31st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Item 6469 of the standard Medical Benefits Table is the means by which payment is made for the slaughter of thousands of unborn babies every year.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government should ensure that Item 6469 is removed from the standard Medical Benefits Table.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Dobie, Dr Edwards and Mr Haslem.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to renew for a further term of at least 3 years the States Grants (Dwellings for Pensioners) Act 1974-77, renewed for one year expiring on 30 June 1 978.
The demand for dwellings has not slackened as the waiting list (all States) of 12,060 single and 4,120 couples as at 30 June 1977 showeth.
Your petitioners respectfully draw the attention of the Commonwealth Government to the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Aged Persons’ Housing 1975 under the Chairmanship of the Reverend K. Seaman (now the Governor of South Australia) which recommended additional funds to State housing authorities to meet the demand for low-rental accommodation in the proportion of $4 for $ 1 with the proviso that the States do not reduce their existing expenditure and
That the Act include married pensioners eligible for supplementary assistance and migrants as specified by the Seaman Report and that particular consideration be paid to the special needs and requirements of the prospective tenants in the location and design of such dwellings.
Furthermore, your petitioners desire to draw the Government’s attention to the hardship of many pensioner home owners caused by the high cost of maintenance.
The Social Security Annual Report 1 976-77 shows that 24.6 per cent, or 283,000 home owning pensioners, have a weekly income in excess of the pension of less than $6 per week.
Your petitioners strongly urge the Commonwealth Government to establish a fund whereby loans can be made to means tested pensioners for the purpose of effecting necessary maintenance to their homes. Such a loan to be at minimal interest rates sufficient to cover administrative costs and to be repaid by the estate upon the death of a single pensioner before probate or upon the death of the surviving spouse in the case of married pensioners or where two pensioners jointly own the dwelling.
Administration to be carried out by local government bodies.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Dr Edwards and Mr Morris.
To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Fry.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State Governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not introduced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Morris.
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned members and ex-members of the Citizens Forces of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your Honourable House take appropriate action to resume the award of the several distinctive Reserve Forces Decorations and Medals for Long Service and Good Conduct to members of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, Army Reserve (C.M.F.) and the R.A.A.F. Citizens Air Force. by Mr Shipton.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the citizens of Australia totally reject communism and call upon the Government to:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Shipton.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Ballarat respectfully showeth:
That we express concern and disgust at the pornography in our cinemas, on television and in the printed media. This pornography, through its encouragement of a permissive society, is leading to an increase in crimes of violence, including murder and rape.
That the Australian Broadcasting Commission should not be permitted to screen the television series SOAP.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Mr Short.
– I inform the House that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) leaves Australia today for discussions in New York, London, Paris and Bonn. He is expected to return on 19 June. During his absence I shall act as Prime Minister. I also inform the House that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) left Australia yesterday to represent the Government at the Western Samoa independence celebrations. He is expected to return on 5 June. During his absence the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley) will act as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister. The Minister for
Productivity (Mr Macphee) will represent the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) in this chamber.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister and refers to the speech concerning further Federal public spending cuts, read on behalf of the suspended Minister for Finance on Monday night. Apart from the serious effect this would have of increasing unemployment, will the Acting Prime Minister give an assurance that the Labor Government initiated improvements in the fields of social security and education will not join health in being further eroded by the Government in the forthcoming Budget? Will he say definitely that pensions will continue to be indexed, that the means test will not be imposed on those who are over 70, that the allowable income for those pensioners who are under 70 will be indexed, that family allowances will not continue to lessen in real terms and that education expenditure will continue to be maintained in real terms?
-I have no intention of commenting on the way in which the Commonwealth Government will structure its next Budget. I should have thought that a wise Opposition member would have been very cautious in making any reference to budgets brought forward by the Labor Government- budgets which were absolutely disastrous for this country.
– My question to the Treasurer concerns branch profits tax. I refer to an announcement on 4 November last by the then Minister Assisting the Treasurer that the Government intended to introduce an additional branch profits tax on non-resident companies deriving taxable income in Australia. I ask the Treasurer: What developments have occurred since that announcement? Can he advise the House when the necessary legislation will be introduced?
– I can confirm that the Government will be proceeding with the introduction of a branch profits tax as foreshadowed in the statement made by the then Minister Assisting the Treasurer in November of last year. The purpose of the tax is to give broad equality of treatment as between companies which operate in Australia through subsidiaries and companies which operate as branches. Since the statement was made by my colleague in November of last year the Government has given detailed consideration to the form that the branch profits tax should take. It has received a number of representations from interested parties.
The current intention is to introduce the legislation dealing with the branch profits tax before the House rises but not for the purpose of passage during this session. There will therefore be an opportunity for those interested in the legislation and those affected by it to consider the terms of the legislation, and the Government naturally will give further consideration to representations that might be made about the detail and the mechanics of the tax. I can inform the House of the firm decision of the Government in principle to proceed with the branch profits tax upon the basis that there should be broad equality -
– This session?
– The current intention is to introduce but not to pass the legislation during this session. I simply confirm to the House that we will be proceeding with the tax upon the basis that there should be broad equality of treatment between companies operating through subsidiaries and companies operating as branches.
– I ask a question of the Acting Prime Minister. I remind him that when serious allegations were made against the former Minister for Post and Telecommunications, the former Treasurer and the Minister for Finance they all were required to withdraw from ministerial duties. I ask why the Government does not apply the same principle to the Minister for Administrative Services.
-The Leader of the Opposition will recall that the whole purpose of the Royal Commission was to investigate charges and allegations made against the Minister for Finance. The Commission was set up to look into those allegations. Because people might become involved during the course of the inquiry that is taking place it does not mean that they will be asked to step aside. If Ministers are requested to submit themselves to that inquiry, it certainly is not the intention of the government that they should automatically stand aside from duty.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs. Recently the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs advertised in the Press for commissioners for the Industries Assistance Commission, the first occasion on which such a thing has happened. Intending applicants had less than two weeks from the time of the first advertisement in which to submit their names for consideration. I ask the Minister: What is the position concerning the present six commissioners whose terms are due to expire later this year? Are they eligible for reappointment- as the advertisement in respect of the new commissioners indicates- and will their names and experience be considered automatically, or should they formally apply for reappointment? Have the existing commissioners been informed of the situation?
– I am grateful to the honourable member for Lyne for raising this question. I and the Government regard the positions of commissioners on the Industries Assistance Commission as being of the utmost importance. It is because of this that the decision was taken on this occasion to advertise the positions that will become available in the next few months. I took the view- I have the support of the Government in this regard- that the best available people should be obtained for these positions. The honourable member asked whether the current commissioners would be eligible for consideration if they apply for the positions. The answer is, of course, yes. Those commissioners whose terms are about to expire can apply in the ordinary way. The alternative for me as Minister would have been to give consideration to those people who I considered might be suitable for reappointment or to fill vacancies and simply to make recommendations, as the responsible Minister, to the Government. I believe that the positions are far too important for that process to be followed. For that reason the advertisements have been placed in newspapers throughout Australia.
The honourable member referred to what he described as the short period of time for interested people to apply for the jobs. I am advised that a large number of people have already applied so that would indicate that the time available has been sufficient. I am not aware of the precise nature of the information that has been conveyed to existing commissioners but I understand that the Chairman of the Commission would have indicated to the retiring commissioners that they are eligible for consideration. I have arranged for a three-man committee to be established upon which the Chairman of the Industries Assistance Commission will sit. The members of that committee will have the responsibility of interviewing the applicants and recommending to me a short list which I will ultimately take to Cabinet. I give an assurance that this matter will be dealt with extremely carefully, firstly by the committee, then by me and ultimately by the Cabinet. The intention and desire of the Government are to ensure that those commissioners who are appointed to the IAC will be the best people available in Australia to fill those positions and that they will bring to the Commission a wide range of experience.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to the question I just asked. Is it not a fact that the terms of reference of the Royal Commission into the alleged electorate malpractices have been expanded for the second but perhaps not the last time? Is it a fart that those expanded terms of reference do not cover the serious allegation that the Minister for Administrative Services has misled the Parliament? Will the Government require the Minister for Administrative Services to stand down, as it required the former Minister for Post and Telecommunications to leave the Ministry, the former Treasurer to leave the Ministry and the current Minister for Finance to stand down from the Ministry when similar serious allegations were made against them? If it is not the intention of the Government to do so would he care to explain the inconsistency of practice on the part of government in this matter?
-The Government has extended the terms of reference of the inquiry on the basis of legal advice given to it so that it can make appropriate findings on evidence that has been revealed at the inquiry. My previous answer to the honourable member clearly explained to him that the Government has no intention of asking any Minister to stand aside while the present inquiry into allegations that have been made against the honourable member for McPherson is taking place. To save the Leader of the Opposition valuable time in relation to asking questions or to save him from further frustration, I tell him that I have no intention of making any comment relating to those matters being investigated by the commission.
– I address my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the Australian delegation to the International Whaling Commission’s meeting in London next month, and I ask the Minister whether the Government proposes to provide financial support to the conservation group Project Jonah to enable the group to have an observer on the delegation? Is the Government aware that the representative chosen by Project Jonah is not an Australian citizen? If so, does the Government still intend to provide financial assistance to Project Jonah?
– As the honourable gentleman would know, the Government is concerned to ensure that there is a full and adequate opportunity of inquiring into the circumstances of the whaling industry and has appointed Mr Justice Frost as the head of a commission for that purpose. The concept of participation within the International Whaling Commission, therefore, of representatives both from the whaling industry, on the one hand, and from environmental groups on the other, is designed to try to ensure that there should be an adequate opportunity for consideration of the Australian point of view. There should also be within that delegation an opportunity for His Honour Mr Justice Frost to participate and to consider the nature and character of the International Whaling Commission and the conservation practices for which it was constituted.
It has been brought to my attention that the representative to be sent on behalf of Project Jonah, the environmental group concerned, is in fact neither an Australian citizen nor an Australian resident. In view of the fact that that representative is going at Commonwealth cost and with the idea of representing Australian industry, I have written to the organisation to ask it whether it is aware of those circumstances and intimating to the organisation that I would have thought it preferable that at least an Australian resident should attend on its behalf. However, I should say that on other occasions nonAustralian nationals have represented Australia at international conferences. But in this situation where through the circumstances of a public inquiry we are attempting to identify an Australian attitude, I would have hoped that Australians could have been the persons participating rather than those from overseas, and indeed the more so when the person concerned is not even a resident of this country.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a further question supplementary to those which I have already asked him. I ask him to recall his last reply to me in which he indicated that no Minister would be required to stand down, presumably no matter how serious the allegation, during the course of the current Royal Commission inquiry into electorate malpractice. I ask the Acting Prime Minister why then, to be consistent, does the Government not restore the Minister for Finance to the Ministry?
– My only comment to the series of questions that the Leader of the Opposition has been asking is that he is a rather slow learner. If he has not been able to comprehend my answers to his questions, I would be quite happy to supply him with a copy of them. As for my previous remarks, I have no intention of making any further comment. There is no inconsistency whatsoever in the Government’s attitude in relation to Ministers having to stand aside.
– My question to the Treasurer concerns the Foreign Takeovers Act and the guidelines for administering that Act. Does the Treasurer agree with recent reported comments by a lawyer from the CRA group at a conference in Brisbane last week that the present Act and guidelines act as a disincentive to further Australian ownership? What matters does the Treasurer take into account in determining who has actual control of a company for purposes of the foreign takeovers legislation? What factors does he consider in determining what is the national interest under that legislation and the guidelines?
– My attention has been drawn to the remarks to which the honourable gentleman referred. I think it is fair to say that there is a fair range of views as to the impact of the existing legislation and guidelines so far as the process of Australianisation of companies is concerned. I should inform the honourable gentleman that, consistent with its view that legislation and guidelines in the foreign investment area should be kept under constant review to ensure that anomalies and disabilities in that legislation are removed, the Government has had under consideration some possible relaxation of the foreign investment guidelines but not the foreign takeovers legislation. This relaxation would be designed to remove some of the disabilities that might exist for companies in which there is some local shareholding. There is a view that some companies in which there is a majority overseas shareholding as well as a not insignificant local shareholding are disadvantaged under the existing foreign investment guidelines. As a result some proposals were developed by the Government to deal with that general area. Those proposals were the subject of discussions involving the Acting Prime Minister and me and a representative group of companies yesterday and the matter is the subject of further consideration by the Government.
I should inform the honourable gentleman and the House that the purpose of the Government ‘s deliberations in this area is to relax but not to undermine in any way the essential features of the Government’s foreign investment policy. We have in mind the removal of possible anomalies and possible disincentives, whilst recognising the importance of the principles on which our foreign investment policy is based. Turning to the question of the national interest so far as the operation of the foreign investment policy is concerned, I remind the honourable gentleman that my predecessor outlined in 1976 the details of the Government’s foreign investment policy. In that statement there were a large number of principles which the Treasurer is required to take into account in reaching a decision in respect of recommendations made to him by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Beyond referring the honourable gentleman to the details of that statement, I can only say that one has to make a judgment on the circumstances of each case. The honourable gentleman asked me what the Foreign Takeovers Act says about control. I refer him to the specific provisions of the Act. Broadly speakuig, control under that legislation involves the capacity to determine the major policy decisions of a company. The question of whether control passes in a particular situation is a matter which has to be determined in accordance with the particular circumstances.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and arises from a request made to me this morning. It refers to the disappearance of an Australian citizen, Kevin Wilson, from the ship Felix Dzerzhinsky in the vicinity of Noumea last Wednesday. What are the details of the search operations in respect of the missing man? Is it a fact that there is a large number of small uninhabitated islands capable of supporting life in the vicinity of where he disappeared? If so, has a search been made of those islands?
– It is tragically true that in spite of the advances in science and technology people still disappear at sea. This case is most unfortunate. It would seem that Mr Kevin John Wilson has been reported lost overboard from the cruise ship, Felix Dzerzhinsky. It seems that the vessel was cruising in the vicinity of Noumea, in the South Pacific. Mr Wilson was reported to have been seen on deck about 30 miles from Noumea at 6 a.m. on 24 May last. He was not reported as missing until the ship sailed for Vila at 5 p.m. that same day. In that area there are several small islands many of which, if inhabited, are not inhabited throughout the island.
It is quite possible that Mr Wilson could be somewhere on one of those islands. However, it would be foolish to hold out rash hopes to the family of Mr Wilson, as I am advised that thorough searches were conducted both in Noumea and on the ship but that no trace of Mr Wilson has been found. The authorities in Noumea, I am told, are reported to presume that Mr Wilson had fallen overboard before the ship arrived in Noumea. Inquiries are continuing. Contact has been made with the Soviet Embassy concerning the case. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the Department of Foreign Affairs will certainly keep Mr Wilson’s family informed of any developments.
-Is the Acting Prime Minister aware of a statement that Tasmania would be better in Canada under the Canadian system of federation? In view of the wide-spread criticism of this statement, especially among people who are loyal Tasmanians first and loyal Australians second, will the Acting Prime Minister indicate whether there is any truth in this statement or whether it is just another attempt to knock the Government, by a man who is a long way away at the moment?
-I take a point of order. Where does the Acting Prime Minister come into this?
-The question of CommonwealthState relations is a matter for which the Prime Minister is responsible.
– I take a point of order. The Acting Prime Minister cannot be responsible for the remarks that were made and, fortunately for the Canadians, is not responsible for Canada. I do not think he knows anything about that subject. Why should he answer?
-The Acting Prime Minister, fortunately, is not responsible for the honourable member for Wills, either.
– I can well understand how surprised the honourable member for Wills will be to know that I am well informed on this question, by various means. I think it is fair to make the remark that the Premier of Tasmania, when he made this comment in Canada, was relating Nova Scotia to the Canadian federal system of government. He said that the problems of Nova Scotia in some ways were similar to the problems of Tasmania, in relation to its small population and economy, its dependence on forestry and fishing, and the increasing emphasis in that area on tourism.
I think it is also fair to say that the Commonwealth Government is not unaware of the problems of Tasmania. Certainly the honourable member for Franklin has not been backward in highlighting at all times the difficulties and problems there and the need to integrate Tasmania more and more with the mainland. The Government adopted a 10-point plan as a result of the Callaghan report. I believe that the implementation of that 10-point plan will be of great benefit to Tasmania. If the Premier of Tasmania made those remarks without having properly considered them I think it would be unfortunate. It would display that the Premier is a man who is finding the responsibilities of office and the difficulties of office just too much for him to be able to cope.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. I refer him to the recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council that a national repository be established for the storage of hazardous long-lived radioactive waste produced in Australia. Can the Minister inform the House whether the Government is giving consideration to the establishment of such a repository in the Australian Capital Territory? Has any State suggested to the Commonwealth that a national radioactive waste repository be established in the Australian Capital Territory? Will the residents of the Australian Capital Territory be given an opportunity to express their views on whether the Australian Capital Territory should become the nation’s garbage dump for radioactive waste?
– I am well aware of the recommendation by the National Health and Medical Research Council on the need for a repository for radioactive waste, which would include, for instance, by-products oi radioactive medical pharmaceuticals. Legislation in relation to the Australian Capital Territory is currently being drafted. I understand that action has been taken in the Northern Territory to draft legislation to make proper provision for the storage of radioactive waste in the Northern Territory. I am not aware of any approach by any Staje to make the Australian Capital Territory a durrVping ground. I will make inquiries, however, to see whether such a proposal has been made to my Department or officially to the Government. It would be rather extraordinary if any State were to expect the national capital, the Australian Capital Territory, to become a dumping ground for State radioactive waste.
-Will the Minister for Transport ensure that the program of work on the southern freeway through Dapto in my electorate, already agreed to by the Federal and State governments, is not reduced in next year’s road fund allocations so that residents of the Macarthur electorate can receive the benefit of the already heavy federal investment in the freeway? Has the Minister read a letter, which was circulated to Labor Party members of the New South Wales Parliament in the Wollongong area, dated 17 April 1978 and written by the New South Wales Minister for Transport, Mr Cox, to the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Wran, outlining a proposed reduction of planned work on the southern freeway through Dapto? Would the stopping of new work on the southern freeway as outlined in Mr Cox’s letter, enable the New South Wales Government to divert federal road funds out of the Macarthur electorate and into the State seat of Corrimal which is presently held for the Labor Party by the Speaker in the New South Wales Parliament?
-I have read the letter that the honourable member mentioned in his question and it certainly carries some disturbing implications. Before we jump to hasty conclusions about the expenditure programs proposed by the New South Wales Government I must say that no proposals have yet been submitted to me. Despite the terms of the letter, it is possible that the New South Wales Minister for Transport still intends to maintain the expenditure program on the southern freeway, the road which is of concern to the honourable member. I am therefore not able to make an absolute judgment on what the implications of the letter are. Whilst one can come to the hasty conclusion that this looks like pork barrelling of the worst type, I cannot come to that ultimate conclusion until I see exactly what programs are proposed by the New South Wales Minister for Transport. When the program is received, I shall, of course, have a look at it to see whether or not there is any transfer of funds or an appearance of transfer of funds against expenditure on last year’s program from the southern freeway to the northern distributor. If such a transfer occurs, I shall let the honourable member know.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I remind him that on 2 May I asked him a question in relation to an in-depth analysis of, or a prepared paper showing, the short term and long term implications for the Australian economy in relation to uranium mining and export. The Treasurer, in his reply, intimated that he would make inquiries as to whether Treasury was making such inquiries. I point out to the Minister that I asked that question almost a month ago and therefore he has had at least that time to make such inquiries. I now ask the Treasurer: Has Treasury made that in-depth analysis? Has Treasury prepared a paper showing the short and long term implications for the economy resulting from uranium mining and export?
-I acknowledge that I did give that undertaking. I accept that I probably did so on about 2 May. I apologise to the honourable gentleman for the fact that he has not had a response by now. I shall see that he gets one today.
-I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister concerning the Federal Government’s fuel equalisation scheme. I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he can tell the House why it is necessary to make special arrangements to enable the Government’s country fuel subsidy scheme to operate in New South Wales in the foreseable future?
-The Government made a commitment that it would reintroduce the fuel price equalisation scheme which was abolished by the Labor Administration. We made a commitment that that scheme would commence in the first six months of this year. Arrangements have been made with the States to have the scheme commence from 1 June, but this will require appropriate legislation to be passed in the various States. The States of Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have passed that legislation, but it has not been passed in New South Wales. In order to help Mr Wran and to give the people in New South Wales the benefits of an equalisation scheme to apply from 1 June, arrangements were made with the New South Wales Government so that if it were to finance the scheme immediately, we would repay that State Government for the amount of money it had to outlay until its legislation was passed. I am hoping that similar arrangements might be made for Tasmania and South Australia, which likewise have not passed legislation.
Mr James having addressed a question to the Acting Prime Minister-
-Order! The honourable gentleman is out of order. The Acting Prime Minister has no responsibility for any writings of Mr Don Chipp.
– I am asking his opinion about it, sir.
-That makes the question doubly out of order.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a report that at least half of all adult Vietnamese arriving in Darwin have traces of tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease which had virtually been arrested in Australia before the influx of the boat people? What are the health screening arrangements for these refugees?
– I thank the honourable member for the question. The incidence of tuberculosis in South East Asian countries is a great deal higher than in Australia. Refugees who have been admitted could be expected to reflect this situation. The refugees arriving in Darwin are all fully clinically examined and X-rays are taken. It is true that some of the Vietnamese children show high positive reactions to skin tests and this could result later in a breakdown of the disease. Details of all the refugees arriving in Darwin are sent to the State Directors of Health in the southern capitals. So a record is being kept on all the refugees as to their state of health and their risk as tuberculosis carriers.
If refugees are shown to have a high positive reaction they are placed under treatment for a period of one year. This is the normal treatment applied to Australians who have a high positive skin reaction. The Department is well aware of the very serious problems in respect of tuberculosis and the possibility of increasing the incidence of the disease in Australia. It is taking every possible step, through increasing surveillance and the provision of adequate medical officers, to ensure that we keep this disease under control in Australia following the influx of refugees. We are very mindful of the problem but I assure the honourable member that we have the matter well and truly in hand at present.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. It concerns the homes savings grant scheme which was reintroduced by the Government in 1976. Is it a fact that the committee of review on continuing expenditure in 1973 referred to the obvious inequities and the ease with which the scheme can be exploited and raised real doubts as to the merits of its continuance? Is it a fact that a review is being carried out by the Government of the Homes Savings Grant Scheme? Is it also a fact that the review has established that the bulk of the funds distributed under the scheme have gone or will go to people in the higher income brackets? Would the Minister agree that in practice this scheme conflicts with the objective of the Government, as stated in the Minister’s second reading speech on the Housing Assistance Bill, that its housing policies were designed to encourage home ownership -
-The honourable gentleman will come to his question.
-The Minister stated that the Government’s housing policies were designed to encourage home ownership across the widest range of income groups, concentrating federal assistance in areas of greatest need. In the interests of open government, will the Minister provide members of the House with an analysis?
-Order? The honourable gentleman will ask his question and cease arguing the issue. I give him one more opportunity.
– The question essentially is this: Is it a fact that such a review is being carried out? Will the Minister make available the results of the review so that the House can determine whether what is contained in the question is accurate?
– I am very pleased that the honourable member has mentioned this scheme. I believe that it is one of the very great achievements of this Government. The new scheme which the Government introduced is proving to be highly successful. At present applications are being made at the rate of about 1 ,300 each week. That indicates the popularity of the scheme. It is a scheme which rewards people, especially young people, who work hard and save money. I think that is a great thing. In other words, it is an incentive scheme. At present, as honourable members would realise, the maximum grant paid is $1,333. We expect that about $34m will be spent under the scheme in the current financial year. The scheme is of great assistance to those seeking their first homes and, I might add, to the home building industry. The scheme is assisting in a very real way the Government and the people of Australia to achieve one of the main objectives of the Government, namely, to encourage people to own their own homes.
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Prime Minister, refers to the future of the Duchess phosphate operation in Queensland. Is the Acting Prime Minister aware of the very deep concern being felt, not only in Queensland but also throughout Australia, at the decision by Broken Hill South to close its operations at Duchess and of the implications of this for the future of Australian agriculture?
-Order! The honourable gentleman will come to his question.
-Yes, Mr Speaker. Apart from the inquiry which I understand the Government proposes to conduct into the whole phosphate situation, is any other more urgent action contemplated to try to save the Duchess operation and to make Duchess phosphate available to Australian primary producers at an increasing rate of supply?
