House of Representatives
27 April 1976

30th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.

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The Clerk:

– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:

Overseas Development Assistance

To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that many Australians are concerned at the announced decision by the Commonwealth Government to reduce the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance vote by $21m and by the abolition of the Australian Development Assistance Agency.

We your petitioners do therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:

  1. as a matter of urgency, reverse the decision to cut the 1975-76 Overseas Development Assistance vote so as to ensure that the full amount appropriated by Parliament for Overseas Development Assistance is spent this financial year to meet the pressing needs of those in the developing countries;
  2. reaffirm Australia ‘s commitment of Overseas Development Assistance being a minimum of 0.7 per cent of GNP, and
  3. establish a fully independent statutory authority to administer Australia’s official Overseas Development Assistance.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sinclair, Mr Peacock, Mr Killen, Mr Howard, Mr Staley, Mr Brown, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Connor, Dr Edwards, Mr Fisher, Mr Garland, Mr Groom, Mr Hayden, Mr Martin and Mr Antony Whitlam.

Petitions received.

Income Tax

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State Governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would:

  1. be faced with complicated variations in his or her personal income taxes between States; and
  2. find that real after-tax wages for the same job would vary from State to State even when gross wages were advertised as being the same; and
  3. require citizens to maintain records of income earned in each State.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not reintroduced.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Uren and Mr Morris.

Petitions received.

Eraser Island

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 the natural environment of Fraser Island is so outstanding that it should be identified as part of the World Natural Heritage, and whereas the Island should be conserved for the enjoyment of this and future generations,

Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in the House assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:

  1. that the Australian Government uses its constitutional powers to prohibit the export of any mineral sands from Fraser Island, and
  2. that the Australian Government uses its constitutional authority to assist the Queensland Government and any other properly constituted body to develop and conserve the recreational, educational and scientific potentials of the natural environment of Fraser Island for the long term benefit of the people of Australia.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Peacock.

Petition received.

National Employment and Training Scheme

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned people of Australia respectfully showeth-

That many students employed by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations are suffering distressing economic strains due to drastic alterations in the payment of allowances, to NEATS Recipients.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the conditions applying to trainees approved prior to April 1, 1976, remain until these students complete their training.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Aldred.

Petition received.

Omega Station in Australia

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:

  1. That Omega is the only navigation system, whose signals can be used by submarines to determine their position when submerged.
  2. That in particular the missiles-firing submarines of the U.S.A. can improve their destructive potential by using Omega signals.
  3. That therefore an Omega station built in Australia would be listed for nuclear attack by any power, believing itself threatened by the U.S.A.
  4. That such a station would therefore represent a further hindrance to the development of an independent and peaceful foreign policy for Australia and a new contribution to the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Australian Government will reject any proposal to build an Omega station on Australian soil.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.

Petition received.

Income Tax: Land and Water Rates

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: That the undersigned persons believe that-

The $300 limit on income tax deductibility in respect of personal residential land and water rates is unrealistic and is a discriminatory income tax penalty.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take steps to see that the aforesaid limitation is removed entirely or substantially increased.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Connolly.

Petition received.

Uranium Mining

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 sheweth:

That the products of nuclear fission create risks unlike those of any other single technology and, furthermore, it is uncertain whether or not nuclear fission technology, taking all inputs into account, is a net producer of energy.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition that by reason of the hazards associated with the use of uranium in nuclear power plants, mining of uranium in Australia be restricted to that needed for physical and biomedical research and medical diagnosis.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Giles.

Petition received.

Australian Assistance Plan

To the Speaker and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia by this our humble Petition respectfully showeth that the responses to opportunities created through the Australian Assistance Plan and the achievements of Regional Councils for Social Development in planning the efficient use of resources have justified the expenditure of public moneys to date.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government endorse the continuation of the Australian Assistance Plan as a longer term program to be implemented on a regional basis throughout the Nation.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Jull.

Petition received.

Australian Heritage Commission

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia and being members of:

Maryborough, Wide Bay and Burnett Historical Society respectfully showeth that

There is a growing interest and concern in all sections of Australian society for the conservation of the environment, natural and man-made.

That there are also rapidly growing pressures by powerful forces tending towards the destruction of the Australian heritage.

That it is therefore urgent to appoint the Australian Heritage Commission, which was approved by both sides of this Parliament and to give the Commission sufficient independent staff, resources and funds.

That Technical Assistance Grants and Administrative Support Grants to community organisations are needed to partially redress the gross imbalance in technical expertise and resources suffered by community groups in pressing the community’s case against the exploiter.

That a proper balance between the Government programme of public austerity and the need for action in conservation would be a modest increase in the budget allocations in these areas over that of 1 975-76.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Millar.

Petition received.

Australian Heritage Commission

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that

There is a growing interest and concern in all sections of Australian society for the conservation of the environment, natural and man-made.

That there are also rapidly growing pressures by powerful forces tending towards the destruction of the Australian heritage.

That it is therefore urgent to appoint the Australian Heritage Commission, which was approved by both sides of this Parliament and to give the Commission sufficient independent staff, resources and funds.

That Technical Assistance Grants and Administrative Support Grants to community organisations are needed to partially redress the gross imbalance in technical expertise and resources suffered by community groups in pressing the community’s case against the exploiter.

That a proper balance between the Governments program of public austerity and the need for action in conservation would be a modest increase in the budget allocations in these areas over that of 1 975-76.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Sainsbury.

Petition received.

Pharmaceutical Benefits: Milk Substitutes

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:

  1. That reduction of the age limit from six years to eighteen months for patients eligible to receive cows’ milk substitutes as a pharmaceutical benefit under the schedules of the National Health Act will cause serious financial hardship to many families;
  2. That children allergic to cows’ milk and other dairy products who often include asthmatics and sufferers of respiratory complaints depend on Soya Bean milk such as Isomil or Prosobec as a mam source of protein;
  3. That the Government’s action is responsible for a 100 per cent increase in the cost of milk substitutes frequently involving parents in expenditure of $10 per week to sustain desirable protein intake for an affected child;
  4. That there is an urgent, humane need to restore milk substitutes to children up to six years of age to the schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that milk substitutes be restored to the schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits for children up to the age of six years as soon as possible.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.

Petition received.

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Prime Minister · Wannon · LP

- Mr Speaker, I wish to announce a change in ministerial arrangements. To even the work load of Ministers representing other Ministers in the Senate, Senator Carrick will in future represent the Minister for Transport in that chamber.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

– I ask the Prime Minister a question. When the amendments to the maintenance sections of the Family Law Act come before the Parliament will members of the Government parties be given a free vote, as all members were given when the Bill for that Act came before both Houses?


– I do not want to be definitive in relation to a particular amendment that is not yet before the House, but in general terms I have expressed the view that a Bill that was passed through this chamber on a free vote ought to be amended on a free vote. In particular circumstances it might at times be necessary to make a particular judgment that would not coincide with the general rule. I say that as a general proposition and quite divorced from any particular proposals for amendment that might be put before the House.

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Mr Antony Whitlam:

– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. He will have noted that as a result of a High Court decision last October Victorian and Queensland milk producers have an unrestricted right to sell cut price milk and milk products in New South Wales and that the Norco Co-operative Ltd, the

Bega and Co-operative Society Ltd, the Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Ltd and others have threatened to pull out of equalisation when it expires on 30 June. How does the Minister react to the open threats by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture that Victorian producers will forcibly invade interstate liquid milk markets unless they are given a fair share of the market? Can the Minister assure this House and the people of New South Wales that he will not allow stability in the New South Wales milk market to be eroded by interstate rivalry and cut price marketing tactics?

Minister for Primary Industry · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– The stories of open warfare to which the honourable gentleman’s question relates seem more reminiscent of the Government of his father than of the present regime. Nonetheless, we on this side of the House are concerned at the general plight both of consumers throughout Australia- there are many who are interested in the continuity of supply of dairy products- and of producers. Unfortunately the reconciliation of both is causing quite real difficulties at present. There have been discussions between State Ministers for Agriculture and myself on ways by which assistance can be provided to overcome the problems generated by the large stockpile of skim milk powder around the world. Some schemes of joint assistance have been developed as a result. I do not believe that the application of that High Court decision is the basis on which the long term problems either of the consumer or of the producer will be solved.

However, it is necessary that there be an acceptance by producers of the fact that the industry throughout Australia is one industry. It is for that reason that this Government has introduced for the first time a form of recommended levying for financing the operations of the Australian Dairy Corporation which will involve the payment of a levy by all producers of milk, to wherever the milk is supplied. I think this will mean that the Australian Dairy Corporation will be seen by everybody as being a body responsible for all sectors of the industry. I do not believe that across the border trading is the way which necessarily can ensure the maintenance of adequate supplies to big cities, but it certainly is an alternative to which many producers, in the very grievous plight they are facing at the moment, are turning. Discussions are still continuing between the States and the Commonwealth to try to find a means of overcoming this over-supply position, but I do not believe that it is by an open warfare type of situation that the happiest solution for any of the parties can be devised.

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-Could the Treasurer say when the Government intends to introduce a natural disasters insurance scheme?


– I appreciate the question which has been asked by the honourable member for Balaclava and I pay tribute to the work which he did during our period in Opposition in acting as a key contact man between the then Opposition and the insurance industry generally. The honourable member has a very wide understanding of the problems which have been affecting the industry and I therefore welcome the question on that basis. The fact is that the Government has agreed in principle with the implementation of a natural disaster insurance program. The matter is now subject to consideration by a working party of officials. I have instructed the working party to report on this matter at the earliest opportunity- certainly not later than the end of June. Honourable members will realise from what I have said that the Government obviously recognises the disabilities which are inherent in the present position, particularly in the context of recent natural disasters which have highlighted those deficiencies. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the Government will view this matter as an issue requiring considerable expedition at the officials level, and I hope to be able to report soon on what progress has been made.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Is it not a fact that in repatriation hospitals certificate and diploma allowances are paid to all nursing staff with specialist qualifications, with the exception of qualified nursing teachers? Is it not a fact that because of this, no qualified nursing teacher will remain in the Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg after 30 June 1976 and that the hospital will then cease to be a registered general nursing school? What action is the Minister taking to prevent this from happening and to prevent the consequent drastic reduction in the nursing staff available to care for patients at Heidelberg?

Minister for Repatriation · BASS, TASMANIA · LP

– I thank the honourable member for his question. I am aware of the problems about which he asked. The situation is one at which I am looking with some concern. The tutor sisters involved have my sympathy. This morning the permanent head of my Department spoke to the Public Service Board on this question and I hope that within the next week we will have an answer for the sisters.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. As the Minister is aware, last year when the Australian Heritage Commission Bill came before the House honourable members on both sides commended it. Can the Minister inform the House what is the Government’s attitude to the staffing and operation of the Commission in view of the recent expenditure reductions?

Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I am aware that honourable members on both sides supported the original Bill when it came before the House. The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development in another place has made a series of statements in answer to questions there, making it quite clear that the Government supports the establishment of an Australian Heritage Commission. However, in line with the Government’s determination to make sure that any future establishment of any further organs of government at the Federal level should be done carefully and after due reflection, this matter has been examined over a period of time. I believe that consideration has almost come to an end and that the Minister will be making a statement shortly on the future of the Commission.

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Mr Les McMahon:

– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. What progress has been made towards negotiating a new equalisation scheme for the dairy industry? Can the Minister indicate when a new agreement will be effective and what interim measures are being taken to prevent a price-cutting war from 1 July if the agreement is not finalised by that time?


-I am delighted that at long last the Australian Labor Party is taking a bit of an interest in the dairy industry. It seems rather incredible that it requires a State election for such an event to take place. I can assure the honourable member that matters other than politics relate to the present circumstances of the dairy industry. He might not be aware that talks have been going on for some time about how the effects of the very serious over-supply position, which has largely been generated by producers outside Australia and which is causing a slump in world markets, can be overcome. There have been talks between Ministers for agriculture.

There have been talks between governments’ at other levels. The Prime Minister has raised the matter with Premiers.

Equalisation is a process by which some of the problems that the volatility of world prices places on producers can be offset. Through equalisation it is endeavoured to stabilise returns to producers who are essentially dependent on those export markets. The long term future of the industry will be determined largely by a report that is expected from Sir John Crawford who will be sitting as a commissioner of the Industries Assistance Commission. He will examine the whole of the circumstances of the dairy industry. The basis upon which future equalisation arrangements, and indeed future forms of government assistance, will be needed will depend upon that report which Sir John has been commissioned to prepare.

As to the short term position, the honourable member may be aware that there have been discussions, as a result of which there is to be an underwriting of equalisation up to 30 June on the basis of a payment of $300 per tonne for skim milk powder supplied to the pool. This will enable at least the maintenance of reasonable returns to milk producers. As to consumers, they too are protected under this arrangement. I would hope that in seeking to look into future questions of supply and consumption in the dairy industry the honourable gentleman will realise that there are 2 sides of the equation. I trust this new-found interest in the industry will continue and that, as a result, when we are finally coming to some of the fairly hard decisions that will be taken about government assistance to the dairy industry in future I can expect some new support from a somewhat unexpected quarter.

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– Has the Prime Minister seen recent reports on the possibility of double taxation, particularly in New South Wales? Will the Prime Minister inform the House as to the accuracy of these statements?


– The reports are not correct. The reports, in fact, are plain nonsense and political propaganda. There cannot be double taxation if there is one form, one assessment, one set of tax rules and one collector. That is what the position would be under the federalism proposal.

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– I call the honourable member for Herbert.


-Order! There is too much audible conversation. The conversation relates to the fact that I twice called members on the Government side. I am aware of that. Only one Opposition member stood and I thought that, anxious as he is always to ask a question, he was just jumping at the wrong time. I will make it up and call successively, 2 members from the Opposition side. I call the honourable member for Herbert.

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-Can the Minister for Defence give me any information regarding the amount of surplus in the old DFRB fund and whether it is the intention of the Government to distribute any surplus among the contributors?

Minister for Defence · MORETON, QUEENSLAND · LP

– I am glad to inform the honourable gentleman that this matter at long last has been resolved. It has been outstanding, regrettably, since October 1972. The Government has made a decision that the surplus of assets over liabilities in the Fund will be distributed. I shall seek leave tomorrow to make a statement on this matter.

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Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I ask a question of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Are the Press reports correct which state that he is recommending to Cabinet that the Government will -


-Order! The honourable gentleman is not entitled to ask whether Press reports are correct. If he re-phrases his question to ask whether it is the Minister’s intention to recommend something, the question will be in order.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-Very well, Mr Speaker. I will do that. I was misled by a previous question from the National Country Party. Is it the Minister’s intention to recommend to the Government that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act be amended in such a way as to reintroduce the collegiate system for the appointment or election of full time officers of unions?

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · LP

– I did answer a question on this topic in this House not long ago. At that time I said that I had received representations from both unions and employer organisations for some form of collegiate voting to be maintained. It is certainly not inconsistent with the Government’s policy that that be so. There is a view that the imposition of any particular form of election by legislation is in itself some interference with the democratic process. Therefore I feel that the important thing is that the views of the people affected by any such change should be sought before the change is made, as I understand was not the case when the honourable gentleman made the amendments to the Act in 1973. I shall be seeking the views of both sides of the industrial relations field before making any final recommendations to the Government.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I preface it by stating that the Prime Minister will be aware that 9 members of the New South Wales Parliament hold milk quotas in their State and that their quotas bring each of them an average gross income of $10,000 per annum.

Mr E G Whitlam:

– One hundred thousand dollars.


-I am sorry, $100,000 per annum. I ask the Prime Minister: Has he inquired as to which of his Ministers and back benchers hold milk quotas in New South Wales? If not, will he institute such inquiries?


– I have not made that inquiry of the Ministers in the present Government. As the honourable gentleman will be well aware, on coming to power I asked all of the Ministers for a statement of their interests. As honourable gentlemen will be well aware, and as Ministers are certainly aware, it is incumbent upon Ministers, despite the fact that that kind of statement has been made, to advise me of any possible conflict of interest in any matter of business coming before the Government or coming before this Parliament. It would have been a better way of conducting business in the national Parliament if the previous Prime Minister had adopted the same practice from the outset.

Mr E G Whitlam:

-He did.


– He did not at the time.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the conflicting approaches adopted by the companies offices of New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory regarding the treatment of tax effect accounting and related matters in company accounts? If so, does he, as the Minister responsible for the Companies Ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory, propose to take any action?


– My attention has been drawn to conflicts of approach in interpretation between the Commissioners for Corporate Affairs in Victoria and New South Wales on the one hand, and between them and the administration of the Companies Ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory on the other hand, regarding procedures recently adopted by the accounting profession concerning tax effect accounting, equity accounting and prior period adjustments. The position as I understand it is that the substantive requirements of the Companies Acts in New South Wales and Victoria and the Companies Ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory are the same insofar as these matters are concerned, whereas the interpretations placed on the application of those substantive provisions differ. I do not regard it as my role, nor would I regard it as proper for me as the Minister responsible for the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance, to express a view as to which interpretation is correct. It is an extremely complicated issue and one which might ultimately result in litigation. However, the fact that different approaches are adopted in these 3 places does highlight the need, I believe, for uniformity in the administration of company regulation in this area. I think it is quite intolerable that companies which operate across State and territorial borders should have to be faced with a situation of lodging differing sets of company accounts in different offices. This situation is undoubtedly a matter that members of the Government will have in mind when they have the opportunity to consider a submission on this matter that I will be presenting shortly.

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-My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it true that the Minister made a report to the Australian Journalists Association on 8 April about the deaths of the 5 Australian newsmen in East Timor and that no mention was made of Mr Jose Martins’ contact with and details given to the Australian officials in Geneva in January and in Lisbon in March? Does the Minister agree that there is widespread concern in Australia about the deaths of these newsmen? Will he establish a judicial inquiry into these deaths? Will he bring Mr Jose Martins to Australia to testify before such an inquiry?

Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

-I sought to take down the questions asked and I hope I will be able to reply to each one in turn. I may have missed the last portion of the honourable member’s question, but I daresay that he will interject and advise me of it. It is true that I made a report to the Australian Journalists Association. It is true that there was no mention of any discussions that had been held between Mr Martins and representatives of the Government. It is true that there is widespread concern about this matter, as I have said publicly and privately, and we are pressing for the fullest investigation into it. I would welcome Mr Martins’ visit to Australia.

Having said that in a nutshell, let me also say that I have seen news reports of accounts of the deaths of the newsmen given by Mr Martins. Mr Martins in fact, as I indicated earlier in this answer, had been in contact with several Australian missions abroad in recent months, but during those contacts on each occasion he made certain statements and on every occasion requested that the information given to my officers be kept confidential. He was the man who was to break any agreement in that regard and it was entirely open to him at any stage to make the matters public as he has; but first of all he requested that the confidence be held and that we not make the matters public.

I might say that during these talks Mr Martins was asked to produce evidence to support the matters he was putting to our officers, including material evidence that he said would support his claim. Regrettably, so far he has failed to do so. We had to weigh this up, recalling that Mr Martins originally, on 22 October last year, was a signatory to a document indicating that the bodies of several Europeans were found in a house which had caught fire during an exchange of shooting in the attack on Balibo. Then he further corroborated and adhered to that statement on 12 November in a private interview with the First Secretary of our mission in Indonesia who was then in Indonesian Timor. He again corroborated the report that he had signed on 22 October. The fact that he has now changed his approach is not to suggest that we are taking his present account with anything less than the utmost seriousness.

As is implicit in the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, there have been suggestions that we should have made Mr Martins’ statements public; but, in addition to the fact that he himself had sought confidentiality, the Government wanted first to establish through the evidence he claimed to have whether his statements were true. Before conveying them, for example, to the next of kin, we wanted to be assured that there was at least prima facie evidence in support of his statements. We have been concerned not to add unnecessarily to the distress of the immediate families of the newsmen.

On that point, I might say that some of the next of kin have pressed the Government for more information. I have received representations also from relatives of others involved who have asked: ‘Please, can we now let this matter rest?’ We have felt duty bound, as a government, not only to keep them as fully informed as possible but also to press on with the investigation itself.

With that in mind, Mr Martins was asked on a number of occasions to give the Government his changed views in writing to put beside the views in writing he had put earlier. He was also asked to supply the Government with this material evidence- evidence which would have been disquieting to the relatives had it been brought to their notice without the Government’s having sighted it- which he said he had in his possession or which was on occasion in the possession of friends in Germany. Regrettably, as I said earlier, so far he has not produced that evidence. I hope he will. In renewing his allegations in public, Mr Martins has said that he would come to Australia to explain to the next of kin the circumstances of the deaths of the newsmen. The Government stands ready to facilitate his entry, in accordance with its view that it wishes to hear all available evidence and information about the deaths. Likewise, if he wishes, it is open to Mr Martins to produce the evidence to any Australian mission overseas. Either way, the Government will do what it can to investigate his allegations.

Finally, may I say that I have been deeply concerned about this matter from the time when I took office. It will be recalled that the deaths occurred in October. The previous Government had met a degree of obstruction, to put it mildly, in ascertaining the facts of the matter. This Government has pressed publicly, privately, diplomatically, and on a government to government basis for Indonesian co-operation. One of the prime aims of my visit a fortnight ago was to extract from the Indonesian Government an undertaking for our officers to visit Timor. I returned last Friday week and indicated to the Press that I had received that undertaking and that I hoped it would be met. It has at last been met and a team from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta will be leaving tomorrow for Balibo in East Timor. The Government will evaluate all the evidence it has and I hope that the Australian Journalists Association will come before me and present any further evidence it has. I will discuss the findings of the mission- which will be reporting after its visit, which commences tomorrowin the frankest and fullest detail not only with the Parliament, not only with the journalists, but also with as many of the next of kin as wish to be fully informed. But honourable members must understand both the restraints imposed upon us by Mr Martins himself and the natural human instincts we felt bound to follow on the receipt of certain letters from some of the next of kin.

Mr Yates:

– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. On the question of giving notice for an adjournment debate on this serious subject which has just been reported to the House, did you call for notices before question time, or when may honourable members give notice that they wish an almost immediate debate on the situation that has occurred in Timor?


– Honourable members may give notice to the Clerk at any time.

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– Will the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs ensure that representations to the Government about the White Paper on manufacturing industry are made public so that public understanding in this area can be increased?

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

-I understand that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is responsible for the preparation of the White Paper, regards the honourable gentleman’s suggestion as having a great deal of merit and that the procedure the honourable gentleman requests in fact will be followed.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

-My question to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that which was asked him, no doubt to his surprise, by one of his own backbenchers concerning the proposals for double or dual income taxation. I ask the Prime Minister whether he remembers saying at the Premiers Conference on 4 February:

If a State sought to raise no tax and just lived on what came from the Commonwealth I suppose it would be seen to be irresponsible, especially when the power to raise or lower a tax was there and it was not using that power … I would have thought that if the power were there the Premiers would use it.

I ask: Does the Prime Minister still adhere to that view and did Sir Eric Willis, the Liberal Premier of New South Wales, dissent from it at that time?


– I have not reread the transcript from the time. Some excerpts were published in a newspaper over the weekend. I have not read the excerpts that were published. So I would have to re-read the transcript to refresh my mind about any particular phrase or sentence that might have been attributed to me. I cannot see that there is a great deal of merit in doing that. Let me say only that what I said about double taxation is completely and exactly accurate.

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-Is the Minister for Health in a position now to inform the House, and in particular the residents of central Queensland, when supplies of influenza vaccine will be readily available to that area? Do the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories keep an emergency supply on hand at all times to combat a major outbreak should one occur in any of our provincial cities?

Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– The late emergence of the new A Victoria strain of influenza virus meant that a suitable vaccine could not be produced earlier than March of this year. In this regard I understand that it takes approximately 10 weeks for a batch of influenza vaccine to pass through the full cycle of manufacture. The distribution of the vaccine commenced in late March and over 800 000 doses have been distributed by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories up to 23 April through the normal distribution agencies. CSL does not distribute directly to chemists but to wholesalers in the various States.

Each year CSL has to continue to update its vaccines to counteract the differing viruses that occur or appear from year to year. Although the laboratories are working about 7 days a week on influenza vaccine production there are current delays in filling orders, but it is expected that the backlog will be overcome in the next few weeks. I have been in touch with my Department and with CSL because of representations I have had from the honourable member and from other honourable members about the current shortage of vaccine to satisfy the demand. There has been something of a public panic over the issue, but the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are doing everything in their power to ensure that there are adequate supplies of vaccine to meet this A Victoria strain of influenza. I shall investigate the matter that is concerning the honourable member to see whether it is possible for supplies to be distributed to his area.

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-I ask the Prime Minister: Did he advise the New South Wales Government to call the election in New South Wales prior to the bringing down of the 1976 horror Budget? If not, why not?


– The decisions made by the New South Wales Government have been made as the proper decisions of that Government. I certainly did not offer the kind of advice that the honourable gentleman seemed to suggest. I can only think that the honourable gentleman has been referring back to occasions when his own Party was in power in the Commonwealth when he would have wished to tender certain advice of a different quality, and when Mr Dunstan was certainly tendered certain advice to have an election before time. I suppose that the honourable member was the originator of that advice to Mr Dunstan. I thank the honourable gentleman for the insight that he has given into the way in which he would operate.

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– I should like to preface my question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, by saying that it is nice to see the Opposition so keen about New South Wales.


-Order! The honourable gentleman will not preface his question in that way. The honourable gentleman will ask his question.


– I was concerned about a ‘Wransack’ in New South Wales at the moment. My question is: What is the status of the Treasury paper on the Government’s tax-sharing proposals which was published last week in a Sydney newspaper? Is it correct that under the new arrangements the States could receive less in revenue from the Commonwealth than under the former tax-sharing arrangements?


-The particular parts of that Treasury paper have no relevance or currency at all, and the conclusions drawn from it certainly have no relevance because since the writing of that paper there has been a Premiers Conference. Agreements made with all Premiers have made the paper irrelevant and out of date. The agreement reached with the Premiers guarantees to all the States an amount not less than they would get under the present formulae, with not just the betterment factor of 1.8 per cent but the betterment factor of 3 per cent, and therefore the States cannot lose under the arrangements. That is a firm guarantee for the next 3 years. All States accepted that guarantee in good faith and with reasonableness, just as it was given on the part of the Commonwealth.

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Mr E G Whitlam:

-The Minister for National Resources will remember that in April 1970, when the then Minister for National Development introduced the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill, he declared that the Bill would be followed later in the session by an offshore mining Bill to provide the detailed rules under which mining titles might be issued and exploration and exploitation carried on, and to give the Commonwealth Minister the power of direction over such matters as the selection among applicants and the settlement of areas to be granted and of work obligations. Since this legislation, now entitled the Seas and Submerged Lands Act, was declared valid by the High Court 5 months ago I ask him how soon he will be able to introduce the off-shore mining code promised by his predecessor 6 years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP

– Since the announcement was made by the High Court validating the Seas and Submerged Lands Act processes have been under way between the Attorneys-General to itemise the ramifications of this decision. These discussions have been proceeding. At the same time we have had one meeting of Ministers for Mines to commence official work on what the implications for them might be. After these studies we will be in a better position to decide what form of legislation should come before this Parliament. It must be recognised that the High Court has now made it quite clear that ministerial responsibility ultimately will lie with a Commonwealth Minister who will have to report to this Parliament. That does not mean that it should undermine the operational capabilitythe very effective and skilled operation- that the States have for handling off-shore affairs. We would want to see a situation in which we can work in consultation with the States but, as I said before, ultimate responsibility would have to be accepted by the Commonwealth.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has it been brought to the attention of the Minister that a number of prominent farmers from north-west Tasmania are planning to block public streets and highways in Tasmania with tractors and farm machinery to draw attention to their desperate plight? Is he also aware that 150 farmers are marching today on the Commonwealth Employment Service office at Burnie to register as unemployed persons? What is the Minister’s reactions to these actions?


– May I say how delighted we are to see the honourable member for Braddon back in our midst and to know that he is fully restored to good health.

Honourable members- Hear, hear!


-As to the substance of his question, fortunately the various Ministers for Agriculture, in conjunction with their States, have been able now to settle the form by which short-term assistance can be provided for the dairy industry. As a result, assistance will be provided for those dairy farmers of whom he spoke. It is true that many of them have been driven to almost desperate means in their search for some type of economic sustenance and that prices being paid in many areas of Australia to dairy farmers dependent upon the supply of manufactured milk to factories have been such that these farmers are receiving a lower income than almost any other person in the Australian community, including many who are on unemployment benefits. I think it is necessary for those in this House who so often criticise the farming community to recognise the plight in which many dairy farmers now find themselves.

The position with respect to short term assistance is that, as a result of this joint contribution, underwriting for the 1975-76 season will be provided at an equalisation value for skim milk powder of $300 per tonne and an increase in the rate of government advances from 80 per cent to 100 per cent. The cost of underwriting will be based on the quantity of skim milk powder covered by the equalisation pooling arrangements for the 1975-76 season. It will be shared by the Commonwealth and the States on a twotoone basis. An additional $2m will be provided for the remainder of this financial year for the dairy adjustment program for relocation, diversification, farm amalgamation and development and for carry-on loans, and the Commonwealth and the States will share equally in the financing of carry-on loans. These short-term measures are intended to provide some immediate assistance to those dairy farmers for whom the honourable gentleman and other members of the House are concerned, and the long-term basis of assistance will be determined after receipt from Sir John Crawford of the report to which I referred in an earlier answer this afternoon.

UNION AID TO EAST TIMOR Mr FRY-I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the plans of the trade union movement to endeavour to make a shipment of humanitarian aid to East Timor.

Will the Minister indicate whether the Government will facilitate this shipment of aid in order to relieve the extreme hardship being imposed on the Timorese people by Indonesian aggression in East Timor?


-I have to say at the outset that I agree with those elements of the trade union movement which wish to send aid to Timor. This is the very thing for which the Government has been pressing for some time- to have the International Red Cross re-admitted into East Timor and to channel our funds through that organisation. During my recent visit to Indonesia, I received an undertaking that this would be done. No time has yet been given but we are continuing to press for a date so that we as a government can channel our aid to Timor through the International Red Cross. To that extent I agree with the trade union movement but I would, of course, prefer that it acted in concert with us and channelled the aid it is seeking to ship to East Timor through the International Red Cross in conjunction with us. On behalf of the Government I have to say to the honourable member that I do not believe the Government could relax its previous decision not to allow ships to sail for East Timor without some prior assurance as to the safety of the venture. It will be recalled that the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations could not get into East Timor. It will be recalled that there are areas where safety is uncertain. Unquestionably the union approach is somewhat uncertain, especially as regards the projected departure of a ship.

I am not aware of where the vessel wishes to land. I am not aware of how the aid will be administered or distributed. It seems to me to be far more feasible for the unions to work in conjunction with the Government. So our position remains that without the agreement of the authorities in Dili and without some prior assurance as to the safety of such a venture the Government could not agree to give the necessary clearance for any vessel wishing to depart Australia for East Timor. I repeat that the Government believes that the most practical approach in regard to humanitarian aid is to continue to work for the re-entry of the International Red Cross into East Timor and that is precisely what we are doing.

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– Has the Treasurer had any inquiry conducted into the recent statements by the Opposition spokesman on economic matters that the Australian deficit is not excessive when compared with other comparable economies? Is it a fact that our Budget deficit will be about 6 per cent of the Australian gross domestic product this year? Is this of the same magnitude as the deficit in other comparable economies?


– I welcome the opportunity to respond to what the honourable gentleman has raised because it provides a chance to dispel the utter and complete distortions in statements made on a continuing basis by the shadow Treasurer. The fact is that the statements made by him about Australia’s current deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product are utterly misleading. The honourable gentleman mentioned in the preface to his question that the figure is around 6 per cent. In fact, the estimate for the current financial year is 6. 1 per cent. If the shadow Treasurer was seeking to make any comparison in his distorted comments, he may have been referring back to the deficit as a percentage of GDP during 1972-73, under the Budget brought down by the previous coalition government, when the figure was around 1.7 per cent. That might well have been the era of which he was speaking.

International comparisons show the misleading nature of what the honourable gentleman has been referring to. The comparable figure for the United States of America is 4.6 per cent; for Canada, 2.5 per cent; for Germany, 3.3 per cent; and for Japan, 3.7 per cent. If one wanted to ask which countries are ahead of Australia in terms of the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product, one would come up with the answer of Great Britain, which may well be a useful example for the Opposition but certainly is no example that is taken up by the present Government. The simple fact is that governments throughout the industrialised world- particularly those with which I have had direct conversationat the present time are in the process, as part of their overall anti-inflationary policies, of reducing the size of their deficits, and in particular the overall quantum of public spending. That is a task to which this Government is committed. I have no doubt that this Government will be successful in controlling inflation during the period ahead.

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– I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has he seen reports about an Australian interviewed repeatedly on radio and television who claims to be a principal in a company advertising in the United States of America and Hong Kong for women to marry

Australian men? Does he claim- that is, the principal of the company, not the Minister- to have more than 20 000 single, good looking, clean, well educated, sexy and rich Australian men on his books and does he charge these women large sums to arrange introductions? Will the Minister advise our consular representatives overseas to tell any interested women that ‘it ain’t necessarily so’ and that all 3 Melbourne daily newspapers and the Sydney Morning Herald refuse to accept advertisements from this company?


– I have not seen reports in respect of this matter. Now that the matter has been relayed to me and the House, I will have it investigated and give it consideration- not my personal attention.

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– Has the Prime Minister seen reports emanating from New South Wales of assertions that the Premiers Conference earlier this month will not ultimately result in revenue for local government? Are those reports correct?


-The Commonwealth has given a guarantee that local government will share in the new arrangements as from 1 July. It will share in the new arrangements in a way which will give each State an appropriate bulk sum of money which will be divided amongst local government authorities within that State in 2 ways- one on a per capita basis and the other on a basis of State grants commissions to overcome areas of need within the State. Under that arrangement the local governing councils will have a secure source of income and will be much better off than they have been in the past.

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Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– Pursuant to section 5 of the Dairy Adjustment Act 1974 1 present an amending agreement in relation to dairy adjustment programs in Western Australia ( 1976).

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Minister for Primary Industry · New England · NCP/NP

– For the information of honourable members I present the resolutions of the ninety-fifth meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council held in Perth on 31 January 1976.

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Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

– For the information of honourable members I present reports by the Industries Assistance Commission on Miscellaneous Industrial Machinery and Fruitgrowing.

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Minister for Construction and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence · Boothby · LP

- Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.


– Do you wish to make a personal explanation?


– Yes.


– I refer to a report in the Australian today which states that I ‘revealed yesterday that the Government was planning to lift the Army strength from its present 31 500 to 38 000 within 5 years ‘. Part of what I said was this:

Our present army strength is 3 1 500, and the best professional advice available to us suggests that the ideal figure should ultimately be 38 000 in peacetime. In the present inflationary climate this is simply not achievable. For example, the cost of this expansion to the Army over a 5-year period would be $660m.

I also said: ‘Australia cannot be defended by bravery alone’. This is the important part: ‘We should not try to build up our numbers but instead have the best, most modern and effective equipment’. That is the only part which I wish to quote. The last quotation appeared very late in the story. It is quite accurate but unfortunately the headlines to the story gave exactly the opposite impression.

