House of Representatives
6 December 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.

page 3289


The Clerk:

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

Australian Symphony Orchestras

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 we are deeply concerned at the threat to the continuation of symphony orchestras throughout Australia posed by the IAC and Green reports.

We believe that the Government should not allow the symphony orchestras of Australia to be reduced in any way

Your petitioners humbly pray that your honourable House will take steps to ensure the continuation and growth of our symphony orchestras, thereby ensuring that the quality of life of the people of this country shall be maintained.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Birney, Mr Connolly, Mr Dobie, Mr Haslem, Mr Hurford, Mr Jacobi, and Mr Charles Jones.

Petitions received.

Australian Broadcasting Commission

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled.

We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government;

  1. Subscribe to the view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day whatever political party.
  2. Eschew all means, direct or indirect, of diminishing the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
  3. Reject all proposals for the introduction of advertising into ABC programs.
  4. Develop methods for publicly funding the Commission which will prevent the granting or witholding of funds being used as a method of diminishing its independence.
  5. Ensure that any general inquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that strong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the inquiry.

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

Petition received.

Australian Broadcasting Commission

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 we are deeply concerned at the threat to the

We believe that the Government should desist from further financial cuts to the organisation and other pressures.

Your petitioners humbly pray that your honourable House will take steps to ensure the continuation of all present services provided by an independent ABC.

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

Petition received.


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, although we accept the verdict of the Australian people in the 1975 election, we do not accept the right of a Governor-General to dismiss a Prime Minister who maintains the confidence of the House of Representatives.

We believe that the continued presence of Sir John Kerr as Governor-General is a cause of division among the Australian people.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your honourable House will call on Sir John Kerr to resign as Australian Governor-General.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hayden and Mr Les McMahon.

Petitions received.

Budget 1976-77

To the Honourable Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that; the Budget will increase unemployment to unprecedented and crisis proportions at a time when hundreds of thousands of Australians, especially school-leavers, young workers and apprentices, are without work; the Budget completes the dismantling of Medibank as a simple, effective universal health insurance scheme, providing basic coverage for the total community; the Budget, by its heavy cuts in urban and transport programs, will worsen the quality of life available to many Australians; the Budget will compel state governments to reduce their services and increase charges; the Budget reduces spending on Aboriginal affairs by 30 per cent and returns expenditure on Aborigines to pre- 1972 days; the Budget seriously disadvantages migrant groups, most notably in employment and health, ana leaves room for concern over the future ethnic radio; the Budget, despite the government’s earlier rhetoric about defence threats to Australia, continues to hold the size of the armed services at present levels; and the Budget, despite all the above, still cannot be expected to reduce Australia’s annual inflation rate below twelve per cent;

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the 1976 Budget be redrafted to provide for economic recovery within the guidelines laid down by the Australian Labor Government’s 1975 Budget.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les McMahon and Mr Antony Whitlam.

Petitions received.

Petitions 6 December 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 3289

Metric System

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors of the Division of Capricornia in the State of Queensland respectfully showeth objection to Metrics and request the Government to revert to the Imperial system.

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

Petition received.

Broadcasting Council

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 representation of the consumer, the listening public community groups be included in the membership of the proposed Broadcasting Council.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Cass.

Petition received.

Petrol Price Equalisation Scheme

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

That the Commonwealth Government restore the Petrol Price Equalisation Scheme immediately for the benefit of those people who live away from the seaboard.

Your petitioners believe that the matter is urgent

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

Petition received.

Telephone Service

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

That there is a need for a public telephone to be installed at Coombah Half-way house for emergency use of the 225 km stretch of lonely highway linking Wentworth with Broken Hill New South Wales.

That continued refusal by Telecom Australia to provide an emergency telephone threatens users of this Highway with danger to life and property.

That the cost of providing a service at the privately owned Coombah Roadhouse is prohibitive to the operator and should be undertaken as a service to the outback travelling public by the Federal Transport Department

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

Petition received.

Australian Broadcasting Commission

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 we are deeply concerned at the threat posed by the I.A.C.and the Green reports to the public conceit giving function of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and to ‘ the continuation of the Commission’s Symphony Orchestra throughout Australia.

Your petitioners humbly pray that your honourable House will take steps to ensure the continuation and expansion by the ABC of its public concerts program and the continued growth of its symphony orchestras.

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

Petition received.


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 whereas the mining, processing, use, distribution and export of uranium constitute a prime invironmental threat to all forms of life;

And whereas the dangers of nuclear fission and nuclear proliferation represent the gravest of dangers to life itself,

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

  1. That Australia take no further part in the rnining, processing, use, distribution or export of uranium, except for medical purposes; and
  2. That urgent steps be taken to explore and develop alternative and safe sources of energy.

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

Petition received.

Home Mortgage Interest Rates

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 the proposal to exclude all persons from the benefit of tax deductibility for mortgage interest rates other than first home buyers in their first five years of home purchase is a repudiation of the Government’s election undertaking to maintain the scheme.
  2. That the effect of the proposal will cause hardship to many current beneficiaries of the scheme, in that existing benefits will terminate, thus putting housing loan repayments beyond reach.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:

  1. that the Government reconsider its decision to drastically curtail the scheme;
  2. that the principles applying to the scheme as introduced by the Labor Government be maintained; and
  3. that benefits be upgraded by indexation to take account of the effect ofinflation.

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

Petition received. 3290 REPRESENTATIVES 6 December 1976 Petitions

Cows Milk Substitutes: Pharmaceutical Benefits

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 Prosobee as a main 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 Les Johnson.

Petition received.

Hunter Symphony Orchestra

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Hunter Valley Region respectfully showeth the lack of a resident professional symphony orchestra in Newcastle and surrounding areas, with consequent denial to the citizens of adequate provision of concerts, opera, ballet, school concerts, teaching of various orchestral instruments and career opportunities for young musicians.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament give due and early consideration to the provision of funds, in association with the New South Wales State Government, local governments and the community of this region, for the establishment and maintenance of the Hunter Symphony Orchestra, consisting initally of 40 players, located in Newcastle and serving the cultural needs of 500 000 inhabitants of the region, in accordance with the proposal and budget submitted to the Industries Assistance Commission.

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

Petition received.

Aboriginal Land Rights

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

That the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976, does not satisfy the Aboriginal needs for land in the Northern Territory.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, should: I. extend the freeze on European claims to the unalienated crown lands of the Northern Territory until 12 months after the passage of the Bill; and to provide for the speedy lodging and hearing of Aboriginal claims. The hearing of Aboriginal claims has been postponed as a result of Government decisions. Aboriginals should not be penalised. II. Amend the Bill to ensure:

  1. The removal of all powers to pass Lands Right legislation which the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has been granted; and, in particular, its control over (i) sacred sites; (ii) entry permits to Aboriginal Lands; (iii) seas adjoining Aboriginal Land and the fishing rights of nonAborigines witlun two kilometres of Aboriginal Land; (iv) the right of Aborigines to freely enter pastoral stations; (v) the control of wildlife.
  2. The control by Aborigines of all roads passing through Aboriginal lands.
  3. The restoration of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s powers to hear claims based on need as well as traditional claims lodged by Aborigines.
  4. The restoration of all powers vested in Land Councils and the Land Commissioner in the Aborignal Land Rights (N.T.) 1975 Bill.
  5. A provision that any Government decision to override Aboriginal objections to mining on the basis of national interest be itself reviewed by both Houses of Parliament.
  6. A provision that land-owning groups of Aborigines may apply to form separate trusts if they so wish.
  7. The removal of artificial barriers to traditional lands such as are imposed by the Territory borders on the Pitjantara, Pintubi, Wonkarguru and other tribes.

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

Petition received.

Fraser Island

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:

  1. That we, residents of the Local Authority areas of Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Woocoo sincerely believe the decision of the Australian Government to refuse export licenses for minerals from Fraser Island, thus causing the cessation of mining, was unwarranted, unjust and based on a report compiled from much inclusive evidence, much of which was uncontested due to a legal technicality.
  2. That the adoption of the Fraser Island Environmental Report in full, without proper public or Parliamentary debate was a denial of basic democratic justice.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Parliament give due and early consideration to (a) having the Honourable the Prime Minister visit the area concerned as a matter of urgency, to make his personal inspection of Fraser Island with a view to having the Government reverse its decision. (b) have the Honourable the Prime Minister investigate at first hand, both the massive human and economic impacts of his Governments decision.

  1. The appointment of a final assessment committee which will weigh the value of Fraser Island in its unmined state against both the value compensation payable to the numerous parties aggrieved by the Government decision and the value of Fraser Island in a mined and rehabilitated state.

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

Petition received.