– I am well aware of the very great concern of the honourable member for Kennedy who has spoken to me on a number of occasions and made representations on behalf of the unions and those people involved with the Duchess deposit just outside of Mount Isa. I think it is fair to say that the honourable member for Kennedy has been playing a leading role in trying to draw attention to the great significance of these phosphate deposits to Australia as a whole and particularly to the future of Australian agriculture. He was involved in a meeting at Townsville last Tuesday at which all interested parties were brought together to try to find an answer to the problem. The problem which Queensland Phosphate Ltd basically has is to be able to get access to the Australian market; that is, to have its rock phosphate used by the manufacturers of superphosphate who, at the moment, get their supplies from Nauru and Christmas Island.
The other part of the problem relates to the very high freight charges manufacturers have to pay to transport the material from Duchess to Townsville. This freight rate charged by the Queensland Government represents more than half of the total cost of the product itself. So it is quite clear that there are two major problems: One is to be able to compete economically with the price of the rock phosphate from other sources including not only Nauru and Christmas Island but also other parts of the world. If the company is to be able to do that, some arrangements will have to be made regarding the freight cost in Queensland, which I believe to be beyond the capacity of the company to cope with.
Then there is the question of access to the Australian market. I think all of us would like to see part of that production being used in Australia. If that were done manufacturers might integrate their plants so that as sources dry up- the Nauru and Christmas Island sources will do so in the course of time- we will not be held to ransom by other suppliers around the world. These future supplies seem to be limited mainly to North African areas, Morocco being the principal supplier to the world at the moment.
To try to help to get an understanding between the producers of rock phosphate at Duchess and the manufacturers, I have called for a meeting this Friday here in Canberra between the manufacturers of superphosphate, Queensland Phosphate Ltd, and also the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission. The meeting has been called to see whether the difficulties encountered at the moment by manufacturers and the problems of integrating the rock phosphate may be resolved. There is an important need to guarantee to Australian farmers and to manufacturers that at all times there will be reliable guaranteed supplies of rock phosphate at a reasonable price.
So the Commonwealth Government is certainly acting in this area to do what it can. I hope that the Queensland Government will address itself to the freight question to see whether it can help the company, because I think it would be a tragedy, after this company has spent something like $1 15m in exploring and developing the deposit, if it were now to go into liquidation.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether he is aware that community health centres, in carrying out their task of providing primary medical care, have depended heavily upon the ability to bulk bill their patients and doctors being prepared to accept as full payment for their services 85 per cent of the scale fee. Is he aware that the abolition of bulk billing, and the reduction of the rebate from 85 per cent to 75 per cent, virtually threatens the continuance of the present level of service? Is he able to inform the House whether he believes the continuation of this level of service, especially to low income groups, is of importance, and, if so, what alternative arrangements does he propose to make to enable community health services to continue to provide this very important facility?
– I thank the honourable member for his question, which I know would have been inspired by the dilemma confronting the North Richmond Community Health Centre which has a very high clientele- I think is the term used- of refugees and ethnic groups. I saw on a television program last night an example of the way in which bulk billing or assignment forms are filled out before the doctor has even seen the patient. As a matter of interest, that is one of the reasons we have abolished bulk billing. If ever I saw anything blatant it was those patients signing the assignment form before the doctor had even examined them. The doctor would then take the form and sent it off to Medibank. It only confirms my view that that procedure provides a pipeline to the mint. It confirmed my conviction that we should abolish bulk billing for all but pensioners and their dependants. I stress that bulk billing will still apply for pensioners and their dependants.
In respect of ethnic people having difficulty in filling out forms, and so on, I am endeavouring to enter into an arrangement whereby, when the patient receives the doctor’s account at the community health centre, the centre will assist the patient to fill out the form and despatch it to Medibank- it will be Medibank standard in many cases- and the cheque drawn in favor of the doctor can be sent, care of the patient, to the community health centre. Discussions with view to seeing whether this can be done are at present taking place.
With respect to the benefit level, that has yet to be worked out with the Australian Medical Association in respect of pensioners; but in regard to the gap, I would expect that in community health centres, where doctors have chosen to serve the community, doctors would accept 75 per cent of the benefit as payment in full for their services.
– I would like to correct a reply that I gave to the honourable member for Cowper relating the the commencement date for the fuel equalisation scheme in New South Wales. I mentioned that special arrangements had to be made in that State because the New South Wales Government had not passed the relevant legislation. I have just received a note indicating that it is not possible for the New South Wales provisional scheme to operate from 1 June; that it will probably take two weeks for the arrangements to be made.
– The honourable member for Corio has given notice that at the next sitting he will move:
That the Minister for Defence no longer possesses the confidence of the House for his failure to maintain proper ministerial authority of the Department of Defence.
Motion (by Mr Sinclair)- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Corio moving forthwith the motion of want of confidence in the Minister for Defence of which he has given notice for the next sitting.
– I move:
The motion that I have moved is one of the most important and serious that can be moved in respect of any Minister. I do so in all seriousness because I believe it has been amply demonstrated in the last three weeks that the Department of Defence is completely without ministerial authority, does not answer to the Parliament, does not answer to the Minister and fails to deal adequately with any policy matters which properly should be the responsibility of the elected Government and the Parliament of the country. The American plans for new facilities at the North West Cape communications base were made public in the United States 7 months ago. In spite of that the Australian Government was unaware of those intentions until 3 weeks ago when the matter was raised by the Opposition in the Senate. Fifteen months ago, according to information given to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) last week, the matter clearly had become one involving policy considerations. Yet the Minister for Defence had no knowledge whatsoever of the matter only three weeks ago.
Consultations between the United States and the Department of Defence had begun in 1972. Six years later the matter was still concealed within the Department- too sensitive an issue, too secret a matter to be passed on to the Government and the Minister. Clearly the Department of Defence believed in doing nothing which would tamper with the state of ignorance shared by the Government and the Minister. In the Senate the Minister for Administrative Services, Senator Withers, who apparently makes something of a profession of giving misleading answers to questions, made three attempts in two days to answer the first question on this issue put by Senator Button. Confusion did not reign; it poured. First, on 8 May 1978 he had no brief on the subject even though it had been published that morning. Perhaps the Department hoped the issue would not surface or, if it did, would sink quietly, quickly and scarcely noticed. It had not bothered to inform the Prime Minister’s office and the Minister for Defence had not bothered to acquaint himself with the background of such a potentially controversial matter reported that morning for the first time in Australia in the Australian Financial Review.
Later that day Senator Withers rushed back into the fray to report that the Financial Review really referred to a solar observatory at Learmonth and implied that the newspaper story was a concoction of journalistic ignorance and malicious invention. In the sober light of next morning Senator Withers was more circumspect and contrite. He confessed that the brief had been wrong. He disclosed that the Australian Financial Review report referred to a satellite terminal which had been obsolete in 1973 and for which a terminal of the same type was again installed in 1977. Again he was wrong. He was still floundering two days later when he evasively acknowledged that there was much more to the matter than he had so far disclosed or, even more importantly, been aware of. He observed that the improved replacement satellite terminal was under construction in the United States- for 1980-81 but that the matter was yet to reach the level of formal contact on a governmenttogovernment basis. He did not acknowledge that there had been consultations over six years between representative of the United States and the Australian governments. The Minister was not aware of this basic fact; neither was the Defence Minister whom he was representing; nor was the Prime Minister’s office which was briefing him; nor the Cabinet; nor the Ministry. Not one person in the Government of this nation knew what the Department of Defence knew. In fact the consultations moved into a policy area 15 months earlier but still the Department kept the information bottled up behind its own ramparts.
It was incontestable that the Department’s conduct was wrong. The Minister for Defence admits, after persistent questioning, that his Department’s conduct reflects a ‘significant blemish’. Nonsense! The Department behaved improperly and its behaviour was inexcusable. More importantly, it took four days to prize this inadequate explanation out of the Department of Defence. On every one of those four days the Department would have been alert to the fact that this matter had become one of important political concern and was likely to develop further in the event of inadequate information or, worse, misleading advice being supplied to the Parliament. The question to be asked is why did the Department act in this way? Does it consider the Parliament a thicket of fools?
Furthermore, the Department exposed the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), its own Minister and the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) to humiliation before the Parliament- the humiliation of being uninformed, wrongly informed, partly informed, of being misled and of misleading the people ‘s Parliament. On the evidence, it is obvious the Department is out of control. We must ask whether there is a conspiracy within the Department to keep the Government in the dark and feed the Parliament mush.
It is inconceivable that key negotiations, proceeding for Six years, would be unknown to the head of the Department. Obviously, he should have communicated promptly and fully to his Minister the details of the negotiations as soon as the matter became the subject of newspaper reports on 8 May. Instead, it took four days of parliamentary examination before even the semblance of a reliable answer was offered in the Senate. The Minister says, in exoneration of his Department, that ‘it becomes a matter of hard judgment as to when there should be a movement of any issue from a strict technical area into a policy area’. The explanations just are not credible.
The Minster for Defence himself does not emerge with clean hands from this effort to keep the Government and the Parliament in ignorance on an important policy matter. He deserves to sink for pumping up an unwise and unjustified loyalty to his Department at the expense of the credibility of his Government and his responsibility to the Parliament. On 1 1 May He said he had been told ‘informally’ of the United States intentions at North West Cape. ‘Informally’ what does that mean? Does it mean that he picked it up “om a reference in a back number of the Pacific Defence Reporter! The Minister is not credible, on this matter. This was nothing more that a flimsy cover up. Later, on 25 May, he said:
Ten days earlier on the national radio program A.M. he said of the conduct of the United States Government in this matter: . . we were not treated with the proper courtesy.
The United States Ambassador responded by writing to the Defence Minister on 16 May stating:
That was a clear rebuke to the Minister for Defence. We believe the United States has become the scapegoat for a Minister who wants to sidetrack the criticism from where it rightly belongs, namely with him and his Department. He is the responsible Minister; he is accountable for his Department; he is supposed to be in charge of it. It is, however, unfortunate that the United States Ambassador saw fit to buy into this public controversy. The Ambassador, no doubt with helpful purpose, said:
I fail to see why the replacement of obsolescent equipment should have to escalate to the policy level of formal government-to-government exchanges simply because some journalist has scoured the . . . hundreds of thousands of pages of congressional testimony . . .
The Minister himself said last week that the matter became a policy matter 15 months before the Ambassador wrote that letter. Contrary to the Ambassador’s view, this is not an occasion for berating the Press. The issue is dereliction of duty in public office by the Defence Department and the Defence Minister.
This brings me to the important point made by the Minister- that technical negotiations precede policy discussions. Consider some strictly hypothetical illustrations, say, the installation of intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites on Australian soil or permanent nuclear submarine facilities as has already been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition in an interview. Surely the Minister does not propose that there would be discussions between the two governments at technical level over several years, or even several months, on such matters? Nobody could believe seriously that it is proper practice for the Department of Defence not to convey to the Minister, at the earliest stage, details of any technical proposals put to them in this way? This is not a simple matter of installing a new satellite terminal as though it were the installation of a new wall socket for a television set. A complete, large, new ground station has to be constructed and fitted out for a major new communications function.
The Defence Minister brushes this important point off as if it were of no consequence. He is undisturbed by the fact that the contracts for the supply of the equipment to be installed at the new satellite ground station at North West Cape have already been let. He seeks to massage national concern by assuring us that it is not until the time for construction of the ground station building that the matter becomes significant. If it were, in fact, true that another government had advanced such a plan to the contract stage without informing the Minister, one would expect the atmosphere to be seared with the florid expletives which the Minister has said he obtained from his background. If that were the situation the United States Government would have behaved with gross impropriety. But that is not the situation. The fact is that the United States did consult. The Defence Department let the Government and the country down and the Minister is posturing in an attempt to side-track responsibility. The Minister seeks to brush over the dimensions and nature of this new facility as an upgrading’ of satellite terminal equipment, again of no great significance.
Lieutenant-General Lee Paschall, Director of the Defence Communications Agency, in testimony before the American Senate Armed Services Committee, makes nonsense of the Minister’s soothing assurances. The new facility will be part of a new DSCS III program which supersedes the DSCS II program. The new DSCS III is vastly different from the program it replaces and carries wide ranging, new and major policy implications. The Minister seems content with the happy state of ignorance that he and his Government have been kept in by his Department. Indeed, he is an apologist for it. He glosses over the failure of the Department to process Air Vice-Marshal Jordan ‘s written submission on the
Air Vice-Marshal’s discussions with United States Authorities on the matter.
The Minister’s head of Department, Sir Arthur Tange, puts the whole question into clear perspective. Sir Arthur Tange said, as reported in the Melbourne Age on 1 8 May, that the Department decides when it has developed a matter sufficiently to pass it on to the Government. Can one imagine a situation where, after six years of confidential negotiations between government authorities on a sensitive policy matter, the Department still does not feel the Government has a right to know? Who is running this countrythe Government or the Public Service? Who is in charge of the Defence Department- the Minister, the Department head or anyone? The Minister exposed the weak link in the whole set up when he said:
I would regard it as bordering on impertinence for me to seek to rebuke Sir Arthur Tange . . .
Note the choice of the word ‘impertinence’, not unjustified’, ‘unfair’ or ‘unwarranted’. Is it that the Minister does not have control of his Department because he is thoroughly intimidated by the permanent head of his Department? Is that why he has embarked upon this perplexing course of unjustified and unsustainable defence of gross dereliction of public duty by his Department? Is the fear that his own weaknesses, his own failings, would be exposed if he were to take the other obvious and proper course of firmly and publicly bringing his Department to account?
The Minister says the United States should have informed the Australian Government once the issue became public in the United Statesthat is, some seven months ago. Is he buckpassing again? Australia maintains about 90 armed Services and Defence Department personnel in Washington. What do they do to justify their stationing there at taxpayers expense? Do not any of them monitor defence developments in the United States Congress, especially when they affect Australia? Instead of abusing journalists for doing the work that should be done by Government staff in Washington- checking relevant congressional testimony and reports- the Government should be thankful that someone does the job for them. Without the efforts of journalists the Government and the public would still be in ignorance on this important policy matter.
Similar land satellite stations to that proposed for the North West Cape base are to be established elsewhere in the world, for example Augsburg and Landstahl in the Federal Republic of Germany.
German Government consent was obtained for this development before tenders were let for the acquisition of satellite terminal equipment to be installed there. If the United States proceeded to acquire the equipment for installation at North West Cape without properly seeking Australian Government approval, in the way in which it did seek that approval from the German Government, it has been guilty of a far more serious breach of conduct towards Australia than that described by the Minister for Defence as merely being ‘ not treated with proper courtesy’.
It would make a mockery of the 1974 Barnard-Schlesinger agreement covering North West Cape, which those two gentleman described as providing for full and timely information, continuing contact and extending and strengthening of the Australian-United States bilateral consultations. If the Minister is correct in his criticisms of the United States, then a very serious matter has arisen; a grave breach of the undertakings by one party to a major bilateral commitment has occurred.
The United States rejects that. It rejects the criticism by the Minister for Defence. The United States has made clear that in its view it has maintained proper consultations at the appropriate official level. It implies that the fault lies on the Australian side. All of this represents a thoroughly unsatisfactory set of circumstances. The credibility and reliability of the United States is in grave question by the Minister for Defence. The reputation and confidence of the Department of Defence has been put at stake by the Minister for Defence.
The propriety and competence of the conduct of the Minister for Defence has been brought under censure, properly, by his own behaviour. Even as recently as 25 May in this House he acknowledged there are still no clear guidelines laid down within the Department to prevent this happening again. All that is required, in the Minister’s words, is that officers should be a little more critical. The same people responsible for this farrago of misinformation, deception and ministerial embarrassment are being asked to be good enough not to do it again. These important and disturbing issues must be properly resolved. There must be a full and open inquiry.
Furthermore, the Minister has demonstrated conclusively that he did not and does not have control of his Department. The Department has, over a long period of time, been able to hide behind excessive secrecy and lack of parliamentary scrutiny on the grounds- quite often improperly- of security considerations. That is not good enough. It is a major department of state which should be and is required to be responsible to the Minister in this Parliament and to the Parliament itself. In that it has failed.
It is not responsible to this Parliament unless this Parliament is able to be properly informed and unless the Minister who is responsible in this Parliament is fully informed. The Minister clearly has been misled by his Department and clearly has not established nor has full control over the activities of the department of state which he represents in this Parliament. For that there is only one proper course of conduct: If he will not resign, the Prime Minister ought to seek his resignation. The motion I move is one of the utmost seriousness and I hope that it has the result of ensuring that the situation which has occurred does not occur again.
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion, Mr Speaker. Censure is the most serious action that can be taken against a Minister within the Westminster system of responsible government. It is a motion taken reluctantly against the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) who has qualities of integrity and candour not conspicuously shared by many of his colleagues. Machiavelli once wrote that the statesman needed to have the courage of the lion and the guile of the fox. The Minister for Defence has one but not the other. He is an honourable opponent. In the event of a lethal engagement with the Minister one could be confident of receiving wounds only in the front, not in the back. It is the Minister’s tragedy that where he has given loyalty in the past he has not received it in return, either from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) or from the Department which he ostensibly administers.
It has been a bad month for the Minister for Defence- snowed by Sir Arthur Tange, compromised by Senator Withers, patronised by the United States Ambassador and praised by Don Chipp. Under the Westminster system a Mimster has an absolute responsibility to understand what is going on inside his Department, to keep firm control on what his subordinates are doing and to tell the Parliament the truth- not just the truth as he sees it but the truth as it actually is. But this obligation to tell the truth is not a subjective, relative one. I hope from the sound of the cannon outside that the Department of Defence has not decided to take pre-emptive action against the Parliament.
A lazy or a foolish Minister might take a very dim view of the truth, but the Westminster system does not provide for this easy option. Every Minister ought to have on his desk the words that President Truman had on his desk: ‘The buck stops here’. Every Minister ought to be able to ride herd on his subordinates, no matter how senior they are, the positions they have held or the powerful friendships that they have cultivated, because he can say to them ‘I take the blame for your errors. If you conceal the truth, your position remains secure but I am in jeopardy. ‘
The Secretary to the Department of Defence is not answerable to this Parliament but he is answerable to his Minister. It is the Minister who is responsible to the Parliament and he takes the blame for the gross errors of judgment of his subordinates. It is a harsh judgment but it is an inexorable one. The principle of ministerial responsibility has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance in recent years in Australia. In such a clear case as this the Minister is accountable. He ought to be taken to account and he ought to vacate his office. In an earlier ministry, as Minister for the Navy, the present Minister for Defence paid the price on 22 March 1971 for the deficiencies of others- deficiencies in naval administration as revealed by the royal commission into the Voyager disaster. That was perfectly proper.
While there has been no loss of life in this case, the implications of the North West Cape fiasco are extremely grave because they deal with,
Under the Whitlam Government the Westminster standards were applied very rigidly. If a Minister misled the House knowingly or innocently, he was out. If a Minister was misled himself and did not know what major decisions were being made without his knowledge, then he was out too. The Minister for Defence should be out on this basis as well. The Department of Defence maintains such stringent security that it excludes the Minister from access to information too. He is no better informed in some of these matters than any back bench member of this Parliament, that is to say, hardly at all.
How is it possible that the United States public at large can be informed of material through the Congressional Record while in Australia the Minister for Defence himself is excluded from access to such information? It is insulting to the Minister; it is insulting to the Parliament and it is insulting to the Australian people. We find, for example, in the military construction appropriations for 1978 hearings before a sub-committee of the Committee of Appropriations of the House of Representatives 95th Congress, First Session, published in 1977, there is an indication of the installations that were to be set up under the defence satellite communications system. There we have a table on page 183- unfortunately, it cannot be reproduced, I understand, in Hansard, although it ought to be- which sets out the priorities, the dates for completion of additional constructions, and the date given against No. 15 in the list-the H. E. Holt Base- is November 1980. The report indicates how long the lead time is to make sure that this tight schedule is maintained. Yet the Minister says there have not even been any discussions about it. But the United States comes back and says, ‘Yes, there have been quite clear discussions since 1972’.
The Minister must take the blame for the deficiencies of his own Department. He may be personally impeccable, if not indeed infallible, but if he has been misled by his Department, even if he is still innocent, he must take responsibility before this House. I think Cook’s cartoon in the Financial Review for 24 May tells the story. A battered but recognisable figure- the Minister for Defence- wanders away from the United States Base at North West Cape, raises a finger and intones ‘I am your leader’, while public servants hidden behind barbed wire entanglements and teacups ask ‘Is he one of ours?’ to which the reply comes ‘No, he is one of the Government’s’. The caption is ‘The unknown soldier’. I draw the attention of the House to an editorial in the Australian Financial Review of 17 May. Under the heading ‘The Russell Hill Government’, referring to the Department of Defence at Russell Hill, it points out:
It is commonly assumed that the Defence Department dances to the tune of its political masters some mile or so down the road.
But the current issue of a new United States satellite defence communication system at North West Cape in Western Australia shows that this is far from true.
The Defence Department, on the issue of the new satellite defence system, has presumed that it, not Cabinet or Parliament, is the Government of Australia.
It has been conducting secret, highly political negotiations with the Pentagon on the new station without telling the elected Government what the US is planning.
And what is more, when details of the new US facility were published in the Press the Defence Department misled both the Prime Minister’s Department and the Minister for Administrative Services, Senator Withers.
These are very serious charges, and they should be documented.
The editorial proceeds to document them. It concludes:
The Defence Department no doubt intended at some future stage to take the Fraser Government into its confidence on American intentions at North West Cape.
The point is, however, that after months of ‘informal’ liaison with the Pentagon, and after facts about a new installation had been publicly revealed in the US Congressional Record, the Defence Department had not bothered to inform its masters.
The Fraser Government is justifiably outraged on the issue. It should tell the US Administration that all future changes to any US defence installation in Australia should be made in consultation with the Australian Government, not the Defence Department.
It should then put the cleaners through the Defence Department. The late Sir Robert Menzies won the 1963 election on the refusal of Labor’s ‘36 faceless men’ to approve the original North West Cape radio station. The Fraser Government is suffering acute embarrassment on the ‘faceless’ Defence Department ‘s significant upgrading of that station.
Strict control by the Minister in this area is essential because of the wider question of the impact of changing technology on the strategic fucntions of the United States installations in Australia and on the nature of the United States-Australia relationship itself. The United States apparently feels that once it has been granted a piece of real estate under some joint arrangement it is at liberty to update as it pleases, even if such updates radically change the functions of the bases as denned in the original agreements. The pattern is clear across all the major United States installations in Australia-Pine Gap and Nurrungar as well as North West Cape. At Pine Gap, for example, Mr Fairhall announced in December 1 966 that the installation would consist of only two radomes. Subsequently, in 1969, two further radomes were added. Then, in 1975, under project Argus, another radome was added and the computer room, already incredibly large, was expanded by a further third.
– Under a Labor government.
-It was not informed either. This expansion took Pine Gap into new areas, enabling it to control a wider range of intelligence satellites- both Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency- and making Pine Gap the most important intelligence station outside the United States.
The same trend also has taken place at North West Cape. This base originally was intended as a naval communications station for communicating with the 15th submarine squadron of FBM submarines. Yet, it has clearly developed to take other capabilities. For example, North West Cape was the key station responsible for the command and control during the mining of Haiphong during the Vietnam War. In October 1973, North West Cape was also one of the principal stations involved in putting United States strategic nuclear forces on alert. Also, at some time in the late 1960s, North West Cape became host to an operation of the Naval Security Group- NSG- the largest component of the National Security Organisation, NSA, which is the super-secret American electronic intelligence organisation. The NSA facility at North West Cape is a four-point log-periodic VLF electronic intelligence receiver, for monitoring Soviet submarine communications from Vladivostok, Khaborovsk, et cetera.
These are much more than qualitative updates of the installations, and they should be detailed to Parliament. Indeed, there should be a policy of announcing all additions to these American installations, of whatever sort, to the Parliament. We can go back as far as May 1963 when Sir Garfield Barwick, then Minister for External Affairs, in introducing the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement Bill, spoke of ‘mutuality of confidence and of community of interest and purpose’. In 1973 it became clear to the Labor Government that the United States was not, nor had it been, providing information to the Australian Government about the general purpose of United States bases. In 1974, Lance Barnard, the then Minister for Defence, and Dr James Schlesinger, the United States Secretary for Defense, renegotiated the North West Cape agreement to achieve what purported to be full consultation on operating objectives. Yet, it has been clear from the 1978 episode, that this agreement has not been carried through and that Australia has been left in the dark.