Mr E G Whitlam:
Leader of the Opposition · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who, at the end of an answer to a question without notice today, volunteered- indeed, obtruded- a reference to my own attitude and practice with regard to Ministers’ interests. This matter was raised on 16 May 1973 by the present Prime Minister in a question to me which was answered by me. I think my personal explanation can take the form of my reading the question to me and my answer to it. The question was:

Will the Prime Minister confirm that he instructed all his Ministers to sell any shares they held in public companies? Has the Prime Minister sought an assurance that no Minister has transferred any shares to a nominee company or to his wife? Will the Prime Minister agree that wives of Ministers, no more than Ministers, should profit from the positions their husbands hold?

My answer was:

I did not give an instruction but I certainly raised this matter right at the outset of my Government, in fact at the very first meeting, and I have no reason to believe that the principle that I enunciated then has not been followed to the letter. I would be disturbed indeed if I thought that any of my Ministers held shares in companies in those circumstances or if they had adopted the device of transferring them to their wives or dependent members of their families. I have no knowledge of any deviation from what I would regard as a basic principle in parliamentary democracy.

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Assent to the following Bills reported:

Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Amendment Bill 1 976. Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill 1976. Loans (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill 1 976. Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1976.

Commonwealth Teaching Service Bill 1 976.

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-As Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, I present the 157th report of the Committee.

Ordered that the report be printed.


-I seek leave to make a statement.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


-The 1 57th report relates to the Committee’s inquiry into matters raised by the Auditor-General in his report for the financial year 1973-74. The Committee regrets the delay in tabling this report, but the Committee’s normal timetable for conducting these inquiries and the presentation of related reports has been affected by the double dissolutions of the Parliament that occurred in April 1974 and November 1975.

In its inquiry the Committee took evidence from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Departments of Defence, Education and Manufacturing Industry. In all, the Committee’s inquiries related to 6 matters.

Regarding the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Committee took evidence from witnesses from the Australian Council for the Arts on a number of unsatisfactory features relating to the expenditure and activities of the Council. The Committee has criticised the Council on a number of matters including:

  1. Conflicting and confusing evidence given to the Committee in relation to staffing;
  2. The Council’s intransigent attitude towards the classification of some of its proposed positions which caused long delays in the filling of key positions;
  3. Failure by the Council to expedite the filling of vacancies in its approved establishment;
  4. The Council undermined the Government’s policy in relation to staff ceilings through irregular and undesirable practices of using grants for the payment of staff engaged on duties for the Council or its boards.
  5. The Prime Minister was misled by the description of the purposes of proposed grants;
  6. The Council took far too long to develop suitable administrative and financial procedures;
  7. There was a high incidence of error in the calculation of travelling allowance considered to be symptomatic of an inefficient financial administration;
  8. The Chairman’s guidelines in regard to the provision of working luncheons were apparently disregarded by the Council; and
  9. In summary, the Public Accounts Committee believed that the Council did not give the administration of its activities the importance deserved. The Committee is aware that since the investigation, the form of the administration of the Council has altered and the appropriate legislation passed.

Evidence was taken from the Department of Defence relating to the purchase, on behalf of the Department of the Army, of 61 earthmoving tractors that were meant to be capable of being transported by air. However, it was later found that the equipment had insufficient clearance, when placed in the aircraft, to meet Royal Australian Air Force requirements. Mechanical faults had also developed in the production units that had not shown up in the prototype. The Committee concluded that the evaluation of the prototype’s air portability by the RAAF should have been completed and consultation should have taken place between Army and RAAF technical officers before orders’ were placed for 61 units. The Committee also criticised the quality of the tests made on the prototype and drew attention to the principle it has previously enunciated that, in contracts with a developmental content, the prototype should be subjected to exhaustive testing before authority is given for the rest of production to proceed.

Again in relation to the Department of Defence, the Committee inquired into the purchase, on behalf of the Department of Air, of 114 transportable/demountable houses at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, which proved not to be readily demountable and transportable as was required in the specifications. The Committee concluded that insufficient consideration had been given to the economics of dismantling, transporting and re-erecting the houses at the time tenders were invited and the contract let. In this regard the Committee felt strongly that a detailed study of the likely costs of moving the houses should have been carried out by the then Department of Air in conjunction with the Department of Works before the project was approved by the Minister.

In connection with the Department of Education, evidence was taken on a number of unsatisfactory matters relating to the tertiary allowance scheme. In many instances the reasons given for the errors made were that proper procedures were not prescribed, that the prescribed procedures were not followed or that instructions were not properly understood. The Committee believes that the central office of the Department has a continuing responsibility to ensure that suitable procedures are prescribed and that the prescribed procedures are followed. In exercising this responsibility the Department should make certain that all officers are aware of the existence of the procedures, that copies are freely available and that each officer is informed of the necessity to comply with them. Again in connection with the Department of Education, the Committee took evidence relating to errors in the compilation of salary records and the assessment of salary entitlements. The Committee has criticised the Department for the incidence in excess of 50 per cent of error detected in the calculation of salary entitlements in the Northern Territory and for its failure to take effective action to stop duplicate payments being made to an education adviser overseas.

In relation to the Department of Manufacturing Industry, the Committee inquired into the production performance allowance scheme, which is a system of incentive payment to wages employees of the Department’s munitions and aircraft production undertakings. The Committee conceded that the scheme’s introduction has ensured the continuation of a higher level of labour performance and also resulted in a greater degree of industrial harmony than would otherwise have been the case. However, the Committee believes that the administrative costs of the scheme were disproportionately large when related to the amount paid out under the scheme and suggests that, as soon as staff resources permit, the external audit coverage of the scheme carried out by the Department’s central office should be increased. I commend the report to honourable members.

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Discussion of Matter of Public Importance


– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The continuing high incidence of unemployment and the failure of the Government to take remedial action especially in respect of its rejection of requests to provide assistance to the building and construction industry in New South Wales.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)


-At the end of March 1976, 278 010 Australians were out of work. That is the actual raw figure. Calculated on a seasonal basis, the number of unemployed was 275 555. Both of those figures are approximately 5000 to 10 000 above the number of unemployed in March of last year. In New South Wales the raw figures show that 111 892 people were out of work. Calculated on a seasonal basis, the number was 115 049. During the debate on the economy in 1974-75 the Australian Labor Party Government was attacked over and over again for what was described by the then Opposition as the creation of unemployment. We were told that we were wrecking the building and construction industry and that the serious unemployment was all our fault. During the election campaign of 1975 a euphoria was created by the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who said that the advent of a Liberal Government would bring about prosperity for the building and construction industry and an end to unemployment over all Australia but specifically in that area. We were told that this would be done by lowering interest rates and making special funds available for the building industry. In other words, nirvana was just round the corner.

We have now had almost 5 months of a Liberal Government- nearly 6 months since the end of the Labor Government- and things are worse than ever. There is no sign of unemployment abating; in fact in March of this year it worsened. There is no sign of help for the industry and no sign specifically of help for the unemployed. What concerns me particularly is that a skilful campaign is being mounted in the media to get Australians to accept a high level of unemployment. An article- which unfortunately I do not have with me- appeared in the last couple of weeks which indicated that we would be faced with unemployment at around the 300 000 level for the next couple of years. That ought to have brought a huge outcry from the people of Australia because it is not so long ago that we were told that unemployment at anything above the level of 100 000 was intolerable. Now we are being asked to regard 300 000 as an acceptable level. In other words, the view of the conservatives of this country that a pool of unemployment is a good thing to keep the worker on his toes, to keep him fearful of losing his job, is something which we have to learn to live with.

Let me refer also to the way in which the unemployed are being treated. The Liberals have created a ‘Catch 22’ situation regarding the unemployed. When Labor was in government we were told that we had created unemployment. In the same breath or in the next breath we were told that if people were unemployed it was their own fault, that they were out of work only because they were too lazy to look for work. Which is it to be? Honourable members opposite cannot have it both ways. Either there was a serious recession and serious unemployment created by the previous Labor Government and people were genuinely out of work or there is not a recession and plenty of work is available. As I said, they cannot have it both ways.

I want to cite the particular problems of the area which I represent, the electorate of Robertson and the central coast of New South Wales, because I am more familiar with them. I received quite a caning about unemployment from my opponent during the election campaign. We were told how bad it was when about 3000 people were out of work. In 4Vi months since the election of a Liberal Government unemployment has risen in my area to 3855. But, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want you to note the next figure, the number of job vacancies. There are 32 jobs vacant in the central coast area registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service 32 jobs and 3855 out of work. I have been recording the figures religiously since I was elected to this place in 1969, and there has never been a figure of job vacancies so low. There are virtually no jobs available for the nearly 4000 people out of work. This means that 15 per cent of the work force of a very large section of New South Wales has no work at all and no likelihood of work.

I mention my area specifically because for many years it has been one of the major home building areas of New South Wales. I think it became the largest home building area in New South Wales because of the enormous growth rate caused by people coming to live there in retirement and the influx of young commuters. Two attempts have been made to doctor figures by cracking down on ‘dole bludgers’. I use that expression advisedly because that is the expression with which the Press and the Liberals have been able to con the Australian people into accepting that the 270 000 unemployed are all bludgers when there are no jobs available for them.

Mr Baillieu:

– Which Liberal has said that?


– It has been said over and over again by spokesmen from the honourable member’s side. I shall get the quotes later if he wishes. We were told a little while ago that the unemployment figures were large because a large number of school leavers were on the market. Nobody today would argue that school leavers are still included in these figures. The seasonal figures and the raw figures are almost identical. The people out of work at the moment are those who are genuinely looking for work.

What has this Government done to solve the problem of unemployment? The sole measure to stimulate the economy has been the jawboning of the Prime Minister He is trying to talk the economy up. When someone like the Prime Minister starts telling me to go out and to spend that is the signal for me to stick my money in the bank. What reason would there be for people to go out and to spend when in the same breath the Prime Minister tells them they ought to accept lower real wages? With a rate of inflation of around 13 per cent annually and the value of wages eroding every month, at the same time the people are being told that they should accept an increase in wages of half the percentage of the rise in the consumer price index or no increase, which would mean there would be an actual drop in the value of their wage. This is a complete breach of faith with those people who voted for this Government on 13 December last year. Yet at the same time he is telling the people to go out and to spend. They are to accept a lower value of salary and at the same time to go out and to buy all the things the Prime Minister said he would like to see bought. Everything else that has been done by the Liberal and National Country Party coalition has been aimed at deflating the economy. I shall quote an article from this morning’s Australian Financial Review. One of the much-heralded measures that was to be taken by this Government was the introduction of the investment allowance. This morning ‘s A Australian Financial Review states: $470m subsidy leaves business cool.

The 40 per cent investment allowance, estimated to cost $470m in a full year, is having little influence on investment decisions, according to a business survey.

The latest quarterly business survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the National Bank was issued last night.

A meagre 8 per cent of respondents who are expecting an increase in capital expenditure said that the allowance greatly influenced their decisions.

As the previous Treasurer, the honourable member for Oxley, Mr Hayden, said time and again and as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) has said, we will not get businessmen investing until they have used up their present capacity. This is true pretty well right throughout the manufacturing industries. Most businesses are operating at only 70 per cent or 80 per cent capacity and they will not build a whole lot of new plants just to please the Government.

There have been much-heralded government cutbacks. Why would people spend when they have a Prime Minister who heralded his accession to office by continually talking about how much he would cut back on government expenditure? The Australian savings bonds syphoned off $ 1000m from the Australian economy- funds that ought to have been going to the housing industry, into the building societies and the savings banks but funds which instead went into the Australian savings bonds. We saw a fast back pedal on that when the Government saw exactly what effect the bonds were having and the reaction of industry to them.

We have had non-stop talk about a tough Budget. As the Prime Minister so quaintly put it, it will be hard on the Government but not on the people. I would love to know what that is supposed to mean. Apparently he has forgotten about government by the people, of the people, for the people, and so on. In other words he thinks that governments have nothing to do with people. I suppose if one does not have children who go to schools, or if one does not get sick and need to go to a hospital, or if one does not get a pension the next Budget will not be hard.

Enormous cuts in government expenditure have been foreshadowed. The Prime Minister said that he will give the States and local government more. Evidently section 96 grants, the tied grants which provide funds for schools, sewerage programs, growth centres, hospitals, health centres, aged persons’ accommodation, senior citizens’ centres and so on will be virtually obliterated. That is the only way in which the Prime Minister can have any rational Budget if he is going to do the extra things for the States he has promised. Who builds the things I have just mentioned? Eskimos? They are built by people, by Australians, by people in the building industry. If these people are to face those sort of cutbacks on top of what has already been cut back out of the Hayden Budget of 1975 things must worsen. It is natural therefore that business will not invest and the people will not go out and buy.

I think the Prime Minister has been told by the Treasury to stop painting pictures of gloom and talking of cutbacks in government expenditure and to start, as I said before, jawboning up the economy. He is surprised and disappointed that people are not rushing out and spending every cent they have. I am not surprised after the talk from the Government over the last few months since it came to office. I would like to quote from an article that appeared in the Australian Financial Review on 23 April written by Christopher Jay, a very prominent writer on economic matters. It is headed:

East coast building may face prolonged recession.

The article states:

In its relentless determination to allow no relaxation in its hardline anti-inflation approach, the Federal Government now looks like forcing the east coast building and construction industry into a prolonged recession.

Figures on major construction projects in Australia in March, prepared by industrial economists John Jackson and Associates, confirm that the slight upturn suggested in the December quarter of 1 975 has been dissipated.

In addition, the April bulletin of the Building Industry Advisory Council of New South Wales confirms a continuing drop in building industry employment, work done and new approvals, as shown on the accompanying graph.

Further on the article states:

The non-housing sector has usually accounted for 60 per cent of the total building work in New South Wales with Government work usually accounting for about 15 per cent of the total.

But with the various ministries in Canberra perfectly well aware of the severe problems in the building industry, attention should be shifted to the unnecessarily severe line being enforced to debar assistance to construction. ‘Whilst a floor seems to have been reached to the downturn in building and construction in view of the relative stability of commencements in the past 6 months, the fact remains that the intake of new work for the March quarter, 1976, is down 39.7 per cent in real terms compared with 1974 and this indicates the magnitude of the current underutilisation of resources . . . ‘The request for aid put forward by the various organisations in the industry and rejected by Cabinet on April 13, has been well documented in the national Press . . . The need to axe unproductive expenditure is obvious and should have been apparent to the previous Government. But rejection of the application for special aid ignores the differentiation between capital investment and current expenditure. It fails to recognise that building and construction goes much deeper than its direct contribution of about 8.6 per cent to the gross domestic product, and that there will be a multiplier effect in reverse throughout the various supply industries.’

I condemn this Government for not making any attempt at all to provide unemployment relief funds. We do not even have the awful schemes that existed under the McMahon Government such as those involving painting, clearing fire trails and mowing lawns, the benefits of which disappeared altogether after rain. We know the Government’s hatred of the Regional Employment Development scheme because it was a Labor initiative but it provided an amazing amount of work for a large number of people. In my own area some 850 people had jobs under this scheme.

Mr Baillieu:

– Why did you stop it?


-There is a dignity about work that the honourable member for La Trobe ought to appreciate. We slowed it down; but I believe that at this time, with the present rate of unemployment, there would have been moves to reintroduce it. There is a need once again to provide unemployment relief, particularly in the areas of high unemployment, such as the area I represent, Wollongong, Newcastle and other parts of the State, as well as in the rural areas in which there is high unemployment. Nothing is being done by this Government and nothing is being done by the States. I think the Government stands condemned.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Construction · Boothby · LP

– In the first place the Government rejects this proposition out of hand. In the second place the Government rejects the assertion by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) that honourable members on this side of the House initiated the use of the expression ‘dole bludgers’. If he can find for me any evidence to show that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) or anybody else on the Government side of the chamber initiated the use of that expression I will offer him some hospitality in some other place. We acknowledge that there has been a downturn in the building and construction industry and that there is unemployment in the industry. There is unemployment in almost every industry in this country. We acknowledge also that it is worse in New South Wales than in any of the other States.

But let us make quite sure that we know, once and for all, who is responsible for this position. There is no way in the world that anyone in his right mind can possibly pin the blame for that onto us. After all, the 3 years that the Australian Labor Party was in office were probably three of the greatest wrecking years since Federation. The downturn in the building and construction industry relates directly back to the end of 1973, 1974 and last year. There were boom conditions. Associated with those boom conditions there was a series, and still is a series, of quite irresponsible industrial disputes. One must give some consideration to those disputes, which force up prices and force people out of work. The power struggles between the Gallaghers, the Mundeys and the Clancys of this world are where a lot of the unemployment has been created. The leaders of some of the unions actually have been pricing their own members out of work. Let us not skate over the real facts of this issue.

I have in front of me some figures concerning this matter. In fact, one of the surveys that the honourable gentleman mentioned confirmed that over $600m of private investment in this field is being deferred right now. Private investment is what we want to get going in order to get this country back onto its feet. Why is that private investment not going ahead? The reason is perfectly obvious. People who have money to invest are not going to invest it in an industry in which there is no idea of how long it is going to take to build a particular building or what it is going to cost at the end to do so, if in fact there is any end to it. It is really quite ridiculous for the Australian Labor Party to try to blame the present Government for the current situation when it has been in office for only 4 or 5 months.

Let me take the amount of office building as an example. The value of office accommodation built by the private sector as at June 1969 was $ 1 1 lm. In 1973, which was the beginning of the boom period, the spending in this area rose to $403m. That was not simply the result of inflation. There was real investment in office accommodation in Australia in those years. A great deal of it, as the honourable gentleman knows, was in the city of Sydney. I suspect- in fact, I think it is as plain as the nose on my face- that there was too much investment in office accommodation in those years. It is going to take another year or so for the available office accommodation to be mopped up. One of the propositions put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) as a solution to the problems is that this Government- he would have done this if the Australian Labor Party had been in office- should encourage the building of more office accommodation to keep the construction industry going. How ridiculous can one be? At this moment one can lease any quantity of office accommodation one wishes in Sydney and Melbourne, and to a lesser degree in Adelaide and Brisbane, at $6 a square foot. The office accommodation that the Opposition wants to be built would cost $15 a square foot. That is an example of the hairy way in which the Opposition thinks about the construction industry. As I have said, the Government acknowledges that the position is worse in New South Wales than anywhere else.

I would like to take up the point that the honourable gentleman first discussed- the one about unemployment. The position is that in February the actual number of registered unemployed fell by 40 200 to 303 000. After seasonal adjustment the number of unemployed declined by 2700 to 254 000. The number of unemployed, excluding school-leavers, on a seasonally adjusted basis fell by 6700 to 231 000. 1 direct the attention of the honourable gentleman and the House to the figures released by the Commonwealth Employment Service. I am sure that we all have access to the same sets of figures. Dealing with New South Wales alone, the figures show that in September of last year, when the Labor Party was in office, the total number of unemployed was 122 606 or 5.5 per cent of the work force. The February figures- the latest set of figures I could find- show that the total number of unemployed fell to 107 91 1.

Mr Cohen:

– What about the March figures?


– I am talking about the figures to which I have access and which are up to date.

Mr Cohen:

– We will give you the March figures.


– We will have a look at those directly. The honourable gentleman mentioned also the unfilled vacancies. According to the figures I have before me, the unfilled vacancies rose from just over 9000 in September to over 1 1 000 at the end of February. So there is at least a trend in the right direction. No one is going to say that the unemployment position will go away suddenly, because obviously it will not.

Dealing with the private sector, I would like to enlarge upon the point I have made about private investment. The private sector traditionally has commissioned about two-thirds of all the building and construction work done, although in the years about which we have been talking the figure was almost three-quarters. Let us look at the position concerning the building industry in all sections except the civil engineering section. One of our problems is that statistical information is not readily available. I presume that both sides of this House are in agreement on that point. In fact the figures in this respect very often are 9 months late and by the time a government has taken some action to correct a problem the problem has gone or is infinitely worse. The total building industry in all sections except the civil engineering section represents about 10 per cent of the gross national product. Of the 386 000 people employed in the building industry when it is at full capacity, 17 450-odd were unemployed in January of this year. That means that 4 per cent of the work force in the building industry was unemployed at that stage. That is fractionally above the national average.

As we all know, a reduction of $ 137m in the program of Commonwealth projects has been announced. That in fact has not been the drastic reduction in the work load that industry leaders and the sort of media coverage that we have heard quoted today suggest. Of the $ 137m in deferred projects, one job alone, which was to be in Sydney, was to the value of $47 m. That takes a great big lump out of the total amount of the projects deferred. Only a very small amount of that $ 137m could have been spent this financial year- something like $6m. In fact, when the figures are determined at the end of this financial year it will be found that, in spite of the deferments and the so-called Government cutbacks and Hayden cutbacks that the honourable gentleman mentioned, an amount of $7. 5m more than anticipated has been spent.

Mr Cohen:

– So you are spending more than we did.


– We have been stuck with an awful lot of problems. It is a great shame that we did not get into office about 12 months earlier. As I have said, we acknowledge that there has been a downturn in the industry. We were warning the then Government about that 2 years ago, as were industry leaders throughout the country, architects and engineers. The Labor Government did not seem to understand the long lead times that are involved in the construction industry, and certainly in the non-residential side of the construction industry. After one decides to build something one has to do 12 months of planning before letting the job go to tender. So most reasonably sized jobs can be expected to take 3 years and up to 6 years to complete. Let us face it, although the building and construction industry is in severe difficulties it is not the only industry that is in trouble. What about the beef industry, the fruit industry, the dairy industry and the shipbuilding industry? It is easier to find an industry that is not in trouble. I suggest to the honourable member for Robertson that what we should do is to acknowledge that there is a problem in the building and construction industry but let us put the blame fairly and squarely where it belongs, and that is on the people who sit on the Opposition benches.

I can remember prior to the 1972 election the Leader of the Labor Party, the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr E. G. Whitlam) promising in his policy speech to reduce interest rates. What happened? He increased interest rates by 50 per cent.

Mr Cohen:

– So have you.


– Not by 50 per cent. In fact they have been reduced. The Leader of the Labor Party promised to reduce the cost of a house by from $2,000 to $6,000. Everybody knows that the cost of a house since that time has almost doubled. It has certainly doubled in New South Wales which is the particular area under discussion at the moment. It is the policies of the former Government that have put us in our present position. There has been an expansion in public spending. Converting expenditure in the last 3 months of last year to an annual basis, 40 per cent of the gross domestic product was taken up in public spending, and that is a situation that we wish to reverse. The previous Government went flat out on the pace-setter principle in increasing the size of the Public Service and introducing maternity leave and paternity leave. They are all, perhaps, desirable things but someone has to pay. Unemployment benefits were increased. Certainly we need all these items which the honourable member for Robertson talked about.

Mr Cohen:

– I did not mention them.


– You mentioned the retraining scheme and the Regional Employment Development scheme. They are all great schemes provided the country can afford them. We say that the country cannot afford them. This is an area in which we are cutting back expenditure. The Opposition seems to have a philosophy that the non-workers should be paid as much as the workers. The only area in which the Opposition cut down expenditure when it was in office was in the area of defence, to its eternal discredit. It is true that the Hayden Budget did attempt to introduce some cutbacks but the then Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of nearly $3,000m. In spite of the fact that we have applied economies and prevented waste and saved an amount of $360m, as everybody knows the deficit at this moment is $5,000m. It would be not impossible- but I think unlikely- that the deficit could have been double what the Labor Administration expected. I wonder- and I ask the honourable member for Robertson- what the Budget deficit would have been if the Labor Party had got those 2 1 Bills through the Senate. We would have been headed for a banana republic inflation situation.

We take the view that inflation is the No. 1 enemy. It is absolutely fundamental to our cause that we reduce inflation by cutting down public spending and waste, restoring confidence in the private sector of the economy and not putting up taxes. These are the only ways in which we can do this. We do make the point that we cannot do it alone. We need the support of the States. We need the support of other authorities and we need the support of those who lead the work force. The combined public spending of the States and their authorities is greater than the spending of the Commonwealth Government. We make a plea to the States to do the same thing as we in government are doing, that is, cutting back waste. We make a plea to the leaders of the trade union movement to show restraint in demands for wage increases. Every time wages for employees in a particular union go up other people are put out of work. This is the area in which we need co-operation. The Government maintains that we have given a responsible lead in these matters. We have frozen the limit on the size of the Public Service. In my own Department there has already been a reduction of about 500 people. We have not retrenched anybody. People have retired and not been replaced. Every penny that is spent in every department today is looked at very carefully.

Let me consider the position of my own State of South Australia. Eighty per cent of the public spending by the South Australian Government involves day labour. Nobody in South Australia, including the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), who is smiling and nodding apparently in agreement, knows what it costs for public works. Nobody knows what it cost to put up that jetty at Port Lincoln because the work was done by day labour and there is no public accountability.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr Les Johnson:

-The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) should be congratulated on bringing to the attention of this House as a matter of urgency the deteriorating state of the construction industry and in particular the very unfortunate situation that prevails in the State of New South Wales. There is very little doubt about the fact that the election date in New South Wales was set in consideration of several matters. One was that the election had to take place before the next federal Budget was brought down and another was that it had to take place before the secret report on the construction industry became public. The fact is- and I have this on the best of authoritythat the Government holds a confidential report about the state of the industry. The report, comprising 150 pages was prepared by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and is extremely comprehensive in its analysis. It says in effect that unemployment will prevail in this country at a level of about 300 000 until the month of June 1 976 after which it will steadfastly increase.

So we have confronting us in Australia today a very, very serious situation and it is at a time when the Cabinet has rejected a recommendation by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Senator Greenwood) that a rescue operation should be invoked to do something not just about the construction industry and the housing industry but about all the other industries that rely upon those primary industries. So I believe it is extremely significant that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) have so far refused to comment on this secret report. There is no question that if that report were released before next Saturday’s election in New South Wales it would have a very significant effect upon the result of the election. The fact of the matter is that we have listened to the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay) who heard from the honourable member for Robertson a detailed account of the deteriorating employment position especially in New South Wales and throughout Australia as a whole. His simple answer to this is that there is trouble in every industry. All industries are in trouble, he says, but unfortunately the industry for which he is responsible is getting the same indifferent treatment as all the others are receiving.

What has happened in this country and what is happening now is to a very large degree the result of this Government’s laissez-faire approach, its uncaring attitude because it has this obsession with reducing deficits. It is concerned with the curtailment of public spending. It is diverting funds away from the construction industry to Commonwealth loans by raising interest rates to 10Vi per cent thus attracting something like $757m which would otherwise be available to the public sector of the economy which in turn would stimulate the industry. It is this Government which has reduced the money supply from 20 per cent to 12 per cent. It is this Government and, indeed, the Minister for Construction who are responsible for the deferment of 250 government contracts valued at about $137m. It is this Government which has curtailed the allocation of funds for public housing through the State housing authorities. Whereas the funds made available in 1974-75 for housing commission activity were $385m, the allocation has been reduced to $364m in the current year. The honourable gentleman might say that that is a product of the former Government’s budgeting arrangments, but he omitted to say that that Government also held in hand an additional $100m to stimulate public housing if it became necessary.

It is this Government which has destroyed confidence by attacking the 6.4 per cent national wage increase. It is this Government which has undermined the concept of indexation. It is this Government which has mutilated the concept of tax deductibility of mortgage interest rates. Does anyone believe that builders will be encouraged to build houses for people when the Government has already announced its intention to take away from hundreds of thousands of home owners the benefit of tax deductibility of mortgage interest rates? The Australian people do not know yet that many of them are going to lose $6 to $8 a week because of the Government’s decision to restrict this scheme to people who are buying their first house, and then for only the first 5 years of purchase. So the predominance of people- people rearing young families and incurring family costs- are going to lose the benefit. Is that an additive, a stimulus to the housing program? One has good reason to doubt it.

It is this Government which has put the kibosh on the Regional Employment and Development program which under the Labor Government was running at the rate of $135m. That labour intensive scheme took up the slack in unemployment and caused unemployment figures to be lower than they otherwise would have been. It is this Government which has shown a declining interest in the development of growth centres. It is this Government which has cut the Australian Government’s $150m per annum program for sewerage in Australia, a program which certainly has a great deal to do with the buoyancy of the construction industry. It is this Government which has abolished the Australian Housing

Corporation, which received a budget of $29m and which was to be a catalyst for stimulating the industry wherever it appeared that that stimulation was required. As the Minister for Construction, who is sitting at the table, must readily acknowledge, this Government has no office building program, despite the fact that something like $16m a year is being expended on the leasing of offices for Public Service purposes.

There are many other matters for which the present Government has to bear responsibility. The building society liquidity crisis has a great deal to do with the Government’s monetary policy and the drawing off of available investment into the Commonwealth loans area. This Government has to take responsibility for retarding the Darwin reconstruction program by some $52m. It is this Government which has to bear responsibility for the cut of $31m in the budget of the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development. Where is the area improvement program, which in terms of the last Budget amounted to some $17m? It has been another casualty under the Fraser Government. Where is the enthusiasm and the continued support for the program to assist local government, which in Labor’s last year in office ran to an amount of $79m? No matter in what direction we look we find that the Government has failed to take any positive action, and in fact has initiated actions which are extremely damaging, extremely discouraging, to the Australian investor, be he an investor in the heavy construction area or in the housing area.

The Minister for Construction, who proceded me in this debate, obviously does not know much about employment figures. He could find only the February figures, but let me tell him that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) has made available figures as late as 9 April, and those figures are readily available in the Parliamentary Library. The effect of them is that there are 278 010 registered unemployed in Australia, or 4:6 per cent of the estimated labour force. In seasonally adjusted terms, unemployment increased over the month by 20 947. Unfilled vacancies fell by 8036, and more than half the decline in actual terms occurred in the State of New South Wales. All the available figures show that New South Wales is leading this trend to disaster, and there does not appear to be one solitary redeeming feature in the policy of the present New South Wales Government, led by Sir Eric Willis. That Government has not shown one skerrick of concern, one bit of indication that one solitary initiative is to be taken to cope with the present crisis.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-The House is debating a matter of public importance in terms identical, almost to the letter, to a matter that was debated in this House 3 weeks ago. The Opposition has raised the matter again on this day, I suspect, purely because an election is to be held shortly in New South Wales. It is regrettable that the Opposition has failed to advance any new arguments or any additional facts. It has had 3 weeks to work on a proposal that it tried to hatch up 3 weeks ago, and has produced no more facts, no more figures, no more indication of real concern for people who are unemployed, for people who are trying to build homes, or for the building and construction industry of this nation. Instead the Opposition has homed in on what it considers to be a politically ripe area. I am sure that the people of New South Wales and of the nation will understand that the presentations of facts and figures, so called, on the area improvement program, funds to local government, and all those sorts of arguments have nothing to do with the topic under debate and nothing to do with the Government’s programs. The Government’s programs will continue to improve and to provide for the people of this nation, particularly the people of New South Wales, a better way of life, a way of life that they themselves can control, a way of life that will not be directed from Canberra, a way of life that will allow them to exercise their freedom and the democratic right that all thinking people value. That democratic right will be demonstrated in the forthcoming election in New South Wales, when the Willis Government will be returned with an outstanding majority.

But let us go back through some of the facts. Whilst honourable members on the other side of the House are fairly long in cooking up motions to bring before the House, they are very short on historical facts and information related to the very motions that they put forward. Let us go back through history and have a look at the high level of construction in the building industry, the high levels of employment, maintained by a Liberal-National Country Party Government over a long period of time. Too late the people of Australia recognised that they had made a mistake in their decision in 1972. In fact, it took them only 3 years to decide to reverse that decision in the most massive way. The high levels of construction, the high levels of provision for home ownership, the high levels of employment in this nation stand as a record and a tribute to previous Liberal-National Country Party Governments. Let us consider inflation, which stood at 4 per cent and was decreasing in 1974. When Labor went out of office after its brief period of 3 years in government it had managed to lift inflation to 1 8 per cent- something of a record. In the period it was in office the Labor Party managed to double, almost treble, unemployment. It is a crime and a shame that the Party which claims that it acts and speaks for the workers was so dismal in its performance in the very areas where it claimed that it had policies to assist the average individual in the nation.

Look at interest rates. Anybody considering home ownership and the interest rate levels would have to look at the Labor Party’s record when it was in Government. The then Government quickly reversed the situation where the average working person could purchase his own home, could save and plan and put aside a deposit and know that he could cover the interest rates and the repayments on his own home, to where we became a nation of renters, or of people who could not participate in the purchase of their own property or their own home. Then with the increase in these interest rates we saw a growing demand for welfare housing. People could not bridge the deposit gap. They found then, and they find now, that unless they earn over $200 a week they cannot pay off their own home. Interest rates are too high; they are declining. But, goodness gracious me, the honourable member who had the hide to raise this matter in the House today was a supporter of the Labor Government that brought about this very situation. It would seem that the old saw that applies to rural properties applies to government also. It is said in the country that it takes 3 generations for a family to build a property and to lose a property. But it takes a very brief period for that final stage of the loss of a property. What the Labor Party did in its period of office was to destroy the work of generations of saving and application to the job exercised by previous governments. Now honourable members opposite come into the House claiming that the present Government is the cause of all the problems that they themselves created.

I should like to bring before the House a statement made, I think, by the previous Minister for Housing but two; it may even have been further back than that, because the Minister did not last all that long. But in September 1974, the then Minister for Housing, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) said:

For some time I have been hoping that we could make this change -

This is in regard to the savings bank regulation changes- which is very important, because its effects are permanent and long term.

That was before an absolute disaster set into the building industry and the home ownership proposition in this nation. The then Minister said that he was very pleased and very sure that it would have a great effect in the building industry but he said that we had to wait until the inflationary pressures on building resources which had been plaguing the industry for so long began to diminish. That is an incredible statement made by a Minister responsible for the housing industry, an incredible statement for a responsible person to make right at the very time when it was most difficult, and increasingly difficult, for people to purchase their own homes. I notice that the shadow Minister at that time, now the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay), who is at the table, made a comment in relation to that statement by the then Minister for Housing. He was most caustic in his comment and I think very succinctly and very importantly hit at the situation. He said:

The housing and economic situation in Australia has reached a crisis.

Indeed it has. Things are not good today, but they are getting better. The cost of building materials and the cost to the average person of buying a block of land are declining. They are not going ahead with the rate of inflation.

Mr Bryant:

– You put them up here in Canberra deliberately.


– We have introduced a home loan savings program that the honourable member’s Party deigned to oppose. His Government introduced some sort of scheme that allowed anybody purchasing a home to involve themselves in. Commendable as the previous Government’s program may have been, ours is more commendable. It allows the building industry to move forward; but more importantly it allows young people and young home builders to participate in the purchase of their block of land and to buy their block of land. I am sure that those living in New South Wales will appreciate this to a far greater extent when they realise that they will have a continuing Liberal Government in that State to provide them with the security and a base from which they can continue to plan ahead and eventually own their own homes. Honourable members opposite need to become familiar with the facts. They had long enough in opposition to become aware of the facts. They had long enough in government to become aware of the facts, but we get continuing sunshine talk from them about how good their Government was and how disastrous this Government has been in the short period that we have had the responsibility of government. I am afraid that that sort of attitude is not convincing to the people of Australia and I am sure it will not be bought by the people of New South Wales, who have heard that talk for 3 years. What the people of New South Wales are saying now is: ‘We have heard that talk for 3 years. We were fooled twice; we will never be fooled again’. I think that the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales could take a leaf out of the Premier’s book and be more responsible in the promises he is making.