*Petitions* 6 December 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 3291 {:#subdebate-0-16} #### Uranium 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: {: type="a" start="a"} 0. That the use of uranium as a source of energy is currently unacceptable as it presents problems including radioactive waste, military implications and environmental degradation. 1. That there can, at present, be no assurances that radioactive materials exported for peaceful purposes will not be used in the production of nuclear weapons. 2. That there is not, as yet, any known safe method of disposing of radioactive wastes, nor is there likely to be. 3. d ) That the export of uranium from Australia is internationally irresponsible and is not, in the long term, of benefit to Australia. 4. That the export of uranium from Australia discourages importing countries from investing research and development funds in finding viable alternatives. 5. That only the overdeveloped industrial nations will benefit from Australian uranium and the gap between these countries and the energy starved third world will increase yet further. 6. That the securing of land rights by Australian Aborigines, promised by successive governments, is prejudiced by uranium mining. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government will immediately cease the mining and prohibit the export of uranium until perfectly safe methods of final disposal for radioactive wastes have been guaranteed; will greatly increase expenditure on research into safe, clean and inexhaustible sources of energy; and will aid underdeveloped countries in their efforts to secure a fair share of the world's energy resources, while at the same time honouring its obligations to the future of humanity. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by **Mr Moore.** Petition received. {: .page-start } page 3292 {:#debate-1} ### NEW SOUTH WALES OIL INDUSTRY DISPUTE {:#subdebate-1-0} #### Notice of Motion {: #subdebate-1-0-s0 .speaker-XD4} ##### Mr GOODLUCK:
Franklin -I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move: >That this House deeply regrets the great inconvenience and hardship caused to the people of New South Wales as a result of the recent N.S.W. oil industry dispute and resultant bans which have denied the people of that State a vital commodity namely, petrol, and further, expresses its concern at the immense public anxiety people have been subjected to, having to line up in queues for petrol, as well as the effects on hospitals and other essential services and the significant loss of revenue suffered by petrol station proprietors and others employed within the industry together with the overall dampening effect on the economy and morale of the nation, and therefore this House, without desiring to recriminate or to allot blame to any individuals or organisations, considers that the time has now arrived for an urgent and rational restructuring of the Australian oil industry in the interest of the consumers, oil companies, service station proprietors, those employed within the industry and, indeed, in the interests of the total Australian community. {: .page-start } page 3292 {:#debate-2} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-2-0} #### QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE {: .page-start } page 3292 {:#debate-3} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-3-0} #### FLEET AIR ARM FIRE {: #subdebate-3-0-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I ask the Minister for Defence a question. What is the best estimate he can give of the cost of replenishing the Fleet Air Arm with Grumman Tracker aircraft in as good condition and with as good equipment as those lost in the fire at Nowra on Saturday night? I remind the Minister that after the fire at Nowra at Christmas 1967 the Navy reported the destruction of a hut valued at $8,000 but failed to report the destruction of an adjacent trailer with equipment valued at $ 1.6m, and that as a consequence the Fire Board gave inaccurate information to its Minister and the Minister gave the Prime Minister inaccurate information for me. I also ask about operation *Trochus* which was introduced last year by my Government to counter intrusions by foreign fishing boats in the north-west and the possible introduction of foot and mouth disease and which depended on Grumman Tracker aircraft operating from Broome. I ask how, when the fishing season recommences in the New Year, it is proposed to replace the contribution made by the Trackers destroyed at Nowra. {: #subdebate-3-0-s1 .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN:
Minister for Defence · MORETON, QUEENSLAND · LP -- I put my honourable friend's polemics to one side and I begin by observing that nothing will be hidden from public view or from public scrutiny and any information that is given to me which is ill founded will be given in peril, but I stand in complete expectation that no information will be withheld. May I take the honourable gentleman's questions seriatim? The first question relates to replacement of the aircraft. The honourable gentleman will be aware of the fact that the White Paper discloses that 6 Tracker aircraft- that is 6 aircraft in addition to those which we had- were to be delivered in June or July of this year. I am under heavy obligation to His Excellency the United States Ambassador who rang this morning to say that the United States Administration would do whatever it could with all possible haste to replace the aircraft. I observe in passing that the aircraft is a type of aircraft which is now being phased out by the United States authorities. My last inquiry indicates that some seventy or eighty of those aircraft were available some time ago. Whether they are available today I just do not know. But - {: .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr Keating: -- The price will be higher. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN: -The cost of the replacement aircraft was $73,000. As to the second question 3292 REPRESENTATIVES 6 December 1976 *Questions Without Notice* asked by my honourable friend, the sur.Veilance - {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -There is the cost of the equipment, too. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN: -- I am informed that the cost was $73,000 for the aircraft. It is a second hand aircraft. That figure includes all of the equipment. Nevertheless I will double check. I asked the simple question and I got the simple reply, $73,000 for a second hand aircraft- one that had been used. Nevertheless, to put my honourable friend's mind at rest I will make a further inquiry. I accepted, the information on the basis on which it was given to me. I assure the House that surveillance of Australian waters will continue. Regrettably, long range maritime patrol aircraft, the P3C Orion, will have to be used as well as the Neptune aircraft. This is not a role for which either aircraft is peculiarly designed. They are anti-submarine aircraft and not surveillance *aircraft simplicita* It may be appropriate if I were to take leave of the House for a moment to announce that a Board of Inquiry has been convened. Its president will be Commodore Rourke, the General Manager of the Garden Island Dockyard. Its members will be Captain Wickett Commander Callins and Lieutenant-Commander Home. The Board will be assisted by a Royal Australian Air Force officer, Wing Commander Brazier, who has special experience in this field. The terms of reference are: >To hold a full and careful investigation into the circumstances attending the fire in H hangar at the naval air station, Nowra, at approximately 11.30 p.m. on 4 December with particular reference to: > >Security arrangements for the hangar and aircraft prior to the fire; > >b ) Fire prevention measures in being prior to the fire; > >Conduct of fire fighting operations; > >Steps taken to minimise loss after the fire started; and > >Recommendations to prevent recurrence. I observe that the Naval Police, Commonwealth Police and the New South Wales Arson Squad have already investigated the fire. Finally, I observe that the findings of the Board will be made public subject to one condition: If any disciplinary action or criminal proceedings are predicated by the findings of the Board, it would be totally improper for those findings to be made available until such action or proceeding had been taken. {: .page-start } page 3293 {:#debate-4} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-4-0} #### INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES: FOOD POISONING {: #subdebate-4-0-s0 .speaker-3G4} ##### Mr DOBIE:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES -I refer the Minister for Health to reports that at least 30 people were admitted to a major hospital in Sydney over the weekend suffering from severe gastro-enteritis after travelling on British Airways Flight BA888 from Hong Kong. As this follows the outbreak of typhoid fever among travellers on another flight by this airline into Australia earner in the same week, I ask the Minister whether he listened to the radio program *AM* this morning when a spokesman for that airline denied responsibility for this serious breakdown in health surveillance and control? In view of the many thousands of Australians about to proceed on their annual holidays with international airlines, will the Minister advise the House where responsibility for such breakdowns in health and quarantine controls rests? I further ask the Minister whether he will arrange for a stricter application of health measures on all nights entering Australia. {: #subdebate-4-0-s1 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr HUNT:
Minister for Health · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · NCP/NP -- I should like to make it known to the honourable member for Cook that I am most disturbed at this further outbreak of illness. It arises from food poisoning on Flight 888 from the United Kingdom. I did not hear the report this morning on the *AM* program but I understand that 32 passengers have now been diagnosed as suffering from food poisoning. I called for a report this morning from my Department about the food standards being observed by airlines operating to and from Australia. I just do not think it is good enough to describe the suffering and the problems experienced by people as being unfortunate. I understand that British Airways is now gathering information in India about the suspected source of typhoid infection in that country. This is the third case that I know of in the last 5 weeks where food poisoning has occurred as a result of nights to and from Australia. This morning I discussed the matter with my colleague the Minister for Transport who, I am sure, is as concerned as I am. I ask for leave of the House to incorporate in *Hansard* an interim report which I have received from my Department this morning on the latest incident. {: #subdebate-4-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. *The document read as follows-* {: .page-start } page 3293 {:#debate-5} ### OUTBREAK OF FOOD POISONING AMONG PASSENGERS ON FLIGHT BA 888 ARRIVING SYDNEY 5 DECEMBER 1976 On S December 1976, BA Flight 888, travelling from London via Rome, Bombay, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne, forwarded a radio message while in flight between Hong Kong and Sydney, stating that a number of passengers had become ill with symptoms of severe vomiting, colic and diarrhoea. There were 212 passengers on board. On arrival of BA Flight 888 at Sydney, Departmental Medical *Officers* boarded the plane and arranged for 16 passengers who were ill at the time to be transferred to Prince Henry's hospital in Sydney. Although the history did not suggest that this outbreak was cholera, the bacteriology laboratory at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was alerted and the Department took all necessary precautions. The remaining 196 passengers on board BA Flight 888 were interviewed and their names and addresses taken. In accordance with departmental policy they were told to report any subsequent illness to their local doctor and to ask him to report to the Divisional Office in the State concerned. The aircraft was then decontaminated, the water tanks were drained and flushed with a solution containing chlorine, as is usual procedure in such cases. Following these precautions, the aircraft was allowed to proceed to Melbourne with the remaining 8 1 passengers on board who were scheduled to disembark at Melbourne. Since the action taken above, a further 16 passengers have been admitted to hospital, 9 in Sydney, 2 in Gosford, 5 to Fairfield Hospital in Melbourne. All Divisional Officers have been alerted to the possibility that they may receive calls concerning passengers on this flight and have been told to maintain constant liaison with any hospital admitting such patients. It was obvious by mid afternoon on Sunday, 5 December, that the outbreak was one of bacterial food poisoning and was not cholera or any other exotic infection. Efforts are still in progress to isolate the organism concerned. A check done at 9 a.m. on Monday, 6 December, indicates that a total of 32 passengers have been admitted to hospital and 2 have since been discharged. It was not found necessary to put any passengers into quarantine. Although it was suspected from early on that this outbreak was not due to a quarantinable disease and that the risk to the community was nil, it was nevertheless felt necessary to put Divisional Officers on full alert. The source of the infection is so far unknown. The Department is co-operating with British Airways and Qantas in trying to determine the source of the infection. {: .page-start } page 3294 {:#debate-6} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-6-0} #### AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr CHARLES JONES:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA -My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I draw his attention to the accident investigation report prepared by the air safety investigation branch of the Department of Transport in respect of the crash of the DH114 Heron VH-CLS which occurred adjacent to Cairns airport on 23 October 1975. 1 ask the Minister whether it is his intention to hold a full, public judicial inquiry into the accident and the circumstances associated with it, having in mind the number of points brought out in the accident investigation report. The report drew attention to the possible inadequacy of training and experience of the pilot and his co-pilot, particularly in the weather conditions applying that night, and also to the fact that only one of the three air traffic controllers rostered for duty during that period when the aircraft was due to land was on duty. The comment was made at page 21 of the report that there was an obvious inadequate use of radar weather surveillance by the air traffic controllers. I believe that, in view of the fact that 1 1 people have lost their lives, some form of investigation is necessary. {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-009OD} ##### Mr NIXON:
Minister for Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · LP -- I am aware of the matters raised by the honourable member in respect of the air crash. One of the benefits of the air safety branch investigation has been that these very points have been brought out. However, I am not in a position at the moment to inform the House whether a full public inquiry will be held, as asked for by the honourable member. The matter is under consideration and I will let the honourable member know shortly. {: .page-start } page 3294 {:#debate-7} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-7-0} #### INFLATION {: #subdebate-7-0-s0 .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr LUCOCK:
LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- My question is directed to the Treasurer. He will no doubt recall my correspondence with him in March this year in which I suggested that there should be a restructuring of the taxation arrangements and action taken in regard to sales tax. In the light of the comments in the newspapers today by **Mr Hawke** and **Mr Polites,** the Executive Director of the Australian Council of Employers' Federations, I ask the Treasurer whether he will have a conference with those 2 gentlemen, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and others concerned in the industrial and economic scene in order to give further consideration to these economic matters and with a view to moving towards further action in slowing down the inflationary spiral confronting the Government. {: #subdebate-7-0-s1 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
Treasurer · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP -- Since its election last December the Government has been committed to a continuous process of tax reform. I remind the House- not that honourable gentlemen need reminding- of the indexation of personal income tax at a cost to revenue of about $ 1,000m. I also remind the honourable gentleman of statements made by the Prime Minister and by me which clearly recognise that the tax burden which the general community is suffering at the present time is both inequitable and a disincentive to work. I know that that feeling is mirrored by all members of the Liberal and National Country Parties. The question of resources has to be considered, as both the Prime Minister and I have made very clear. I re-affirm what I have said before, that we have a commitment to tax reform but we must consider the resources which are necessary to enable that tax reform to take place so that such tax reform will not add to the burden of inflation at the present time. The need for reform is there and it is recognised. The areas of tax reform and the timing of such tax reforms as the Government and the honourable gentleman may have in mind are matters for further discussion and decision by Ministers at an appropriate time. {: .page-start } page 3295 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### CURRENCY DEVALUATION {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN:
REID, NEW SOUTH WALES -- My question is directed to the Treasurer. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer said that the overwhelming weight of evidence was against devaluation. He also said that no single component of the Budget strategy can fail without putting the basic objective of defeating inflation under threat. I ask: Is the Government's anti-inflation policy now under threat, or has the Treasurer changed his mind about the wisdom of his Government 's main economic goal? {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
LP **-The Deputy** Leader of the Opposition ought to be the last person to seek to cast doubts upon this Government's economic policy when one has regard to the travesty and legacy of the past 3 years. It was the honourable gentleman and his colleagues who created a problem which will take time to cure. So far as the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index is concerned, the Government's policies have been working - *Opposition members interjecting.* {: #subdebate-8-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. There are too many interjections from my left. I call upon the members of the Parliament on my left to restrain their interjections. I call upon the Treasurer to complete his answer. {: .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH: -I was making the point that there has been a welcome slowing down in the overall rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, since this Government came to office. The record certainly bears that out. But for the sake of the honourable gentleman I mention that the rate of increase in the CPI for the December quarter of 1975 was 5.6 per cent, in the subsequent quarter it was 3 per cent, then it went down to 2.5 per cent and in the more recent September quarter to 2.2 per cent. This Government continues to be unrelenting in its efforts to control inflation. Of course, the honourable gentleman is right in referring, either directly or by inference, to the price impact of the recent decision to devalue. He ought to be aware of that because, after all, in September 1974 his Government did devalue the Australian dollar and at that time took no offsetting action to ease the impact of the price increase which would work its way through the spiral. The Government has made it perfectly clear that the devaluation decision announced recently was accompanied by a series of individual measures on the monetary, the fiscal and the wages fronts. I remind the honourable gentleman of that because we have recognised the need to take offsetting action. It is very much a part of the overall package which the Government has brought down. {: .page-start } page 3295 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### WAGES POLICY {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-JRU} ##### Mr BRADFIELD:
BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I ask the Prime Minister Will he state the Government's attitude on wages policy? Is the Government in favour of full wage indexation? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER:
Prime Minister · WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -The Government has made its position on wages policy very plain. It is not in favour of full indexation in the circumstances that confront us at the present time or that are likely to confront us in the future. It was interesting to note that just a few days ago on the program *State of the Nation,* when **Mr Hurford** was being questioned, he seemed to offer some support for the Government's policy. The transcript of the program records the following question: >What, full wage indexation is Labor Party policy? To which **Mr Hurford** is recorded as having responded: >No, it isn't, because the Labor Party doesn't pretend in this sort of area that you can plan ahead very far. I thank the honourable gentleman for his support. {: .page-start } page 3295 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### WHITE PAPER ON DEFENCE {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE:
CHIFLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. I refer him to page 33 of his White Paper on defence, on which the following statement appears under the heading 'Reserve Manpower': >There is, at any one time, a margin of preparedness and operational efficiency between the Regular and Reserve elements.The margin cannot, for obvious reasons, be eliminated in peacetime. However, Parliament may well wish to consider whether the purpose of better training and better sense of participation would justify provisions authorising compulsory call-up of Citizens Reserves for limited periods in international situations proclaimed as requiring augmentation of the forces, but not proclaimed as a state of war or time of defence emergency . . . {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honourable gentleman has read enough to identify the nature of the except to which he is referring. I call upon him to ask his question or I shall require him to resume his seat. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE: **- Mr Speaker,** I will ask the question now. I ask: Does this project a decision by the Government to re-introduce conscription? {: #subdebate-10-0-s2 .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN:
LP -- The short answer is no. Nevertheless, I say with respect that, the honourable gentleman's question is a merited and valid one. The honourable gentleman will acknowledge the fact that the defence power of the Commonwealth in time of peace is a very restricted power. It is a very emancipated power in time of war. This Government and the former Government, of which the honourable gentleman was a supporter, have both committed themselves to the total force concept. That is to say, the Australian Army is made up of the regular services and of the Army Reserve. But in order to use the Army Reserve at any time on the basis of emergency action we would need to have either an emergency, that is to say an actual state of war, or we would need to have a substantial amendment to the Defence Act. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr Armitage: -Has this been considered? {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN: -No, but the Government, in its corporate judgment, came to the conclusion that it was very properly a matter for parliamentary and public consideration and reflection. I can assure the honourable gentleman that in terms of using the Army for the purpose he has suggested, the answer is no. Nevertheless, if the country at any time in the future wished to consider taking the total force concept to its ultimate extent, it would warrant an amendment to the Defence Act. That would be a question for the Parliament to consider. {: .page-start } page 3296 {:#debate-11} ### INFLATIONARY EFFECTS OF DEVALUATION {: #debate-11-s0 .speaker-KRR} ##### Mr McLEAN:
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -Can the Treasurer assure the House that the Government will take all the measures at its disposal, including tariff reductions and, if necessary, an investigation of the possibility of introducing a short term freeze on prices and wages, to counter the inflationary effects of the currency devaluation and prevent the burden of such action being borne by the regressive impact of imposition of higher interest rates. {: #debate-11-s1 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
LP -- The Government remains determined to bring down the overall rate of inflation in order to provide the basis for a sustained lift in employment and activity. With regard to devaluation, the overall price effects are, of course, determined by the circumstances in which the decision to devalue occurs. Devaluation necessarily has a lesser impact at the early stages of recovery than it has when activity is at full swing. When demand is still short of capacity, as it is at the present time, there is scope and incentive for business to increase output rather than to increase prices. This means that the achievement of lower unit costs in a number of industries will be possible. I remind the House of the offsetting adjustments which the Government has made to fiscal, wages and monetary policies. The Government will use every endeavour within the ambit of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to seek the restraint in relation to wages and salaries which, in the Government's view, is obviously required at the present time to get the overall rate of price inflation down. On the question of tariffs, Ministers have made it clear that this matter is before them at the present time and that an announcement will be made at the appropriate time. {: .page-start } page 3296 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### LEBANESE REFUGEES: EMBASSY IN DAMASCUS {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I ask the Foreign Minister a question which I have asked him and the Acting Minister 5 weeks and 8 weeks ago. The Sub-Committee on the Middle East of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence has now reported that its Chairman, the honourable member for Fremantle, wrote on 24 August to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to the effect that there are strong humanitarian reasons for the re-establishment of a reasonably sized immigration team in Damascus and that he wrote on 1 October to the Foreign Minister concerning diplomatic representation in Damascus and aid to Lebanese refugees in Syria and Cyprus. I therefore ask: What progress has been made in establishing an Australian embassy in Damascus in order to reinstate facilities for processing immigration applications from persons fleeing from the Lebanon? Has the Government decided to give aid to Lebanese refugees in Syria and Cyprus? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-MI4} ##### Mr PEACOCK:
Minister for Foreign Affairs · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP -- We have almost completed that review. It has taken a little longer than expected. However, with the cease fire in Beirut we have been able to get a task force into Beirut to make an assessment on the ground both as to the security for any proposed reopening of the Beirut embassy and on less important matters such as the condition of our buildings. We should be able to make an announcement in the course of the next couple of weeks. So far as aid is concerned, I previously announced what we have done in regard to direct assistance through Caritas and Red Cross. I am considering a further proposal which has been put to me in regard to wheat. I should be able to announce a decision on that in the course of the next few days. I refer now to the opening of the post in Damascus, which is the thrust of the question so far as immigration is concerned. Should a decision be taken to reopen that post, following the report that I receive from **Mr Starey,** the officer who was left in charge of Beirut, we will of course expedite the entry of Australian immigration personnel, and the diplomatic officials would follow later on. {: .page-start } page 3297 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### AUSTRALIAN COAL INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-K5O} ##### Mr CORBETT:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND -Has the Acting Minister for National Resources seen reports which indicate that Japanese steel mills are insisting that Australian coal exporters change from the traditional system of determining prices annually to a 3-year pricing system? What is the significance of this proposal for the Australian coal industry which this year was Australia 's largest export earner? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-009OD} ##### Mr NIXON:
LP -- I understand that negotiations are going on at the moment between coal exporters and the Japanese importers of coal. I understand further that there is a proposal to move away from the traditional marketing method in respect of sales of coal. The suggestion is for a 3-year contract. This is, of course, a matter for commercial negotiation between exporters and the importers of coal in Japan. The Government is concerned that should there be a departure from the present annual arrangement the coal exporters will make sure of proper cost escalation clauses in sales contracts so that should market forces change, as is expected by some because of the prospect of increases in steel demand, and coal become a more valuable product before the 3-year term is up they will be in a position to take some advantage of the situation, he Government will be monitoring very closely the matter raised by the honourable member. {: .page-start } page 3297 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### INTEREST RATES {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-K9J} ##### Mr Keith Johnson:
BURKE, VICTORIA · ALP -I address my question to the Treasurer and refer to reports that the Reserve Bank has been instructed to insulate the rural sector from recent interest rate increases. What effect is this likely to have on the supply of credit to farmers? What measures does the Minister contemplate to compensate suppliers of rural credit? {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
LP -The honourable gentleman's question represents very much a distortion of the reference in the *Australian Financial Review.* I welcome the opportunity to make the position perfectly clear. In the statement I made to the House on 30 November which followed other recent statements, I did not announce- I repeat, I did not announce- any increase in administered bank lending rates. The increases in interest rates that have taken place have applied to official government securities only. Therefore, the inference which the honourable gentleman seeks to draw from the Press report to which he referred is a complete distortion. {: .page-start } page 3297 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### NAVY: SECURITY {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-KJU} ##### Mr JARMAN:
DEAKIN, VICTORIA -- I ask the Minister for Defence: Is he aware that some persons, who I am led to believe are members of the media, have undertaken independent tests to check the security of Navy ships? If so, is the Minister aware of the outcome of such tests? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN:
LP -- I was informed before Question Time that several gentlemen with a strong sense of enterprise were minded to put a diver with a camera crew nearby under a submarine at HMAS *Platypus.* I am glad to inform the House that all have been apprehended. I will say nothing further as to what I think their fate should be. I observed to my colleague, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, that I would welcome enormously the Crown brief to prosecute. I say to the honourable gentleman, not by way of levity but quite seriously, that security is not, as one would suspect, a matter which lends itself readily to objective criteria. I once believed that that was the case but a very senior Army commander pointed out to me that a battalion of troops stationed around the Woolloongabba Cricket Ground could not necessarily keep an intruder out if the intruder was skilful and so determined as to seek entry to the ground. The honourable member for Mackellar proved that during the last war when he, single handed, captured Sydney. The Leader of the Opposition may recall a former member of this Parliament asserting that it was easy to gain entry to Service establishments. He was caught and the officer of the watch rang the then Prime Minister, informed him of it, and said: 'What will I do with him?' 'Where is he?' asked the Prime Minister. 'In the guard house,' said the officer of the watch, 'What shall I do with him?'. The then Prime Minister said: 'Leave him there'. {: .page-start } page 3297 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### DEVALUATION {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-SH4} ##### Dr KLUGMAN:
PROSPECT, NEW SOUTH WALES -Can the Treasurer tell the House what he and his Departments estimate will be the the effect of the 1 *In* per cent devaluation on the Budget deficit. Does he still place the same importance on reducing this deficit as he did last year and earlier this year, considering the fact that he obviously has changed his mind on the importance of fighting inflation when this conflicts with the private interests of some of his Cabinet colleagues? Finally, considering the great benefits that the Treasurer sees arising from devaluation, why did he claim that the honourable member for Oxley pushed him into it? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
LP -- The Government remains determined to maintain control over its Budget outlays. I think I made this point perfectly clear in the Press statement that was issued a week last Sunday, quite apart from comments that I made subsequently in this House. The effect of devaluation is difficult to quantify. The exercise is being undertaken with a sense of urgency at the present time. So far as the fiscal side of the Government's economic policy is concerned, the Government is determined to maintain minimum outlays consistent with the general thrust of what I said in the Budget documents. The honourable gentleman may not understand the problem of a Budget deficit because he and his colleagues, when in power, refused to recognise the economic reality of a Budget deficit and proceeded simply to print money through the Reserve Bank. This Government does not accept that proposition. We are, of course, seeking to finance that deficit in the only non-inflationary way known to the Government, that is, through the sale of various types of government securities to the non-bank public. {: .page-start } page 3298 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### INSURANCE COMPANIES: CLAIMS OF PRIMARY PRODUCERS {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-CI4} ##### Mr MILLAR:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND -- Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware of an increasing practice among less responsible companies in the insurance industry to engage in inordinately long delays in the meeting of claims, particularly for fire and similar type insurance, to primary producers? Does the Minister accept that seeming deliberate delays of anything from 18 months to 2 years in such settlements, particularly when insurance companies have no intention of such claims ever reaching a court, are causing excessive and additional hardships to primary producers at a time when primary industry generally has suffered extreme financial hardships and a marked decline in income? Will the Minister undertake to investigate specific recent cases where evidence to support such occurrences can be produced? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-ZD4} ##### Mr HOWARD:
Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs · BENNELONG, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP -The honourable gentleman has drawn this matter to my attention on earlier occasions, as have some other honourable gentlemen. I should point out to him that administration of insurance legislation so far as the Commonwealth is concerned is the responsibility of my colleague the Treasurer. I shall discuss this particular matter which he raises with my colleague. I should make the general observation to the honourable gentleman that naturally at a time such as this such practices, if engaged in by companies, would have a very serious effect upon primary producers who have suffered loss and are waiting long periods for the settlement of claims. I should also remind the honourable gentleman that the entitlement of an insured person to the proceeds of an insurance policy is a matter of private contractual right and is a matter which can be pursued according to those private contractual rights by the individual concerned. The point I make simply is that a lot of these practices can be effectively responded to and effectively coped with by the individuals in question pursuing their rights through the civil courts. {: .page-start } page 3298 {:#debate-18} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-18-0} #### WOOL TEXTILE AND CARPET MANUFACTURERS {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr SCHOLES:
CORIO, VICTORIA -Has the Treasurer been officially informed that the required cuts in tariff to compensate for the recent devaluation are of the order of 80 per cent? Is the Treasurer aware of the serious consequences for woollen textile and carpet manufacturers of the Government's decision to implement the foreign currency price for wool on the Australian domestic market? {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
LP -- The honourable gentleman, I say with regret, is seeking to beat up an issue which clearly has been explained on the basis that there is a matter before Ministers. Ministers are considering that particular question. As I mentioned earlier in question time, an announcement will be made at an appropriate time. {: .page-start } page 3298 {:#debate-19} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-19-0} #### MOUNT LYELL MINING AND RAILWAY COMPANY LIMITED {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-QK5} ##### Mr GROOM:
BRADDON, TASMANIA -Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the Sente Select Committee report on the Mount Lyell crisis which was handed down last Friday in the Senate? If so did he note the Committee finding that devaluation of itself should ensure the continuance of the mining operations at Mount Lyell without any retrenchments? Has the Prime Minister had any response yet to the call he made in the House last week for the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited to reconsider its previous decision to enforce massive retrenchments at Mount Lyell? {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr MALCOLM FRASER:
LP -- I thank the honourable gentleman for drawing the attention of the House to the report of honourable senators. I believe it is a valuable and useful report. I would like to commend the honourable senators concerned for having prepared the report so speedily in such a short space of time so that there can be proper publicity for the course of action which is recommended and so that people can understand the facts of the situation. I think it ought to be noted that in respect of this particular matter senators from the Government side and from the Labor side, together with **Senator Harradine,** came to a common conclusion. I was particularly glad to see that **Senator Devitt** and **Senator Grimes** were part of the Committee of inquiry under the chairmanship of **Senator Wright,** together with **Senator Harradine, Senator Messner** and **Senator Townley.** Therefore there is a consensus, among Tasmanian senators at least, that the decision we have taken is of great benefit to Tasmania. Indeed the Tasmanian Premier has given recognition to this, as have trade union leaders in that State. I think one or two specific paragraphs of the report ought to be brought specifically to the attention of the House. The report states: >The devaluation decision converts the Company's forecast cash position during the periods 1977, 1978, 1979 from a calamitous cash deficit of $21 m, to a position of near balance. If the company continues its operations unreduced by the decision of 4 November, it will convert, merely by devaluation, huge deficits into manageable results. It will, merely by devaluation, be enabled to achieve about the same economies as were proposed by the contraction plan ... As the calculations are cumulative over the period, the net result is that at the end of 1979 devaluation has converted an estimated cash deficit, then, of $2 1.233m into a deficit of only $2.755m; which approximates very closely the deficit of $2.638m which the Company planned to achieve by the retrenchment and contraction plan. I think all members of this House believe that it would be much better to carry on with those men fully employed, especially in view of the community aspects of Queenstown. As I have said previously in this House, it is not just a question of management and labour; it is a community that is very much affected. The Senate inquiry reported: >The devaluation decision and the availability of government guarantees should ensure the continuance of the mining operations and development, on the unreduced scale, without retrenchments. The government guarantees were in relation to banking overdraft arrangements which had been offered by the government to the industry many months ago and which had not been picked up by the industry. So the Committee's report is clearly underlining that the company ought to be able to carry on, that devaluation has been an enormous help to this industry, likewise, a great help to many other industries and an enormous help to Tasmania as a whole. {: .page-start } page 3299 {:#debate-20} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-20-0} #### AUSTRALIAN TOURISTS: EFFECT OF DEVALUATION {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES -Has the attention of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs been drawn to a statement in this morning's *Australian* that thousands of Australians who paid months in advance for overseas package tours will have to pay an extra 20 per cent for accommodation and on land expenses? As this has been confirmed by spokesmen for the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, will the Minister check to see whether a discount was given on package tours when the Australian Labor Party Government revalued? As I do not recollect this occurring, is not the present situation an example of 'heads I win, tails you lose '? {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-ZD4} ##### Mr HOWARD:
LP -My attention has not been drawn to the article to which the honourable gentleman referred, but I will say this: The impact of devaluation will be of enormous benefit to the tourist industry in Australia. I am very grateful that the honourable member for Robertson raised in his question the position of the tourist industry in Australia. He, in common with a lot of other members of this Parliament, has expressed very legitimate concern about the plight of the tourist industry in Australia. I am very pleased to say that all the information available to my colleague the Minister for Industry and Commerce, whom I represent in this place, is to the effect that the devaluation of the Australian dollar will mean more business for the Australian tourist industry. I think it is something for which all honourable gentlemen would be grateful. Nonetheless, I will look into the report to which he referred and try to furnish him with a detailed answer. My suspicion is that it is really a question of contractual arrangements between the individual tourists and the travel agency concerned and is not a matter on which the Government could take any action. {: .page-start } page 3299 {:#debate-21} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-21-0} #### AUSTRALIAN MOTOR VEHICLE INDUSTRY {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-FF4} ##### Mr CHAPMAN:
KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Is the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that Australian automotive component manufacturers, although supporting the Government's devaluation decision, are concerned that immediately following this decision the London Metal Exchange increased the price of zinc, along with the price of other non-ferrous materials, by 19 per cent? Is the Minister further aware that this increase will have an overall effect on costs in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry of between 2 per cent and 3 per cent and, more importantly, could seriously affect the viability of rear vision mirror and seat belt manufacturing in South Australia? Can the Minister explain how an Australian mined and produced raw material can be increased in price immediately following devaluation, without apparently being referred to the Prices Justification Tribunal for approval? {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-ZD4} ##### Mr HOWARD:
LP -- For a number of years many base metal producing countries, including Australia, have accepted the London Metal Exchange as the world market for determination of prices for trading purposes. The Prices Justification Tribunal has exempted most Australian zinc producers from the need to notify price increases which occur in line with fluctuations at the London Metal Exchange. Therefore Australian domestic prices are based, to a very large extent, on the London Metal Exchange. Naturally, the London Metal Exchange prices, which are quoted in sterling, reflected higher prices in Australian dollars for traded metals as from 29 November. I should also mention that Australian dollar prices have also reflected the falling value of sterling which has occurred in recent years and particularly in recent months. But specifically I would say to the honourable gentleman that the reason that the increase has occurred without the prior approval of the Prices Justification Tribunal is that the Tribunal has exempted zinc producers from the need to notify price increases which follow fluctuations in the London Metal Exchange. {: .page-start } page 3300 {:#debate-22} ### AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION {: #debate-22-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -For the information of honourable members I present the resolutions adopted at the meetings of the Australian Constitutional Convention held in Hobart from 27 to 29 October 1976. {: .page-start } page 3300 {:#debate-23} ### CHILDREN'S SERVICES PROGRAM {: #debate-23-s0 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr HUNT:
Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP For the information of honourable members I present a statement by the Minister for Social Security relating to the children's services program which will provide care for school age children during the coming Christmas school vacation. {: .page-start } page 3300 {:#debate-24} ### COMMUNITY WELL-BEING {: #debate-24-s0 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr HUNT:
Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP For the information of honourable members I present a report entitled *Indicators of Community Well-being* together with a statement by the Minister for Social Security relating to that report. Due to the limited number available reference copies of this report have been placed in the Bills and Papers Office of the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Library. {: .page-start } page 3300 {:#debate-25} ### DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE {: #debate-25-s0 .speaker-ID4} ##### Mr ADERMANN:
Minister for the Northern Territory · Fisher · NCP/NP -- For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Department of Science for the year ended 30 June 1976. {: .page-start } page 3300 {:#debate-26} ### STATES GRANTS (DWELLINGS FOR PENSIONERS) ACT {: #debate-26-s0 .speaker-JVV} ##### Mr NEWMAN:
Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development · Bass · LP Pursuant to section 9 of the States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act 1974 I present the annual statement of the operations under that Act for the year ended 30 June 1976. {: .page-start } page 3300 {:#debate-27} ### EMPLOYMENT: SCHOOL LEAVERS {:#subdebate-27-0} #### Discussion of Matter of Public Importance {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I have received a letter from the honourable member for Gellibrand **(Mr Willis)** proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely: >The grim employment prospects for school leavers. 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 placesMr* WILLIS (Gellibrand) (3.8)-Not for many decades have school leavers faced such daunting prospects for gaining employment as is the case this year. Within the next couple of weeks 200 000 teenagers will have come on to the labour market as they end their schooling and another 500 000 students will leave various tertiary institutions in search of jobs. Thus, altogether, there will be one quarter of a million young people searching for jobs and the reality is that many of them will not find one, at least not for some considerable time. The reason for this appalling situation is the total failure of the Government's economic policy and its unwillingness to take no more than token action to assist young people to obtain jobs. It is not necessary for me to consider in any detail the failure of the Government's policy since it has admitted that by its decision to devalue which in effect means that it has torn up its previous policies and started again. However, it is highly revealing to analyse how incredibly unsuccessful this Government's policies have been, in regard to employment. The latest employment figures for all wage and salary earners in civilian employment are for September. The figures show that since September of last yearafter which month the then Opposition began to block Supply largely, it said, because of the poor state of the economy- to September of this year, a period of 12 months, the total number of wage and salary earners in civilian employment has gone up by the grand total of five hundred. So in the last year we have had an increase of 500 wage and salary earner jobs in this country. In September 1975, the number of employed was 4 728 600 and in September 1976 the number was 4 729 100. That shows that there has been a minimal increase of 500 in the number of employed in the period when this Government's economic policies have been holding sway in this country. This is a dramatic example of the way in which this Government's economic policies have totally failed to turn on the lights for the economy as a whole and for wage and salary earners in particular. Furthermore, in that period the number of jobs available for males actually went down by 20 100; for females the number went up by 20 600, thereby making the 500 increase. But it is more interesting to compare the growth of 500 in wage and salary earners jobs in the last year with the normal growth of the labour force which is over 100 000. The normal growth of the labour force would be well over 100 000, yet here we see that only 500 jobs have been created for wage and salary earners since September 1975. The Commonwealth Employment Service figures do not show any massive increase in unemployment. The unemployment figures as they stand at the moment are only about 7000 higher than they were at this time last year. Given the fact that we would normally have had an increase of 100 000 or more in the labour force and only 500 wage and salary jobs have been created, the only conclusion to which one can come is that there must have been a dramatic reduction in the work force participation rate and that there is therefore a substantial growth in hidden unemployment. In other words, the official unemployment figures as published by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations **(Mr Street)** dramatically understate the actual level of unemployment in this country. The Minister, in fact, has admitted the decline in the labour force. In his monthly Press release which draws attention to the employment figures as published by his Department, for the month of September he gave a labour force figure of 6.1 million. This figure is used to work out the unemployment rate, relating the registered unemployed to the labour force figure. In October, instead of a figure of 6. 1 million he gave a figure of 6 million. In other words, he has admitted in his Press statements announcing employment figures, that in the last couple of months the labour force in this country has declined. That can mean only, as I have said, that there has been a substantial reduction in the work force participation rate. At a time when we would normally expect the labour force to be increasing, it is going down. Therefore the official unemployment figures dramatically understate the level of unemployment, certainly by well over 100 000 and possibly somewhere in the region of 200 000. In addition to that, the fact is that the Government has now changed its policy, as I have mentioned, and devalued the currency. Without wanting to spend any time on that matter, I quickly make the point that economist after economist in this country, and the newspapers -in particular the *Australian Financial Review* which is probably the most authoritative newspaper in these matters- have all rubbished the likelihood of devaluation helping recovery in this country. They point out that the action will be inflationary. They have pointed out that it will require a credit squeeze which will reduce internal demand and therefore reduce the prospects of more jobs being created. They have pointed out that it will involve a reduction in real wages and a substantial reduction in real wages at that. This will reduce internal demand again and reduce consumption which will reduce the chances of getting more jobs created. It will boost agriculture and mining but it will not boost the availability of jobs in those areas. Mining is very capital-intensive. Employment opportunities in agriculture are not likely to be dramatically increased either. Therefore the devaluation will not do anything for this country in relation to increasing employment. It is much more likely to result in an even greater increase in unemployment. Apart from these matters, there are other factors which greatly affect school leavers in this country at thus time. The structure of unemployment is disproportionately concentrated among the young. The August labour force survey figures, which are the latest figures available, show that the unemployment rate for adult males is 2.9 per cent, for adult females 3.9 per cent, for teenage males 11.4 per cent and for teenage females 1 2.6 per cent. Thus for teenagers the unemployment rates are dramatically higher than they are for adults. This means that school leavers coming on to the labour market now have to compete with about 100 000 teenagers who are already unemployed. Thus they have competition not just from the mass of the unemployed as a whole but also from 100 000 people like themselves who are already unemployed, plus the 200000 unemployed and the 50 000 from the tertiary institutions who are coming on to the labour market now. Many of the 100 000 who are already unemployed qualify for special assistance under the Government's special youth employment training scheme, which is a youth subsidy scheme and which applies to those young people who have been unemployed for 6 months or more. It follows that that excludes school leavers. School leavers will not qualify for the $59 a week subsidy for employment for which the young people who are currently unemployed qualify. The young people leaving school now face competition from 100 000 youngsters unemployed already, many of whom are subsidised. Therefore the competition for the school leavers is even greater and their prospects of finding jobs are even less. One way out of the difficulty would be to extend the subsidy to school leavers, to make it available to all employers of young people. But the Government has shown no sign that it is prepared to do that. One reason why it will not do that or why it is unlikely to do that, in my view, is that that would involve a substantial increase in outlay of funds, and the Government is all the time trying to avoid spending any money. Therefore is has to chop back on any stimulatory activity it takes. In regard to apprenticeships also the Government has failed to come up with any program to reverse the current appalling situation in which the number of apprenticeship positions available is diminishing markedly. This year the intake was down 7000 on the level of 2 years ago. In addition, thousands of apprentices are reported to have been dismissed, particularly in such industries as the building industry in New South Wales which has been through very lean times. Employers are simply not taking on apprentices in an endeavour to reduce their costs. They are dismissing apprentices whenever business activity declines, as it has done for many businesses in the last year or so. Such a situation is extremely serious, not only for the young people who are being denied the chance to learn a trade, but also for the nation as a whole because it means that we are likely to face a very severe shortage of skilled workers if and when the economy recovers. When Labor came to office it gave this matter of apprenticeship high priority. It introduced a National Apprenticeship Assistance Scheme which increased the expenditure on apprentices from $1.3m in 1972-73 to $37.7m in 1975-76. Under that program employers are paid an extensive subsidy for the first year of apprenticeshipbetween $1,248 and $1,872 per annum, depending on the age of the apprentice. A subsidy of $4 a day is paid also for apprentices while they are being trained off the job. That scheme was successful in raising the intake of apprentices but it is clearly not enough in the current conditions. Apparently the Government is not prepared to spend any more money on it. Month after month it has been trying to establish a scheme in co-operation with the States in which the States would have to share a substantial amount of the cost. So far the Government has not been able to get the agreement of the States to any such scheme. Therefore we have no proposal to expand apprenticeship training and we face a situation in which thousands of young people who want to be trained for jobs cannot get apprenticeships, and the nation is faced with a growing shortage of skilled labour. That is an absurd situation and one which must be rectified very quickly if the Government has any regard for the young people or for the nation as a whole. In addition to that, the Government is now saying that it is prepared to contemplate increasing the migrant intake because it wants to overcome the shortage of skilled labour. That is an absurd situation. As I have said, hundreds of thousands of young people are looking for jobs. Many of them want apprenticeships. The Government is doing nothing about that but is talking about increasing migration to overcome the shortage of skilled workers. If that is not an absurd situation I do not know what is. The Government has refused to introduce any job creation programs. In our view, that is a scandalous situation. In the last Labor Budget there was an allocation of $150m for job creation programs through the Regional Employment Development scheme and employment creating grants to the States. But this year there is virtually nothing- a few thousand dollars. That situation is quite scandalous. Apparently the Government has no intention of introducing job creation programs. It says that it will not do so because jobs are created in the private sector. The fact is that jobs are not being created in the private sector. It is absurd to say that three-quarters of the jobs are in the private sector and that that is where the stimulus must be provided. Whatever stimulus the Government has provided to the private sector has not worked. The number of jobs has increased by only 500 in the last year. Therefore the Government must take other action because demonstrably that action has failed. But the Government refuses to take that action, despite the pleas of the Opposition and of responsible bodies like the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the National Youth Council of Australia, both of which have put forward very detailed programs of job creation, particularly for youth. Those bodies are extremely concerned about the longterm effects of large numbers of young people being unemployed for a long time. Apparently the Government is not as worried as those organisations are. It is also curious to note that in past recessions Liberal-Country Party governments have been prepared to introduce job creation programs. In the recession of 1961, in the recession of 1967 and in the recession of 1971 we had job creation programs. Those recessions were nowhere near as severe as the present recession in this country. The Government must answer the people on this question: Why is it that when the unemployment levels are so much higher, the Government is not prepared to introduce job creation programs to alleviate unemployment even in the worst affected areas, let alone generally? Why will it not in the worst affected areas take action to alleviate unemployment? The Government refuses to do so, and it is an absolute scandal. Career guidance is another area in which the Government is demonstrably deficient in its action. Various surveys of young unemployed people have shown that one of the many problems facing school leavers is the inadequacy of vocational guidance, if they receive any vocational guidance at all. Apparently the Government is not worried about that. One of its economising actions was to scrap the *Career Guide for Schools* which is published by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations in a number of States, including Victoria. It has scrapped the *Career Guide* this year. It will not be available this year, although the Government has made some noises about perhaps reintroducing it next year. The Government introduced without comment the report of the working party on the transition from secondary education to employment, which working party was set up by the Labor Government, although the report makes a lot of recommendations for career guidance progams and pre-vocational training. In regard to the unemployment benefit, not only has the Government given school leavers scant help in relation to finding jobs but also it has said that they do not qualify for the unemployment benefit. Not only does the Government give them little chance of finding a job but, when they come on to the labour market, it also disqualifies them from unemployment benefits. **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order!** The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-6I4} ##### Mr MACPHEE:
Minister for Productivity · Balaclava · LP -- On two other occasions recently in this House the honourable member for Gellibrand **(Mr Willis)** has raised the question of youth unemployment and unemployment generally. The first occasion was on 7 September. There was a second occasion, on 6 October, when similar questions were debated. On the first occasion the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations **(Mr Street)** and on the second occasion the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs **(Mr Howard),** who was then acting as the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, provided answers to most of the criticisms which have been made again today by the honourable member for Gellibrand. The honourable member does not agree that they answered them, but in terms of the problem they did. In his speech today the honourable member said that the Government had adopted only token policies regarding youth. He said that the Government's economic policy had failed and that its policy in relation to the youth employment program had been token. First of all, with regard to economic policy, it was made abundantly clear by the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** in his policy speech last year that economic recovery would be slow. In debates in this chamber on this subject it has been made clear by members on both sides of the House that the employment situation is directly related to the curbing of inflation and that the structural problems relating to employment are of a long term nature and will require a long term solution. I should like to refer particularly to an answer given by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations **(Mr Street)** to a question without notice asked by the honourable member for Henty **(Mr Aldred)** on 30 November. It appears in *Hansard* at page 2943 and answers many of the points raised today. I should like to quote a portion of that answer. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations made it clear that approximately 250 000 young people will leave secondary education in the next few weeks. He made it clear that some will try to find employment for themselves and some will go on with further education. There is no reason to assume that the pattern which existed this year will be different next year. The pattern this year was that approximately 180 000 or 95 per cent of those school leavers who sought employment actually found employment. There is no reason to assume that the picture will be any different in the next 12 months. The Government has taken a number of initiatives in this area, and they were mentioned by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations in the answer to which I have already referred. He stated: >Recently the Government has taken several initiatives in this field to help. 1 refer particularly to the subsidy of $59 a week to employers who- I emphasise this, **Mr Speakerprovide** a course of training for young people who have a history of high unemployment in the previous 12 months. This initiative is already a great success. I am advised that some 2300 young persons have been placed now under that scheme. We will be monitoring that scheme very carefully and will review it at the end of January in the light of the employment situation then. That is a very important point. Whilst the honourable member for Gellibrand said that we had made only token gestures and that there would be competition by those school leavers of this year who are still on the employment market with next year's school leavers, the fact is that the Government will constantly review the criteria which it applies in relation to the special youth employment training program. That program has indeed been very successful. It was introduced on 1 October of this year and in the first 4 weeks of its operation 1 100 of the youths who were still unemployed were employed. By 1 1 November the estimate was that 2300 persons were being trained under that program. The criteria were then reviewed and now, as has been made clear, anyone between the ages of 15 years and 19 years who has been unemployed for a total of 6 months of the previous 12 months or who has been out of work even though not registered for unemployment will be eligible for assistance under the scheme. This is no token; it is in fact a very important step towards reducing unemployment amongst the 5 per cent of last year's school leavers- only 5 per cent- who had not found employment. When one says 'only 5 per cent', one does not take comfort from any unemployment figure. This has been made clear in other debates to which I have referred. For example, on 6 October the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs said, as reported at page 1547 of *Hansard:* >I share the concern of the honourable member for Gellibrand **(Mr Willis)** about the level of youth unemployment in Australia at the present time. I also acknowledge to be a fact, as he stated, that this is not a problem which has suddenly come upon us. Indeed, my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations **(Mr Street),** when speaking in the House on a similar matter of public importance raised by the Opposition, pointed out that many of the problems in terms of the high level of youth unemployment experienced in Australia find their genesis in changes and happenings which occurred in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. Of course the Government regards youth unemployment as a particularly serious problem. It does have serious social consequences. The Government acknowledges that. We also make it very clear that it is our belief that a longterm solution to the high level of youth unemployment in Australia is inseparable from a long-term solution to the general level of unemployment. This, of course, is so. No one takes comfort from any unemployment level, but for reasons which the honourable member for Gellibrand knows and to which he adverted in his speech today, and as the Jackson Committee made clear, there has been a long standing, deep seated malaise in the manufacturing industry, which is where the principal unemployment has been created. The honourable member, in his discussion of the devaluation strategy, did not refer to the impact upon manufacturing. I think that implicit in his comments was the fact that he believes devaluation will not assist to create jobs. We all know the story about economists who never reach agreement. But it is the Government's belief that the devaluation will assist the creation of jobs in manufacturing industry. I would not deny, and I know the honourable member for Gellibrand would not deny, that in future when we improve productivity in manufacturing industry we do run the risk of constantly creating job vacancies which require retraining and not always retraining in areas of manufacturing. But what is clear is that when the economy gets a boost or an improvement as a result of stimulus in any one sector of the economy, albeit in the mining sector, then the gross national product increases and jobs can be created in support industries, including the tertiary sector of the economy. However, I utterly repudiate the theory which seems to abound in certain quarters that we can dispense with our manufacturing industry and somehow or another the slack will always be taken up in the tertiary industries. I mention those problems to indicate that the Government does not see the creation of jobs in the manufacturing sector of the economy to be an easy task. Structural problems have arisen over many years. The impact of policies of the Labor Government, to which we have referred many times, happened to bring about quite a catastrophic jump in the unemployment figures. But long before the advent of the Labor Government the previous coalition Government, with its Ministers for Labour and National Service- as the portfolio was then called- were warning about structural unemployment difficulties. It is fair to say that neither governments of any persuasion nor management, nor unions, have actually sat down to tackle those problems. One of the reasons for the creation of the Department of Productivity was to show that this Government was determined that those deep seated, long standing problems would be tackled. But no one wishes to create false expectations about the ease with which the problems can be solved. Let us look at precisely what the Government has set out to do. As I mentioned, it has created a special youth employment training program. It has created the community youth support scheme, which is at the moment in its early stages and cannot be evaluated. But over 200 inquiries have been received from organisations that have put up programs which they request be funded. Of course, those programs will be able to stimulate some employment for youth. It is true to say that for many reasons youth unemployment is the most serious of the categories of unemployed which we currently have. This is one reason also why the State Ministers for Labor and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations have been holding a series of meetings on the apprenticeship system. It would be the wish of all 7 governments in Australia to expand the apprenticeship system but again, as with so many aspects of the employment situation, one cannot just turn on the tap and suddenly create jobs. The matter is being looked at carefully and is being looked at in a non-party political sense by the 7 governments. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations hopes that in the new year some further progress can be made in that direction. Certainly, pleas have been made to employers to recognise their vested interest in training apprentices and to take on more apprentices in the future. Equally, I can say that, in respect of the Department of Productivity, the government factories will be taking on more apprentices for the purpose of training people for private industry as well as for service as skilled tradesmen in the government factories. All these factors are slight contributions but, again, no one says that we can find an easy, across-the-board answer. In respect of the honourable member's criticisms of the devaluation policy, one can only say that it would have been nice if we could have found a more selective remedy than devaluation. The reasons for the inevitably of devaluation have been canvassed by the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** and the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** many times. It is fair to say that the policies of the previous Government had an across-the-board effect in respect of its revaluation of currency adjustments, its tariff cuts, which had an across-the-board effect at least with respect to manufacturing and its spending programs which contributed to the high inflation rate, which, in turn, had a very much across-the-board effect. Of course there will always be arguments but the ultimate test will be in the market place. It is the Government's belief that devaluation will help to create jobs. It will stem the flow of jobs out of the country by virtue of arresting certain board room decisions which were inclined to establish manufacturing off shore. A lot of decisions have been made in the last few years along those lines. The Government is of the view that those manufacturing industries which now wish to export will be able to do so and will extend their operations and therefore create more jobs in the process. Those who will be able better to compete with imports will be able to extend their employment. Again, it will not happen quickly but it will happen surely. The Government will be working to try to ensure that school leavers will have better prospects next year than they have had in the last several years. It is worth quoting the figures of the last several years because one can see the rapid deterioration. In December 1972, when the coalition Government went out of office, those unemployed persons who were classified as juniors, the youth unemployed about whom we are talking today, amounted to 80 395. That figure included 53 741 school leavers. In December 1975, when the Labor Government went out of office, the figure was 152 543, which included 60 249 school leavers. So one can see that the actual number of school leavers increased by 7000 over those 2 years but the number of unemployed had increased by 70 000. That is a serious reflection on the total impact of policies upon the unemployment picture m the 3 years of the Labor Government. But I do not wish to give a wrong impression. As has been said frequently by Government Ministers, the problems were structural, they were difficult and they were compounded by those years of Labor policy but they cannot be redressed overnight. I would like to refer also, in closing, to the speech of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs **(Mr Howard)** on 6 October in which he made clear the perspective in which this problem has to be viewed. He said that it is a longer term policy. The Government is endeavouring to set it back - **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** The Minister's time has expired. {: #subdebate-27-0-s2 .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN:
Robertson -At the end of November there were 272 518 people out of work in Australia, or 4.5 per cent of the work force of 6 million. I think all honourable members agree that there will be approximately a quarter of a million people coming on to the labour market in the next few months. I do not think there is any disagreement on that point. It has been said that there will be about 200 000 secondary school leavers and 50 000 tertiary students. At the moment there is utter confusion over the state of the economy in this country. {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: -- The honourable member, who has become noted as the- I will not say what we think of him. {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: -- You do not know what to say. {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: -- He is a big mouth and he is very keen to express his views on anything and everything. I suggest that he read the *National Times,* a fairly reputable Fairfax production, to see what it thinks about where the economy is going. Do not take my word for it. According to the *National Times* and many other economic pundits in Australia there is utter confusion and chaos. At the moment no one knows- this is where the confusion comes in- what will happen with regard to tariff cuts. Each day there is new speculation that the Government will make some tariff cuts. Nobody knows to what level interest rates will rise. There is talk about attacks on wages and the possible abolition of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by the present Government. At the moment there is a great deal of uncertainty. The most optimistic forecast as to the possible level of unemployment next year is that there will be at least 350 000 unemployed. That would be the most conservative, optimistic estimate of unemployment. Some say that the figure will be 400 000, others go above that; but I do not like to suggest those sorts of figures because I think it undermines what little confidence there is in the economy. I think everyone agrees that the figure will be between 350 000 to 400 000 by February of next year. The question is: 'What is to be done about that sort of level of unemployment?' I notice that the Minister last Friday took some pleasure from the figures that were released. He said that there was little underlying change in the labour market during November. He said that the number of registered unemployed rose by 10 528, or 4 per cent, compared with increases of 18 368, or 7.4 per cent in November 1975 and 41 308, or 27.6 per cent, in November 1974. He then said that the smaller than usual increase in registered unemployed was predominantly influenced by the smaller number of school leavers registered in New South Wales. The implication was that there were not as many people as usual coming on to the labour market and that this was a good sign of something. I think that that basically is a misinterpretation of what is happening. The Government has deliberately told the young unemployed, or the young school leavers, that they will not be eligible for unemployment benefits until February of next year. It is therefore natural that a lot of them, as they will not be able to obtain unemployment benefits, are not registering. I think it is inevitable that in December and January, as we get closer to the date when they will be eligible for unemployment benefits, there will be a much greater increase in the number of school leavers registering and that the numbers will rise very much to a much higher level early in 1977 than they have during this latter part of the year. The Minister for Productivity **(Mr MacPhee)** made some points about what the Government is doing regarding youth unemployment. He mentioned the special Youth Employment Training Program. When this scheme was first introduced I must admit that I applauded it. I thought: 'This is a good move by the Government '. At this stage I still think it has some merit. I recognise that like a lot of schemes, it has limited possibilities but I am concerned about the scheme after discussing it with one of the biggest employers of labour in my electorate. I will not name him. He said that he was taking advantage of the scheme. As there was wastage, as people left for whatever reason, they were being replaced by the subsidised youth. I pointed out to the gentleman concerned that that was not the objective of the Government. In fact I would suggest that if that is going on in a lot of areas it is a disaster. This person was not doing this in a secret or dishonest way. He merely thought that the scheme was meant to help him. It is meant to help young people. If people are sacked- or even if they are not sacked, if the employers just wait for wastage to occur when people leave or die or whatever- and then are replaced by subsidised people, the result will be worse because there will be married people with families going off jobs and, at the other end, single people replacing them. I have great sympathy for young people who are unemployed but the problem of the married man with a family is even more serious. I would suggest seriously that some investigation be undertaken on this matter to see how many of those jobs that have been created by the Youth Employment Training Scheme have been created in the circumstances that I have outlined. The Government has, I understand, rejected all other forms of job creation schemes. I find this quite surprising and quite staggering. At this stage, we have heard nothing about job creation schemes. A few weeks ago I produced a paper on a re-assessment of the Regional Employment Development Scheme. We have already mentioned this paper in the House. I will not go over it in great detail. It has been well received. I thank the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations **(Mr Street)** for the kind words he said to me about the re-assessment. I hope that the Government will look seriously at this scheme. I am sure that I speak for my colleague at the table, the honourable member for Gellibrand **(Mr Willis),** in saying that we are prepared to sit down with a committee of Government Ministers to discuss methods of getting people jobs. In that way we could ensure that there is no point scoring and no political scoring on the unemployment situation. There are pockets in Tasmania, North Queensland, the central coast of New South Wales and in other areas of Australia where unemployment is not just 4.5 per cent or 5 per cent but is closer to 10 per cent or 1 5 per cent and where kids have no hope of getting jobs in the next 6 months. I hope that we look at this type of regional employment development scheme on a modified scaled-down version as suggested. The fact that the re-assessment has come from this side of the House should have no bearing on whether or not it has value. I am sure that the Minister's own Department has done the same sort of re-assessment and come to similar conclusions if not the same. I do not want to see reintroduced into Australia the sort of job creation scheme, which was called I think the RER scheme, where people went around painting fences, clearing fire trails and chipping weeds. That was simply a waste of money. I think the Minister for Productivity is nodding his head in agreement. I think that is the most grotesque form of unemployment scheme one can possibly imagine. It is denigrating to the people who are actually doing the work because they know that what they are doing is useless to the community. They know that the minute it rains or the grass grows the whole thing is down the drain. {: .speaker-3V4} ##### Mr Chipp: -- Do you have any real evidence in your electorate that the great number of young people who are genuinely trying to get jobs and have been for some time are not able to obtain employment? {: .speaker-NF4} ##### Mr COHEN: -- In answer to the honourable member's question, let me tell him about the response to the special youth training scheme. I meet with **Mr Passlow** an officer of the Commonwealth Employment Service, about every 2 weeks to discuss the employment situation. My electorate has one the worst unemployment levels in Australia. He told me that 200 people inquired immediately when the special youth training scheme was introduced. I suggested that we look at even a watered-down version of the Regional Employment Development scheme whereby an amount of money now being paid out in unemployment benefits- it works out at about 25 per cent of the total cost of special works projects- be granted to local government bodies for special projects. This would mean that the local bodies would have to put in 75 per cent of the cost. I have been informed by one council in my area that it is prepared to undertake a major sewerage and drainage scheme if it gets the 25 per cent subsidy. On a job costing $lm the council would be saving $250,000 if it borrowed the extra $750,000 and undertook the job this year rather than in three or four years ' time. {: #subdebate-27-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-27-0-s4 .speaker-KEO} ##### Mr FALCONER:
Casey -When the Labor Government first came to office it inherited an unemployment rate of about 135 000; when it left office the rate was 328 000. Again, when it came to office the rate of unemployment amongst young people under twenty was 80 000; when it left office that figure had risen to 1 52 000. 1 suppose we have to give Labor Party members some credit in this debate. They are experts on creating unemployment so they ought to be able to talk about that subject to some extent. In their 3 years in government the rate of youth unemployment doubled. I suggest that the answer to the problem of youth unemployment is not in more and more government spending as honourable members opposite often tend to suggest. That was the solution tried by the Labor Government when it was in office. The huge increases in government spending, together with the high wage explosion that was brought about at least partly through the use of the Public Service as a pacesetter in wage fixation, and the consequent lack of competitiveness of Australian industry, led to the high rate of unemployment. It was that very lack of competitiveness of Australian industry which largely brought about the recent devaluation. That devaluation has in fact saved the jobs of 400 people at Mount Lyell in Tasmania. I was interested to note the comments of the honourable member for Gellibrand **(Mr Willis)** that devaluation would not save jobs. He should tell that to the Tasmanians. They certainly will not accept that for a moment. Many other jobs will be saved as a result of devaluation. Most of last year's school leavers have been employed. The Minister for Productivity **(Mr Macphee)** said earlier in this debate that 95 per cent of last year's school leavers have found jobs. I suggest to the House that the major difficulty in youth unemployment is not so much with the school leavers but with the young person who perhaps left school at an early age without obtaining a high degree of skill and who has had two or three jobs which he has lost for either good or bad reasons. As a result that person looks a very bad prospect for any potential employer. That person would look to be a potentially unstable employee. I suggest that it is in that area of youth unemployment that we have the major problem; it is not so much with the recent school leaver. Most employers will give the recent school leaver a chance at least in his first job. It is when he develops some record of instability, combined with a lack of skill and a lack of qualification that he becomes, in an employer's eye, a bad risk. I want to tell the House what has happened under the special youth employment training program which this Government introduced. I think it must rate as being an outstanding success by any measure. Some 2300 young people have now been placed in training under the program. It has been particularly pleasing to note that almost half of the trainees have been placed in New South Wales where previously it had been extremely difficult to obtain vacancies for young people. The honourable member for Denison **(Mr Hodgman)** would be quick to tell me that Tasmania has had the best pro rata achievement with respect to this program. In Tasmania alone 153 young people have found jobs under this program. In Victoria 385 people have found jobs under the program. In New South Wales the figure is 818 people. This is the largest number in any one State, as I mentioned earlier. The honourable member for Gellibrand also said, as I understood him, that the careers guide was not being printed. I want to inform him and the House that the careers guide is being printed in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia. Next year a national careers guide will be printed with supplements for each State. The project is definitely going ahead. {: .speaker-ZJ4} ##### Mr Willis: -- It is not available now. {: .speaker-KEO} ##### Mr FALCONER: -- It is being printed. {: .speaker-ZJ4} ##### Mr Willis: -- It will be available next April. {: .speaker-KEO} ##### Mr FALCONER: -The honourable member for Gellibrand was saying that it was not going to be printed. To continue with my own remarks, I would like to say a little more about the work that this Government is doing in offering vocational guidance to young people. Again I thought the honourable member for Gellibrand was quite scathing in his criticism of what was happening in that respect. Through the officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service the Government provides not only job placement assistance but also job information and counselling. I would like to quote what the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations **(Mr Street)** said on 7 September in a debate on a similar subject. It is to the discredit of the honourable member for Gellibrand that he apparently did not take any notice of what was said on this occasion. The Minister said: >In relation to job information, career reference centres have been established in all capital cities and some major provincial cities throughout Australia. Over 200 000 inquiries were made at career reference centres in the last financial year. > >The offices of the CES also have several hundred counsellors who visit schools through the year with advice and information on careers. In the last financial year over 140 000 school leavers received such information and advice. Both the employment offices and the regional offices are equipped with trained psychologists, who provided vocational guidance to over 24000 people in the last financial year. It may be argued that more could be done. I do not quarrel with that proposition. I assure the House that a considerable amount is being done. I think more is being done than the House was led to believe earlier by the honourable member for Gellibrand. The Government believes that, in its measures to assist the young unemployed, it should concentrate on programs which give them real job experience in a real commercial and industrial environment. I suggest that one of the problems with programs such as the former Regional Employment Development scheme is that job creation programs can too easily become job replacement programs. Quite often these programs do not necessarily give the people employed a degree of skill which will make them an attractive employee to a potential employer. The programs keep them busy for a while. Such a program may keep them occupied for several months or even longer depending on now long the project lasts, but it does not necessarily impart any skills that will be of continuing use to I know of some municipal authorities which used the RED scheme not to create additional jobs for unemployed people but which, in fact, used the scheme as a way of getting their maintenance work done on the cheap- replacing the work that would have been done by other fulltime council officers. I think we need to consider the disadvantages of a scheme such as the RED scheme. Let us not examine the short-term solutionsthe short-term palliatives- but try to introduce schemes which will give to the unemployed real job experience. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. The discussion is now concluded. {: .page-start } page 3309 {:#debate-28} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: >States Grants (Water Resources Assessment) Bill 1976. Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Amendment Bill 1976. Road Acts Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. Customs Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1 976. Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Amendment Bill 1976. Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill 1976. {: .page-start } page 3309 {:#debate-29} ### HISTORIC SHIPWRECKS BILL 1976 Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 3309 {:#debate-30} ### OMBUDSMAN BILL 1976 Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment. In Committee Consideration of Senate's amendment. Senate's amendment- >After paragraph (d) of sub-clause (2) insert the following new paragraph: (da) action that a person employed in the Public Service of the Northern Territory as a member of the staff of the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory takes, or purports to take, by virtue of his being a member of that staff; '. {: #debate-30-s0 .speaker-YF6} ##### Mr ELLICOTT:
Attorney-General · WentworthAttorneyGeneral · LP -- I move: >That the amendment be agreed to. The purpose of the amendment made to the Ombudsman Bill 1976 by the Senate is to ensure that the Ombudsman is not able to investigate action taken by officers of the staff of the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory. The Bill already provides that actions taken by officers of the departments associated with this Parliament are not to be subject to investigation by the Ombudsman. This is because the Government sees these departments as outside the ordinary course of government administration. They are, of course, responsible to one or both of the Presiding Officers of the Parliament and not to a Minister. The amendment made by the Senate is consistent with that existing provision and is acceptable to the Government. {: #debate-30-s1 .speaker-ZE4} ##### Mr LIONEL BOWEN:
Smith · Kingsford -- The Opposition does not object to this amendment and can fully understand the need for it. I have not had a chance to discuss this matter with the Attorney-General **(Mr Ellicott).** The amendment, in part, refers to 'action that a person employed in the Public Service of the N.T. ' may take. The interpretation clause- clause 3 of the Bill- excludes action taken by the staffs of the House of Representatives, the Senate, other Parliamentary departments, and also the Public Service of the Northern Territory. One wonders why the proposed new paragraph could not have been included in that clause by adding the words other than action taken by a person'. I believe *Ombudsman Bill* 6 December 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 3309 that the amendment has been added to clause 5 because **Senator Kilgariff** suggested that that course of action be adopted. The point I make is that administrative actions are the subject of the Ombudsman's purview, as set out in clause 5(1). I invite the AttorneyGeneral to address his mind to the fact that no objection is proposed at all to any action being excluded if it relates to the employment of that person as a member of the Legislative Assembly for the Northern Territory. But should such a person have power to take action other than administrative action? One would think that that should be the subject of some investigation if it falls within the ambit of clause 5(1). I do not wish to press this matter any further other than to mention it briefly. I would have thought that it would have been better to exclude this category under the interpretation of 'Department' in clause 3 rather than to amend clause 5 to include 'an action', which is not denned. In my view such administrative action should not be excluded unless it is action by a person employed as a member of the staff of the Legislative Assembly. In other words, whatever the powers of the staff of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly they are not necessarily the same as those of the staff of the Department of the House of Representatives or the Department of the Senate. Acts of those officers are excluded; but should we have a wider ambit for the Northern Territory? One may not want to exclude all those actions. I only mention this point briefly. I have no doubt that the Attorney-General will address his mind to this aspect if he has not already done so. The Opposition still wants the administrative actions of the staff to be within the ambit of clause 5(1). {: #debate-30-s2 .speaker-YF6} ##### Mr ELLICOTT:
WentworthAttorneyGeneral · LP -- I am satisfied that the amendment is intended only to take out of the scope of the ombudsman's considerations actions by persons employed as members of the staff of the Legislative Assembly which would be the equivalent of actions taken by the staff of this Parliament, either of the House of Representatives or of the Senate. It is not intended to exclude any actions that they may undertake of an administrative character. Of course, as the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith **(Mr Lionel Bowen)** will be well aware, the Legislative Assembly is established as a form of parliamentary institution and it has privileges, etc., which it enforces and maintains just as this House maintains them. This amendment is simply to put the staff of that body in the same position as staff of the Senate or of the House of Representatives. I should not think there would be any problem. Should any problem arise, should the legislation be interpreted as so wide that it enables those officers to do more than what is described in the amendment to encompass administrative action, then that is a matter which would receive early consideration by the Government. Amendment agreed to. Resolution reported; report adopted. {: .page-start } page 3310 {:#debate-31} ### BROADCASTING AND TELEVISION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1976 [No. 2] {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 18 November, on motion by **Mr Eric** Robinson: >That the Bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-0I4} ##### Mr MacKELLAR:
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs · Warringah · LP **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill and the Television Stations Licence Fees Amendment Bill (No. 2) as they are related measures. Separate questions will of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate. **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering these 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed. {: #subdebate-31-0-s1 .speaker-JNG} ##### Dr CASS:
Maribyrnong -The whole community can only be appalled at and condemn the Government for the secrecy and haste of this whole sordid exercise. It was the paranoia of members of the Government, coupled with their inability to face reality, as reported in Australian Broadcasting Commission news services, which resulted in hysterical attacks on that organisation and which led to the spate of rumours about the future of the ABC. The Government's blatant political intimidation led us in the Opposition to initiate on 23 March 1976 as a matter of public importance a discussion on these threats to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In responding to that debate, and clearly under pressure from increasing public concern about political pressure by the Government on the national network, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications **(Mr Eric Robinson)** said: >I propose to recommend to the Government that it institute an inquiry into the industry. A secret departmental inquiry was set up in April. The report was ready in October and was tabled on 9 November. Already the Government is ramming this inadequate and ill-considered legislation through the Parliament without even giving itself time to understand the nature of the problems of the electronic media. The Green report on the structure of the Australian Broadcasting system discusses the problems of broadcasting and proposes a philosophy and a possible structure which contains some radical departures from the present system. In my view this legislation will do nothing to change the fundamental nature of the present inadequate system. In any case, the Green proposals are worthy of far more public consideration and debate before legislation seeks to implement changes. The way the Government has acted demonstrates blatant disregard for public knowledge, the right to information and active participation. One can only question the real reasons for the Government's actions since clearly a better broadcasting system will not be established by this legislation. There is no doubt that the prime motive was to destroy the independence and compromise the integrity of the ABC. Perhaps I might quote from the *Age* editorial of Friday, 3 December, which states: >The capacity of the Federal Government, and particularly of **Mr Fraser,** to mismanage their dealings with the Australian Broadcasting Commission apparently has no limits. Having brought the ABC staff to the point of open rebellion, and reduced its senior management to a state of demoralised confusion, **Mr Fraser** has now managed to annoy even **Sir Henry** Bland-the man he had appointed as a new-broom chairman to bring the national broadcasting service to order. A little further on the editorial stated: > **Mr Fraser** does not seem to have realised that his attack on the ABC management must also be read as an attack on the ABC commissioners, including **Sir Henry** himself. The editorial described the mechanics of it all and said that, in criticising changes to the programming and suggesting that the administrative staff were cushioning the blow to themselves, clearly there was a reflection on the Commissioners because after all it was the Commissioners who made the decision as to where cuts were to be made. The editorial continued and said: > **Mr Fraser** has now issued a statement agreeing that the ABC is master of its own programming. Indeed, he suggests that his whole purpose in raising the issue early this week was to make this very point. We suggest the public is entitled to take this with a largish grain of salt. The plain fact is that, while the commission must decide where the cuts are to be made, the necessity for making them was imposed upon it by the Government. We were accused when we were in government of politicising the ABC and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board whenever we appointed someone to fill a naturally occurring vacancy on either body. This legislation proposed now by the Government would permit the Government to replace every member of both bodies within the next month or so. We were amateurs when it comes to political stacking compared to the present Liberal-National Country Party government. Its back-down on the ABC is clear proof of its original intentions. Given patience, that same objective would have been achieved by the middle of next year at the latest. In fact, if the Government had not become impatient and lost its cool it would have had control of the ABC if we equate appointment of commissioners with control. In fact I would like to discuss the very concept of representation from each State which the Government is enshrining in legislation and its sexist approach in insisting that 2 women be appointed. In past practice it has been the habit to have someone from every State. I concede that when we were unceremoniously removed from office Tasmania was not represented. That arose because when the vacancy occurred I was not able to find someone from Tasmania at the time and as I wanted a female I appointed a lady from Victoria. I proposed to fill the next vacancy, if possible, with someone from Tasmania. But the next vacancy that occurred related to Western Australia and I filled that vacancy with someone from Western Australia. Then another vacancy came up in the normal fluxion of time. I did not manipulate any of this. The next vacancy occurred and we decided as a matter of policy that we would allow the ABC staff to elect someone to represent the staff and we would then put that person on the Commission. It was not up to me to direct the ABC staff to elect someone from Tasmania and it chose and elected someone from New South Wales, a male. To keep faith with our promise I appointed the person elected by the staff to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. So I concede that at that stage Tasmania was not represented. I think that since then 3 vacancies have occurred. One was caused by the death of Professor Downing, the second by the retirement of one of the commissioners from Sydney, Hal Lashwood, and finally there was **Dr Hackett** from South Australia. The Government had 3 opportunities to ensure that each State was represented. The Government, for purposes best known to itself-one would fear that it was because it wanted to pick stooges and it was not too sure that it could find a stooge somewhere, which is a sorry reflection, I must say, but one struggles to find another reasonable explanation- failed to fill the vacancy with someone from Tasmania. It also failed to appoint someone from South Australia. So now two States are not represented. Do not blame us. Do not blame past Liberal governments. Do not blame the inadequacy of the legislation. It was this Government's inadequacy. There was no need to bring in a legislative change to ensure its aims were achieved. The position could always have been achieved. Why is there a need for representation on a sex basis? True, there was only one female commissioner. I think that was first specified in 1942. It is a sorry reflection on all of us that such a measure should have been necessary. Why did we need to say that at least one commissioner should be a woman? Did we think that women did not listen to the radio and did not know anything about it? At present there is nothing in the legislation to preclude all the commissioners being women. There is no reason why one of the 3 vacancies could not have been filled by a woman appointed by the Government. There was no need to bring in the legislation to change the position. One suspects, when looking at it coldly, that the motivation was a devious device to allow the Government to get rid of the staff representative, **Mr Webb,** because in the reconstituted proposal that it put and in the amended version that it is now putting a staff representative is not specified. We did not specify it. We did not change the legislation. We simply agreed to appoint someone to that position. Now the Government is changing the legislation. If it wanted to keep faith with that proposition- the concept of worker participation or staff representation now is the time. We would have gladly accepted an amendment that one of the members be elected by the staff, but the Government has not chosen to do so. The pressure from the community has coaxed or has forced the Government, depending on one's point of view, not to sack anybody. Presumably that includes **Mr Webb.** It is no compliment to the Government. The Government's tactics fool no-one but itself. Fortunately for the ABC, hence the whole community, the Government could not fool its own back benchers. A significant number of them have some sense of justice and political propriety, even if the Cabinet does not. The basic danger remains that the Government did not need to control appointments to the Commission to control the ABC. The Liberal Cabinet has already imposed severe economic constraints on the Commission. This needed no legislation. Whenever economic constraints bear heavily on any organisation, the first activities of the organisation to suffer are anything of an innovative, experimental or controversial nature. Clearly this has happened to the ABC. Under the last Labor Government the ABC was given genuine freedom, without inhibitions. Criticisms of the Government at the time were frequent. Liberal-Country Party Opposition spokesmen at the time were seen and heard much more extensively than Labor Government spokesmen. We did not like it, but we did not put pressure on the ABC. We did not talk about administrative waste in the ABC, reactionary cells in the program departments or among the news staff. We did not slash the Commission's budget. Now, at the slightest suggestion of criticism of the Liberal-Country Party line, out come the illiberal backwoodsmen such as the Minister for Transport **(Mr Nixon).** Even the Minister for Post and Telecommunications last week criticised the ABC for some comments on *A.M.* which were confirmed in every daily paper that day or the day after, as far as I could ascertain. The ABC claimed that the business community was in disarray because of the Government's non policy. Every paper since then has carried comments to the same effect by unnamed and named businessmen. Even the editors made the same observations in their editorial columns. Still the Government had to whip the ABC. When will the Government lean on the Press owners to make them sack their editors and all their cartoonists? Everyone of the cartoonists, these acutely perceptive students of human weakness and foible, is becoming increasingly critical of the Government and its leaders. Any day I expect someone from the Government's ranks to declare Pickering and Petty pinkos and the rest of the cartoonists soft on comms just because they dare show the community how ridiculous the Government is, and that despite the Government's loud claim that its action, or lack of action, is clothed in economic respectability it has no clothes. The Government proclaims that there is a firm hand at the helm of the ship of state. It does not realise that when it wrenched control from the Labor Government it damaged the rudder, so now we are adrift, even the private sector is afraid to deliver power because it knows we are rudderless and in the worst economic seas this century. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board has traditionally, under past Liberal governments, consisted mainly of members drawn from the private media sector- a case of the industry sitting in judgment on itself, because those members drawn from the private sector and made members of the Control Board were meant to be sitting in judgment on the performance of the private sector. No wonder the Australian Broadcasting Control Board never did anything to ensure that the private media fulfilled community expectations, such as those specified by the Vincent Committee in 1963. No wonder plans were never submitted to extend broadcasting in any way, because to do so would have posed a competitive challenge to the existing commercial networks. Until the Labor Government licensed radio stations in Melbourne and Sydney in 1974-75 there had been no new licences in those cities since 1935. No wonder the Australian Broadcasting Control Board advised Liberal governments and us that it was impossible to introduce VHF FM to Australia until the Labor Government set up the independent McLean inquiry in 1974. I was accused of politicising the Australian Broadcasting Control Board when I appointed a public servant to fill a vacancy. He had been Secretary to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts which questioned the Control Board's advice on AM and FM broadcasting. In fact it was the Committee's questioning which gave rise to the establishment of the McLean inquiry which confirmed that we could have FM broadcasting in the same international band as it is in everywhere else in the world, instead of having to set it up in the UHF band which would have meant that we would have needed radio equipment, transmitters and receivers, specially constructed for Australia and for nowhere else in the world. What utter nonsense. The McLean inquiry confirmed that opinion which was first unearthed by the Senate inquiry. Also we had been told for years that there was no more room in the AM band, that too many stations were already cluttering up the spectrum and that we could not have any more stations in the AM band. The Senate inquiry questioned that, and the truth came out. With directional aerials and properly designed equipment we could double the number of AM stations generally. So one has to question the propriety of always appointing people from the commercial sector to the Control Board, a body which was supposed to be providing to the Government plans on how broadcasting could be improved and how extensions to the system could be planned. I also appointed **Dr Patricia** Edgar to the Control Board to fill another vacancy. My crime there was that **Dr Edgar** who had been chairperson of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board's Advisory Committee on Program Standards was a female academic. **Dr Edgar** was not from the electronic media industry, but she had studied and published work on the media. The danger in the eyes of the Liberal-Country Party and the media industry is that the lady knows more about the industry from the consumer point of view than perhaps all but a few in the country do. I broke tradition and so challenged the establishment by daring to appoint 2 experts from outside the media industry who could represent for the first time the interests of the vast majority of Australians- the consumers. This Government calls those appointments political simply because for the first time the previous Government had given the consumers of broadcasting a say. I was inclined to suggest that this legislation also indicated a total lack of understanding of public broadcasting. That was a foolish error on my part. One should never underestimate one's opponents. My fear now is that the Government does fully understand the potential of public broadcasting to provide an outlet for a wide range of interests and points of view which are now censored by the commercial networks. These diverse, controversial views are intermit.tently aired over the ABC during those short spells when it frees itself from self-censorship until another burst of criticism of the ABC from so-called champions of freedom of expressionchampions of freedom of expression as long as the expression is completely in accord with their views, of course. This causes the ABC to shrink back into its shell and censor anything adventurous so that dull conformity reigns supreme, as usual, under Liberal governments. The issuing of public broadcasting licences is to be at the whim of the Minister. In fact if one looks into the legislation carefully one can see that all the planning for the whole broadcasting system will now be under the direct control of the Minister. True it always has been because the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the body supposed to plan, only ever reported to the Minister. The annual report tabled in the Parliament deals with the previous year's activities and not with planning proposals. So if the Board ever did propose any plans for the future those plans never saw the light of day. With Ministers uninterested in expansion of the system and no money provided for the purpose, except to ensure that a signal could be received anywhere in Australia- that was the only plan that I found when I took over this portfoliothe Control Board has never formulated any plans to achieve the aims mentioned by practically every inquiry and reiterated, once again, in the Green report. I concede that the Control Board was theoretically able to do so. Even that pretence of independence has gone now. Does anyone seriously suggest that the Postal and Telecommunications Department will come up with serious plans to achieve those worthy objectives of quality and diversity which would inevitably put pressure, both intellectual and financial, on the commercial sector? In my view the exact reverse will now happen. Under the guise of self-regulation the commercial stationsradio and television- will cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of intellectual content and taste. As for Australian content, that will be a thing of the past as far as quality production is concerned. Goodbye to the concept of and hope for an Australian national identity as far as the commercial stations are concerned. But never mind, profits will soar and the junk will invade the FM band as licences are issued quickly to the commercial operators. By the time the Government decides its attitude to the public broadcasters there will be few, if any, channels left for them. That in itself will resolve the embarrassing problem for the Government of troublesome, controversial public broadcasters. There will be very few of them because there will not be room for them. That is what I mean by saying that the Government does understand. It does not like the possibilities. It is afraid of the potential and so it is bent on killing public broadcasting, to ensure that it will not be embarrassed. The ABC will continue to have to try to cater for an enormous range of interests with an inadequate number of channels on both radio and television. This will inevitably lead to continuing dissatisfaction. Let me explain what I mean because I think there is a lot of vague talk about popular programs and about the special interest that the ABC has to satisfy and then criticism of the ABC because it does not get ratings near to those received by the commercial stations. But one should understand the nature of human activity and biological functions including such things as human taste. If one tried to graph this aspect of human behaviour in the form of a frequency distribution curve one would find that at each extreme end there would be very few people and that most people would be in the middle. This is common to every biological function of life. If this represents the spectrum of human taste then quite reasonably- I am not bitching about this but I am stating it as acceptable and understandable-the commercial stations concentrate on the middle of the spectrum where most people are because their purpose is to make money. I repeat that I do not quarrel with that at all. But the Government expects the ABC, and the commercial stations keep saying this, not to compete with the commercial stations. It is said that the ABC must provide complementary programming. I ask honourable members to understand what that means. That means that the ABC must cater for each end of the spectrumthe left and the right. The ABC cannot provide a special interest program for those interested in classical music at one end of the spectrum and expect to be satisfying necessarily anyone on the other end of the spectrum whose tastes may be diametrically opposed. When it is said how terrible and how disastrous it is when an ABC program gets only a 2 per cent rating the question one needs to ask is: 'What sort of program was it; what was its potential audience?' The commercial stations provide programs that theoretically cater for perhaps 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the community. So they are not doing too well if one of their programs receives a rating of, say, IS per cent. An ABC program is supposed to be catering at one end of the spectrum for a particular interest group which has a maximum audience of perhaps 3 per cent. If the ABC gets a rating of 2 per cent that in terms of its potential audience is a rating of 60 per cent. I ask honourable members to think about that. In such a case the ABC is in fact being very successful. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- We are not arguing against that. {: .speaker-JNG} ##### Dr CASS: -- But I am, because the Government is now going to expect the ABC to cater for all of those diverse interests with one television channel and 2 radio channels. This is an impossible task. Something like seven or eight commercial radio and three television stations are catering for the centre of the spectrum of interest. But the ABC is trying to cater for a much broader range of interest with only 2 radio stations and one television station in each capital city. Honourable members opposite would be dishonest if they said that the ABC can do that and still appear to be reasonable and not cause a great deal of dissatisfaction. I come back to the concept of freedom of choice. What choice do the commercial stations give to the people clustered in the middle of the spectrum? I am quite happy to concede that the bulk of the community occupies perhaps a fairly narrow spectrum and their tastes are satisfied by seven or eight radio stations and perhaps 3 television stations in each capital city. But how is that taste catered for and what sort of choice do people get? {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- They are not always happy. {: .speaker-JNG} ##### Dr CASS: -I know they are not happy. I am suggesting that the people in this area get practically no choice at all. What is this blinking legislation doing about that? Honourable members opposite should think about that in respect of television. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- We cannot make everyone happy. {: .speaker-JNG} ##### Dr CASS: -- OK, the Government cannot make everyone happy but at least it can give them a choice. We learnt that Australian made television programs of cops and robbers were popular. We had the situation that Channel 0 put on a cops and robbers program made by Crawford Productions Pty Ltd; Channel 7 put on a cops and robbers program by Crawford Productions; and Channel 9 put on a cops and robbers program by Crawford Productions. At one time there were 3 of these types of programs because they were so popular. They had the top ratings because they were put on at different times. But what did the media chiefs then do to try to collar the market? As it is crudely put- and if I may be excused I will use the term- the ratings game depends on bums on seats. So all of these types of programs were seen to be popular. The commercial stations gave the poor people in the middle of the spectrum- the bulk of the population- an enormous choice. They put all of these programs on at the same time. Do honourable members opposite call that freedom of choice? That is in fact depriving people of choice. In fact this practice killed off Crawford Productions because, needless to say, when one program fell behind in ratings the station put off the program and brought in an American-made extravaganza produced at a cost of $250,000 a time to compete with something that we had made in Australia for perhaps $50,000 a program. Of course the Americans could sell their program to our commercial stations for $5,000 or $6,000 because they had made their money on the American market. That is the freedom of choice that this system offers. The Government has not considered this aspect at all in the legislation now before us. It has done absolutely nothing at all in this respect. It has simply increased the burden on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This will inevitably lead to continuing dissatisfaction which will be used as further proof that publicly run services are inferior to private services. That is not true, of course, but that is the way in which the difficulty of trying to cater for an enormous range of interests simultaneously will be interpreted by private broadcasters. That is the case now as private broadcasters justify providing a common level of junk to an enormous number of people with little or no choice for those people who have a range of interests in the middle of the total spectrum of community interest. In other words, if the Government were really sincere in its endeavours to do something about the broadcasting system, if it really took the Green report seriously- frankly, I do not agree with all of the contents of the Green report although I think it is a worthy report- it would allow serious consideration and discussion of the subject in the community. If the Government had taken this matter seriously it would have allowed much more community discussion. Perhaps it would have invited people to come along from the television industry and from consumer groups to participate in discussions on what the broadcasting media should be about. The British can afford to have royal commissions held every few years. They try then to do something about changing the system to cater for community needs. But all the Government is doing with this legislation is excluding community participation and any real active control. {: .speaker-MH4} ##### Mr Jull: -What about the Tribunal? {: .speaker-JNG} ##### Dr CASS: -- The Tribunal is simply a licensing body. Honourable members should not fool themselves. They should look at the Tribunal carefully. It will simply issue licences. It is true that for the first time, hopefully, we will have public inquiries. But I point out that the legislation as it now stands does not specify that such inquiries should be held or that its reports should be published. We intend to do something about that by moving some amendments in the Committee stage. I hope the Minister will be sympathetic and accept the amendments because they are not revolutionary. They are not even communist inspired. They are simply good, old fashioned public participation inspired as recommended in the Green report. I hope the Minister will take the matter seriously and accept the amendments. In conclusion, I move: {: type="a" start="a"} 0. there has been inadequate time for proper public consideration of the Government's proposals in relation to broadcasting; 1. it fails to establish a proper basis for public broadcasting in Australia, and 2. it is inconsistent with the principles enunciated for the structure of broadcasting in Australia by the report of the Postal and Telecommunications Department on Australian Broadcasting. {: #subdebate-31-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Is the amendment seconded? {: .speaker-KJA} ##### Mr Innes: -- Yes, I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak. I think that is as close as I will get to participating in the debate. {: #subdebate-31-0-s3 .speaker-KET} ##### Mr KING:
Wimmera -- I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Maribyrnong **(Dr Cass).** It appears to me that 2 obvious issues arise from his speech. Although he perhaps did not spell it out in so many words, he implied that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had the opportunity to lean to the left or to the right in its programs. He made it fairly clear to me, at any rate, that he thought that it had the role of leaning to the left. Many people outside this place agree with that point of* view. In many instances people believe that the ABC leans too far to the left. The honourable member also made some reference in his opening remarks to the effect that this legislation was being hastily dealt with in the Parliament. I remind the former Minister for the Media, who should understand, that, at the end of this calendar year, only 3 commissioners will be left on the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. That in itself is a good reason why we should try to get this legislation dealt with before this session of Parliament finishes. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications **(Mr Eric Robinson)** and the Government can then make appointments to allow the Board to carry on its role. However, I shall deal with those aspects of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board later in my remarks. It must be remembered that the Broadcasting and Television Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976 [No. 2] is the first of a number of measures which will be introduced as a result of the Green report which was tabled in the House recently. So, it is true to say that this is transitional legislation. It is also true to say that after further studies have been undertaken by the Government other legislation will be forthcoming. I remind the House and those people outside who may be interested that just because something appears in a report does not necessarily mean that the Government will automatically accept it. A report is a guide to a government. I am afraid that many people who are throwing criticisms at the report do not know what the Government intends to do about it. Many people who are criticising the legislation believe it to be as recommended in the Green report. In the legislation which is before the House now, we see some criticism of this matter. This, of course, is no surprise. I have been in this place long enough to realise that when new legislation is introduced there is always someone who does not like it and there are always some people who like what is proposed but who suggest that it could be improved somewhere, somehow. I have endeavoured to speak to as many people as I possibly could on this subject over recent weeks. These people have ranged from the listening and viewing public to radio and television station managers, station executives and a number of interested organisations, including commercial and national as well as public radio. Their views have certainly been wide ranging. There is no doubt that the overwhelming view is that these people believe basically that the legislation is desirable. But many have certain reservations about this Bill. I am not surprised at that. One point appears fairly clear, however; that is, that people want the legislation to proceed. I hope the honourable member for Maribyrnong notes that fact. People want this legislation. They are mindful that this is only interim legislation in one sense and that it can be updated in the very near future. The legislation is to be amended to change the number of commissions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from the original nine as was put forward in this House to a minimum of nine and a maximum of eleven. To my mind that is quite acceptable. I hope that members opposite will note that proposal. The commissioners will include representatives from every State. For the first time 2 commissioners must be women. The Australian Broadcasting Commission Staffs Association has already outlined its concern at the possible loss of its representative from the Commission. This type of protest is very interesting because this concern betrays an awareness that the appointment lacked merit from the outset. I say quite categorically, despite all the comments which have been made, that at no time can anyone prove that the Minister has said that the ABC Staffs Association representative will be removed. That has never been stated. After all, it is up to the Minister to make these decisions. The Government has never said that it would refuse to appoint a staff member. So, when looking for the cause of the Association's concern, one must cast around for reasons. We do not have to look very far. Marius Webb was elected by an insignificant vote. The Staffs Association, for reasons of its own, seems anxious to have a representative on the ABC but the members of the staff- that is the rank and file of Staffs Association- refuse to share the enthusiasm of their Association. They were so unimpressed with the idea or perhaps with the candidates- I am not too sure which, but possibly it could be both- that less than half the members cast a vote. About 7S00 members were eligible to vote but the successful candidate, Marius Webb, won with a mere 1200 votes. It is obvious that the fact that over 50 per cent of the staff did not bother to vote spells a lack of interest and no doubt many of them would be happy to accept an appointment by the Minister, the Government or some other organisation in a position to do so. Everyone in this community must accept his share of responsibility for economic recovery, for the maintenance of democracy and for unity in the Australian community. The ABC Staff Association is no exception to this rule. It as much as any other component of this nation must shoulder its responsibilities towards the whole community. I am certainly not opposing worker representation- we already have union officials on the Australian Telecommunications Commission and the Australian Postal Commissionbut I am most emphatic that the ABC Staff Association must go right back to the beginning and work out an approach which at least meets with the approval of its own members. That seems to me to be a logical starting point. When the members complain that they might lose their representative they are really saying: 'We realise that we have no support or mandate from the majority of our members, we realise that we were wrong from the beginning, but we want this just the same.' The ABC is a most important part of the nation's mass media, and the mass media play a most important part in the lives of the Australian people. The ABC deserves more respectful treatment and more depth of thought than some childish fancy for office for reasons that are less than clear and have failed to convince even their own members. Of course, honourable members know and I know that representation depends on merit. We also know that this is the point that is scaring the daylights out of some of the staff members of the Association. A point that comes out of these considerations is that the Government is not attempting to place limitations on representation. For instance, it is insisting that at least 2 women be appointed to the Commission, but there is no limitation on the number of women who will take their place on the Commission. {: .speaker-DRW} ##### Dr Jenkins: -- And at least how many men? {: .speaker-KET} ##### Mr KING: -- As far as the number of men is concerned, I will be coming to that. If they are the most suitable people, women may occupy every position on the Commission because the Government has not limited their number. The interesting thing is that the Government has not - stipulated that there shall be men appointed. . {: .speaker-DRW} ##### Dr Jenkins: -- Then why specify the number of women? {: .speaker-KET} ##### Mr KING: -- For the simple reason that the previous Government could see its way clear to appoint only *one.* We want to increase that by 100 per cent. However, this is a most interesting situation and it appears from the interjections that it is disturbing some people. In compiling his report **Mr Green** received and considered 600 submissions. He reported to the Minister that many of these submissions were of an exceptionally high standard. I think we should bear this very much in mind before being carried away by ideas and suggestions promoted by sectional interests with very superficial attitudes and understanding. Presumably the people concerned with the creation of the new Commission are taking fright at recommendations such as clause 356 of the Green report. That clause points out that the current Commission of nine as failed to provide the breadth and spectrum of knowledge that its expansion in 1967 was designed to achieve. One can twist this around any way one likes, but the fact is that the appointment of a staff representative has failed to raise the intellectual standard of the Commission. This fact was one of the earliest observations made in the Press. In fact it was forecast at the time of the appointment. On 10 October 1975, when reporting the election of **Mr Marius** Webb to the Commission, **Mr Laurie** Oakes of the Melbourne *Sun* wrote that it was a good result for rock and roll. That is a rather interesting note. When one reads on and comes to clause 362 of the Green report one sees the real truth spelt out about staff appointments. The report says quite clearly that trade union representation is desirable. I do not think there is any objection to that. The Government goes along with it. The report also doubts that ABC employees' organisations are able to supply persons of the calibre needed to fill these important positions. I hope that the Opposition will note that. In other words, after studying 600 high quality submissions, the recommendation is that appointments should be as representative as possible, but not at the cost of merit. That is a very important point. No one could argue with such sound commonsense recommendations. I would also like to point out the balance in such appointments as recommended in the Green report. It refers to trade union representation on Telecom and the Postal Commission. It points out that those trade union appointments are balanced by appointments from management- something which has not happened within the ABC. The report also makes the interesting point that the trade union appointments to those 2 commissions are made from trade union leadership, not from the employees of either commission. The Green report devotes special mention to the need to avoid 'bunching up' of appointments to the ABC. Reference to this matter can be found in clause 363. This is a most interesting observation. It underlines the common sense running through this report and the sanity of its approach to matters of importance. The report recommends continuity of membership which should be achieved by spacing out retirements so that as few as possible commissioners retire at any one time. This would ensure that whenever a commissioner is replaced, the optimum number of experienced commissioners remain to guide the commission until the new commissioner becomes familiar with his responsibilities. It is interesting to note that of the present commissioners two are due to retire in September 1977, both from New South Wales, one in January 1978 from Queensland, one in July 1 978 from Victoria, two in October 1978 from Western Australia and New South Wales, one in February 1979 from New South Wales and one in July 1 979 from Victoria. As honourable members can see under this legislation it will be possible for the Government to appoint a further 3 commissioners, because at the present time there is one vacancy. If they fulfil their normal 5 years term, they would be appointed until 1982. Naturally, one would have to come from Tasmania and one from South Australia. It is obvious to me that this is one of the problems which the Minister will have to face. As I have said, 4 commissioners from New South Wales will have retired by February 1979. The Minister will have a major problem in altering the appointments so that the commissoners will retire at different times. Clause 9 of the Bill states that the commissioners will hold office for up to 5 years but are eligible for re-appointment. I trust that before long the Minister will be able to work out a way in which appointments can be made so that not more than one or two, or a maximum of three, will retire at the one time. A number of amendments have been foreshadowed by the Minister. No doubt they will improve the implementation of the legislation. The alterations are not major ones but they are important and they will clear the air for a lot of people. Other honourable members wish to speak in this debate, including the honourable member for Bowman **(Mr Jull).** Most people in this Parliament will realise that he is a man with a great deal of experience. I want to compliment him, not on the contribution which he will make in his speech this afternoon, but on the many hours of work which he has contributed to the Government in relation to this matter. I am sure that without his experience this Bill would not be as good as it is today. I am sure that anyone who has followed the activities of the honourable member for Bowman in this place will appreciate his great contribution. I am sure too that, whilst this may not be immediately obvious to the people outside this place, over a period of time they certainly will appreciate what he has done to assist the industry as a whole. As I said, this may not be obvious in the reading of the Bill or within the next few days or months, but given time I am sure all honourable members will agree with me. I want to conclude by again saying to the Parliament that people will judge this legislation over a period of time. The Minister has quite definitely informed the Parliament that he intends to bring in further legislation next year after the Government has had ample time to study the Green report. With those few remarks, I commend the Bill to the House. {: #subdebate-31-0-s4 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