We can illustrate this by the initial confusion on the part of the Minister for Administrative Services in another place and the Minister for Defence and the subsequent contradictions in the Minister’s statements. It took the Government three days apparently to realise that there was even a question of a new installation at the
North West Cape. The first response on 8 May was that the reference was to an observatory at Learmonth and the second response, on 9 May, was that it referred to the terminal that was installed in October 1977. Until 10 May the Government appeared completely ignorant of the fact that a new terminal was to be installed in 1980-81. On the question of whether any new contracts had been let, on 24 May the Minister said:
No contract has been let regarding North West Cape, that is, Australian Territory.
However, according to the congressional testimony contained in the Pentagon memo and a report in the DMS Market Intelligence Report, contracts for 21 AN/MSC-61 ground stations, including one at North West Cape, were let to Philco-Ford in August last year. The Minister said on 16 May:
United States plans to procure the equipment are relatively firm, and certain contracts to that end have been let.
The tense is past imperfect. The question of whether the installation of the AN/MSC-61 represents a mere updating of the obsolescent AN/TSC-54 also needs to be discussed. Perhaps the Minister can refer that matter in his reply. The present function of the North West Cape is to communicate via VLF with the American fleet ballistic missile- FBM- and submarines such as Polaris and Poseidon in the south-west Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The current terminal is there only to expedite messages from the United States to the North West Cape. The AN/MSC-61 and the DSCS ITI system of which it is a part represents a quantum increase in capabilities. DSCS III is a global, Pentagon command and control system. As General Paschall described it- he is no relation to the lamb of the same name- DSCS III is in support of ‘critical command, intelligence, warning, presidential and other user requirements’.
Is it not good enough for the Parliament of this country to be informed of that? Is it not good enough for the Department of Defence to inform its own Minister so that he can be aware of the situation when it is raised in the Paliament? It is because these two requirements have not been fulfilled that reluctantly I second this motion of censure against the honourable Minister for Defence. I believe that under the Westminister system he deserves the censure of this Parliament. I call on the House to support the motion.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) read his speech to the House. The honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) read his speech to the House. There are two remarkable distinctions between the two readings. There was more vigour in the reading that came from the lips of the honourable member for Lalor and fortunately, or inadvertently for him, he used one phrase that points up the humbug in this whole business. The honourable member for Lalor used several words that the honourable member for Corio did not use. He used several words that give a clear perspective to this whole matter. May I remind my honourable friend that he used the words ‘if there is any change’. That is the point at issue. When I was first questioned about this matter in the House on the 1 1th of this month I had this to say- I shall read the words again:
My understanding of the position is as follows: In 1973 a satellite terminal at the station was removed. Pursuant to approval given by the Government in October 1977 it was replaced. I have been informed informally- I emphasise informally ‘-that the United States stands in contemplation of placing before the Australian Government a proposal to update that satellite terminal. That proposal relates to the period 1980 to 1981. 1 assure the honourable gentleman and the House that when a formal proposal has been received by the Australian Government it well be considered on its merits.
May I repeat the last part of that sentence:
Let me say this to the honourable member for Corio and the honourable member for Lalor: There is not one syllable of that answer that I would seek to retract or to modify in any shape or form. There has been no proposal put before the Australian Government. I have stated that; I will continue to state it. The honourable member for Lalor wants to sweep back to that savage form of punishment where weights were placed upon a person in order to persuade from the person a certain confession- peine forte et dure. That was abolished by statute in 1771 but the honourable gentleman wants to persist in placing weights on me. I say to him that he can place the Tower of Pisa on me and I will not alter the answer I gave to this House, I will not alter it one bit. The honourable gentlemen, and all who support them in this frolic, remind me that I consider a man who launches a breach of promise suit as being remarkably strange, but a man who seeks to launch a breach of promise suit before his proposal has been accepted I can describe only as being remarkably stupid. I am bound to say further that it hurts me no end to put both of my honourable friends into that category.
Where did this start? I have always had a preference for a number of things in this world, and frankness and fairness are amongst them. I turn to the latter. Certainly I have defended my Department. Certainly I have defended the officers of my Department. I give but one further assurance: I will continue to defend them. They cannot speak for themselves.
– Right or wrong?
– By the time I have finished with the miserable case that has been put against me the honourable member for Capricornia will wish that he had continued in private practice. Where did this start? It started in a journal, this bastion of patriotism, the Australian Financial Review. Listen to this:
Australia gets new US defence station.
That is positive. There is no ambiguity about that. It was written by a gentleman, to give him a very extravagant description, Mr Brian Toohey. It continued:
Congressional hearings in the United States have revealed that a ground station is being built in Australia.
The honourable member for Lalor would agree with me that that is the present continuing tense, is being built’. No such satellite station has been built or is being built. So much for Mr Toohey.
– You did not know anything about it.
– I listened to the charge against me in silence. I hope that honourable members will take the rebuttal in silence if they can muster the courage to do so. In the same article, he continued:
The US company, Philco Ford, has contracts for a worldwide system of ground stations.
On he goes. The fact is that the present satellites terminal was built by Philco Ford. A person reading that would say that this was a desperately well-informed journalist. He refers to Philco Ford with a glorious touch of verisimilitudeergo, it is true, Mr Toohey knows everything. This man has an odious technique. He has perfected that technique. He has practised it for years and does it instinctively. The next day he returns to it:
The initial ministerial response in Parliament, based on official advice, was to deny that any such satellite terminal existed or was proposed.
A person reading that would say: ‘that was Killen, the Minister for Defence’. He did not have the intellectual integrity to say it was a Minister representing him in another place, in the Senate. I invite any fair-minded person to look at the question that was put to Senator Withers in another place and not to agree with me that there was ample opportunity for him to conclude that the imprecisely worded question referred to a solar observatory. The very moment that my colleague was apprised of the facts he went into the Senate and quietly and purposefully said that he was wrong. But this has continued, this odious technique of suppressio veri, suggestio falsisuppress the truth, make the false suggestion, you will find some more poor mutt along the way who will believe in it. So it has gone on. Let me say this, as far as the officers of my Department are concerned: I answer to the Parliament and accept completely ministerial responsibility. If I had the slightest doubt that I had misled the Parliament I would apologise to the Parliament. If I believed that my error had been grievous enough I would seek to withdraw from the Parliament. But, there is the answer that I have given and there is the answer that I will stand by. I come to other techniques that have been practiced. The other night we had the spectacle of two journalists interviewing each other on television- Mike Willesee and Laurie Oakes- both gripped with a fierce sense of political neutrality. The interview proceeded in this way:
Can you hear me Laurie? Is the Minister in big trouble?
Would you go so far as to say very big trouble.
Well, yes, Mike.
How would you describe it?
If you were to put them on display at the old Tivoli Theatre you would pack it out for a month. There it was. My honourable friend, the honourable member for Corio, has used harsh language. I have used it occasionally myself, and I do not complain about it. My honourable friend put out what is rather exuberantly described as a Press statement, in which he said:
Despite clear evidence to the contrary, the Defence Minister Killen insists that there has not yet been any agreement to build a new satellite ground station at North West Cape.
I say to the honourable gentleman with the utmost felicity and friendship that I do not know how on earth I am to convince him. No agreement has been made. No agreement will be made until the Australian Government, irrespective of the kidney of government- his politics or mine- has had an opportunity to consider it. He has said to me in a reproachful way: But this has been under consideration since 1 972. That is perfectly true.
– You should have been told.
– It is about time the honourable member got some heavy sedation.
– He already has.
– I am glad that my honourable friend notices the difference. These techniques are under consideration for years and years. They may never ever be put into operation. But, in 1973, there was a re-negotiation of the agreement. Who did it?
– The Labor Party.
– Yes. The honourable member is well informed. Full marks. We were told on that occasion that ‘this has been the most searching inquiry ever made; Australian sovereignty has been protected to the hilt’. And what statement was put out on that occasion? The honourable member for Lalor this morning referred to the statement put out by Mr Barnard, for whom I have both affection and admiration, and Mr Schlesinger, the then United States Secretary of State for Defense.
I am not in the habit, as most members of Parliament would know, of divulging personal conversations, but I will say that the Leader of the Opposition has written a letter to me on this matter. He has given it a classification which in my opinion he is not entitled to give it. He has called it ‘secret’. Private members of Parliament and the Leader of the Opposition cannot write a letter and give it a classification of that nature. If any honourable gentleman wants to write to me and wants me to respect their confidentiality they need use only two words- personal and confidential.
– Three words.
– Well, three. I am pleased that the honourable member at long last can count. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to take away the synthetic privacy or confidentiality of that letter, I invite him to table the letter and I will reply to it. His letter illustrates the appalling ignorance of the Labor Party regarding the North West Cape facility. The view seems to be that every message that goes through that facility is heard by Australian ears and seen by Australian eyes. Both Mr Barnard and Mr Schlesinger in their agreement in 1973, in the most cogent and clear terms, identified the fact that there will be preserved national identity with respect to communications through the two individual national offices which are held on the base.
I say to the honourable member for Lalor because he raised the point that there is no change envisaged in the role of the base. I emphasise the word ‘envisaged ‘ because that is where the literal truth remains. There is no changed role envisaged for the proposed satellite terminal
MSC61. It differs only in character in the sense that the new satellite terminal will be a great improvement on the existing satellite terminal, the TSC54, the one to which the honourable gentleman referred. That is the only difference. What has been said today shows in a regretful fashion that there has been a clear misunderstanding by the members of the Australian Labor Party of this facility and I am left with the clear impression after a few weeks interrogation by the Labor Party that it does not like the base. I now want to read two statements to the House. The first is:
The building of the base which is close to the area in which the National Liberation Movement of the peoples is being intensified is a particular danger for the countries of South East Asia.
The other statement is:
The radio station to be established will be for war purposes and not for the purpose of peace.
One of those statements came from the Red Star, the official paper of the Soviet Red Army. The other statement was uttered in this House by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). I will be surprised if honourable members can pick the author of the second statement. The Labor Party has set itself upon a very dangerous course. It is seeking to disturb in a quite needless way the United States-Australia alliance. As far as those on this side of politics are concerned, we will preserve it.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– Like many honourable members I was entertained to listen to the defence by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen), even though what he said did not seem to be terribly relevant to the matters raised.
-Speak up, Bill.
– I did note that he said that I had sent him a letter -
– Thank you, Bill.
-He said that I had marked it secret’, and I had. He suggested -
– Turn it down a bit, Bill.
– I do not think the Minister for Health will be laughing too much. The Minister for Defence suggested that I table the letter if I wished. Mr Speaker, I wish to table it and to put on the record his oral reply in which he confirmed the point I made about the absence of any knowledge or overview -
– I have not replied to you yet.
– Orally you have. I do not believe you have replied in writing but I will check that. I seek leave to have the letter incorporated in Hansard.
The letter read as follows- 25 May 1978
My dear Minister.
I write to you about the current issue of the North West Cape Communications Station and United States proposals about its future.
You will recall that several weeks ago I had a briefing from your Department on the various U.S. Defence facilities that function in this country. One, of course, was North West Cape.
It is my belief that the broad nature of questions I directed to your Departmental representatives on North West Cape would have required disclosure of American intentions towards the Base as now being discussed in the Parliament. There were technical people present and I would expect they would have been aware of communications between the U.S. Government and their Department on this matter.
The other matter that concerns me is that in response to my questioning it was made clear by your Departmental officers that they were not aware of the nature of communications passing through North West Cape. It appears there is no overview of monitoring of U.S. communication traffic. That means simply that the Government is totally dependent on U.S. advice as to the nature of these communications. Because of recent public discussion about this Base I have been re-reading relevant documentation, and this situation certainly seems contrary to the general understanding of the agreement covering North West Cape, especially as amended in 1974.
More than that, the arrangement seems quite undesirable for it means that Australian authorities are blanketed out from any overview of what is transmitted through North West Cape by U.S. authorities. ‘
I would like to register concern on both these scores.
The latter one is worrying for obvious reasons. The former one I find irritating because it means that what was supposed to be a comprehensive and candid briefing was much less than that. I could not help but wonder whether this may have happened on other matters on which I was briefed.
I raise the matter with a spirit of directness which I am sure you would welcome and I look forward to your response for I am sure that this communication will at least be of some concern to you.
Yours sincerely, (Sgd) BILL HA YDEN, M.P.
– I do not believe you have.
– I have not.
– Do you want me to give a report of your oral response to me?
– I will reply to you.
-The Minister does not want his oral response on the record.
That the motion (Mr Scholes’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker-Rt Hon. Sir Billy Snedden)
Question so resolved in the negative.
For the information of honourable members I present the report of an independent inquiry into the operations and capital works program of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Aboriginal Land Fund Act 1974 1 present the annual report of the Aboriginal Land Fund Commission for the year ended June 1 977.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report by the Industries Assistance Commission on the music recording industry in Australia.
-As Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, I present the 1 69th report of the Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-by leave-The 169th report refers to a Department of Finance minute relating to the Committee’s 157th report, presented in April 1976, which dealt with items arising from die Committee’s examination of the Auditor-General’s report for 1973-74. The practice of presenting a Department of Finance minute as a report is the result of arrangements made between the Committee and the Treasury in 1952. The Committee forwards a copy of each of its reports to the Minister for Finance for consideration immediately that report is tabled in Parliament. His reply, in the form of a Department of Finance minute, is then examined by the Committee and included in a later report to the Parliament.
The Department of Finance minute is meant to ensure that the Committee’s recommendations are acted upon, and that the Parliament will be informed as soon as possible, where appropriate, of the steps taken to implement the Committee’s proposals. In this context, the committee welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) requiring departments to respond quickly to the recommendations made by parliamentary committees, as some delays have been experienced in the past by the Public Accounts Committee. The Committee is currently considering additional procedures to ensure that its recommendations where appropriate for the improvement of administration in the Public Service are in fact implemented.
In the 157th report the Committee had been critical of the Department of Defence, the Department of Education, the then Department of Manufacturing Industry and the then Australian Council for the Arts. Tractors were required by the Department of Defence to be air-portable but were subsequently found to have insufficient clearance to fit in aircraft intended to carry them. Further, the Committee noted that the poor design features of transportable homes purchased for the Royal Australian Air Force base made them very expensive to demount and re-locate.
The Department of Education failed to obtain ministerial approval to extend the broadbanding of incomes when calculating living allowances under the tertiary allowance scheme. The Committee was also critical of the lack of adequate training and supervision, and the high turnover of staff in the salaries area of the departmental adminstration, leading to a very high incidence of errors in payments. In relation to the then Department of Manufacturing Industry, the Committee was particularly critical of aspects of the production performance allowance scheme introduced by the then Department of Supply into its factories in 1964. There was some disagreement between the now Department of Productivity and the Committee over the use of terminology in the Committee’s report on this matter.
I wish to emphasise that the Committee is concerned to obtain at all times complete and accurate information. Evidence to the Committee is given under oath and it is the responsibility of witnesses to ensure that the information provided is correct. The Committee has stated repeatedly that where departments discover that evidence is deficient a supplementary submission should be provided, prior to or during a public hearing, or to clarify and amplify previous evidence.
The Committee also considered criticism by the Auditor-General of a number of unsatisfactory features relating to the expenditure and activities of the then Australian Council for the Arts. In spite of an apparent general acceptance of the Committee’s recommendations by the now Australia Council, the Committee still has reservations as to whether proper controls are being maintained. We propose to keep a close watch on the activities of the Australia Council.
When I tabled the last reports from the Committee at the end of the 30th Parliament, I drew the Parliament’s attention to two matters on which the Committee had not reported. These references are still before us. They are the Committee ‘s inquiry into the administration and financing of property owned or leased by the Australia Government overseas and the use of automatic data processing in the Commonwealth public sector. In relation to the former the Committee has recently completed the taking of further evidence and will be in a position to report in the Budget session.
Members should be aware that the Committee regards the inquiry into automatic data processing as an extremely important inquiry. It is a major growth area of Commonwealth expenditure for which no detailed figures are readily available. The cost of Mandata, the first area on which we intend to report, gives some indication of the growing use of computers. The Mandata project is a case study which fits in well with the Committee’s terms of reference for the inquiry, which are:
) in relation to computing in the Commonwealth public sector-
I should like to take this opportunity of acquainting the House with the progress of our investigation into Mandata. Mandata is a computer system being developed by the Commonwealth Public Service Board for personnel and establishements covered by the Public Service Act. Its principal purpose is to increase the efficiency of administration and to assist in manpower resource management throughout the Commonwealth Public Service. When complete, Mandata should replace the traditional labourintensive manual record keeping. It is expected by the Public Service Board to effect significant staff reductions and provide a wide range of management-oriented information concerning personnel and establishments. This, it is claimed, will lead to tighter management within departments, permitting further staff savings to be made.
A feasibility study of Mandata was performed in 1971 by the then Management Services Division of the Public Service Board, which estimated costs of the Mandata project to be $ 10.1m for the equipment and implementation of the system and $2m to $2. 7m per year to operate it. The decision to establish Mandata was taken by the Government in 1974 on the basis of a report of an inter-departmental committee chaired by the Public Service Board, which is responsible for examining the purchase of all computers for departments prior to seeking Cabinet approval. The Government approved in February 1974 expenditure of $7.2m for the purchase of equipment for Mandata, to be spread over three years. However, by June 1 977, when the Public Accounts Committee became interested in this program, the total actual expenditure was $ 13.2m, made up of $ 10.6m for equipment and implementation costs and $ 1 .6m for operating costs.
Due to the Government’s concern at spiralling costs a study was carried out by management consultants in 1 977 and the Public Service Board produced a revised estimate for computer equipment and implementation costs of $25.4m, more than double the 1971 estimate. Operating costs were expected to be $6m per annum, an increase of 120 per cent to 200 per cent on the original estimate. I wish to point out to the House that inflation between 1971 and 1977 accounts for only a part of this large increase. If the effects of inflation are removed by calculating the 1971 estimate at 1977 prices, the 1977 cost estimate for computer equipment and implementation is still more than the 1971 estimate by over 100 per cent or $ 12m.
A further matter of general concern to the Committee is whether sufficient scrutiny has been exercised over ADP expenditure by statutory authorities which are not required to refer computer proposals to the inter-departmental committee. The original concept of Mandata in 1971 took into account the inclusion of the employees of the then Australian Post Office. However, when the Australian Telecommunications Commission and the Australian Postal Commission were established in 1975 these commissions decided to withdraw and establish their own systems, thereby reducing the total number of personnel to be included in Mandata by approximately half, and also reducing the viability of the project.
The effect on the cost effectiveness of Mandata following the withdrawal of Telecom and Australia Post concerns the Committee. Of more significance, however, is that these organisations are developing their own equivalent systems, which could cause considerable unnecessary duplication of effort and cost. The Committee proposes to inquire into the reasons why Telecom and Australia Post withdrew from Mandata, what their plans are with regard to their own personnel and establishment systems, what these systems will cost, and whether it would be feasible for them to use Mandata. The Committee also notes that the differences in rules and regulations for the 75,000 defence forces personnel may justify the establishment of a separate system for the defence forces rather than its inclusion in Mandata. The Committee will examine this matter further.
The Committee is also concerned that there were significant delays and expense involved in establishing a permanent site for the installation of Mandata and the purchase of equipment valued at $750,000, which is now no longer required. We suspect that it is most unlikely that this surplus and obsolete equipment can be sold. The Committee considers that in the public as well as the private sector senior departmental management should be highly involved in the setting of specific goals for computer effectiveness. The Committee therefore intends to examine the extent to which senior departmental management has participated in the assessment of the need for and the planning of projects such as Mandata.
It would appear that the Public Service Board in 1971 greatly under-estimated the costs of equipment, development, and operational costs of Mandata, as well as the development time scale required. In endorsing the Public Service Board’s proposals to proceed, the interdepartmental committee on ADP accepted these underestimates but we have yet to discover the reasons for this decision. As both the Public Service Board and the IDC have a responsibility for reviewing the ADP proposals of other Public Service departments, the Committee will be examining this aspect in detail. According to the Public Service Board, at the time of the initial feasibility study the project seemed to be well justified on direct cost savings alone. It now appears that the project is justified only if the management-oriented information which it will supply can be used to effect overall staff reductions in the Public Service.
I must stress that an important assumption underlying the calculation of benefits is that improved management in the Public Service resulting from Mandata will yield overall staff savings of 1 per cent, or approximately $1 1.8m per annum at 1977 prices. As the benefit to cost ratio on a present worth basis is 118 to 100, it would appear to the Committee that on previous estimating performance we have good grounds to be sceptical that the anticipated management benefits will occur. The 1977 analysis made by independent consultants is central to the Committee’s assessment of the estimates of benefits. The Committee has requested a copy of the consultant’s report to allow it to look more closely into the assumptions upon which these management benefits are said to have been made. For the Committee to produce a report which is accurate and fair to all concerned, we believe it is essential for us to have access to the consultants report. I am pleased to be able to advise the House that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has asked the Public Service Board to make the report available to the Committee. Previously we had been formally informed that the report would not be made available on the grounds that such reports are traditionally made on an in-confidence basis to their clients and that reports of inter-departmental committees are regarded as internal working documents and advisings to the Minister. The committee maintains that it is following its traditional path by requesting documents that have a relevant bearing on the implementation of government policy. We do not and have not questioned policy but rather the basis of its effective and economic implementation.
I conclude by saying that if committees of the Parliament are to function effectively, there needs to be a high degree of trust between the Public Service and the committees. I am unaware of any case in recent years where committees have been irresponsible in the way in which they used confidential information made available to them. It remains of fundamental importance to the effectiveness of Parliament that its committees have access to all information relevant to their reports to this Parliament other than Cabinet documents which must obviously remain the prerogative of the Executive. I commend the report to honourable members.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I should like to debate the statement by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) but, of course, there is no provision to do so. I wish to make an apology to you. Last night during the adjournment debate I mentioned the fact that the previous night there were calls for a division which were ignored by the Chair. I guessed at the time the calls were not heard. I took a dim view of that. I laid the responsibility for that decision upon you. As I now know, you were not in the Chair. Therefore I withdraw and apologise to you for my remarks last night. I ask in view of my act of grace on this matter that you raise with Mr Speaker the question of adequate debate of the very important issues raised by the honourable member for Bradfield. As the report he presented is a report to the Parliament rather than to the Government the Parliament itself through the Speaker and yourself should make provision for debate on it whether the Government likes it or not.
-Mr Speaker has received a letter from the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The July 1 crude oil price increase in the context of the Government’s failure to establish a secondary taxing mechanism on oil production profits.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
-Mr Deputy Speaker -
Motion (by Mr Sinclair) agreed to:
That the business of the day be called upon.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have my dissent recorded?
-The honourable member for Wills may have his dissent recorded.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable the Commonwealth Government to enter into financial arrangements with the States and the Northern Territory for making payments to cattle producers affected by the control measures instituted by animal health authorities to prevent the spread of bluetongue virus. (Quorum formed) I am most indebted to the honourable member for
Wills (Mr Bryant) for giving me the audience that a speech about bluetongue without doubt justifies. It is a serious problem in Australia and it is necessary that all honourable members should hear about it. I am only disappointed that so few members of the Labor Party are present, but perhaps that is understandable.
This Bill also provides for the acquisition and installation of virology laboratory equipment in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to improve their cattle blood testing services.
The virus was isolated from biting insects collected by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation near Darwin in 1975, and was identified as belonging to the bluetongue group of viruses by tests carried out in South Africa and the United States of America in 1977. Commonwealth and State animal health authorities immediately tested cattle throughout northern Australia. It quickly became apparent that exposure to the virus had been confined to the top end of the Northern Territory, the Cape York Peninsula and the west Kimberley region. Quarantine controls were imposed on these areas. The primary objective of controls upon animal movements from these areas has been to prevent the spread of the virus to the sheep districts, and also to protect the export of livestock from southern States. Bluetongue is a very serious disease of sheep; it is not normally a serious disease of cattle. I stress, however, that although the presence of a bluetongue virus in Australia has been confirmed, there has been absolutely no evidence of bluetongue disease.
I must say that one of the things that concerns me, in the circumstances of the identification of the bluetongue virus, is that we seem to be getting ourselves more and more into a bind in the identification of what one might well call laboratory diseases, as distinct from real diseases. The virus is serious, but so many viruses are present that one wonders at the extent to which bans are imposed, simply because one has been so identified. I am most concerned at the possible international repercussions.