I should like to recount to the House some of the statements by the previous Government. They so resemble the promises being heard today. In February 1975 the then Treasurer, in talking about the building industry and the home building industry, said:

In early September 1974 the Government amended the Banking (Savings Banks) Regulations to permit a greater proportion of savings banks’ funds to be invested in housing and at the same time the savings banks were requested to increase their rate of lending for housing. Following that, the Government legislated in December to provide $150m to savings banks . . .

Now that was an incredible decision- a supposed stimulus to the home buying capacity and home building capacity of the nation. It was absolute disaster. The figures continued to go down. It was a disaster, and it got worse until December last year. January was bad, but I could see a definite improvement in the figures. I know that the House will be aware that the proposition put by those opposite is a fallacious proposition designed to influence voters in New South Wales, who, I know, will recognise the falsity of the claims made by those opposite. Theirs is a narrow point of view, an unconcerned point of view, an unthinking point of view.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is now concluded.

page 1590


Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 1 April, on the following paper presented by Mr Lynch:

Foreign Investment in Australia-Ministerial Statement, 1 April 1976- and on motion by Mr Killen:

That the House take note of the paper.


-The Treasurer (Mr Lynch) demonstrated in his statement of 1 April on foreign investment that at least in their attitude to foreign investment the Liberal and National Country Parties have come some way since the dark days prior to 1972. It is pleasing to note that in form, if not in intention, the present Government’s policy has acknowledged the position of responsibility in this field taken by the Australian Labor Government. Most of our clothes have been taken over and are being worn second hand. However the position has not been reached where we could be said to have arrived at a bi-partisan attitude towards foreign investment in Australia. In fact wide gulfs still separate the Opposition and the Government in some vital aspects of this subject. Let me, before exploring these differences in depth, comment on specific parts of the Treasurer’s statement.

At the beginning of his statement the Treasurer ascribes the cause for the fall in the total inflow of foreign capital during the years 1972-75 to ‘confusion in the minds of investors about the circumstances in which they could operate in Australia’. This is another example of the simplistic explanations this Government has for the problems which have confronted this country, and indeed the rest of the industrialised world, in recent years. It rivals, for lack of understanding and of depth of analysis, the Government’s diagnosis that Budget deficits are the cause of our joint problems of inflation and recession. We heard this thesis repeated in question time today in an attack on me in answer to a question by the Treasurer. I stand, incidentally, by every word I have said on this subject of deficits. It seems that this Government is now becoming worried at its absurd attitudes to the deficit in a time of unemployment.

Let us examine some of the real reasons for the decline in the flow of foreign capital in recent years, if only in order to allow future debate on this important topic to take place on a more informed level. The Treasurer, in his talk on foreign private capital, has made no attempt to differentiate between various types of private capital. He gives the impression that all private capital entering this country, especially prior to 1972, was of a stable variety having as its object investment in the establishment of productive, profitable enterprises in our country. But this was not so. As well as stable capital there was also that which has been roughly branded as hot money, namely less stable capital looking for quick returns in the stock and share market, in real estate or in other booming sectors. A substantial portion of this type of capital obviously would have entered the country with the express purpose of gaining from inevitable exchange rate changes. The rest of the world, and most of Australia, had known for many years that the Country Party tail wagging the Liberal Party dog had ensured that Australia’s currency had been drastically undervalued. Many empty high rise city office block constructions stood as massive and mute reminders of this flow of hot capital and of the Liberal-Country Party Government’s misguided policies prior to that Government losing office in 1 972. The high rate of this short term capital inflow resulted in intense speculation in real estate and the resultant price spirals in that sector of our economy.

Obviously, when the Labor Party took office in 1972, the need for a realistic realignment of the Australian dollar had become of paramount importance, both in terms of diplomatic pressures from our major trading partners and cost pressures on the import consuming sectors of the domestic economy. The Labor Government took a responsible attitude to the problem and realigned the currency to a realistic level with revaluations in December 1972 and September 1973. The speculators by this time had got what they wanted- a 12 per cent gain on the exchange rates, high rates of interest on funds lent to Australian businesses and, in some cases, vast capital gains from rises in property values. Having thus reaped their harvest they moved out to the next profitable pasture. Could this not to a large measure explain the fall in the inflow of foreign capital after 1972 rather than the petty political, posturing explanations of the Treasurer in the statement we are debating this afternoon? Of course the explanation I have outlined is the real explanation.

I bring these points before the House not as mere elements of debate but rather as a reminder that the topic of foreign investment is complex and the nature of various types of foreign capital is but one of these complexities. The simplistic view presented by the Treasurer in his statement as to the cause of recent falls in capital inflow must not be allowed to cloud the real issues in the continuing debate on this topic of foreign investment in our country.

I will now move on to actual policy implications of the Treasurer’s statement which we of the Opposition find of concern. On page 7 of the Treasurer’s statement he informs us that the Government’s guidelines ‘will place major emphasis on Australian participation in new projects but without preventing projects that are clearly not against the national interest from proceeding’. I must admit that I would have found this assurance much more comforting if the projects not prevented from proceeding were clearly in the national interest rather than ones merely not against the national interest. This then is the crux of the Government’s policy, the point from which we are to judge what the practical implications of the Government’s form of words will be. It is no wonder that concern has been expressed by many who, like the Australian Labor Government, were perturbed by the extent of foreign domination of the Australian economy under the pre- 1972 Liberal-Country Party regime. The Treasurer’s words have all the appearance of setting the scene for an obvious out.

This Government, when previously in power, had hardly demonstrated a concern for a maximisation of Australian participation in new development projects. The consequences of the folly of its complete laissez -faire approach I have outlined earlier. The Australian people have no decent track record upon which to judge this Government kindly. They have no reasons to assume the ideals spelt out by the Treasurer’s words will be adhered to in practice. Is there any reason to assume that in the cold real world of intense special interest lobbying this promise of the Government will not go the way of many election promises it has been found inconvenient to keep? The list of broken election promises grows each day, each week in this Parliament.

This Government’s very preoccupation with the removal of substantial public sector involvement in the development of the resources of this country will only compound the problems it will have in adhering to its announced principles. While these guidelines, if adhered to, represent in many respects a reasonable approach to the problem of foreign equity in Australian projects- the uranium guidelines are excepted in that wide statement I have just made- the major working problem which will actually confront any new development project has virtually been ignored. It is covered in one page of the 22-page document that the Treasurer issued. This problem is that of raising a sufficient amount of domestic capital to allow new projects to go ahead and to conform with the guidelines. In, as the Treasurer would put it, the totality of the Australian Labor Government’s approach to problems of developing Australia’s vast natural resources, due recognition was made of the problems of raising domestic capital on the scale required. The Labor Government did not turn its back on a government’s responsibility in this regard. It envisaged a wide role for such instruments as the ill-fated, as it happened, National Investment Fund and, indeed, the Australian Industry Development Corporation in arranging government-backed capital raisings and a direct role for government in uranium production.

The present Government, however, has moved to restrict severely the role of government in developing Australia, yet it has failed to suggest a viable alternative source of development funding. It would appear clear that the Australian private capital market is capable of providing capital for but a small number of presently planned projects to go ahead under these guidelines. This fact has been alluded to by many people recently, including the President of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association in his address to that body’s recent annual conference.

The Government must make its position clear. Will the failure of the Australian capital market to marshal the necessary funds required for a new project to go ahead on a 50-50 basis simply constitute a case for bypassing the guidelines? If this is so, are these guidelines, therefore, under the Liberal-National Country Party Government, little more than a public relations exercise? The Treasurer really has a lot further to go than this statement in persuading us that he and the Government of which he is a member have a clear, comprehensive and workable policy on foreign investment which will ensure that Australian resources are not owned markedly overseas and we are not dancing to too great an extent to someone else ‘s tune.

While on this specific subject of capital provision I raise another point which requires further clarification by the Government. Surely there is nothing to stop overseas companies already established in Australia and with projects in the early planning stage for which the guidelines would require 50 per cent Australian equity being allowed to issue shares at market value to fulfil requirements. In many cases this will of course disadvantage the local investor and bring a cheap capital source to the overseas company. This is not a satisfactory situation. Surely it is not beyond the wit of government to find a solution to this problem. This is just another example of the questions the Treasurer’s statement does not answer. It does not provide information concerning the real issues confronting foreign investment in Australia. The Government must turn its energies towards policies which provide Australian capital or its guidelines will be rendered nothing but empty words.

As far as the technical aspects of the guidelines are concerned, the Australian Labor Party of course regrets the attitude the Government has taken to the development of Australia’s uranium resources. My colleague the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), who is the shadow Minister for Minerals and Energy, will explain our attitude to this question in greater depth later on in this debate. In fact, on examining the guidelines in greater depth, one is left with the distinct impression that some changes have been made just for the sake of change. It would not seem that this has been done so that the present Government’s attitudes, in the broader sense, did not reflect so closely those of the Labor Government. The apparent replacement of Labor’s Foreign Investment Review Committee by what is virtually a part time board appears to be one of these examples of mere windowdressing. In fact, a danger that the decisionmaking process will be slowed down or even biased towards hasty development and profit taking because of the structure of the Board has arisen, in my view, in this move. What on earth do Mr Bede Callaghan, C.B.E., and Sir William Pettingell, C.B.E, bring to this process that was not already present with the Foreign Investment Review Committee, apart from delay in decision making?

I sum up by saying that the Australian Labor Party in no way rejects the notion that foreign investment has a large role to play in Australia’s future development. The importance we placed on this role was spelt out in the statement made to this House by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) on this subject on 24 September 1975. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the House for this opportunity to complete a speech on this important subject. The Australian Labor Party does recognise, however, that there are substantial problems to be overcome in arriving at a description of the most effective and beneficial role foreign investment will play. I have attempted to point out a few of these problems, especially those involved in raising sufficient capital locally. We need to harness the savings of Australians into worthwhile directions. Further, the Australian Labor Party sees the role of government in Australia’s future development being more than just one of a rulemaking overseer. The world is changing. Even Liberals and conservatives of the National Country Party have to get rid of their ideological hang-ups and make sure that government enterprise plugs gaps which otherwise would not be filled.

Labor sees joint participation between private and public sectors as one of the ways by which sufficient capital can be raised and the stake of Australians in their own country not further eroded. I believe also that there is a role for the

Government in marshalling foreign investment capital which does not require equity security for its use. The concept of fixed interest loans from large overseas concerns, organised through governments or organised in other forms, is well worth pursuing. Now that the dust is settling from the hysteria dishonestly promoted by the present Government over the so-called loans affair, it can be seen that where foreign funds are needed for our further development it is far preferable that these should come in the form of loans rather than in the form of equity. We do not want so many decisions affecting the lives of Australians made in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Japan or anywhere else outside Australia. We want those decisions made here in Australia, and that means that we want as much Australian equity as we can possibly achieve.

The debate on this topic must be a continuing and informed one. The Opposition will not rest on its laurels after having convinced the Liberal and National Country Parties of their pre- 1972 errors in this area but will attempt continually to raise what it sees as the problems of the future concerning the role of foreign investment in our country. I repeat: Australia is a developing country. We are not harnessing sufficient savings in this country for the necessary volume of investment. Furthermore, our foreign exchange reserves are not sufficient for all our future development needs; so inevitably there must and will be further foreign investment. The more of that investment which can come in the form of fixed interest loans the better; but it cannot and will not all come in that form. So we must have guidelines. The Australian Labor Government charted the course. For the most part, our political opponents now in government are following our lead. But there are dangers that their actions will not conform to their words. There are dangers that this present laissez-faire government will not actively seek Australian savings for investment to minimise the need for overseas funds. In this speech I have raised some of these dangers.


-I believe that the subject of foreign investment in Australia is extremely important. I am only sorry, after listening to the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), that it appears that the Opposition does not feel the same way. I welcome not only the details of the statement by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in this House on 1 April but also the fact that it was made at all. In fact, it was the first substantive policy statement on this subject to be made in Parliament since the one made on 26

September 1972 by the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr William McMahon). Admittedly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) when Prime Minister tabled in this House on 7 November 1973 the text of a policy statement on foreign investment which he had made in Tokyo on 29 October 1973; but he simply tabled it. In fact he had to follow his usual penchant for overseas travel in order to make the statement at all. He made it to a Japanese audience in Japan- the first detailed statement of the Australian Labor Party’s foreign investment policy after its election in 1972- and he made it only after a delay of 11 months. So much for the Labor Party’s much vaunted ballyhoo about the importance of Parliament. So much for its ballyhoo about keeping the Australian people informed.

Not only is the subject of foreign investment important; it also is one of the most misunderstood and one which arouses a great deal of emotionalism. Debate on the subject somehow seems to bring out the worst in many otherwise rational Australians. It brings out a trait of xenophobia and jingoism that is not pleasant to see. Unfortunately we have witnessed this today in the speech by the honourable member for Adelaide. But even his speech paled by comparison with those of some of his colleagues when the Labor Party was in government. It is a great pity that in his speech today the honourable member for Adelaide touched only very briefly on the matters which are the real subject of the Treasurer’s statement. For example, he talked about hot money. Hot money is essentially of a non-equity nature. It is equity investment with which the Treasurer’s statement deals. The Opposition appears to be incapable of recognising this fact.

There can be no doubt at all that foreign companies operating in Australia have provided a major impetus to development over the past generation. Although on average only some 10 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic capital formation over this period has been financed from overseas investment, this has been extremely important at the margin, in giving Australians access to a larger supply of goods and services than otherwise would have been available and therefore facilitating a more rapid rate of economic growth and a major broadening of our industrial base. The financial contribution of foreign investment has been a much greater proportion of total investment in the private sector than the figure of 10 per cent I have just mentioned. It has increased steadily since the late 1950s and in the early 1970s reached 35 to 40 per cent. This investment has gone into a wide range of industries, initially mainly into manufacturing and latterly into minerals- at least until the former Minister for Minerals and Energy, commonly known as ‘the Strangler’ applied the deathlock and strangled the minerals sector of this nation between 1973 and 1975.

A major restriction on foreign equity investment in Australia in the foreseeable future would severely inhibit innovation and the growth of technology in Australia and would reduce our rate of economic growth and therefore the real standard of living of all Australians to below what it otherwise would be. Nevertheless, it is clear that most Australians are concerned, for various reasons, about uncontrolled further increases in foreign ownership and control of Australian resources. Since the late 1960s successive governments have taken various steps to restrict the further growth of such foreign ownership and control. Let it not be forgotten- the. honourable member for Adelaide appears to have forgotten it- that it was the Gorton and McMahon Governments that first acted on this, not the Whitlam Government. For example, it was the McMahon Government which introduced legislation to control foreign takeovers and which commissioned the Treasury to prepare a detailed analysis of overseas investment in Australia which was published in May 1972 and which formed the basis for much further policy formulation in this area. The Whitlam Government further developed the policy and extended it more fully to cover foreign investment other than by way of takeovers; but, as was the case with so many other policy initiatives of that Government, it bungled this policy. As I said earlier, it took 1 1 months after reaching government to produce a statement and all that statement did was to confuse the issue and to lead to a great deal of uncertainty amongst foreign investors. As a result, and coupled with the Whitlam Government’s determined efforts to wreck the Australian economy via the inflation route, overseas confidence in Australia as a stable and worthwhile place to invest crashed to its lowest ever ebb. Nowhere was this more important and apparent than in the minerals sector which not only had the Labor Government to contend with but also was faced with a Minister who had grandiose pipe dreams for mineral development by the public sector and who bullied the industry and refused to enter into any meaningful dialogue with it. He not only caused immeasurable damage to foreign mining companies but also he did much the same to Australian companies, particularly those in the mineral exploration area. Not only that, the Minister refused to enter into discussions with his State counterparts and was largely responsible for the major disruption in Commonwealth-State relations which occurred between 1973 and 1975.

It is sometimes said that the policy of the Liberal and National Country Parties towards foreign investment is little different from that of the Whitlam Government. It is true that many of the guidelines are similar. But there the similarity ends because whereas the Labor Party’s policy was hostile and negative in its approach to foreign investors the whole psychology and philosophy of the present Government ‘s policy is positive and recognises the need for continuing foreign investment but on terms and conditions acceptable to the Australian community. As the Treasurer said in his 1 April statement, the previous Government was conscious of the costs of foreign investment but was reluctant to acknowledge its benefits. This shows through very clearly indeed on a reading of the Whitlam Government’s Tokyo statement of October 1973 and the many subsequent statements which tried unsuccessfully to unravel the confusion which that statement caused.

Foreign investors in Australia now know much more clearly where they stand than they ever did under Labor. This is of the utmost importance. Uncertainty breeds a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence breeds low levels of investment. Low levels of investment lead to lower production which damages the standard of living of all Australians. The establishment of the Foreign Investment Review Board will also be an important step forward. This proposal involves leading businessmen in advising on a continuing basis on foreign investment matters. The Board should contribute to greater understanding and knowledge of government thinking and action in this area.

The guidelines for the acceptable degree of foreign equity in mineral projects are clear, yet they have a desirable degree of flexibility. I particularly welcome the statement by the Treasurer that if the 50 per cent local equity sought in new mineral projects cannot be obtained the project will not on that account be prevented from proceeding. This is a clear and unequivocal undertaking. In this it represents a major change from the Whitlam Government’s obfuscation on this issue. It also marks one of the major differences between this Government and the former Government. We want to get the economy going again. In this we are not going to be hung up on the same foreign bogy-man shibboleths of the Whitlam Government.

The Treasurer’s statement is a clear indication to foreign investors that we welcome them; that we recognise their importance to the future development of Australia; but that at the same time we want genuine participation between foreign and local investors on terms and conditions that are clearly defined and that take full account of the overall interests of all Australians I have much pleasure in endorsing the Treasurer’s statement.


-Before I call the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) might I just give a little bit of advice to the House. It is not in order in this House for any honourable member to refer to another honourable member by words such as ‘the bruiser’ or ‘the strangler’. The form in this House is to refer to any honourable member by his electorate.


-The foreign investment policies of the LiberalCountry Party Government announced by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) are vindication of the Labor Government’s policies which were so much abused by the Liberal-National Country Parties when in Opposition. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and we in the Australian Labor Party can now point to these guidelines as a major legacy of the Labor Administration.

The guidelines represent a major shift by the Government from its pre- 1972 attitudes where it considered that selling off the farm was the only way Australia could industrialise and develop its vast resources. Following the lead given by Labor in the past 3 years, the Liberal-National Country parties have now for the first time as part of their policy stipulated minimum specific percentages of Australian equity in development projects. This policy has already caused some rumblings in the board rooms of Martin Place and Collins Street and already a campaign to denigrate the Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade (Mr Anthony) is under way. He is being accused of being the architect of the new policy. But the fact of the matter is that it was a Cabinet decision and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Treasurer are just as responsible for its formulation and implementation. Because of the discontent within industry, the question now is how long before the pressure on Cabinet forces a return in substance if not in form to the old laissez-faire days of pre- 1972?

The major shift in policy as announced by the Treasurer is in the area of uranium mining and mineral exploration and production. Under the Labor Government’s guidelines of 1975 the 50 per cent equity in all new mining projects was mandatory. This minimum level had to be reached or the project would not be given the goahead. However, under the guidelines of the Liberal-National Country parties the minimum equity requirement is discretionary. The requirement need be met at the discretion of the Minister for National Resources. The practical effect of this discretion is that Australian companies, notorious in the past for failing to risk money in large development projects, will have little trouble convincing the Minister that the equity target cannot be met. Without the mandatory requirement as to equity, foreign companies do not have to go out and ‘sell’ a project to Australian investors, but can be content with only a minor testing of the market.

Obviously locating partners in a massive resource investment is a complex and wearying task as the Labor Government experienced with the Redcliffs petrochemical complex and the Hail Creek coal project. But without the mandatory Australian equity percentage provision who is to judge what efforts a foreign or Australian company has made to secure investment capital before it reports to the Minister on its lack of success? Obviously for the highly attractive investment projects there would be a persuasion for a foreign company to run dead in its efforts to bring in Australian partners. If the Minister then exercises his discretion in favour of the project going ahead without the requisite amount of local capital, he will be hard pressed to object to the next request for approval. The spirit, if not the letter, of the policy will be flouted.

As I have mentioned, the Minister for National Resources has already been under attack in the Press because of this policy. The Australian newspaper devoted a whole front page story on this matter in its issue of Wednesday, 14 April 1976. The newspaper just editorialisedthese remarks were not attributable to anybody. It stated:

Until the Government adopts a more flexible and open policy towards resources development, Mr Anthony will continue to attract criticism. So far the criticism of his leadership and ministerial performance has been kept within Government circles.

It is the administration of the policy that is crucial to its effectiveness. The Government must understand that it cannot steal the letter of the Labor Party policy for its own political kudos and then get away with not administering the policy. The Opposition will expect the Minister for National Resources to make public the decisions he takes in respect of these equity requirements and the reasons for the decisions.

In respect of uranium, the Government, like the Labor Government before it, has demanded a higher Australian equity than for other minerals. Because of its importance as an energy source in a world fast running out of cheap energy and because of its strategic and foreign policy implications the Labor Government stipulated that there should be 100 per cent Australian equity in all new projects. Without explanation the Liberal-National Country Party Government has reduced the equity requirement to 75 per cent Australian equity for all projects not already at the production stage. All projects other than the joint Atomic Energy CommissionPekoWallsend project will be affected by this policy. But the Government gives no reason for its change or for lowering the equity requirement.

This modification is a ridiculous departure from the policy of Labor. Surely there can be no cogent argument why Australia should allow foreign companies and in some cases foreign governments, through such agencies as the Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi which is commonly referred to as ENI, to participate in the exploration and development of this strategic material. Australia already has the largest tonnage of uncommitted uranium in the western world and it is of the utmost importance that its development and sale be under the strictest supervision. This can be guaranteed only if Australians own it. The Labor Party’s view is that as all title to uranium in the Northern Territory is vested in the Commonwealth under the terms of the Menzies 1952 Atomic Energy Act, then only a Commonwealth agency such as the Atomic Energy Commission should be allowed to explore for it in the Northern Territory and any new deposits would then have the 100 per cent Australian equity. Australian equity in the discoveries already made would be the subject of negotiation between the Australian Government and the company concerned. If the Government makes the distinction with uranium and requires 75 per cent local equity, on what basis does it make the distinction? The Labor Party opposes this distinction strongly and calls on the Government to adopt the 100 per cent equity principle that has operated for the past 3 years.

The major flaw in the Liberal-Country Party’s policy is that it provides no mechanism for raising large sums of capital to meet the Australian equity requirements. The Labor Government tried to remedy this problem by introducing a Bill to establish a national investment fund. It was rejected out of hand by the Liberal and Country parties. The Petroleum and Minerals Authority which had an investment budget of only $50m, and was therefore not in the big league of investors, was also painted by the Liberal-Country Party while in Opposition as some form of nationalisation monster. Nothing could have been further from the truth, as a reading of its objects would indicate. Before it was declared unconstitutional on a technicality it had already made some profitable and worthwhile investments to protect the national interest.

So the Liberal-Country Party Government has the pious intent of increasing Australian equity in resource projects, but not the mechanism to do it. The Treasurer talked about the Australian Industry Development Corporation. He said:

The Government believes that the Australian Industry Development Corporation has an important role to play in helping to mobilise funds required by Australian companies and in helping to bring together efficient Australian enterprises in order to foster Australian equity in local ventures of national importance.

The AIDC, since it was established, has hardly been a great mobiliser of capital. How it is to perform this task the Treasurer has not indicated. Australia obviously needs a competent entrepreneurial body in the resources field. Other countries have such instrumentalities to supervise and encourage national private investment in major development projects. Australia is singularly lacking. The Liberal and Country parties as usual go against the tide. There is a great vacuum in this respect in Australia. The private enterprise answer- the Resources Bank- has proved itself a lemon and unable to marshal the large slabs of capital needed to establish Australian control of large resource projects.

The other associated aspect of capital formation where the policy is not only vague but negligent is the question of domestic borrowing by foreign companies in Australia. Referring to foreign controlled companies, the Treasurer said:

We expect such companies to give full consideration to the possibilities of raising additional capital requirements through equity issues in Australia as an alternative to borrowing. . . .

He said that he did not need to lay down any rules to guarantee this. How naive is this view. If a foreign interest wants its investment in the paid-up capital of an Australian company to reflect a certain percentage, that percentage of foreign investment- I mean by that off-shore capital- should be reflected as near as possible in the total capital requirements of the project; otherwise all that Australia is getting from some types of foreign investment is management, not capital, and rarely any new technology that has not previously been used in Australia.

If one looks at history in Australia one finds that major foreign investors with the preponderance of control of a company have raised large sums on the Australian capital and share market while the parent company’s original capital contribution to the Australian subsidiary has been a huge percentage of a comparatively small level of original share capital compared with the capital funds required for the running and expansion of the project. The Fitzgerald Report of 1974, a conscientious and serious report that was shamefully attacked and discounted by the coalition parties, demonstrates that in respect to the example of Hamersley Holdings in Western Australia, and I quote directly:

Of the remarkable increase of $552m in Hamersley ‘s capital expenditures in the 7 years ended December 1973, threequarters was financed by the retained cash flow plus the premium share issues to the Australian public. The remaining one-quarter was funded by additional borrowings. By far the greater part of the necessary finance was generated in Australia. While the Rio Tinto and Kaiser groups have not added to their original capital subscription of $45m, the value of the gross assets in their control has quintupled in 7 years while the ratio of term liabilities owing to creditors to the value of gross assets has been halved, falling from 66 per cent to 33 per cent.

As technology in the extractive industries in Australia by and large has been developed by Australian companies and Australian ingenuityin some respects Australia leads the world- in many instances the only consequence of foreign investment has been a pile of headaches for the Government in dealing with such problems as inter-company pricing agreements, restrictive franchises and double taxation agreements. Foreign investment must be made to mean the investment of adequate levels of overseas capital for the operation and expansion of projects coupled with appreciable advantages in respect of foreign market access in the improvement in Australian technology. Without the full benefit of these aspects, foreigners are doing us no favours in bringing a small amount of money to Australia for share capital, then borrowing the major balance of development money in Australia and using Australian techniques long established to bring such projects to the production stage. This kind of help we can well do without. In the extractive industries where the returns are great and extend over a long period the contribution of foreign investors must be a genuine one.

Another important implication of foreign investment where the Government’s new policy is silent, is the question of permitting our customers to invest in resource projects which either supply or are associated with our own industries. For instance, Japanese investment in the coal industry permits the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry effective access to the costing assessments and pricing policies of that industry. Could anyone believe, for instance, that the Government of Japan would allow, say, Theiss Holdings to buy a major share of Nippon Steel- apart from the fact that Theiss could not afford it and indeed would not want it- but the example stands. Japan would not tolerate an Australian coal producer having access to the market, cost and pricing information of a Japanese steel manufacturer. Yet previous Liberal-Country Party governments have allowed companies such as Mitsui into consortiums in Australia in industries that supply Japan.

The present policy announced by the Treasurer does not deal with this problem- in my view perhaps the most crucial aspect of all in relation to foreign investment and participation in Australia. If the Government does not privately plan some administration of this aspect, I would be grateful if the Treasurer or the Minister for National Resources would let the Parliament know. My view on this aspect is not directed against Japan or any other country for any motive other than I have mentioned. I believe in the proprietary of certain investment prerogativesinvestments that suit the Australian interest taking into account the nature of the trade between Australia and the country of origin of the investment. For instance, considering the imbalance of trade with Japan in our favour, it would not worry me if the motor car companies of Japan completely dominated the vehicle market in Australia, at the expense of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and the Ford Motor Co. of Australia. If this meant that Australians held employment in an industry with rationalised efficiency, then acceptable franchise agreements would help Australian exports as efficiency made these products more export competitive. If multi-nationals are to dominate certain industries let us be selective about whose multi-nationals they are and where our economic interest hes. Foreign investment can militate in favour of reductions in trade imbalances, but our selectivity is crucial. Let us not show our commercial hand to the world while the world plays its hand close to the chest. It is time we grew up on this issue, and I hope the Government will take some cognisance of this view.


-Before I call the honourable member for Ryan, I remind the House that it is the honourable member’s maiden speech. I hope that members will extend their usual courtesies to him.


– I thank the House for the opportunity of speaking in this debate on the Government’s foreign investment policy. The statement by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) was by far the most significant on Australia’s financial future for more than 3 years. Since the Australian Labor Party won office in 1972 mining companies, financial institutions and overseas investors have lacked a clear understanding of what the Australian Government wanted. As the Treasurer said in his statement recently, this lack of direction led to misunderstandings, confusion and a marked drop in foreign investment in Australia. Now at last the potential investors in Australia’s future around the world know where they stand and where Australia is going. The Treasurer’s statement is timely for these reasons. This fall off in investment in our country produced a standstill in the whole thrust of economic development in Australia. Little new major development work has taken place since we were last in office, and this is what has wrecked our economy.

I come to Canberra from Queensland, a State that has an immense future, rich in resources but poor in investment funds. The State is eager to get on with the job. My electors are looking to the Government to lift Australia out of its inherited economic stagnation, to get our development program going and to ensure the living standards of all Australians. They are looking to the Liberal Party because of its record over the previous 23 years in the field of economic management. Labor had some noble ideas and wonderful dreams, even if they turned out to be daydreams and Arabian nightmares. With this in mind the Government must be wary and avoid the same pitfalls. The decline in economic activity is not just one of lack of confidence in the Government.

The principal spur to risk taking, entrepreneurship and investment is profit. No person will have the incentive to go out and place his money in any project unless he is assured of stable political and industrial conditions and a profitable economic climate. Entrepreneurial spirit and new capital investment thrive on profits, whether they be foreign or domestic. It is the noble aspiration of all people to own their own house, farm or company. Indeed everyone should be encouraged to have a stake in his own future. However, today in Australia there is simply insufficient capital to meet the demands for development. It is because of this that I welcome the Treasurer’s statement that the Government wishes to encourage foreign investment. For too long it has been a bogy, with the resultant decline in economic activity.

It is my experience that once government guidelines have been clearly set out business will adjust to meet them. Commercial planning can then be carried out with some surety of the future. The rate of development is in no small measure beset by the management of the guidelines. It is in this context that the role of the Foreign Investment Review Board is crucial. One of the features of the Labor Administration was that the people who made the decisions in these delicate areas were largely public servants with little knowledge of the market place. It is there that deals are made, promoted and financed. The members of the Board will be well aware of this and I am sure that they will approach their task with a sense of commercial reality. The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) asked what contribution Mr Callaghan and Sir William Pettingell would make. I assume that they would have a very real concept of commercial reality.

In many cases it will be necessary to be flexible with the 50 per cent rule. There will be a need for quick decisions once a broad framework has been established for decision making. I believe that it would be helpful to the Board and to the course of future development if some further consideration were given to the role of foreign portfolio investment. At present it is planned to take this into consideration when considering foreign ownership. The present definition would affect many well known Australian companies, such as Thiess Holdings Ltd. I have always looked at portfolio investment, from overseas, as a very useful extension of the local secondary capital market. Without it in many instances over the last 20 years Australian companies would not have been able to raise sufficient equity capital. Many portfolio investors are not interested in being able to vote their shares but merely to participate in future dividend and capital prospects. Despite moves by the associated stock exchanges to eliminate non-voting shares I believe that a case now exists for their restoration. It is both administratively feasible and it would be a great help to a large number of well known Australian companies to participate in the future development.

This brings me to the Australian capital market. As the Treasurer rightly pointed out, it is of limited size. Savings have many competing investment opportunities, not the least of which are government savings bonds. With rising interest rates and inflation, major savings managers have been put under increasing pressure to improve their returns. In many cases funds have been split between 2 managers to give a sense of performance competition.

New funds developed by life assurance companies total $ 1,400m in one year. Of this, $440m is subscribed to government securities. Of the remainder, 10 per cent or $100m to $150m would be available for development projects, whether equity or debt. When it is considered that this is one of the major areas of savings in Australia it is not hard to see the need for overseas funds. One major project would use all existing funds in any one year.

On past performance many fund managers will be reluctant to commit large sums of money over a period of time to a number of development projects. This record has been mixed. Robe River, North Australian Development Corporation, and Greenvale are just some of the development projects that are yet to show any return. There have been a number of investments in the rural sector which have been a total loss. Nationalism and money seldom make congenial bedmates The record of the individual investors is even worse. Few of them have any long term view especially when looking at development works. There have been many examples of significant subscription shortfalls in proven development projects, the most recent being the Woodside-Burmah issue where the shortfall on the Burmah offering to existing Australian shareholders is likely to be 40 per cent. Utah Development Company- a company which is well known to the former Minister for Minerals and Energy- which was offering to the Australian public at $1.85, was not well received and fell to $1.60 a short time afterwards. Today it is selling at the equivalent of $13.60. In reverse some of the overseas investors, the bogies, have been a disaster. One notable case has been the sale by the liquidator of Mineral Securities Australia Ltd of that company’s holding in Queensland Mines Ltd to Noranda, Australia Ltd, a Canadian based company, for $ 1 9 a share. Today the price is $2.30.

Money for exploration is very difficult to raise without tax incentives or a favourable stock market in which to sell. Indeed the only exploration work carried out in the last 2 years has been by major companies or foreign companies on a reducing scale.

There is a disturbing trend in Australia towards many people being keen to see others risk money in enterprise or exploration while they themselves are unprepared to make a contribution. They are very keen indeed to take over once the risk has paid off. They cannot have it both ways. Too many Australians want to back the horse after the winning post. Very few want to be on the horse when it goes to the barrier and even fewer want to buy a yearling.

I am grateful to the Treasurer for pointing to the possible role of the Australian Industry Development Corporation. This body has had an indifferent performance from a privileged beginning. However, I believe that it can play a useful role in future development projects. It has a unique position as an international borrower. Because of this, large sums should be available to lend to projects. This would be particularly helpful to the smaller developments. In some cases it will be necessary to take up equity capital. This should be watched with care. It seems to be in the best interests to place a limit on the length of time any equity can be held- say, three to five years after completion of the project- profits being added to the fund and losses crystalised. This would not only stop any creeping government ownership but it would give Australian participation every opportunity. It would similarly restrain blatant political use of this corporation.

Any discussion on foreign investment also brings into focus the question of ownership and control. I believe that insufficient people recognise the importance of control. No matter who owns a particular company, that company must operate within the taxation system of the nation. Control is also exercised through export licences and Reserve Bank exchange controls. These 3 weapons of government economic management are far more significant than percentage ownership in a particular company. The previous speaker, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), referring to the uranium deposits in Australia, said that only Australian ownership would be able to control that particular industry. I think that he has completely missed the point. This in itself brings us around to the very first question, that all investors must have a clear understanding of what Government policy is and confidence that the Government will carry through its commitments in this area. We now have a chance to prove to Australians and to investors around the world that we are what we say we are- a party of practical men.

We must not be seen as small ‘s’ socialists trying to stick to Labor’s more flambouyant visions. We must not be seen as another government of chauvinistic Australians, beating the nationalistic drum and demanding the lion’s share in projects developed by the risk capital of others. We must not be seen as the new Cassandras predicting dire consequences unless we alone monopolise the resources of development. Rather, we must approach the future with a swagger, welcome those who are willing to spend and let companies make money so that people get jobs, security and a higher standard of living. We must illustrate that we are the antithesis of the previous Government, that our ideas are the opposite of theirs and that investors no longer need be frightened of government control of their industry or profit. As any man in the money market knows, taxes, both Federal and State, will pay handsome rewards to the men and women of Australia.

