and has carried out that undertaking, to reduce sales tax on motor vehicles. Then there have been the considerable Government purchases of vehicles, and that has been very much to the benefit of this particular company. There are also the other general benefits such as reductions in company tax and accelerated depreciation.
The Australian Government and the Australian community have spent many hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteeing the jobs of these employees, and although the company might use some sort of peculiar logic in justifying its action in seeking to transfer these employees I believe it is engaging in sophistry and that it is certainly not honouring the spirit of the undertaking. It is not honouring the spirit of the agreement which was made with the Australian Government. I believe that it is most important for the employees concerned and for the economy of South Australia- indeed for the economy of the whole nation- that we guarantee that everybody concerned co-operates in guaranteeing a viable motor vehicle industry in Australia. I hope that the representatives of this company will ensure that not only the letter but the spirit of the agreement made with the Government is fully honoured.
In conclusion I would like to refer to the proposed local content plans announced last November by the Government. I think everybody agrees that one of the great problems of the motor vehicle industry in Australia is its successive fragmentation. The Australian Government is very anxious to have one of the major Japanese manufacturers operate in partnership with the Chrysler company in South Australia at the engine plant at Lonsdale, and this is something that all South Australians would want to see. However, I think it is absolutely essential that if one of the Japanese companies goes in it should be either Toyota or Datsun because they are the major Japanese manufacturers operating in Australia. I am a little bit apprehensive that the connections of the Chrysler company with Mitsubishi in Japan might lead them to prefer the connection with Mitsubishi to continue and, perhaps to expand. I believe that that would not be the answer to our problems. Whatever happens, Australians will certainly want to continue to purchase Toyotas and Datsuns. I think those vehicles should be made here, but we should not encourage the continuation of fragmentation of the industry. I believe it is essential that at least one of these 2 manufacturers should do everything to operate jointly with the Chrysler company at Lonsdale. I would like to hear words of encouragement from the Chrysler organisation in that regard.
-The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise this evening because of a reply which was given to a question asked on notice in this chamber by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier). It relates to the beef industry. The first part of the question was:
With reference to the urgent need for assistance to the beef industry in Australia, will the Minister consider the establishment of a Commission empowered to purchase surplus beef for the purpose of storage until suitable markets are located.
The answer to that part of the question was:
The second part of the question was:
Can large quantities of beef be kept in cold storage at a cost of less than Se per lb per annum?
The answer to that part of the question was:
On the basis of prices charged by the Cold Storage Association, the cost to hold meat in cold storage over 1 year period would be of the order of 10c per lb.
That information is misleading. The honourable member for Bendigo is a lot closer to the point. From the information which I can secure, the cost is less than 5c per lb yet the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) informs us that the cost is in the vicinity of 10c per lb. The third part of the question was:
Would this action relieve the pressure on the present beef market and help to stabilise a price that will keep this section of the rural industry viable.
The answer to that part of the question was:
The current unused cold storage capacity in Australia is relatively small in relation to production of beef. In view of this, it is considered that producer prices for cattle could not be significantly influenced by the utilisation of existing unused storage capacity.
That may be partly true. When an industry is in great strife, trying to dispose of meat on any market in the world and trying to find somewhere to put its surplus cattle, then any storage must be classified, in my mind and in the minds of a lot of people on this side of the House, as very valuable. I have been concerned at the lack of action by the Government to assist this very important industry which is recognised as one of the top 3 industries in Australia. What has the Government done in this time of crisis? Absolutely nothing. It appears to be penalising the industry and putting obstacles in the way of the industry. The brushing aside of the superphosphate bounty is an illustration. Some of the taxation slugs on the industry mean that those who may have had a small income a couple of years ago now must pay the tax on it. Today they have nothing with which to pay the tax. I am saying that the Government is badly letting down the industry in this regard.
This week the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to my mind- I have the agreement of a lot of members on this side- misled this Parliament and the nation by giving wrong information. He said that Australia was enjoying the cheapest superphosphate in the world. He had to retract that answer because he was corrected. We certainly do not have the cheapest superphosphate in the world. This is a very important industry employing a lot of people.
– All right. I did not mention which countries were cheaper. His answer was only off the cuff. He was challenged on his statement that New Zealand was able to dispose of cheaper superphosphate. No doubt if we looked around we would probably find other countries which are getting it cheaper.