Following international notification of the presence of the virus, a number of importing countries placed bans or restrictions upon the import of meat and livestock from Australia. Following technical representations by the Bureau of Animal Health, a number of these have been eased significantly. I would commend the officers of the Bureau for the work they have undertaken in this regard. Serious limitations remain, however, on trade from the affected areas in the north, particularly as regards livestock exports.
As a result of the bluetongue alert, catde producers in the bluetongue control areas have incurred additional costs for mustering their cattle for blood testing, which includes holding the herd together until test results are available. They have also incurred additional costs arising from the sprays and dips required before cattle can be moved and in particular a loss of marketing opportunities. A growing trade in live cattle exports to south east Asia, particularly Hong Kong, has been lost, while access to the Malaysian market is restricted. There is little or no offset available for slaughter at northern meatworks due to constraints on export quotas. The traditional flow of store catde turnoff to other States has been disrupted by movement restrictions and a natural reluctance by traditional purchasers to take cattle from bluetongue control areas. These problems have arisen in circumstances where many cattle producers in northern Australia are already in serious financial difficulties as a result of the prolonged depression of beef prices since 1973.
The Government has received representations from the Queensland Government, and from cattlemen’s organisations, for financial assistance to enable producers in the control areas to survive these additional burdens.
I might add, in particular, that a bluetongue committee, constituted in the Northern Territory, at considerable personal inconvenience and expense came to see me in Canberra. Also, the Committee as a result of its own efforts, produced significant additional information, which has proved very helpful. One area in which this legislation does not particularly provide assistance was brought to my attention by the Committee. That problem still concerns me. I refer to the impact of the identification of bluetongue virus on cattle studs in the north. Many studs have had their sales completely inhibited simply because of the ban on the movement of livestock from the endemic to the control zone, and from the control and endemic zones, to the rest of Australia. Following consideration of requests from these producers and from the States, the Federal Government has offered to participate with the States and the Northern Territory in a program of financial assistance.
Clause 4 of the Bill provides for three separate types of assistance which the Minister may arrange with the States and the Northern Territory. The proposals that the Government has made to the States and the Northern Territory include these three elements. Firstly, there is to be a payment at the rate of $3 per head up to a maximum of $3,000 per property to offset mustering costs incurred to assist bluetongue control, and for movement of stock in the control areas of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory during the period from 1 January 1978 to 31 December 1978 inclusive.
Secondly, the Government proposes payments to producers at the rate of $5 per head to meet the costs incurred in survey and surveillance blood testing, and $10 per head for movement testing, including for export. These payments are to be available to all producers, both within and outside the control areas, from 1 October 1977 to 31 December 1978 inclusive. Clause 4(1) (b), therefore, provides for a wider coverage of producers than does 4 ( 1 ) (a), as producers outside of the control areas may be required to participate in surveys conducted by animal health authorities to establish the incidence of exposure to bluetongue virus in Australia. Thirdly, the Government proposes the provision of funds of up to $ 100,000 in the Northern Territory, up to $75,000 in Queensland and up to $50,000 in Western Australia for the acquisition of virus testing laboratory equipment.
Clauses 5 to 8 of the Bfll provide for costs of the program in a particular State to be shared equally between the State and the Commonwealth. Costs incurred in the Northern Territory up to 30 June 1978 are to be borne entirely by the Commonwealth. Under clauses 3 (2), 4 and 5 costs incurred in the Northern Territory after 1 July 1978 will be borne equally between the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory, that is, on the same basis as for the States. The total cost of these proposals, including the States’ shares, is estimated to be $3. 768m. The Commonwealth share is estimated to be $2. 426m. It is proposed that the scheme be adniinistered by the States and the Northern Territory.
The Prime Mimster has written to State Premiers advising them of the details of the Government’s proposed assistance program and seeking their early agreement. The Majority Leader in the Northern Territory has been similarly advised by the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Adermann). Of course, some of the less affected States may not wish to participate or may wish to participate at lower rates of assistance than those proposed. The Government will be prepared to agree to such different arrangements provided they are within the limits of the Government’s offer.
The Government’s decision on these assistance measures and the provisions of the Bill relate to current circumstances of quarantine controls causing particular hardship to producers in certain defined areas. Those circumstances may change in the future from any number of causes.
Last Friday I announced that tests conducted on certain New South Wales properties suggested that cattle may have been exposed to another strain of bluetongue virus. Again, let me say: This is laboratory medicine; no disease has been identified. Indeed, this identification of another strain of bluetongue virus has yet to be confirmed fully and further investigations are under way. The results of these must be awaited before it can be said that the situation which has prevailed for the past several months has altered materially. The incident indicates, however, that we are not necessarily dealing with a static situation. It will be the Government’s intention to ensure that arrangements entered into with the States in accordance with the Bill will provide for a review of the assistance measures in the event of any significant change in the bluetongue situation. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Cass) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is directed to meeting the problems which the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) outlined in his statement to the House on 5 April 1978 concerning the establishment of spurious embassies in Australia and the making of false claims to diplomatic or consular status. Australia has obligations under international law and as a responsible member of the international community to ensure that the functions of duly accredited diplomatic or consular missions are not interfered with and that the dignity of those missions is not impaired. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations give effect to certain specific aspects of those obligations. It has not been necessary in the past to treat this matter as one for legislative action. However, this has now become necessary because of the establishment in Canberra late last year of a so-called ‘Croatian embassy’. It is not because of any desire to take repressive action against an ethnic group that the Government is introducing this Bill. Indeed, I should say that the Government is quite intent on preserving the opportunity for minority groups in our community to voice their attitudes and views but we say that this should take place within the law and within international obligations, not outside them. Rather, it is because the establishment of the so-called ‘embassy’ in the present case and possible similar conduct in the future would have important implications for the effective operation of Australia’s foreign policy and in regard to our political, trade and other relations with wellestablished sovereign States.
I wish to make it absolutely clear to honourable members that the proposed legislation will be of general applicability. It is occasioned by the establishment of a ‘Croatian embassy’ but does not single out, or discriminate in any way against, the Croatian people or their spokesmen in Australia, the overwhelming majority of whom have demonstrated a strong commitment to this, their new homeland. I must also emphasise that in drafting this legislation the Government has been very sensitive to the need to avoid undue interference with the exercise of the rights of individuals. It is for this reason that the Bill is not directed at legitimate political activity, criticism or dissent, in relation to the Australian or other governments.
It is directed at false and misleading claims that an establishment or persons have diplomatic or consular status or represent persons, governments, countries or parts of countries in a diplomatic or consular capacity.
In the case of the so-called ‘Croatian embassy’, the claims to representation of a diplomatic or consular character that have been made are offensive to the Yugoslav Government and to the Yugoslav people and to many persons in Australia, citizens as well as non-citizens. One of the consequences of these claims is that the socalled ‘Croatian embassy’ serves to confuse and does a disservice to many members of the Croatian community in this country who consider that the officially established Yugoslav missions in Australia are the only ones entitled to represent or capable of representing their interests in diplomatic and consular matters affecting Austraha and Yugoslavia. Some Western countries have legislation to deal with spurious embassies. Australia does not and, as a result, cannot adequately deal with the serious international complications which can arise when ‘embassies’ of this nature are established.
The proposed legislation is designed to fill an obvious gap in existing law dealing with diplomatic and consular missions in Australia.
I propose now to summarise the main features of the proposed legislation. The words ‘office of a mission’ are important for the purpose of the legislation and are defined in clause 3 as meaning an office of a mission or of a member of a mission, whether designated as an embassy, a chancery or a consulate, or in any other manner. Clause 4 is the key provision in the Bill. It enables the Federal Court of Australia, on the application of the Attorney-General, to grant an injunction or interim injunction restraining a person from action or the making or publishing of representations referred to in the clause. The action referred to is the displaying of any sign, flag or insignia on premises or the making of any representation which states or is reasonably capable of implying that there is located at the premises a mission or that the person making the representation occupies a position in a mission that represents, in a diplomatic or consular capacity, a country or a part of a country, the people of that country, or a government of that country, when a diplomatic or consular mission has already been established in Australia, with the consent of the Commonwealth, to represent that country.
Clause 5 enables the Federal Court of Australia, on the application of the AttorneyGeneral, to issue a warrant for the removal of signs, flags or insignia displayed in the circumstances I mentioned earlier. This process is available only where in a proceeding under clause 4 for an injunction, including an interim injunction, the court has found that the sign, flag or insignia in question is displayed on premises in contravention of clause 4. Clause 6 enables the Minister for Foreign Affairs to give a certificate concerning the diplomatic or consular status of specified premises. In any proceedings under clause 4 or clause 5, a certificate given under this clause- is evidence of the fact certified. Clause 7 confers jurisdiction on the Federal Court of Australia to hear and determine applications under clauses 4 and 5.
With the passage of this Bill Australia will be able to fulfil, as a responsible member of the international community, its international obligations in diplomatic or consular matters by restraining persons from making false claims to diplomatic or consular status in relation to a country or a people already lawfully represented in a diplomatic or consular capacity in Australia. The Government considers these to be very important obligations and takes a very serious view of any action designed to prevent Australia discharging these obligations. I commend the Bill to the House.
– Before I move a motion to adjourn the debate I mention that the Opposition regards this legislation as a most important measure and we wish it a speedy passage. We would like an assurance that the matter will be dealt with this session. Accordingly, we welcome the measure and I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Howard, and read a first time.
– I move:
The broad purpose of this Bill is to enable each State, if it so chooses, to legislate to increase its revenue from personal income tax or to give- at a cost to the State- a rebate on personal income tax to residents in the State. The Bill is basically the same as the Income Tax (Arrangements with the States) Bill 1977 which, as honourable members will recall, was introduced into the Parliament late in the 1977 autumn sittings. The Government, however, did not seek passage of the Bill in those sittings, its intention being to allow time for reflection and informed debate and, in particular, for consideration of the Bill by the State governments. The 1977 Bill subsequently lapsed with the dissolution of Parliament on 10 November 1977.
The Government has given the States considerable opportunity to comment on the 1977 Bill and, after careful consideration, has agreed to certain changes being made to the Bill to meet the points raised by the Premiers. This Bill also differs from the previous Bill in that a number of minor technical and machinery improvements have been made.
The Government regards this Bill as an important development in Commonwealth-State relations. The Bill completes the legislative framework of the tax sharing arrangements which are a central element of the Government’s federalism policy- a policy aimed at restoring a proper distribution of powers and functions between the federal, State and local spheres of government, with governments more responsive to the needs and preferences of the community.
The Government believes that this approach offers the best protection against concentration of power in Canberra.
Stage I of the income tax sharing arrangements established in legislation passed in 1976 provided for the States to receive 33.6 per cent of personal income tax collections. In this connection, honourable members will recall that the House recently passed an amendment Bill which is currently in the other place and which provides for the States to receive a fixed amount of $4,336. lm in 1977-78 and for their tax share from 1978-79 onwards to be 39.87 per cent of the preceding year’s collections. These arrangements have replaced the old system of handouts with one in which the concept is the sharing of tax revenues. Under the present Government, the States have received what they have been seeking for many years- a share of income tax revenues.
Stage 1 of the tax sharing arrangements was an important step towards more responsible government in Australia and the restoration of a proper balance in our federal system. The present Bill will enable the implementation of stage 2 of the tax sharing arrangements, and thus represents a further major step towards this objective. Under these proposed Stage 2 arrangements each State will be able at its option to vary, by its own decision, its total share of income tax collections. The States will thus have more effective control of their own revenues as well as their expenditures. Because responsibilities for revenue raising and spending will be more clearly recognised by the electors, there will be a greater incentive towards better housekeeping. However, it would seem from recent comments by some Premiers that some States are unwilling to accept a greater share of responsibility for raising the money they spend. All the Commonwealth can do, and is seeking to do, is to provide the necessary framework to enable the States to help themselves. The next step is up to the States.
A broad framework for Stage 2 of the tax sharing arrangements- the subject of the present Bill- was evolved and agreed during the three Premiers’ Conferences in 1976 and recorded in the points of understanding set out in Budget Paper No. 7. The Stage 2 arrangements have also been the subject of joint CommonwealthState officers’ reports including a report which was considered at the Premiers’ Conference in April 1977. At that Conference there was broad agreement on the following objectives which have been followed in the draft Bill:
First, there should be complete uniformity as between the States in all respects other than rates of any surcharges or rebates;
Secondly, the arrangements should be free of any significant constitutional or other legal doubt;
Thirdly, the scheme should be as simple and inexpensive to administer as practicable consistent wtih legal requirements and the other broad objectives being followed;
Fourthly, the arrangements should impose the least inconvenience practicable on taxpayers and employers; and
Fifthly, the arrangements should be such as to avoid creating avenues for tax avoidance or evasion.
It was also agreed at the April 1977 Premiers’ Conference that Commonwealth officers would consult with officers of Victoria and Western Australia regarding the Commonwealth’s Stage 2 legislation and I record the Commonwealth’s appreciation of the co-operation of the States.
Before turning to the detailed provisions of the Bill I wish to deal with the constant assertions of our political opponents that the Stage 2 arrangements amount to some form of ‘double taxation’. The first point to be made, of course, is that this legislation puts absolutely no compulsion on the States. It merely provides the framework to enable the States, as they may choose, to pick up taxing or rebating options. Only when a State chooses to impose a tax or to allow a rebate, and legislates accordingly, will this legislation be brought into use. Some Premiers, as is well known, have urged the Commonwealth to reduce income tax. The enactment of this legislation will allow those Premiers to reduce income tax in their States. The second important point to be made is that, under this legislation, there will at all times remain one collection and administrative agency. Taxpayers resident in any State will still lodge one annual return of income with the Commissioner of Taxation and will receive a single notice of assessment on which Commonwealth and State components will be shown.
There will be a single pay as you earn deduction from salaries and wages for Commonwealth and State purposes. In plain terms, there will be no additional forms to fill in. Thirdly, the States Traditionally levy a wide range of taxes and charges. There is nothing new in identifying a tax as a particular State tax. The transfer of payroll tax to the States is a prime example in this area.
I turn now to the detailed provisions of the Bill. It has four main parts. One part- Part V- gives authority for the Commissioner of Taxation to administer State tax and rebate laws that meet certain specifications set out in another part- Part II of the Bill- and provides for payment to the States of what is collected by the Commonwealth on their behalf. If also deals with a number of miscellaneous matters.
The other two main parts contain technical and machinery amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act and other Acts.
Part II of the Bill calls for some comment. In drawing it up we have worked within the framework of principles agreed at successive Premiers ‘ Conferences and have taken into account wherever practicable suggestions for changes made by the States to the provisions of the previous BDI to which I have referred earlier. In essence Part II of the Bill is directed to ensuring that the objectives of uniform administration are practical and are met. For example, it would be expected that each State would increase or reduce tax only in respect of people who are residents of that State, according to a common definition of ‘resident’. In that way, no-one would be liable to tax in more than one State in any one year. Again, in the interests of simplicity, a State that wishes to impose a tax or allow a rebate will need to legislate in such a way that the State law can operate in harmony with the Commonwealth tax law. As a consequence, State tax would be collected through the PA YE and provisional tax systems that are now a settled part of the Commonwealth personal tax system. Tax owing to the Commonwealth and to a State will be collected by the Commonwealth as a single, undivided, sum, with the State being paid its share of what is collected. It is because Commonwealth and State tax will be collected in this ‘ merged ‘ way that it is necessary, as set out in clause 79, for an appropriation to be made to enable payment to the States of amounts collected by virtue of State law.
Finally, the magnitude of the activities of federal, State and local governments should be put in true perspective. In the current financial year, on the basis of Budget estimates, State and local governments will have under their supervision no less than 53 per cent of total public sector outlays in Australia. The approximate percentage break-up is: Federal 47 per cent; State 46 per cent; and local 7 per cent. It is vital to the full understanding of intergovernment relations to appreciate the very significant role of State and local government in public finances. The idea that the two spheres are small and insignificant in the overall economic and social scene is a misconception. The detailed provisions of the Bill are fully explained in a memorandum that is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Staley, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for mining companies in the Alligator Rivers region to retain their current rights as far as ownership of and access to existing improvements constructed by them when the land on which the facilities have been erected becomes Aboriginal land. I would stress that the Bill merely confirms the present position of the companies but settles any doubts about their legal rights.
It was the intention of the original Act to protect the existing rights of people who had a prior interest in Aboriginal land, as recommended by Mr Justice Woodward in his Royal Commission report on Aboriginal Land Rights. Following legal advice it is not certain that the Act does this in respect of mining companies in the Alligator Rivers region because of uncertainty as to the nature of their interests in that area. In accordance with the recommendations of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, the Government had delayed issue of any formal authorities to mine until other recommendations concerning the grant of Aboriginal land and environmental protection mechanisms have been implemented.
The Government accepts the need to avoid any argument over this issue, and is particularly mindful of the commitment of the then Labor Government, to guarantee ownership rights of Ranger. This commitment was set out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and the companies which was signed in October 1 975. It is therefore proposed that the Aboriginal Land Rights Act should be amended to ensure that the companies are given rights of access to and ownership of facilities erected to date by them. The Bill also contains a provision to the effect that these amendments shall not be taken to authorise the carrying out of mining operations or exploration for minerals. I stress that these provisions will not authorise the companies to proceed with further work without specific Government approval. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Staley, and read a first time.
Mr STALEY (Chisholm-Acting Minister for
Aboriginal Affairs) ( 12.42)- I move:
This Bill is consequential upon the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Bill 1978. The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that the Aboriginal Land Rights Act will continue to apply when the Northern Territory achieves self-government on 1 July 1978. Under the arrangements which will come into force on 1 July the Territory, like the States, will control unalienated Crown land within its borders. The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act has therefore been amended to ensure that Aboriginal claims to unalienated Crown land made in pursuance of section 50 of the Act can still be made and determined. A similar amendment will ensure that mining royalties payable under the provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act for mining on Aboriginal land continue to flow to the Aboriginal Benefit Trust Account.
Under the principal Act, where the Commonwealth is using or occupying land that becomes Aboriginal land, that occupation is protected by the provisions of section 14 of the Act. The amending Bill provides similar protection to the Northern Territory Government and in the same way binds the Northern Territory to pay rent for areas where the occupation or use of the land is not for a ‘community purpose ‘ within the meaning of the Act.
This is a simple but important Bill which will assure the Aboriginal people that the commitments made and entered into by the Government through the Aboriginal Land Rights Act will continue after self-government for the Northern Territory. The Government is conscious cf the importance which Aboriginals in the Northern Territory attach to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and the opportunity which it affords to Aboriginals to lay claim to their traditional lands.
As the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Bill will significantly alter the relationship between the Commonwealth and the Territory, it is essential that there is no doubt of the Commonwealth’s intentions on this matter. The present amendments make it clear that the Aboriginal land rights legislation will continue to operate after self-government is achieved. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hurford) adjourned.
– I move:
This proposal was first examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in 1973 and the Committee recommended construction of the work subject to acquisition of the site from the Clunies-Ross estate and confirmation that it had the support of the local people. Site acquisition was completed on 8 March 1978 and the local people have indicated their support.
Since 1973 requirements have changed and the number of imported animals to be accommodated has been reduced from 200 to 120. Changes have also been introduced to incorporate the latest concepts of animal care and husbandry. As a consequence of these changes, the Committee re-examined the proposal and in again recommending construction of the works noted that:
The need for the quarantine station has not diminished since the Committee reported in 1973.
Australia has a continuing need for improved genetic material for its economic range of livestock species.
To ensure complete disease security from the mainland, the Committee confirms the selection of the site on West Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
The reduction in station capacity from 200 to 120 adult cattle will not prejudice the viability of the station and will be offset, in certain respects, by the additional facilities to be provided at the Torrens Island station.
The new design incorporates the latest concept of animal care and husbandry.
The estimated cost of the works is $6.4m at February 1978 prices, which I might mention represents a saving of over $3m on the initial project, for which the Public Works Committee should receive some credit. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning will proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– I had the pleasure of being a member of the Committee that took part in the second hearing of this matter, and I think all Australians wSl realise the benefit that it is to the nation. It is true, as the Minister has said, that the project was originally referred to the Public Works Committee on 3 1 May 1973. The Committee tabled its report on 20 September 1973 and concluded that there was a need to establish a high security animal quarantine station on an island remote from the mainland.
Honourable members will probably recall that it was first contemplated that this quarantine station be set up on Norfolk Island, which I was greatly interested in at the time, but due to the attitude of the Norfolk Island people the construction of the animal quarantine station was not commenced. I have been informed that a strong section of the Norfolk Island people now regrets that they did not allow or encourage the Government to examine the facilities at Norfolk Island and set up the quarantine station there.
Subject to satisfactory arrangements regarding the site and the local people being in favour of the station being built, the Committee recommended West Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in preference to Norfolk Island and Christmas Island. This motion of expediency that the work proceed has been delayed until now because of difficulties in resolving issues relating to the acquisition of land, of which all honourable members would be aware. The negotiations with the Clunies-Ross estate were successfully concluded by the Australian Government after some hesitancy on the part of the Clunies-Ross estate. I think all honourable members would be pleased to know that the issues were resolved in a manner satisfactory to both parties.
The Public Works Committee in fulfilling its responsibility to the Parliament resolved to review its 1 973 report following the decision of the Government, on budgetary grounds, to cut back on the expenditure on the original plan and to reduce the capacity of the station from 200 to 120 adult cattle. This was mentioned by the Minister. Members of the Public Works Committee thoroughly interrogated witnesses at the resumed hearings with a view to ascertaining whether a cutback of expenditure or a reduction in the number of adult cattle it could handle from 200 to 120 would reduce the efficiency of the station. I think it was the unanimous decision of the Committee that efficiency had not been sacrificed by reducing the cost of the station. It was pointed out by the witnesses that provision was made for expansion, if necessary, in the future. Another island off the South Australian coast has been made available, I believe, by the Government for quarantine purposes. This will not necessitate the use of the larger station on Cocos (Keeling) Islands as originally intended.
The Committee held a public hearing in Canberra on Friday, 12 May, and heard evidence from the Department of Health, the Department of Construction and the Bureau of Animal Health. One feels proud when one learns of the efficiency of this group of departmental officersservants of the Parliament and the people of Australia- of their obligations to the Commonwealth, of the great learning that they have acquired and of the dedication of these officers as top level public servants. I do not think that they get from the Australian people the credit to which they are entitled. They are dedicated to the jobs allocated to them. I think they are equal to the world ‘s best in the fields that they pursue on behalf of the Government of the people of Australia.
Following a searching examination of the revised proposal, the Committee is satisfied that the viability of the station will not be prejudiced, particularly as the Department of Health intends to expand its existing animal quarantine station at Torrens Island- I referred to that a short time ago- near Adelaide to include facilities for 144 cattle. Cattle from the United Kingdom and Ireland and New Zealand cattle of foreign origin will be imported through this station which, as I said earlier, does not necessitate the building of the larger station as was originally intended on Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I am very happy to be a party to the Public Works Committee’s recommendation to the Government that the work proceed.
– Having served on the original Joint Committee on Public Works of 1973 that in fact visited Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and Norfolk Island, I congratulate the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Canning (Mr Bungey), on taking initiative under the section of the Act which gives him the right to have this matter re-examined by the Public Works Committee. It is rather curious to sit some five years later and to hear different witnesses from the same Department put forward views supporting a project that five years ago we were told was indispensable. I realise that there have been difficulties over the usage over the land at West Island. We were also very strongly convinced at that time that the station would need to handle 240 cattle or a larger number of smaller beasts. Now, five years later, we are told that figure must have been unreal. We have come down to the figure of 120 cattle. I will go along with the proposition at the moment, but I am not altogether satisfied in my mind that wisdom is being applied in relation to this quarantine station.
I am strongly of the view that somewhere along the line someone put a blue pencil through the design. The Department was told to cut costs. I acknowledge that the Minister for Construction (Mr McLeay) paid credit to the Public Works Committee for saving those costs; but it did not. It looked at the project as it was then put forward. The escalation in the anticipated cost of the structure was not brought about by any escalation of costs in the Australian community; in fact it was brought about by the fact that in the original proposition the Cocos-Malay peoplethe inhabitants of the islands- were to be used in the construction of the building.