Perhaps right now we have a greater responsibility to do this than would appear at first, for Australia recently has been seen to swing, as it were, like a pendulum to the left in regard to foreign investment. In these first few months in office, therefore, we must illustrate early and clearly that the pendulum has swung back the other way and that eventually it will settle in a central position which will mean that both Australians and overseas investors will have a solid and happy working relationship, sharing the wealth that comes from resources and expertise. Let us then stop ‘multinational’ being a dirty word. Multinational companies are often the only ones with the knowledge and experience to do what has to be done in developing this nation. Some people who condemn multinationals in the same breath condemn nationalism and promote internationalism. These are international companies, a natural product of the growing specialisation in this increasingly small world. In this my first speech I make my most important plea: Do not let us, as the new Government the people so clearly wanted, carry any further the cause of socialist policy. Let us instead set our standard toward the biggest profit for the hardest worker and the best reward for the bravest investor. Then everyone in this country will benefit. Mr Deputy Speaker, I support the Treasurer’s statement.

Melbourne Ports

– I congratulate the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) on his maiden speech. He certainly showed some courage in delivering it in a debate of this kind rather than choosing the path chosen by most of his colleagues, namely the AddressinReply debate. I commend him for what he said. The subject of foreign investment in Australia is intriguing enough, I suppose. I must say that I have been greatly intrigued by what are called the new guidelines. Having read the statement of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) very carefully, I find it a little hard to know what is the difference between the procedure now and what it was previously. I would say that the best guideline for any foreigner who wants to invest in Australia is still: First find a suitable Aus.tralian partner. There should not be any more go-it-alone type of foreign investment in Australia. For too long- it applied under previous governments for a long time- did we allow the eyes of investment opportunity to be picked out by the foreign investor. After all, no foreigner invests in this country unless he believes that there is something in it for him. There is nothing wrong with that as an objective, as far as I can see. Equally, Australia ought not to be interested in that foreign investment if there is nothing in it for us. So it is a 2-way street. Foreign investment should advantage the foreigner. Foreign investment, if allowed in Australia, should be useful to Australia.

I have heard a lot today about the significance of foreign investment in Australia. I would not deny that Australian economic development in 1976 would not be what it is without the great deal of foreign investment that has taken place; but I do not think that should blind us to the reality that the majority of investable funds employed annually in Australia is found within Australia. The latest figures showed the Australian gross domestic product as running at about $60 billion. Approximately one-quarter of that, $15 billion, was investable funds. Of that $15 billion, something like two-thirds- that is about $10 billion- went into private investment and $5 billion went into public investment. Of course, foreign investment does not find its way into public investment; it goes exclusively into the area of private investment. When one takes out of the private investment part- the $10 billion- the part that is attributable to private dwelling construction, of course what is left is the beginning of the part that adds to the structure of industry in Australia. This is why I agree with the honourable member for Ballarat (Mr Short) that the sums that have been invested overseas, whilst marginal to that total, perhaps have been unusually significant as far as the infrastructure or structure in industry is concerned.

Of course, there was a difficulty with the legislation that was passed in this field. It was passed by the McMahon Government in a great hurry a matter of a few months before an election and was a makeshift piece of legislation which we were not really able to amend until almost the end of the Labor Government’s period of officenot that there was no intention to alter it but the parliamentary program and the resistance in the

Senate made it difficult. I must say that, makeshift and all as it was nevertheless that legislation served Australia very well. We set aside certain fields in which we said there shall be no foreign investment. I still believe that it is right that there should be no foreign investment in these fields. We had never allowed it in the area of aviation. We had not allowed it in banking. We had not allowed it in broadcasting. I certainly hope that no government in Australia in the future will ever allow any foreign investment in the media, whether it is Press, television or radio. I think they are things that should be owned entirely by Australians for Australia. I hope that certain Press gentlemen who have done well outside Australia will not attempt to buy Press in Australia. I hope that some day there will be legislation that will see that they cannot do so.

The previous speaker referred to the word ‘multinational’ being a dirty word. I back away from that sentiment. I do not regard ‘multinational ‘ as a dirty word at all. As I said earlier, I believe that, had it not been for some of the multinationals operating in Australia, Australian industry in 1976 would be very much different from what it is. Most of the multinationals, so called, as they operate in Australia in my view are more ‘national’ than they are ‘multi’. Let me put it this way: General Motors in Australia is more concerned about the Holden than it is about the Opel or some other car that General Motors makes somewhere else. Another factor is the vast amount of plough-back that now occurs. Multinationals operating in Australia are no different from Australian companies operating in Australia. Like everybody else, if they make a profit they pay tax. The tax is paid at the company rate in Australia. Most of them, if they are prudent, do not distribute everything that is left after they have paid their taxes; they plough some of it back. Sometimes the shareholder gets a bit by way of a dividend.

I would think that much the larger part of the increment in foreign ownership in Australia in recent years has come from ploughed back profits or, if you like has been taken out of the hides of the consumers in Australia, rather than from new capital from overseas, although it appears in the statistics as capital inflow. I do not know how difficult it would be to have one, but I think it is about time that some sort of register was made in Australia as to the overseas ownership of assets as equity in Australia. I do not know what the figure is, but in what might have been called the golden days of foreign investment it was running somewhere in excess of $ 1 billion per annum and it ran in that way for some of the last few years of the then Liberal-Country Party Government. I would think that the United States investment now in Australia is probably as great as the United Kingdom investment. The United Kingdom investment began a long while earlier, mainly for historical and traditional reasons, but the relatively fast grower in recent years has been the American companies that are domiciled in Australia.

I would hazard a guess that in aggregate the equity is probably well in excess of $10 billion. I suppose that is a substantial enough figure, but one thing that I think ought to be remembered sometimes is that we have a great advantage in the mining area in that we are concerned not so much about equity alone as about the fact that we still own the hole in the ground. Whatever might be the book value of General MotorsHolden’s, International Harvester and the petrol companies of one kind and another, they certainly cannot pick up the stumps and leave us. At least the assets are worth more in Australia than they are worth anywhere else. In fact, apart from their physical existence in Australia, I suppose they are probably worthless anywhere else. They cannot just sell themselves up. That is not likely to happen. But there does have to be some sort of accommodation with the realities of the situation. I think one of the weaknesses of the takeover legislation is that when it was passed there was not much left that was worth taking over. The damage already had been done. At least there is now scrutiny.

I repeat what I said at the beginning. In my view the golden rule of advice to any foreigner still is: First find an Australian partner. I have never been a firm believer that the partnership should be on a 50/50 or 5 1 /49 basis. In my time as Treasurer I used to say that it could be anything from 100 to 0 or 0 to 100, depending on the circumstances. Each case was examined case by case. The same words as I used to use are still being used by the present Treasurer. The honourable member for Ballarat might even have heard me say that kind of thing in those secret days that he cannot talk about to some of the people who used to come to see me. I do not think there has been any shortage of people wanting to invest in Australia over the last 10 years. They were just as prevalent in the last 3 years as I believe they were in the previous 7 years. I think some difficulties were experienced, and in my view experienced quite rightly, in the mining area, but mining is somehow different from the rest.

Whatever may be said about the capital that is necessary to develop, say, iron ore on a large scale, I do not think the same sort of thing applies as far as coal is concerned. I believe Australia has the technical capacity and the availability of capital to do coal extracting itself. As my colleague the former Minister for Minerals and Energy has said, we should be much more careful about the price we get than we have been in the past. But a curious idea somehow seems to exist in the minds of both the Japanese investors and the West German investors that somehow, unless they have part of the equity they cannot be sure that they are going to get the goods. It is easy to disabuse them of that kind of thinking. We always said in the trading area that we were not closing our doors to those countries’ access to iron, steel and coal but we were entitled to say to them, if we wanted to say it, that we did not want any of their equity in this field or that field but we may want it somewhere else. It seems to me that the problems are no different for the present Government from what they were for the Labor Government. Some great apostles of free enterprise have suddenly entered this House. I am already getting nauseated by the use of the phrase ‘free enterprise’. I say again that if those who claim to believe in free enterprise had shown a bit of enterprise Australia would not have been so overridden in some areas by foreign investment. I believe that foreign investment often has come about because no one in Australia was willing to take a risk. I think it is time that those who believe in enterprise got off that sort of horse and got down to showing a bit of enterprise instead of just talking about it as a great political shibboleth, which I am afraid it is becoming.


– I have the utmost respect for the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who is a former Treasurer, but he did make one or two remarks on which I wish to comment. At almost the conclusion of his speech he made the first remark which I wish to examine. He said that no one in Australia was prepared to take a risk. Of course no one was prepared to take a risk under the conditions that existed during the 3 years of bad administration by the Labor Government. Not only was no one prepared to take a risk but also the whole of the giant mining industry came to a standstill. The other point upon which I wish to comment is the impression I gained from his remarks that he was saying that there was not very much difference, taking into account the pressures and so on, between the position in the last 3 years and in the previous 7 years. I cannot believe that he was serious about that; he is far too learned and far too honest. So I must take issue with him on those 2 comments. The previous 7 years, particularly five or six of those 7 years, were the most prosperous years and the greatest period of development in the whole history of the mineral industry in this nation. I think I can speak with some authority on this subject as I represent the electorate in which most of the great developments have taken place.

That brings me to the matter of what is now the greatest mining complex of its kind in the world- Mount Isa Mines Ltd. The people who have had a meaningful association with that part of the world and its growth may have been called a lot of clots because they live in that part of the world and did not see very much happening, but they can look back with satisfaction at the progress which has taken place. A few attempts were made initially to take the great ore body in that area out of the ground and to get this great enterprise operating, but they were not successful. Attempt after attempt was made in this country to raise the necessary capital but those attempts were without success. Finally- and I give credit to the Queensland Government for this- a limited amount of about £500,000, I think, was made available to try to keep at least some life in this ore body, and then of course we began to attract overseas capital.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, and I am terribly sensitive about this. I have from the moment I became a member of this House expressed my own attitude in clear and precise terms, and that is this: If we have the expertise, if we have the capital available then we do not really want one cent from overseas. I again refer to the situation at Mount Isa and point out that it is very doubtful indeed whether the mining enterprise there would have got off the ground, let alone been developed to the position it is now in and which it has been for some years- I do not want to stress the present position too much- but for Australian initiative. For many years it has been completely controlled by Australian management and Australian enterprise. The present position is that the majority of the shareholding in Mount Isa Mines is in the hands of Australians and that is as it should be.

Let us be sensible about this matter. If honourable members want a comparison let me deal with Chile where the great revolution took place and where the great copper mining industry of that nation was brought to its knees because suddenly the expertise disappeared, the incentive disappeared. The great experiment of socialisation of that industry was another failure and there was chaos. Anyone who studied the record would have nothing to do with trying to socialise and hand over to socialist control a mining enterprise of that nature. Whatever be our feelings regarding the politics of Chile we now see that it has again returned to prosperity, or to a much greater degree of prosperity than previously existed in that country, and we now find that this huge mining enterprise is operating efficiently.

It has become quite common in this House and outside it for people who want to have a hard hit at someone to attack the Deputy Prime Minister, the present Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony). Let me look at his record in the short time he has held that portfolio. The first thing he did was to send a wave of confidence right through the mining industry. If some of the leaders of the industry find cause not to agree entirely with the policies of the Government and the policies of my Leader, I believe they will still readily admit that they are now breathing much more freely and that the great mining industry will be back to what it was, we hope in a very short space of time. We should look at this matter sanely. The great gripe of people opposite, of course, concerns the 75 per cent foreign participation level. When I say the ‘great gripe’, I refer to the criticism that has been forthcoming. Uranium is one particular commodity that we have in the ground which is of vital importance to Australia. I am not going to go into the details because this has been said time and again. Would any sane Australian permit some foreign country to come into this nation and take over our uranium resources? I suppose that Labor Party supporters will say that we on this side are adopting their policy. In a moment I will get on to the subject of fisheries. Let me expose the poh.cies of the Labor Party. Let me expose its attitudes in this field. It cannot claim credit for our uranium policy because we above all had deep in our philosophy and in our policies the defence and security of this country which are very much tied up with uranium. This is one commodity which I feel must be regarded in a separate category altogether.

Let me examine the statement made by the Treasurer which was elaborated on by the Deputy Prime Minister in respect of participation in the mining of other ores and minerals. People conveniently overlook the fact that it has been stated time and time again by the Minister for National Resources that no project will die because of any particularly inelastic guidelines. That has been made perfectly clear. Honourable member’s opposite fear Doug Anthony. They fear this Deputy Prime Minister. That is why he is their target for attack. They know he is a man of immense integrity. They know he is a man who is so honest that he says what he believes, he stands by his convictions, he has a sense of direction and nothing will move it. People on the other side of this House fear a man of that character, but they do not get anywhere with their attack.

I said that I would refer to fisheries. We do not have a great deal, if any, foreign participation in the fisheries of this country. We may have it in a fringe sort of way. But when one thinks of fisheries one thinks of the Gulf of Carpentaria. There was a great deal of squealing and going on by supporters of the previous Government about the sanctified waters of the Gulf being infringed, trespassed upon and so on. The Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), my fellow Queenslander, in the quickest possible time made sure there was vigilance in this area. He made sure there would be a survey of those waters day and night. He took action to ensure that Taiwanese were not creeping into this country. I wonder whether there would be a great squeal from those opposite if a boatload of Fretilin forces came over? It is extraordinary. The Opposition went to the extent of sending a man to the United Nations because its supporters are all upset over these poor Fretilin people. They are upset because they carry the great red sickle and hammer behind them. They cannot help themselves because they are so sensitive about this. One only has to show a red sickle and hammer and these men are up in arms and cry out: ‘Ah, the poor Fretilin’. I wonder what those who sit opposite would say if the Fretilin people wanted to invest in our fisheries industry.

One final point I want to make relates to vigilance and the closest possible examination of overseas control of our various industries. The Government’s policies are set out quite clearly in the statement by the Treasurer. I was the chairman of the Government’s drought committee during the terrible years of drought. We were particularly vigilant to ensure that there would be no foreign investment whatsoever, and that no vultures would be hovering over our lands to come down and buy at some giveaway price. It was the Country Party and the Liberal Party who watched over this. The people who sit opposite would not even know what I am talking about because they have never been west of the Great Divide except when they have come through like a brumby with his tail on fire, made some political comment and dashed back to the coast. We were the ones who were vigilant. We were the ones who watched over the possibility of the multi-nationals taking control of this country.

The Treasurer’s statement is clear. It is lucid. It sets out at long last a policy. The Minister for National Resources has swept aside the doubts and confusion. He has set down guidelines. Some of them perhaps are not so popular but at least the industry knows where it is going, and under this Government this nation knows where it is going.


-The question of foreign investment in the development of Australia’s natural resources is more basic to the future prosperity of the people of Australia than almost any other issue. Although this question is dealt with almost as a side issue in the national Parliament, big business is certainly under no illusions as to its real importance. Nothing less than a total sell-out will satisfy some multinational corporations and some sections of the Australian business community which see an opportunity for private profit in a sell-out of the national interest. There are 2 key issues to be constructively assessed. Firstly, recognising that multi-national corporations cannot be relied upon to develop Australia’s natural resources in the national interest, how is Australian ownership and control of new development projects to be achieved? Secondly, recognising the enormous potential future strategic and economic importance of access to natural resources, what is the role of the national Government in the field of natural resources management, particularly in relation to two basic questions- a resources availability and scarcity?

The statement by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) lacks credibility on the 50 per cent rule on 4 grounds. Firstly, the statement concealed rather than revealed one of the key conditions of the policy. The 50 per cent rule is apparently only intended to reassure the Australian public and is to apply in respect of smaller development projects. As far as larger projects are concerned, the multi-national corporations are merely required to make a gesture towards local equity before the Government flexibility allows projects to proceed with majority ownership and control. The present Government’s commitment lasted less than a week, when it was negated by a statement made in Adelaide by the Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony). He said:

Whilst the Government stands by its policy that a SO per cent equity participation must be offered to Australian companies, the Government will be flexible where that offer cannot be taken up to explore and develop new projects.

All that is required of the multinational corporations is that they convince the proposed Foreign Investment Review Board that they have failed to get the required level of Australian equity and then the project will be permitted to go ahead, provided it complies with the other criteria. This flexibility would seem less like practical abandonment of the 50 per cent rule if the second gap in the Treasurer’s statement was less conspicuous.

Secondly, the credibility of the rule suffers from the failure of the statement to outline any procedure for overcoming the notorious failure of Australia’s present capital market and financial institutions to mobilise sufficient capital for majority Australian participation in major development projects. That is the fatal flaw. The submission by the Australian Industry Development Corporation to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control stated: … the general observation that, at least in the Australian context, the capacity to have more local participation in ownership and control of industries and resources is not so much a function of the availability of funds, as of the presence of vehicles which can and will deploy funds to this end.

Australia is about the twelfth most affluent country in the world, and it has one of the highest rates of saving amongst the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. Recently there has been an increase in savings by households in Australia and elsewhere. In effect, household savings provided less than one-third of total savings in 1971-72 but more than half in 1974-75. Total savings over that period increased from $9,000m to almost $ 15,000m. Major development projects like the north-west shelf will require investment of the order of $ 1,000m to $2,000m, even though it will not be required all in one year. That investment is required from a society where the total amount of annual savings is between $ 14,000m and $ 15,000m and clearly points to the need for foreign capital to assist in the development of Australia’s natural resources.

However, the policy issue is not whether we need foreign capital. Rather the question is on what terms should foreign investors be allowed to participate in the development of our natural resources. The concentration of foreign capital investment in foreign-owned and controlled enterprises in key sectors of industry has led to a grossly disproportionate degree of foreign ownership. Between 1964 and 1970 82.5 per cent of funds invested in the development of - Australian natural resources was employed by foreignowned companies but, according to the 1974 survey by Professor McKern 25.7 per cent of the total funds invested, that is about $ 1,100m, was provided by the Australian capital market. Professor McKern also noted that Australian companies were not prepared to undertake the risk of high debt equity ratios which subsidiaries of foreign multinational corporations were able to assume. Furthermore, the very size of foreign multinational corporations compared with the generally small Australian companies means that foreign subsidiaries are more attractive to Australian investors and Australian financial institutions than are Australian companies.

The fact that foreign multinational corporations are able to compete on unfairly favourable terms with Australian companies to obtain loan funds in Australia raises the question of why this Government has not seen any need to protect the access of Australian controlled enterprises to the Australian capital market. Indeed, of existing financial institutions in this country, only the AIDC has a positive bias in favour of Australian companies. If the limited capital resources available within Australia are to be effectively mobilised for investment in Aus.tralian controlled enterprises, then it would seem logical to restrict the access of foreign controlled companies to local sources of funds and to require foreign subsidiaries to raise loans overseas. That would have a beneficial effect on our balance of payments and would reduce the distorting effect which the competition from giant global multinationals for scarce Australian capital has on the Australian capital market and financial institutions.

Thirdly, the fact that the statement lacks any proposals for a more effective mobilisation of Australian capital means that the terms will be determined by foreign multinational corporations in their own interests. Professor Johns said in a statement to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control:

If the foreign-owned mining companies are free to determine the extent of local equity participation and the timing of share issues to the Australian public there is likely to be little economic benefit to this country. Indeed, there may be positive disadvantages in a small Australian equity obtained at the discretion of an overseas-controlled concern.

In other words, Australian investors are to be allowed the opportunity to participate, but at premium prices, and to be subject to the continued effective control of overseas corporations. The fourth ground is that the so-called 50 per cent rule is of dubious practicability because it provides no guarantee that the large input of Australian equity capital will result in effective control by Australia-ns of the enterprise concerned. Accordingly, the rule makes no effective provision for the mobilisation of capital for investment in Australian controlled enterprises engaged in resource development. The fact that the companies which development Australia’s natural resources are mostly foreign controlled means that Australia thereby loses the development of Australian-controlled corporate organisations. The fact that Australians participate as individuals in management, as technologists and technicians, does not make up for the fact that the organisations which employ them are in fact foreign owned and controlled. That might be called the ‘lost opportunity’ cost of the present pattern of mining of Australian natural resources.

If Australian controlled enterprises are to be acquired on terms which are not prohibitively expensive or discriminatory, then it is essential that institutional means be established effectively to mobilise Australian equity capital and invest it in the coherent majority or plurality voting blocs of shareholders and directors, which are able to exercise control over the enterprise concerned. Neither existing institutions nor existing Government policy is capable of achieving the broad objective of Australian control. That is the fatal flaw. The achievement of Australian control of new development projects depends upon new organisational mechanisms for mobilising savings of ordinary Australian householders for investment in major projects. That was the purpose of the national investment fund proposed by the previous Labor Government, which was tossed out repeatedly by the Liberal Opposition, I understand basically on the ground that it was socialistic, although in fact all it did was provide means to secure and guarantee investment by the Australian public.

The goal of Australian control of new development projects is objectively impossible to achieve unless an organisation or network of organisations such as the proposed national investment fund is established to attract funds away from the existing capital market and financial institutions and channel them in to major development projects. Otherwise, the required combinations of capital and entrepreneurial organisations simply do not exist. If the AIDC is to play a major role in the achievement of Australian control it needs access to more investment capital. It also requires authorisation to achieve Australian control in each major project through the establishment in each case of a specialised Australian holding company which will consolidate the Australian equity in the particular project so that Australian control of the enterprise can be achieved and maintained. Ordinary citizens in a nation of notorious gamblers may be prepared to take huge risks with relatively small sums but quite realistically be unprepared to take smaller risks with their life savings. Ordinary citizens can hardly be blamed for not wanting to put their money at risk on the stock exchange when proper regulation of the securities and exchange industry will be abandoned by this Government. But even with a properly regulated stock exchange, the risk involved is too great for people to put their life savings on the line. To mobilise capital from ordinary Australian households, a governmentguaranteed financial institution which presents attractive investment prospects to the ineffectively mobilised resources of household savings obviously is indispensable.

I want to conclude with some remarks on the need for the use of Australian natural resources to be based on a national minerals and energy policy. The policy should set out priorities for the exploration and exploitation of our resources. It should in fact develop policies for our future needs both at national and international level. If the national government fails to regulate the use of minerals and energy in the national interest, multi-national corporations will use them in the interests of their world wide, vertically and horizontally integrated conglomerate structures. This has happened already in Canada, where United States’ investment in oil and gas has reached the level of 90 per cent ownership. An article which appeared in the New York Times Weekly Review last January pointed out that 20 big oil companies control 94 per cent of United States oil reserves; the 18 largest oil companies produce 60 per cent of the natural gas supply; sixteen of the eighteen own oil shale interests; eleven possess huge coal reserves; sixteen have bought into uranium; three own solar energy companiesand the only geothermal lands in production in the United States are owned by one oil company. In this way not only is each type of energy vertically integrated from mineral source to consumer outlet, but also all types of energy have been horizontally integrated into energy conglomerates. As a result, the price of coal is regulated by oil companies which already own 44 per cent of the privately held coal reserves.

These oil companies make development decisions for the coal industry and other sources of energy to protect their investments in declining oil reserves by limiting competition from other energy sources. Eight US oil companies already have across the board positions in every other fuel or energy conglomerate, in other words, alternative sources. These energy conglomerates in North America are subject to neither effective competition nor control. Changes in consumer behaviour do not regulate the energy conglomerates; rather, the energy conglomerates regulate the changes in consumer behaviour.

We need 2 basic elements in a policy for foreign investment in Australia’s natural resources. First, we need a policy goal of effective Australian control of all new development projects at the level of the individual enterprise. To achieve that goal we need new institutions to mobilise Australian capital and invest it effectively on favourable terms. Secondly we need an energy policy to regulate the use of our minerals and energy from the long-term national perspective of the national interest. Otherwise, Australian minerals and energy resources will be used in the interests of world-wide, vertically and horizontally integrated energy conglomerates.


-Mr Deputy Speaker, it gives me particular pleasure to take part in this debate under your direction. I support the statement of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch). The question of foreign investment actively concerns, perhaps more than many others questions, the whole of the mineral industry. It cannot be considered without looking closely at the stringent Treasury ruling that there must be a 75 per cent ownership in uranium and not less than 50 per cent in other minerals. At present this seems an impossible target. A glance at the share register of even such an apparently Australian company as Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd shows that less than 12 per cent of the stockholding is in Australian hands.

I am very strongly of the opinion that the opposition to foreign investment in Australia is a confidence trick of the present Opposition, the previous Government. Where honourable members opposite got it from is anybody’s guess- certainly they did not get it from anyone who has the best interests of this country at heart. The propaganda against the multi-nationals and foreign investment became a catchcry for the ranks of the Opposition and unfortunately it has been swallowed elsewhere. I do not believe that multi-nationals and foreign investment are, per se, bad. I believe that many multi-nationals are efficient, reasonable and sensible and are run by men who, while they are interested finally in profitand who is not- also realise their reasonable obligations. I believe that Australia simply cannot get its economy going again without massive injections of foreign capital, for the huge amounts of money needed to get development projects moving are simply not available in this country. If the Treasury ruling is to stand then we must find ways and means of making it work, otherwise we shall probably continue to be in the same sort of mess as we were in under the previous Government. It is pleasing to note the flexibility of the Treasury in the recent Robe River deal.

The Labor Party’s pursuit of the ideal of Aus.tralian ownership without having a clue on how to achieve it is one of the principal reasons for our being in government now. The Labor Party’s ideal was a high-sounding one. It thought that the way to achieve Australian ownership was by expenditure of vast sums of government money, the forming of the National Investment Fund, the enlarging of the powers of the Australian Industry Development Corporation and the borrowing of some $8,000m for government resource development- putting Australia into permanent hock to shady pawnbrokers of the world. That program, which culminated in the Khemlani affair, marked the end of the previous Government, but unfortunately it does not seem to have marked the end yet of some of the attitudes that were present at that time. Regrettably, the AIDC, for instance, is still with us. Mr BjelkePetersen said on 19 March:

We could forget all about development projects for a long time to come. That applies to all States.

That is just an instance of the legacy that the previous Government has left us. It is a major tragedy. Even worse, there is every possibility that Australia will lose existing projects because the attitudes of mind which the previous Government had are still around. Some of the problem stems from the very high royalties companies must pay to States. Sometimes States burden the mining industry with costly and sometimes inefficient rail services. For instance the Francis Creek iron mine in the Northern Territory was forced to close largely because under the previous Government it was being charged $3.88 a ton for carting over a distance less than that over which the average Pilbara private enterprise miner operates at a cost of 50c a ton.

The outcome of all this is that capital, both Australian and foreign, is going elsewhere. In the last three or four years, it has been estimated, some $7,000m worth of projects have been lost to Australia. Most new projects are in the lonely outback, so almost half their capital cost is taken up providing infrastructure- ports, railways, towns, schools, hospitals and so on. In the past, in the Pilbara at least, this has been provided by foreign capital to the extent of some $230,000 for every man employed. Those days are over. Further capital is not forthcoming. Places like Mount Newman and Paraburdoo are operating at a loss. Certainly no State Government can provide infrastructure. No Commonwealth Government ever will, and no multinational will do so in future. I do not believe that the States will be able to carry the load, nor do I believe it would be good for them to put their States into huge debt at high interest rates to help to get the projects going. What then? I do not think that the AIDC can do it, because its money is too dear and its track record is not the best. The Japanese are certainly not enthusiastic about the AIDC. I have the feeling anyway that the AIDC is not really a free enterprise organisation.

I suggest that the Australian Government should introduce immediately a scheme to guarantee the respective State governments in new projects provided they in turn guarantee Australian participants in a joint venture that they will cover the provision of infrastructure; that is, if Australians own 50 per cent of a venture in which 50 per cent of the capital cost is involved in infrastructure- this is normal- then by means of government guarantee the Australians would be able to raise sufficient money to cover the cost of this infrastructure. This would mean that 50 per cent of the ownership of the project would remain in Australian hands. The Government of course should provide such a guarantee only for projects that have been proven economically viable by strict commercial standards. To put it into practical terms, and applying such a scheme to one of the giant Queensland coal projects at present in mothballs, it has been estimated for one such proposal that $ 1,000m capital is required, of which about half would probably be spent on infrastructure. To qualify for a government guarantee of that amount, firstly, the Australian interests would have to provide proof of a coal body and prove that say $10m had been spent on exploring and proving it. Secondly, they would have to have secured a long term take or pay sales contract so that the Government would have proof that the coal was saleable. Thirdly, they would have to give the Government an undertaking that the foreign element in the venture would put up its share of the capital. With all this done and a government guarantee, the 50 per cent Australian interest would have no trouble raising the capital it needs and in joint ventures with overseas interests providing the remainder, the project could move. The government would have ultimate security over the product proved in the ground as well as over the facilities that have been built with the money borrowed, as well as first call on the profitability of the venture; that is, ordinary commercial merchant banking procedures would be followed.

The next thing to be assured is the method of repayment. It is here that the State governments must co-operate as part of the total Commonwealth ideal. They should be willing to ease their royalty demands. High State royalties are sometimes a bone of contention in the mining industry. Years ago excessive demands closed down mining totally for 10 years in one American State. It was started again only by the government not only subsidising the industry but also forgoing royalties entirely. We hope that it will not come to this in Australia, for there is absolutely no need for it if everyone pulls together to ensure the reasonable profitability of mining.

It is from funds that in present circumstances would be earmarked for State royalties, together with any royalty that may be forthcoming to the Australian share of a joint venture financed in this way, along with the first call on profits from the Australian sector that reduction of the debt should be made until it is fully discharged. State and Commonwealth governments would gain from having an eminently profitable, booming mining venture generating income through reasonable taxation. Government would have a solution to some of today’s unemployment and the economy generally would benefit tremendously. Ultimately governments could become the owners of the enormous facilities built to get projects going. All this would be at no cost to the Australian taxpayers or the State governments because in forgoing future royalties they would be forgoing nothing in present cash. Minerals lying dormant in the ground are yielding nothing in tax, nothing in royalties, nothing in foreign exchange, and nothing in jobs for thousands of Australians. In fact, minerals lying dormant in the ground do nothing but constitute a grave defence threat to Australia. I congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), who is also the Minister for National Resources, for making this point clear so forcibly. The scheme I suggest need not enlarge one single government department. Does not that have an attraction in itself. It need never bog down in the bureaucracy or be killed by hidebound orthodoxy anywhere. The best way to implement it would be by Act of this Parliament- an act which laid down in the simplest form the commercial criteria needed for any Australian venturer to qualify for the guarantee.

Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.


-An abiding impression of the statement on foreign investment by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) is that like the curate’s egg it is good in parts. Imitation, of course, is the sincerest form of flattery and it is in keeping with the tradition of conservative governments that they generally adopt at least a proportion of the policies of the Labor administration which preceded them. In this case there is naturally some joy in heaven because of the repentant sinners who at least saw the error of their ways to the extent of indicating that there was a minimum standard of Australian ownership which they would seek to achieve with, of course, some appropriate loopholes. The statement is a glib one, it is an artificial one and it skates over the major issue. No group of men on a committee, with all due respect to them, should be allowed to deal with some of the major issues which will undoubtedly crop up in relation to Australian resources allocation, particularly energy resources. By that I mean that even before this Committee can function a good deal of legal work needs to be tidied up in relation to the impact of the High Court judgment on the Seas and Submerged Lands Act. As a matter of fact, the whole rickety structure of offshore oil and gas search, erected in 1967, which was criticised and attacked even by a former Liberal Prime Minister and a former Liberal Attorney-General, has collapsed as they and I and other Labor men since 1967 have persistently and repeatedly forecast.

Today on the North West Shelf there is an admitted 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. If one takes the valuation of that at 4c per thermthat was the price that the Woodside-Burmah organisation offered me to sell our own gas to us- that would be a matter of some $18 billion; that is, if one takes into account the 760 million barrels of condensate which are there and which are equal to imported crude oil parity. From the High Court judgment emerges the salient fact that off-shore there is precisely 100 per cent Australian ownership. The sovereignty battle has been resolved and therefore we do not need to talk in terms of a SO per cent partnership at all. When the Australian Labor Party took office we inherited a situation in which my predecessor in office, Sir Reginald Swartz, had written to the Woodside-Burmah interests expressing his concern at the continued diminution of the 17 per cent Australian equity which was then held in their company. He asked that the situation be corrected.

The only thing that we could properly do to serve Australia’s interests was to see that the matter of sovereignty was adjudicated on and precisely that we did. We did it despite the criticism, the blackguarding, the opprobrium, the viciousness and the demonology that was gradually erected about our alleged malevolence and misguided approach. The hard fact is that we won and the even harder fact is- I am glad that the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) is here- that it is up to the Government to clean up the mess which we forecast, which exists and which it has inherited. Today the Burmah-Woodside companyat least the Burmah sector of it- is a lame duck company. I give it due credit for what it has discovered but so it should have done. I give it due credit for the money it has spend but the question is now: How does this Government, without getting into partnership, propose to develop what it, in fact, owns and ought to be developing on behalf of the Australian people?

An issue of this type is one for consideration by the Parliament, not one to be handed to the members of the proposed investment committee however worthy they may be. National assets of this scale are not to be handed over for adjudication on and allocation by even the most worthy representatives of private business or the bureaucracy. It is to be noted very clearly also the delay in the delivery of the High Court judgment. Quite miraculously it came to light 10 day s after the election. Had it been delivered earlier it would undoubtedly have been a major issue but even allowing for the lateness of its delivery- I quote from what Barwick, C.J., said- the point is this:

Once low water mark is passed the international domain is reached.

The boundaries of the Australian sovereign States end at low water mark. They do not even extend out 3 miles beyond to the limits of the territorial sea. The power to legislate is a sovereign one, conferred by the Constitution, and is based on the external powers given in the relevant placitum of section 5 1 of the Constitution. From that, other things automatically flow. It means that the mirror legislation passed by the respective States as a counterpart to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act is in conflict with the Commonwealth legislation and therefore under section 109 is inconsistent and invalid. In other words, titles will need to be given by the Commonwealth in its own right and directly, and whether those titles are merely for further exploration or for development it is not only the Commonwealth ‘s responsibility by also its prerogative and more than that it is a duty that it cannot delegate to the respective States.

I remind the House that the then Opposition, which is now the Government, held up legislation which the former Labor Government introduced which would have been effectuated by referendum and which would have given the Commonwealth power to delegate some of its powers to the respective States. The Government is hoist with its own petard. It is the victim of its own obstinacy and its own cussedness. The High Court held that the Seas and Submerged Lands Act was valid despite section 16(b). From that it follows also that under the terms of section 140 of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act that did not remedy the situation and again it is a matter of Commonwealth sovereignty and Commonwealth sovereignty alone.

I should like to hear from the AttorneyGeneral. I asked his colleague, the Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony) whether he would table the advisings that he had received from the Attorney-General and from any other officer, presumbly the Solicitor-General, on this matter and the implications of the High Court decision. The people of Australia are entitled to know. The Minister can go further than that. He can also table the advising that I received from Mr Byers, the Solicitor-General, in January of last year with respect to the status of the various State Ministers for Mines as designated authorities. I also remind the House of the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee of Off-shore Petroleum Resources and in particular of the paper delivered by Professor Richardson, the respected Professor of Law at the Australian National University, in which he pointed out that the constitution of the respective State Ministers for Mines was a derogation of the authority of the Commonwealth Minister and as such in breach of the Constitution.