Leader of the Opposition · WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -National Country Party Ministers have been the most vindictive in their attitude to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but none of them is prepared to defend, let alone propound, his attitude in the debate on this Bill. The honourable member for Wimmera **(Mr King)** has had to do his best to justify his colleagues. The Government's handling of broadcasting is one more episode in its sorry record of confusion, incompetence and deceit. The week that began with a capitulation on the currency ended with a capitulation on broadcasting. It is typical of this Government's floundering, its weakness and its bewilderment that even while the House is debating the Government's Broadcasting Bill it has still not explained the objectives of the legislation or revealed its final form. It has not told the Parliament or the people why these changes are necessary; it has not told us what further legislation is coming next year. We are now debating a measure which the Government is amending so substantially that it might just as well be discarded altogether. Let it be said at once that whilst the Government has been forced to back down on this issue there is no sign that its motives or intentions have changed. If proof were needed of the Government's repressive and minatory attitudes towards the ABC it was provided in the House last week. Both the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications **(Mr Eric Robinson)** made it brutally clear that they regard the ABC, in the last resort, as an arm of government propaganda, subservient to government direction. Their remarks provide the best possible illustration of the dangers inherent in this legislation and future legislation on broadcasting. In 2 unguarded but revealing outbursts the Government exposed the sham, the falsity and the deceit behind its hollow protestations about the independence and integrity of the ABC. The implications of the Prime Minister 's remarks last Tuesday were so sinister and dangerous that even **Sir Henry** Bland, the ABC Chairman, was moved to protest. The Prime Minister accused the ABC administration of improper conduct. He made wild and inaccurate charges about the way the management was allocating its funds. He presumed to advise, and virtually instruct, the Commission on what programs it should put to air. Decisions by the ABC management on its program policies he described as rather ludicrous. What strikes the ABC staff, ABC listeners and viewers and the Australian people as rather ludicrous is the Prime Minister's assumption that he knows better than the ABC and its management how to run the ABC. **Sir Henry** Bland's rebuff to the Prime Minister was richly deserved. Many people doubt whether **Sir Henry** is the ideal Chairman of the ABC but no one with the slightest concern for the Commission's independence could have accepted the patronising and dictatorial attitudes, the naked threat implicit in the Prime Minister's remarks. It was barefaced interference. **Sir Henry** Bland took the unprecedented step of rebuffing the Prime Minister who had appointed him. The Chairman said: >I particularly regret that he made these remarks without checking the facts with the ABC ... In view of his repeated affirmation of the Commission's independence I was greatly surprised by his comments . . . It is the Commission, nobody else, that is entrusted by Parliament with responsibility for what the ABC does. **Sir Henry** was right and he showed that the Prime Minister was wrong. Having imposed his drastic and disproportionate expenditure cuts on the ABC- cuts which still stand despite the Government's back down- the Prime Minister had the gall to protest when the ABC moved to reduce its services. Inevitably some programs had to suffer from the cuts; some had to go. The Commission made painful and difficult decisions. Faced with the Chairman's rebuff the Prime Minister issued a statement on Thursday evening brazenly declaring that: ... the Government is committed as it has ever been to the continued independence of the ABC. Taken literally, his statement is probably true. The honourable member for Denison **(Mr Hodgman)** and other innocents accept it. The Government has never been committed to the independence of the ABC and it is not committed to its independence now. The Prime Minister's behaviour proves it; the behaviour of his Minister for Post and Telecommunications proves it; this legislation proves it. Another incident last week cast grave doubt on the Government's *bona fides.* On AM on Thursday there was a report drawing attention to grave anxiety among senior businessmen and economists about the state of the Australian economy and the Government's floundering and chaotic measures to deal with the crisis. It was fair comment; it was necessary comment in the public interest. The response of the Minister was to denigrate the ABC, to denigrate AM and to denigrate the reporter concerned. I am not sure what particular hat the Minister was wearing when he made his reply- Minister Assisting the Treasurer or Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It is significant that a Minister who shares responsibility for the Government's disastrous economic policies is also responsible for this legislation and for the malice and intimidation towards the ABC which is evident in this Bill. The Minister's attack on AM typified the whole approach of the Fraser Government towards the ABC. It explained the fears of many Government supporters and the growing fears of the Australian people about the Government's intentions. The Minister, who believes in freedom of expression, in free comment and in the independence of the ABC had this to say about a program that embarrassed the Fraser Government: >Quite frankly I was disgusted because I thought that it was a pretty poor standard of journalism Here we had someone using the national airwaves to put forward supposedly unsourced and unsubstantiated statements. I find such action extraordinary . . . This young gentleman this morning claims that he could not find one person to put a name to the information that he saw fit to put over the Australian Broadcasting Commission ... It may have been a figment of his imagination. I suggest to the members of Parliament and to the Australian community that they utterly disregard this obvious scurrilous reporting . . . despite the fact that the young reporter misused the program AM this morning and despite what the Opposition says, the strategy is consistent. We are winning the battle against inflation. When he spoke on that occasion, for the first time I failed to see the Minister raise his eyebrow. This most urbane gentleman was in fact stirred to his innermost being in bucketing the ABC. The Minister's comments on the economy carry as much conviction as his comments on the independence of the ABC. The lesson to be drawn from the Prime Minister's statement of Tuesday is that the Government claims a right to influence what programs are transmitted. The lesson from the Minister's statement on Thursday is that the Government has an equal right to influence their contents. I believe that this debate today will be somewhat truncated because the Minister has to go on the ABC to defend this legislation. Well, if a politician must go to Canossa, I believe there is nobody who could do so more elegantly than the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Hair shirts have not been so much in fashion at Surfers Paradise since he allowed his telephone to be used by **Mr McMahon** to sack **Mr Gorton.** I think honourable gentlemen opposite will remember the episode. I believe there may be a repetition. {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: -- Bring back Billy. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -Bring back Billy. You could do worse. Billy has never had so much support since he was dragged screaming from his post. Are you talking about Billy McMahon or Billy Snedden? Either was a better Treasurer, was he not? {: #subdebate-31-0-s5 .speaker-KB8} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -Order! I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition might return to the Bill. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr E G Whitlam:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I will have to return to my remarks about the Minister Assisting the g resent Treasurer. Having established the Government's real attitude towards the Australian Broadcasting Commission, we are better able to examine the purposes of this Bill. It is hastily and carelessly prepared, deceitful in intent, transparently political in its motivation and utterly indifferent to the interests of listeners and viewers. The smokescreen for the Government's objectives and the smokescreen for the Bill is the report of the Green inquiry. The more we study the Bill either in its original form or in the light of the amendments circulated by the Minister last Friday, the harder it is to discern any resemblance to the spirit and intentions of **Mr** Green's report. The fact is that this hasty and illjudged legislation was drafted with 2 simple objectives in mind, both of them destructive. It was designed to stack the ABC with commissioners of the Government's own choice and to abolish the Broadcasting Control Board. Last week's capitulation to public opinion and the staff of the ABC has merely forced the Government to accomplish its purposes another way. Instead of restructuring the Commission by sacking it outright, the Government will replace it a little more slowly. It is now proposing to increase the number of commissioners to eleven, four more than **Mr Green** recommended. He wanted a reduction of two in the number of commissioners. The Government is proposing an increase of two- waste and duplication *a la* Fraser. Why this latest departure from the Green report? We can forget the hoary old pretext about State representation. How many States does the Government think there are? Even with the Northern Territory there will only be 7. That still leaves a few surplus ABC commissioners. The reason for the increase is to enable the Government to stack the ABC by appointing extra commissioners. If it cannot have its way by replacing the old commissioners, it will have its way by appointing more. Having yielded to staff pressure and retained **Mr Marius** Webb as the staff representative, the Government has decided that **Mr Webb** will be outnumbered. If he cannot be replaced, at least he will be isolated. It ought to be noted that although the Government is retaining **Mr Webb's** services for the time being, there is no guarantee in the Bill, or from anything the Minister has said, that a staff commissioner will be appointed in future. The Minister has not mentioned the future of the staff commissioner, let alone promised to keep him. All the Government's pious talk about staff relations and participation obviously counts for nothing. At least we can take satisfaction from **Mr Webb** 's reprieve. Marius has staged a comeback; Sulla has been vanquished. The farce, the dishonesty of this Bill is that if the present commissioners are to be allowed to stay, why is it necessary to change the Act at all? It is necessary, as I say, merely to keep **Mr Webb** in his place, to ensure the Government's domination of the ABC. I simply do not understand why the Prime Minister shows such antipathy to products of Xavier College and Melbourne University. Just because the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** is discredited, why take it out on **Mr Webb** too? We know the legislation was drafted in haste. In his second reading speech, the Minister said: >The legislative amendments required to fully implement the decisions of the Government ... are quite extensive and it has not been possible for parliamentary counsel to complete all of the necessary drafting in time for consideration in this session of Parliament. Why bring in the Bill at all? Why not wait until the Government can do it properly? A Bill that was botched and incomplete in its original form is to be made more botched and irrelevant by the foreshadowed amendments. Obviously the Government had hoped to make the emasculation of the ABC and the abolition of the Control Board a *fait accompli* to forestall the growing public suspicion, the growing anxiety amongst its own supporters and the mounting disquiet of the ABC staff, its management and, now, its Chairman. The more people study the Green report and this Bill, the more obvious it is that the Government is misrepresenting and undercutting the Green inquiry, just as it is misrepresenting and evading the Fox report on uranium. Whenever the Fraser Government finds the advice it receives unpalatable, it either ignores it and distorts its meaning or it suppresses the report altogether. I have said that the Government has ignored **Mr Green** in its treatment of the Commission. It is ignoring **Mr Green** also in the way it is replacing the Control Board. True it is that the Government is creating the Tribunal recommended by **Mr Green** but the Tribunal is only one of the two new arms of administration intended to replace the Board. The other is the proposed Broadcasting Council. **Mr Green** recommended that the Council should have 2 representatives of the commercial media. The Minister has announced that he will double the commercial representation to four. In this way the commercial stations would have little difficulty in dominating the Council. The Government is using the same technique with the numbers on the Council as it is using with the numbers on the Commission. Stranger still is the vagueness of this legislation with regard to the whole future of the Council. Will it be set up at all? The provision for the Council in this Bill scarcely exists. The Bill says merely that the Minister may set it up by regulation. There are no details about its function or its composition. Presumably these are among the minor details the Government still has to decide. Yet the Council's function, as envisaged by **Mr Green,** was crucial. Among its responsibilities was overseeing and administering program standards. As a result of this hasty and incomplete legislation no one will be responsible for administering standards, as **Mr Green** recommended. The 2-arm concept of administration is apparently discarded. The Government apparently has no firm machinery in mind for administering the standards of the commercial stations. It is doubtful whether the Tribunal will do it. The Minister's speech contained the following particularly strange passage: >Should the Tribunal find that the community favours more autonomy being given to the broadcasters by allowing them to develop and largely administer their own codes of programming and advertising practice, the Tribunal would then withdraw from the day-to-day administration of standards, and examine only those significant matters of standards or regulation referred to it by a representative body of the broadcast operators, such as the Broadcasting Council designated in this Bill. So we have a situation in which the Tribunal is expected to withdraw from the administration of standards and hand this responsibility to the Council. Yet no firm provision is made in this Bill for the Council to be established at all. The curious thing about the Broadcasting Tribunal is that it is almost identical in its structure and functions to the Broadcasting Control Board which is being abolished. Why then is it to be established? The answer is so that the Fraser Government can make its own appointments. Just as it hoped to do with the ABC, it wants to get rid of the existing members of the Control Board, some appointed by previous Liberal Governments and some appointed by my Government, in order to stack it with people of its own choosing. The sacking of members of the Control Board, like the sacking of ABC commissioners, would violate a basic principle of statutory bodies- that their members are appointed for fixed terms. The point of this convention is that statutory corporations can remain as free as possible from Government pressure. Of course this is not the first convention of parliamentary democracy to be overturned by the Fraser Government. Nothing shows more clearly how reckless and ruthless this Government can be when statutory bodies stand in its way. If it is ready to sack the ABC or the Control Board, what is to stop it sacking the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? If it is prepared to intimidate one commission, it will be prepared to subdue another. The history of this Government, and this Prime Minister in particular, has been that the unthinkable quickly becomes the possible and that the possible becomes the inevitable. If this Government can contemplate the sacking of the ABC, does anyone imagine that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is safe? The things being said about the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer last week are very similar to things that were said by Ministers, particularly Country Party Ministers, about the ABC in past months. The Fraser Government is the most repressive and reactionary for SO years. It might try to do to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission what the Bruce Government tried to do SO years ago. The Government has been forced to allow the ABC commissioners to serve out their terms. It should allow the existing members of the Control Board to serve out their terms as members of the new Tribunal. If it is ready to admit that its actions in relation to the ABC were wrong, it should admit that its actions in relation to the Control Board are equally wrong. The history of the Liberal policy on broadcasting has been one of intimidating the ABC, deceiving the public and entrenching private interests. For years Liberal governments maintained the fiction that there were not enough frequencies to accommodate more AM radio stations. My Government showed that to be untrue. Under a Labor Government the Control Board acquired teeth; it began to take its job seriously; it began doing what it was originally intended to do. We appointed some vigorous new members to the Board. The Board began initiating research into matters the commercial stations wanted to keep hidden- the economic structure of the industry, its news gathering resources, its standards and efficiency. That is why the Board is being abolished. The Labor Government showed that it was technically possible to license additional stations in the AM band and we did so- commercial as well as national stations. We licensed the first new commercial stations for 40 years. We approved new ABC stations- 2JJ and 3ZZ. We approved new ethnic radio and community access stations. We launched FM broadcasts in 4 States. We gave the ABC greater financial resources to expand its programs and develop Australian productions. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-31-0-s6 .speaker-MH4} ##### Mr JULL:
Bowman -Three weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr E. G. Whitlam)** brought into this House a matter of public importance concerning political interference in the media. Anyone who read the speeches on that matter would realise the folly of the move. Unfortunately this afternoon we have heard quite a deal more along the same lines as we were dished up on that Wednesday 3 weeks ago. One of the prime accusations that the Leader of the Opposition seemed to have made this afternoon was that this Government is prepared to stack the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The honourable member for Griffith **(Mr Donald Cameron)** was to have spoken in this debate. He spoke to the honourable member for Maribyrnong **(Dr Cass)** about incorporating in *Hansard* a 9-page document. It is a fairly enlightening document. It is a transcript of an interview with **Mr Marius** Webb, the staff elected Commissioner of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, at the eighth interstate executive meeting of the ABC Staff Association in Sydney on 18 November 1975. In reply to the Leader of the Opposition 's comments on stacking the Commission I quote from page 3 of that transcript. **Mr Webb** was asked whether staff representation on the board of management would be supported by the board of commissioners. In reply **Mr Webb** said: >The Commissioners are all now Labor appointees. Although a couple of them its a bit hard to work out why. Connie Benn, Richard Harding, Haskett Lashwood, Smith and Harris and Jacobsen are all pretty much on side. Harris is a funny mixture. He is a typical pin-stripe suited businessman in many respects and yet he seems to be about the only contact Clem has with the Commission. He makes extraordinary judgments. We had to view the TDT program of the week before because there had been an outcry because Carlton was supposed to be biased- the interview with Fraser- and everyone decided that Carlton had been fairly subjective in his selection of facts in the introduction to the interview. Harris went so far as to say that he thought he was very biased but he liked his reporting like that. {: .speaker-009MM} ##### Mr Kelly: -- Who said that? {: .speaker-MH4} ##### Mr JULL: -That was **Mr Marius** Webb. The Leader of the Opposition wondered exactly why this legislation was coming into the House. This legislation is a direct result of the Green inquiry. It is interim legislation to change the very nature of the broadcasting system. This had to be done for a number of reasons, some being technical. We heard honourable members this afternoon speaking of the problems in the allocation of frequencies. Frequencies in this country are very special resources, resources that are fast running out. A number of problems have arisen from decisions of the past few years. Because licences were issued under the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905 the spectrums were becoming overly full. One of the major recommendations of the Green report was for a restructuring to sort out technical requirements. This is included in the legislation. The Green report is the first major investigation since 1942 into the media and the problems that face it. It will help in establishing frequency modulation radio in Australia. It will help to get the whole spectrum sorted out. It will help in the proper establishment of public broadcasting stations. It will help in a very real way, I think, to make the ABC a much more efficient and much more viable body. I would like to talk to members of the ABC Staff Association as I had the pleasure of doing in Brisbane on the Friday before last and also when its delegation visited Canberra. I do not really think that the ABC Staff Association does itself a lot of good in putting out publications such as the latest edition of *Channel-* it is the Staff Association magazineand another little gem of a brochure from the Media Workers Council whose address is care of the ABC Staff Association at St Leonards, N.S.W., called *The Facts on the Media Takeover.* Some rather stunning statements were made therein. Nine out of the 12 statements were completely incorrect. This legislation does not deal with things like disbanding the Australian Broadcasting Commission's symphony orchestras. This legislation is not dealing with the subjects stated in this brochure. This legislation is to set up a new system for the governing and allocation of technical aspects of the broadcasting industry in Australia. The ABC Staff Association should be aware of the moves in this legislation to make the ABC a much more viable enterprise. The legislation certainly will make the ABC a much more efficient exercise. I believe the ABC must be accountable to its shareholders; and the shareholders, of course, are the taxpayers of Australia. I am not here this afternoon to bash the ABC. I am here to make some constructive suggestions to members of the ABC Staff Association and to show them just how they will be assisted by this new legislation. One of the biggest problems that I have found in my talks with members of the ABC is that they do not have enough room to manoeuvre with management and that they do not have the opportunity to become involved in decisions which affect the ABC. Written into this legislation is the provision for consultative councils that will operate between the Commission, the management of the ABC and all arms of the Staff Association. It will give an opportunity to members of that Association, technical people, members of Actors Equity and everyone who is connected with the ABC to become involved with the management processes of that organisation. It will take the ABC away from the Public Service Board. This has been one of the real problems of the ABC. ABC staff morale has been particularly low during the time I was involved with the industry. Because of the public service nature of the ABC it was very difficult for people with talent to progress within that organisation. Consequently there is a big bureaucracy within the ABC. It is very hard for people of real talent to make any progress in the ABC. This legislation, by allowing the Commission to be able to negotiate conditions and salaries and to make provision for people to work their way up the ladder into areas of real decision-making, will assist staff to a marked degree. That aspect and the fact that there will be real worker participation, because this legislation gives consultative councils some real teeth, will certainly help the ABC Staff Association to get deeply involved in the ABC. The other aspect of this legislation deals with the formation of a Broadcasting Council and a Broadcasting Tribunal. As I said at the beginning of my speech today, one of the reasons for the changes in the structure of broadcasting in Australia is a real effort to get politics out of the media. I firmly believe that politics should not be involved in the media. Certainly in the last few years it was. We saw it not only happening in the ABC but also in the commercial sector. There will be a split of functions between the Broadcasting Council and the Broadcasting Tribunal. We will see the disbandment of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The technical aspects of the operation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will become part of the Postal and Telecommunications Department. A very real need exists for the Department to play that part in that aspect of broadcasting. As I mentioned earlier, the allocation of frequencies is a very real worry. The stations have to meet technical standards. We want our broadcasting system to be one of the most technically perfect in the world. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr E. G. Whitlam)** mentioned problems associated with the Broadcasting Council. The Broadcasting Council will be an advisory body that will be established to represent the interests of not only the ABC and commercial broadcasters but also the public broadcasters. The Broadcasting Council will discuss problems that are facing the industry and will take initiatives for the benefit of the industry. One point about which I am a little worried in that regard is the fact that the Council does not really have the necessary teeth. It is to be established as an advisory group. It will not make hard and fast decisions. If the Minister is prepared to consult with that Council and to listen to some of its arguments concerning the various aspects of the media, well and good. But under the present terms of this legislation it would be possible for the Minister not to take any notice of what the Broadcasting Council might say. On the other hand, the Broadcasting Tribunal will be established to grant licences, to renew licences and, indeed, to suspend licences. It also will have the capacity to make public inquiries into various aspects of the media and to involve the public and all interest groups in those inquiries. I understand that the Minister has in mind that one of the first jobs for the Tribunal will be to investigate the whole aspect of self-regulation, of Australian content and other allied areas that involve the media in its every day operation. With the introduction of this legislation and the establishment of the Tribunal sometime after 1 January, the rules that were set up by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will apply for some time. We hope that the Tribunal will get under way as soon as possible and will make these investigations, especially in the field of selfregulation. Self-regulation is an interesting example. I have done some study on this and have observed how it operates in the United States of America. In actual fact, there is probably a much tighter control of media in the United States because of self-regulation than we have ever experienced in Australia. It would seem to me that if special guidelines could be set up for all branches of the media the Tribunal in this respect could achieve a great measure of success in the broadcasting field. Self-regulation is - {: .speaker-3V4} ##### Mr Chipp: -- Are you speaking of standards? {: .speaker-MH4} ##### Mr JULL: -I am speaking of standards that will be set by the Tribunal after a public hearing. Everyone can be involved in the public hearing. It will be a chance for the ABC, the ABC Staff Association, commercial broadcasters, public broadcasters and members of the public to go along and to discuss the standards that should apply. Standards, of course, are another point which has been brought forward. We have been accused of trying to do away with Australian programs and Australian content. I do not believe that that is so. I would think that the most ardent commercial broadcaster is most interested in the development of the Australian television industry for the simple reason that Australian programs get ratings. While the Australian programs are getting ratings- they are getting ratings right now- the commercial broadcasters are interested. If we as a Government want to make a very real contribution to improving Australian television standards, why do not we, as a Government, look at the possibility of providing subsidies for television programs? We have provided subsidies for a number of years- since the time of the Gorton Government- to the film industry. We have provided money for that industry in Australia. Australia has now taken its place amongst some of the world's great film producers. Our films are doing exceptionally well. Why cannot the same be done for television? One of the biggest problems that has been facing television in this country over the last few years- as was rightly mentioned by the honourable member for Maribyrnong **(Dr Cass)-** is money. It is true that the American television producers can afford to spend $500,000 on a television program. The highest amount spent in Australia on a television program is some $50,000 only. Much has been said in this House over the last few months about the quality of Australian television programs. We should provide support for the Australian television industry to go ahead and to make quality programs. whlen we talk about Australian content one would hope that we are talking about a quality program rather than a cheap quiz type program that may cost next to nothing. If we examine some of the problems that exist at the moment under the present points system, we find that many television programs are working with budgets of $30 and $40. That statement is not untrue because I have seen programs produced for that amount of money. That is pretty frightening. I do not think that that is really the sort of content in which we should be interested. We should encourage quality programs. We should be helping Australia look towards an export market for its television shows. A number of Australian television producers have managed to crack the overseas markets and they have done exceptionally well. One hopes that this inflow of dollars from overseas countries into the Australian networks and into the Australian production houses will help the industry to establish itself as one of the leading television producers in the world. That, of course, applies also to the ABC because the ABC has had some rather marvellous successes in the last few months with some of its joint productions. I refer to programs such as *Rush* which have been sold overseas and which have done very well indeed. Of course, this is an important point about the ABC. When the ABC is given a go and the real talent within that organisation is given an opportunity to express itself the ABC can hold its own as a leading production house in the world. This legislation is designed to help the ABC do just that. No longer must the ABC be a home for burnt out disc jockeys or some of the dropout media hacks. We must encourage the very real talent within the ABC so that it may become a leading production house in the world. I am not completely happy with all the aspects of the Green report. Indeed, much more public debate needs to be held on that particular report before many aspects of it reach the legislative process. As I said at the beginning of my speech, the Green report is being acted upon in this legislation only inasmuch as we have a new structure for the broadcasting system. In actual fact, many aspects of the Green report are highly frightening and need a great deal of public discussion and public debate before we think about bringing them into operation. I should like to warn honourable members about some of those things that are happening now. One of the aspects about which I am not particularly happy is that the Green report recommends that the Commonwealth take over all transmission facilities for radio and television in Australia. To my mind, that sort of action would be frightening. The justification for that recommendation is that with so many additional stations coming into spectrum at the moment we will have technical problems with literally hundreds of television and radio transmitters scattered across the country. This certainly has not happened overseas. I am sure it would not happen in Australia under this Administration. I believe it would be frightening if one body controlled every transmitter and tower in the nation. What would happen if industrial problems occurred during a time of crisis? Every transmitter in Australia could be switched off and all our communications could be broken down. Other aspects similar to that are contained in the Green report and I think they ought to be looked at carefully before they finally become part of the legislative process. There is one other aspect of the current legislation, that is a result of the Green report, about which I am not 100 per cent happy. I am referring to proposed new section 1 1 Ida ( 1 ) (a). I ask the Minister whether, later in the debate, he can explain to the House the exact implication of that clause. It is the clause which concerns the operations of the present Department. We know that the Department is to be used for planning purposes and we know that it has a real role to play in the planning of our technical services and in the allocation of frequencies within the spectrum. Before I am completely happy with that clause, I should like the Minister to inform me what else is involved with the Department. To my mind this is a grey area. If this power were in the wrong hands perhaps it could involve some political interference within the media that should not occur. Perhaps the Minister could explain that clause to me later in the debate. I think that the broadcasting industry ultimately will find that many advantages are contained in this legislation before the House today. I repeat my statement to the Australian Broadcasting Commission that some of the provisions in the Bill, so far as the staff consultative bodies are concerned- for example, the opportunity for advancement, the opportunity for better remuneration and the opportunity for better negotiations as far as working conditions are concerned- can be of great advantage. May I say to the public broadcasters too, that now is their opportunity to be recognised as a legitimate part of the broadcasting system in Australia because their licences will be on the same standard and plane as those of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial television and commercial radio industries in Australia. I support the Bill. {: #subdebate-31-0-s7 .speaker-KJA} ##### Mr INNES:
Melbourne -- I rise as the seconder of the amendment to the motion for the second reading of this Bill. The honourable member for Wimmera **(Mr King)** has lauded the honourable member for Bowen **(Mr Jull).** If he is the hope of the side then God help the Government. There are few areas of policy with which the Government has shown greater impatience than broadcasting. It has moved to impose its own stamp on the structure of broadcasting with undignified haste. It had been in office just 4 months when it set up the inquiry into broadcasting and television and within 9 months the report was presented. It was certainly fast work. To my mind it was a little too fast. The matter of Australian broadcasting is too important and complex to be specifically processed in a superficial way over a mere 6 months. In Britain the Annand Committee has taken 2 years to conduct an inquiry into a broadcasting structure which is nowhere near as complex as ours. Something in that order just might have done justice to the intricacies and thorny problems which require attention and resolution in Australia. Certainly these problems will not be resolved by this Bill. This Bill shows the same ill-conceived haste of preparation that characterises the report. The resolution of the many and varied problems of Australian broadcasting is not what the Government is worried about. The Government's intentions are political. It wants to destroy the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This Bill is interim legislation and one needs to compare its terms carefully with the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications **(Mr Eric Robinson)** in his second reading speech. Apparently there are a number of things left untouched by this Bill which will be the subject of later legislation. But, even allowing for some of the gaps to be filled at a later date, it is apparent that the Bill departs substantially from the recommendations of the Green report. This is interesting. After all, the Government appointed its own private inquiry and has now chosen to ignore its recommendations without explaining why or how it believes its own report to be unsatisfactory. Let us look at some of the inconsistencies. Under the Green report, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal will set the standards to be administered by the Broadcasting Council as a statutory body. Yet the Bill waters down the Broadcasting Council to the status of an advisory body. Who will administer the standards then? The department? We do not know, but in the absence of such vital information the Government must excuse us if we fear the worst. We also find in clause 6 of the Bill that no provision is made for appeals from Tribunal decisions to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which Green recommended. We find further that the legislation does not require the Tribunal to hold public inquiries as recommendation 17 of the Green report proposed. Why not? What does the Government have against public inquiries? It has an anti-democratic unwillingness to allow the people of Australia to scrutinise or even to participate in public decision making. It should beware. The people of Australia are starting to appreciate the contempt in which this Government holds them. If we look at clause 9, which alters the composition of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, we find that the provision flies directly in the face of recommendation 32 of the Green report, yet it is all quite purposeless. It has long been the convention to appoint commissioners from various States. The States of South Australia and Tasmania and also women are under-represented because of this Government's action in appointing **Sir Henry** Bland and **Mr Short.** Clause 13 also provides for the Minister to grant public television or public radio licences. Why does the Minister want this power? Again it is inconsistent with the Green recommendations which are that the Tribunal should grant all licences. So why the variation? The answer is obvious. In fact certain aspects of licences issued previously were never attended to, such as Australian content, a matter which was referred to quite wrongly by the honourable member for Bowman. That condition was never carried out. The Government wishes to have personal control of this aspect of broadcasting as part of its pattern of political subversion of Australian broadcasting. If another interpretation can be placed on this state of affairs I look forward to hearing it from the Minister. Finally, the Bill gives the Minister power to make regulations for the establishment of an Australian Broadcasting Council. Again, this is significantly different from the Green report which advocated a statutory authority for the Broadcasting Council with administrative powers. Earlier I called the Green report superficial and said that it was hastily prepared. That is so, but at least it contains a broad statement of broadcasting principles. That is why the Government has ignored it. The Government is not interested in finding a means of exercising maximum political influence in broadcasting while remaining as invisible as possible. This clearly comes through from an analysis of the Bill's divergence from the recommendations of the report. These divergences amount to a significant shift away from the structure envisaged by the Green report and in each case the shift is to place increasingly more power in the hands of the Minister. This Bill is one of the most insidious pieces of legislation ever to come before an Australian Parliament. There can be no doubt about the Government's intention- it is political control, in some instances directly and in some by proxy. The main target for this control is the ABC, that fine body of Australian excellence which the Government, used to the mindless bleatings of the fawning, petty tyrants in the private media, has determined to crush. The Government has become so used to having its every whim carried out by the commercial media that it has come to equate sycophancy with neutrality and true neutrality with socialist bias. Firstly, there is the ominous but as yet undetermined question of the relationship of the ABC to the Tribunal. The Bill gives the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal power to determine minimum standards for commercial and public stations. Whether the ABC also will be answerable to the Tribunal has yet to be determined. Yet commercial broadcasters have argued that the ABC should no longer have the power independently to determine its own standards. If the Government does determine to subject the ABC to review by the Tribunal, it certainly will be putting it at the mercy of the commercial broadcasting interests. In the composition of the proposed Broadcasting Council the commercial sector has, of course, come out on top with 4 representatives. What is likely to occur then? Can we expect the Government eventually to hand over the ABC to commercial interests? Of course we can. What better way to emasculate the ABC than the surreptitious way it is happening under this Bill? This is precisely what the Government is aiming at. Furthermore, the Government has let its guard slip on sufficient occasions to give fuel for these fears. The Minister has indicated that when the Parliamentary Counsel has time to draft further legislation new powers will be given to the Tribunal. On 8 November or thereabouts in an interview on *State of the Nation* the Minister stated that the Tribunal would be much more self regulating, thus pre-empting the result of inquiry set up specifically to determine that very question. It has been made very clear just what is meant by self-regulation. There would seem to be 3 elements to the concept- the setting of censorship standards, of advertising standards and of Australian content in television and radio programs. In each of these 3 areas it would seem most undesirable to hand over control to a socalled self-regulating body dominated by commercial interests, but particularly in the latter 2 cases. We have been asked to contemplate the idea of a self-regulating body dominated by commercial interests establishing advertising standards in the public media. What sort of Randist madness has the Government served up for us here? The total inappropriateness of this measure is so obvious as to require no further comment. And what of this other area of selfregulation, Australian content of programs? The Government is in the process of handing the commercial interests the enormous bonus for which they have schemed and lobbied so long and in the process is dealing a mortal blow to our own brave but ailing entertainment industry. Despite what the honourable member for Bowman said, there is plenty of evidence to that effect. The Government is handing over Australian broadcasting to whet the appetites of the commercial media. That it does so is further evidence of its blind devotion to these dogmatic tenets of trendy Fraserism. The only wonder is that the commercial media appear rather reluctant to accept this marvellous gift that the Government is offering them. It is a matter of wide public knowledge that the commercial sector of the media industry launched a vigorous lobbying campaign to get Liberal members of Parliament either to get all the powers transferred to the broadcasting tribunal rather than to have any power in the Postal and Telecommunications Department or to get the legislation delayed for another year. This Government is so incompetent that it could not even carry out the wishes of its clients accurately. The commercial media are unwilling to have any powers vested in the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, for they recognise that there will be a Minister of quite different ilk holding that position some time after 1978. As of Friday, the Government changed all this. It finally worked out what the commercial interests want. Of course it is determined to act accordingly. Hence we now have an additional provision in clause 14 which, according to the Minister's statement at page 3265 of Friday's *Hansard* is 'designed to make it quite clear that clause 14 will not convey a right for the secretary' the Secretary of the Postal and Telecommunications Department- 'to in any way require changes in the program formats of stations'. Thus the last objection of the commercial sector has been met. It has received from this Government everything it wanted. It has received that at the expense of the public broadcasting sector. I turn to the internal implications of this Bill for the ABC. The Government has reconstituted the Commission's membership in a way which makes a mockery of the standard practice in statutory appointments. It is obvious that this is a transparent device to remove certain people from the Commission, not, as is claimed, a mere reform of the principle of representation. New commissioners will be appointed by the Government. Until last Friday the Government had not denied speculation that staff elected Commissioner Marius Webb would not be allowed to complete his full term. Undoubtedly this was what was going to happen. I will clear up something for the record. **Mr Webb** is not the Staff Association representative. He was elected from 30 candidates nominated from all ABC unions. He represents the staff of the ABC. More than 50 per cent of the ABC staff voted in that election. There had also been reports that the Victorian Commissioner, **Mrs Benn,** and the Western Australian Commissioner, Professor Harding, would also have their terms curtailed. Only in the face of strong and sustained lobbying by ABC staff members has the Government capitulated on this point and made provision for ail the present commissioners to serve out their remaining term. The Government is to be commended for making this small concession at least. It was a rather belated effort and highlighted the weakness of its original intention. In this part of the legislation, both as originally drafted and as presented now, we are again treated to an admirable exhibition of the subtlety with which this Government goes about pursuing its aims. The end is still the same- a totally reconstituted commission, stacked by the Government's hand picked men. The Government will not be running the ABC. It will do so by proxy, by making sure that the 'right' people, people of its own choosing, people on whom the Government can depend to make politically amenable decisions, will be running the show. The Bill should be placed in its proper context. Its context is that of a political vendetta aimed at politically neutral public broadcasting. Its target is the ABC. This Bill is only one of a series of attempts aimed at bludgeoning the ABC to the Government's will. The Bill needs to be placed in the context of the appointment of the Government 's faithful hatchet man, **Sir Henry** Bland, as Chairman of the ABC. Unfortunately for the Government, **Sir Henry** is not particularly discriminate at whom he aims his hatchet. The Bill needs to be seen in the context of a sustained propaganda campaign aimed at destroying the integrity of the ABC's current affairs division. It needs to be seen in the context of drastic cuts in the ABC's budget, cuts so severe that members of the Australian Journalists Association employed by the ABC at Canberra were able to list 14 examples of impairment of broadcasting services as a result of cuts, when they met to take their action last Sunday. Finally, it needs to be seen in the text of continuous administrative bungling aimed at the slow wearing down of staff morale. One does not wonder at the concern and apprehension of many of the staff and supporters of the ABC when one is mindful of the statements by 2 Ministers, **Mr Nixon** and **Senator Withers,** and certain National Country Party officials that the ABC is to be cleaned up, particularly in the current affairs broadcasting area. I want to discuss one aspect of governmental mismanagement of broadcasting in Australia, and that is ethnic radio in which honourable members know I have a long standing interest. It is well known that the control of ethnic radio has been the subject of an empire building feud between the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs **(Mr MacKellar)** and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It is widely known that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs met the Chairman of the ABC and other senior ABC executives in mid-October when the Minister's gentle overtures were deftly and subtly rebuffed by **Sir Henry,** particularly on the matter of the appointment of a national ethnic broadcasting council to advise the ABC. At that meeting **Sir Henry** rightly pointed out that, despite the Minister's assurance that his interest in the council would cease with its appointment and that he would be prepared to consult the ABC about the appointees, the fact that the appointees were the Minister's would be seen by the public as an intrusion on the political independence of the ABC. Moreover, if it were known that the Minister intended to have no interest in the council once it were appointed, suspicions of political influences could be strengthened and there would be the implied reflection that the ABC could not be trusted to appoint the right sort of council. There is also the consideration, as I believe **Sir Henry** pointed out to the Minister, that normally any body desiring advice selected its own advisers and that this is the long standing practice of the ABC. What should be the ultimate fate of ethnic radio? The Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is probably not the appropriate authority as it is presently constituted. The Department is almost exclusively a Department of Immigration and has little to do with ethnic affairs as such. It has a heading on its stationery, and that is about where it starts and finishes. It is a moot point as to whether the ABC is the appropriate seat of location for ethnic radio. Ideally ethnic radio would have been more suitably located in its own statutory authority, as I have argued previously in this place. Given that ethnic radio is to be located in the ABC, there are a number of safeguards which should be insisted upon. For instance, each ethnic community desiring to participate should be able to elect its program committee and chairperson. The size of each program committee and the method of its election should be left to each ethnic community to determine for itself and to organise. An ethnic broadcasting council should be established in each State, with some representatives from the ABC, but the majority should be elected from each of the community broadcasting committees. The ethnic broadcasting council should be responsible for formulation of State policy on ethnic broadcasting. These proposals add up to a substantial degree of autonomy for ethnic broadcasting in the ABC. I am very worried about the implications of this legislation for the autonomy of ethnic broadcasting. The ABC is soon to become subject to a Broadcasting Tribunal which will be dominated by commercial broadcasting interests who have already shown what they feel about ethnic radio. Too much is left unsaid by this legislation for us to know the exact nature of this relationship, but the portents seem ominous for the ABC and, thereafter, ethnic broadcasting. I think the purpose of this Bill is clear. It is an iniquitous document. I urge the House to deal with it accordingly and to carry the amendment moved by the honourable member for Maribyrnong. {: #subdebate-31-0-s8 .speaker-KZL} ##### Mr Eric Robinson:
MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · LP -- The Government opposes the amendment moved by the honourable member for Maribyrnong **(Dr Cass).** I regret that I was unable to hear all of the contributions made by members of the Opposition this afternoon, but it seems to me that they have some idea that there is something sinister about this legislation. Of course all of their words amount to suspicion and speculation. Let them for a moment have an open mind and listen to a few facts because once they accept the facts they will not be concerned with speculation and suspicion. First, the Government decided in April to initiate the Green inquiry. I was able to present some recommendations to the Government early in October. During the period between April and October about 600 submissions were presented to the inquiry. Ample opportunity was given to organisations and people throughout Australia to make their views known. They did so, and their submissions were valuable. During that period quite a number of informal useful discussions were held with interested parties. I find that despite that, despite the fact that the Green report was tabled in the Parliament some weeks ago and despite the fact that the Government's intentions have been known for some weeks people such as the honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Innes),** who spoke last in the debate, are still making erroneous statements. The honourable member for Melbourne is apparently concerned that the same rules will not apply to public broadcasting as will apply to commercial broadcasting. Let me state quite clearly that the legislation we are now discussing is in part transitional legislation and that public broadcasting will go through exactly the same format as commercial broadcasting. It will have exactly the same requirement to go before the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for open and public inquiries as will commercial broadcasting. We propose to disband the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, leave the new Tribunal with the quasi-judicial powers of licensing, the renewal of licences and, if necessary, the ability to revoke licences. One of the first jobs it will do will be to hold an open public inquiry into the questions of standards and self-regulation. It will be open to everyone and every organisation in Australia to make comment on those questions because it is desirable, if we can move towards self-regulation, to see whether this arrangement is available and acceptable to Australians. Planning will go back to the Postal and Telecommunications Department but we have quite clearly ensured that the Department will not be able to interfere with the programming of commercial radio stations. That has never been the concept. To ensure absolutely that this is the thrust of the Government's policy the amendment about which I spoke in the House last Friday has been included. A lot of utter nonsense has been spoken- I regret to say even by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr E. G. Whitlam)about** the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It remains independent and its integrity is not at risk or under threat. We would reject the suggestion that the ABC should be separate and apart from the Government's economic policy. This year the ABC's budget was decreased from $138m to $129m, a reduction of $9m or about 6 per cent. This reduction was much smaller than the overall across the board cuts in the Budget which were of the order of 10 per cent. It was a much smaller percentage than cuts in many other government departments and instrumentalities. It is known to the ABC and to **Sir Henry** Bland, as it is known to every other government instrumentality, that they can come back to the Government with a submission based upon costs which are unavoidable. **Sir Henry** is aware that his case will be considered on its merits when he chooses to send it to us. Mention was made of representation on the Commission. We want all the States represented. The enlarged Commission will allow for that and for all the present Commissioners to serve their full terms of office. I never said that it would be otherwise. Reports to the contrary have all been based upon speculation and not upon any statements by the Government. I would have thought that the Opposition would have been pleased with the decision to establish the Broadcasting Council because this instrumentality will enable liaison to take place in a co-operative and consultative way between all the elements of broadcasting, from the national network, the public broadcasters, the commercial broadcasters to the Department. It is desirable that the Council can comment on planning. The whole thrust of this legislation is to take politics out of broadcasting. The Minister will no longer have the right to decide as to who gets licences. The finding of the Tribunal will be the determining factor. The autonomy and integrity of ethnic radio and Radio Australia will be maintained because they will both be remaining within the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m. That the words proposed to be omitted **(Dr Cass's amendment)** stand part of the question. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr P. E. Lucock) AYES: 67 NOES: 28 Majority....... 39 Bill read a second time, and committed *pro forma;* progress reported. AYES NOES {: .page-start } page 3330 {:#debate-32} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests: Stevedoring Industry Charge Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. Stevedoring Industry Amendment Bill 1976. Prices Justification Amendment Bill 1976. National Health Amendment Bill (No. 4) 1976. {: .page-start } page 3330 {:#debate-33} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-33-0} #### GOVERNMENT BUSINESS Motion (by **Mr Sinclair)** agreed to: >That orders of the day Nos. 2 and 3, Government business, be postponed until a later hour this day. Motion (by **Mr Sinclair)** agreed to: >That orders of the day Nos. 4 to 10, Government business, be postponed until a later hour this day. {: .page-start } page 3330 {:#debate-34} ### INCOME TAX ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT BILL (No. 3) 1976 {:#subdebate-34-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 1 December, on motion by **Mr Lynch:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-34-0-s0 .speaker-5E4} ##### Mr SINCLAIR:
Leader of the House · New England · NCP/NP **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** may I have the indulgence ofthe House to raise a point of procedure? **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** The House will come to order. The Leader of the House will resume his seat. I suggest that the House come to order so that we may know what is happening with the business of the House. The honourable member for Wills will resume his seat or he will not be in the House for the remainder of the evening. {: .speaker-5E4} ##### Mr SINCLAIR: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate on this Bill is resumed I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Loan (Income Equalization Deposits) Bill, the Loan (Drought Bonds) Amendment Bill and the Income Tax (Companies and Superannuation Funds) Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions will of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** that you permit Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived. 3330 REPRESENTATIVES 6 December 1976 *Broadcasting and TV Bill (No. 2)* the subject matter of the 4 Bills to be discussed in this debate. {: #subdebate-34-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 4 measures? There being no objection I will allow that course to be followed. {: #subdebate-34-0-s2 .speaker-AV4} ##### Mr HURFORD:
Adelaide -These 4 Bills were introduced into this House only last Wednesday afternoon, after my Party's last meeting. I must place on record my objection to such complicated legislation being hurried through this House. If anything, the drafting and introduction to this House should have been given high priority after the Budget announcements, because these income tax Bills arise from the Budget. It is all part of the disarray which we have witnessed over the last few minutes, not only in relation to the Government's economic policies but also in relation to the management of this House. I must admit that the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** gave me advance notice of the subjects of the Bills, but this has been no substitute for studying in great detail the actual wording of the legislation. Furthermore, there has been no time for the community to contact honourable members on both sides of the House with objections to the wording of this legislation. What I now have to say is subject to those earlier comments. The Opposition may have amendments to move to any one of these 4 pieces of legislation in the Senate or later on after the community has had time to absorb what is in these Bills. Although critical in a positive way of some aspects of the legislation, the Australian Labor Party Opposition is not opposing any one of the 4 Bills. Before referring to the specific measures which the Government has introduced in the Bills before us I intend to comment on aspects of the Government's general performance in the area of taxation. One of the great myths that the Government, aided and abetted by its media supporters, has attempted to sell the Australian people is that it is actually lowering the burden of taxation upon individual taxpayers. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all recall the great fanfare with which tax indexation was introduced in one go. The Treasurer spoke loud and long of the $1 billion which was being put back into the pockets of taxpayers. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I do not intend to ask the House again to come to order. If honourable members want to carry on conversations they can go outside the chamber to do it. It is not possible to hear completely what the honourable member for Adelaide is saying. He is making some comments on the Bills and I heard him say that they are rather important measures. Even though we are in the closing stages of the session I suggest that honourable members continue to extend to the honourable member the courtesy which should be extended to all members of this House. {: .speaker-AV4} ##### Mr HURFORD: -Predictably, the Treasurei made very little of the tax rises which he announced at the same time as he talked about tax indexation. However, the man in the street was soon to feel the effect of the Medibank levy and the phasing down of the home interest deductibility scheme. It is incredible that any government which, in its Budget and associated measures, reduces a family s take home pay by $300 could have the gall to claim that its Budget was the first in 3 years not to raise the indirect tax burden. Now that the full impact of tax indexation and the Medibank changes have been felt we can obtain an indication of the tax burdens borne by Australians under the 1975-76 Labor Government tax scales and under the 1976-77 Liberal-National Country Party Government tax scales. In the edition of the *Taxpayer* of 30 October the editorial page is headed 'Despite so-called full tax indexation personal taxes are much higher now leaving less spending money than before'. In the body of the journal calculations are given for a taxpayer with a wife and 2 children. After adjustment for higher child endowment, health taxes and inflation we find that in 1976-77 the family that had earned $10,000 for 1975-76 has had its spending power reduced by $5.15 a week. I ask leave to incorporate in *Hansard* a table setting out the tax comparisons, the source being the *Taxpayer of* October 1 976. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. *The table read as follows-* {: .speaker-AV4} ##### Mr HURFORD: -- Of course, those people who find, in addition to the above, that their housing mortgage interest deductibility is being phased down are in a worse position still. The types of calculations to which I have referred above have been done by numerous groups. All these people reach the same conclusions. The net effect of the taxation measures introduced by this Government has been to raise, not lower, taxation. For example, the authors of the Econometer in the *National Times of 2* October conclude as follows: ... by June next year, when inflation has sent wages up and the temporary benefits of tax indexation have been nearly eroded, almost everybody, except low wage people on around $ 1 00 weekly with lots of kiddies, will lose. I might add that with the inflation now to be expected as a result of this disastrous devaluation what the Econometer authors wrote on 2 October will be made even more true. I am glad that low wage earners with families to support are exempted, but they are the only ones. I deplore the misrepresentation perpetrated on the Australian community to the effect that everyone has benefited from tax changes. This just is not true. These facts speak for themselves. This Government has, as the Treasurer would put it, in the totality of the situation raised and not lowered taxation. It really should not come as a surprise that the Government and its influential supporters should attempt to hoodwink the public into accepting the myth that taxation has been reduced. After all, were not the myths surrounding support for Medibank and wage indexation, promises of 6 to 7 per cent economic growth in the Government's first year and of cutting the deficit without cutting essential public works sold with equal gusto? And to the same extent they have turned out to be sheer myths and totally untrue. Perhaps the Treasurer and even the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** secretly realise that their Government has increased the tax burden. After all, they both continually refer to the Government's intention to cut taxation. It is difficult to reconcile the Government's call for consumers to go out and spend now with their hints that tax cuts are just around the corner. Surely it is reasonable to expect that the consumer will delay his purchase until he finds out just how much he is to get out of the tax cut. This is just another example of the inconsistency which pervades this Government's thinking. It is creating a climate which can only exacerbate the uncertainty many consumers feel. Perhaps the best advice that can be given to the Treasurer as he roams the country hinting at tax changes comes in the form of the quaint but effective colloquial expression: 'Put up or shut up. ' Any public debate regarding taxation invariably comes around to international comparisons of tax burdens. In recent times many groups, including the Government, have tended to project the impression that by international standards Australians are very highly taxed. This is probably an opportune moment to set the record straight on this matter. In the report of the Asprey taxation review committee an international comparison of total taxes as a proportion of gross national product for the year 1971 is given. In this comparison Australia ranked 16th out of 22 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, that is, only six of the OECD countries surveyed had lower total taxation levels than did Australia. By 1973 the position had changed little. The publication, *Revenue Statistics of OECD Member Countries,* revealed that of the 23 countries surveyed only 5 countries had lower overall tax levels than Australia. Starting from an acceptance of Australia's real position in the international taxation league, there is of course much room for reform in our taxation system. The report of the Asprey committee is a rich source of material on this subject. The Labor Government introduced a very significant reform in the replacement of concessional deductions with the rebate scheme. This went a long way towards restoring a degree of the vertical equity which had been eroded through the use of concessional tax deductions. It is to be hoped that the Government looks long and hard before it even considers bending to interest group pressure to alter the Labor rebate scheme. Senior members of the Government have hinted a number of times that in Australia income taxes are too high and indirect taxes on goods and services too low. Indeed, by international standards Australia does lean more heavily on income tax for revenue than do most other countries. However, this very fact does not mean that we should blindly change the emphasis of our taxation system. Income taxes rank much higher on the grounds of vertical equity than do taxes on goods and services- indirect taxes. On the other hand, such income taxes do result in high rates being applied at the margin and the consequent high marginal tax rates on high incomes are alleged, by conventional wisdom, to be a disincentive to work effort. I say 'by conventional wisdom' because there is little hard evidence on this subject. Indeed, studies of tax incidence have been sadly neglected on the whole. So far there is as much evidence to show that people work harder to compensate for less take home pay as there is to show that they work less hard if their net benefits are not great enough. In looking at tax reform it is important that we do know the actual impact any tax changes may have on people's incentives to work harder. I repeat my hope that more work will be done on that subject. {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -- That is a very important point. {: .speaker-AV4} ##### Mr HURFORD: -As the honourable member for Lilley says, it is a very important point. More evidence needs to be collected so that we build our policies on sound facts, not just on vague beliefs. It is important also that any move towards a wider use of taxes on goods and services recognise that these are in fact consumption taxes which do not discriminate between incomes in their impact. Their wider use must be coupled with moves to lessen the burden on low income earners. Most indirect taxes are regressive in nature but qualifications must be made to the general statement. Indeed, in Treasury Taxation Paper No. 5, published in October 1974 and entitled *Commonwealth Taxation of Goods and Services,* a number of means of offsetting the regressiveness of indirect taxes are canvassed. These include special modifications to the income tax system and appropriate adjustments to social service payments. As an example, in Sweden the trend to greater reliance on broadly based income taxation has been accompanied by compensatory changes in their income tax and social service structures. Any informed debate on taxation levels will include a recognition of the other side of the coin- the services provided by government expenditure. Lowering taxes is one of the few things a politician can suggest which is guaranteed popular acclaim. However, it must be recognised that there are many goods and services which individuals aspire to possess but which as individuals it is beyond their scope to provide. For example, no matter how much taxation is lowered to allow people supposedly to spend as they choose, the restrictions on any individual or group of individuals being able to provide a better road or any other community facility are such that the task becomes impossible. The Government is the proper medium through which demands such as these may be fulfilled. Taxation plays an important role in their provision. It is a vehicle of collective payment. Recently the newspaper the *Australian* ran an interview with the Treasurer in which, among other things, taxation reform was mentioned. In its leader article on the same day that same newspaper eloquently put the case against our present levels of taxes. To put the debate in perspective, however, I should like to quote from a letter to that newspaper from Judy Suttor, the policy officer of the Australian Council of Social Service in Sydney. This letter was prompted by the editorial and read in part: >Adjustments to the personal income tan system which ostensibly gives individuals greater ' independence ' in spending power to meet their own needs do nothing to assist those who are not wage earners and those whose income (be it wages or a pension) is inadequate to enable them to live decently and disguises the fact that important welfare and human services are either not available or become effectively inaccessible to the public who need them. That is the close of my quotation but I recommend the full contents of that letter to anyone interested in more than the peripheral aspects of .a debate on taxation. I agree that personal income taxes must not be allowed to rise so high that incentive is killed and productivity suffers. But I believe that most Australians have a social conscience. They want to live in a fair society, and understand that a fair amount of progressive taxation is needed to achieve this. As well as being a source of revenue, taxation in all its forms is an integral part of a government's intruments with which it may influence the level of economic activity. Different taxes have different speeds and extents of influence. For example, indirect tax changes are recognised as having a faster and more substantial impact on activity than an equivalent amount of direct tax changes. Lowering indirect taxes has the added advantage of directly lowering the price level. It is obvious that in this area the Government has failed to use wisely policy options open to it. A lowering of indirect taxes, as suggested by the Labor Opposition, could have led to a reinforcement of the downward trend in the inflation rate included by overseas influences. An obvious fall in the inflation rate in the December quarter, rather than a substantial rise, as we must expect, would have gone a long way towards restoring economic stability. In addition, indirect tax cuts would have stimulated consumer spending, thereby helping to get our economy moving again. I refer now to the specific measures introduced in the Bills before the House. In all there are 4 Bills. Three of them, the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1976, the Loan (Income Equalisation Deposits) Bill 1976 and the Loan (Drought Bonds) Amendment Bill 1976, are concerned primarily with giving effect to proposals announced in the Budget. The fourth Bill, the Income Tax (Companies and Superannuation Funds) Bill 1976, declares the rates of tax payable by companies and superannuation funds for the 1976-77 financial year. As explained by the Treasurer the rates of tax set are the same as those established in the 1975-76 Budget for that income year. The Opposition does not oppose the Income Tax (Companies and Superannuation Funds) Bill 1976. It could hardly do anything else as the 1975-76 Budget was a Labor Budget. It was a thoroughly satisfactory Budget and it is a tragedy to know that it was tampered with because the tampering, including the cuts in government spending and all that has happened since the beginning of this year, has given rise to the disastrous effects on consumer confidence in this country which have flowed over to affect the confidence of overseas investors. This has given rise to the terrible consequences of this massive devaluation with all the horrendous policies that go with it, about which we have so far heard only a part. Considering the damage that has been done to the economy since the strategy of the 1975-76 Labor Budget was destroyed by this Government, it is a matter of deep regret that the company and superannuation fund tax rates are one of the few measures from that Budget still allowed to influence the economy. While on the subject of company taxation, I would counsel the Government to be careful in introducing its stock valuation adjustment scheme. As yet, details of the scheme are only sketchy. I heard one or two questions being asked in the Senate today, even from the Government side, requesting more details of the scheme, but the Government is not giving; it is not telling us more about the scheme. However, it is hoped that when any decision is made, adequate time is allowed for discussion of the Bills involved, time for all interested parties to comment and to have their comments taken into account before legislation is passed. In my opening remarks on these Bills I stated that I hoped that such time would be given for these measures because there is no more complicated legislation than income tax legislation. I do not blame any of the officers concerned at all, whether they are attached to the Parliamentary Counsel or to the Taxation Office. It is a question of priorities to be set by government. In this case the whole country ought to know that there has not been time for people outside this Parliament to absorb the wording of the legislation and to be able to counsel members of Parliament about the changes that are being made and to show just how these changes will affect them. It would probably be preferable if the Government would, in the case of the legislation relating to the so-called Mathews proposals, actually present the Bills to the House and allow a considerable time to elapse before they are debated, something which I hoped would have happened to these 4 Bills. A series of statements from the Treasurer, as happened with the investment allowance legislation, probably would allow a repeat of the confusion surrounding that particular investment allowance legislation. We want to see the actual Bill, in the case of the Mathews proposals, in plenty of time to avoid the confusion that has arisen in the case of the investment allowance proposals, confusion which may arise out of these 4 Bills before us now. I turn to the measures contained in Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1976. Two of the measures, those dealing with transitional provisions for visiting experts and with mining in Papua New Guinea, are associated with arrangements made under the Labor Government, and are not opposed. There in also a technical drafting change involving a new definition of a resident of Australia. As explained by the Treasurer in his second reading speech: 'The need for this change arises out of the alteration of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund.' The Opposition accepts the need for this change which is made in clause 3 of the Bill. Clause 4 of the Bill allows for the exemption from tax of income derived by the Thalidomide Foundation. This represents a welcome change in a Government decision. Previously the Government had decided to make grants to the Foundation rather than to exempt income from taxation. An original grant of $150,000 had been made. Considering the amount of compensation which has been made or is in the process of being made, the grant was clearly inadequate. Under these arrangements the income that each child receives from the foundation will be exempt from taxation. This measure by the Government reflects the attitude of the Labor Party when in government. The Opposition supports the Government in this measure with regard to the taxation of the income of the Foundation. I repeat that I am glad that the Government has belatedly adopted Labor's more generous thinking on this measure of taxation of income for thalidomide victims. Clauses 6 to 8 and 31 to 36 of this Bill enable the setting up of a scheme of income equalisation deposits. Deposits lodged by primary producers with the Commissioner of Taxation under the income equalisation scheme are to be allowable as tax deductions, while withdrawals of deposits for which deductions have been allowed will be included as assessable income for tax purposes in the taxation years in which those deposits are redeemed. The recommendation for this measure comes from the report of the Industries Assistance Commission titled 'Rural Income Fluctuations- Certain Taxation Measures'. This report was handed down as a result of a reference from the Labor Government. The object of the measure is to reinforce the existing tax averaging system for primary producers. The need for such schemes arises out of the higher tax burdens which people with fluctuating incomes bear under the progressive tax scale. It is felt that people who, over a given number of years, receive equal income should pay equivalent amounts of tax on that income. The Opposition has considered carefully the possibilities for abuse of this scheme and is satisfied that sufficient safeguards exist to minimise such abuse. It also investigated the possibility that the LAC recommendations should be followed more closely, the IAC having recommended that only the investment component, that is the non-tax component of the income equalisation depositsthe IEDs as they will become known- should have interest payable on it and that the rate of interest should be the medium term bond rate. The rationale for such a recommendation by the IAC was that under the present scheme being instituted by the Government, the effective interest rate received by investors varies with their marginal tax rates. The higher the income, the greater the tax rate saved and, thus, the greater the return. However, the Opposition is convinced that there are considerable administrative difficulties involved in implementing the letter of the IAC report, more equitable though its recommendations might be. Bearing this in mind and also the willingness of primary producers, the lower income primary producers as well as the higher income producers, to accept this scheme, the Opposition supports this legislation. If there are abuses and greater inequities in the implementation of the scheme than are now envisaged, and knowing that the vast number of farmers themselves seek equity and realise that one man's gain is another man's loss, the Opposition shall seek reforms. Clauses 9, 10 and 35 of the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1976 refer to changes in taxation arrangements for private companies. The retention allowance in respect of trading or business income available to private companies for undistributed income tax purposes is to be increased from 50 per cent to 60 per cent, the increase first applying in respect of the 1975-76 financial year. Broadly speaking, private companies, as defined for taxation purposes, are subjected to additional tax at a 50 per cent rate to the extent that those companies do not make a sufficient distribution to shareholders in the relevant year out of after-tax income, as reduced by specific retention allowances. This move should give a measure of relief to private companies who play an important role as employers in the economy. As it is designed to help small businesses, unlike many of the Government's other business incentives, the Opposition supports this change to the tax laws. I make the observation, however, that any improvement in the cash flow position that private companies may gain from this move will assuredly be eroded by increases in interest rates and inflation which will stem from the Government's recent devaluation decision. As I have pointed out on another occasion, the draconian monetary and fiscal policies which inevitably must follow and are following the massive devaluation hit the medium and smaller businessmen as well as the wage and salary earners rather than those who can, of course, borrow at blue chip rates and particularly those who can borrow overseas. At the same time as the Government has moved to increase the retention allowance it is withdrawing excess distribution provisions. Previously if a private company distributed dividends greater than the stipulated amount the excesses were allowed to be carried forward to later years to reduce the amount which must be distributed in those later years in order to avoid undistributed profits tax at a 50 per cent penalty rate. This concession is being removed. The Opposition was concerned that any benefit that companies may receive from the increase in the retention allowance would be offset by this aspect of the measure. It has also been brought to our attention that insufficient time has been allowed for companies to adjust their affairs to fit in with the legislation. The Australian Labor Party does not like legislation which has a retrospective element in it as this legislation could have. However, on balance we have accepted the argument that the previous system was open to wide abuse and despite elaborate legal measures such avoidance could not be countered. Also it appears that very few genuine cases will be disadvantaged by this move. As the retention allowance is being raised it is an opportune moment to take this action. We trust that all those who have access distributions in their companies arising from genuine transactions and not from tax avoidance schemes will be able to use their excess distribution by the end of next April and thus not lose the benefits. The remaining measures in the Bill concern aid given through taxation concessions to the mining industry. Two of these measures, firstly the allowance for more rapid write-off of development expenditure of petroleum mining companies and for those expenditures and exploration expenditures to be deductible against income from any source and, secondly, for mineral transport facilities to be deductible over either 10 or 20 years and to include certain port expenses, are not being opposed by the Opposition. Our appropriate caucus committee has examined these measures in depth and has accepted the need for them. Special risk factors involved in petroleum mining exploration and the need for development of our natural resources are sufficient grounds for the Opposition not to oppose these concessions. Although the Opposition is not opposing the other measures relating to mining operations, namely the allowance for more rapid write-off of development expenditures of general mining companies, we do raise some doubts. The Government has decided that deductions which currently are allowable over the estimated life of mine or field will for new expenditures be allowable on reducing balances by reference to a maximum life of 5 years instead of the present 25 years. This will have the effect of increasing the minimal annual rate of deduction from 4 per cent to 20 per cent. The Industries Assistance Commission recommendation on this issue was that the depreciation should be over the life of the mine or the asset or 1 5 years whichever is the least. It implied a straight line method of depreciation which is also the method recommended for the tax system in general by the Asprey report. The Opposition feels that the Government measures are excessively generous. However we do see the need for the existing concessions to be altered in the miners' favour. I close by saying that these mining measures will be covered by the shadow Minister for national resources. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. Debate (on motion by **Mr Viner)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 3336 {:#debate-35} ### COUNCIL FOR ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS {:#subdebate-35-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-35-0-s0 .speaker-EE6} ##### Mr VINER:
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP -- by leave-I inform the House that the Council for Aboriginal Affairs is winding up its activities and at its own suggestion terminated on 30 November after nearly 9 years of valuable service to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and to successive Commonwealth governments. I need hardly say that its disbandment in no way implies a diminution of the Government's resolve to lift Aboriginal standards of well-being or a pause in the flow of resources or real consideration towards that purpose. It signifies only that in the joint opinion of the Council, the Government, and representative Aboriginal organisations an advisory and consultative task which was always envisaged as transient has come to an end and can now properly pass to others. The termination of the Council coincides with the receipt and study of the report of the Hiatt Committee of Inquiry into the future organisation and role of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. This seems an appropriate time, while the Government is considering the future style of consultation with the Aboriginal people, to make the break with the Council which was responsible for much of the consultative process at an earlier stage. The Council for Aboriginal Affairs is a most unusual body set up in unique circumstances to do a job for which, in any case, there seems to have been no precedent, but which grew more and more urgent and complicated. The late Harold Holt, as Prime Minister, in November 1967 commissioned the Council to do certain things. It was to oversee the establishment of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs; to advise the Government upon the formation of national policies to give effect to the new obligations imposed on the Commonwealth by the 1967 referendum in respect of Aborigines; to consult directly with Aboriginal people and organisations about their wishes and felt needs; to become the avenue of Aboriginal approaches to Government; to establish and ensure good working relationships at the official level between Commonwealth and State instrumentalities in the Aboriginal field; and as far as practicable to co-ordinate the working out of the then highly variable policies and administrative practices throughout Aboriginal Australia. Subsequently, other duties were added. In 1971 the Council was made responsible for recommending the acquisition by the Commonwealth of land for Aboriginal communities; in 1973 for watching over the interests of the Torres Strait Islanders in negotiations over the Australia-Papua New Guinea border; and later in the same year for discussing with officials of the Queensland Government possible amendments of Acts of that State Parliament affecting Aboriginals and Islanders. I feel that I should say, though for reasons into which I need not at the moment enter, these tasks were made the harder by the informality of the Council's position. It was not given either statutory or even chartered recognition and, for its first 5 years- until late in 1973- often had to depend for its effect only upon the rational appeal of its proposals and the force of its personalities. Perhaps fortunately, each of the 3 members- **Dr H.** C. Coombs, Emeritus Professor W. E. H. Stanner and **Mr B.** G. Dexter- brought to the assignment a long experience of the inner workings of Government and public authorities, a large fund of specialised knowledge, a capacity to act jointly, and a remarkably similar vision of their task. If honourable members who are in a position to do so will cast their minds back to 1967 they will, I am sure, agree with me that there have been many significant changes in the Aboriginal scene. These reflect the Council's influence. It may well turn out to be the case that its greatest contribution has been its insistent confidence that the Aboriginal people, if given a chance, could demonstrate their capacity to manage their own affairs. I would attribute largely to the Council's tireless efforts to go to the Aborigines and to listen to their own statement of their viewpoint and wishes the present healthy fact that everywhere within Australia Aborigines now approach Government without inhibition or hesitation, speak up for themselves in no uncertain way, and are quick to demand the full measure of their constitutional rights. This is not the occasion for me to attempt to judge other respects in which the Council has performed its duties. When the Office of Aboriginal Affairs became a department, and in the second half of 1973, began to develop the full capacities of a department, the Council has withdrawn to the sidelines of policyplanning and day-by-day administration. More recently, it has withdrawn into the background and has concentrated on particularly critical matters of policy and on projects referred to it by the Minister or the Permanent Head. I should like to place on Parliamentary record the Government's appreciation of the services of each of the 3 members of the Council. I believe that **Dr Coombs'** contribution as Chairman is among the most significant of his many public services. The third member of the Council, **Mr Dexter,** has been Council's Executive Member and in that capacity and as Director of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and since 1973 Secretary and Permanent Head of the first Department of Aboriginal Affairs has ably carried out an onerous task and lead a dedicated staff. Professor Stanner, in addition to playing a full part in the work of the Council and contributing particularly from his great anthropological knowledge, also acted a Special Adviser to several Standing Committees of this House and will be well known to many members. The Government hopes to retain the part-time services of **Dr Coombs** and Professor Stanner on a consultancy basis for particular tasks on which the Minister or Permanent Head feels a need for their special experience. {: #subdebate-35-0-s1 .speaker-K9M} ##### Mr Les Johnson:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -by leaveThe comments made by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs **(Mr Viner)** to a large extent strike a common chord of approval with the Opposition. His remarks related to the proposed disbandment of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. The Labor Government leaned heavily on the Council for Aboriginal Affairs for advice during the period from December 1972 to 11 November 1975 when the great policy initiatives about Aboriginal affairs were being taken. The calibre of the Council's members was and is unique. If I recall correctly, it is intended that this Council will cease to function on 30 November. **Dr Coombs** was its Chairman. As all honourable members are aware and as most Australians know, he is one of Australia 's most distinguished public servants. He has made many valuable contributions in addition to the role he played as Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. After all, he was the Chairman of the Reserve Bank, Chairman of the Australian Council of the Arts, Chancellor of the Australian National University, Chairman of the Board of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Director-General of Post-War Reconstruction and adviser to governments from 1947. He has given about 30 years distinguished service to this country. I cannot help but feel that he showed a greater genuine devotion in his role as Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs because of his interest in Aboriginal affairs than he did in his other distinguished roles. Professor W. E. H. Stanner also was a member of the Council. He certainly is regarded as Australia's most distinguished anthropologist. Professor Stanner came to note early in the piece. In 1968 his Boyer Lectures on Aboriginal affairs entitled *After the Dreaming* proved the most enlightening and influential work of its type ever accomplished. **Mr Barrie** Dexter was the third member of that Council which it is proposed to abolish. He is, of course, a senior and a competent public servant who was previously a diplomat- a profession to which, I understand, he intends to return in the near future. He was the administrative arm of this body. Even before it became the Council for Aboriginal Affairs- in the old days when it was the Office for Aboriginal Affairs- **Mr Dexter** was the administrative arm of that body. This troika or this trinity, depending on what attitude one takes, has been invoked periodically to look at and advise upon very difficult problems. Successive Ministers- I was certainly no exception- found the Council's contributions invaluable. The trio came together 9 years ago to give effect to the decision of the Australian people made by referendum to grant power and responsibility for Aboriginal affairs to the Australian Parliament. This objective, to a large degree, has been accomplished and the Council for Aboriginal Affairs has fulfilled a very useful role in negotiating the transfer of responsibility and personnel from State government's to the Australian Government. Its efforts culminated in the Aboriginal Affairs (Arrangements with the States) Act 1973. That does not sound much when one mentions it as cursorily as that but it involved a great deal of highly diplomatic and sensitive negotiations. Successive governments have, to a large degree, given effect to the wish of the people. But I take this opportunity to express regret that in recent times there has been a departure from this objectivity, particuarly in regard to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill in which the Commonwealth appears to be abrogating some of its responsibility by passing it over to the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory. The difficulties that the Council encountered in its efforts to transfer power and responsibility from the States to the Commonwealth are worth mentioning. Generally, the States complied- in fact it is fair to say that all States complied after a little time- with the exception of the Queensland Government which bucked the will of the people. Even the very accomplished Council for Aboriginal Affairs could not improve on or make inroads into this situation. As a sequel, it was necessary for the Australian Government to introduce the Racial Discrimination Act and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Queensland Discriminatory Laws) Act which was assented to on 19 June 1975. The Council has done a great deal towards providing advice in respect of the structuring of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. My colleague, the honourable member for Wills **(Mr Bryant),** who obviously should be given the opportunity to speak on this matter as the first Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the Labor Government- that government of innovation in respect of Aboriginal affairs- would be able to indicate the extent to which the Council was able to make useful contributions in this regard. It would take a long time to enunciate all the Council's activites. I do not want to take up the time of the House. All members of the Council rendered advice to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. During my time as Minister and subsequently, the Council has rendered invaluable service in regard to safeguarding the interests of Torres Strait Islanders in its negotiations with Papua New Guinea. That part of its operations was not so difficult, but in respect of steering a middle course keeping in mind the Commonwealth's interest, the interests of the Torres Strait Islanders and the interest of the Queensland Government, the Council certainly demonstrated its outstanding sensitivities and capacities. I think the Minister will acknowledge- I readily do as a former Minister- the work that was carried out by the Council in identifying the trend towards outstations, particularly on the part of the people of Arnhem Land who were seeking to return in large numbers and large groups to their traditional lands. Of course, it is an important matter for the Australian Government to identify the justification of and reasons for this movement to outstations for the purpose of establishing the extent to which it is appropriate for an Australian Government to support, encourage and, indeed, underwrite this movement towards outstations. A great deal of services will follow in the wake of such a move. The Council also has assisted the Government in regard to the intrusion of miners into Aboriginal lands. It has provided advice about the effect of mining development on the part of Nabalco Pty Ltd at Gove and Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at Groote Eylandt in respect of the manganese deposits. Subsequently, the Council examined the Weipa situation where Comalco Ltd is involved. It also has examined the Aurukun position where a new consortium is seeking now to obtain the approval of the Aboriginal people to exploit the lease which has been granted for mining purposes. Valuable reports have been provided by the Council in relation to Yuendumu- I might just mention as an aside that this involves the Tanami question and the quest of the Aboriginal people who live there, a quest which has been denied by this Government up to date, for the granting of land in their Aborginal areas- and Hooker Creek, and there was a report on Arnhem Land in 1975. The Council made a valuable submission to the Ranger inquiry about the impact of mining on Aboriginal communities in 1976. Over the years the honourable member for Wills, **Senator Cavanagh** and I took advice about the initiatives of the Labor Party in respect of the establishment of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the establishment of Aboriginal housing associations, Aboriginal Hostels Ltd, the Aboriginal Loans Commission, the Aboriginal secondary grants schemes, the Aboriginal study grants scheme, the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service and the Aboriginal Arts Board. Now we come to the winding up of the Council and I want to say that I believe this marks a milestone in the progress of Aboriginal people. The Labor Party objective was and still is to establish and dignify the National Aboriginal Congress. I am pleased that the Government is accepting the lead it was given in that regard. The Council, like everything else, is not without its faults, but I believe it served its purpose. May it rest in peace. Together with that peace may its members have a sense of justifiable gratification for a job well done, one which I think will advance the interests of the Aboriginal people. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr Bryant: -- I ask leave to make a statement. {: #subdebate-35-0-s2 .speaker-KB8} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles: -Is leave granted? {: .speaker-EE6} ##### Mr Viner: -- No. {: #subdebate-35-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Leave is not granted. {: .speaker-9F4} ##### Mr Donald Cameron:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · LP -- You do not even have a man on the front bench. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr Bryant: -- You have never even been on the front bench. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! It is no good the honourable member for Griffith and the honourable member for Wills holding a battle royal across the amphitheatre. It is quite wrong of them to do so. I ask both honourable members to behave themselves while the Clerk is reading the next message. {: .page-start } page 3339 {:#debate-36} ### INCOME TAX ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT BILL (No. 3) 1976 {:#subdebate-36-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed. {: #subdebate-36-0-s0 .speaker-L0J} ##### Mr SAINSBURY:
Monaro · Eden -- I would like to say first of all that I appreciate being able to follow the honourable member for Adelaide **(Mr Hurford)** in this debate. *(Quorum formed)* It was significant that in his speech the honourable member mentioned that we had had very little chance to reflect on this tax legislation. It is very interesting to see now that members of the Labor Party do not want us to debate it either. I was saying that it is a pleasure to follow the honourable member for Adelaide who is the Labor Party spokesman on Treasury matters. During the 12 months I have been here I have sometimes wondered who is the Labor Party's spokesman on Treasury matters. It would appear today that because the honourable member for Oxley **(Mr Hayden)** is away the honourable member for Adelaide at last has his chance. He does have an agile mind and I respect it, but I do not respect the shifts in policy that he seems to adopt. At question time this morning we saw again that he does shift in his policy. I was disappointed tonight that he could not spend more time in his speech on letting us into the thinking of the Labor Party on some of the more specific points in this Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill. He did talk about some general items and of course, as is the wont of the Labor Party, he spent some time again belittling tax indexation. This is something which always seems to happen when a member of the Opposition gets up. I suppose I should admit that it is something that the Australian people have not as yet fully grasped. The fact is that tax indexation, which the honourable member for Adelaide tried to belittle in his speech, meant the forgoing of round about $ 1,000m to this Government this year. In the same mouthful the honourable member for Adelaide talked about the Medibank levy which cost the taxpayer only about 40 per cent of what he had saved by this Government's introduction of tax indexation. Nevertheless, all in all, I am very pleased to know that the honourable member for Adelaide, who is one of the two Labor spokesmen on Treasury matters, is not opposing these Bills. These Bills contain several amendments and all the amendments are important to various sectors of the community. He mentioned the consideration given to the Thalidomide Foundation. That is very important to the people concerned. He mentioned very briefly the amendments which relate to mining concerns. They are very important to those people. They are very important to me also because a substantial mining concern is about to begin operations in my electorate and it will benefit the community. I should add at this time that some of the things said by members of the Labor Party recently about mining concerns, especially since devaluation, indicate that they are not particularly interested in the mining industry becoming more active in this country and creating jobs for people. I am reminded that whatever else one may say about devaluation and about these tax amendments, companies like the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited in Tasmania and Jododex Australia Pty Ltd in my area will benefit because of positive action by this Government. I would like to spend some time on one specific item relating particularly to my area, which is in large part a pastoral area. I refer to income equalisation deposits. *(Quorum formed.)* It would appear that a concerted effort is being made to prevent my being heard. Honourable members on the Opposition side should remember that we listened with respectful silence to the honourable member for Adelaide who had 30 minutes in which to speak, albeit to only one or 2 members of his Party. I am particularly interested in the income equalisation deposits section of these tax amendments. The plight of rural areas in my electorate has become very difficult in recent year. The pastoral zone income figures have been mentioned recently by the Minister for Primary Industry **(Mr Sinclair).** My electorate is part of the pastoral zone. Those figures indicate that in the whole pastoral zone in Australia the average income per farmer is less than $5,000 a year. In fact, if rural income overall is taken throughout Australia, the average income projected by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics for this financial year is only $126 a week. That compares very unfavourably with the national average income of about $185 a week. The projected income of farmers in the pastoral zone in my electorate is only about $95 a week. The average capital invested in land alone in my area is over $100,000. The figure for the whole of Australia was about $107,000 at 1973 figures. So it is probably a little more than that now. That is in land alone. Most businessmen with that sort of investment would expect a return on capital of, say, 8 per cent. These days most people can quite easily get 10 per cent. That 8 per cent would give an investor something like $ 164 a week in return on investment alone. This, coupled with what one would expect as an average wage earned in Australia of $185 a week, should give the man on the land about $350 a week. I am referring to an average statistical person. That is about 3 times as much as the man on the land is getting. That $350 which I say the man on the land should be expecting still does not give him any margin for management or any return on other items such as water, fencing or buildings. In these conditions- I am talking about the conditions of farms that are earning these miserable returns at the moment- investment equalisation deposits will not yet be relevant. These people will not have enough money to put any aside in income equalisation deposits. IEDs have been a part of our platform for a long time. The honourable member for Adelaide tried to take some credit for the scheme by saying that IEDs were recommended in an Industries Assistance Commission report on a reference made in the time of the previous disastrous Labor Government. IEDs have been in our platform since 1974. When the Labor Party so repeatedly says that this or that was in its platform or that this or that was recommended by somebody, by the IAC following a reference, one wonders why the Labor Party did not do something about it. I refer to a number of things in the primary sector. I refer to the IAC recommendation on superphosphate and its recommendations on the beef industry. They were talked about by the Labor Government. It did nothing about them. We honour our promises. Despite the fact that many of my farmers will not benefit this year, it is very important that the IEDs be at last set up and understood. A few will benefit. Many will benefit in time. For example, if costs had not been accelerated by the Labor Government in the period 1973 to 1976, farm income in all sectors would now be reasonably acceptable. If one could have discounted the rate of inflation in those 3 years, which would not have occurred under a different government, incomes on farms would have more than covered costs at this stage. That is a statistical truth. Because we had to suffer that prodigal period of spending under the Labor Government, farm incomes have become terribly low. IEDs will not be used just yet by quite a few people. Many things are being done by this Government to keep down costs at the moment. We are making a concerted attack on inflation. We have done a lot of things that we promised for the primary producer since we were elected. More things are being done. For instance, at the moment the Australian Agricultural Council, which is a meeting of State primary industry Ministers and the Federal Minister, has set up a committee to look into a beef minimum price support scheme. All these things are being done because we have a Minister who is committed to the rural sector that he represents. Why do we need income equalisation deposits? It occurs to many people on the land in my area that the Government for many years has had plenty of good schemes for all other sectors. Even in recent months public servants have had increased and extremely liberal superannuation benefits set up for them. The man on the land realises that a large proportion of manufacturing industries gets tariff protection which is much higher than the rate pertaining in most other countries. Why therefore should not the primary sector get some sort of compensation, some sort of government consideration, apart from the quite meagre subsidies at present offered by this or any other government? The rural sector has fluctuating incomes. That is one of the facts of life in the rural sector. The rural sector has fluctuating incomes because of unusual conditions- conditions of weather and of disease and peculiar conditions created more recently by the great increase in internal costs and in some external costs. The primary sector cannot compensate internally very quickly to offset some of those fluctuating conditions. It cannot restock and destock over night. Incomes cannot be varied in the light of changing external circumstances. I think it is important that we have some means of compensating for these wildly fluctuating incomes to which farmers are often subjected. The means of compensation is income equalisation deposits. Under previous systems, a high income invariably meant crippling taxes on primary producers, especially on a high income after a very low income year. I know people on the land who, in the face of very high provisional tax, have spent prodigally to avoid taxation. In any person's language, that is bad management. The income equalisation deposits, which will enable the primary producer not to have to resort to prodigal spending, will mean that he can resort to better management. The IEDs will be a management tool. Apart from the fact that they will be used as a means of paying less tax in the long term, they will be a management tool so that good managers, even in the face of bad conditions such as drought, will take out money and invest when the opportunity arises, as distinct from what has often been done in the past. Some people have asked me why the interest rate is 5 per cent. Some people do not realise that the 5 per cent interest rate, in the light of the fact that the income equalisation deposits include some tax which normally would have been paid, is really quite a substantial interest rate. One must admit that some people who are earning in some years a very high income and therefore paying a marginal rate of 65 per cent will have an effective pre-tax rate of a lot more than 5 per cent. So the IEDs will still be attractive to those people. I believe that the 5 per cent rate is a clean and reasonably generous decision, as distinct from other possibilities which the Treasury had facing it and which would have cost a great deal in administration. The general 5 per cent will give the right result at the cheapest possible price. Other people have asked me 'What about the question of extension to other groups in the community?' We must remember that there are other groups that have widely fluctuating incomes at various times. I will admit that I am very much in favour as the economic conditions get better, as they will under this Government, of extending IEDs to other sectors. But I can appreciate that at the moment that is probably not possible. I should hope that that happens as soon as the Government can afford it. Over the months that I have been here I have heard members of the Opposition maliciously criticising the rural sector. The typical interjections from the other side of the House indicate the scant regard that most members on the benches opposite have for people who work on the land. {: .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr Keating: -- Nonsense! {: .speaker-L0J} ##### Mr SAINSBURY: -- What about the honourable member's interjections about 'you wealthy graziers'? {: .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr Keating: -- Oh, rubbish! {: .speaker-L0J} ##### Mr SAINSBURY: -It is not rubbish. I hear it every day; the people of Australia hear it every day. What about the questions that were asked of the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser)** in the House about what profit he is going to make on his property as a result of devaluation? What about the lack of Opposition policies? I imagine that when the next election comes around the Opposition will pull some magnificent looking rabbits out of the hat. They will come out with a beautiful seemingly tight rural policy. From what I read in the paper I believe that the Opposition is working on it right now. I can imagine that all these rabbits might look very attractive to some people. But people in the rural sector, and certainly those in my electorate, will not be duped again. The few people in the primary sector who went across to Labor in 1972 because of the carrot that was held in front of them- the promise of the great Utopia that we would have in this country with no further effort from the people of Australia- will not be duped again. The income equalisation deposits will cost the Government. They will not show up as a subsidy, thank heavens, to the rural sector. But they certainly will benefit the rural sector to a great extent. {: #subdebate-36-0-s1 .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr KEATING:
Blaxland -These Bills give legislative effect to the provisions announced in the Budget by the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** in August. The ones I will concern myself with in this cognate debate are those primarily associated with the mining and petroleum industries. In that respect the Bills encompass at least S important changes to the Income Tax Assessment Act which were the subject at an earlier stage this year of investigation and recommendation by the Industries Assistance Commission. I shall describe them briefly seriatum. First, the most important one is that allowable capital expenditure by any petroleum or general mining company on the development of a mine or field is deductible at the rate of 20 per cent on a diminishing value basis. This contrasts with the 4 per cent diminishing value basis which is currently applicable. Secondly, allowable capital expenditure on the facilities used for the transportation of minerals including petroleum will be deductible on a straight line basis over either 20 years as previously or 10 years at the taxpayer's option. Also under this category expenditure on rail transport facilities have been extended to cover expenditure at present not deductible on port development such as harbour surveys, initial dredging, navigational aids and breakwaters. Thirdly, allowable capital expenditure on the development of a petroleum field will now be deductible from income from any source, that is, at the same rate as allowable capital expenditure generally. Fourthly, petroleum exploration expenditure will now be immediately deductible against income from any source instead of, as previously, petroleum income only. Fifthly, the retention allowance in respect of trading or business income available to companies for undistributable income tax purposes is to be increased from SO per cent to 60 per cent for income in respect of the 1975-76 year of income initially. The Opposition has a mixed reaction to these measures. I will briefly state our attitude to them. We support all of the measures except the one pertaining to deductions for capital expenditure at the rate of 20 per cent on a diminishing value basis. At least three of the provisions I have mentioned were the subject of investigation, report and recommendation by the Industries Assistance Commission; that is, expenditure on mineral petroleum development to be deductible from income derived from any source, allowable capital expenditure by petroleum companies to be deductible from income derived from any source, allowable capital expenditure to be extended to cover expenditure on ports and related facilities including housing and welfare facilities located at the port site. In these respects the Government's budgetary proposals are in line with the IAC recommendation. However, in respect of the rate of deduction for allowable capital expenditure on assets used for mining or petroleum operations, the Government's proposition of a 20 per cent diminishing value basis is in conflict with the IAC recommendation, which was that deductibility be allowed on a straight line basis over the life of the asset, the life of the mine or 1 S years whichever is the least. I shall deal now with the question of the provision of this legislation relating to allowable capital expenditure on assets. The history of this legislation is that when the experience in Australia and elsewhere in the world showed that coal mines and other mines which had a long life the tax Act in respect of depreciation allowed a write-off on capital assets on a strict life of mine basis. This was very different to the deductibility allowed general manufacturing and over a period of time it was changed to come more into line with manufacturing industry and a deduction on a 4 per cent diminishing value basis was established in 1951. Later as Australia moved into what has been termed the mining boom, this was again altered to provide immediate deductibility for depreciation. This of course was clearly concessionary as it did not in any way take into account the life of the asset. In 1973 the then Labor Government changed the rate of depreciation to a 4 per cent diminishing value basis or, if the life of the mine was less then 25 years, deductions spread over the life of the mine in equal instalments, the rationale being that mines lasted at least 25 years, and if less, the straight line deduction was available. After much indignation on the part of the mining industry at this change, the matter was then referred to the Industries Assistance Commission by the then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition **(Mr E. G. Whitlam),** on 2 May 1974. After investigation the Commission recommended in its draft report that the 4 per cent diminishing value basis remain but then changed its recommendation to a 15 year straight line basis in the final report, no doubt in a spirit of compromise- but to no avail. The Government had other ideas. Be that as it may, the Opposition does see justice and merit in a departure from what is otherwise a clear principle of depreciation based upon the life of an asset or mine. It does so because of the compelling arguments that finance for large capital projects for the mining industry is granted only upon the surety of a firm contract and a demonstrable adequate cash flow. That is because the advances of sums in the hundreds of millions cannot be secured against a participant's other assets. The only realistic security then available to the lender is surety of return of funds and service to loans via the cash flow from the company's earnings. The Industries Assistance Commission recommended IS years on the basis not of facilitating a cash flow but to bring the rate of deductions into line with that generally applying in manufacturing, the IAC proposition being that this would guarantee taxation neutrality. For my part, I think tax neutrality is bunkum, nonsense, and that there is a clear case for a concession arising from the adjustment of the rates of depreciation in favour of the mining industry, in particular because of the difficulties of servicing vast amounts of capital. It is generally accepted in Australia that the period for loan borrowings in respect of mining is somewhere around 7 years. Because of the uncertainties of the capital market and of the nature of interest, 7 years is about the average lending period for large resource orientated loans wherever one might look in the world. It is during these 7 years that it is important for the mining industry to recoup the major part of its outlay on assets allowable capital expenditure. The Opposition submits that the 20 per cent diminishing value basis of deductions is too generous because it leads to the unhealthy situation that no tax is paid in the first year and only small amounts are paid in the ensuing years. One can find that over a period of four or five years, by the time the Government collects the tax, double figure inflation as we have experienced in the last few years will have eroded the value of the tax dollars by half before they are collected. We had a situation during the mining boom in the 1960s in which, as **Mr T.** M. Fitzgerald demonstrated in his report in 1974, with constant development and constant deductions being available tax was not paid. It is true it was paid later but what were 1967 dollars worth in 1974? If one accepts that the departure from the principle of deductions over the life of an asset or a mine is concessionary, the issue is: What is the appropriate concession; what is the level of deductibility permissible to meet the demands of cash financing over this vital initial 7 year period? In the Opposition's view a reasonable rate of deductibility would be a 10 per cent diminishing rate. This rate is simpler than the straight line method for accounting purposes, as on that basis the life of each piece of equipment has to be assessed individually whereas on the diminishing value basis the balance after each year is lumped together. If one accepts that the diminishing value basis is preferable to the straight line, what needs to be assessed is the level of deductibility. In my opinion and in the opinion of the Opposition a 10 per cent rate is preferable to a 20 per cent rate. This does justice to the cash flow problem for capital financing and it is somewhat better than the rate of deductibility accorded general manufacturing. I refer to a table which I have prepared in relation to a $600m investment and assumed levels of company income for the first 7 years. I seek leave to have that table incorporated in *Hansard.* {: #subdebate-36-0-s2 .speaker-DRW} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins:
SCULLIN, VICTORIA -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. *The table read as follows-* {: .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr KEATING: -- One can see that the 20 per cent diminishing value basis, say in year 3 of the investment, leaves 84.7 per cent of the earnings retained by the company, but the 10 per cent diminishing value basis leaves 74.5 per cent of the earnings retained. The difference is not dramatic, but over 7 years it is a difference. The difference is that enough of the income is returned to the companies to meet their financial difficulties or problems. One also has to consider this measure in the light of the Government's devaluation. This will mean that more Australian dollars will accrue to the companies. While many companies have debts in terms of other currencies, a lot will have equity and capital arranged in Australian dollars, in which case increased earnings from devaluation will advantage them. Some people in the extractive industry say that on a 20 per cent rate of deductibility it takes 10 years to write off 90 per cent of the debt. On the 10 per cent deductibility, it takes 22 years to write off 90 per cent of the debt. This is true. I do not dispute that. But this is not what is at issue. If the basis of depreciation is changedthat is, from the life of the mine- to facilitate the servicing of loans over that 7 year period, the criteria must be what rate of deductibility satisfies that problem and not how long it takes to write off 90 per cent. I will now deal with the other matters I mentioned earlier, that is, the other provisions of the legislation. I do not disagree with the 10 year option for write-off of transportation facilities. It is 20 years or 10 years at the taxpayer's option. If one accepts that transportation is a part of the productive process, I think this is a reasonable proposition and it is in line with the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission. I am in agreement with the provision to allow capital expenditure on the development of a petroleum field to be deductible from income from any source. It is in line with the IAC recommendations. There is, however, some debate in the Press about this particular issue where some companies want to claim the deduction against income where they have to transcend a corporate boundary. I believe the Government intended, though it has not been specific, that this deduction should be available to companies which operate as petroleum explorers and developers as distinct from their normal area of business. To give an example, the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd could, within the boundaries of one of its sugar companies, operate a petroleum company and deduct capital expenditure against earnings from sugar. If, however, the 2 distinct areas of business each had its own company structure, the deduction would not be available. I think this is a reasonable proposition and, if companies want to take advantage of the deduction, they would need to re-arrange the articles of association and the nature of the company so as to maximise the benefit of the available deductions. The Opposition would not support this provision being extended beyond corporate boundaries because obviously one would not know where such a course of action would lead. There would be no end to it. In respect of petroleum exploration expenditure, under the Government's provisions this will now be immediately deductible against income from any source instead of as previously, petroleum income only. Again the Opposition supports this concept. There is a pressing need in Australia to step up the level of activity in oil exploration. In the last couple of years we have witnessed a dramatic downturn in oil exploration activity and Australia is in the unfortunate position that, unless another major field is discovered quickly- another Bass Strait, if I could put it that way- our indigenous supply will diminish rapidly after 1980. In present day dollar, this would mean the absence of a new Bass Strait, or part thereof and would mean an addition of about $2,200m to the national import bill. Those sceptics who believe mining is pushing the value of the Australian currency to a level that is incongruous with the best interests of other sectors of the economy might just ponder the magnitude of the import slug which will come unless new oil is discovered in Australia. It will not be a matter of revaluation but constant deductions of the currency. To this end I mention that the Opposition agrees with and will stand by another provision announced in the Budget which is not the subject of this legislation, and that is the lifting of the $2 a barrel excise on new discoveries of petroleum. This will not be re-imposed by an incoming Labor Government. The last item which I want to comment upon is the alteration of the retention allowance in respect of private companies. The Government has altered the provisions in relation to retention of earnings from 50 per cent to 60 per cent for companies applying, I think, from this year. I find no disagreement with that. I have always believed private companies have been discriminated against when one compares the laws applicable to public companies. The argument is that there is a shareholder pressure on public companies to distribute dividends. I think this is a gross over-simplification. Shareholders are never that organised. Directors generally agree to a distribution which satisfies the bulk of shareholders and keeps faith with the public. But the rate of distribution is exclusively a matter for their judgment. While I agree that one cannot lift the level of retention to 100 per cent because of the sharp characters who would be accruing money into companies and then selling companies off as a capital gain, nevertheless, I think that for a lot of genuine private enterprise in Australia this change would be welcomed. I support it. All in all the Opposition, I think, has taken a reasonably pragmatic attitude to the measures introduced in the Budget. The 20 per cent diminishing value basis cannot be defended in my opinion. It is extravagant, particularly in the light of devaluation. But as far as the other measures are concerned, I think they are reasonable and I think that the IAC would share that view. The only disturbing aspect of the events of late, particularly devaluation, is that the Government is determined not to allow any natural structural adjustment between the major sectors of Australian industry. It is constantly making policies to advantage some sectors of industry to the detriment of others. While there had to be some changes in the tax laws to make the sums fit together for a Norwich Park, Nebo, Area C or a Marandoo, the totality of Government policy should be aimed at establishing equal opportunity for growth in the major sectors of Australian industry and should not be made for the advantage of some. In conclusion, I point out that the Opposition will not oppose the legislation because that could mean the defeat of some measures which are worth while, but I stress that we oppose the acceptance of a 20 per cent diminishing value basis for allowable capital expenditure for petroleum and mining generally. The Opposition in government would change that figure swiftly to 10 per cent. I think it would also be time then to have a look at the general tax laws which apply to corporate Australia. {: #subdebate-36-0-s3 .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -In relation to Bills, such as these 4 Bills which deal with taxation, the greatest error can be to attempt to look at any piece of income tax legislation in isolation. One has to be grateful to the honourable member for Adelaide **(Mr Hurford)** because for the first half of his speech he dealt with his general attitude towards taxation. After all, the attitude towards the mining industry has to fit within that pattern. It cannot be looked at in isolation. So the Opposition at least will excuse me if I look at every crumb of information given in this debate with all the suspicion with which a mouse might look at a piece of cheese on a kitchen floor. I want to see what virus is contained within the information. There are several. I shall deal first with the proposition put by the honourable member for Adelaide. He is a very reasonable and talented person. But he forgot a few vital facts. I will deal with them before I deal with the history of the mining industry to which the honourable member for Blaxland **(Mr Keating)** referred. I was fascinated to note that the honourable member for Adelaide was uncertain as to his total attitude towards these Bills. He pleaded insufficient time to have studied them and, having pleaded insufficient time, he came in here and confessed to a growing uncertainty as to whether he was in favour of them or against them. Only by effluxion of time and by exhaustion did he ultimately come to the position that he would support the Bills. Now I want to refer to some of the general attitudes towards taxation in the past, because they are important. One ought not to attempt to think that in looking at a piece of history one can draw a line across the scroll at any one date and say: 'Anything that occurred before that date is in the past. Anything that occurs subsequent to that date is in the future.' So I want to have a look at what has happened with respect to taxation in the immediate past. That is the pattern into which one has to fit what is proposed in these Bills. It is a monstrous fabrication to level the charge at this Government and say that it is not keeping promises in relation to taxation, because the total tax take this year will increase by something like 20 per cent. That is less than half the total tax take in one year under the previous Government. In another year under the previous Government the total tax take increased by well over 30 per cent. The circumstances in which both of those facts occurred need to be reiterated and repeated. The extraordinary fact is that the 40 per cent increase in total tax occurred in a year in which there was actual negative growth in Australia, in which there was an actual reduction in the number of taxpayers and in which of the total burden put upon taxpayers over 100 per cent in 1974-75 was a response to the burden created by inflation. It was mitigated somewhat by a taxation alteration in the course of the year. Using the type of calculation used by Professor Harris from the James Cook University in Townsville and carrying forward that type of calculation to what happened during those years, we find that those facts are incontrovertible. The honourable member for Blaxland, who is a very sensible person, would be the first to say that it is impossible to develop a taxation policy in relation to mining unless one has some knowledge of what the taxation policy was in respect of the persons and companies, public and private, that paid tax. Even the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs **(Mr Viner),** who is at the table, in his more sanguine moments would agree with that proposition. So in one year, of the burden of taxation attributable to the various causes which allow increased tax to be taken, inflation itself was responsible for more than 100 per cent of the increased tax take in 1974-75. 1 hope that that is never forgotten. I now turn to the general debate. I was fascinated by the ease with which the Opposition passed over the most significant tax measure that as been undertaken, which was the introduction this year of full personal tax indexation. Honourable members opposite did not agree with it. They said when they were in government that it could not be done. They inspired reports which were leaked from a former Deputy Commissioner of Taxation and which were subsequently leaked to the *Australian Financial Review,* showing how it could not be done. But the Government has done it. When the honourable member for Adelaide produces a table which seeks to compare the tax take in one year with that for the next year, he does not indicate what was going to be the tax take under the pattern of increased taxes which his Government brought into operation. That is the only way in which one can really comprehend and follow what was done with the full personal income taxation measures. So that is the pattern into which I want to fit what has to be said this evening. I want to sniff at quite a few pieces of cheese that have been thrown across the kitchen floor in this debate. With respect to mining, Opposition members have made it quite clear that they are opposed to all the mining provisions in this legislation, the most important of which is the 20 per cent reducing balance write-off. In opposing it I am sure that they are unaware of certain facts that are presently besetting the Australian economy *visavis* the world economy. Mining after all is the great growth industry in Australia. The development of exports from that industry has enabled a higher standard of living to be spread throughout the Australian community. It is that industry's exports which have allowed the redistribution of resources to occur whereby millions of workers in Australia are able to work, receiving high rates of pay, in industries which receive very significant tariff protection. The fitter and turner at Mount Isa is the kind of person whose activity enables a very significant subsidised wage to be paid to the fitter and turner working at the Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd in Melbourne, which is your home town, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** or to the fitter and turner in the same trade working at Chrysler Australia Ltd in Adelaide. That is the redistribution of resources that comes from the mining industry. So when it is said in this House for environmental or other reasons that mining needs to be looked at suspiciously in the Australian environment and needs to be curbed in the Australian environment- that is the background of many of the statements- that is a grossly incorrect proposition to put. {: .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr Keating: -- But you agree that that is not my statement? {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -No, but you could not separate your propositions on mining from the general taxation policies with which your Party is unhappily surrounded. {: #subdebate-36-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to address the Chair. {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -It was such a delightful interjection, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** that I could not resist it. The honourable member for Blaxland has an appreciation of what is involved in the mining industry but his taxation provisions cannot be seen nor can they be proposed completely within a vacuum. The other proposition that concerns me is that when people look at the mining industry the first thing they say is that the industry is receiving too much assistance and it needs to be cut down. On the other hand they say that the industry needs to be looked at very suspiciously because it does not have Australia's interests at heart. There is one notable example which works against that proposition and which has been evident in recent days. Everybody knows that devaluation has certain effects within an economy. It has a principal effect on exporting industries, depending on how their orders are written, and it has a more indirect effect on industries which can shelter behind an increased barrier to overseas imports. That is simple enough. Some people may say that the mining industry always wanted devaluation, but let me remind them in respect of the great mining companies in Australia, and one of the oldest, Mount Isa Mines Ltd- for which devaluation was a boon and from which it was always designed to make very greatly increased profits- that **Sir James** Foots in his annual report made it quite clear that he, judging Australia's position, was not in favour of devaluation. That is a testament to manifest goodwill which ought to be acknowledged as such. With respect to the great part of the coal export industry, especially that part which is situated in Queensland, where the contracts were written in terms which were designed on a devaluation to earn it very greatly increased profits, it would be acknowledged that the chairman of the Coal Exporters of Australia also indicated, on a judgment as to Australia's position, that there ought not to be devaluation. I am not saying from this argument that devaluation was incorrect. I am saying that when people look at the mining industry *in toto* and regard its members as robber barons they are making a very unfair and incorrect judgment. In both cases against personal interest they judged that a certain course of action was appropriate for Australia. I am concerned also to see that the mining industry should be allowed to expand because I know its effect, even in a domestic sense. Whether it be Mount Isa Mines Ltd, the Utah Development Company, Thiess Peabody Mitsui Coal Pty Ltd or even little sand miners, I know that the employment multiplier in the region and in the State in which those operations occur is four to five. For every one person employed by a mining company, particularly at a time when it is undertaking some significant capital expansion, four to five other people within the State in which that company operates would be employed on account of that mining operation. One knows that there is another multiplier of four to five that has to be applied particularly in those parts of Australia in which mining occurs to determine the population that is supported. For example, the open cut coal mines, which for a long time were scarified, were looked at jealously by people in parts of Australia where there were underground coal mines. It was said that open cut coal mines were not supporting many people. At one stage 3 years ago when 3000 people were employed in the great open cut coal mines of Australia, within that State alone, quite apart from export income, between 60 000 and 65 000 people owed their support and their living conditions to that direct work effect. That is quite apart from the transfer effect which I said occurred from the fitter and turner at Mount Isa to the fitter and turner working for Ford or Chrysler. I merely say that to illustrate that mining is of absolutely incredible significance in Australia. I do not believe that its significance can be overstated. I doubt that we shall be able to devise any tax system, any income system or any beneficial system in a fiscal sense that would enable Australia to become a very great or significant exporter of manufactured goods. So we shall rely increasingly on mining and in the years ahead we shall rely to a very significant extent on uranium, if those standards of living are to be maintained and if imports are to be paid for. It is for that reason that I welcome the provisions in this legislation that relate to mining. Their value will not be short-term but will be very long term indeed. Even though some of the provisions are generous- the 20 per cent reducing balance write off is generous and it is somewhat in excess of what was proposed in the Industries Assistance Commission report- who could say, having looked at what has happened to the balance of payments in the months subsequent to that report being brought into operation and being aware of the tragically increased need in Australia for export markets, which is associated with the devaluation last week, that assisting a currency to retain its value is going to be detrimental to this country? It is not. So I do not believe that the 20 per cent write off provision on a reducing balance is an overstatement. Even though it is quite clear, for example, that on a $100m investment, even assuming the investment allowance which would apply to 55 per cent generally of mining equipment was somewhat lessMr Keating- More. {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -- That is doubtful. But even presuming that the rate of inflation goes down from 10 per cent to 6 per cent over 5 years, in present money terms the contribution of the Government towards that $100m initial investment would be between $48m and $54m, depending on the cash flow in early years. But in view of the other ripple effects that would occur through an economy as a result of the undertaking of an operation that would not otherwise be undertaken, that would be money very well spent indeed and it would spread throughout the rest of the country. What I have said relates principally to 2 parts of this legislation. My initial remarks reflected upon the general taxation background involved in the legislation. That general taxation background and what has occurred in previous years cannot be wished away or seen in isolation. The honourable member for Blaxland **(Mr Keating)** whom I believe has a great understanding and sympathy and a far greater sense of balance than many others in his own Party have in respect of mining - {: .speaker-KNA} ##### Mr Martyr: -You surprise me. {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -- He certainly has. The honourable member for Blaxland cannot argue the case of mining by isolating himself from the great total of tax revenue which a government has to levy from its people. The mining industry cannot be seen in isolation. It would be impossible for a government under the advice of the honourable member for Blaxland to be sympathetic towards a mining industry if its Treasurer and Prime Minister were socking every taxpayer or company in Australia. Australians would not stand for that kind of disproportion. Yet unknowingly, and I believe with good will, the propositions of the honourable member for Blaxland would lead precisely to that situation. {: .speaker-NH4} ##### Mr Keating: -That is not true and you know it. {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -I said that it is unknowingly. The proposition has been demonstrated and I think demonstrated quite clearly. Without going into the private company aspects of this legislation- there certainly is no time to go into them- I merely say I am delighted that the excess distribution provisions which applied to private companies have been deleted from this legislation. In view of the provision of investment allowances, income equalisation deposits and other inducements to iron out the fluctuations that occur in the fortunes of private companies, it is appropriate that the excess distribution provisions should be done away with. In today's circumstances assistance to mining has to become one of the most important characteristics of any government's economic policy. It cannot be put aside and it should not be looked at narrowly. I believe it needs to be emphasised that it is a contradiction in real and sensible terms to suggest that a socialist government which wants government to be bigger can at the same time masquerade as a government which wants taxation to be smaller. That contradiction is so enormous that sometimes, like the light of the noonday sun, people fail to recognise it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-36-0-s5 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- I do not deny the importance of the mining industry to Australia, but I must say that I have a few more reservations than my friend the honourable member for Lilley **(Mr Kevin Cairns)** has about the taxation system being the best way to reward the rnining industry. If I may say so, the amendments that are propounded here are pretty handsome rewards indeed to very limited sections of the totality of the Australian economy. It is nice to talk about mining as though there were a lot of humble prospectors digging holes here, there and everywhere, perhaps running risks, some being rewarded and some not. But the basic minerals we are talking about at the moment are the 2 great ones, coal and iron. Australia happens to have a magnificent abundance of both. Candidly, I have the old-fashioned view that they belong to the people of Australia because they are in the ground, but we seem somehow to think that somebody who happened to hit upon them is entitled thereafter to exploit the rest of the community. I do not know why we needed American techniques to develop the coal industry in the State of the honourable member for Lilley **(Mr Kevin Cairns),** who is trying to interject. The coal deposits were virtually handed to the companies involved by the Premier of Queensland so far as the terms of exploitation are concerned. Admittedly, we get a fair bit of it back because company tax, being as high as it it - {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -- That is about the least of what you get back. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- If the mining companies make a profit something like half of it is taken back in net tax. But the Government objected to what we regarded as an excess profits tax- and there was no doubt who the principal victim would have been. Candidly I could not see anything wrong with it. The firm concerned, Utah, had a bonanza on very favourable terms, yet the Government objected on the grounds that it would hurt somebody else. It it was genuine about hurting the small people, fair enough, but I think the Government was unduly solicitous about what it did to the big people in the process. I do not deny that there are more prospects, resource wise, for getting value for money out of developing mining in Australia in the next ten or fifteen years than out of probably any other enterprise we can think of, but I do not think that is any reason to featherbed the companies and to use the tax system to reward people for basically exploiting the nation's resources. I am surprised in some respects at the attitude of my friend, the honourable member for Lilley **(Mr Kevin Cairns),** for whom I have great respect because he is a person who at least applies himself to the anatomy of these debates. I do not believe that the tax system should be used in this way. After all, there is an argument as to whether the write-off ought to be 20 per cent over a 5-year reducing period or whether, as my colleague suggested, there should be a 10-year period. It makes a lot of difference to the mining company that one is chosen rather than the other. I should have hoped that there would have been more extensive debate about this than there has been. {: .speaker-JTS} ##### Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP -- It does not receive more assistance than any other industry, of course. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -I do not think it should be any better treated. What I am trying to suggest is that it is different from any other industry. The honourable member referred to the mining industry. He should at least define what the mining industry is. He mentioned the figures for exports in these areas. I have the figures for the year 1974-75 with regard to the export of iron ore and coal. Receipts for the export of coal amounted to $664m and for iron ore the amount was $707m. Something like 80 per cent of the total went to one country, Japan. It went via one or two big endues. When one is talking about the mining industry, I think, with all respect that one is talking about 2 pretty gigantic areas. One is not talking about little people digging small holes. One is talking about big undertakings, mostly foreign owned, if I may say so regretfully, which are taking, at terms very advantageous to themselves, Australia's natural resources and exporting them to another country. I have no objection to Australia sensibly giving to another country access to the things that it has in abundance, but I have a great resentment of featherbedding those who are doing very well already. The amendments in this BUI make those who are very well off, without them very much better off in future. I do not want to get into the argument tonight about devaluation. It has happened. I have always taken the prudent course; I think the Government was foolish not to defend the position that it claimed it wanted to defend. I believe that it caved in to resistance within its own ranks. I think that whereas previously the only ramp that was organised in favour of devaluation was a rural one, on this occasion it was joined by mining and manufacturing interests and it proved to be an irresistible force. I was a little intrigued to hear the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** say that he believed the currency was over-valued when the Government came to office. He certainly took a long time to reach his decision. If he wanted to devalue then, he ought to have done it then. When he kept saying over and over again that the Government would hold the currency at its former rate, I think that the Government proved recreant to the sense of responsibility that a proper government ought to have. Nevertheless, there is no doubt who some of the main beneficiaries Will be. They have contracts for coal and iron that are written in yen or in US dollars. They will be considerable beneficiaries when their costs are incurred in Australian dollars. I suppose we can console ourselves because we receive near enough to half the profit. That seems to me to be very cold consolation. I want to say one or two things about taxation generally. I must say that I am pleased that the cold-hearted Treasurer has, at long last, yielded to what I regarded as the moral promise I gave when I was Treasurer. That was that the funds of the thalidomide victims would be free of tax. I have the greatest admiration for the officials of the Taxation Office. While they offered aU sorts of objections to me, I said this was one of the decisions I wanted to make. I do not believe that there is any case in history like it and I hope that there will subsequently be no other case like it either. To suggest that if one assists these people one must do something for victims of recurring societal accidents was, I think, a lot of nonsense. I am pleased to see that the Treasurer has finally yielded. The honourable member for Lilley made a great play about how taxation has been reduced and about the difficulties of comparing this with that. It will be very difficult from now on to compare the yields of taxation year by year now that this new system of taxation has been introduced. I invite the honourable gentleman to look at what is expected to be gathered from personal income tax. My mathematics show that this year there will be a 25 per cent difference in the yield from personal income tax. It is all right to say that if this had not been done it would have been great. But what is taxation reduction about? Surely the Government reaches a point at which it concludes it is taking too much. If the Government then makes reductions and takes great credit to itself, saying: 'Had we not altered this, the yield would have been so much', again I ask: 'What is it that we are really talking about?' Honourable members opposite claim to be the reducers of taxes. I am not the great admirer, as some honourable members opposite are, of the so-called indexation formula. I suggest that it is so cast that it means least to the person at the bottom of the wage scale and most to the person at the top. It is not the sort of formula that I would regard as the most equitable. AU it does is alter the pace at which a person goes from step to step within the scale. The greatest advantage is to those people higher up the scale. It does not matter that the formula is called indexation. It is like a lot of other things to which certain names are given. A lot of people are confused by the giving of names. The same confusion arises with what is called accounting for inflation. Mostly the accounting for inflation makes great play about the asset side of the balance sheet and ignores altogether the liabilities side. I am still one who believes that if the fault is in the accounting period we perhaps should have daily, monthly or quarterly balances. But we have the yearly balance because unfortunately government accounting is involved with the financial year. I wish at least a little more time was devoted to the fact that no matter how the assets are depreciating equally so are the liabilities. Most balance sheets as I understand them finish with an overdraft rather than with a net asset position. Naturally to that extent they are more concerned about the liability part than the asset part. These sorts of things are not intelligibly discussed in Australia. Always it is the vested interest that seems to gain the day. I think the accounting profession in Australia has been very slow to decide any accepted standards about the so-called accounting for inflation. There is certainly no degree of unanimity among members of the accounting profession or among the various firms. The attitude differs from firm to firm according to the nature of the business that is transacted. We all tend to get caught up and say that we have to adopt the Mathews report even though it had reservations and made some distinctions between financial and nonfinancial companies and so on. I have been in this House a pretty long time. I had to bear the burden of handling income tax Bills for the Opposition for a long time. Income tax is the singly most important tax in the tax collection field. Looking at the overall situation this financial year we will get nearly $9 billion from pay-as-you-earn taxation, $2V4 billion from other taxation- that is from provisional and other tax payers- and near enough to $3 billion from company taxation. We are dealing with a total collection of more than $14 billion. The whole substance of this is disposed in the House annually by a couple of hours of debate. Most of tonight s debate has been beclouded by the virtue the Government has ascribed to itself for the great job it is doing for the mining industry. A great job has been done for the mining industry but if I may say so I think it has been done at the expense of the rest of the people of the Australian community. It is fair enough to give justice to the mining community; but who can say that these measures are justice? In my view they are extended benevolence. Had the devaluation come earlier the Government might not have been so disposed to give the taxation concessions that have now been given. The Government has backed both horses and both have come home as winners in somewhat different races. It is a very heavy penalty for the rest of the Australian community to pay. I am sorry in some ways that the time left for me to speak is so short and that the time of night is so late. The sad thing from counting the heads at the moment, is that far more officials are listening to what is being said than there are members in the chamber taking part in what is being done. I do not underestimate the importance now and in the future to Australia of the mining industry, but I certainly do not believe that the tax system is the best way to look at that sort of problem. Let me take a moment or two to refer to this curious thing called the interest equalisation scheme. I thought the drought bonds were silly enough. I did my best to abolish them, but I found some resistence even from my own side. That scheme has been abolished but in its place is something that in my view is quite inequitable. We are told that the total accumulated deductions at any one time allowable to a deposit will be subject to an upper limit of $100,000. What sort of system is it that we are talking about? I do not deny that farmers are in a desperate plight. Does the Government think that because farmers have been in a desperate plight for some time they will now suddenly say 'thank you' because taxes will be eased on income that no doubt they would be using to liquidate their debts? Does the Government think that farmers will be able to pay amounts of up to $100,000 into some sort of fund and have that money taxed on a different basis? I wish the Government would find out how many would receive the benefit and how many would be excluded when it takes the realities of the parameters of such a scheme into account. {: .speaker-K5O} ##### Mr Corbett: -- Ask the organisations and you will find out. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -Who do the organisations represent? I wish the organisations would look at the totality of the producers. It is easy to get on the bandwagon and become the great advocate for something that is regarded as a panacea and which potentially is hardly available to anybody but miraculously is available to one or two. I regard this sort of scheme in that sort of context. The aspiration was good but the anatomy was not subject to enough analysis. I hope that the scheme will be looked at in that sort of aspect. {: #subdebate-36-0-s6 .speaker-EE6} ##### Mr VINER:
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs · Stirling · LP -- in reply-In closing this debate I wish to make only a few comments on some of the matters that have been mentioned by honourable members. The first point to observe is the triteness of so many of the remarks of the honourable member for Adelaide **(Mr Hurford)** and the rather paltry excuse he gave for quite and inadequate speech. He said that not sufficient time had been given to examine the legislation and yet the proposals provided for in these Bills were forshadowed in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch).** The time available was quite adequate for the honourable member for Blaxland **(Mr Keating)** to give a detailed contribution on the mining provisions of the legislation. One thing became abundantly clear from the speech of the honourable member for Adelaide. There is no indication at all of the Opposition changing the views that it had when in government of ever increasing the rate and level of government expenditure. He observed that it is easy for politicians to offer to lower taxes but said that all services have to be provided for by the Government. Of course, both propositions are true but they get one nowhere. This country became aware of the inadequacies of the Opposition's policies when under its administration those inadequacies led to ever increasing government expenditure and ever increasing Budget deficits. The contribution of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr Sainsbury)** to this debate was extremely worthwhile. He pointed out how valuable the income equalisation deposits scheme will be to the rural industry. He demonstrated, as the Government has demonstrated, concern for the plight of rural industry and the desire of the Government to lift the overall level of economic activity and the income of individual members of the industry. This is quite the contrary, as the honourable member for Eden-Monaro pointed out, to the attitude displayed continuously by the Opposition when in government. It is rather a revelation to hear now, towards the end of 1976, what the Opposition spokesman on natural resources says about the mining industry. He spoke most favourably of what the Government is proposing in these taxation measures because they are aimed at stimulating the mining industry. He pointed to the grave danger Australia will face in the early 1980s when our supplies of crude oil will begin to deplete rapidly. He said that Australia would be slugged with a heavy import bill. That is the message that we tried to drive home to the Government of the day- that is the present Oppositionwhen it was in government for 3 years. For 3 years the then Minister for Minerals and Energy, the honourable member for Cunningham **(Mr Connor),** took no notice. He took as his bible the document referred to by the honourable member for Blaxland and the report of T. M. Fitzgerald on taxation of the mining industry. Probably the 2 most disastrous things for the mining industry in Australia during those 3 years were that report of Fitzgerald and the Ministry of the honourable member for Cunningham. We can be thankful for the good sense of members of the Opposition who elected the honourable member for Blaxland to the front bench and appreciate the good sense that he now displays in that position which is in contrast with the position he adopted at the coat tails of the honourable member for Cunningham. The honourable member for Blaxland said that the only objection which the Opposition has to the mining taxation proposals concerns the minimum 20 per cent write-off of allowable capital expenditure incurred by mining companies. He mentioned also that the Opposition would support a 10 per cent write-off. As indicated by the Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** in his Budget Speech, this Government intends to promote a healthy and efficient minerals sector of the economy. The Government considers that a 20 per cent writeoff will greatly help achieve this objective. I point out that 20 per cent is on a diminishing value basis which means that for a mine with a life greater than 5 years- particularly much greater than 5 years- some 67 per cent of the costs incurred in the first year will be deducted over the first 5 years. In this way this will be of greater assistance in meeting the cash flow requirements of mining companies in the early years of the mine than either the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission or the Opposition's proposals. So, the 20 per cent minimum write-off will be a positive stimulus to the mining industry. I also add that, if the only measure which the honourable member for Blaxland questions in his judgment of the adequacy or extravagance of the 20 per cent write-off is the 7-year average lending period, that is not the only factor to be taken into account. One of the most urgent needs in the mining industry in Australia today is to have investable funds. The minimum 20 per cent write off of allowable capital expenditure will provide the mining industry with much greater access in the early years of a mine to investable funds which it can pour back into its project for development. I commend the Bill to the House. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {:#subdebate-36-1} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Viner)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3352 {:#debate-37} ### LOAN (INCOME EQUALIZATION DEPOSITS) BILL 1976 {:#subdebate-37-0} #### Second Reading Consideration resumed from 1 December, on motion by **Mr Lynch:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced. {:#subdebate-37-1} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Viner)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3352 {:#debate-38} ### LOAN (DROUGHT BONDS) AMENDMENT BILL 1976 {:#subdebate-38-0} #### Second Reading Consideration resumed from 1 December, on motion by **Mr Lynch:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {:#subdebate-38-1} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Viner)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3352 {:#debate-39} ### INCOME TAX (COMPANIES AND SUPERANNUATION FUNDS) BILL 1976 {:#subdebate-39-0} #### Second Reading Consideration resumed from 1 December, on motion by **Mr Lynch:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {:#subdebate-39-1} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Viner)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3352 {:#debate-40} ### SEAMEN'S COMPENSATION AMENDMENT BILL 1976 {:#subdebate-40-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 3 December, on motion by **Mr Hunt:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-40-0-s0 .speaker-KWZ} ##### Mr WALLIS:
Grey -- I should like to address my remarks mainly to the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Amendment Bill 1976. Honourable members must admit that the introduction of this Bill is belated. Last year, prior to the double dissolution of the Parliament on11 November, the Labor Party had introduced legislation to increase compensation payable under this Bill. We are all aware of what happened last year. One result of the action taken last year was that people receiving long term compensation who were due for a rise did not receive that increase. They have had to wait another 12 months to receive a rise. The size of the rise is not great. The result is that over the years the rate of compensation has been reduced in value. I am reminded also of what has happened in the last 2 years in relation to the plans of the Labor Government to introduce a more comprehensive compensation Bill- a Bill which would have given Commonwealth employees much more protection, which would have represented progress and which, at least, would have brought the Commonwealth's legislation into line with some of the State legislation. Of course, all honourable members are aware of what happened to the legislation that was introduced by the then Minister for Labor, **Mr Clyde** Cameron. When the legislation reached the Senate, the then Liberal-National Country Party Opposition tossed it out with the result that all that the Labor Government was able to do was to amend the amount that applied in the Schedule. People who are now receiving Commonwealth compensation receive full pay for the first 6 months. After that period, a lower amount applies. It might be of use to remind honourable members what those amounts are at the present time. Debate interrupted. {: .page-start } page 3352 {:#debate-41} ### ADJOURNMENT **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 18 February 1976 I propose the question: >That the House do now adjourn. Question resolved in the negative. 352 REPRESENTATIVES 6 December 1976 *Seamen's Compensation Amendment Bill* {: .page-start } page 3353 {:#debate-42} ### SEAMEN'S COMPENSATION AMENDMENT BILL 1976 {:#subdebate-42-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed. {: #subdebate-42-0-s0 .speaker-KWZ} ##### Mr WALLIS: -It might pay us to recall what those amounts have been. For over 2 years now the amount has been $57 for an employee, $15 for the wife and $7 for each dependent child. This legislation was proposed by the Labor Government last year. Therefore these people have had to wait an extra 12 months before receiving an increase. In money terms this means that possibly they have lost more than $1,000 over the last 12 months. Whilst we appreciate that such people get full pay for the first 6 months, there are a lot of people in receipt of compensation for injuries which last a long time, people with back injuries and so forth who are off work for considerable periods. These people have been badly treated because the Government has taken so long to introduce this legislation. The Minister for Health **(Mr Hunt)** made an announcement in about July that this legislation would be introduced, but here we are in the middle of December and the legislation is only now before the House. People have had to wait all that time to receive their increase. We know that payments will be made retrospective to 1 September, but these people who have been receiving long term compensation have been unjustly treated for a considerable period because of the lack of action on the part of the present Government. The present Commonwealth Compensation Act is way behind some of the more advanced State Acts in the rates at present applying in the field of compensation. I know a number of people who are on long term compensation and who have responsibilities. The amounts they have been receiving have not allowed them to live decently and the result has been that their wives have had to take a job. Of course, once a wife takes a job she is no longer a dependant. This means that the allowance for the wife drops away and the compensation recipient loses some of the benefit. There is another point which should be raised. Payments to people in receipt of compensation should be indexed. As I mentioned earlier, we have been waiting 2 years for these amounts to be adjusted. In that time wages have been indexed, although I cannot tell the House off-hand the total percentage increases involved. Yet payments to people in receipt of compensation have stood still. This indicates the need for compensation payments to be indexed so that at least they retain their value. It appears that we have to wait 12 months before any government makes adjustments. Why should this be so? Social security payments have been indexed and tied to the consumer price index. Let us compare the case of a person on compensation with that of a person off work on sick pay. If an indexation rise takes place the increase is added to the sick pay, but that is not the case with a compensation payment. Therefore there is a strong argument for compensation payments to beindexed as other payments are. I happen to represent the majority of employees of an Australian Government instrumentality, the Australian National Railways. The work of most of these employees makes them more accident prone than many other Commonwealth workers. The great majority of the people I refer to are manual workers. They are tradesmen such as drivers, fettlers, shunters and guards. These people are more likely to have accidents than people in other classifications. We would probably find that in that instrumentality the percentage of people involved in accidents is higher than in other government departments. Consider employees engaged in shunting operations on the railway. They are accident prone because of the nature of the work. One little mistake and a leg or an arm has gone, and so forth. People engaged in track maintenance, track construction and so forth, and heavy lifting are more accident prone because of the heavy nature of the work. Another anomaly I want to mention relates to lump sum payments. The amount paid is the amount applying at the time of a person's death. In many cases when a person dies on the job as the result of an accident the compensation claim is disputed. It may take a couple of years for the claim to be settled. If and when the claim is settled, often after an appeal has been heard, the rate paid is the rate that applied at the time the accident happened. One particular group wrote to me about a case that it was fighting and perhaps I should quote from the letter. It states: >For some time now we have been concerned about the anomalous situation whereby lump sum compensation payments are paid at the rate applying at the time of injury or death rather than the rate applying at the time when payments are actually made. To illustrate the enormity of the anomaly, I set down the changes in the lump sum payments for death since 1972 - > >2.1 1.72- $14,500 > >16.11.74-$20.000 > >1.9.76-$25,000 > >My Association has been assisting a deceased member's widow- with 3 dependent children- with her legal representation after her husband died in November 1973. The loss in real money terms is significant and has exacerbated the *Seamen's Compensation Bill* 6 December 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 3353 hardship which she has experienced, Le., assuming she is successful she will only receive $14,300 at a time when the benefit is being updated to $25,000. I have been involved in another case in which the husband was killed in circumstances such that the commissioner did not feel inclined to pay at the time. The widow subsequently appealed and I understand she won her appeal. Although this happened over 18 months ago, if the appeal is upheld the widow will be paid at the rate which applied then and not at the current rate. She will be paid $20,000 instead of $25,000. Let us consider the anomaly applying in that case. That woman was living in a home provided by the Australian National Railways. When her husband died she was required to vacate that home. She was not thrown out of it on to the street but when she was asked to vacate the home she did so immediately and went to live in a caravan with her children. If she had been paid out immediately or not long after the accident, possibly she would have had a fair part of the purchase price of a home but now, 18 months or so later, she will be paid at the lower rate of $20,000, and will be in a less favourable position to try to settle her financial affairs. There is one other point that I would like to make about Commonwealth compensation. I realise that the facilities of the Department of Social Security are made available to people for rehabilitation, but I think the Department should go a bit further. On many occasions people who sustain a major injury such as the loss of a leg and so forth cannot carry on thennormal work. In lots of cases they finish up in lower paid jobs. Although they may receive a lump sum payment in the form of compensation, that payment really does not compensate them for the loss. I feel that something should be done to rehabilitate these people not only physically but also educationally so that persons who had been injured and who had lost the ability to earn the money that they were earning in their former occupation can be given some educational assistance, as well as compensation, to allow them to upgrade their education so they can be retrained for other work. I feel that this is very belated legislation. It is not the Government's credit that it has taken so long to introduce the legislation. I remember asking a question on this matter of the Minister for Health, representing the Minister for Social Security, when the session started, because I was personally involved with a number of people on long term compensation. They had been in receipt of $57 a week for a man and the smaller amount for the dependants. Whilst we are not opposing the legislation, I feel that the points I have raised should be taken into consideration. Some attempt should be made to index the compensation payments. Further consideration should be given to the amount that is paid in the case of the death of an employee and there is a bit of a delay in the payment of the compensation. I think it should be paid at the rate applying at the time of payment and not at the rate applying when the unfortunate accident happened. {: #subdebate-42-0-s1 .speaker-GH4} ##### Mr HUNT:
Minister for Health · Gwydir · NCP/NP -- in reply- I thank the honourable member for Grey **(Mr Wallis)** and the honourable member for Canberra **(Mr Haslem)** for their contribution to this debate. They raised points on the indexation or automatic adjustments of payments of compensation benefits. The Department of Social Security has been authorised to investigate the question of automatic adjustments of compensation benefits. A number of options are available to the Government to achieve this, and they are currently under consideration. The honourable member for Grey has been very interested in this matter, as I well know. I have taken a note of the points he raised. I will convey them to the Minister for Social Security **(Senator Guilfoyle).** He also made a point that I think is worthy of some consideration, and that is the question of the time that people have to wait for lump sum compensation, particularly wives of deceased Commonwealth employees. This matter of concern is one that I will also convey to the Minister. In respect of the question of retrospectivity, it has been consistent Government policy in recent years that compensation increases should not be made retrospective. The previous Government also adopted this policy. It should be mentioned that in 1954 the new rates of compensation under the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act were introduced into Parliament on 9 April 1954, and provision was made for them to apply retrospectively to 1 January 1954. On that occasion the Government had given an undertaking to introduce the amendments in 1953, but introduction of the legislation had been delayed because of the sudden ending of the parliamentary session in 1953. However, on that occasion the Government was returned to office following the election. It is relevant that the precedent was set 22 years ago, and successive governments since that time have not regarded themselves as being bound by it. The increase now being made is retrospective to 1 September 1976. The honourable member for Canberra raised a point to which I think I should reply, and that is This Bill brings the Seamen's Compensation Act into line with the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act in 3 important areas. Firstly, clause 3 removes the $1,000 limit on medical benefits. Secondly, clause 6 removes from the Act the time limit on proceeding for damages. Thirdly, clause 8 sub-clause (1) introduces benefits for student children aged 16 to 21 years. The Department of Social Security will shortly be opening discussions with interested parties in the shipping industry on the question of reviewing the Seamen's Compensation Act with a view to extending the compensation code for Commonwealth employees to seamen. I think those are the main points that need to be answered. I thank once again the honourable member for Canberra, the honourable member for Swan **(Mr Martyr)** and the honourable member for Grey for the interest that they have shown in this matter. I will convey to the Minister for Social Security the points that the honourable member for Grey raised most recently in this debate. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {:#subdebate-42-1} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Hunt)** read a third time. {:#subdebate-42-2} #### Second Reading Consideration resumed from 30 November, on motion by **Mr Hunt:** >That the Bill be now read a secondtime. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {:#subdebate-42-3} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Hunt)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3355 {:#debate-43} ### UNITED STATES NAVAL COMMUNICATION STATION (CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES) AMENDMENT BILL 1976 {:#subdebate-43-0} #### Second Reading Consideration resumed from 30 November, on motion by **Mr Hunt:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {:#subdebate-43-1} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Mr Hunt)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3355 {:#debate-44} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-44-0} #### Currency Devaluation Motion ( by **Mr Hunt)** proposed: >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-44-0-s0 .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE:
Chifley -- I think that most people are aware that fortunes have been made and are being made as a result of the devaluation of the currency. I raised the issue at question time, I think last Thursday, as to how much the Prime Minister **(Mr Malcolm Fraser),** in view of his grazing interest, would have made out of devaluation, but he declined to answer the question. Accordingly I thought I would do a little research as to the sort of interest he has in the grazing field. I have a document dated November of last year, so what I will read to the House goes back to November of last year. I think it is very important that we look at this document because it is well known that it was the Prime Minister's personal decision on the devaluation of the currency. The Treasurer **(Mr Lynch)** himself and the Treasury were opposed - *Seamen's Compensation Bill* 6 December 1976 REPRESENTATIVES 3355 {: .speaker-JRD} ##### Mr Bourchier: -- I rise to order. Is it correct than this member for Chifley can make comments against the Prime Minister and cast aspersions on the decision that was made by the whole Government and not by him personally and then for the honourable member to start a personal attack on the Prime Minister's own particular financial situation? **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!** {: .speaker-JRD} ##### Mr Bourchier: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** I think that if an honourable member is prepared to stand up - {: #subdebate-44-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! There is no point of order. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE: -- I made the point that it is well known that the decision was made by the Prime Minister personally, not by the Treasurer and not even recommended by the Treasury and accordingly the question of pecuniary interest does arise. {: .speaker-JRD} ##### Mr Bourchier: -- I take a point of order. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE: -- Right, from now on points of order will be taken against every speaker from the other side of the House. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! I think it would help if the House came to order. I would suggest to the honourable member that his point of order must be valid. {: .speaker-JRD} ##### Mr Bourchier: -- Thank you, **Mr Deputy Speaker.** I think it is quite valid. The honourable member for Chifley made a statement that the decision was not made by anybody else but the Prime Minister. That is not a correct statement. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The honourable member knows that that is not a point of order. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE: -- I wish to quote a few points from the document. The document speaks of 'Malcolm Fraser, in his own phrase a couple of months ago, is only "average wealthy".' {: .speaker-JRD} ##### Mr Bourchier: -- I rise to order. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** this is a deliberate attempt to stop me from speaking in this House. The honourable member who does that - {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! I have twice said that the points raised by the honourable member for Bendigo in respect of a comment by the honourable member for Chifley are not points of order. {: .speaker-JRD} ##### Mr Bourchier: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** I think that you will agree with me that it is a rule of this House that an honourable member cannot refer to another honourable member by his Christian names and surname. Honourable members have to be referred to by their ministerial rank or electorates. The honourable gentleman has referred to the Prime Minister as Malcolm Fraser. He should be referred to as the Prime Minister or the right honourable member for Wannon. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! That is so unless an honourable member is quoting from a newspaper or report which mentions a member of parliament by his Christian name and surname. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr ARMITAGE: -Of course, the Fraser family has the *Nareen* property. The document states: >The Fraser family acumen is better displayed in the operation of the Nareen enterprise by two separate legal entities which give it tax advantages, and by the Fraser links with Rupert James ('Dick ') Hamer, Victorian premier and skilled solicitor. > >The land and buildings are owned by Fraser Properties Pty Ltd, by now a well publicised entity. On 30 June 1974 its land and buildings stood at $640,683 and other fixed assets at $3,350. It showed a net profit of $480 after tax and paid a dividend of $430. In other words, tax dodging. The document goes on: >The profits of Fraser Properties in 1974- and even less its accumulated losses since incorporation in 1 966 - {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: -- I rise to order. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! In spite of the interjections which have made it a little difficult to hear completely what the honourable member for Chifley was saying. On the basis of what I have heard I would remind the honourable member that under Standing Orders all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members are considered highly disorderly. I do not think that the honourable member for Chifley directly made an inference, except at one point where he used the phrase 'tax dodging' which could be considered to be a reflection. I would also say to the honourable member that there were implications in some of his remarks which I think would have gone fairly close to transgressing the Standing Orders. I would suggest that in future the honourable member might give consideration to that aspect. {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: -- My point of order was under standing order 76 with respect to the disgraceful remarks of the honourable member for Chifley. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr Scholes: -- I rise to order. The honourable gentleman is doing exactly that on which he takes a point of order. He is imputing improper motives to the honourable member for Chifley and I would suggest that he ought to be required to withdraw that remark. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The honourable member for Denison raised a point of order and cited a standing order. I would assume that in raising the point of order he left it to the Chair to decide as to whether that point of order should be upheld. {: .speaker-5J4} ##### Mr Scholes: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** in raising the point of order the honourable member for Denison made comment about the honourable member for Chifley which was, in fact, exactly in line with the point of order you had ruled on, in that he imputed motives to a member of this Elace. I would suggest that the honourable memer ought to be made to withdraw the remark he made in respect of the honourable member for Chifley. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- I might have made a mistake, but as I understand it I thought that the honourable member said that the point of order that he had intended to raise was along the lines of the ruling and the decision that I had given. I was not aware of the fact that there was an imputation in what the honourable member for Denison said- that there was a personal reflection in respect of the honourable member for Chifley. {: .speaker-JM9} ##### Mr Armitage: -- I rise to order. The honourable member referred to the disgraceful remarks of the honourable member for Chifley. As such that is a reflection upon myself. The honourable member for Bendigo **(Mr Bourchier)** took a point of order on this very matter and, like the honourable member for Corio who is leading for our side, I think the comments should be withdrawn. {: .speaker-LE4} ##### Mr Baume: -- M r Deputy Speaker - {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: {: .speaker-LE4} ##### Mr Baume: -- I am sorry. Have you ruled on that point of order, **Mr Deputy** Speaker? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- I have not ruled on the point of order. {: .speaker-LE4} ##### Mr Baume: -- I thought that your silence was a comment on it. {: .speaker-KVQ} ##### Mr Sullivan: -- Can we get a ruling on whether he is a rabbit? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! I would suggest that the House come to order. We might then be able to get a ruling on this question. The honourable member for Denison used remarks in respect of the honourable member for Chifley which, as far as I can recall, have been used in this House before. In the circumstances I might suggest to the honourable member for Denison that he withdraw the words 'disgraceful remark'. {: .speaker-BV4} ##### Mr Hodgman: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** out of respect to you, but not to him, I withdraw the remarks. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! I would hope that the House might come to order and that certain things that may be happening in this place will not contribute to interjections that may be completely uncalled for during the rest of the week. I call the honourable member for Macarthur. {: #subdebate-44-0-s2 .speaker-LE4} ##### Mr BAUME:
Macarthur **-Mr Deputy Speaker,** the forms of the House appear to me to have been sadly abused - {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The House stands adjourned until 2.15 p.m. tomorrow. House adjourned at 11 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 December 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.