However, there has been an efflux of people from those islands, as we have now been told. As a consequence of that, Australian labour will be used on the project. There are only about eight Cocos-Malays left who, if they offer themselves for work, will be provided with work of what is described as a municipal nature. All of those facts are very important. The Committee at that time argued that the people who built the building should be paid at Australian rates of pay, but the blue pencil was put through that suggestion. Although the demand for this station has been demonstrated by a number of cattle breeding organisations, neither then nor now can anyone say with any accuracy how many cattle a year will need to go through that station.
I should like to avert to another hearing held by the Public Works Committee. It held hearings at Rockhampton in regard to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s proposed cattle research station. It was made quite clear to the Committee on that occasion that there was a need for bos indicus cattle from areas where cattle cannot now be brought into Australia because of the disease proneness of the land in which they have been grazing. So, the cattle are suspect. If there is an outbreak of any of these diseases on the mainland, the House would be aware, I am sure, that all Australian export beef would be- to use a colloquialism- ‘declared black’. It would not matter where the outbreak was, all Australian beef and mutton would be suspect. So, it is necessary to have the station off-shore.
These strains of cattle are badly needed, as the Minister said. We were convinced by cattle raisers and breeders in Rockhampton that there is a need for these breeds of cattle- these africanders, brahman and various other subbreeds of the bos indicus type. There is a need for them. There is a demonstrated need, but they cannot come to Australia because the countries of origin are suspect. Therefore, we need our own quarantine station. We need to renew the genetic strains in our beef to give them resistance to ticks and to what is called ‘appetite’ whereby the cattle can live on meagre herbage and pasture but still put on plenty of weight while they are doing it.
This project is badly needed. I think that it is tragic and that Australia has just been damn lucky, to use that expression, that there has not been a serious outbreak of disease in the intervening five years. Coupled with this project, of course, is the Australian National Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong. They are a handinglove operation. I understand that the Government has not provided very much money for the project at Geelong. Again, I think that is a tragedy. I am a little surprised that our agricultural community has not made its voice louder on these two projects. I certainly do not oppose the motion. I would have supported it five years ago and I support it very strongly on this occasion. I trust that it will not be too long before the off-shore high security animal quarantine station on West Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is in operation.
– I should like to thank the Joint Committee on Public Works very much for the expedient, instructive and helpful way it has completed its examination of the proposal for a Cocos (Keeling) Islands quarantine station. I should also like to thank the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), particularly, for the very kind compliments he paid to officers of my Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented.
-Yes. I refer to today’s issue of the Bulletin dated 6 June 1978 and to an article headed: “The Man who fixes our pay packet’, by Bob Carr. The article deals with His Honour, Sir John Moore, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The article purports to tell how Sir John Moore was appointed as President of the Commission. The particular paragraph which misrepresents my position states:
The time came in 1973 when Kirby retired. Clyde Cameron, however, wanted to thrust an outsider into the presidency, Jack Sweeney, QC. Bob Hawke revolted at the notion: while never as close to Moore as he was to Kirby, he was convinced that by-passing Moore would only destabilise the Bench. Hawke saw Whitlam, Cameron was over-ruled and Moore got the job.
The facts are these: Mr Justice Sweeney, as he now is, was promised the presidency of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission before the 1972 election. It was promised by me in the presence of the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr E. G. Whitlam, with Mr Whitlam ‘s specific endorsement, in the presence of the two of us in Mr Whitlam ‘s office. After the election Mr Sweeney, QC, was appointed as a judge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission with the promise that he would get the presidency if and when it should become vacant. This promise was made known to Mr Hawke who, however, spoke with Mr Justice Moore about the matter and finally also spoke to Mr Whitlam about it. Mr Whitlam told me of his talk with Mr Hawke, but he also told me, and emphasised the fact, that if I wanted to appoint Mr Justice Sweeney, as he then was, to the position of President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr Justice Kirby, he would get the job. He told me that he had no intention whatever of repudiating his promise to me or his promise to Mr Justice Sweeney. He did suggest, however, that Mr Justice Sweeney’s very special knowledge of industrial law- he is an outstanding industrial lawyer- should not be lost to the Commonwealth Industrial Court, and that I ought to try to persuade him to transfer from the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to the Industrial
Court, but to make it clear to Mr Justice Sweeney that, if he still wanted the presidency of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the original offer would still stand.
I told Mr Justice Sweeney of Mr Whitlam ‘s proposition and so did Dr Ian Sharp, my permanent head; and he finally agreed to go to the Industrial Court, adding that he had developed a deep respect for Mr Justice Moore since he had worked with him as a Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and that he also enjoyed a warm friendship with him and would, in these circumstances, be happy to release Mr Whitlam and me from the earlier commitments which we had made to him.
Whoever told Mr Carr that I was overridden by Mr Whitlam is a liar. If anyone told Mr Carr that Mr Whitlam did in fact override me, he is also a liar. I do not suggest that Mr Carr made this up. I know that he did not. I know Mr Carr, I like him, respect him and I know that he would not do this. However, whenever a journalist proposes to write anything about any public figure he ought to have the decency- and the common sense- perhaps more importantly, to check his story with the person affected.
In my case, I intend to expose in this Parliament any lies that are written about me in the Press and to send a copy of my remarks to the proprietor of the Press in which the lies are published. In this case, I am certain that Mr Carr’s story did not come from His Honour Mr Justice Sweeney. As Mr Whitlam is overseas one is entitled to deduce that it was not Mr Whitlam who gave Mr Carr the story. I conclude by saying that Sir John Moore would not- I emphasise would not- have been appointed as President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, when he was appointed, had His Honour Mr Justice Sweeney wanted the position. Mr Whitlam did not repudiate his promise to Mr Justice Sweeney and I did not repudiate mine and neither was I overruled.
Sitting suspended from 1.6 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 25 May, on motion by Mr Fife:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1978 is not one of those exciting Bills which we debate but indeed its subject matter is one of most importance for our country at a tune of grave economic difficulties and high unemployment. Let me state immediately that it is a machinery Bill and that the Opposition is not opposing it. However, I do want to give some background to the Bill. As we in this Parliament know but as many people who read its records may not know, tariff changes are put into operation when Parliament is sitting by the introduction of what is known as a Customs Tariff Proposal. Debate does not ensue when that Proposal is introduced to the House. Indeed, debate is adjourned and is never resumed on that particular Proposal. If Parliament is not sitting the changes are put into operation by the publication in the Government Gazette of a notice of intention, but those changes must be introduced into this House within 7 sitting days of the Parliament resuming.
Another part of the background that we all need to understand is that the introduction of the Proposals or the publication of a notice of intention in the Gazette does not change the tariffs in the Customs TarifT Act. However, customs officers collecting the duties at the new rate are protected from legal challenge until the end of six months or until the end of the particular session of the Parliament, whichever comes first. Before that period expires, the changes have to be incorporated in the amendments to the Schedules of the Customs Tariff Act. Those honourable members who are present in the chamber and who I recognise are the people particularly interested in the subject of tariffs would know that only last week, I think it was, we passed a Bill in this Parliament known as the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill which gave effect to all those Proposals. So such a Customs Tariff Amendment Bill is normally introduced twice a year, as we know, consolidating all the Proposals introduced into the House since the passage of the previous Customs Tariff Amendment Bill.
Further to that, in cases where the Government is unable to prepare amendment Bills in time, it may temporarily cover the situation by having passed a Customs Validation Bill. That is the situation right now in the Parliament. I have already called ii a machinery measure, pending the introduction of that amendment Bill which I suppose we must expect to be introduced in about six months time, since we have just dealt with an amendment Bill, namely, that which formally enacts the tariffproposals.
The purpose of the Bill immediately under consideration therefore is to make all duties demanded or collected on or before 3 1 December this year, relating to Customs Tariff Proposals
Nos. 13 and 14 introduced into this House since the introduction of the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill, ‘lawfully imposed and lawfully demanded or collected ‘.
I commented on these procedures when I was leading for the Opposition in the debate on the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill, and I have heard with gratitude that the Government is looking at ways and means of improving the procedures. I welcome that news. I know that this is not a party political matter. Indeed, the way in which these proposals have come into the Parliament since Federation, I suppose- I cannot give the exact history but this has been the procedure for many years anyway- has been the form in which they are now. That is not to say that there is not a better form. I think we should look at the parliaments which are closest to ours- other parliaments which adopt the Westminster system, namely, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, to mention three- to see how they deal with such proposals as these Customs Tariff Proposals.
Perhaps the next move will be to make a reference to the Standing Orders Committee in the hope that a committee will be establishedperhaps its members will comprise those honourable members in the chamber at the moment as well as others who are interested in this subjectto look more carefully at this legislation than we are able to do in this general form of debate which we are conducting now.
One aspect about this Customs Tariff Validation Bill which I find slightly puzzling is the reason why the Government has introduced it at this stage when I believe it has until late November to do so, if I understand the proposals correctly. That is one reason why I am entering into this debate. One of the customs of this House has been not even to debate Customs Tariff Validations Bills but to let them go through. However, as we were rather rushed in debating the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill last week, I am using this occasion to raise not only the manner in which we deal with this legislation but also to say some things I did not say in the other debate because I was anxious to allow the Whips to run the House in the way that they wanted to do so at that time. I repeat, however, what I said about the procedures on that occasion. The time is overdue to alter the procedures by which Parliament considers these tariff changes. These procedures are no longer sufficient in view of the changed attitudes about the usefulness of tariff adjustments in the pursuit of the objective of economic policy. No longer are they sufficient for our purpose.
So we come to the subject of the tariff itself, as opposed to the procedures. Rather than debate the specific tariff changes in Proposals Nos 13 and 14, 1 intend to say something about what I consider to be the Government’s failure to use tariffs properly or to complement them with industry policies which are overdue. This Customs Tariff Validation Bill is concerned with the revenue which results from the Commonwealth Government’s power to impose tariffs. However, we all know that revenue raising is not the primary purpose of tariffs. For this reason it is important to subject the Government’s attitudes towards tariffs to closer scrutiny.
In relation to Tariffproposals Nos 13 and 14 of the Customs Tariff Amendment Bill, which I repeat we debated last week, I think it is fair to ask the question whether the Government is guilty of an excessive amount of tampering with tariffs. To a large extent all that the Government is really doing, in my view, is fiddling at the margins. I would say that it is fiddling with the shadow, whereas we need to get on with dealing with the substance of tariffs and what they are all about. All the Government seems to me to be doing is trying the impossible- the fine tuning of tariffs. We should recognise that the essential protection of jobs, which is so necessary while industry adapts to change, is really being achieved by the imposition of quotas rather than by the imposition of tariffs or by tariff changes. I raise the possibility of applying a freeze to this fiddling with the fringes of the tariffs while the Industries Assistance Commission gets on with the job of studying and recommending on the longer term tariff benchmarks at which we should be aiming.
I wish to put that in another way in order to supplement what I have just said. I believe that whilst we are asking the Industries Assistance Commission to do the smaller jobs- to be the firemen to put out the grass fires that are going on around the place because of the grave economic conditions which prevail at the present time- the Industries Assistance Commission does not have the resources to do that longer term more important job of studying benchmarks.
Another criticism which I have relates to the Government’s determined attempts to stifle proper consideration of tariff changes by this independent body, the IAC. We are deeply suspicious of a government which deals with unpalatable advice, not simply by rejecting it but by trying to prevent the body from giving it. I draw the attention of the House to an article which was published in the National Times last weekend. It was headed ‘Fraser Prepares the
Way for Stacking the IAC. When such charges are made I think it is proper to air them in this House and to give the Government an opportunity to deny them. The summary of this article states:
Behind a deceptively innocuous advertisement appearing in Australian papers at present lies a Government initiative which could lead to stacking the Industries Assistance Commission with supporters of Mr Fraser’s high-protection line.
I recognise that we need to hold the floodgates at this time of grave economic difficulty. But at the same time, we in the Opposition have asserted again and again our support for the concept of the Industries Assistance Commission as an independent advisory body giving objective advice to the Government. We do not want to see that advisory body lose its independence in any way. We value greatly the independent position and advice of the IAC. I acknowledge and welcome the presence in the House of the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) and I hope that this debate will provide him with an opportunity to deny the charges made in that article.
Even more perturbing is the Government’s pretensions that its strategies for the development of industries which are heavily reliant on these tariff adjustments are quite sufficient. The Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr Lynch) is regularly stating in what I consider to be a rather glib way that confidence has returned and that all we have to do now, having created the conditions for an improved economy, is sit back and wait for the private sector to do the right thing. This is the sort of thing he was saying on his return from China and it points up the stark difference between the ideologies of those in the Government parties and those on this side of the Parliament. Certainly, we have to create the conditions and we welcome the improvement in the inflation history of this country in recent months. Certainly that improvement should help a return to a higher level of economic activity but it is not good enough for the Government to sit back and wait for the recovery to happen. Even a casual glance at the Government’s strategy as outlined in the White Paper on Manufacturing Industry is more than enough to dismiss out of hand what I call the smug indifference of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the problems which have confronted, are confronting, and will continue to confront, manufacturing industries in particular and Australian industry in general.
An essential part of the Government ‘s strategy revealed in the White Paper was the Government’s short term industry policy aimed at protecting employment in Australian industry by increasing import barriers, including tariffs. Whilst it is undeniable that urgent measures need to be taken to protect jobs and to encourage the recovery of Australian industry, it is already conventional wisdom that the Government’s heavy and singular reliance on increased tariffs and quotas will be ineffective in achieving these important objectives. What is conventional wisdom is that they will be effective. I do not believe that that ought to be conventional wisdom because we are not getting that recovery we all hoped for. It is being postponed by the policies that the Liberal-National Country Party Government is pursuing. The main indicator of the success of an economic policy is the level of unemployment and we have to face the fact that unemployment is growing. There are just not sufficient new jobs being created to take up the increase in the employable population. In fact, the number of jobs is decreasing. Even if the employable population remained static there would be an increase in unemployment and that is just not good enough. It is likely that such temporary assistance as this Government has been applying is merely having the effect in many areas of increasing the inflation rate generally and of increasing the profits of assisted industries.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MillarOrder! The honourable member is drifting away from the subject of this Bill. I ask him to be a little more specific in his remarks.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I will remind you time and again, so that I am speaking to the nature of the Bill, that the tariff is very much part of an industry policy. I am contrasting the use of tariffs and short-term measures with the sort of things that I believe ought to be applied. I hope in those circumstances that you will agree with me that it is pertinent to raise these matters in this debate.
-If the honourable member will recognise that the Bill is not all embracing I will allow him to proceed.
-Certainly. The Bill validates tariff collections between now and the end of this calendar year and we can expect many more tariff proposals to be introduced in the recess, in gazettal form and in the next session of the Parliament the Budget session, by way of tariff proposals. I hope you will agree, Mr Deputy Speaker, that they form part of industry policy generally and, therefore, that you will allow me to talk about industry policy. I believe that the present short-term approach is increasing inflation and increasing profits of those companies which are affected. This approach is counterproductive to what we all are trying to achieve and that is, greater investment in manufacturing industry and greater creation of jobs than we have had hitherto.
It is for this reason that I believe it is a misnomer to label the Government’s short-term strategy as protectionist because it is not protecting jobs. The Government’s approach does an injustice to the true meaning of the word ‘protectionist’ for the Government is guilty of doing precious little to effectively protect the security of jobs. A real protectionist strategy, and that is what Australians want, must go much further than fiddling with tariffs at the margin and leaving the rest to the vagaries of market forces. Even if it were possible to overlook the misplaced optimism in the Government’s short-term strategy and concentrate on its long-term strategy for the development of more efficient Australian industry, there is no more cause for optimism with regard to its long-term strategy because again we find that the prescriptions are based on inadequate analysis. When I talk about optimism . I draw the attention of the House to what the Minister for Industry and Commerce said in this Parliament last week about confidence having returned.
With regard to the long-term strategy, all that the Government is committed to is complete reliance on tariff reductions to encourage the development of more efficient industries. I remind the House of what has been so much in the news in the last couple of weeks, the proposal to reduce tariffs by 40 per cent over eight years starting in 1980. This seems to be the only long-term policy that the Government has put before the nation. We are still unsure of the extent to which it has been embraced by this Government, but we find it totally cynical for such a policy to be even considered by this Government in view of all it has said in the past about the 25 per cent tariff cuts. When it talks about the 25 per cent across the board tariff cuts it always neglects to mention that these were brought in at a time of over-full employment and at a time when inflation was running rife. That action was recommended by a committee of some of the most experienced people in our community as one of the ways to dampen down demand, that is, by increasing the supply of goods. That is always neglected when talking about the 25 per cent tariff cuts. It is quite a different matter now to talk about a 40 per cent tariff cut in a time of very low economic activity.
No complementary policies are talked aboutjust tariff cuts. It is high time- indeed I wish it could happen before this Parliament goes into the winter recess- that a statement was made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce about longer term industry policy, rather than our merely having the opportunity to debate the tariff policies as we have today. The Government’s reliance upon market forces to determine the structure of Australian industry and to nominate growth industries and its reliance upon what I call reactive, negative schemes such as these tariff cuts to induce the movements of resources to those industries which it believes ought to be encouraged are just not good enough. Among the many reasons for my assertion is the fact that labour resources, being people, not economic abstractions, often behave less predictably than is presumed; so that a punitive approach of tariff reductions is only likely to encourage those affected to devote their energies to resisting the changes, rather than getting on and adapting to change.
Another point I wish to make is that owners of capital are often all too human, by not acting as rationally as is assumed by the advocates of the market forces and tariff changes, and are often gripped with investment hesitancy. I have learnt a new phrase recently to cover this investment hesitancy. I notice that in America it is now called ‘hesoflation’, because one of the effects of the downturn in the economy throughout the Western world has been a hesitancy to invest. This is one of the reactions to inflation, and it is called ‘hesoflation’. Another result is that the benefits of increased international competitiveness which might occur as a result of the reliance of market forces would not be shared by all, but would go mainly to the owners of capital, especially multinational companies.
The costs associated with change and improved international competitiveness would ultimately be borne by labour and would not be shared by the community as a whole. I put that point in other words: We are very concerned that in the present set-up, changes to tariff being the only measure used in order to bring about adaptation for industry, in order to concentrate on those things we do well, are introduced in such a way that only a small proportion of people are penalised, namely, those iri the particular industry which goes out of production and from which jobs are lost. When we bring about change, we have to devise ways in which to bring about adaptation in industry to see that the community generally bears the cost, not just those in the particular industry affected.
I wish to say a few words about the Labor Opposition ‘s alternative approach to tariff policy. First of all, I make the point that in stark contrast to that which I have just been describing, namely, the Government’s efforts in this area, the Opposition is currently forming some definite alternative industry policy proposals to fill the vacuum left by the failure of the existing government policy. In general, we in the Opposition are committed to industry and manpower policies which will make a real contribution to ensuring a more stable, prosperous and secure future for Australians. This can be achieved by helping to lower the rate of employment and inflation and at the same time by consolidating and increasing the position of manufacturing industry in our economy. We have stated quite often- the question of tariffs is very applicable to this-that in order for there to be sufficient rewarding jobs in this country, we must have a manufacturing industry. Indeed, may be an argument could be put that at one time by exporting our primary products- that is, our minerals as well as our rural products- and by employing people in tertiary industries, the service industries, we may have been able to pay our way as a country and also make sufficient jobs available to keep ourselves fully employed. That would not be good enough because there would not be sufficient rewarding jobs for an educated people. We need to have jobs in the technological sphere so that we are more independent and so that there is more satisfaction for many people who want to be employed in that sort of work. So it is basic to our thinking that there should be a strong manufacturing sector.
To this end and, I believe, in complete contrast to what is happening at present, the Labor Party is developing policy proposals which emphasise changing- adapting industry and a planning approach to this. We also advocate using positive means such as export market development and research and development subsidies rather than just using the tariff which I look upon as a negative, punitive way of bringing about that transfer of resources from those things that we do not do well to those things on which we should be concentrating. We talk about ‘pro-change’ because we express optimism that change, if managed properly, and in the interests of all, offers the surest path to the achievement of job security for Australian workers associated with an everincreasing standard of living. We talk about planning because we are convinced that the management of change requires a definite leadership role by government in the form of an indicative planning approach complemented by a great deal of participation by those affected. We talk about ‘positive’ as regards tariffs because, as I have said, we believe in such things as concentrating on exports, building industries on our own research and development and by government initiating such changes rather than by leaving it to the tariff in order to penalise certain people out of a particular form of activity in the hope that they will then use their resources in some other form. That just is not happening. We are restructuring, but we are restructuring down and out of things without anywhere for those resources to go. That is why I personally have been initiating the particular proposals within the community for having the proper machinery to ensure that the Government does more to see that the restructuring is not down but up, and to ensure that where we have some research and development we then have the know-how, the energy, the imagination and the entrepreneurship to build an industry on that research and development.
There have been many examples just recently of where, in the public sector, we should not just be sitting back waiting for things to happen. One refers for instance to the possibility of establishing further aluminium smelters in this country. I am sure that all of us were very pleased to note that the Gove consortium of companies which mine the bauxite in the Northern Territory is thinking in terms of building a smelter somewhere in Australia. That is one of the areas in which governments should ensure that resources are transferred rather than use the tariff to see that those resources are moved out. We have to make sure that we know where the resources are heading. It will need government action to ensure that that smelting industry gets off the ground. The same situation applies for Comalco. There is no certainty that that company will build a further smelter at Gladstone.
Order! I remind the honourable member for Adelaide that by his frequent use of the word tariff’ he has enabled me to give him considerably more latitude, possibly more than he is entitled to receive. I ask him, in the remaining minutes available to him, to come back to the Bill.
– Well, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you have decided to limit this debate more than I expected, I hope that I have made the point that we in the Opposition are not satisfied that by just having a tariff policy one has an industry policy. I was hoping to be able to use this occasion to illustrate what I consider a wider industry policy to be. Of course I bow to your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this is not the occasion to do so.
In summary, I merely wish to point out that the Opposition sees a lesser role for the tariff in the future as an instrument of industry policy. In particular, I should like to see the Industries Assistance Commission being asked to establish bench-mark tariffs which would be the minimum levels necessary to maintain a viable industry in the long-term. I should like to see the Commission using its resources on that aspect rather than to be putting out these grass fires around the place. I should also like to see the IAC establish a timetable for the reductions in tariffs to these bench marks. One of the few compensating factors about what we understand to be the Government’s new policy of reducing tariffs by 40 per cent over 8 years is that at least there will be a timetable which will allow people to make the necessary adjustments slowly rather than in a hurry. I recognise that that was one of the difficulties of the 25 per cent across-the-board cuts. However, they were brought about in a very different atmosphere. Whilst not opposing the Customs Tariff Validation Bill the Opposition urges the Government to recognise the vacuum in industry strategy in the hope that a statement will be made in this Parliament very soon on a wider industry policy.
– One of the problems I always face when I hear a member of the Opposition speak on a Customs Tariff Validation Bill is his complete lack of understanding and comprehension of the true role of the Industries Assistance Commission. The IAC is a truly independent statutory body. The Government has no control over its activities. Yet, in its role as an independent statutory body it is required to furnish to the Government various recommendations in relation to matters which have been referred to it. It amazes me that the Australian Labor Party for some unknown reason does not understand the true role of the IAC. At the same time, it tries to excuse a decision which it made as a government after an independent study done by the IAC was accepted by it in July 1 973. This matter has been thrashed out on numerous occasions. I shall not reiterate it today. But I believe that it should be clearly stated to all people, particularly Opposition members who do not understand its true role, that the IAC is an independent body. It will remain so.
The IAC is another one of those bodies which this Government, particularly the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife), uses as a means of reference. It is only that. The decisions that this Government makes are taken after consideration of all the factors which will affect people in industry, particularly the manufacturing industry. Tariff validation legislation, which comes at the end of a six month period, is a very important part of government. I am pleased to be a supporter of a government which has allowed tariff validation Bills to be debated. That gives honourable members an opportunity to get involved in a very difficult and complex area but a very important one. Many people do not understand the importance of tariffs and how they can affect large sections of the Australian community. Taken to their logical and extreme end, they can affect every single person within the Australian community.