We have come to a point where maverick States can no longer be allowed to usurp, and if necessary to abuse, the sovereign functions of the National Parliament. I would be the last man in this House to deny the right, for example, of Western Australia to the development of natural gas for its own purposes. But, having said that, we come to the further situation where the Government now finds itself in a quandary as to how it can comply with the request of the Western Australian Government to allow the present situation to continue. It cannot do so. It should not do so. I suggest that we should have had produced the file of correspondence throughout the period of the High Court hearing between myself and Mr Mensaros the Minister for Mines of Western Australia, in which I repeatedly pointed out to him that State’s lack of sovereign powers, the inadequacy of the conditions in respect of which the State granted exploration permits or production rights and the inadequacy of the expenditures that were sought from the companies concerned. I also suggested to the Minister that there were sufficient powers within the terms of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act for the State to stall for a little while applications for renewal of exploration permits. The State refused to do so. It wanted to muddle up the position as much as it possibly could.

Further results flow from the High Court decisions, and I refer in this respect to the rights of the on-shore States to legislate in respect of what is called peace, order and good government. In the absence of Commonwealth legislation there may be some case for State laws in respect of criminal jurisdiction, fisheries, workers compensation and civil contracts to continue. But this is a matter for negotiation. As an Opposition we do not want to see a repetition of an attempt by some means to subvert and to avoid the clear-cut terms of this judgment. That is precisely what was implicit in the answer that was given today by Mr Anthony to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam). The Government somehow wants to get around the situation and to give the respective States the rights to continue to operate off-shore and to give title. The States are not in a position to give title. They are not in a position to give permits. The most they could do- and this can be done only by ad hoc committees without any constitutional basis- would be to delegate the day to day powers of operation in respect of off-shore exploration and production. There is no inherent power remaining in the respective States in respect of the right to decide the areas, the terms under which those areas are to be held and the period for which they are to be held.

I do not want to see development held up. But here we would be dealing with assets that could be comparable only to those in respect of uranium in the Northern Territory. They are formidable assets. They need to be correctly handled. In the interests of the shareholders of the respective off-shore mining companies the position will need to be clarified. I challenge the Attorney-General to state clearly the extent to which he claims validity for any of the titles that are being granted in respect of off-shore operations. I would not for one minute suggest in respect of Bass Strait, where there is competent development, that the companies should not be granted their full renewal of rights. But wholly excessive areas have been given in respect of the North- West Shelf. These areas have been far in excess of what is off-shore exploration practice in other parts of the world. They have been given on giveaway conditions. This is a matter of national importance. It is a matter that demands immediate decision and the fullest frankness on the part of the Government. We are entitled to debate it fully in this House.


-The question of foreign investment is one over which debate has raged for many years and one which has often been the subject of very emotionally charged arguments. I believe that the present Government has come closer than ever before to presenting a set of guidelines for overseas investment which are basically unemotional and which reflect the requirements and aspirations of the Australian people and the Australian economy. Still, I cannot in all honesty remain uncritically silent about them.

The benefits of overseas capital are many and this seems to be now well recognised by all who bring serious consideration to the question. Clearly overseas investment has a vitally important role to play in the development of the Australian economy and perhaps more so now than ever before for in these times of inflation and high unemployment increased productivity and the development of new areas of production are very vital weapons in our fight against economic problems. Overseas capital brings with it new technology and managerial skills. It establishes new foreign markets. It generally enhances competitiveness and efficiency within our economy. Perhaps most important of all in a country like Australia it can provide large amounts of risk capital so essential to the future development of the Australian economy and so often lacking from within our own borders.

We must all recognise that we can no longer remain economic nationalists. We are very much a part of the international economic scene and the living standards we enjoy in this country would most certainly not be possible without the benefits which foreign investment has brought in the past and will, I hope, continue to bring in the future. Unfortunately over the past 3 years of Labor rule these important benefits have not always been available to us as a nation. During this period there has been a drastic fall in the level of capital inflow into Australia. This was pointed out by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) in his statement of I April. It cannot be disputed that this fall was due very largely to the vacillating and the uncertainty created in the minds of foreign investors by the confused policy of the previous Labor administration. I commend the present Government for recognising the need for firm guidelines, thereby providing a frame of reference within which potential investors can make firm decisions.

I wish to take the analysis of the previous Administration’s policy one step further to point out that this confusion and uncertainty came about largely because the Labor Government gave too much weight to the supposed costs of a high level of foreign capital investment in Australia. It concerned itself primarily with the question of how much Australian ownership and control was appropriate rather than with the question of what Australia had to gain in the longer term. It is because I fear that this same mistake could be made again in some areas of the new guidelines that I have risen to speak tonight. The areas to which I am referring are the mining industry and the development of our vast national resources which are so important to the economic future of Australia and to its people.

The requirement of a 50 per cent Australian equity in any foreign capital funded mining project- 75 per cent in the case of uranium- continues to reflect this preoccupation with and over-emphasis on the question of Australian control and ownership. They represent a preoccupation with giving too much weight to the cost to Australia argument and not enough weight to the benefits to be gained argument which, after all, is surely the essential one. They represent a continued hangover from the days when an overobsession with nationalism, a fervent desire for ever-increased independence at any cost and a vague distrust of multinationals and foreign capital were allowed to cloud our thinking, almost to the point of over-saturation. Surely it is time we were able to adopt a more realistic and mature approach and to relegate such considerations to their proper place.

Mineral and energy resources are too vital a commodity in these times for the rest of the world to stand idly by waiting while Australia waffles and tries to decide what is in its best interests. It has been clearly demonstrated over the past decade that we cannot expect to enjoy that sort of luxury. After all, we are not the only nation with resources to exploit. Take the petroleum industry. When debate on foreign investment first began the world had not been confronted with an energy crisis. Australia seemed to hold an enormous promise, with vast resources of oil supposedly still untapped. Many of our resources remain in the ground still waiting to be tapped while the degree of our selfsufficiency in oil is dropping at the rate of 5 per cent per annum. This year we will import 35 per cent of our requirements simply because the previous Government’s policy succeeded in frightening exploration away from our shores.

I am afraid there is a grave danger that the new equity requirements could in some respects perpetuate this situation. Mining industry leaders unanimously claim that these requirements will do just that. They point out that never in the past, even in the days of the mineral boom, have Australian investors been able to come up with anything like 50 per cent of the kind of money needed to finance mineral exploration, let alone exporation and development. No one in his right mind would deny that Australian investors should be given the opportunity to invest in any new project, up to and above the level set by the government of the day, but their failure to do so should not preclude overseas capital from financing such ventures which are so vitally needed in the Australian national interest.

No matter what the extent of our natural resources, it is no use priding ourselves on them if they are to stay in the ground. This is what we have been doing, I am sad to say, in the recent past. We have seen the rest of the world taken to the cleaners, to use a well known phrase, over the past decade by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. I agree with Mr D. J. McGarry Chairman of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, that the type of independence about which we should be thinking is independence from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. That is the kind of overseas domination about which we should be worried. I am convinced that the proper course that Australia should take is to welcome foreign investment, particularly for oil and mineral exploration which, we should not forget, is undertaken at great risk and in which, in the past, Australian investors have shown a marked unwillingness to participate on any large scale.

Adequate controls on overseas investment and capital exist already in the hands of government. The Government has the power to decide which areas may be developed and the priorities. It has the power to decide what it will take in royalties and taxes. It can by legal means make provision to discontinue a project if it so wishes. There are more ways to kill a cat than by scalping it. There are many and more subtle ways to control overseas investment than to frighten it away by harsh and restrictive controls. Added employment of Australian citizens, particularly during the present unemployment crisis, the royalties and taxes extracted, together with the foreign exchange generated by exports, are all benefits to Australia and far exceed the profits enjoyed by foreign investors, no matter what is the amount of their equity. It is Australia which, and the Australian people who, in the long run come out as the winner. Surely we must do all in our power to encourage such investment when it is we, as Australians, who will reap the ultimate benefits.


-The statement of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on foreign investment is, in my opinion, a very good one because it is almost exactly the same as the one which we made in September last year. The only significant qualification concerns foreign investment in the field of uranium. We established a condition that there had to be 100 per cent Australian investment. The Government of the moment has proposed that the Australian equity be a minimum of 75 per cent. I believe that the requirement of the Australian Labor Party Government of 100 per cent equity in the development of uranium is a reasonable one, given the crucial nature of uranium as an ingredient in the development of probably the most devastating weapon of destruction that the world has ever known and conceivably will ever know.

Let me pass on to the matter before us- the statement of the Treasurer on foreign investment. The Government has effectively picked up our best coat and is seeking to present it to the Australian electorate as original thinking. I find it rather surprising that skilled, experienced journalists should have reported it, in many cases, in that light when it was released. I invite them, I invite the House, I invite the public to compare the statement of the Treasurer with the statement of the Prime Minister of the previous Government and to note the happy accord between the 2 statements. What seems to have escaped the attention of many commentators in the community is the important achievement that there now appears to have been established a bipartisan policy on foreign investment. Might I say that it is a more enlightened one than any we have had previously. I had hoped there would have been more enlightened debate on this issue and fewer attempts at trying to manufacture points for cheap political scoring in the course of this debate.

Having said that, I must now attempt very quickly to score a couple of cheap points at the expense of the Government. I observe that when in Opposition the present Government deplored our statement of guidelines on foreign investment announced in September last year. Honourable members opposite now seek virtually to enshrine that statement as a Government achievement. I think it would better serve the community and rational consideration of the important topic of foreign investment in this Parliament if it were acknowledged that there is so little difference between the 2 statements that at last we have reached a bipartisan approach to foreign investment. One of the impediments to rational discussion of this topic in the past was that it was burdened with so many shibboleths. There was too much focus on the extremes. It seemed to me that from one side of the Parliament there was too often an uncritical supineness when the subject of foreign investment was raised and from the other side of the Parliament there was too often a rather brittle approach based on near enough to a total prohibition of foreign investment coming into the country.

Our guidelines announced last year- these guidelines very largely- are a flexible response on the one hand to the reasonable national aspirations of the people of this country, of investors and of developers, and on the other hand to the needs of development of this nation. There is no need for any AustraIian to feel embarrassment that we should have some sense of national aspiration when it comes to the development of our natural resources and our industrial development. Those of us who are familiar with attitudes in the United States of America realise that that great country, which by and large is a strong proponent of freer trade in the world and freer movement of equity capital, in certain periods of pressure can exhibit as much nationalism as any of the other advanced countries of the world.

The guidelines which the previous Government established, which are fairly faithfully replicated in the statement of the Treasurer, will allow development or our resources to proceed without undue delay. In both cases- this is contrary to some of the observations made by Goverment supporters- while a requirement was stressed of a minimum of SO per cent Australian equity in mineral development, with the exception of uranium which I have mentioned, it was also stated that development would not be delayed unduly because problems might arise in relation to the aggregation of sufficient Australian capital to allow Australian investors to participate in a particular development project. I will come back to that point in a few minutes; but I want to move on to the general principles of foreign investment.

I think it is becoming a cliche- nonetheless, it is just as true for that- to acknowledge that there are great benefits from foreign investment for a country like Australia. I can accept the proposition, as least theoretically, that this country can do without foreign investment, but the people who assert that proposition altogether seem to fail to recognise the costs, the difficulties and the unhappiness which would arise if we tried to achieve our development at the rate we have seen in the past without foreign investment. Let me use the example of 1971-72, the last period of the Liberal-Country Party government before this Government came to office. In that year there was $652m of new capital inflow to private companies; that is excluding investment from retained profits or portfolio investment. That represents about 2 per cent of the gross domestic product. It represents about 1 3 per cent of gross company profits. The last statistic is probably the more dramatic because it is an indication of the sort of strain Australian business would have to bear if it were expected that business should provide that sort of investment from its own resources.

What it would mean if we had to do without foreign investment is that there would be fewer consumer goods for consumers to enjoy. They would have to delay replacing their motor cars, defer purchasing new refrigerators or perhaps not have holidays as frequently as they have in the past. For business there would be lower profit distributions. There would be higher investment rates for debenture raisings because there would be suffer competition for the limited amount of loan finance available in the economy. That in turn would present its problems because the higher interest rates would flow through the economy and force up costs of loan money in a number of other fields in the economy- for instance, domestic housing.

On the other hand, it is not without its costs. Not the least of the costs are the service debts which have to be paid out to investors year by year. Again from my reading of the statistical data which is available, I think that too much has been made of this point by some spokesmen from time to time. It seems to me that that sort of service debt, to this point anyway, is quite manageable and it is more than offset by the benefits that we have been able to achieve for this country and for people in this country. Certainly it would seem to me that without foreign investment our growth rate would have been considerably lower even if we had struggled to try to increase the rate of investment which was raised from domestic sources. I realise that there seems to be some sort of conventional wisdom opposed to economic growth in industrialised societies. I frankly think that that proposition will not stand up to critical scrutiny. One can have economic growth and at the same time within reasonable bounds preserve the environment, broadly denned, in which one lives. Too often this sort of argument in opposition to economic growth is made by particularly articulate and welleducated people who have had reasonably abundant benefit from the advantages our society has been able to provide because economic growth has taken place. I refer to better education, the mobility of a motor car and a more satisfying experience in life, usually in a middle class situation.

If we are not going to have economic growth there is a fundamental challenge before those people, namely, are they prepared to tolerate a situation in which there is still a very large proportion of our community who are nowhere near as well off as they are and who want to be and should be able to have a reasonable expectation of being as well off? Are they prepared to bear with the redistribution which meeting those reasonable expectations would involve? In real terms, would they accept a lowering of their living standards? I leave it to the imagination of honourable members to provide the answer to that question.

Apparently there are some costs that can arise from the control of industry, and through that from the fact that some significant influence can be exercised on the economy through the sort of aggregation of economic clout which some investment can create. But I tend to think that there has been some distortion of this proposition too. First of all, I believe that in this country, with its vast area and very small population of 13 million people, we have to recognise that we have great difficulty in maximising efficiency and productive output, that is, the greatest return for a given level of investment, or containing costs at reasonable levels so that people can maximise their living standards as consumers and so that we can maximise our competitiveness as an international trader in goods. I repeat that there are problems, in a country with the space that we have and with the sparse population that we have, in trying to achieve economies of scale. I believe that there is a compelling case for restructuring Australian industry, a case which is impeded too often by special and selfishly based interest groups. Unless we can achieve that restructuring and maximise our efficiency we will increasingly suffer economic disadvantage in trying to maintain our competitiveness in international trade and to maintain our living standards comparatively to what is available in the advanced countries of the world. Accordingly, we need some concentration of economic power in certain sections of the economy.

Where it is possible to provide competition through imports, that ought to be done. Where that is not possible- perhaps in some service industry areas- it seems to me that effective antitrust legislation is what is required. But it is trying to live in the past, it is being unreal and it is not doing a service to the community to suggest that we can proceed with some sort of cottage industry approach, preserving every small producer who functions in the economy. I am not suggesting that there is not room for small producers, but they should maintain their positions on the basis of competition and efficiency and should not expect to be propped up at the expense of consumers and taxpayers to the disadvantage of the Australian economy.

There is one point which I shall not have enough time to develop fully but to which I feel I must refer and that is the Treasurer’s reference in his statement as a throw away, a cheap point scoring observation, to foreign investment as a proportion of total capital investment in Australia. He rightly pointed out that it was nearly 3 per cent in the last few years- in fact it was nearly 4 per cent but it is hardly worth quibbling over that one percentage difference- as against, he said, about 10 per cent in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is not quite correct there. The figures I took out during the dinner break indicate a much higher dependence on foreign investment as a proportion of total investment than he suggested. For instance, in 1971-72 it was 15 per cent and in 1970-71 it was 18 per cent.

The fact is that foreign investment was cut back rather consciously because of the difficult economic circumstances we had to handle when we became a government. Revaluations were necessary. The imposition of variable deposit rates was necessary to brake the rate of capital inflow because our exchange rate was unconscionably out of any realistic alignment and our resources were being sold out too easily. I repeat that we came into office at a time of the most serious world trade slump that has been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, epitomised inter alia by a collapse in the price of many basic minerals. While we had firm contracts the fact is that a collapse in the price and the general slackness in the international economy discouraged foreign investors from taking up investment opportunities in various countries.

The situation now is that the Government has the challenge before it- a fairly difficult challenge. Perhaps a Utile rational restraint in this sort of debate would allow one to express some sympathy with the Government at this difficult moment. Unless we can contain costs when the rest of the world is recovering from the economic slump I am afraid that our competitiveness will be such that we will not attract as much investment as we ought to attract.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-It is always interesting to follow Queensland’s only Labor representative, particularly after he has been engaged, with some skill, in a ‘cheap point scoring’ proposition. I am quoting him. At least one can say that under the inflation of his Government cheap political points became certainly cheaper as time went by because the value of money with which they were purchased appeared to be going down with remarkable speed. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) said that he thought the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) delivered a very good foreign investment statement because it is like that of the Labor Government. I was wondering what it was that made me uneasy about sections of this foreign investment statement. I am grateful to the honourable member for Oxley for having pointed out to me that it is because of those parts which could well be held to be not immensely dissimilar from the policy of the previous Government. It is similar for example, in the sense that a slow moving bureaucracy will examine commercial propositions with the same sense of urgency as bureaucracies have displayed in examining commercial activities and mergers and so on in recent times. This slow moving factor is a very serious one. It has forced Australian companies that may well have survived in partnership as a result of merger or acquisition in fact to go to the wall because mergers and acquisitions have either not been agreed to or have not been agreed to in time.

I must say that I have a residual twitch about the excessive bureaucratic intervention in various parts of proper commercial activity. Having said that, I must stress that it is vital that in Australia ‘s best interests there should be supervision of foreign investment in Australia. But I want to stress that I see this statement by the Treasurer as perhaps more of the skeleton of a policy than the flesh and blood of the policy. I look to the Foreign Investment Review Board to provide that body. I say that because the outlines within which the Foreign Investment Review Board is to advise appear to me to be the real guts of foreign investment. The debate on this matter on this occasion and on previous occasions has revolved around an emotional nonsense about what foreign investment is all about. The realities of foreign investement have been totally avoided, I presume, because the gentlemen on the other side of the chamber basically have not understood what they are all about, but secondly, I believe because the concepts are perhaps difficult to grasp.

Let us recognise that the Foreign Investment Review Board will in effect determine the guts of the policy. It will look at inter-company pricing and profit arrangements, royalty and licensing arrangements, availability of technology, patents, etc, export franchise arrangements and the extent and nature of parent control of Australian operations. While everyone has been fussing about equity control, shareholdings and foreign proportions the facts are that many foreign corporations in Australia have been taking far more out in licensing fees, patent fees and management fees than they have ever taken out in dividends. Yet we have this obsessive involvement with the farce, the fiction of proportionate ownership. The companies could have a $2 paid capital and borrow all the money in Australia .and they could have differential interest rates and do what they like. There is nothing in this statement nor in the existing legislation to prevent it.

To a large degree all of the legislation in this area, and particularly the nonsense that came from opposite, had an element of window dressing and political catch cry about it. Let us get to the guts of the issue. Let us look at what in fact would be the best way to control this sort of thing. I have generally taken the view that the best method of control is simply to reveal. If everything is forced to be revealed honestly and truthfully public opinion is the great controller. When we had huge dividends going to overseas and large foreign investments in real estate there was an emotional response locally. There was then pressure on politicians and as a result we got this kind of nonsense. But the public has not seen what are the licence fees, patent fees and management fees. I am putting to the House that it would be a good idea if we started to deal with what really matters- how much money is flowing out from this nation in payment for things that perhaps are overpriced by multinationals; perhaps, but we do not know because we do not see the figures. We get fixated about dividends.

I have a lot of reservations about this policynot, as I said, what it says. It is the framework, the bones, the skeleton of the policy. The reality is that the Foreign Investment Review Board will have to do the essential key job of determining what in fact will be the real rules about investment in Australia. So an independent board will create our policy out of a mass of uncertainty. We cannot go round the world, and have not been able for many years to do so, and say: ‘This is Australia’s policy on foreign investment’, because whenever one has a board, a bureaucratic structure making decisions, creating the law in effect, one has uncertainty. When one has uncertainty one has a disastrous investment scene. I am suggesting that it is about time that both sides of this House recognised that we should face up to the realities of the problem of foreign investment instead of dealing with the shadows of it.

I have been intrigued by the manner in which we- all of us- respond emotionally to the question of profits in real estate. For heaven’s sake, what policy impact does the ownership by foreigners of an office block have on Australia? It intrigues me to see Australians jumping up and down complaining about foreigners making profits out of office blocks when they apparently do not care so much about foreigners making major investments in major Australian resources. Surely it is in the areas where policy decisions matter, where policy decisions count and wherepolicy decisions have an impact on our future that we should be expressing concern, rather than having this emotional response to the fact that some foreigners have made a quid out of trading in bits of land. Let us impose a differential tax on them, then. There are many things we can do. But to respond in what I believe to be an emotional way about real estate simply because there was a boom, and to say that if foreigners made money out of that boom they must be naughty, I find to be a curious approach to government.

I am much more interested in seeing in this statement- I presume it will emerge from the establishment of the Foreign Investment Review Board- something about, for example, the pricing policies of multinational corporations owning Australian resources. What is there in this statement, for example, to prevent a multinational corporation wanting to do so from selling its product to its parent at a phoney low price? Sure, the Commissioner of Taxation can take a view on that and has done so. It has been going on in the meat industry for years. But does that disadvantage Australia in foreign exchange terms? Should we be looking at areas of control of that kind? Should we have a differential tax structure to encourage multinational corporations to go into partnership with us rather than set rules the meaning of which is still to be determined to a large degree by the Board? I have referred to the matters of pricing policies, licence and patent fees and gearing differential tax structures, and on gaining- which, much to my disappointment, is not dealt with in this statement to any degree. It says: ‘ We will not worry about that at this stage’. I hope we will worry about it. I hope that this Parliament worries about this subject and I hope that it worries about it in the future with more depth than I believe it has given to it in recent years.


-Much has been said in this debate which shows the broad and complex nature of the foreign investment policy. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume) and others have touched on many issues which have shown us that it is impossible to cover the subject in the 10 minutes which have been allotted to us, but in the 10 minutes I have I wish to touch on some of the matters which will have to be dealt with by the Foreign Investment Review Board when it commences its work.

First, the 50 per cent rule will prove very difficult in practice unless the Board can assist in formulating a public education program that encourages small investors to invest in the exploration and development projects to which the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) has referred. It is a fact of life that Australians have been short term thinking regarding high risk, long term projects. The Australian capital market may, as the Treasurer has said, be continuously improving its capacity to invest in such ventures, but it has a long way to go. The Board may well make recommendations of its own regarding its own place in the educational program which will be necessary. In doing this it will be aided by the obligation imposed upon it by the Treasurer to have foreign exploration companies advising it annually of the details of their forward exploration.programs.

Secondly, while the Treasurer’s statement and its attachment set out the criteria for the examination of foreign investment proposals, foreign investors still have the problem of ascertaining the weight, the interpretations and the value judgments which the Board may give and make when applying those criteria. The honourable member for Macarthur has touched on many of the difficulties involved in that respect. Those criteria are set out in the attachment at page 1290 of Hansard of 1 April. They are a detailed and comprehensive response by the Treasurer to sentiments which seem to be widely held in the community. The price which the community may well have to pay for those sentiments, for the evaluation of the foreign investment proposals, may be a slower rate of national economic growth and therefore a slower rate of improvement in individual living standards, especially material standards. In the case by case study which the Board will have to do it will need to develop a coherent and reasonably predictable set of rules for the application of these criteria. Uncertainty or undue delay could well drive potential investors away from Australia.

This system of precedence leads to another question, that is, the extent to which the deliberations of the Board should be made public. The case of takeovers is a controversial one. One would say that in that case it should not be. There has been a great deal of criticism of the Foreign Takeovers Committee for virtually offering an offeree company to competitors of the offeror. Even the public announcement of the fact that the takeover is being investigated by the Committee has had this effect. But in the case of new ventures some public record of the findings of the administration of the criteria would no doubt have a great deal of positive impact on potential investors. They then might view investment in Australia more favourably, whereas an uncertain situation stemming from secrecy could only deter such investors. The final duty which is imposed upon the Board at page 1287 of Hansard is certainly very pertinent.

Thirdly, the statement shows clearly that there is much more to the question of control than equity. The application of Australian laws in matters such as those set out in the criteria is allimportant in relation to control. In addition, it is also important that foreign companies be obliged to provide information similar to that required regularly from public companies by stock exchanges. There is no doubt that listing requirements do lead companies to make greater disclosures than those made by non-listed companies. I believe that there are many reasons why the Government should encourage the idea of listing foreign companies on our stock exchanges. The mere fact that such companies would make disclosures would be reported in the local media. That would remove much of the possibility of their acting contrary to Australia’s national interests, that is, contrary to the criteria set out in the Treasurer’s statement. It is the fears by Australians that somehow foreign companies not making that disclosure will act contrary to Australia’s national interests that underlie the setting of the criteria. Foreign companies would, if they were listed on our stock exchanges, be obliged to report to the exchanges on the acquisition and disposal of their major assets. They would be obliged to indicate their dividend policies and to explain their performances for the year. A foreign company listed locally would then find it harder to stand a loss in Australia in order to make profits elsewhere. That is another fear underlying some of the emotion in the foreign investment debate in recent years. This comment has been made by the Jackson Committee in volume 1 of its report at page 198 and by Mr Valder, the Chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange, as reported in the Australian Financial Review of 5 April.

Before closing I would like to make a few other brief references. First, there is and there will remain the problem of the definition of a foreign company. This is one of the matters which I am sure the honourable member for Macarthur had in mind when he expressed uncertainty about the ministerial statement. There is a problem in Australia with Australian companies which regard themselves as really being Australian companies but which because they or a subsidiary have some foreign equity holding are classified here as foreign companies. They are Australian managed and in many respects they meet the criteria set out in the Treasurer’s statements; yet they are classified as foreign companies. When they go abroad, whether it be to New Zealand or any of our other neighbours, and become multi-national companies they are still classified as foreign companies. This makes it very difficult. It is not just irksome; it can be and has been an inhibition to investment in Australia by overseas companies coming into a minor partnership situation with wholly or what have been previously wholly Australian companies.

Secondly, there may well need to be provision for appeal from or at least some review of the proceedings and decisions of the Review Board. This is something which will have to be given consideration by the Treasurer and by the Board itself. Thirdly, the procedures of the Board, the procedures themselves and the legislation when it comes to this House should stress the need for expeditious decision making by the Board. As I have said before, any slow decisions would have an adverse impact on investment. Fourthly, there ought to be a greater use of foreign loan funds to supplement equity brought from overseas. This would supplement not only equity but also portfolio investment. This greater use of foreign or overseas loan funds would support the aim of the Government in increasing Australian control because it would boost our scarcest commodity which, of course, is capital. This question of overseas loan funds is of great importance when it comes to the expansion of existing companies in Australia.

There is of course a limit to such borrowings. There is a limit for reasons which are related to our balance of payments situation as well as to the financial structure of the companies themselves but borrowings should be encouraged in the future. My 10 minutes have expired. Time limits always make debates on complex matters unsatisfactory, but with these, I hope, constructive comments I do genuinely support the thoughtful statement of the Treasurer.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1618


The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:

Financial Agreement Bill 1976. National Debt Sinking Fund Amendment Bill 1976.

page 1618


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 25 March on motion by Mr Ellicott

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Smith · Kingsford

– This is a Bill small in content; nevertheless it is very important in the sense that it will affect most pieces of legislation that have already gone through this Parliament and it will certainly affect the Bills that will be introduced in the future and become Acts of this Parliament. To the extent that this Bill is small in content, it probably reduces some of the weight that should be given to its importance. The Opposition welcomes the Bill. It does not oppose it. I want to say in the course of discussing the content of the Bill that first of all we appreciate the work of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. One who has had the experience of being in government recognises the tremendous effort that has to go into bringing into legal terms by way of a Bill the thoughts and the policies of a government.

It is worth while placing on record our appreciation of the dedication of Mr Comans and his staff in this field. I think it is somewhat to be regretted that in the past we have never given adequate remuneration to this position. In fact, adequate remuneration has often been a promise but not brought into fruition because of political intervention and the disallowance of salaries provisions. I trust that in future in amendments to remuneration legislation we remove the disallowance provision. Not only would that be of some benefit to the Parliament but it would also assist people such as the Parliamentary Counsel who for a period of years have been working in a situation in which they were getting less than the people working for them, and that is not justice by any stretch of imagination.

There has been much improvement in recent years in the modernisation of the form of Commonwealth Acts and this piece of legislation goes a long way towards achieving that aim. I am reminded that in recent years we have done a number of things that might appear to be somewhat insignificant but are very important. The changes include the use of figures instead of words in expressing numbers, dates and references to other sections of Acts and the omission of the expressions ‘of this Act’ and ‘of this section’. It might seem somewhat pointless to talk about those matters, but the changes had to be made. Another change was the use of abbreviated cross-references by referring to a numeral in a paragraph and also the inclusion of a table of provisions at the beginning of lengthy Bills which I think most members would welcome as being of some advantage. It is thought that there should be some more explanatory memoranda available to members of Parliament. I know that this is a difficulty. I think it could be done not in the strictest form but by way of a roneoed sheet.

In the New South Wales State Legislature every Bill has in it the first sheet which is an explanatory memorandum and it sets out in ordinary layman’s language what the particular section intends to mean. I think that is of great help in the course of debates. I know that the legislation committees of a government have available explanatory memoranda. I think that without giving away the secrets of government some of that information could be made available. For example, the next matter for discussion on the notice paper is the Trade Practices Amendment Bill which has an explanatory memorandum. I think that is advantageous but there are other pieces of legislation in respect of which this information does not seem to be available.

This Bill deals with technical matters in that it is simplifying the method of the present system as has been properly explained by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Ellicott) in introducing the Bill. We are virtually doing away with a double year citation. In other words, if an Act such as the

Customs Act to which he referred was introduced in 1901 and amended over a period of years no longer will it be necessary to refer to it in the amending years position. It will be deemed to be adequate to refer to it as the Customs Act 1901. I am reminded that there are some very clear examples of the inconvenience that can be found. For example, the Postal and Telecommunications Commissions (Transitional Provisions) Act 1975, made consequential amendments of a minor kind to no less than 14 other Acts. In accordance with the existing system it gave new citations to all those 14 other Acts. The Customs Act 1901-1974 was amended by omitting the words ‘through the Post Office’ and inserting the words ‘by post’. Because of this amendment the Postal and Telecommunications Commission (Transitional Provisions) Act gave the Customs Act a new citation. It became the Customs Act 1901-1975. The existence of that amendment could be very easily overlooked.

Another matter which I must confess I did not address my mind to until it was explained to me is what is deemed to be the method of textual amendment. This is provided for in clause 5 of the Bill. I notice this has been the subject of some consideration in England by the Renton Committee. I have taken the opportunity of looking at what this Committee has been endeavouring to do in England. It has been talking about how it can improve the introduction of legislation, particularly in the drafting stage. There has been much discussion in the United Kingdom on the question of whether it should continue with the non-textual amendment or the textual amendment. Those who are involved still appear to be wavering between the 2 alternatives.

I think it is a much more streamlined fashion and a much more intelligent operation to have a textual amendment whereby the amendment being introduced becomes part and parcel of the Bill. Thereby one would not have the problem of having to look at every Act with all its amendments to work out what is the present position and then hope that at some stage the Government might get around to a consolidation to bring the Act up to date. I notice that in relation to the problems in the United Kingdom there are real difficulties. The Renton Committee had this to say:

The value of textual amendment to the user of the statutes in helping him to a clearer understanding of the law depends, as we have already said, on the availability of good editions which will accurately reflect the changes being brought about. This in turn depends on the state of the statute law being amended. There is less scope for textual amendment if the draftsman is operating on a code which is in need of consolidation; and thus in the case of certain amendments it would not at present be possible to use the textual method because the amendments would need to be written into texts which are unconsolidated.

The report continued:

Over the past 25 years the average number of pages of consolidation Acts passed in one year has been 400, and this has probably not kept pace with the rate at which legislation is being amended. First Parliamentary Counsel - this is in the United Kingdom- estimates that in the whole Statute Book there may be not less than 8000 pages of legislation needing to be consolidated.

The Committee states that this is a task which could well take another 20 years just to bring the position up to date. I think that the conclusion of the Renton Committee so far as it relates to this particular section is in favour of what is being done here and has been done here for some time. Over the past few years there has been a change of emphasis in the method of drafting Bills to amend existing legislation. Before that change of emphasis, the commonest method of amending an Act was to state in the amending Bill the substance of the amendment proposed to be made without altering the text of the Act to be amended. Since that change, it has been the practice to amend legislation textually whenever convenience permits. The Opposition welcomes the new practice and recommends that it be applied as generously as possible. To that extent Australia is ahead of the situation that it is hoped can be applied generously in the United Kingdom.

In the course of discussions relating to the possibility of confusion and misunderstandings, my attention has been drawn to the High Court case of Johnston v. Egg Marketing Board of New South Wales, reported in 112 Commonwealth Law Reports at page 343. Mr Justice Taylor referred at page 347 to the fact that what was thought was going to be applied, particularly in the Australian Capita! Territory, did not happen. Reference was made to the Seat of Government (Administration) Act which contained a provision that the Australian Industries Preservation Act would apply to the Territories, with certain words omitted. The Act that it was intended to apply was the 1906-09 Act and the day proclaimed for the Act to commence to operate was 1 January 1911. However, there was an alteration to the Australian Industries Preservation Act in 1910, when certain other words were deleted. The net result was that, although the intention was that the 1 909 Act should apply, in fact the 1910 Act applied with as Mr Justice Taylor said, a curious legislative muddle.

Because of the type of legislation now being introduced, that situation will be avoided. No longer will it be necessary to refer to the year of the amendment. Reference will be made to the Act with the one year and amendments will be noted in a schedule or footnote indicating that the Act itself has been amended. Apparently a number of problems have arisen in recent years when it has been shown clearly that Acts have been amended more than once in the same year. In some of the notes to which I have been referred it has been stated that the main advantage of the new practice is that it is simple and not misleading. Any reference to the Customs Act 1901 will be taken as referring to that Act as amended from time to time, unless the contrary intention appears. There will be a switch in practice. Whereas the double year citation was the norm, it will become the exception. If it is intended in future to refer to legislation not as amended from time to time but as in force at a particular date or as amended up to a particular amending Act, it will be necessary to state that explicitly.

I wish to refer to some of the problems that have occurred. The broadcasting and television legislation provides for the granting of licences which run for many years. A particular licence will state that it is issued under the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1973. If that legislation is amended in 1976 the draftsman will conscientiously update references to the earlier legislation, particularly if the 1976 amendment changes policy in relation to licences. Some new advantage may be intended to be conferred on all licensees by the 1976 amendment, but if the advantage is conferred in respect of licences granted under the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1976 the advantage will not be conferred on the particular licensee in question because the licence was granted under the Act of 1942-1973. In 1975, 6 Bills were introduced amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It was difficult in the later Bills to describe the legislation that was being amended. Further, all 6 Bills contained a provision that the basic legislation as amended may be cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1975. If other legislation referred to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1975, which of the 1975 amendments was being referred to? Of course, those Bills were not passed. Again, in 1973, 5 Acts amending the income tax assessment legislation were passed. A summons stating that it was issued under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1973 would not bring to the notice of the defendant or his lawyer the fact that there were 5 amending Acts in 1973. Having found fewer than the five, they might think that they had found all that there were, yet the fifth Act might be relevant to their case. The income tax assessment legislation contains in one section references to the Meat Industry Act by 2 different double year citations, and lawyers and accountants could be misled by that difference.