– In New Zealand it is $28 a ton.
-A11 right. What do we pay in this country? Something tike $54. When the LiberalCountry Party Government went out of office, what were we paying? About $14 a ton. There has been an increase of almost 300 per cent in a couple of years. The Prime Minister said that Australia was getting the cheapest superphosphate in the world. The Special Minister of State (Mr Lionel Bowen) is another one who made a misleading statement. In answer to a question this week he said that the Government was subsidising this industry to the extent of $70m a year. From the way he spoke one would think that the Government was directly subsidising it. I realise that we are fortunate to be able to get some phosphate rock from overseas at a very cheap rate, but that is not being supplied directly by the Government. Again I say that the Minister’s statement was misleading.
The beef industry is in dire straits today. If we were to have very dry or very cold conditions in some of the southern areas in the next 3 months, I foresee absolutely millions of cattle being allowed to die or being shot on properties. If that is not a serious situation, I have never seen one. Members of the Government sit here and do absolutely nothing. It is about time they did. Tonight I want to draw the Government’s attention to this position. I believe that if the Government does not do something we will have a lot of problems. Returning to the superphosphate question, I am reminded of the large number of people who are unemployed following the lack of demand because of price.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! It being 11 p.m. the House stands adjourned until 2. 1 5 p.m. on Tuesday next.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
At present there are no comparable arrangements for the secondment of large numbers of skilled personnel to developing countries covered by the South Pacific Aid Program (SPAP). Manpower assistance to these countries is provided on an ad hoc basis in the form of individual Australian experts carrying out specific aid assignments, of whom there are currently 3 1 serving throughout the region, as follows- Fiji (15); British Solomon Islands Protectorate (4); Tonga (2); Gilbert and Ellice Islands (3); Western Samoa (6); and the New Hebrides ( 1 ).
Australia has also seconded a few educational personnel to South Pacific countries under the Commonwealth Cooperation in Education Scheme (CCES). Thus there is at present a Book-keeping Instructor, seconded from the New South Wales Department of Education, at the Honiara Technical Institute in the British Solomon Islands; a Headmaster, also from the New South Wales Department of Education, at Nasinu Teachers College, Fiji; a Head of School of Business Studies and an Electrical Instructor, from the South Australian Institute of Technology, at the Derrick Technical Institute, Fiji, and the Development Authority, GEIC, respectively; and two lecturers, one in Administration and one in Teacher Education, from the Canberra College of Advanced Education, at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.
Guinea Public Service and Authorities were advertised in the Australian press. Over the same period, 161 persons on transfer or secondment from public employment in Australia were recruited into ASAG. A further 93 persons were engaged on direct contracts with the Papua New Guinea Government from the private sector in Australia. Recruitment action is still proceeding on a number of vacancies, particularly for secondary school teachers required for the commencement of the 1 975 school year in Papua New Guinea.
asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice:
1 ) What was the cost per acre of:
Does the developed cost include:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Organisations will need to be properly constituted, locally oriented, voluntary, and accountable for expenditure of any funds received. Individuals are not eligible. Nor are local government bodies, universities or organisations with access to public monies.
The grant should be sought to help resolve specific environmental controversities of significant community concern. Funds are not available for administrative, developmental, publicity or managerial purposes, for publication of reports, or for the purchase of land, property of equipment. Funds are not available for completed tasks.
The receipient organisation would be required to apply its grant towards the obtaining of technical assistance of an expert consultant nature that would otherwise be beyond its existing resources.
Before a grant is issued the organisation would need to provide the following details:
The aim of the investigation.
The consltant to be engaged.
Start and finish time of the project.
Budget details, separating consltant ‘s fees from itemised costs.
asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:
– I am informed that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) There were 7905 persons receiving income maintenance at the end of December, 1974. The industries from which these individuals were retrenched and the number retrenched from each industry at that date are shown in the following table:
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member ‘s question is as follows:
Now that the National Parks and Wildlife Bill has been debated in Parliament I have arranged for further discussions between Departmental officers to formalise these arrangements as soon as possible. Such discussions will also cover the formulation and administration of wildlife policies.
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 February 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1975/19750213_reps_29_hor93/>.