What is done in the tariff area can most dramatically affect employment. I think it is necessary to put this statement in context by an illustration of what transpired in the employment sector between 1954 and 1971. These are the most accurate up-to-date figures which can be used in a comparison. The three major areas of employment which have been affected by tariff decisions are the rural sector, the mining sector and the manufacturing sector. The share of total employment generated in the rural sector fell between 1 954 and 1 97 1 from 13.1 per cent to about 8 per cent. Whilst the volume of output of the many rural products has been on a long term trend upward, the relative decline in rural product prices has offset the effect of this growth and the contribution of the rural share of the gross domestic product, which fell from around 18.5 per cent to around 6.9 per cent.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order! I am reluctant to interrupt the honourable member for Brisbane, particularly as I gave considerable latitude to the honourable member for Adelaide, but he appears to be engaging in a debate on the broad tariff question. The Bill before the House is designed simply to achieve validation of collections pursuant to customs tariff proposals introduced into Parliament on 24 May. I request the honourable member to direct his remarks to the Bill.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, with great respect to you I feel that what I am saying is relevant. The customs regulations to which you refer cover a whole host of individual imports to this country. They affect not only the rural sector upon which I am now touching but also the mining sector, our levels of employment and various industries right throughout Australia. For that reason I am touching on these areas to bring my speech into line with the decisions the Government makes in relation to tariffs. We will then have a total picture of how important they are and why I am supporting the Customs Tariff Validation Bill.
-I accept the honourable member’s explanation that tariffs have a broad effect. But in this case I am obliged to require him to address himself to the proposals that this Bill is intended to validate.
-The Customs Tariff Validation Bill which is before the House ensures that people who would be put out of jobs without a tariff validation will continue in employment. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek a ruling as to how narrow you intend to make this debate. It has been a tradition of this House for members of the Opposition and the Government to use a customs tariff validation Bill to expand the total general areas of tariffs. This has occurred on numerous occasions.
-It is not the responsibility of the Chair to direct the honourable member as to the nature of his remarks but to rule upon them. I mention, however, that customs tariff validation Bills in the past have rarely attracted general debate. I appreciate the honourable member’s difficulty.
– I take a point of order.
-The honourable member for Franklin should not seek the call from the Chair while the Deputy Speaker is addressing the House. I have completed my remarks. I call the honourable member for Franklin.
– The honourable member for Adelaide spent 25 minutes on a speech which was not actually relevant to the Bill but which espoused the policies of the Opposition. I believe that the same consideration should be given to the honourable member for Brisbane.
-I take the honourable member’s point. I drew the attention of the honourable member for Adelaide and the House to some shortcomings in that respect. I am eager to establish some balance as far as I can properly do so. The challenge rests with the honourable member for Brisbane as to whether he can accommodate that situation.
-Besides the rural sector which is dramatically affected by what we do in relation to tariffs, because of our policy on tariffs there has also been a dramatic change in one other important area. That is the mining sector. The gross output from the mining sector has expanded rapidly since the mid 1960s although in 1973-74 its share of the gross domestic product was still only 4 per cent. Its share of our total employment was only 1.5 per cent. The rapid expansion of output from the mining sector and the changes evident in its products mix have been a response to world market conditions. World market conditions are fairly reflected in what this Government has done since coming to office in 1975 to ensure that people involved in the manufacturing industries can make a decision in relation to their long term prospects and the employment of people within those industries and, at the same time, operate in a framework which has been laid down and made legal by tariff” validation. We, as a Government, contrary to the allegation so frequently thrown at us from the Opposition, are deeply concerned about the employment situation, which can be dramatically affected by tariffs. That was seen following the decision of July 1973 of the former Labor Government, which found that it very quickly had reached an impossible situation, one never previously achieved, in which, within a comparatively short period some 48,000 people were thrown out of work.
The Government’s policy- it is important that we understand the tariff situation- has been to offer this framework and, at the same time, give incentives in very important areas such as research and development, taxation and exports so that the small Australian domestic market may be enlarged by orders attracted from the world market and we can increase the small production runs which make some of our products manufactured under a tariff wall, extremely uncompetitive with those manufactured elsewhere. To this end, it is important that we should look at the factors which are affecting the size of our domestic and overseas markets within the framework of tariffs and the impact that tariffs have on the market place.
The key to obtaining an improved investment outlook is to create expanding market opportunities, both locally and abroad, for both exportearning and import-replacing industries. This is intimately tied up with what this Government is doing in relation to tariffs. Within the Australian economy three important sectors which have the capacity to meet these objectives are the rural, mining and manufacturing sectors. It should be clearly recognised that the service sector has only a limited capacity to earn export income- certainly not in the volumes generated by the other sectors of our community. Therefore, quite rightly, the focus of current Government thinking is the means by which market opportunities can be created for the output of those three areas, especially the manufacturing sector. Attention is being given to all three sectors, as shifts in world economics takes place and as actions of other governments render it impossible for Australia to be totally dependent on the performance of one or even two of these sectors alone.
It is with a great deal of pride that, as a supporter of the Government, I endorse the move by our Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who has just taken off for Europe to try to bring to the notice of those countries the importance which Australia places on the opportunity to create an impact, in a competitive way, on their market place. When we consider the balance in the trading arrangements that we have with the European Economic Community- in the vicinity of $2 billion to the advantage of the EEC- we realise that we could do exactly what it has donecreate such high tariff walls that its products would be excluded and that $2 billion surplus would no longer exist. It will be on only rare occasions that the cycles of world trade will be such that the full export, or import-replacing, potential of these three sectors will be derived. On most occasions, world economic conditions will cause the potential of one or more of these sectors to be curtailed. Amongst the range of the key issues which direcdy influence the performance of exports and imports are the exchange rates, tariffs and competitiveness of Australian products with those made or produced in other countries. Rather than pay particular attention to tariffs on their own, we must focus on the broader range of issues under the general heading of assistance to industry against competitive imports. This is one of the important aspects of tariff validation bills such as we are discussing today. Such assistance measures are more directly relevant to those industries which have a manufacturing base orientated for the major part of the local Australian market. Through a tuning of tariffs, import controls, or other nontariff barriers, assuming stable exchange rate conditions, the flow of imported products to the Australian market can be regulated. In recent years, certainly since 1971, there has been a strong body of opinion that tariffs should be lowered to promote a greater flow of imports with a view to causing restructuring of Australian industries. In fact, this has occurred in quite a number of instances.
It should be recognised that in the case of most Australian companies the bulk of the output is directed towards the Australian market. The scale of their operations and their consequent manufacturing performance, is geared to the through-put achievable from this market. Export activities assist favourably the scale of operations and manufacturing performance. However, as export activity is generally small in relation to total activity, a reduction in local markets has a serious and significant adverse effect on manufacturing performance.
Therefore, in the current context of the existing structure of manufacturing industry, reductions of tariffs, or other means of controlling imports, results in a lowering of the competitiveness of local industry and promotes industry scale-down rather than industry reorganisation. The example of the Australian electronics industry is a case in point. Similarly, the rapid scalingdown of the textiles, clothing and footwear industries under conditions of reduced controls over imports, is another illustrative case.
By a wise use of tariff validation Bills, which reflect what has been done by the Customs people on the ground when facing a difficult decision in relation to large imports we have, over a period of years, protected Australian industries, have ensured that Australians who hold positions within those industries could continue in that employment and, at the same time, have provided an infrastructure of go-ahead manufacturing concerns. This has led, over a period of time, to an increase in the Australian work force. I believe that these actions have been very important.
I believe, however, that in this period of 1978, 1979 and 1980, when we are increasingly facing a more difficult world situation, in what we are doing with overseas companies in relation to access to our Australian markets, and in what we are doing in the exportation of our Australian manufactured goods, the use of tariffs is becoming less and less important. However, as a policy to replace tariffs, greater consideration should be given to areas such as quotas. Quotas in themselves, I believe, are as an absolute end in that they can ensure a total cut-off point with goods which are coming over to this country, or can be used to allow a greater amount of goods to flow into this country.
The argument that is fallaciously brought forth by those who have a short-term free trade policy shows a complete lack of concern for fellow Australians who enjoy their present standard of living. Over a period of time those advocates fail to realise that free trade policies will not ensure an increase in the number of people who are involved in our manufacturing industries, which are so important.
This is a very significant piece of legislation. It provides a means of ensuring that we in Australia can regulate the flow of those goods from overseas which can affect quite dramatically our level of employment. I support the Customs Tariff Validation Bill.
-We are debating the Customs Tariff Validation Bill which is a piece of legislation that puts into effect decisions which flow from recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission. The inquiries of the Commission which precede those recommendations are reviews of individual industries. There is very great difficutly in assessing their importance to Australia or to economic policy generally because the IAC is compelled to make those reviews in the absence of any overall industrial or manpower policy. It is therefore difficult for us to have a very sensible debate on this subject prior to the Government coming out with an industrial and manpower policy.
Before proceeding I want to refer to a couple of matters raised by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Peter Johnson). He criticised the Opposition and said we did not understand the IAC and its supposedly independent role. We have been at pains to protect the independent role of the IAC. I remind the honourable member for Brisbane that it was a Labor Government which established the IAC- and established it with a very high degree of independence. Independence is something which the current Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) absolutely fails to understand. He attempted to influence the IAC by brow-beating it. When that did not work he changed the law to try to instruct the Commission to make the sorts of recommendations which he finds palatable. When that was not enough he moved to change the personnel of the Commission to make sure that the people who are making those recommendations are sufficiently compliant to be stood over by him and his Ministers. I refer briefly to the recent advertisements which have been placed in newspapers asking for people to apply for the position of commissioner on the Commission. One does not need a very great degree of wit to realise that this exercise is based on the assumption that the Prime Minister can purge from the IAC those people who are currently giving sensible and independent advice to the Government and can replace them by stooges who will give the Government the sorts of recommendations and advice it wants. So much for the independent role of the IAC and the understanding of it by the honourable member for Brisbane.
The whole debate on industrial policy is made very much more difficult by the crude attempts by the Prime Minister to portray anybody who disagrees with him or with his ideas on this question as an industrial iconoclast. Anybody who suggests any structural change in Australian industry is portrayed as simply being interested in eliminating the jobs of workers. I suspect that the Prime Minister is going to live to reap the harvest of this gross misrepresentation which he has been pursuing for the last two years because in recent days, as the Government prepares itself for the multilateral trade negotiations we have seen that it has been required to review its approach to tariff policy. We find that the Prime Minister is being forced to consider a proposition which will involve Australia in reducing its tariff by about 40 per cent over a period of eight years from 1980.
– If you really believe in Australia you will not make that difficult.
-I might say to the honourable member for Moore that it might be a good idea. What I am saying is that the Prime Minister is going to find it very difficult to convince anybody about the good sense of any proposal such as that because of the particular approach he has taken over the last couple of years. He has been so one-eyed and so obsessed about this question that he is going to find it very difficult to convince anybody about the need for any reform of protective policy in this country. But the great tragedy about this whole question as Australia nears the multilateral trade negotiations is that we are considering a review of our level of tariffs not as a result of a review of the needs of industry and manpower in Australia but simply because we are being stood over by other countries. We are being told that if we want access to markets for our agricultural products, particularly in Europe, we will be forced to review our approach to industrial protection. Any review of industrial protection in this country is not going to be easy, but it will be very much harder if the objective becomes the lowering of tariffs as a result of other countries requiring us to adopt some son of programmed policy on this question.
We should not be simply saying that a reduction in tariffs is an end in itself; we should be saying that the important goal is to create a situation in Australia whereby we have a strong manufacturing sector capable of providing jobs for Australian workers. If that involves in some sense a review of our tariff policy then so be it. But let us not approach this question because Europe and other countries are insisting that we reduce tariffs. Let us not respond on that basis. Rather we should respond on the more sensible basis of a reform of manufacturing and manpower policies in Australia.
We need a sensible set of policies which approach these matters in a sensible way. The policies should not simply be aimed at encouraging the sort of change which is necessary in Australian industry to promote the growth of the work force; more importantly, they should include policies which ensure that manpower in Australia is appropriately cared for. There are two requirements which have to be observed in this regard. Firstly, the work force which is available in Australia has to have the appropriate skills and be appropriately located for that changed industry. Secondly, any workers who are displaced as a result of changed circumstances must be re-employed.
However, the Government’s record in developing sensible industrial and manpower policies is indeed abysmal. If we look at recent trends in employment, particularly in the manufacturing sector, we find that in the last year things were worse than at any time over the last six years. If we look just briefly at employment in the private sector of the community we find that it is now lower than it was six year ago. In 1 977 there were fewer people in the private sector than there were in 1971. The most rapid decline in this sector occurred during 1976-77. If we look at employment in manufacturing industry we find that there are now 1 1 per cent fewer people engaged in this industry than there were in 1977. This has happened despite the protestations of this Government that it is it and it alone which is prepared to stand by the interests of manufacturing industry and the private sector. If we look at the forecasts in respect of the next couple of years we find that things are likely to get even worse in the manufacturing sector.
The Government really has no excuse for its abysmal record as far as this matter is concerned because the Whitlam Labor Government handed on a plate to the Fraser Government a ready-made review of manufacturing industry as a result of the inquiry by the Jackson committee. The Government’s only response has been its laughable White Paper which essentially says that everything is too difficult to tackle at the moment and it will sit on its hands until such time as economic conditions improve generally. Then the Government might give some consideration to the question of an industrial policy. Quite clearly this is ludicrous. The longer the Government does nothing the worse this will become. As the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) quite rightly said, the position in the manufacturing sector is likely to continue to get worse unless the Government does take some action. Indeed the economy generally is likely to get worse until something is done about the position of manufacturing industry. We cannot expect a recovery in employment if there is no recovery in the private sector, and particularly in the manufacturing sector.
When we hear that the only positive policy which the Government is entertaining at the moment is summarily to reduce tariffs at the behest of European countries one can only recoil with anguish.
The honourable member for Adelaide also importantly identifies that it is the area of investment, both its level and direction, which we ought to be concerned about as we proceed to adopt a sensible industrial policy. It is no good simply saying that a slight increase in the level of private investment in Australia has necessarily been advantageous to the work force as a whole. We have seen in recent times that most of that investment has simply been to replace labour with capital and as a result reduce the number of jobs.
The great weakness of the investment allowance, which was introduced by this Government as one of the few measures which was even designed, even though it did not work, to do something about the appalling level of investment in Australia, in fact was counterproductive in many respects. Not only did the investment allowance give subsidies in relation to decisions which had already been taken in advance of the subsidy being available but also it encouraged investment in those areas in which workers lost their jobs. When one bears in mind that it is the workers among others who are providing those subsidies via their taxes one can see the stupidity of the whole question. Surely if the taxpayers are providing funds for these investment subsidies the Government, on behalf of the taxpayers, has a responsibility to ensure that that investment takes place in a direction that will lead to an expansion rather than an elimination of jobs.
Let me refer to another matter. It seems to me- I think the honourable member for Adelaide has probably alluded to this matterthat the Industries Assistance Commission would be much more profitably engaged in considering the long-term questions of industrial policy in Australia rather than simply conducting ad hoc inquiries which are limited to the extent that the
Commission is forced to conduct these inquiries and make recommendations in the absence of any overall government industrial policy. The IAC is in a hopeless position if, when making recommendations in relation to specific proposals in regard to specific industries, it cannot at the same time relate those recommendations to other recommendations which it makes in respect of other industries. So in the absence of the Government having an overall industrial policy it might be better if it instructs the IAC to spend more of its time considering these longer term questions in the hope that finally the Government might be encouraged to adopt a sensible industrial and manpower policy.
– in reply- I am bound to say that a great deal of what has been said in this debate is not directly related to the measure before the House. At the same time, it was not unexpected that honourable members would want to focus on the tariff aspect of the Government ‘s overall industry policy. I stress the words the Government’s overall industry policy’ because to listen to the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) one would assume that the Government does not have an overall industry policy. Of course it has. That policy is working, it is continually under review and it is being fine tuned from time to time to suit the requirements both in the short term and the long term.
There are two matters to which I wish to reply. As I have indicated, I was not surprised to hear the Opposition particularly focus on the tariff aspect of the Government’s industry policy. I must say that I was somewhat staggered to hear the honourable member for Adelaide refer to the 25 per cent tariff cut for which the Opposition has become infamous in the industrial field, both from the point of view of employers and employees. I was staggered to hear him admit that this 25 per cent tariff cut was brought in largely because of ‘over-full’ employment. They are his words. I wrote them down as he said them. Although he is not the first member of the Opposition to make this admission, to my recollection he is the first member of the Opposition to make this admission in the House, certainly since I have been a member of this Parliament. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) on television just prior to the last Federal election also made a similar comment and admitted that the 25 per cent tariff cut was imposed because of over-full employment.
It is really stretching the long bow for the honourable member for Adelaide to say that the tariff cut was recommended by a group of very senior government officials. It is true that the 25 per cent tariff cut was part of a report prepared by officials. However, the report was prepared at the invitation of the then Prime Minister who asked what action could be taken to increase the flow of imports into Australia. In other words, he asked this group of senior government officials to advise on ways and means of reducing job opportunities in Australia. It is a matter of public record that those recommendations from that point of view were quite successful. They were adopted very speedily, probably without reference to the whole Cabinet. The result of the tariff cut was the loss of hundreds of thousands of job opportunities in this country.
The other point to which I wish to respond was the reference made by both the honourable member for Adelaide and the honourable member for Fremantle to an article which appeared in the National Times for the week ending 2 June 1978. The article is headed ‘Fraser Prepares the Way for Stacking the IAC. This matter was the subject of a question addressed to me at Question Time today. I want to expand on the answer I gave to that question. The fact is that with the exception of the Chairman of the Industries Assistance Commission, the terms of all other members of the Commission will expire within the next several months and it will be necessary to reappoint the existing members or to appoint alternative members. I believe that this is a most important responsibility of government. As Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs I certainly regard it as an important responsibility on which to advise the Government. I take full responsibility for publicly advertising those positions. I take full responsibility, notwithstanding that I have the complete support of the Government in advertising those positions. I believe that those positions should be filled by the best available people in the Commonwealth. I do not propose to interview these people personally or to come to a quick decision as to who should fill the posts of commissioners of the IAC.
As I indicated at Question Time today I have appointed a small committee to review applications received from either existing commissioners or other people who have an interest in serving in this way. The committee consists of Mr Bill McKinnon, the Chairman of the IAC; Mr A. Hartnell, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs; and Mr John Dahlson, a solicitor from Melbourne who has a long and distinguished association with Australian commerce and industry. I am looking to those three gentlemen to advise me prior to my recommendations to the Government on the filling of these positions. I also want to make special reference to a quote in the third column of the article in the National Times which purports to be a direct quote of something alleged to have been said by Mr McKinnon, the Chairman of the IAC. He is reported as having said:
I can’t throw any light. I had no knowledge that they were going to press.
I discussed this report with the Chairman, and I am advised that that is not what he said. He was in fact aware that these positions would be advertised and he was, of course, aware that he would be a member of this three-man committee. In summary, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to assure you and the House that the IAC remains, and will continue to remain, an independent advisory body to the Government. For it to function efficiently and effectively it must remain an independent advisory body, and while I am Minister and while this Government is in office we will ensure that its independence is maintained.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fife) read a third time.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Fife) in winding up the second reading debate implied that in my remarks I had supported the 25 per cent tariff cuts and consequent job losses at a time of unemployment. This is just not true. In saying this about me, the Minister is only repeating the sorts of things that his Party and the Government parties generally have said wrongly about the Labor Party’s policy at that time. I put it in its proper perspective. The 25 per cent tariff cut was introduced in July 1973 at a time of raging inflation when there was full employment in this country.
-The honourable member said overemployment.
-Well, at the time part of the inflation could have been due to over-full employment- I would have to go back to the statistics and maybe I would change my wording slightly, but I believe that it is possible that there could have been over-full employment at that time. It was certainly a time of raging inflation and certainly there was no unemployment to speak of at that time.
– So you deliberately put people out of work.
– I reply to the interjection by saying that anybody who makes that claim that people were deliberately put out of work is misleading this House and misleading the country, because it totally ignores that the OPEC price rise hike came only a couple of months later; it totally ignores that everybody at that time did not foresee what was about to happen to the world economy.
-Order! I think the honourable member for Adelaide has quite adequately made his point.
-Very adequately, I am sure, and I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity.
- Mr Speaker has received advice from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) that he has appointed Senator Maunsell to be a member of the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House in place of Senator DrakeBrockman.
Debate resumed from 25 May, on motion by Mr Howard:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Bill now before the House has three main features. Firstly, it amends the International Monetary Agreements Act to accord with recent amendments to the International Monetary Fund’s articles of agreement and those amendments involve in turn 3 items: Firstly, a run-down in the role of gold as a reserve asset in the international monetary system and a concomitant, greater reliance on special drawing rights; secondly, it recognises the abandonment of the so-called
Bretton Woods par value system involving a system of fixed exchange rates and its replacement by a loose system of floating exchange rates; and the third amendment to accord with the change in the articles of agreement is that member countries are now bound not by exchange arrangements but by exchange rate policy.
For instance, they promise not to engage in disruptive exchange rate policies, not to engage in competitive devaluations and such like. Now there is a specific role for the International Monetary Fund to conduct surveillance of balance of payments policies of member countries to ensure that they abide by the exchange rate policy.
A second feature of the Bill is to increase our quota in the Fund. Periodically the quota is increased for all countries to keep pace with the growth of international payments and calls on the Fund. Each increase has the effect of increasing our drawing rights on the Fund should we have need of it at some time. Thirdly, it increases our subscription to the capital stock of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Developmentthe so-called World Bank. This simply maintains the relativity between a member country’s IMF quota and its capital subscriptions to the World Bank.
The issues raised by this Bill are complex and difficult, but nevertheless very important. It is somewhat regrettable that the Government is rushing this Bill through the House without giving us time properly to consider all the issues involved. Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are very important institutions whose operations are of increasing relevance in these times of world-wide economic dislocation. They have also attracted a great deal of criticism, particularly from the underdeveloped countries which feel aggrieved- and rightly so- at the dominance of developed countries in these international bodies. This is particularly true of the International Monetary Fund which is 77 per cent controlled by the developed countries.
Under-developed countries consider the International Monetary Fund to be therefore preoccupied with the problems of the developed countries, and so accord its main attention to developed countries and ignore the very important problems or at least give secondary status to the very important problems of under-developed countries. The Fund is also being criticised- and not only by under-developed countries- for the toughness of the terms on which it has agreed to assist countries in balance of payments trouble and criticism has been particularly centred on its insensitive attitude towards the social and economic priorities of certain countries.
The Fund has thus acquired the image of a rather soulless brigade of pin-striped international bankers, interested only in balancing the accounts and not caring much about who gets hurt in the process. Thus Britain and Italy have both been recipients of IMF assistance but have paid a substantial price for the adoption of these policies. Although they have substantially reduced the rate of inflation and thereby helped to improve their international competitiveness they have also involved a heavy cost in high unemployment and severe cuts in government programs. Of course it may be argued that when inflation is running at about 25 per cent- as it was in Britain and Italy at one stage recently in the last few years- drastic measures are called for and that lender of last resort assistance, such as the IMF applies, should only be granted if assurances can be given that steps will be taken to overcome the problems that lead to the need for assistance.
Be that as it may, the IMF has thereby acquired an image as the promoter of tough economic policies. So it is especially interesting to note that the attitudes it has expressed more recently have been on a somewhat different note. In the course of the last half year the IMF and also the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have become greatly concerned at the recessed state of the world economy, the continued massive imbalance of balance of payments accounts of the various countries, the consequent violent fluctuations in exchange rates and the ever-growing queues of the unemployed.
In this connection I would remind the House in regard to unemployment that there are some 1 7 million unemployed in the OECD countries at the present time. The balance of payments imbalances are quite enormous. The members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries have gone from balance on current account of a surplus in the order of some $4 billion prior to the 1973 increase in oil prices to a current account balance in the order of $40 billion now, a tenfold increase. Germany, Japan and Switzerland have also been heavily in surplus on their current accounts. On the other hand, the OECD area as a whole has slipped from a surplus of around $4 billion prior to the oil shock of 1973 to a deficit of between $20 billion and $30 billion in the last few years.
The United States in particular, of course, has been running a very heavy deficit. But nevertheless, at the same time, only the United States has shown substantial economic growth and has been able to rapidly reduce its level of unemployment. In fact in the last three years the United States has created nine million jobs, and in the last year it has created three-and-a-half million jobs, which puts it in a rather unique position. Most other countries have increased their already high levels of employment over the last few years. Australia, of course, has been amongst those and has increased its level of unemployment by more than most countries. In this situation and with the generally much lower levels of inflation applying now than applied a couple of years ago, the OECD and the IMF have been concerned to promote strategies for world economic recovery. Within that process they have urged the application by the member countries of policies that are centred not primarily on reducing inflation but on reducing inflation and unemployment.