In summary, Mr Deputy Speaker, what we are doing here is modernising the drafting of legislation. This is a piece of legislation that any government would welcome and any opposition would not oppose. The particular sections I have mentioned relate to the Acts Interpretation Act in the sense that it will refer to amendments which shall be deemed to have been made. In fact they will have been made and there will not be the problem that has arisen in the past where it can apply only in respect of subsequent amendments. Clause 5 provides for a textual amendment relating to section 2 of the Amendments Incorporation Act 1905, and clause 6 covers the position relating to the deletion of the double citation. The Opposition approves of the legislation and wishes it a speedy passage.

Diamond Valley

-Mr Deputy Speaker, the Government has a number of pressing and urgent matters to attend to and it is for that reason that I have been asked to speak for only about 5 minutes on this subject. That I agreed to do with some regret, because this is a matter of very great interest and importance and the subject of almost daily conversation where I come from. This is a piece of legislation which, as the Opposition has indicated, should be given a speedy passage through the House because it introduces a reform in the citation of statutes with which one could not disagree. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) already has described amply the nature of the reform. Very briefly, to take the example referred to by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) in his second reading speech, the reform is to avoid the necessity to cite a statute by reference, as in the case of the Customs Act, to the years 1901-1974. It is desirable to amend that citation because the citation tells the reader nothing whatsoever about any amendments that may have been made since 1974. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the citation in fact might be misleading. So it is felt by the Government, for very good reason, that it is desirable to refer to statutes in other statutes by reference solely to the year in which the Bill became an Act. One could not disagree with the proposition that that is a reform.

However, with respect, I think that one question does arise which the Attorney-General might answer for me. That question is: What advantage does that have over a system by which one refers, for example, to the Customs Act 1901? One would have thought that if one referred to the Customs Act simpliciter without any year appearing after the name of the Act, that would achieve the same purpose and would remove any doubt whatsoever as to whether one should look in the statutes of a particular year to find what had happened to that statute. It would avoid the necessity of tracing through the subsequent history of the statute. In other words, when one sees a reference to the Act as the Customs Act 1901 one is really in no better position than if one saw a reference to the Act as the Customs Act simpliciter Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a reform in the manner in which it has been proposed, and one cannot argue against the proposition that it is a reform and that consequently it should be supported by the House.

The question of the citation of the Act is not of course the end of the matter. One would hope that this would be the first step in a series of reforms which I hope the Attorney-General will initiate in the whole area of the drafting of statutes, in references to statutes, to the raw materials and source material available, to inform the reader as to what amendments have been made and where those amendments can be found. It is a soul-destroying task, as I have found in the past, and which may mean to the public hours of very expensive labour, to ascertain what amendments have been made to Acts, where those amendments are to be found and what those amendments contain. It was, for that reason, very pleasing to me to find that the Commonwealth has published a consolidation of the statutes up to and including 1 973. 1 should like to read briefly some words contained in the foreword to the first volume of that consolidation by the then Attorney-General, Senator Murphy. He said a lot of course which is best forgotten, but I think that the remarks he made in this foreword are worthy of remembering. The then AttorneyGeneral said:

It is essential that the publication of our laws be kept up to date so that those interested can find out quickly and easily what the law is.

He went on to say:

The Australian Government believes that this consolidation will achieve that purpose. These volumes will be uncluttered by those Acts of the Parliament which have expired or become inoperative.

At a later stage in the same foreword he said:

Our Government believes that consolidations should occur at intervals of about 5 years.

I agree with the that proposition and I hope that that is one reform of the previous Government which will be continued by the present Government and future governments. The law should be available to the citizen and to the lawyer and they should both be able to find the law without the present Herculean task of ploughing through volumes of dusty statutes to find out what the current law is and what it provides. I hope that some consideration will be given to the Victorian practice of publishing at frequent intervals reprints of individual statutes, which are kept in a loose-leaf volume. Practitioners of the law subscribe to the publication, and every now and again they get reprints of statutes which bring them up to date with all of the amendments. So a person need refer merely to one statute in his volume and there is the whole of the law on that one subject. That would seem to me to be a very desirable reform which should be introduced for Commonwealth legislation.

Nevertheless I come back to the basic Bill which is presently before the House and remind the House that, as I said at the outset, this is undoubtedly a reform which is introduced by the Bill, and a reform with which one could not disagree. Apart from commending the Bill, I repeat what I said at the outset, that I only regret that the Government’s busy program prevents me from speaking longer on this gripping and enthralling subject.


– I want to support very briefly the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) in supporting the Acts Citation Bill. I think it is a Bill that all members of the Parliament will welcome, as they should welcome any measure which would tend to simplify the method of citation of Commonwealth Acts and which would also tend to make the Acts more readily available to the quite large body of people who are interested in them. This is precisely what this Bill sets out to do. I think honourable members will also agree that the present system is undeniably clumsy; it is confusing, it is time-consuming and clearly it does not fit the needs of the community as they exist today.

I shall just mention a few of the specific matters which will undoubtedly improve the situation. Certainly the elimination of the double year citation is an excellent innovation and will reduce confusion and no doubt reduce the possibilities of errors arising in legal judgments. The provision of footnoting, for instance, for every amending Act together with all previous amending Acts will, I am sure, prove to be a clearer and less misleading system of citation than the one which presently exists. It is particularly pleasing to note the statement of the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) that this new system of citation should reduce the pressure of work in the Attorney-General’s Department, more particularly in the legislation and drafting and publications sections. It is hoped that the easing of pressure of work in these sections will particularly reduce the delays that are at present being experienced in the publication of a wide range of Commonwealth Acts. It is unfortunate that the present staff ceilings will obviously make this more difficult to accomplish.

I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to comment briefly on this aspect of the Bill because in my electorate I frequently hear complaints from constituents and students who, for various reasons, are unable to secure copies of particular Acts. I have no doubt that this experience is common to many members of this House. At present there are undoubtedly considerable problems concerning access to published legislation. It could be recalled that in July last year the then Attorney-General, Mr Enderby, announced that a consolidated printing of Australian Capital Territory laws would be carried out last year. According to Mr Enderby it was considered necessary at the time because several bound volumes of yearly ordinances and regulations were just not procurable. I understand that this consolidation has not been completed. Here again this is due to lack of staff in the Attorney-General’s Department. Such a consolidation is undoubtedly urgently needed in Australian Capital Territory legislation because at present access to Australian Capital Territory laws and indeed to all laws of the Commonwealth Parliament is generally quite cumbersome. It is often expensive and in some cases it is just impossible to obtain copies of the various laws.

To obtain all the laws relevant to the Australian Capital Territory, for example, it is necessary for anyone interested to purchase at considerable expense the Acts of Parliament 1901-1973, plus the Acts of subsequent years, together with the laws of the Territory up to 1975, plus any laws of subsequent years. The promised consolidation of Australian Capital Territory Acts, together with the 12 volumes of the Acts of Parliament which are already consolidated will no doubt go some way towards catering for the demand for up to date legislation, but at the same time it will be by no means the final solution. The bound consolidation of Acts is admittedly useful to those who want to refer frequently to a wide range of Acts, but it is not much use to an individual who merely wishes to obtain a copy of one Act or of an amended Act. In fact in some cases it can be quite a tortuous process to obtain all the legislation available on one particular topic. As an example, if I want to obtain a copy of the Banking Act, I find that although it has been reprinted in pamphlet form the legislation has been amended several times since the days of the reprint and some of the amending Acts are out of print. In such circumstances the only way I can obtain the law on banking is by purchasing the entire 12-volume consolidation. In some cases even this is not available.

The complete legislation on workers compensation in the Australian Capital Territory does not seem to be available. One cannot get all the legislation which makes up the workers compensation ordinance from the Australian Government Publishing Service but this legislation is frequently sought by individuals involved in compensation claims. It is often required by union representatives who act on their behalf. Even after the proposed consolidation is completed it still will not be possible to obtain the legislation separately. The only way the interested individual could sight such legislation would be through the reference service of the National Library or through an appropriate government department.

Other Acts brought to my notice as being difficult to obtain or which are not available are those relating to compensation for Australian Government employees. Another piece of legislation which is frequently sought after and which people seem to have great difficulty in getting is the Associations Incorporation Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. There are many community organisations in Canberra which require guidance on this Ordinance and it is not available. The Weights and Measures Ordinance is one which students frequently find difficulty in getting, particularly the recent amendments. It is in great demand and copies are simply not available.

It is not only the older legislation which is unprocurable. For example, when a new ordinance is made it is often quite a long time before copies are available from the Australian Government Publishing Service. I would like to endorse the view expressed by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith that it is extremely important that published copies of all legislation be readily and cheaply available in an up-to-date form not only to the legal profession, to the judiciary, to public servants and to students, but also to individual people who may have particular problems which require reference to legislation. In conclusion, I suggest to the AttorneyGeneral that having introduced this Acts Citation Bill he also give urgent consideration to the general problem of making Acts and Ordinances more readily available to all people seeking them.


-Speaking briefly, I want to associate the National Country Party with this Acts Citation Bill. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr Ellicott) indicated in his second reading speech on this Bill that it contains the necessary legislative provision to enable a simplification to be effected in the method of citation of Commonwealth Acts which have been amended. I think this Bill is welcomed in all sectors of our community which are concerned with these matters. It is my understanding that the legal profession welcomes it and that the Parliamentary Counsel welcomes it. By and large the Parliament is happy with it. It is not being opposed by the Opposition and it should have the effect of reducing the opportunity for misleading titles to the legislation this Parliament passes.

For a long time there has been a degree of confusion over the use of the double citation. It always has been difficult for legal practitioners, the general public and other interested people to know whether an Act has been amended since the date of the last citation which appears on the copy of the Act which may be available. It is significant that the single citation is used in many other countries similar to ours, namely Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and, basically, the United Kingdom. It is also used in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Perhaps the experience of New South Wales is indicative of the problems caused by double-year citations. For a period New South Wales did use the system which we presently use in the Commonwealth but then it reverted to using the one-year system which is used in Victoria and Tasmania. The Parliamentary Counsel in New South Wales did revert to the system of single-year citation which we are about to adopt and I think the experience in the Commonwealth will be similarly advantageous.

I agree with previous speakers that there is a requirement to keep before the AttorneyGeneral and the Government the need for continued consolidation of legislation and for all forms of legislation to be readily available. I think some credit is due to the former Administration for its decision and action in consolidating the Acts of the Parliament. This was the first time it had been done for a considerable number of years. Although a reasonable amount of expense is involved I think this is a practice which ought to be continued on a regular basis. It ought to be encouraged by the Parliament. It is very difficult to deal with legislative matters if we cannot readily obtain the basic or source material. I believe the Attorney-General has this matter under review and that he will continue to see that legislation is available and that consolidations are not unnecessarily delayed. I do not want to extend the debate- I realise there are a lot of other things to be done- but I want to associate myself and my Party with this Bill. I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity of speaking in this debate.

Melbourne Ports

– I had not intended to speak in this debate but I was provoked a little by what my friend the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) said about the banking legislation. While he may have some difficulty in getting consolidation of all the banking legislation, the one thing the law has not been able to do is to define a bank. Despite all the zeal tonight for simplification there are some matters that are complicated. Whatever is done about altering citations, complicated subjects are not made simple by the use of this sort of device.

I had some experience in this matter when writing an Act, which I think is going to be very significant in the future, about what are called non-banking financial institutions. I am pleased to see my colleagues the technocrats sitting in the gallery but no one has yet defined a bank. They can tell you what a bank is not. With all respect to my friend the honourable member for Fraser I hope we can get simplification in the banking legislation and that we can get little pamphlets that will contain it, but I hope too much is not expected of this change in title dealt with in the Acts Citation Bill. The objective is simple enough but certain of the matters upon which we have to legislate contain complexities of their own. It is not easy to get clarity. One of the great simple clauses in the Constitution is section 92. It is known as the layman’s clause. However, until recently it caused much more complication than many other clauses. I hope too much is not expected of the simple change of title.


– Briefly I again make a plea for a quicker incorporation of Acts when an amendment has been made. We are altogether too lax and lazy in issuing copies of an Act as amended. It seems to me that the right and proper time to do this is immediately after this Parliament has passed an amendment. It is at that time that the whole of the circumstances are in the mind of the Parliamentary Counsel and surely at that time it would be simple for the Parliamentary Counsel to delegate the task of framing an incorporated amended Act to some junior and proper officer in his Office and to see that as a matter of course the amended Act was issued in its proper form as an automatic procedure after it had received the royal assent. It is altogether wrong that we should not know, without quite complicated reference, what the law is. When this Parliament has passed an amending Act I believe that the amended Act should be issued almost instantaneously and as a matter of course. I can remember that when we talked about the daily Hansard people said: ‘It cannot be done. It will be too expensive. It is ridiculous.’ But, as a matter of fact, the daily Hansard now comes out automatically and amended Acts should issue automatically after they have received the royal assent.

Attorney-General · WentworthAttorneyGeneral · LP

– I will not be long. I just want to express my thanks to honourable members for the very constructive debate that we have had on this rather important measure. I join in the expression of appreciation of the work of parliamentary counsel. Their work is not easy. Indeed it is not easy to get the sort of people who are needed. They have a very special quality of mind and of capacity to apply themselves to the task. It is not the more glamorous side to the law but in a sense it is the most important. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has suggested that Acts be printed straight away but that overlooks some of the associated problems. The law that comes out must be precise and accurate. The demand for accuracy is much greater, of course, in relation to Acts of Parliament than it is in relation to Hansard. Many inaccuracies appear in Hansard if we perhaps choose to look for them. But an Act of Parliament should not be inaccurate. On at least one occasion even recently there was an instance where an Act of Parliament when printed was found not to contain some vital words. That is an indication that inaccuracies can occur. I hope it does not happen very often and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel seeks to ensure that it does not happen.

One matter that was mentioned and on which my comment was sought by the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) concerned why we do not refer to the Customs Act rather than the Customs Act 1901. Sometimes one will find a number of Acts of the same name and it is helpful to know to which particular Act one is referring, whether it is the Trade Practices Act of 1965, the Trade Practices Act of 1973 or whatever it may be. For instance, there was the Income Tax Assessment Act of 1922 and before that the Income Tax Assessment Act of 1915 or 1916. One might recall that they were reviewed in 1936 and the present Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 was commenced but, of course, the previous Acts remained in force in relation to assessments to be made in respect of years prior to 1936. So it does become important, on analysis, to know the year of the Act.

Reference has been made to consolidation and also to the availability of legislation. This is a matter that is constantly of concern to me. Last week when I was in the Northern Territory I found that some prints of ordinances for 1975 were not yet available. This is due to the tedious work that has to be done in relation to the printing of ordinances and I have taken steps to ensure that these ordinances are brought up to date. I am referring to prints of current law which are not available even to practitioners. Sometimes we tend to neglect the basic problems and institutions of government. I think that we will find increasingly in the Parliament that we have to spend more money on the basic institution like the law, its production, presentation and consolidation. Indeed, as the former Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), said, there is a need for simplicity in the law. Often this cannot be achieved and sometimes what seems simple to laymen is very complex in terms of what lawyers have to draft. But constantly we have to be on our guard to ensure so far as we can that the law is certain, simple and available.

To the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry), I can only suggest that although it may involve some breach of copyright if he wants a copy of the Banking Act he should not perhaps buy the whole 13 volumes but should be encouraged to take from the consolidation a photostat of the Banking Act so that he would have it up to date. Questions of that nature are constantly before us. Reprints of the important Acts like the Income Tax Assessment Act are brought out every year. The purpose is to ensure that the Acts in common use are readily available. I can assure honourable members that legislation in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory will receive my continuing attention.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Ellicott) read a third time.

page 1625


Bill presented by Mr Killen, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Defence · Moreton · LP

– I move:

This Bill amends 2 Acts of this Parliament. It amends the Defence Force Retirement Benefits Act and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act. The difference between the 2 Acts of Parliament can be recalled by the House by going back to the Jess Committee’s report of 1972 when a new Defence Force Retirement Benefits Act was proposed by that Committee. The incoming Government introduced legislation to give effect to the recommendations of the Jess Committee’s report. This Bill falls into 3 parts. The first part is preliminary, the second part deals with the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and the third part deals with what I may describe as the post- Jess Committee’s Act, namely the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefit Act.

In this Bill the Government acknowledges the fact that there is an interim method of adjustment being made. I am bound to tell the House in simple candour that the Government would be anxious to stand back with the method of adjustment. In other words, we would have a distinct preference for a permanent and regular method of adjustment. This was one of the recommendations made by the Jess Committee’s report in 1 972. It was the previous Government ‘s intentions to introduce a permanent method of updating benefits or pensions received under the respective legislation. I would like to make it clear that it is the present Government’s intention to have a permanent method of updating and making adjustments to benefits received by recipients under the 2 Acts. But I would hope that the beneficiaries would be generous and indulgent enough to acknowledge the fact that the Government has just recently considered the conditions relating to the Commonwealth Superannuation Act and the basis there for updating pensions. As a consequence of that the Government is now proceeding to a consideration of introducing permanent methods of updating pensions payable under these 2 Acts.

Having said that, may I say that these pensions will be paid retrospective to July 1975. With respect to the 2 Acts that this Bill seeks to amend, the pensions which are paid are marginally different. In the case of the defence force retirement benefit pension recipients the method of alteration is related to the Government’s share of the pension. Both Acts which this legislation seeks to amend have of course a clear relationship to the 17.6 per cent increase in the consumer price index to, I believe, March 1975. In the case of DFRB pensions the Government’s share will be multiplied by 1.4 times 17.6. This calculation is applied to the Government’s share of the DFRB pension. But in the case of defence force retirement and death benefits recipients it will be one times 17.6 applied to the whole of the pension.

There would be very few members of this Parliament who would know better than you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that there are distinctions between the 2 schemes. While it would not be appropriate for me now in introducing a Bill of this nature to dilate on those differences, I observe that these differences exist and as a consequence of them there is a different method of updating the 2 pensions. In general terms there will be approximately a 20 per cent increase in the pension entitlement of DFRB beneficiaries. Some adjustments in respect of arrears will be made in the case of DFRB pensioners as the position has now been cleared in respect of the method of calculating the government share of that pension. You will appreciate further, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this is an area by no means free of technicalities and complexities. Indeed, when one looks at the various categories under which the Government’s share of pension may be payable, that point is clear to ready demonstration. Adjustments will, of course, be made to pensions paid to widows and to children who have an entitlement under the legislation.

The only other matter I would draw to the attention of the House concerns DFRDB pensioners who retired prior to July 1975. An adjustment will be made to the percentage which will affect their entitlement in respect of the 12-month period. Sir, it would not be inappropriate to conclude on this note: You, as the honourable member for Herbert, my honourable friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), the honourable and gallant member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer), Senator Devitt and Senator Maunsell- 3 honourable members from this place and 2 senators from the other placehave continued to show a very lively and a very compassionate interest in the welfare of exservicemen and in particular in securing the appropriate adjustments to the pension entitlements of ex-servicemen. I would take leave on behalf of the Government to thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and the honourable member for Isaacs and the 2 senators to whom I have referred for the continued interest in this very difficult area of law. I commend the Bill to the House.

Mr Crean:

– Before the Minister sits down he might explain the magical formula that 1.4 multiplied by five-sevenths comes to one?


-I think this can be decided during the second reading debate.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

page 1626


Bill presented by Mr Hunt, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP

– I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to extend the effective operation of the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-74 to enable grants to be made for aged persons hostel projects for which applications have been lodged but which, for one reason or another, could not be commenced within the time limits imposed by the Act. The amendment will not re-open the legislation for lodgement of applications for new or additional grants.

The Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-74 was introduced with effect from 27 September 1972 and was designed to operate for a period of 3 years. The reason for this, as stated by the Hon. W. C. Wentworth, the then Minister for Social Services, in introducing the Bill on 14 September 1972, was to encourage the building of additional hostel accommodation for the frail aged within a short period of time. The measure was not introduced as a substitute for the continuing program operating under the provisions of the Aged or Disabled Persons Homes Act 1954-74 which as honourable members are aware provides for the Commonwealth to subsidise the cost of building self-contained, hostel and nursing accommodation for aged or disabled persons.

The objective is that all beds funded under the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-1974 are hosteltype, catering specifically for the frail aged and those in greatest need of accommodation because of advanced age and limited financial resources. In introducing the Act it was intended that by encouraging additional hostel accommodation there would be a lessening of the pressure for admission to nursing homes by people who had no real need for nursing care. Since the inception of the Act 154 grants have been approved which have attracted grants in the region of $64m. When all these projects have been completed accommodation will have been provided for 5700 aged persons.

Under the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-1974 the Commonwealth Government meets the capital cost of providing hostel-type accommodation for 2 additional aged persons for every one accommodated in an unsubsidised home, or one additional person for every two in an existing home subsidised on a $1 for $1 basis prior to 1957. To achieve the objective of encouraging early construction of new accommodation the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-1974 presently has a condition that a grant shall not be made in respect of a hostel unless the hostel was approved under section 5 of the Act on or before 27 September 1975 and construction commenced within 12 months from the date of approval of the hostel. Under the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-1974 many organisations were approved as eligible and acquired the right to purchase or construct new hostel-type beds subject to the availability of Commonwealth funds. The original legislation was amended on 9 December 1974 to enable organisations which wished to do so to transfer their rights to other eligible organisations. These rights were sought by some organisations and this gave a considerable stimulus to the program and created a demand for grants in respect of hostels that exceeded the number that could be funded in 1975-76 within the Budget allocation of $40m.

In order to preserve organisations’ hostel bed entitlements under the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-1974, the previous Government decided in August 1975 to approve all outstanding proposals under section 5 of the Act on or before 27 September 1975- the last day on which, under the existing legislation, a hostel could be approved- but to defer the making of a grant in a large number of cases because of insufficient funds. This resulted in the previous Government deferring in excess of 300 applications for grants under this legislation. These are valued at in excess of $ 1 34m. At the same time these organisations were given an assurance by the previous Government that their rights under the Aged Persons Hostels Act 1972-1974 would be preserved even though the making of grants in respect of their projects had been deferred.

Under the existing Act, projects must be commenced not later than 27 September 1976. If projects are not commenced by that date, as the legislation now stands eligible organisations would lose their previously approved entitlements. The Government has decided that, to enable an annual program of construction to be undertaken and to ensure that the rights of organisations which have acquired entitlements under the legislation are preserved, there should be an extension of the time within which the erection of a hostel can be commenced. An amendment to the existing legislation will give organisations with existing rights 12 months from the date on which a grant is actually approved to plan and commence construction of their hostels. Provided this condition is met, the legislation as amended will authorise the Director-General to actually pay the grant. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lionel Bowen) adjourned.

page 1627


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 25 March on motion by Mr Howard:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Port Adelaide

-The Opposition will not take its opposition to these amendments to the point of voting against them or of causing a division in the House. However, we are taking the opportunity, as people both inside and outside the House will observe, to stress the importance which we place on this legislation and the way in which we intend to monitor any attempt by this Government to water down what we regard as one of the most important pieces of legislation introduced by the Australian Labor Party Government during its term of office from 1972 to 1975. The present Government’s eagerness to amend the Trade Practices Act is in marked contrast to the reluctance of Liberal-Country Party governments in previous years to legislate at all in this vital area. Australians had to wait until the election of a

Labor government before effective trade practices legislation was passed. The passage of Labor’s BUI in 1973 brought Australia into line with other Western democracies. Every other major industrial nation had stringent laws against unfair trade practices and monopolisation. Most countries had laws to protect consumers. Australia had neither. Successive Liberal governments refused to control restrictive practices or to protect consumers from unfair commercial dealings. It was left to a Labor government to take action.

Whilst making this point about the protection offered to consumers, I must say that I was highly amused by a Liberal Party advertisement last evening. I saw the Premier of New South Wales telling the people of New South Wales that they ought to vote for his Government because of the way in which it protects the consumers in New South Wales. He stipulated some of the ways in which his Government was moving. It seemed to be a re-reading of the history book of South Australia about 10 years ago. The Dunstan Labor Government, as would be expected of a Labor government, moved in this area of reform a long time ago. Obviously the people of New South Wales would be far better served by a reform government with Neville Wran as Premier than they would be by the people who have been in charge of New South Wales for 10 years and who have done so little.

We took action in fulfilment of undertakings at 2 successive Federal elections. The Trade Practices Bill brought down in 1973 was one of the great legislative reforms passed through this Parliament. It is a monument to a former AttorneyGeneral, Senator Murphy. For all its importance, it had no easy passage in this Parliament. The first Bill was frustrated by the double dissolution forced by the Opposition in 1 974; the second Bill was passed with amendments later that year. The Liberal Party has never shown the slightest enthusiasm for trade practices legislation or any concern for the problems and abuses which make such legislation necessary. Sir Garfield Barwick’s original attempt to legislate on these matters was effectively frustrated by previous Liberal governments at the behest of commercial and business interests. The Restrictive Trade Practices Act, which the Liberals eventually passed, was largely ineffectual. It allowed abuses and malpractices to flourish until a Labor government took action against them.

Restrictive practices have long been rife in Australia. Most of them are undesirable. They cause prices to be maintained at artificially high levels. They enable particular enterprises or groups of enterprises to attain positions of economic dominance which are then susceptible to abuse. They interfere with the interplay of competitive forces which are the foundation of any market economy. They allow discriminatory action against small businesses, exploitation of consumers, and feather-bedding of industries. All these evils were outlawed or effectively curtailed by our legislation. Let no one imagine that the Opposition supported our proposals. True, it lacked the courage to vote against them in the Parliament but it showed no enthusiasm for the principles of our Bill. When the Bill was before the Parliament, the Opposition moved an amendment to delete the whole of Part V, relating to consumer protection. It argued that consumer protection was a State matter. It was the old Liberal dodge for avoiding responsibility, the old Liberal pretext for doing nothing. Of course, there are areas where State government authorities and protection bureaus can operate quickly and effectively. But the bulk of the products and services bought by Australian consumers are marketed nation-wide. Clearly they should be covered by national legislation. Can anyone be confident that this vital part of our legislation will be safe under the Fraser Government?

The Australian people must be wary of any attempt to water down the Trade Practices Act. There have been clear signs that this is the Government’s intention. The Liberals said nothing about their intentions during the election campaign. The Fraser Government has never been frank or open in its promises- either those it makes or those it breaks. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech on 17 February we had for the first time a promise that the Trade Practices Act would be reviewed. We were not told the purpose of this review. We were not told who would carry it out. We were not told how long it would take. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the present Act will be weakened. The Bill now before the house is of minor importance in itself, but may well be a forerunner of further attacks on the substance and functions of the Act. Now the last cause for community foreboding is the decision to place the administration of the Act within the responsibility of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard). The Minister has already shown himself to be an uncritical admirer of the business community. He has gone on record with the statement that consumer protection should not be allowed to ‘interfere’ with the free exercise of commercial freedom- a statement with sinister implications for the future of trade practices legislation. There has been a whole series of hostile statements and intimidatory references to the Trade Practices Commission by Liberal Ministers. They establish a clear pattern of hostility, indeed bitterness, towards the Act.

On 15 February, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) accused the Commission of harassing business and causing unemployment. The Melbourne Age reported on 27 March:

The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, Mr Howard, gave notice yesterday that the interests of consumers were being significantly downgraded on a Federal level.

Mr Howard, speaking at an Australian Marketing Institute lunch, indicated strongly that business interests would be held foremost when the Government’s review of the Trade Practices Act was launched next week.

Details of the review would be announced in Parliament next week, he told the audience.

But after lunch, he told the Press: ‘Don’t hold me to that’.

During and after the lunch he also said:

There were no plans yet to put the national companies Act legislation before Parliament:

There were no plans yet to reconstitute the Senate Committee inquiring into legislation for a corporations and exchange commission:

He had noted, but not made any decision on, the call from Victoria’s Attorney-General, Mr Wilcox, for the Federal Government to join the Interstate Corporate Affairs Commission.

It is hardly an impressive record of ministerial activity and resolution. The Government is restricting the Commission’s activities as part of its futile and misguided economy measures. A report in the Brisbane Sunday Mail on 2 1 March stated:

The number of prosecutions under trade practices legislation is expected to fall dramatically following Government decisions to reduce spending.

The Trade Practices Commission will have to curb its activities. Some TPC inquiries have been delayed or postponed in an effort to meet the Government’s stringent demands that only essential spending proceed.

Officers of the Commission expect their work load to drop markedly in the next few months as planned investigations are wound down.

An Assistant Commissioner, Mr J. V. McKeown has made it clear that the cuts will not stop legal action already under way.

The cuts came just at the time when the Commission was starting to escalate its investigations into fundamental business practices which it considers could restrict trade and competition or could mislead and deceive consumers. Because officers of the Commission have been severely restricted in their right to travel interstate they can no longer follow up investigations in person.

Instead, State officers have to take over where the Federal office finds that more detailed inquiry is needed in the State in which a company may be operating.

One of the functions of the present Act is to delete all references to the ‘Attorney-General’ and replace them with the words ‘the Minister’. In other words, the administration of this Act will no longer be clothed with the power and authority of the first law officer of Australia but will be handed over to an inexperienced Minister whose very portfolio is a contradiction in terms. It should be obvious to every honourable member that the interests of the business community and the interests of consumers are fundamentally opposed- at least insofar as consumer protection matters are concerned. All these matters will now come under a highly contentious and heavily politicised portfolio of questionable value. To hand over the trade practices legislation to this Minister and to this Department is to compromise its strength and effectiveness.

The Trade Practices Act was a landmark in our legislative history. It must not be weakened or destroyed by a Government sympathetic to what a former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, has called ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’. This Government has already shown its readiness to side with the wealthier and more powerful sections of the community against the weak, the disadvantaged and the needy. It has already shown its willingness to break promises and deceive the people whenever it suits the Prime Minister. The Trade Practices Act must not fall victim to this process of deception and distorted priorities. In the fight against inflation the co-operation of all sections of the community is essential. Co-operation is crucial to the process of economic recovery. Any legislation, any amendments to the Trade Practices Act which unduly favour the business community and discriminate against consumers or small businesses, will create new divisions in society, damage consumer confidence and make economic recovery more difficult. The Australian people must ensure that the Trade Practices Act remains a true guardian of the interests of consumers and of genuine and healthy competition in the business community.


-The speech of the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) indicated that the Opposition still has a great deal to learn about the hard facts of economic life in this country. The business bashing of which honourable members opposite were guilty while they were in power still continues, it seems, and they still have not come to any realisation of the effect that that had on the employment situation in Australia, on our national income, on workers and on the consumers for whom the Opposition expresses such sympathy. It is a fact that regulatory mechanisms in our commercial life are necessary. Any government in a modern community would appreciate that fact and seek to implement effective trade practices legislation and other complementary legislation. But regulatory mechanisms in commercial life also have their costs. If they are applied with inconsistencies and conflicts they add to the costs of the business world. They require additional staff in order to sort out the accounting and legal problems involved in making submissions and satisfying the various regulatory tribunals. So we have to look very carefully from time to time at the way in which the regulatory mechanisms in our commercial life are operating.

I suggest that the very basic, very simple amendments which the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) has introduced in the form of this Bill which we are discussing at present constitute a very reasonable approach to some very necessary amendments which have been pointed up by the experience of the legislation’s operation. Let us look at the major amendments which the Minister has proposed in this Bill. Firstly, it is proposed that the public interest, as represented by the Government view, should be able to be put to the Trade Practices Commission in any matter which it has before it. The honourable member for Port Adelaide did not have anything to say about that. In fact, he did not really seem to be opposing the provisions of the Bill at all. He used a blustery speech to make a few political points and at the same time he was saying that he was not really pressing his Party’s opposition to this Bill very strongly. He did not give us any details of what the Opposition saw as being wrong with the Bill. I must admit that it was very hard to listen closely to what he had to say. Surely in applications under consideration by the Commission we should ensure that the public interest is represented. In these sorts of activities where matters can be the subject of cosy discussions between accountants and company lawyers there is a danger that the public interest- the consumers’ interest- for which the Opposition professes to have some sympathy- will not be heard. So that simple amendment has very profound implications in terms of consumer protection. This measure is in fact a consumer protection measure.

Secondly the Bill would discontinue the special treatment which is now available to foreign companies in takeover activities. It is not right that foreign companies should be excluded from the provisions of the trade practices legislation as they apply to takeovers. Under the present provisions foreign companies have an advantage over Australian companies when it comes to the bidding and jostling involved in takeover activity. I would have thought that that again was a simple but rather profound change in the legislation which would have the agreement of all sides of this House.

Thirdly, the Bill gives power to the Industrial Court to make declaratory judgments and to issue prerogative writs. This is something that has been pointed out by the experience of the operation of the trade practices legislation. In his second reading speech the Minister pointed out that these sorts of writs have been taken out in courts other than the Industrial Court. In view of the fact that so much of the operation of this legislation has an impact on the Industrial Court it is appropriate that the Industrial Court ought to have this authority so that we keep it in the one jurisdiction in the area where the judges have to develop some expertise.

The fourth change which was mentioned specifically by the Minister in his second reading speech was the change from the references in the old legislation to ‘Attorney-General’ to the references in the amended legislation to ‘the Minister’. I think that this has some important philosophical significance although perhaps it is not a major change in terms of the operation of the legislation itself.

The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs has taken over a new portfolio which brings together a group of regulatory mechanisms available to the Government and to interested parties in the commercial world to use in their negotiations and in making business decisions. I think it is appropriate that all these regulatory mechanisms should be brought into the one portfolio so that the one Minister can look at them with some consistency to ensure that each regulatory body is not operating against another.

From time to time there have been complaints from people in the business world that they have to satisfy different criteria in respect of different regulatory bodies. For example, some businessmen will tell one that in respect of submissions that they have to make to the Trade Practices Commission they are told that they have to compete, that they cannot get together with their competitors and come to certain arrangements, whereas when they go the Industries Assistance Commission they are often told that there must be greater rationalisation in the industry if assistance is to be granted in the way of tariff protection. That is the sort of difficulty that businessmen are faced with in making decisions in this area. Therefore, bringing those regulatory bodies under the one Minister and ensuring that there can be some consistency in policy formulation is a highly desirable move. The change in the wording of the Bill in this respect gives effect to that philosophy.

I believe that there are many good reasons why we ought to look at the operation of the trade practices legislation from time to time. I am aware of the way in which some aspects of the legislation have operated in recent time actually to increase company costs. From time to time the Trade Practices Commission has required a great deal of detailed accounting information, as has for example the Prices Justification Tribunal, another body for which the Minister has responsibility. That has required an enormous amount of expense in terms of new, highly paid staff- cost accountants, corporate lawyers and so on- who have to satisfy the often very detailed instructions and requirements for the provision of information to these regulatory bodies, and, as I have already mentioned, sometimes supply conflicting sets of information or overlapping sets of information that have to be calculated in a slightly different way.

The companies have to go through the process once for the Prices Justification Tribunal, again for the Trade Practices Commission and sometimes to go through it in another form again for the Industries Assistance Commission. I hope that the Minister will be looking at a number of the practical effects of the legislation concerning the regulatory bodies that he has responsibility for in his portfolio and ensure that in the coming review of the trade practices legislation and any other reviews he might be conducting of other regulatory bodies, he will seek to ensure that they are acting consistently and in the best interests of efficiency and the welfare of the community.