In an address in New York at the end of February of this year, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Mr Witteveen, made a plea for the so-called surplus countries, especially Germany and Japan which have been running huge balance of payments surpluses, to expand their domestic demand more, so as to generate a greater flow of imports from other countries, and hence assist the rest of the world to expand its level of economic activity without running into balance of payments problems. This has become known as the ‘locomotive theory’ and was pursued by the OECD previously. It is simply known in that direction as a result of the stronger economies being seen as able to lead the rest of the world out of recession into recovery. Mr Witteveen then went on in that speech in New York to advocate that other countries also should be adopting expansionary policies. I should like to refer briefly to one paragraph of that speech in which he stated:
But I would like to add that the adoption of cautious, carefully controlled policies of expansion should now be considered by countries where the balance of payments is not much of a constraint, if any, and where domestic inflation is low or, though relatively high, would not be aggravated (because, for example, it is being held in check by conditions of economic slack). Even if the balance of payments were to show some worsening as a result of such policies, additional financing could be provided by the Fund. In this context, the Fund can be helpful in encouraging import liberalisation, exchange rate action, higher domestic investment, or other needed changes in an overall program of domestic and external adjustment.
Mr Witteveen, the Managing Director of the IMF, was there clearly, advocating the adoption of cautious policies of expansion not only by the so-called locomotive economies but also by most of the other countries in the developed world because of his belief that the locomotive approach would not be sufficient. This is especially the case when countries such as Germany and Japan, which are keyed to the locomotive theory, simply will not play the game for reasons which have much to do with fear of increased inflation. They have refused to generate greater economic demand within their domestic economies. Therefore, in that situation it is impossible for the socalled locomotive theory to work.
In the case of Germany, this fear of inflation amounts almost to a paranoia which probably has something to do with the history of that country. Germany also claims that it alone cannot solve the world’s problems, and that is probably true. But still, one would hope that Germany would take greater action to assist than it has done to this stage. It also claims that it has expanded its economy, anyway. That is true; it has engaged in some expansionary policies but nowhere near enough to reduce its employment level from much below the present level of 5 per cent.
Thus, we have graduated to what has been now termed the ‘convoy approach’. By this, we mean that instead of having the world economy led by the locomotive economies, we are going to have movement forward together with all countries reflating, adopting expansionary policies and, by the process of expanding their economies, taking in more imports from other countries, thereby expanding exports from other countries, so that all countries can expand their economies without balance of payment problems. But as has been pointed out, a convoy moves only as fast as its slowest member. Thus, it is essential under this approach that all countries with substantial economic slack should adopt expansionary policies, generate growth and demand for other countries’ products and so gradually bring about the world economic recovery.
More recently, there has been an added note of urgency in the IMF’s call for the abandonment of deflationary policies. At the recent IMF interim committee meeting in Mexico City, the Managing Director of the Fund warned that the world faced a threat of vicious circles of deflation. By this he meant that countries with weak balance of payments were seeking to overcome that problem by maintenance of low growth, the build-up of economic slack and increased protection. But not all countries can do that at once without further severe consequences ensuing, because as they all reduce demand for each other’s goods it has the effect of reducing exports all round and so creating balance of payments problems once again which, in turn stimulate more deflation to overcome the balance of payments problem, and so the vicious circle of deflation develops.
This was very much the concern of Mr Witteveen in pointing to the problem of continued deflationary policies. But not only is it true of the deficit countries, it is also true of the surplus countries, because they will be forced to appreciate as some have been forced to do recently- Germany and Japan have undergone very substantial appreciations of their currenciesand this will cause a drop in demand for their exports. If they do not then generate more economic growth within their domestic economies they will face greater unemployment in their economies as well. So, we can get deflation working on both sides- for both the deficit countries and the surplus countries- if things go on as they are.
It is tremendously important for the world that such developments do not occur. But the pursuit of current policies in many countries will lead precisely to this scenario being fulfilled. Mr Witteveen then put forward a growth scenario which called for all the major developed countries except the United States, which already is expanding quite rapidly and is tending to slow its rate of growth a little at the moment, to expand their rate of growth to prevent such a vicious circle of deflation and protectionism developing and to eradicate the substantial balance of payments imbalances that have been and continue to be the cause of considerable destabilisation of exchange rates. This was the subject of much debate at the IMF meeting in Mexico City, with West Germany in particular giving this Witteveen scenario a rather cold reception because it did not want to adopt a more expansionary policy, despite the fact that its current rate of inflation is only 3 per cent, well below its unemployment rate of 5 per cent. However, there was one country which was even more strident than Germany in its insistence that countries should still attack inflation first. That, I regret to say, was Australia. The Australian Financial Review of 2 May of this year contained an article by Robert Haupt, who was at the IMF meeting in Mexico City, in which he said:
Among Germany’s shrinking number of defenders (or non-attackers), Australia stood out in the lead. Indeed, Australia was by far the strongest advocate of fighting inflation first, outdistancing Germany itself.
I should now like to refer to the speech made at the IMF meeting in Mexico City by the Australian representative, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) who was standing in for the Treasurer (Mr Howard) or the Minister for Finance (Mr Eric Robinson). Having said that the United States should slow down its rate of growth for fear of increasing inflation and spreading it elsewhere, the Minister for Primary Industry said:
It is now up to other countries to sustain and improve the recovery.
Two other major ‘low ‘inflation countries, Japan and Germany, have undertaken a significant relaxation of their fiscal and monetary policies. We expect that, as they find scope for further action, they will take it.
Apart from that, we must look primarily to those countriesboth developed and developing- which I have categorised as still being generally in the ‘high’ inflation league, although many have made important progress towards improving their inflation rates.
We believe that these countries can improve their growth rates- but if they are to do so they will need to maintain policies whose main thrust is to bear down on inflation.
In that way we can improve investor and consumer confidence and this will be reflected, in due course, in higher levels of expenditure and output.
This is clearly quite different from the policies that the Managing Director of the IMF was promoting. Firstly, the Minister for Primary Industry was saying that Japan and Germany probably will take action to stimulate their economies when they feel they can afford to do so- hardly strong advocacy for them in fact to do so. In our opinion we should have been in there arguing strongly for the surplus countries to expand their economies and so generate world economic growth but we simply said, through the Minister for Primary Industry, that when they can afford to expand they will do so, and left it at that, which we felt was an appallingly inadequate proposition. Our representatives then said that the rest of the world should put inflation first and concentrate on policies to that end. That clearly contradicts the Witteveen approach. I shall read to the House a segment of the speech made at the IMF meetings by Mr Witteveen regarding the appropriate strategy to be adopted, under the heading of Strategy for the Period Ahead. He said:
During an Executive Board discussion of the World Economic Outlook last January, there emerged a general consensus regarding the policies and conditions that would be necessary for sustained improvement of the world economy: a more effective functioning of the international adjustment process, and a reappraisal of domestic policies from the standpoint of encouraging noninflationary growth.
Further on, Mr Witteveen said:
Several key considerations underlie the recommended strategy. First, there is the need for greater emphasis on policies to stimulate economic growth. Without this, we cannot combat the substantial underutilisation of resources, including historically high levels of unemployment, now prevalent in many countries; nor can we raise the low rates of investment that are having a detrimental impact on growth of productive capacity. Related hazards include the slow growth of world trade, which is impairing the effectiveness of the international adjustment process (and particularly the adjustment efforts of deficit countries), and the spread of protectionist trade measures, which I regard as one of the most ominous features of the world economic scene. The existence of so many manifestations of unsatisfactory growth presents a very difficult and potentially dangerous situation.
Another consideration relates to the continuing importance of combatting high rates of inflation in most member countries. But there would now appear to be quite a number of countries in which, because of the accumulation of economic slack and the blunting of inflationary expectations, the risks of exacerbating inflation would be minimal if cautious and well-designed policies of expansion were pursued.
The line taken by Australia at the meeting was thus, in essence, the same line as taken by the Fraser Government in its domestic economic policy. Indeed, the Minister for Primary Industry claimed that those policies had worked in Australia, having said the inflation-first policy would improve investor and consumer confidence and that this would eventually be reflected in higher levels of expenditure and output. I shall quote from the Minister’s speech at the IMF meeting. He went on to say:
We are now starting to see this happen in Austrafia following the significant reduction in inflation and inflationary expectations that the Government has achieved. The rise in consumer prices in Australia in the March quarter dropped to 1.3 per cent and the increase of 8.2 per cent over the March quarter 1977 was the smallest over a twelve month period since the year to the June quarter 1 973. The fruits of the Australian Government’s policies are now being reflected in reduced inflation and a gradual strengthening in demand and economic activity.
The Opposition regards that as a quite remarkable statement. If the rest of the world were to be persuaded to adopt the Australian Government’s approach it could hardly be induced to do so by a realistic appraisal of the Australian performance. Where is the strengthening of demand and economic activity that the Minister was boasting about? There is no mention of rapidly increasing unemployment or the falling level of the real, non-farm gross product or of the declining consumer confidence. In promoting this inflationfirst policy at a time when the world inflation level is well below the peak of three years ago the Australian Government is implying that when inflation is reduced enough growth will automatically ensue. There is no evidence to support that whatever. Certainly, Australia’s economic performance does not support it. Clearly the OECD and the IMF are very concerned that, rather than providing a basis for economic recovery, the continued pursuit of deflationary policies will lead to world economic disaster. That was what Mr Witteveen was talking about in his strategy for the period ahead, stressing the need for growth policies so that a disaster will not occur. In Australia the pursuit of severe deflationary policies has clearly been damaging and has involved a very high price indeed for the reduction of inflation that has been achieved. But, that is not enough for this Government; it now wants the rest of the world to adopt, or to continue to implement, those policies as well, even though if they were to do so it would be even more damaging for Australia. This stems from the fact that if we want our exports to increase then surely it is in our interests to have a higher rate of growth in the rest of the world and to avoid that vicious circle of deflation to which Mr Witteveen referred.
If the rest of the world adopts expansionary policies there will be more demand for our exports, more employment in our export industries and their supplier industries and more capacity for us to expand our own economy without running into balance of payment problems. But, the low level of world economic activity has already harmed our export industries. For instance, iron ore and coal, both in volume and price, are being affected by the reduced demand in Japan for those exports. In turn, Japan has reduced demand, because of the low level of world economic activity which has much less need for Japan’s manufactured exports than in times of substantial world economic activity. Quite clearly the slack economic activity level world wide has damaging effects on our export industries. It is in our interests to see, therefore, that the world economy is running at a faster rate so that our export industries can profit and we can pursue more rapid expansionary policies without balance of payment problems. But, the Fraser Government policy, as advocated at the International Monetary Fund meetings would, if adopted elsewhere, prevent that happening. It is absolutely extraordinary that it is discouraging the adoption of policies in other countries that would be of such assistance to our economy, particularly when it is concurrently seizing every opportunity to clamour for a reduction in the level of import barriers in other countries so that we can export more.
The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has lectured everyone within earshot all this year about the need for the European Economic Community, in particular, to reduce its trade barriers to our exports and has more latterly expanded that into a demand for reduced protection in all countries. Now he is even suggesting that Austraha might be amongst that as well. For this reason he recently made a hasty trip to Japan to put these views to the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Fukuda, before he went to discuss world economic issues with President Carter. Mr Fraser also lectured the leaders of various countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting in February on this same topic and he is now overseas to say the same thing to whoever else will listen to him during his trip. Our Prime Mimster does not seem to see, or cannot understand, the fairly obvious link between the expansion of protectionism- the one pointed to by Mr Wittervien in his speech at the IMF meetings- and the low level of economic activity.
Individual countries with a low level of economic activity are under much more pressure to impose higher protection than is the case when economic activity is high. Furthermore, when they are at a low level of activity the vicious circle of deflation and increased protection can so easily develop, as indeed it did throughout the world in the 1930s. It is an absurd situation therefore for our Prime Minister continually to berate the rest of the world for being protectionist in regard to our exports but at the same time to be urging them to pursue economic policies which are certain to promote the spread of protectionism. That is what he and his fellow Ministers are doing. That is what the Minister for Primary Industry did at the recent IMF meeting in Mexico City.
The Opposition is greatly disturbed by these developments. The economic policy approach of the Government as shown by the events of the recent IMF meeting, put us in the ultraconservative camp- far more conservative than the policies being advocated by the IMF- which body, I remind the House, has hitherto been regarded as severe and conservative in its approach to economic policy. Furthermore, the economic policy being advocated by the Australian Government is so obviously opposed to the interests of Australia’s export industries in particular, but also to the economy as a whole, that the Opposition feels it incumbent upon it to express its concern by moving an amendment to the motion that the Bill be read a second time. I therefore move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: whilst not opposing the Bill, the House is of the opinion that the policy approach advocated by the Australian representative at the recent International Monetary Fund meeting at Mexico City was contrary to that needed to generate world economic recovery and was accordingly against the best interests of this country. ‘
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
-Before commenting on the substance of the Bill I want to take up a couple of the points raised by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) and in doing so I hope to give the lie to the implications behind the amendment that the Opposition has moved. The honourable member for Gellibrand spoke about the attitude of the International Monetary Fund and, in particular, of its Managing Director, Mr Witteveen, on various issues. I also have read most of the literature that the honourable member obviously has read but somewhat surprisingly I have arrived at different conclusions from his. For example, the honourable member for Gellibrand gives the impression that the IMF has abandoned the importance of inflation as a major issue affecting future growth in the world economy and in individual countries, and that it has switched from a policy of fighting inflation first to a policy of putting growth first. Certainly it is correct that the International Monetary Fund has called for concerted action to increase the level of world economic growth but it is also true that the Managing Director of the Fund, Mr Witteveen, in his address to the last Interim Committee, said:
Rates of inflation are still much too high to be considered acceptable in the great majority of member countries.
Mr Witteveen has gone to great pains to point out that circumstances differ in different countries, so any implication that he or the IMF is saying that every country ought to abandon as its No. 1 priority the fight against inflation and switch to a growth-oriented policy is, quite frankly, sheer nonsense.
– Obviously you were not listening to what I said.
– The implication which came through to me from what the honourable member was saying was that we ought to abandon our economic strategy and switch to one which does not have the fight against inflation as its No. 1 priority. There is nothing at all in what the IMF has said in relation to a country such as Australia, or for that matter what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which has specifically endorsed our economic policy, has said, which in any way contradicts the basic economic policy thrust of this Government. What the honourable member for Gellibrand convenientiy seems to neglect is that there is a fundamental link between the rate of inflation in a country and the ability of that country to control and reduce unemployment and to stimulate economic growth. He knows as well as every other member of this House knows that the problems we have in generating economic growth at the moment and in reducing the level of unemployment stem inexorably from the policies of the Labor Government in 1974 and 1975 when our basic aggregates and economic aggregates got out of line through deliberately induced and stimulated unreal wage increases. We are still living with those increases. The Managing Director of the IMF, Mr Witteveen, made another very important point in his statement which again the honourable member for Gellibrand ignored. Mr Witteveen said:
Particularly deserving of consideration as a means of stimulating economic activity is the possible utility of tax reductions for the purpose of influencing wage and price behaviour.
He went on to say:
The stimulus provided through tax reductions generally seems less likely to induce new price pressures than additional Government spending.
If that is not an endorsement of the fiscal strategy that this Government has pursued consistently since it came to office I do not know what it is. For the first time in Australia’s history this Government has taken deliberate measures to control the rate of increase in taxation to ensure that there are not the inflation induced rip-offs of taxation that have occurred throughout our history. In so doing $3 te billion in personal income tax alone has been saved in the last 2 Vi years. It that is not a major stimulus to economic activity then it is difficult to find what greater stimulus one could provide.
The Bill before the House has two main purposes. The first is to give parliamentary assent to the latest amendment to the articles of the IMF and the second is to enable Australia to increase its quota subscription to the Fund as proposed under the Fund ‘s sixth general review of quotas and, linked to that to increase our subscription to the capital stock of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I noted with some interest the final paragraph of the second reading speech by the Minister for Special Trade Representations (Mr Garland), on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Howard) in which he commended the Bill to the House and drew our attention to the desirability of early approval of the Bill in order to enable the Treasurer to exercise the proposed increased voting rights for AustraUa at the next regular election of executive directors of the Fund and the Bank in September. With due respect to the Minister, I feel that that is being a little cheeky. The fact is, and here I agree with what the honourable member for Gellibrand said, that we are putting through this Parliament in the last week of this session an important Bill to which I would like to have seen more consideration given, not so much because of its content as for the opportunity it provides for a debate in this chamber on international economic and monetary issues. We have far too little scope for such debates and as a result we tend to ignore and neglect the fact that what happens in the world around us and in the international economic community is of fundamental importance to the health of the domestic economy.
I find it surprising that the Bill has come to the House at this late stage, given that the Board of Governors’ resolution relating to the amendment to the articles of the Fund was passed on 30 April 1976 and that the Board’s resolution concerning the quota increase was passed on 22 March 1 976. It other words, the Government has had more than two years to get this Bill into the House. I think it is undesirable that it has been left for so long. I hope that that situation will not occur on future occasions, particularly in relation to further quota increases which will be coming up again in the not all that distant future.
The major elements of the Bill are unexceptionable. The first element relates to the amendments to the articles of the IMF which, as I have said, is a fait accompli. I shall deal later with the content of these amendments. The second element- the quota increase for Australia in the Fund- is not the best deal that one would have liked for Australia, as was mentioned in the second reading speech of the Minister, but it would, of course, simply be cutting off our nose to spite our face if at this stage we were to reject such a quota increase.
The importance of a quota in the International Monetary Fund is very considerable. It has two main features of significance. The first, of course, is that the size of our quota in the Fund determines how much we can borrow from the Fund when we have balance of payments problems of a temporary nature. The second and perhaps the more important for a country such as Australia is that it determines the number of voting rights that we have in the Fund. That, in turn, determines whether we have a seat on the Board of Executive Directors of the International Monetary Fund.
It is often not realised that we do have a seat on the Board of the Fund, which consists of only 20 Executive Directors, by virtue of the size of our quota. We do not represent just Australia in the International Monetary Fund: We lead a constituency which comprises not only Australia but also New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Western Samoa. That is a very interesting grouping. It is a very important grouping for a country in our region of the world. It enables us to put into the deliberations of the International Monetary Fund a more balanced view than perhaps would be the case if we were representing our interests alone. Therefore, I believe it is vitally important to have a seat on the Board of the Executive Directors of the Fund. I am very pleased that the quota increase that we have attained on this occasion, even though it is not as large as we may have wished, almost certainly appears to enable us to continue to sit on the Board and to have an executive director on the Board.
The Executive Directors are, as their name implies, full-time directors who are responsible for guiding the Fund in its day-to-day operations and in its policy deliberations, subject, of course, to the overriding guidance of the governors of the Fund, who in most cases are finance ministers or Treasurers of their respective countries, and through them, the national parliaments that they represent. We need to maintain our quota. As I have said, we have slipped a bit on this occasion, but for good and valid reasons, I think, because the latest adjustments to the quota shares in the Fund have taken account of the increased role of the oil exporting countries in international trade. On this occasion their quota share was doubled. As a result, it was agreed that the quota share of the developing countries should be maintained. In fact the shares of the industrialised countries as a whole were reduced in this sixth quota review. The seventh quota review which comes up before too long is, I should hope, likely to be of a more equi-proportional nature than this review. I was pleased to note in the communique following the recent meeting of the interim committee that some members of the Fund- I hope that we were one of these- have asked that the criteria for quota increases be reconsidered, because from time to time countries such as Australia appear to run the risk of slipping in their quota allocation because of the criteria adopted.
In passing, I should like to make brief mention of, and to compliment the Executive Directors that Australia has had on the International Monetary Fund over the years. There have been some very famous and illustrious names on the Board of the Fund. These people have contributed in a very significant way to the deliberations of what is perhaps the most important international financial and economic body in the world. I mention names such as Sir Roland Wilson and Leslie Bury, who were on the Board in the early days. In more recent times Mr Pete Garlan, Mr John Stone, Mr Lindsay Brand and presently Mr R. J. Whitelaw have represented Australia. As I have said, all of these gentiemen have made very important contributions in an international sense and also from the point of view of maintaining and furthering Australia’s interest in the international economic and financial arena.
The importance of the International Monetary Fund brings me back to the amended Articles. The amendments are many, but the most important relates to article IV. As is said in the Minister’s second reading speech, the essence of amended Article IV, which deals with exchange rates, is to abandon requirements as to the exchange arrangements adopted by member countries and, instead, to define principles which members are committed to follow in their exchange rate policy.
Amended Article IV sets out the general principles for the orderly operation of the international monetary system and for surveillance by the Fund of the Exchange rate and external policies of individual member countries. At the same time, the new Article IV recognises that stability in exchange markets is largely dependent upon the adoption of appropriate domestic economic policies by member countries. That, I think, is a terribly important point because over the last decade or so we have seen very considerable instability in international monetary markets and foreign exchange rate regimes. I believe that in large measure that has stemmed from the inability of countries to conduct their own domestic economic policies as efficiently as one would hope. It also stems from an inability of nations to co-operate as closely as they should in the concerted move towards international equilibrium. I believe it is impossible to overstate the importance of the relationship between sound domestic economic policies and international equilibrium and growth.
The amendments to the Fund’s Articles, to which the Parliament is now being asked to agree, are the culmination of years of debate within the Fund and elsewhere, for example, in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, summit meetings of world leaders and the like. As I said, the amendments have been developed in a period of exchange rate instability unprecedented in the experience of most of us in this House.
– Due to inflation.
-Yes, due very largely to inflation on a world-wide scale, and differential rates at that, between different major countries.
The 1970s have seen traumatic and fundamental changes in the international and economic monetary order. The starting point for the exchange rate stability can perhaps best be dated from 1971, but the root causes go back much earlier than that- in particular to the early 1960s and then on into the late 1960s when the US was running huge overall balance of payments deficits. Of course this was okay as long as the United States’ trade position remained strong; but when this weakened, the world lost confidence in the dollar and in its value. It was largely for that reason that since 1971 when the US, for the first time in 40 years, abolished convertibility of the US dollar into gold we have seen remarkable changes in the whole structure of the international exchange rate regime.
Time does not permit me to go into the situation of all countries so I shall refer to Australia ‘s situation between 1971 and the present time. Comparing those dates, the Australian dollar has devalued, or depreciated, against the US dollar by 5 per cent. Against the yen it has devalued by 32 per cent; against the deutsche mark by 39 per cent; and, by contrast, it has appreciated against sterling by 33 per cent. These are very major movements. The same can be said about exchange rate movements in most other countries vis a vis relative currencies of major countries throughout the world.
What is intended in the amendment to the Articles of the Fund is to permit the greater flexibility in exchange rates which I think the world has inevitably come to accept. It is a flexibility which has very grave potential dangers unless members of the international community act responsibly and co-operatively in maintaining as much as possible exchange rate stability, lack of competitive devaluations and so on. The International Monetary Fund has a very important role to play in achieving this co-operation. Although the amendments to the Articles do not constitute a major international monetary reform, in the world in which we live today they are an important advance in international financial relationships. I therefore commend the Bill and support its contents.
– I pay full respect to the honourable member for Ballarat (Mr Short) for having quite a comprehensive knowledge on this subject. But I suggest that he misunderstood the point which the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) was trying to get across in speaking to his amendment. The point he was trying to make is that in effect Mr Witteveen has said that getting the inflation rate down should not be the only objective of member countries of the International Monetary Fund. He said that they should also concentrate on economic growth and that the two go hand in hand. That is the very point which the honourable member for Gellibrand was making.
Our criticism of the Bill and the reason for our amendment is that this Government is out of step with the policy enunciated in the IMF. It has a fetish with the inflation issue in itself. It has thrown overboard the need to bring about economic growth. This has caused the level of unemployment to rise particularly in seasonally adjusted terms. As I outlined in the House the other day, since January the level of unemployment in seasonally adjusted terms has grown each month. I am not talking about this financial year, I am talking about January, February, March and April. This is having a very decisive effect upon demand and economic growth. Unless the Government gets rid of the present state of stagnation the economy will not get moving. Inflation and economic growth go hand in hand. That is the basic viewpoint which has been expressed in the IMF. That is the basic viewpoint of the Australian Labor Party. Unfortunately, it is not the basic viewpoint of this Government. Accordingly, the Government is out of step. I make that point to the honourable member for Ballarat because I feel that he misinterpreted the attitude of the honourable member for Gellibrand. He claimed that the honourable member for Gellibrand said virtually that the Managing Director of the IMF, Mr Witteveen, had stated that inflation was no longer an issue. I do not think the honourable member for Gellibrand said that at all. He made the point that the question of reducing inflation and the question of economic growth go hand in hand. That is the attitude which the Opposition takes.