Debate (on motion by Mr Nicholls) adjourned.

page 1630


New South Wales Election CampaignUnemployment

Motion (by Mr Howard) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– I think it is time that the House was reminded of the fact that the New South Wales Labor Party is part of the Australian Labor Party and is disciplined by it. Of course, as we know, the federal body is able to go into a State, if it wants to, and declare that the Labor Party of that State shall be dissolved or be reconstituted or something of this character. It has done this in more than one State in recent times. It is therefore rather strange that in this election campaign which is occurring in New South Wales at present, great efforts are being made to keep the present honourable member for Werriwa, (Mr E. G. Whitlam), the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in this House, out of the State of New South Wales. This is being done in a dishonest way because the New South Wales Labor Party knows perfectly well that it is under the control of the federal body and the federal body seems to be swayed by its demon, the honourable member for Werriwa.

Mr Shipton:

– Who controls the federal body?


– I am afraid that the honourable member for Werriwa, the Leader of the Opposition, seems to have a great deal of influence in it. I can understand that the Labor Party in New South Wales does not want him there because whatever admiration we may have in this House for the honourable member for Werriwa- I must confess that my admiration is not entirely unmixed- it is obvious that his reputation stinks throughout Australia and it is obvious -


-Order! The honourable gentleman will not reflect on another honourable member in that way.


-Sir, I must be very careful. I am trying to describe as objectively as I can -


-Order! The honourable member will withdraw the imputation.


– I withdraw it, sir. I am trying to describe as objectively as I can what the people of Australia think of the honourable member for Werriwa and I am trying to find a reason why the Leader of the Labor Party in New South Wales has been so reluctant to allow the honourable member for Werriwa to intervene in the present State election campaign. I can understand this, as I said. It may be quite unfair to the honourable member for Werriwa, but he is not a popular person in Australia, and the Leader of the Labor Party in New South Wales- a man whose name I believe is Wran, a rather obscure person- seems to have this kind of estimation himself as to the effect that the intervention of the honourable member for Werriwa might have in the New South Wales election campaign.

This is particularly so by reason of the fact that the honourable member for Werriwa was concerned in a certain breakfast deal which was, if I may say so without transgressing, believed to be discreditable by most of the people in Australia. What was reprehensible about that deal as shown by the description of it by the honourable member for Werriwa was not just that he was negotiating to take money from Arab terrorist sources; what was much more reprehensible was the implication that the price of that money was to be the selling out of Australia to Arab terrorists if by any chance the Leader of the Opposition had obtained power at the last federal elections. This was the price of what was offered. Otherwise, why should the money have been offered? What was being bought? What was the honourable member for Werriwa trying to sell? I put it to you, Mr Speaker, without any equivocation whatsoever that what the honourable member for Werriwa was trying to sell was Australia. If he had been elected at the last federal election he would have been in a position to carry out his part of the bargain. This really is the reason why the New South Wales Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Wran, is so very reluctant to allow the honourable member for Werriwa to appear in the election campaign in New South Wales. One can hardly blame him.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Port Adelaide

– It was very interesting to hear the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) try to hide all of his own sins by attacking the Leader of the Aus.tralian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam). We have heard from him an explanation in this House of all the accusations that the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has made about some of the goings on in Wollongong many years ago when the communist-led Waterside Workers Federation was given a very large trophy by the honourable member for Mackellar. We have never really understood the connection between the honourable member and the WWF. But, be that as it may, I would like to discuss the subject of the New South Wales election. I am quite happy to do so. I would be quite happy to talk with the Whip of my Party about arranging a pair for the honourable member for Mackellar if he would promise to spend the rest of the week door knocking in marginal electorates for Sir Eric Willis and explaining to the people of New South Wales, especially the wage and salary earners, what is the policy of the Government today on wage indexation.

It is interesting to note that a number of demonstrations and protests are to take place this week and next week against the actions of the Government.

We have to try to sort out where this Government stands and to what extent the Sir Eric Willis Government, which is so closely tied with the new Fraser Administration, can be trusted. Before the elections on 13 December the present Australian Government, supported by the New South Wales Government, said: ‘We support full indexation’. Not long after the elections and at the first test of the policy the Government of the day said: ‘No, we only support the granting of 50 per cent of the consumer price index increase’. That was the Fraser Government’s second policy which the people of New South Wales had to stomach and which the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission rejected. A third policy was then adopted on indexation by the Government, again with great effect upon the people of New South Wales. It said: ‘Let us take the taxation basis out of the CPI figures so that we can get a much smaller figure than the real increase in the cost of living’.

A fourth policy has now been adopted by this Government. Between 13 December and today four policies have been adopted by it on wage indexation. We now have as its policy the relaxation of the guidelines surrounding indexation but the granting of a flat rate increase above the minimum wage. How can anybody in New South Wales trust the present Australian Government or the combination of the present Australian Government and the New South Wales Government?

Let us look at a couple of other issues. Today people from all over Australia visited Canberra to protest about the very immoral action taken by this Government in relation to the breaking of the contracts that had been made by the former Labor Administration with thousands of Australians in relation to payments to them under the National Employment and Training scheme. All of those people were promised by the Labor Government that they would be retrained at a certain rate of pay. It was not a handout. It was not a dole payment. It was one of the first attempts to implement some sophisticated manner of retraining people in Australia. Who broke those contracts? Four months after honourable members opposite were elected to office we have a protest in Canberra about the immoral action that they have taken in relation to the NEAT scheme.

Who will be coming to Canberra on Thursday and why? Thousands of people from all over Australia- teachers, parents and children alikewill be coming because they know what the Government is going to do to the Schools Commission in this year’s horror Budget. What effect will it have on the people of New South Wales, which is the largest and most populous State, when the Government tells them that it is going to cut the powers and the financial flexibility of the Australian Schools Commission and will take away from the Schools Commission all of the great advantages which were provided under the Labor Administration to the people and to the children? That was the first real opportunity that was provided to the children who live in working class areas. The protesters will be here on Thursday, which is again 4 months after the Fraser Government was elected to office.

Who will be coming to Canberra next Tuesday in protest against the acts of the Government? The pensioners will be here. Honourable members opposite, particularly the honourable member for Mackellar, who stands up in this chamber and makes grandiose claims about how he defends the pensioners, should go outside of this chamber and tell them about how he and his colleagues voted to take away their funeral benefits 3 days after they voted to give the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) $5,000 a year under the superphosphate bounty. I challenge honourable members opposite to go outside next Tuesday and tell -

Mr Yates:

– I rise to a point of order. I do not recall anything being said about a $500,000 superphosphate benefit for the Prime Minister.


– There is no substance in the point of order.


– I challenge honourable members opposite to go outside next week and talk to the pensioners- the people whom they have pretended to defend over the years- about their actions. There are to be no fewer than 4 protests in a week four months after the election and honourable members opposite ask the working people- the wage and salary earners- of New South Wales to trust the combination of the New South Wales and federal governments. They would have to be looney to trust such a combination, with 4 policies on wage indexation. Nothing could be more important to the wage and salary earner of New South Wales than his purchasing power. Honourable members opposite have shown their complete discrimination against such people by breaking every promise on indexation that they have given since 13 December.

If the honourable member for Mackellar wants to go door knocking in the marginal electorates of New South Wales he should ask the Whip for a pair. I am sure that a pair can be arranged. I will give the honourable member the names of the electorates to visit. I challenge him to go into them and defend the actions of his Government and the Government of New South Wales on the rotten stand that they have taken against the decent people of this country-the pensioners, the people involved in education and the people whose contracts the Australian Government broke in relation to the NEAT scheme. I challenge him to talk also about other things, including overseas aid. Let us look at the other programs in relation to which the Aus.tralian Government has broken promises.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


-My speaking time of 5 minutes will not permit me to develop fully the point that I would like to make in connection with a very important and impressive letter that I received from a constituent in this morning’s mail.

Mr Sullivan:

-Tell us about -


– You remind me of a donkey’s neck in that you are big when you are out, if you know what I mean. The constituent who wrote the letter to me is a responsible and senior executive officer of the Morisset psychiatric centre. He has expressed great concern about the unemployment figures in the Newcastle region, particularly in Morisset itself. I would like to quote to the House in the very limited time available to me some of the suggestions that he has put forward and that I hope the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) will give some sympathetic consideration to implementing. This very worthy Australian, who is an eminent psychiatrist, made certain suggestions in his letter. He wrote:

Because of the discouragement, which could affect a young person for quite a long time, of failing to be thought valuable enough to employ I feel that the following suggestion would be well worth the investment.

I feel that the Federal government should finance the provision of positions called ‘interim assistants’. These would be created in those situations where if finance were available they would be filled in any case. An example would be at a place like a hospital, extra outside staff such as gardeners, car park attendant, hall porter, or office assistants, or at schools as assistants to teachers. The wage for these positions would be half way between the present unemployment benefit and the minimum adult wage. The positions would be created in each locality as close to the employees’ home as possible so that travelling time and cost would be minimised. The number of positions created would be the difference between the present number of unemployed in that locality and the number of unemployed there when the unemployed level was 1 .5 per cent of the work force.

The Federal government would pay the whole of this sum and the nominal employer none of it. The money for this should come from a special government loan offered to the public at a competitive interest rate.

The person accepting a position of ‘interim assistant’ would not regard it as a permanent position, but would not be able to leave the job to go to seek other employment. He would instead have visits from an Employment Officer from time to time to discuss what employment he would want and be told if such was available or whether there was an ‘interim assistant’ position in that type of work nearby into which he could be transferred. In the meantime he would be contributing productively to total output and may move into a normal job with that employer should one arise.

Some of the advantages of this scheme would be a feeling of usefulness in the employee. An increase in his self-esteem. More money than the unemployment benefit and the advantage that he could say he was not receiving unemployment benefits.

I believe that that suggestion is worthy of some sympathetic consideration by the House. It would remove the stigma that has crept into society by the use of the term ‘dole bludger’, which is a reprehensible way of describing the people who are genuinely out of work. I hope that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations will give some sympathetic consideration to this proposal, which has been put to me by a very dedicated Australian who is an executive officer of the Morisset mental hospital. I believe that it would be a worthwhile move by the Government and would be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia.

St George

– It has been a pleasure to hear the very astute outline of the political scene in New South Wales given by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). Might I also compliment the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) on his speech, which at least had some intelligibility. At least it was not offensive.

Motion (by Mr Nicholls) proposed.

That the honourable member for St George be not further heard.

Mr James:

– I say that he is an insulting mug, to make that reference to me as he did.


-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will withdraw that remark.

Mr James:

– I withdraw the remark.

Question put:

That the honourable member for St George be not further heard.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)

AYES: 26

NOES: 80

Majority…… 54




-Mr Speaker -

Motion (by Mr Sinclair) put:

That the honourable member for Blaxland be not further heard.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)

AYES: 79

NOES: 27

Majority……. 52


Cairns, J. F. Cameron, Clyde Cass.M.H. Crean, F. Fry,K.L. Hayden, W.G. Hurford,C.J. Innes, U. E. Jacobi, R. Jenkins, H. A. Johnson, Keith

Fraser, Malcolm Bourchier.J.W. Nixon, P. J. Holten, R. McN.


Mc Mahon, Les Morris, P. F. Scholes, G. G. D. Uren,T. Wallis Whitlam, Antony Willis, R. Young, M.J.

Tellers: James, A. W. Nichols. M. H

Whitlam, E.G. Martin, V.J. Stewart, F. E. FitzPatrick,J.



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · Bennelong · LP

- Mr Speaker, I require the debate to be extended.

Opposition members- No.


– I call the Minister.


– During the course of the adjournment debate tonight the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) canvassed a number of matters relating to the State election in New South Wales.

Mr Nicholls:

– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker.


– It is quite obvious that the tactics used by the Opposition tonight -


-Order! The Minister will resume his seat.


-Mr Speaker, I move:


– According to the sessional order, the debate may continue to 1 1.10 p.m. for the purpose of a Minister or Ministers answering matters that have been raised in the debate. I call the Minister.


- Mr Speaker, during the - Mr Nicholls (Bonython) ( 1 1.5)- I move:

That the Minister be not further heard. Mr SPEAKER- The question is: That the Minister be not further heard.

Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the noes have it. Is a division required?

Honourable members- Yes.


-Ring the bells.

Mr Yates:

– On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Seated and covered -


-The honourable member for Holt has called a point of order. I shall call the honourable member for Holt when honourable members have moved to their places and he can be heard.


-The honourable member for Holt will put the Standing Orders over his head and make his point of order.

Mr Yates:

– Seated and covered, Mr Speaker -

Mr Armitage:

– You started all this.


-Order! It is customary to hear a point of order in silence.

Mr Yates:

– Seated and covered during a division, Mr Speaker, may I be allowed to draw your attention to standing order 86 relating to matters which are not open to debate?

Mr Armitage:

– What language is that?


-The honourable member for Holt will proceed with his point of order. I ask the honourable member for Chifley to remain silent.

Mr Yates:

– Standing order 86 gives a series of motions and it states afterwards: . . . no similar proposal - such as the one we have received now for the third time- shall be received if the Speaker or the Chairman is of opinion that it is an abuse of the orders or forms of the House, or is moved for the purpose of obstructing business.

Mr Speaker, I should have thought that the object of moving these 3 motions has been to obstruct private members’ business on the adjournment debate of this honourable House.


-The honourable member need not cover his head while I reply. The honourable gentleman raises a point, but I must reject his point of order because there were separate motions- quite separate motions. I would not hesitate to use that portion of the Standing Orders in the appropriate circumstances.

Mr Donald Cameron:

– On a point of order. Mr Speaker. Standing order 58 states:

Every Member of the House, when he comes into the Chamber shall take his seat, and shall not at any time stand in any of the passages or gangways.

The motion was moved by the Opposition Whip whose seat at the time was being taken up by the rather large honourable member for Hunter. The motion was moved from the corridor. Does that not make the moving of the motion invalid.


– It does not make the moving of the motion invalid. When I called the honourable member I believed he was in his seat.

Question put-

The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.)

AYES: 26

NOES: 79

Majority……. 53



House adjourned at 11.14 p.m.

page 1637


The following answers to questions were circulated:

Aircraft Seats: Non-Smoking Allotment (Question No. 8)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. 1) As approximately 60 per cent of Australians are nonsmokers, would a fair allocation of non-smoking seats in aeroplanes be 60 per cent and not 30 per cent as at present?
  2. What steps is he taking to increase the percentage of non-smoking seats in aeroplanes and other forms of public transport
  3. Has he discussed this matter with his colleague the Minister for Health?
Mr Nixon:
Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) I am not aware of the proportion of non-smokers in the community, and I am unable to confirm this to be the same as for the air travelling public. The allocation of seats for smoking/non-smoking in aircraft has been on the basis of monitoring of passenger preferences by the airlines and the 30 per cent allocation has been determined on this basis.
  2. ) Apart from periodic adjustments as a result of regular monitoring of airline passenger preferences, there are no specific moves within the industry to increase the proportion of seats allocated to non-smokers. However, I am in favour of ensuring a maximum provision of seats to non-smokers.

In the case of the Australian National Railways and the Australian National Line passenger transport is predominantly in cabins and the problem of smoking does not arise, except in the public areas. Smoking is not permitted in the dining rooms or cafeterias but is allowable in the lounges. Smoking is also permitted in the communal sleeping lounges of the ANL passenger ships but as far as is known no complaints have been made officially about this arrangement.

In other forms of public transport, the initiative rests primarily with the State Ministers for Transport but the subject has been raised at a recent meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council and has been referred to officials for advice.

  1. Arrangements are being made for consultation with the Minister for Health on this matter.

Health: Training Facilities (Question No. 12)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:

  1. What is the present student capacity in each of the training institutions in Australia for the training of (a) therapists, (b) health assistants and (c) aides.
  2. What increase in numbers in each of these categories and institutions was requested for 1976 and the succeeding years of the triennium.
  3. What new courses and institutions were planned, or applied for, for this period.
  4. What number of students will be allowed for 1976 and the succeeding years.
  5. What contact and co-ordination is there between the Department of Health and the Officials responsible for the financial allocation to the various colleges training therapists.
Mr Viner:
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) The latest available figures are for 197S when teaching in the therapies in universities was confined to the University of Sydney (Physiotherapy and Speech Therapy) and the University of Queensland (Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy). At the University of Sydney there were 161 such students, all of whom were enrolled for diplomas in the Cumberland College of Health Sciences and were undertaking miscellaneous subjects at the University. From 1976 these students will undertake all their training at the Cumberland College. At the University of Queensland, which currently is the only University with therapists courses, there were 599 students in 1975 all of whom were enrolled in degree courses.

Enrolments for 1975 in courses in occupational therapy (OT) physiotherapy (FT) and speech therapy (ST) in colleges of advanced education are shown in the table below. No designation of health assistant or aide is used in relation to courses in colleges of advanced education and it is not possible to provide information in relation to these categories. Some options in relation to courses in applied science provide qualifications in the biomedical sciences. Separate statistics in relation to this matter are not collected.

  1. The submissions from State authorities which coordinate the development of advanced education in each State do not contain information which would enable this question to be answered.
  2. No new institution providing education in the therapies was planned in the now abandoned 1976-78 triennium. The development of new or existing courses within existing institutions is not a matter which is finalised at the time when triennial submissions are presented to Government. However, in 1976 the Lincoln Institute has enrolled its first students in a course in Prosthetics and Orthotics.
  3. Ail of the colleges listed in the table provide courses in addition to courses in the therapies. The entry into particular courses in these colleges is determined by college and State authorities. At the Lincoln Institute and the Cumberland College of Health Sciences, where therapy and related courses predominate, enrolments for 1975 and estimates for 1976 are:

1975 1976

Lincoln Institute…….. 619 720

Cumberland College of Health Sciences 860 897

No information is available for 1977 or beyond as the report for the 1976-78 triennium was not accepted by the previous government.

  1. As advanced education is co-ordinated at the State level by statutory authorities in each State, the Commission on Advanced Education seeks the advice of State authorities in relation to the manpower needs of particular courses and the rate at which courses should be developed. At the Federal level the Commission on Advanced Education is represented on the Committee on Health Careers (Personnel and Training) established by the Hospitals and Health Services Commission. The Report of this Committee was tabled in the Parliament on 4 March 197S.

Anti-Smoking Advertising (Question No. 42)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. Why was only half the amount spent in 1973-74 as compared with 1972-73 on anti-smoking advertising as indicated in reply to question No. 1207 (Hansard, 18 February 1975,page415).
  2. Why was so little spent in either of these years on antismoking advertising on radio and television, particularly when it was only on these media that advertising was restricted and for which the then Government promised to provide compensatory anti-smoking advertising.
  3. When will the detailed information, promised in the answer to the first part of question No. 1207, be provided.
  4. What sum was spent in 1974-73 in each section of the media in (a) country and (b) metropolitan areas.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. In the first year of the campaign, 1972-73, advertising was a major component in our approach. The intention, at this early stage, was to develop public awareness of the National Warning Against Smoking and to influence smoking behaviour.

During the next year 1973-74, the proportion of the funds for the National Warning allocated to State and nonstatutory health education authorities was increased in order to foster the educational component with advantages of more personal impact, long term effect and inbuilt capacity for feedback.

The particular publicity component during 1973-74 was directed at the smoker who was the breadwinner; who by age was at a higher risk and who, if prematurely deceased would leave a significant gap within a family. The theme during this time, was ‘The Life that you ruin may not be your own’. With this increase in health education activities throughout Australia, and an increased awareness of the National Warning, the amount allocated to the media publicity component was reduced.

No attempt was made to match the advertising strategy, and costs, of the cigarette and tobacco producers.

  1. The strategy of the campaign and the choice of advertising medium were considered, on expert advice, to be the most effective means of achieving the aims outlined in (1) above.

The question of compensatory advertising has already been answered in the reply to the third part of question No. 1207.

  1. In part 1 of the answer to Question 1207, an undertaking was given to provide a breakdown by media of the sums spent in the anti-smoking campaign during 1972-73. In the table set out below details are given of all expenditure on promotional activity associated with the campaign. The figure differs from that supplied in the earlier answer as it covers total expenditure on the printing of booklets, posters and leaflets, freight and miscellaneous costs associated with the other promotional acitivities as well as expenditure associated with media advertising and production of adver tisements.
  1. Media expenditure in 1974-75 was as follows:

    1. Country areas

The honourable member will appreciate that the allocation of funds expended between media sources whose headquarters are in the metropolitan areas or in the country does not reflect in any way the impact of that expenditure. For example the impact of the major city newspapers goes far beyond the metropolitan area and in degree the same applies for radio.

The National Warning had equal concern for both city and country people.

Northern Territory: Medical and Dental Services (Question No. 59)

Mr Calder:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. In view of the alarming shortage of doctors and dentists in the main centres of the Northern Territory, will he give serious consideration to the institution of a scholarship system to assist in the recruiting of professional staff to meet the very dangerous situation which is arising.
  2. Will he seek other incentive schemes to encourage doctors and dentists to go to the Northern Territory to carry out their practices.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Medical Officers

A cadet medical officer scheme was inaugurated in 1959 for the purpose of recruiting medical officers for service in the Northern Territory. The scheme was suspended in 1964 because it proved at that time, of limited value to the Department. During the period 1959-1964, of the 14 cadets recruited only 4 remained in the Service after graduation. However, it may be possible to develop a more effective scholarship scheme in today’s environment, and this will be studied.


Consideration is being given to including the Northern Territory in the existing scholarship scheme with a view to providing dentists for the Australian School Dental Scheme. In addition, I will enquire into the possibility of introducing scholarships to provide dentists for the the general dental service operated by the Department of Health in the Northern Territory. However, in view of the previous experience with medical scholarships in the Northern Territory, such an arrangement will need to be approached with caution.

  1. Medical Officers

Yes-the introduction of the right of limited private practice for specialists in the Northern Territory is currently being considered by the Public Service Board.


I will investigate the possibility of providing facilities for private practitioners in the Northern Territory as an incentive to demists to practise in the Territory.

Mineral Resources: Ownership (Question No. 94)

Mr FitzPatrick:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

Will he supply the latest estimates of foreign ownership and control of Australia’s mineral resources showing by nationality, sector and value of production the percentage ownership and /or control.

Mr Lynch:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The latest figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics relating to foreign ownership and control of the mining industry are in respect of the year 1972-73. Details of the source of the foreign investment are only available in respect of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other foreign countries.

The level of foreign ownership and control of Australia’s mining industry, for 1972-73, as measured in terms of value added, was as shown below.

Information requested in relation to the foreign ownership and control in terms of value of production is not available.

*N/A-Not available.

Telephones: Broken Hill District (Question No. 98)

Mr FitzPatrick:

asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) When is it expected that Broken Hill and its telephone district will get subscriber trunk dialling facilities.
  2. Has the delay been caused through expenditure cuts made on the coaxial cable project linking South Australia with Moree earth station.
  3. Will recent expenditure cuts mean a further delay in bringing this facility to Broken Hill.
Mr Eric Robinson:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Telecom Australia expects to provide STD facilities for Broken Hill subscribers about April or May next year. Provision of the facilities is dependent on the installation of necessary additional equipment at the Broken Hill exchange, programmed for completion in January 1977, and completion of the Port Augusta-Broken Hill section of the Ceduna-Cobar co-axial trunk cable and associated system.

Broken Hill is the only existing automatic exchange in the area and at this stage there are no firm plans to extend automatic working and STD to other subscribers in the district.

  1. No.
  2. No.

Australian Assistance Plan (Question No. 120)

Mr Lusher:

asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) How many officers of the Department of Social Security are engaged in the administration of the Australian Assistance Plan (a) on a full-time basis and (b) on a part-time basis.
  2. How many (a) filled and (b) vacant positions are there in the administrative structure of the Australian Assistance Plan apart from positions in the Department of Social Security.
  3. What is the latest estimate of expenditure from Commonwealth funds in 1975-76.
  4. What amount of this estimate has or will be allocated to projects approved under the auspices of the Australian Assistance Plan.
  5. Is it correct to assume that the bulk of funds not allocated to projects is spent on salaries and administrative costs.
  6. How many social workers are funded from Australian Assistance Plan resources.
Mr Hunt:

– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) In both Central and State offices of the Department of Social Security, the number of officers engaged in the administration of the Australian Assistance Plan is as follows:

    1. full-time-20.
    2. part-time- 14 persons are spending a significant amount of their time. The number of officers who are spending a relatively small amount of their time assisting the 37 funded Regional Councils for Social Development and the 37 initiating groups which are in the process of establishing Regional Councils, is not available. This group includes Registrars, District Officers and Social Workers attached to State and Regional offices. In addition, 12 officers are engaged full-time in the development and evaluation of the Plan (e.g. in arranging and conducting training courses, conferences and seminars with the staff and voluntary members of the Regional Councils).
  2. The number of positions in the administrative structure of the Australian Assistance Plan, apart from positions in the Department of Social Security, is as follows:

Regional Councils for Social Development:

  1. Staff positions-

    1. Filled positions- 219 (comprising 91 positions providing social planning secretariats to Regional Councils and undertaking related administrative duties and 128 Community Development Officers. It is to be noted that the former group includes directors of social planning and project officers whose chief functions are not to administer but to advise the Regional Council in its social planning activities and to undertake project work. Community Development Officers are not administrative staff but serve the community in social development activities and stimulate self-help groups to be organised).
    2. Vacant positions- 7 (2 of which are Community Development Officers).
  2. b) Non-staff positions- Over one thousand members of regional communities fill administrative positions on Regional Councils for Social Development on a voluntary basis (e.g. President, Secretary, Treasurer, Committee members).

Most positions in the administrative structure of the Australian Assistance Plan, therefore, are filled by volunteers who receive support in their duties from the Regional Council Secretariat.

  1. The $7.4m appropriated to the Australian Assistance Plan for the year 1975-76 has been allocated as follows:
  1. $4.5m is available to 14 Regional Councils for Social Development for allocation to approved community welfare projects.
  2. The amounts approved in the table at (3) above were allocated as follows:

Administration- 37 Regional Councils at an annual rate of $40,000 maximum each.

Community Welfare Projects- 14 Regional Councils at a maximum rate of $2 per head of regional population per annum.

Community Development Officer- up to 1 30 grants at a maximum rate of $12,000 each to 36 Regional Councils.

Initiating- 10 groups or associations proceeding to establish Regional Councils in non-funded areas may receive ‘once only’ grants of $2,000 each.

Development and Evaluation-funds available to the Department of Social Security to provide evaluation of the Australian Assistance Plan and support services to Regional Councils.

The Australian Assistance Plan is an experimental program. It was designed to be assessed and evaluated as it was put into operation by Regional Councils for Social Development in different ways in different areas, according to area differences. Twenty-three of these Regional Councils were allocated only Administration and, subsequently, Community Development Officer grants to establish secretariats which would assist Regional Councils to determine community welfare resources and needs, in preparation for the community welfare grant. Through their social planning activities, these Regional Councils have succeeded in coordinating the functions of regional voluntary organisations, determining priorities of community welfare needs and assisting non-profit organisations and local governing authorities to utilise grants under existing Commonwealth and State Government funding programs. They have also assisted local organisations to expand their activities in the community and, by arousing the social awareness of individuals and groups, have stimulated their self-reliance to determine and meet their social welfare requirements. Regional Councils, therefore, provide an important resource for social planning and community advice and their functions are not exclusively administrative. Fourteen Regional Councils were also given access to community welfare grants to assist non-profit organisations to meet some of the needs discovered through the social planning process. Because the Australian Assistance Plan is an experimental program, administration costs are higher during that period than would be the case once the program was fully developed.

  1. Eight hundred and fifty-seven (857) approved community welfare projects, sponsored by Regional Councils for Social Development, have been funded to date from Australian Assistance Plan resources and 12 of these projects have included the employment of social workers.

River Murray Working Party (Question No. 132)

Mr FitzPatrick:

asked the Minister for National Resources, upon notice:

  1. Has the River Murray Working Party presented its final report to the Department.
  2. If so, when will it be tabled in the Parliament.
Mr Anthony:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. I refer the honourable member’s attention to paragraph (3) of the answer provided to Question No. 7, (Hansard, page 766 of 1 7 March 1 976).

Family Planning (Question No. 133)

Mr FitzPatrick:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. What has been the result of a pilot study carried out for 3 months from May 1975 by family planning advisers who were attached to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Broken Hill, Mt Isa and Kalgoorlie.
  2. Will he make the details of the findings available.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Three women’s health advisers were attached to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Broken Hill, Mt Isa and Kalgoorlie for 3 months in 1975. They were employed in a pilot project, initiated by my Department which aimed to assess the need for family planning services for women in outback areas.

My Department is currently seeking comments on the project from organisations and authorities which were involved in it or affected by it.

  1. 1 will advise the honourable member of the findings of the project as soon as a full assessment of its value and acceptability has been made.

Law Libraries (Question No. 138)

Mr Clyde Cameron:

asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it the practice of the Commonwealth of Australia to purchase the law libraries of persons appointed as Federal Judges.
  2. If so, what are the particulars of all such library purchases since December 1949.
Mr Ellicott:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) My Department purchases from time to time second-hand libraries or parts of libraries for which it has a use. Purchases are made from any available source and this includes persons appointed as Federal Judges. No comprehensive list of libraries purchased from Judges has been kept and considerable effort would be involved in extracting full particulars of such purchases. I bring to the Honourable Member’s notice that the services of the Law Book Company are used to value the books offered for purchase, which is made in accordance with the provisions of the Audit Act and Treasury Regulations and Directions.

Wool Sales (Question No. 178)

Mr FitzPatrick:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

Is it a fact that the Australian Wool Corporation, since opening its office in New York in 1 975, has sold a quantity of wool in the United States at less than the reserve price paid at auction in Australia; if so, what quantity has been sold, and at what price.

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I am advised by the Australian Wool Corporation that its costings do not show that wool has been sold by the Corporation in the United States, either from New York Office or elsewhere, below the equivalent of the reserve price at auction in Australia.

Natural Gas (Question No. 183)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. Does the Government intend to make available some $300m at very small interest rate to a consortium of large multi-national companies to develop the natural gas field off the North West Shelf.
  2. 2 ) If so why does the Government consider it necessary to make available subsidised moneys to some of the largest multi-national companies in the world for a project which is potentially one of the most profitable in Australia ‘s history.
  3. Will he give an assurance that if $300m is to be provided to the consortium through the intervention of his Government, it will be made available through equity participation rather than as a net subsidy by the Australian taxpayer.
Mr Lynch:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No.
  2. and (3) See answer to ( 1 ) above.

Medibank: Claims (Question No. 188)

Mr Connolly:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it illegal for Medibank to make microfilm records of claims submitted to it.
  2. If so, does the Government intend to amend the legislation to permit such microfilming with a view to reducing storage space required for normal paper records.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No.
  2. ) In view of answer to ( 1 ) not applicable.

Diplomats: Motor Vehicles (Question No. 194)

Mr Hamer:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Will the Minister elaborate upon his answer to Question No. 76 to show which Ambassadors or Heads of Mission were supplied with vehicles not of Australian design.
  2. What was the estimated freight cost of an Australian made vehicle in each of these cases.
  3. In which of these cases was there thought to be difficulty with the availability of spare parts or effective after sales service for Australian made vehicles.
Mr Street:

– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. 1 ) Australian Heads of Mission at the following overseas posts were supplied with vehicles not of Australian design during the three years ended 3 1 December 1975:

Accra, Algiers, Ankara, Athens, Bangkok, Beirut, Belgrade, Berne, Bonn, Brasilia, Dar Es Salaam, Dublin, Geneva, Hanoi, Jeddah, Lagos, Lima, Lisbon, Madrid, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York (UN), Noumea, Ottawa, Paris, Peking, Pretoria, Rangoon, Rome, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, The Hague, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington.

  1. The cost of freight for an Australian made vehicle to an overseas post in (1) is estimated at not less than $300. Actual costs of shipping Australian made vehicles to a number of posts during this period are as follows:
  2. Experience has shown that effective after sales service and the ready availability of spare parts for Australian made vehicles normally is found only at posts where these vehicles are sold in commercial quantities.

Fawnmac Companies (Question No. 210)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Further to Question No. 23 relating to the Fawnmac companies, what is the pro rata share of the 1975-76 net profits which the Government will have to pay the previous owners.
  2. Is the present manager the major shareholder in the previous ownership.
  3. What safeguards are there that the 1975-76 net profit will be a true reflection of the company’s profitability, including the level and value of stock.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Approximately 21% of the after-tax net profits representing the period up to 17 September 1975 as a proportion of the year. This represents profits for the period before the shares were acquired by the Government.
  2. The present managing director was the major shareholder in the previous ownership.
  3. The companies are subject to the provisions of the Victorian Companies Act which contains specific provisions for accounts and audit. Payment will be made on the basis of properly audited final accounts.

Fawnmac Companies (Question No. 211)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is it a fact his answer to Question No. 23, indicates that the final purchase price of the Fawnmac companies will be more than the various figures given by the previous Minister for Health, and in fact contradicts statements made to Parliament by that Minister.
  2. Is he concerned at the escalating purchase price of these companies and by the growing public disquiet over the contract of sale.
  3. Will he make public the contract details and the Australian Industry Development Corporation calculations upon which the sale was negotiated, as it now appears that the final figure will be 300 per cent above the open market price.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. No. It was the understanding at the time of purchase by the previous Government that after-tax net profits in the year of sale, up to the point of sale, would go to the vendor, as the then owner of the shares, and that profits from that point on would be available for distribution to the purchaser. It was necessary to spell this out in the agreement as a formula and the amount still to be paid represents the application of this formula. As stated in my answer to question 210, the vendor’s proportion is approximately 2 1%.
  2. I have not received any complaints to indicate growing public disquiet. The formula for distribution of 1975-76 profits is fixed and there is no provision for the vendor’s proportion to be increased.
  3. The contract details were that the shares in the companies would be sold to the Commonwealth for a consideration comprising 5 times the consolidated net profits before tax in either the year ended 30 June 1974 or the year ending on the 30 June immediately preceding the date of exercise of the option to purchase (whichever was the greater) plus $2. 1 m. In addition the vendor was to receive the profits up to the date of purchase.

These were the Australian Industry Development Corporation calculations upon which the sale was negotiated.

The actual application of the contract provisions is as follows:

Option exercised 1.7.75 Settlement made 17.9.75 Consolidated net profits before tax-

The vendor’s share of 1975-76 profits will be calculated when audited final accounts for the year are available.

Bell Insurance Company (Question No. 214)

Mr Jacobi:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. Has his attention been drawn to the recent collapse of the Bell Insurance Co. Pty Ltd, particularly following the Government’s decision in December 1 975 to refuse the company an authorisation, after it had failed to meet the solvency provision of the Insurance Act.
  2. In view of the statement by the provisional liquidators when they emphasised that people insured with Bell should get other cover, will he make a public statement to advise these people of the protection available to them.
  3. Will he call for and table in the House the request from the Insurance Commissioner on this company ‘s liquidation.
  4. As I have persistently pressed for appropriate amendments to the Insurance Act and the Life Insurance Act for provisions relating to the competency of directors, and the need for adequate surveillance or control over such companies’ investments, will he now give urgent consideration to altering the Acts accordingly.

Mr Lynch: The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. It will not be possible to determine the company’s current financial position until the provisional liquidator makes his report. The deposit of $24,000 lodged by Bell Insurance Co. Pty Ltd, in accordance with the requirements of the

Insurance (Deposits) Act 1932-1973, would be available to assist, if necessary, in the settlement of claims under policies issued by the company.

  1. I have appointed an inspector under Part V of the Insurance Acts 1973 to report on the affairs of Bell Insurance Co. Pty Ltd. The question of publication of the inspector’s report cannot be determined until it is received and its full implications have been studied.
  2. The possible inclusion in the Commonwealth’s insurance legislation of specific provisions relating to the competency of directors of insurance companies raises major issues that would require detailed consideration by the Government. In this context, I am advised that the provisions of the Insurance Companies Act 1974 of the United Kingdom dealing with the competency of the directors have recently been the subject of significant controversy in that country.

The existing provisions of the Insurance Act 1973 and the Life Insurance Act 1945-73 enable a close supervision over the disposition of insurance companies’ assets and, against this background, consideration is not currently being given to specific legislative provisions for the control of investments by insurance companies.

Transport Studies (Question No. 222)

Mr Uren:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. Has the Interdepartmental Committee on Joint Transport Studies, established by the Labor Government, been re-established by the Government or has a similar committee been created.
  2. If so, (a) which Department or Authority chairs the Committee, (b) which Departments or Authorities are members of the committee, (c) what are its terms of reference and (d) when and how will it report to the Government.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) The Joint Transport Studies Interdepartmental Committee has not been re-established by the Government, nor has any similar committee been created.

Agricultural Seeds (Question No. 242)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

What progress has been made with improved registration and certification procedures for agricultural seeds to encourage greater private investment and importation in this industry, in respect of which a United States delegation visited Australia in 1 975.

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The visit referred to was a private visit sponsored by the American Seed Trade Association. Schemes for the protection of new varieties of plants and plant breeders rights were amongst the matters in which the visitors were interested.

The introduction of a scheme in Australia has been under consideration for some time by the Australian Agricultural Council. Some progress has been made in the examination of the complex legal and technical aspects of schemes which might be suitable for adoption and the technical issues are at present under study by a group of experts working under the auspices of the Council. It is expected that a report will be available for the Council ‘s consideration at its next meeting.

Beef Cattle Producers’ Organisations (Question No. 243)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. What are the names, claimed membership, and office bearers of the various national organisations representing beef cattle producers in Australia.
  2. Are all of them national in the sense of membership from each of the major beef producing States.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a) Organisations

    1. Australian National Cattlemen’s Council
    1. Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation
    2. Australian Cattlemen’s Federation

    3. Claimed Membership
    1. 20 000
    2. 76 400
    3. Not known.

    4. Office Bearers
  1. (i) The Australian National Cattlemen’s Council does not have individual cattle producers as members. It is comprised of the following member organisations:

Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council, and its member bodies, namely

Graziers’ Association of New South Wales,

United Graziers’ Association of Queensland, Graziers’ Association of Riverina, Graziers’ Association of Victoria, Stockowners’ Association of South Australia, Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling, Pastoralists’ and Graziers’ Association of Western Australia Inc.,

Tasmanian Farmers’ Stockowners’ and Orchardists’ Association,

Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees ‘ Association, Centralian Pastoralists* Association. Australian Lot Feeders Association Australian Association of Cattle Veterinarians Australian Registered Cattle Breeders’ Association, made up of the following:

Angus Society of Australia

Australian Brahman Breeders’ Association

Australian Hereford Society

Australian Poll Hereford Society

Beef Shorthorn Society of Australia

Devon Breeder’s Society of Australia

Galloway Cattle Society of Australia

Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society

Poll Shorthorn Society of Australia

Red Poll Cattle Breeders ‘ Association of Australia

Santa Gertrudis Breeders’ ( Aust.) Association

The Australian Braford Society

The Australian Sahiwal Society

The Australian Red Sindhi Society

  1. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation does not have individual members but is comprised of the following organisations:

Farmers’ Union of W. A. (Inc.),

Victorian Farmers Union,

United Farmers and Grazier of S.A. Inc.,

Queensland Farmers and Graziers Association

Tasmanian Farmers Federation,

United Farmers and Woolgrowers’ Association of New South Wales.

  1. iii) Australian Cattlemen ‘s Federation.

This organisation is still in its formative stages.

It has been designed so as to have individual producers as members.

Fancy Cheeses (Question No. 244)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

  1. Has there been any request or application to the Department for the reintroduction of anti-dumping duties against imported fancy cheese.
  2. Were these duties summarily removed by the previous Government without any reference to the Industries Assistance Commission.
Mr Howard:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) Two requests have been made. The first on 1 S January 1974 by the Hon. Ian Smith M.L.A., Victorian Minister for Agriculture. The second on 19 February 1975 by Mr K. R. Brown, Secretary of Lactos Pty Ltd, Burnie, Tasmania.
  2. Yes. However under Section 17(1) of the previous Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act the Minister has the authority to revoke dumping duties. There is no requirement for the matter to be referred to the IAC and it has not been the practice to do so.

Fish and Prawns (Question No. 258)

Mr Morris:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) What was the value of (a) fish and (b) prawns caught from Australian vessels off the northern Australian coast in the years 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1974-75, and in the 8 month period to 29 February 1 976.
  2. Is information available to show the value of (a) fish and (b) prawns taken by foreign vessels off the northern coast of Australia in the same years and period; if so, what was the value.
  3. Of the Australian based fishing and prawning vessels operating off the northern Australian coast, can he say in what State each vessel is domiciled, and what is the financial investment involved in operating each of the vessels.
  4. How many (a) males and (b) females are employed in the operation of the Australian based vessels.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is a follows:

  1. The volume of fish and prawns landed from Australian vessels off the northern Australian coast has been estimated by my Department as follows:
  1. No. ‘
  2. Prawn vessels operating in the northern prawning fishery during 1975 originated from the following States:

The number of vessels operating in the other northern Australian fisheries is not available. Details of the level of financial investment involved in operating each of the vessels are not collected.

  1. The number of males and females employed upon Australian vessels in the northern prawn fishery is not collected but it is estimated that some 800 persons were employed during 1975.

Fawnmac Companies (Question No. 277)

Mr Lloyd:

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. What contractual or other commercial arrangements are there between the Fawnmac group of companies and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
  2. When did they commence, and what is the estimated percentage of annual gross income of the Fawnmac group resulting from these arrangements.
  3. Have any Commonwealth Serum Laboratories contracts with other companies been granted to Fawnmac since its purchase; if so, what are they.
  4. What guarantee is there that any arrangements between the two will be strictly commercial and not used as a device to transfer funds from the Commonwealth Serum

Laboratories, which the Government underwrites, to Fawnmac, which is expected to make a profit.

Mr Hunt:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. CSL has a commercial arrangement with Rotary Tableting Corporation Pty Ltd.- one of the Fawnmac group of companies, for the manufacture of some oral forms of penicillins from bulk material supplied by CSL.
  2. The arrangement commenced in 1971 and in 1974-75 represented 5.67 per cent of the turnover of the Fawnmac group.
  3. No.
  4. CSL is a statutory body operating under the CSL Act 1961-73. The contractual arrangements between CSL and the Fawnmac Group are on a strictly commercial basis and this guarantees that normal commercial criteria will obtain.

Australian Assistance Plan (Question No. 289)

Mr Mackenzie:

asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Does the Government intend to have the Australian Assistance Plan continue in principle.
  2. If so, will full funding, administrative and capitation grants continue for regions in 1 976-77.
  3. If not, will some funding of regions be forthcoming to enable the minimum administrative requirements for the plan to continue in 1976-77.
Mr Hunt:

– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question. (I), (2) and (3) The Australian Assistance Plan (AAP) was introduced in 1973 as a three year experimental program. The pilot period concludes on 30 June 1976, about which time the Commonwealth Government will be making decisions on the future of the program.

The decisions will be based on information and opinions drawn from a number of sources. These include: the views of Regional Councils for Social Development the Report of the Social Welfare Commission on the AAP reports from independent evaluators appointed by the Social Welfare Commission. comments by the Department of Social Security which has been responsible for the administration of the program over most of the pilot period comments from State Governments comments from Local Government Authorities and their Associations comments from voluntary welfare organisations and private citizens.

It is planned to hold conferences with representatives of State Government Departments concerned with welfare matters and also with representatives of Local Government Associations in April 1976. A National Conference on the Australian Assistance Plan which will be attended by State and Local Government representatives, and representatives from Regional Councils for Social Development and members of Parliament is scheduled for the first weekend in May.

Commonwealth Police Guard for Governor-General (Question No. 299)

Mr Innes:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice: (This question was asked by Mr Innes of the Attorney-General but it has been transferred to the Minister for Administrative Services).

  1. 1) What was the cost to the Commonwealth Police Force to guard the Governor-General at the (a) Australian National University on 26 March 1976 and (b) Royal Canberra Golf Club on 27 March 1976.
  2. How many police were involved on each occasion.
  3. Is the budget of the Attorney-General’s Department to be adjusted upwards to take account of the costs of guarding the Governor-General; if so, by how much.
Mr Street:

– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following reply to the honourable member’s question:

  1. Detailed costs of guarding the Governor-General are not kept. The major cost would be the cost of wages paid to the members of the Commonwealth Police Force involved.
  2. 26 March 1976- four Commonwealth Police Officers. 27 March 1 976-two Commonwealth Police Officers.
  3. No. The cost of guarding the Governor-General is met from the appropriation for the Commonwealth Police Force.

Wheat (Question No. 321)

Mr McVeigh:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. 1 ) Is there a world shortage of wheat.
  2. 2 ) Is there no surplus in Australia at the present time, and is this unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
  3. Has his attention been drawn to the serious problems facing wheatgrowers following railway freight increases and indirect taxation.
  4. Will he raise the first advance on the 1976-77 crop to $1.80 per bushel to encourage production, and help defray costs, and make any such announcement prior to the forthcoming planting season.
Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. World supply and demand are in fine balance and stocks are low by historical standards.
  2. ) The Australian Wheat Board ‘s carry-over at the end of the current season is expected to be normal. The short-term market outlook for wheat appears satisfactory.
  3. I am aware of industry alarm that the factors mentioned are having an effect on the level of profitability.
  4. The matter of the level of the first advance is one which will be considered by the Government and a decision taken at an appropriate time having regard to all relevant aspects including the prospective market outlook.

Railways: Tarcoola-Alice Springs (Question No. 329)

Mr Mackenzie:

asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

  1. What is the estimated cost per kilometre of the standard gauge railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs.
  2. Who is responsible for constructing the line, and what funds are allocated for this purpose in 1975-76.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. 1 ) $ 1 3 1 ,000 per kilometre based on January 1 976 prices.
  2. Australian National Railways Commission is responsible for construction of the line. Funds appropriated for the project for 1975-76 are $13,000,000.

Australian Wheat Board: Payments to Growers (Question No. 373)

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

How was the discount rate of IVA per cent per annum determined by the Australian Wheat Board for the discount offer recently made to wheatgrowers who delivered wheat to the 1974-75 pool.

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I am advised that the discount rate of WA per cent was determined by resolution of the Board at a regular meeting, was arrived at having regard to rates charged by wool broking firms and hire purchase agencies generally and was considered by the Board to be reasonable and not inconsistent with those rates.

Bankruptcies (Question No. 164)

Mr Les Johnson:

asked the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, upon notice:

What was the number of bankruptcies in (a) total and (b) for each major occupational category in each of the last 25 years.

Mr Howard:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. This information is contained in Attachment A.
  2. Although the occupational status of bankrupts is recorded statistically, the information is not maintained separately. Included in the statistics are the occupations of deceased persons whose estates are administered in bankruptcy, and of persons whose affairs are dealt with under the Bankruptcy Act without sequestration, upon their entering into compositions, or executing Deeds of Arrangement or Deeds of Assignment with their creditors.

In other words, the occupational statistics which are maintained cover that group of persons who are in fact bankrupt, or who, for practical purposes, might be regarded as bankrupt. It is not practicable to isolate the occupations of bankrupts from the occupations of the other persons mentioned.

Attachment B, which consists of two schedules, contains broad details of the occupational categories of this group of persons for the 25 years to and including 1974-75.

The first schedule covers the years 1950-5 1 to 1971-72. A detailed dissection of the information contained in this document will be found in the Eighth Schedule to the Annual Reports of the Attorney-General on the operation of the Bankruptcy Act for the years concerned.

Commencing with the year 1972-73 there was a change in the method of recording occupational information. The second schedule to Attachment B reflects the change. The Ninth Schedule, Part A, to the Annual Reports of the AttorneyGeneral for the years concerned, gives a precise break-up of the broad groupings shown in this document.

Pan B of the Ninth Schedule to the Attorney-General’s Annual Reports which deals with industry classifications would, I think, also be of interest to the honourable member.


Total number of bankruptcies during the years 1950-5 1 to 1974-75-


Major occupational categories of

  1. bankrupts;
  2. deceased debtors whose affairs were administered in bankruptcy; and
  3. debtors whose affairs were dealt with without sequestration upon their entering into compositions, or executing Deeds of Arrangement or Deeds of Assignment with their creditors, during the years- 1950-51 to 1971 -72- Schedule A 1972-73 to 1974-75-Schedule B

Exotic Diseases (0 It had been hoped to commence a program of con- .struction for quarantine incinerators during 1 975-76 but pol- (Question No. 44) ley aspects and site acquisition, together with planning and

Mr Bungey:

asked the Minister for Health, documentation, could not be completed in time. Sites are upon notice: being negotiated and the Department of Construction is cur- upon notice:rently preparing designs for the installations so that, subject

What procedures exist to alert his Department to out- to approval, construction may commence in 1976-77. breaks of diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, in other (2) During 1976-77, it is proposed to commence construc countries non 0r incinerators at the following locations, subject to {: #subdebate-40-29-s1 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr Hunt:
NCP/NP -The answer to the honourable budgetary considerations member's question is as follows: Newcastle seaport Australia is a member country of the Office Internationale Port Hedland airport/ seaport des Epizooties (OIE) which provides a world wide disease These locations are considered to be the ones in most urgent reporting service from Paris, France. OIE operates, with the need of facilities. Construction of incinerators at other loca- World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculturaltions will be proposed in subsequent financial years. The Organisation, under the aegis of the United Nations. OIE cirprogram of construction is being planned having in mind fa- culates monthly disease situation reports to all membercilities already available for the safe disposal of quarantine countries, supplemented as necessary by urgent advices of wastes. outbreaks of special significance. (3) The only high priority seaport lacking an incinerator It is the practice of veterinary authorities in many and not included in the above list is Sydney. In this seaport developed countries to report to each other advice of disease there exists no incinerator specifically for quarantine wastes, outbreaks of special importance and methods of control. In However Local Government facilities are being used and addition, the Australian Overseas posts notify changes in dis- are considered adequate at this stage, ease status which come to their attention. (4) Consideration is currently being given to the question ~ _ . ^ of functional control for quarantine incinerators. Quarantine Incinerators (Question No. 68) Medibank {: #subdebate-40-29-s2 .speaker-2E4} ##### Mr Lloyd: asked the Minister for Health, upon (Question No. ill) notice: **Mr Hodges** asked the Minister for Health, {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Where was it hoped to construct incinerators for quar-upon notice: antine purposes during 1975-76. (1) what was the percentage of medical practitioners 1. Where will incinerators be constructed. under Medibank (a) engaged in total bulk billing, (b) engaged in partial bulk billing and (c) engaged in bulk 2. What are the top priority airports and seaports still billing for pensioners in (i) each State, (ii) the Australian lacking incinerators. Capital Territory and (iii) the Northern Territory for the 3. What progress has been made with a single- months of (A) November 1975, (B) December 1975 and department control arrangement for the finance, construe- (C) January 1976. non and maintenance of incinerators. (2) What were the national percentages. {: #subdebate-40-29-s3 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr Hunt:
NCP/NP -- The answer to the honourable **Mr Hunt-** The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: member's question is as follows: {: .page-start } page 1649 {:#debate-41} ### PERCENTAGE OF DOCTORS UNDER MEDIBANK ENGAGED IN SOME FORM OF DIRECT BILLING The term ' direct billing ' is used in the answer to the question. Medibank records do not identify pensioners so no statistics are available on doctors direct billing for services rendered to pensioners. The figures relate to claims paid in the respective months. {:#subdebate-41-0} #### Medibank (Question No. 112) {: #subdebate-41-0-s0 .speaker-00ATA} ##### Mr Hodges:
PETRIE, QUEENSLAND asked the Minister for Health, upon notice: >Of the total accounts submitted for payment by patients under Medibank for the months of (a) November 1975, (b) December 1975 and (c) January 1976, what was the number and the percentage for (i) each State, (ii) the Australian Capital Territory and (iii) the Northern Territory of (A) paid accounts and (B) unpaid accounts submitted. {: #subdebate-41-0-s1 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr Hunt:
NCP/NP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >Estimated total services submitted for payment by claimants for November 1975, December 1975 and January 1976- number and per cent of paid and unpaid services. The figures relate to estimated numbers of services in claims received from claimants in the respective months. Figures are not available of the numbers of doctors' accounts received from claimants. {:#subdebate-41-1} #### Aborigines: Expenditure on Programs (Question No. 134) {: #subdebate-41-1-s0 .speaker-KFB} ##### Mr FitzPatrick: asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice: >What programs in progress and/or planned in the Electoral Division of Darling will be affected by expenditure cuts in 1975-76. {: #subdebate-41-1-s1 .speaker-EE6} ##### Mr Viner:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >No cuts have been made in current programs, or in programs for which commitments had been given to Aboriginal organisations in the Electoral Division of Darling. {:#subdebate-41-2} #### Cane Toads (Question No. 152) {: #subdebate-41-2-s0 .speaker-CV4} ##### Mr Jacobi: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to reports, published in the Queensland press in late 1975, which reveal that cane toads are now found several hundred miles inland from the Queensland coast near the headwaters of the Darling River. 1. Is the Department concerned that these pests may become established in New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. What studies have been undertaken into the habits of these creatures which would indicate any threat they may pose to southern Australia. {: #subdebate-41-2-s1 .speaker-0I4} ##### Mr MacKellar:
LP -- The Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development has provided the following answer to the honourable member's questions: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. While I have not personally seen the reports referred to by the honourable member, 1 am concerned at the spread of the cane toad throughout eastern Australia since its original introduction to Queensland in 1935. 1. and (3) The cane toad has already been detected in north-eastern New South Wales and is very common along the greater portion of the eastern Queensland seaboard. Owing to the toad's ability to withstand a wide range of temperatures experts are not prepared, at this stage, to predict the areas of Australia which could be colonised. The toad has multiplied in Australia on a scale not reached by native frogs and because of its feeding habits and production of a toxic venom from glands in the neck region it is a potential threat to a range of native fauna. In addition it competes for habitat and preys on native species. The effect of the toad on native fauna is poorly documented and this is one area that requires research. For further information on this problem I refer the honourable member to an excellent report published in 1 975 by **Mr Michael** Tyler of the University of Adelaide. I have asked the Acting Director of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service to approach State wildlife authorities to see if this problem warrants combined State/Commonwealth action. {:#subdebate-41-3} #### Sir Henry Bland (Question No. 154) {: #subdebate-41-3-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP am asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Can he say of which overseas companies **Sir Henry** Bland is a Director. 1. Has **Sir Henry** Bland made a declaration to the Prime Minister of his financial interests. 2. Is he a Director of any companies incorporated in overseas countries which have been nationalised by the Governments of those countries. 3. If so, is he subject to instructions from foreign Governments. {: #subdebate-41-3-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) to (4) **Sir Henry** Bland is a consultant to the Government and I am certain that he would advise me of any conflict of interest. {:#subdebate-41-4} #### Council for Aboriginal Affairs (Question No. 167) {: #subdebate-41-4-s0 .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr Les Johnson:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP asked the Minister for Abor iginal Affairs, upon notice: >What are the matters currently engaging the attention of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. {: #subdebate-41-4-s1 .speaker-EE6} ##### Mr Viner:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >The Council for Aboriginal Affairs is at present primarily engaged in the following matters: > >safeguarding the interests of the Torres Strait Islanders in discussions preparing for the negotiations with Papua New Guinea in relation to the Australian/Papua New Guinea border; > >assisting me in safeguarding the interests of the Aurukun Aboriginals in relation to the proposal to mine and refine bauxite near Aurukun; > >assisting in implementation of the recommendations in the Council' s reports of 1974 on Yuendumu and Hooker Creek, and of 1975 on Arnhem Land (at present being printed); > >preparing a submission to the Ranger Inquiry about the impact of mining activities on Aboriginal communities; > >undertaking particular projects referred by myself or the Permanent Head; and > >f) discussing with me questions relating to its future. {:#subdebate-41-5} #### Location of Australian Government Employment (Question No. 220) {: #subdebate-41-5-s0 .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr Uren: asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Public Service Matters, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Has the Interdepartmental Committee on Location of Australian Government Employment, established by the Labor Government, been re-established by the Government or has a similar committee been created. 1. If so, (a) which Department or Authority chairs the committee, (b) which Departments or Authorities are members of the committee, (c) what are its terms of reference and (d) when and how will it report to the Government. {: #subdebate-41-5-s1 .speaker-KVM} ##### Mr Street:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Prime Minister approved the re-establishment of the Interdepartmental Committee on Location of Australian Government Employment on 20 January 1976. 1. -- {: type="a" start="a"} 0. The Public Service Board. 1. The Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, Administrative Services, Environment, Housing and Community Development, and the Capital Territory. 2. The Committee is required toreport and recommend to the Prime Minister on all matters relating to the location of existing or proposed units of Australian Government Employment, having regard to: {: type="i" start="i"} 0. Government policies on urban and regional development, decentralisation, and the regionalisation of Australian Government services, as announced from time to time; 1. the accommodation situation in major cities (including Canberra); and 2. efficiency in administration, and the preservation of the interests of staff. 3. As indicated in (c) above the Committee will report to the Prime Minister from time to time as requirements for Government decisions on location of Government employment occur. {:#subdebate-41-6} #### Geelong Growth Centre (Question No. 231) {: #subdebate-41-6-s0 .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr Scholes:
CORIO, VICTORIA asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Has he indicated by letter to the Victorian Minister for Local Government that funds to finance the Geelong Growth Centre Program will be made available by the Commonwealth Government. 1. 2) If so, did he indicate in the letter that these funds would be available in the 1976-77 Budget. {: #subdebate-41-6-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. 1. See (1) above. Visit to Europe by the Governor-General (Question No. 249) {: #subdebate-41-6-s2 .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr Morris: asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the place and nature of the GovernorGeneral's official engagements on 24, 28 and 29 December 1975; 2, 14, 16, 23 to 29 January and 2 February 1976 *(Hansard,* 23 March 1976, page 927). 1. Who were the 5 officials who accompanied him. {: #subdebate-41-6-s3 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >See my answer on 23 March 1 976, *(Hansard,* page 927 ). Building Renovations at Nareen (Question No. 291) {: #subdebate-41-6-s4 .speaker-KN9} ##### Mr Martin:
BANKS, NEW SOUTH WALES asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What renovations to buildings on his property, Nareen, have been made or are planned for the purpose of accommodating Commonwealth Police or other Government employees. 1. At whose expense are such renovations being carried out. 2. What is the cost to the Australian Government of the renovations. {: #subdebate-41-6-s5 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Minor renovations have been carried out on an existing cottage at Nareen to provide office accommodation and sleeping quarters for officials who accompany me. Painting, carpentry, plumbing and electrical work is being carried out to make the cottage habitable. 1. Mine. 2. Nil. {:#subdebate-41-7} #### Governor-General: Commonwealth Police Guard (Question No. 301) {: #subdebate-41-7-s0 .speaker-KJA} ##### Mr Innes: asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) What was the cost to the A.C.T. Police Force to guard the Governor-General at the (a) Australian National University on 26 March 1976 and (b) Royal Canberra Golf Club on 27 March 1976. 1. How many police were involved on each occasion. 2. Is the budget of the Department of the Capital Territory to be adjusted upwards to take account of the costs of guarding the Governor-General; if so, by how much. {: #subdebate-41-7-s1 .speaker-GY5} ##### Mr Staley:
Minister for the Capital Territory · CHISHOLM, VICTORIA · LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. (a) The cost of salaries and allowances for A.C.T. Police personnel, including the motorcycle escort was $2,885.20. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. The cost of salaries and allowances, including penalty rates, incurred for Saturday duty was $4,448.18. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Number of A.C.T. Police in attendance on- Friday 26 March 1976-62 Saturday 27 March 1976-69 {: type="1" start="3"} 0. No. {:#subdebate-41-8} #### Chinese Antiquities Exhibition (Question No. 333) {: #subdebate-41-8-s0 .speaker-2E4} ##### Mr Lloyd: asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Further to question No. 102, will the proposed Chinese Antiquities Exhibition be the same as that which was shown in the United States of America in 1 975. 1. If not, why not, and will it be of a similar scale and quality. 2. In which Australian cities will it be shown, and for what period will the exhibition be in Australia. {: #subdebate-41-8-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="A" start="1"} 0. I ) & (2) The final content of the Chinese antiquities exhibition to Australia is still being negotiated. It is understood, however, that it is likely to comprise material from the exhibition to the United States, material from an exhibition to Japan and Mexico, and some new antiquities not previously seen outside China. The Chinese authorities reserve the right to decide what material is exhibited abroad, but every effort is being made to ensure that the exhibition to come to Australia will be of comparable importance and quality to those seen elsewhere. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. Subject to agreement on the content of the exhibition, it is expected that it will be shown in Melbourne from 1 5 January to 5 March 1977, and Sydney from 24 March to 8 May 1977. {:#subdebate-41-9} #### Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme: Goats' Milk (Question No. 338) {: #subdebate-41-9-s0 .speaker-2E4} ##### Mr Lloyd: asked the Minister for Health, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the approximate monthly usage of goats' milk under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prior to the recent restriction, and what is the estimated or actual monthly usage now. 1. What percentage of the total canned or powdered goats' milk consumption does this represent. 2. Is there any requirement that only Australian goats' milk be used in National Health Service prescriptions. {: #subdebate-41-9-s1 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr Hunt:
NCP/NP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The average number of pharmaceutical benefit prescriptions per month for goats' milk during the twelve months proir to the change in restrictions was 6075. It is estimated that the prescription volume will be reduced to approximately 2000 per month. 1. I do not have any information on the total consumption of canned or powdered goat's milk. 2. No. {:#subdebate-41-10} #### Rye Grass Toxicity (Question No. 391) {: #subdebate-41-10-s0 .speaker-JT9} ##### Mr Bungey: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Have representations been received from the Western Australian Government for help in studying or investigating rye grass toxicity which has caused severe stock losses in certain areas of Western Australia over the last few years. 1. If so, what has been the nature of the representations, and what action has resulted from them. {: #subdebate-41-10-s1 .speaker-ID4} ##### Mr Adermann:
Minister Assisting the Minister for National Resources · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · NCP/NP -- The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Some two years ago, the Western Australian Department of Agriculture asked CSIRO for assistance in studying annual rye grass toxicity. The Department stressed the importance of the problem, which had already been under investigation by the CSIRO Division of Animal Health in a less acute form. 1. A closely co-operative investigation was set up between the Department and the CSIRO Division of Animal Health and has continued as a matter of priority in both of these. The investigations have reached a promising stage where a bacterial infection of the seed can definitely be identified as the source of the toxin, and new information on the nature of the toxin is coming to light. {:#subdebate-41-11} #### Darwin Appeal (Question No. 100) {: #subdebate-41-11-s0 .speaker-L0J} ##### Mr Sainsbury:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Which body collected the money for the Darwin Appeal. 1. What was the total amount of money collected. 2. What was the total amount of Government assistance given towards the money collected. 3. What has been done about the completion of Darwin reconstruction, in the context of the then Prime Minister's statements at the time of fund raising. 4. Who is responsible for the dispersal of funds. 5. What amount of funds is left, and what is the proposed dispersal of these funds. {: #subdebate-41-11-s1 .speaker-ID4} ##### Mr Adermann:
NCP/NP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1) A large number of organisations instituted appeals on behalf of the people of Darwin immediately after cyclone Tracy. Collections were made in communities throughout Australia and in countries overseas. At the instigation of the Government a Trust Fund was established to receive the monies received through the various appeals. At the same time a Mayor's Trust Fund was also established by the Mayor of Darwin, and some monies were paid into the latter fund. The two Funds were, shortly after, merged into the single Fund which is now known as the ' Darwin Cyclone Tracy Trust Fund '. Not all of the organisations which conducted appeals paid the monies collected by them into the 'Darwin Cyclone Tracy Trust Fund'. Some organisations themselves disbursed the monies collected by them as various forms of assistance to cyclone victims. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The total amount received into the Trust Fund is $8,090,339. The amount received by organisations which did not pay monies into the Trust Fund is not known. 1. The Government undertook to provide the staff necessary to administer the Trust Fund and to meet all expenses associated with the administration of the Fund. This undertaking has been honoured. 2. The funds raised for the Darwin Appeal were not intended to be applied by the Government for the reconstruction of Darwin and were not in fact so used. The monies were intended to assist those who suffered losses as a result of the cyclone and in general have been applied by the Trustees of the Fund in assisting people to re-establish their households. The reconstruction of Darwin is entirely separate from the Relief Fund exercise. There are three main ways in which the Government has moved to re-establish housing in Darwinfirstly, by providing a long term loan at 6 per cent interest to assist private house building; secondly, by providing greatly enlarged capital grants to the Northern Territory Housing Commission for the provision of rental homes for private persons; and thirdly, by an accelerated staff housing programme. The latter, together with construction of all Government work in Darwin has been entrusted to the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. Private reconstruction is being further assisted by compensation grants of SO per cent of uninsured losses. These are paid by the Government and are over and above payouts by the Insurance industry which are reported to have exceeded $200 million for the private sector. {: type="1" start="5"} 0. The Relief Trust Fund is disbursed by means of a Trust Deed by which the Minister for the Northern Territory appointed a number of persons as Trustees of the 'Darwin Cyclone Tracy Trust Fund'. The Minister for the Northern Territory is Chairman of Trustees. Payments from the Trust Fund are made in accordance with directions issued from time to time from the Trustees. The Trustees meet regularly and report each month to the Parliament. 1. As at 1 March 1976 the balance in the Trust Fund was $1,085,586. Payments are continuing to those eligible for grants ($200 per family and $100 per single person), in accordance with the guidelines established by the Trust. The Trustees have set aside monies from overseas donated for the specific purpose of establishing a cultural centre in Darwin. Decisions have yet to be made by the Trustees in relation to the remaining funds of approximately $877,000. {:#subdebate-41-12} #### Government Office Construction Programs (Question No. 174) {: #subdebate-41-12-s0 .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr Les Johnson:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP asked the Minister for Construction, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What Government office construction programs have been approved since 1 1 November 1975. 1. What Government office construction programs approved before 1 1 November 1975, or at a program stage at that date, have been deferred or abandoned. {: #subdebate-41-12-s1 .speaker-KSB} ##### Mr McLeay:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Nil. 1. Construction of the following Government offices has been deferred: 2. Oakleigh, Victoria. 3. Parramatta, New South Wales. {:#subdebate-41-13} #### Works of Art for Official Establishments (Question No. 250) {: #subdebate-41-13-s0 .speaker-HI4} ##### Mr Morris: asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: >What was the date and cost of acquisition of each work of art lent to Government House and Admiralty House since 1 1 July 1974 *(Hansard,* 23 March 1976, page 928). {: #subdebate-41-13-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) The works of art lent to Government House since 1 1 July 1 974, were acquired as follows: Ceramics Les Blakebrough Five pieces Hiroe Swen Three pieces Peter Rushforth Three pieces Sculpture Paul Beadle Two sculptures Robert Klippel Two untitled works Aboriginal Three bark paintings August 1971 and February 1973 August 1975 September 1972 October 1974 February 1976 March 1973 Tapestry Arthur Boyd St Francis and St Clare St Francis turning away Paintings Michael Taylor Late Hour Monaro Flying Insects Margaret Preston Banksias Still Life Sidney Nolan Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek Arthur Boyd Landscape Figure with Black Can The Valley Unicorn & Figure in a Tree Rosebud Landscape Tim Stonier North Queensland Landscape Douglas Watson Low Tide Geraldtown Jean Bellette Figure Group Sam Fullbrook Plane over Dunlop Ralph Balson Untitled John Firth-Smith Peanut Time Donald Friend Rushcutter's Bay James Jackson Woman with Parasol Haughton Forrest Ship at Sea in Storm F. MacNamara Long Reef in a Storm Justin O'Brien Still Life with Fresco February 1975 February 1975 February 1976 February 1976 August 1975 February 1976 June 1972 Gift February 1975 Gift February 1975 March 1974 Gift February 1975 Gift February 1975 August 1975 April 1972 February 1972 February 1965 August 1971 February 1976 November 1962 July 1971 February 1976 February 1976 February 1976 The work of art lent to Admiralty House since 1 1 July 1 974 was acquired as follows: Tapestry Sidney Nolan The Trial August 1974 {: type="1" start="2"} 0. It is normal international gallery practice not to make public prices paid for individual works of art as a matter of principle, out of regard, frequently, to the wishes of vendors and with regard to the effects such disclosures might have on market values whether up or down. This was also the practice followed by the previous Government. {:#subdebate-41-14} #### Dinner at Government House, 10 May 1975 (Question No. 288) {: #subdebate-41-14-s0 .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) What was the cost to the Government of the buffet dinner held at Government House on 10 May 1975, which was reported in the Vice-Regal notices published on 12 May 1975. 1. If it was a private gathering, why was it reported in the Vice-Regal notices. 2. If any Government expense was involved, what was the purpose of the gathering, and who were the guests present. 3. Was **Mr Justice** Larkins among the guests. {: #subdebate-41-14-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) See my answer to Question No. 257 (Hansard 8 April 1976 page 1564). 1. It has been the long standing practice of successive Governors-General to issue for public information their engagements of the previous day. The information is published in a number of the Nation's daily newspapers under the heading ' Vice-Regal '. {: type="1" start="3"} 0. and (4) I do not propose to add to what has already been published, the more so since there was ample opportunity for the previous Government to obtain the information when it was in office. {:#subdebate-41-15} #### Motor Vehicle Policy (Question No. 307) {: #subdebate-41-15-s0 .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr Scholes: asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) Does the statement on the motor vehicle industry constitute the Government's fulfilment of his undertaking to ensure that panelling and tooling of Ford vehicles will continue at Geelong. 1. If so, under what section of the statement are such guarantees contained. {: #subdebate-41-15-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and (2) The Government's policy for the passenger motor vehicle industry ensures that these vehicles will continue to be produced in Australia at high levels of local content. The policy is not intended, however, to guarantee that any or every manufacturing process in the industry is frozen at some given level of activity. Rather, the policy is directed towards gradual restructuring of local manufacturing to achieve increased competitiveness and more freedom of choice for consumers. The exact nature and timing of this restructuring is essentially a matter of commercial judgment by the companies concerned. Departmental Expenditure on Air Travel (Question No. 344) {: #subdebate-41-15-s2 .speaker-JT9} ##### Mr Bungey: asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What sum has been paid by his Department to each airline for air travel within Australia during the last 2 years. 1. Will he supply similar information in relation to (a) the Public Service Board and (b) the Auditor-General's Office. {: #subdebate-41-15-s3 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (D- The above figures cover the 2 years to 3 1 March 1976 and include all payments made to the airlines because some companies do not claim separately for fares and freight.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 April 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.