A number of aspects are contained in this Bill. The role of gold is to be gradually reduced by member countries in the international monetary system. The Fund now recognises that the old system of fixed exchange rates has been taken over by a floating exchange rate system and that most of the major countries have adopted the new system. I have some doubts about the wisdom of this. I am personally concerned that this leaves the position wide open- I think the honourable member for Ballarat himself expressed some reservations in this regard- for speculation and, accordingly, for a lack of ability of countries to plan their economies effectively. We should remember that when member countries had fixed exchange rates they had to go to the IMF for approval to vary their exchange rates. It may be pure coincidence- I do not think it is- that in those days the world economy as a whole was far more stable than it is today. The Bill also deals with exchange rate policy and the need for member countries to fit in with the requirements laid down by the IMF and to ensure that the economic policies which they follow are consistent with the requirements of the IMF. The Bill goes further. It also automatically increases our subscription to the capital of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
I want to deal with one or two other matters. I think this Bill gives me an opportunity to do so. One is the over-reliance by the Government on overseas capital, and I am talking about private capital. It has not adopted a selective approach to the induction of overseas capital. Overseas capital can be very beneficial to this country if it brings with it new techniques and manufacturing capabilities which we are not getting in any other way. But a vast amount of the overseas capital which has been attracted by the policy of this Government and of former conservative governments is not beneficial. A conservative government altered the correspondence which was sent out by the Reserve Bank of Australia saying that no commitment would be given by the Reserve Bank as to the repatriation of capital. The government added that nevertheless, no application for repatriation of capital had yet been refused. From the time of that variation in policy a large influx of capital of various kinds has moved into the country including vast amounts of speculative capital in real estate. This had a big impact upon the real estate boom in this country which in turn brought about a recession. There is very little benefit in people overseas moving funds into this country purely for that type of speculation. It builds up reserves at the time but the day of reckoning must come.
I can recall warning about this matter in this Parliament in 1962 and 1963. I think I mentioned it in my maiden speech. In 1963-64 net invisibles, that is currency exported from this country, stood at $542m. In 1972-73 the figure was $ 1,447m. In 1976-77 it was $3,0 16m. That is nearly double. The figure rose from $2, 572m in 1975-76 to $3,0 16m in 1976-77. In other words, the growth is very dramatic indeed and this, of course, is the hour of reckoning, which has resulted from the unbridled, completely nonselective induction of private capital from overseas. That eventually had to catch up with us as income has, in accordance with Government policy, been repatriated. I do not see how that policy could ever be varied; I think it is a correct one. If we decided not to allow the repatriation of income we would have no capital coming to this country, including capital which could be of benefit because it would bring with it new techniques.
Property income stood in 1963-64 at $399m. In 1976-77 it stood at $ 1,725m, an increase over the figure for 1975-76 of $l,556m. One can see the dramatic growth in the repatriation of income from property. I cannot see any basic benefit from that, so far as this aspect is concerned, to this country. The finance, the capital to develop our own property within our country, to own our own country can be provided here, from our own resources. Capital can be of great benefit if it brings new know-how and technique. That type of capital, however, does not do that.
In regard to official government borrowings overseas, I recall that the former Labor Government was seriously criticised when it wished to raise $2,000m to buy, in effect, Australia’s own assets, its minerals, so that we could develop our own resources. The then Opposition, whose supporters are now on the Government side, were highly critical of that action. The details of overseas borrowings by this Government, from March 1976 to the present time indicate that the total now stands at $ 1 ,948.736m. In other words, this Government has almost exceeded the $2 billion figure- the very thing for which it criticised the former Labor Government. Moreover, this Government has done so not for the laudatory purpose of controlling Australia’s resources, but simply for the purpose of maintaining this country’s exchange rate against the effects of the unfortunate policies of previous conservative governments.
I make that point because it is very obvious that Australia has now entered a period of endemic balance of payments problems. That will be accentuated by the growth of invisibles which has resulted from overseas investment policies which have not been selective and have, accordingly, forced the Government on to the international market to raise funds from official sources to overcome the problem.
I want to deal with one other matter that I think is most important. That concerns the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Those of us who remember the days of the Bretton Woods agreement will recall that it was a Labor government that took Australia into the International Monetary Fund and into participation in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or World Bank. That was, of course, a Rooseveltian conception, whose whole objective was to assist what we now call the developing, or underdeveloped, nations. It was advocated that this would, of itself, increase the terms of trade throughout the world; that it would mean a greater flow of goods around the world; that it would produce great humanitarian benefits, benefits which Roosevelt had very much in the forefront of his mind. It is to the everlasting credit of the Labor Party that when in government, under first Mr Curtin and then Mr Chifley, we became participants in that endeavour. I make that point because the IMF and the World Bank have not fulfilled by any means the ordinary, original aspirations of the Bretton Woods agreement- aspirations directed towards uplifting the standards of living and the development of the economies of the backward countries of this world.
We should keep in mind that the development of those economies, and the improvement of living conditions in them, would be of great benefit economically to this country. For example, a one per cent increase in the standard of living in the people of Indonesia or of India would bring great commercial benefit to Australia. It would mean that far greater trade would flow between the two countries. For this reason I take the opportunity to state that I believe strongly that we must give as much aid as possible to the developing nations. It is a pity that the whole concept of Bretton Woods has never been fully realised. It is to be hoped that future governments will endeavour to prosecute policies to that end.
I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) and earlier outlined my reasons for doing so. That amendment, of course, is:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: whilst not opposing the Bill, the House is of the opinion that the policy approach advocated by the Australian representative at the recent International Monetary Fund meeting at Mexico City was contrary to that needed to generate world economic recovery and was accordingly against the best interests of this country’.
The amendment makes the point that the Australian representative was out of step with the policies enunciated by the IMF, which emphasised not just the reduction of inflation levels, as this Government is doing, but also the fostering of economic recovery, development and growth. I therefore support the amendment.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr McLeay) read a third time.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-(Hon. Ian Robinson) - Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented in today’s Australian in a report on my answer to a question without notice yesterday on nursing home type patients in hospitals. The report attributed to me a statement that people in nursing homes would be entitled to hospital benefits and would not be required to contribute part of their pension. My statement that pensioners would be entitled to hospital benefits and would not be required to make a patient contribution towards their board and lodging was made in relation to pensioner patients in hospitals requiring medical and hospital attention, not to people in nursing homes. It is the Government’s intention to negotiate with the States over pensioner patients who are in hospital requiring nursing home type care so that they will make a patient contribution to their board and lodging, as they would in a nursing home. Pensioner patients admitted to hospitals for prolonged care arising from a medical condition and who are classified as hospital patients will not be required to contribute from their pensions towards their board and lodging.
I thank the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) for drawing this misrepresentation to my attention. Incidentally, my reply was to a question asked by the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield), not the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) as reported in the Australian.
Debate resumed from 25 May, on motion by Mr Street:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-This Bill, Mr Deputy Speaker, is opposed by the Opposition. It attempts to bring to an end what has been one of the most effective instruments brought into the trade union field this century. The introduction of the Bill exposes the Government in its lack of understanding of the collective needs of the trade union movement and industry. In the second reading speech the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) referred to the bipartisan attitude that pervaded the debate on the original Trade Union Training Authority Act in 1975 and said he hoped this would persist in relation to this amending Bill. The Opposition also hoped for this bipartisan approach. But, unfortunately, the proposals in the Bill are so blatantly partisan and have been the subject of such inadequate consultation that the Opposition cannot support them in any form.
The establishment of the Trade Union Training Authority was one of the major successes of Labor’s Administration. The Minister has given no cogent reasons for amending the principal Act. The Minister has ignored the major recommendations of the committee of inquiry he established in 1977, and certainly his whole approach is contrary to the spirit and intentions of the committee’s report. He states that he is going outside the committee’s report in order . . to provide for more efficient and effective management of the Authority’. He then refers to the fact that the structure of TUTA comprises seven councils- the Australian Council for Union Training and six State councils for union training, a director of the Clyde Cameron College, and six directors of the State trade union training centres. His main proposals add one more body to this structure, and one more highly paid director with the title of National Director. How does this expansion of the structure of TUTA and its senior officers provide for more efficient and effective management?
This Government’s expressed policy is to cut public expenditure and the number of public employees. Yet to suit its own ends, it is here taking a highly efficient organisation and adding to its administration staff, and its administrative costs without any indication as to how this will improve efficiency. There has been no complaint about the efficiency or effectiveness of TUTA.
This Authority was set up in September 1975 and has, from its inception, been faced with severe restraints on its resources. Yet it has established a first-class residential college, the Clyde Cameron College in Albury-Wodonga, and six non-residential training centres- one in each State. From its inception in September 1975 to the end of April this year- about 2V4 years- the Authority has not only established itself, but also has carried out a volume of effective work which is quite staggering. For example, over 17,000 trade unionists have attended TUTA courses. About another 1,500 unionists have undertaken postal courses supported by TUTA. These figures exclude unionists who have been encouraged by TUTA to attend courses conducted by other bodies. These 17,000 unionists have attended over 900 courses conducted in about 50 different locations- in virtually every industrial or mining centre throughout Australia; from the Pilbara to Gove, to Weipa, to Queenstown in Tasmania, to Whyalla in South Australia. Expressed in another way, TUTA has provided over 47,500 student training days- that is the number of students multiplied by the days of training. This has been achieved concurrently with the establishment of a national organisation involving the recruitment of staff, the setting up of financial and personal procedures, and all those checks and balances required of a statutory body utilising public funds.
I believe that no questions have been raised with the Authority, by the Minister or his Department, about any lack of efficiency or effective management. The Minister’s vague assertion that this amending Bill is being introduced to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of TUTA does not stand up to any examination of the facts. Without wishing to impugn the efficiency of any government department or statutory body, I challenge the Minister to point to any public body which in a period of 2Vi years has achieved more or even as much with a similar level of staff and resources. If the Minister asserts that he is acting in the interests of efficiency and good management, I can only believe that in some way he has been misinformed by his departmental advisers. I ask him to examine the record for himself.
I now turn to the details of the Bill. The major intention of the principal Act was to set up a body which could utilise public funds for trade union training, with the effective checks necessary to the use of public funds- such as responsibility to the Minister and Parliament, audits conducted by the Auditor-General and so on- but in such a form that the trade union movement could use the scheme with confidence that it would meet the needs of the movement free of political interference. This was accepted by all speakers in the debate in 1975, including the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Indeed the present Minister, when leading for the Opposition in the debate in 1975, in moving an amendment to increase the size of the Australian Council for union training, the chief governing body of the authority, said this: lt will be seen that if our amendments are adopted- as I hope they will be- union representatives will maintain a large majority on the Council. We accept this as reasonable . . .
However, he now rejects that view. The new Executive Board of TUTA will have eight members of whom four will be trade unionistsnot a majority at all, let alone a large majority. Indeed, the non-union members of the Executive Board can now outvote the union members because the Chairman, who will be appointed by the Minister without any obligation to consult the unions, has both a deliberative and a casting vote. Moreover the quorum requirements mean that a meeting of the Board could be held with only one union representative present.
These are major changes that carry enormous consequences for the Authority and their origin remains a mystery. As the committee of inquiry made no special suggestions or recommendations and as the Authority itself has not supported or raised these questions, one can only say that those people, whether they be in the Department or in the ranks of Government itself, who have persisted in these alterations were too cowardly to go before the committee of inquiry to put their views, but rather went behind closed doors to influence the Government in imposing this offending structure.
When we come to the revised Australian Council for Union Training in the amending Bill, matters are even worse. The Council has 13 members plus a chairman. The quorum required for a meeting is six, and the new composition of the Council makes it possible to hold a meeting without any unionists present. This is plainly ridiculous for a body whose function it is to advise the Authority on the planning, development and effectiveness of trade union training.
The key provisions in this Bill relate to the Executive Board, which now becomes the chief policy making body of the Authority, and the appointment of a new position called National Director. I have already referred to the unsatisfactory representation of trade unions and the Board. Other members of the Board are representative of employers and those members appointed by the Minister- the Chairman, the National Director and a member of the Minister’s Department. The Opposition regards it as extremely dangerous and undesirable that in an area as sensitive as trade union training, there should be three political appointees out of a board of eight. There is a high risk of politicising trade union training, which would obviously be fatal to its effectiveness. The authority for the selection of Chairman and National Director, in the opinion of the Opposition, should remain with the Australian Council. If this is accepted by the Government, it will ensure that TUTA remains beyond political interference, and retains the full confidence of the union movement. TUTA itself is always open to the Minister’s scrutiny and the scrutiny of his Department. The Minister has always had, and retains in this Bill, the right to direct the Authority as to the exercise of its powers and functions. He has never used these powers- which is another reason why the Opposition cannot understand the need for this amending Bill- but if he believes TUTA is in some way acting improperly, it remains open to him to do something about it.
With regard to employer representation on the Executive Board and the Australian Council, I draw attention to two facts. Firstly, in the debate in 1975 the Minister, speaking as Opposition spokesman, said:
We . . . recognise that paid educational leave is not mandatory in Australia at the present time. If it had been we would have moved for a truer tripartite approach with members of the Council coming from employer organisations . . .
Yet now, even though paid educational leave is still not mandatory, the Minister reverses his view without any explanation. Secondly, the committee of inquiry specifically examined this issue, and rejected the notion of employer representation- a fact the Minister was careful not to mention in his second reading speech.
This legislation gives the union movement the worst of all worlds. It cuts across the recommendations of the committee of inquiry, it gives enormous impetus to political appointments and reduces the union voice on the Executive Board to that of a minority. In other words, we believe that if the Government accepts that there should be majority union representation on the Executive Board, and the Australian Council should nominate the Chairman and the National Director for appointment by the Minister, the representation of employers on the Board and Council would do less to reduce union confidence in the scheme. Again, I urge the Minister to give careful consideration to our views which are intended to enable TUTA to continue to function efficiently and with the confidence of the union movement. This is an area where both sides of the House wish for a bipartisan approach, but to achieve this, proper consideration has to be given to the Opposition’s views. The Labor Government did this in 1975 and I appeal to the Minister seriously to consider making it possible for this Bill to pass through the Parliament with the support of all parties.
I now come to the position of the National Director. The Principal Act does not refer to such a position, but what it did was to say that the College should service the Australian Council. Thus logically, that Council appointed the Director of the College- which is a statutory position- as the chief executive officer of the Authority, and the headquarters staff of the Authority are now located at the College under the Director. I believe it was the intention of the committee of inquiry to regularise this position, and we agree with it. However, the Government has taken the opportunity to create a new and obviously highly paid position, in addition to the existing Director. The existing Director is on a salary equivalent to Division 2, level 2 in the Public Service- a salary of over $27,000. Presumably the new National Director will be on an even higher salary. Is this improving efficiency? Is it effective management? Is it responsible control of public expenditure?
The method of appointment of this new highly paid officer is by the Minister. The present position is that the existing Director is appointed by the Australian Council for union training. The Opposition believes this to be a proper method of appointment. The competence of the present incumbent has never been questioned, nor has the correctness of the Council’s selection of him. I take this opportunity also of paying a tribute to the present Director, Mr Peter Matthews, for the work he has done. I know from my own personal experiences with the trade union movement that the concept of trade union training has grasped the trade union movement in a manner that would have seemed impossible just a few short years ago. Much of this success can be attributed to the skill and enterprise of Mr Matthews.
The Minister should look carefully at this matter. Regardless of whatever government is in power, political appointments to TUTA are fraught with danger to the well-being of effective trade union training. We all agree in this House that trade union training is vitally important to the well-being of our society. To make it a matter of political contention, and to make it subject to political appointments, are to take the risks of not only throwing out the baby with the bath water but also of throwing out the bath as well. Apparently the Minister or his Department have given the trade unions the impression that the new National Director may not be located at the headquarters of TUTA, that is at the Clyde Cameron College in Albury-Wodonga. I cannot imagine why there should be such a change as all TUTA’S national administration staff and records are at the College, and the College is clearly the location for the director of studies, and is recognised by everyone as the head office of TUTA. I hope that the Minister will give us an assurance that the National Director, however appointed, will be located at the College. This is such an important matter that the House will require an assurance from the Minister.
The final section of the Bill removes the need for the Minister to take recommendations from the Australian Council into effect when making regulations under the Act This seems to be a petty move and again reduces consultation on important matters. Will the Minister restore this section and demonstrate his goodwill toward the concept of trade union training with the highest degree of trade union involvement?
There are some other matters in the Bill on which I wish to comment. In the debate on the principal Act in 1975, there was universal agreement by all speakers that the definition of trade union training was appropriate. Many speakers welcomed the breadth of that definition and urged that trade union training should not only encompass the technical questions and procedures of industrial law but also be concerned with the history of the movement, and its structure, and such matters as labour economics and the wide range of national issues relevant to trade unions and their members. I am aware that the committee of inquiry recommended some narrowing of the definition. However, the current definition has created no practical problems and I am not aware of any departure from fields which all members of this House could regard as legitimate for a trade union training program.
A number of Ministers in the present Government spoke in the debates in 1975. Indeed, the present Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations used the word ‘education’ in his speech, although he is now proposing to delete it from the definition. His colleagues, who are now the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) and the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle), both spoke eloquently of the need for a broad definition. Definitions are notoriously difficult. Performance is easier to judge. As I have indicated, there is no suggestion that TUTA’s present program is regarded as deficient in this or any other way. Will the Minister, therefore, assure the House that the new definition will not inhibit TUTA from carrying out the kind of courses in its present programs?
There is another area to which Senator Guilfoyle referred in 1975- that is, the interlocking of the State and Australian Councils, so that the different circumstances in each State were properly recognised while effective co-ordination was maintained. The committee of inquiry agreed with Senator Guilfoyle ‘s view and made recommendations to strengthen the coordination of trade union training on a State and national level. The Minister’s proposals not only reject Senator Guilfoyle ‘s view and the recommendations of the inquiry but also effectively cut the existing links between the State councils and the Australian Council. It would be easy to pass this off with a joke about the ‘new federalism’, but it is a serious and important matter. The Minister gave no explanation as to why he had adopted this attitude. Indeed, as I indicated earlier, he has given this House no cogent reasons for any of the proposals in the Bill. This makes nonsense of talk of a bipartisan approach.
As I have already stressed, TUTA’s achievements have been outstanding. Its level of acceptance is remarkable. I understand that about 200 different unions have already been involved in courses, and that includes all the significant unions, regardless of their political views or their industrial policies. Unions have not only accepted the need for training but also in consultation with TUTA officers many unions are now developing internal schemes of training provided by themselves without public funds, as complementary to TUTA’s work. Public funding has thus been instrumental in developing trade union training provision beyond TUTA’s own programs. Umons are now starting to meet their own individual needs through training in internal union procedures, paid for out of their own resouces. Moreover many unions are now planning their training work to make the fullest use of the available resources. For example, some unions have taken decisions to send each new officer or official to TUTA’s courses, and others have decided, over a period, to enrol each member of the union’s council or governing committee to TUTA courses. Those who know anything about trade unions and trade union training, will realise what an enormous breakthrough this represents.
Trade union training has also been accepted outside the union movement. Professor John Niland, Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of New South Wales has written that TUTA’s establishment represents ‘the most significant development of the last 50 years in the area of trade unionism and education’. Many other educational bodies are now consulting TUTA about industrial relations programs and are using TUTA materials, especially the excellent films TUTA has produced with Film Australia. Members of this House should see these films which are now in wide use in universities, colleges of advanced education, technical colleges, management education and schools. TUTA is now a recognised part of Australia’s training and education resources.
It is especially noteworthy that employers have also recognised TUTA’s work, and I believe the Minister should take particular note of this fact before he disturbs the scheme. A number of employers have already indicated their concern at the present Government’s attitude to TUTA. They are worried that the Government’s actions may upset the confidence that unions have in TUTA and so reduce its effectiveness. While this may not be the view of all employers, the Minister is aware that it is the view of a number of the very largest employers in this country.
Employers have shown their acceptance by granting paid educational leave to attend TUTA courses. Indeed a majority of rank and file unionists, those holding non full time offices, who attend TUTA courses- and that is about threequarters of TUTA’s students- receive pay from their employer while at the course. Each State Public Service except Queensland provides paid leave, as does the Australian Public Service. This practical support from public and private employers is the most concrete indication of TUTA’s status in the industrial community. None of these employers will thank the Government if the Minister’s proposals reduce TUTA’s attractiveness to unions or employers.
This Government has stressed the importance of the mining industry. It is in this industry that TUTA’s success in attracting the support of both employers and unions is most outstanding. Courses have been conducted at most of the major rnining sites- the Pilbara, Kalgoorlie, Gove, Weipa and Queenstown are just some examples. Employers in these industries have recognised as much as unions the need for the training of union delegates, located so far from the trades halls and union offices in the capital cities. They have provided practical help by providing not only paid leave for delegates, but also the necessary physical facilities- lecture rooms, et cetera- for the courses to be conducted. Clearly such courses can only be conducted in these locations through the agreement of the employer and the unions, in co-operation with TUTA. There is practical evidence that such courses have reduced the number of minor disputes at mining sites which require senior union and management personnel to fly to the site. The understanding of procedures and the confidence built up in local delegates and supervisors have resulted in many differences between unions and supervisors being settled before anyone has had to be called in. I again urge the Minister not to meddle with TUTA in a way which will upset these very beneficial arrangements and attitudes.
Some employers have gone beyond this kind of assistance with particular courses affecting their employees. A number have provided nostrings aid to more general projects. For example, one company has recently provided funds, together with the Australia-Japan Foundation, for TUTA to select two union students to go on a study-tour of Japan. Is there any member of this House who would like to see this kind of support jeopardised? Another company has provided financial assistance to enable TUTA to develop materials for teaching non-English speaking migrant unionists and for unions with migrant workers. This is a most important development and one which all members of the House would support. One immediate result is that a New South Wales Government department has decided to take up some of this material for publication in a range of migrant languages. Yet another company has agreed to meet the travel costs of bringing a German trade union education expert to work with TUTA for a few months, probably in the field of health and safety.
Is this the scheme that the Government wishes to fiddle with on vague, unstated grounds of improved efficiency and effectiveness? I again remind members that all of this has been achieved by a body set up 2Vi years ago which has faced the financial and staff restraints imposed on public bodies throughout that whole period. I remind the House also of some of the figures I have mentioned: 17,000 unionists have attended over 900 courses in about 50 locations. The Opposition agrees wholeheartedly with the Minister’s plea for a bi-partisan approach to trade union training. But bi-partisanship involves both parties, the Government as well as the Opposition.
I appeal to the Minister to withdraw this Bill to allow the Government to hear submissions from interested parties, employee and employer groups alike, especially those who are prepared to do it in public, before any legislation is rushed through. We present our argument honestly and sincerely for the purpose of maintaining TUTA’s present success and to maintain its broad acceptability throughout the industrial community. I know that TUTA has been frozen for more than 12 months because of the committee of inquiry and the Government’s internal considerations that must have affected the impetus of the organisation in an adverse way. But in view of the importance we all attach to the matter, I urge that he should now allow another few weeks if, as I believe, such extended consideration can bring forward a greater acceptance of any changes considered to be necessary.
Let us, together, make a real effort to keep TUTA’s future free of purely party political considerations. However, if the Government refuses to withdraw the Bill, as we believe it should do, then in no way will the Labor Party associate itself with the passage of this legislation. It flies in the face of a notable and exteremly important success story. The Government has not justified in any way at all the draconian measures envisaged in this Bill. The points I have raised in this debate are not merely the views of the Opposition for the purposes of debate but are the policy of the Labor Party which makes it quite clear that a Labor government would immediately reverse all of the decisions that are made in this Bill.
– I rise to support the amendments. I would like to congratulate the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) and all his advisers on the amendments that they have made to the Trade Union Trading Authority. I can appreciate the fact that the trade union movement has an important function to perform and I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) on his initiatives in commencing the TUTA college and for all the foresight and insight that he put into it with the reaUsation that it would bring employers and employees closer together in the best interests of Australia. For that reason I can understand some of the remarks of the honourable member for Port Melbourne (Mr Young), but the Government has made a decision, and the members of the Government support the Minister most sincerely because they realise that the modifications and amendments to TUTA will be in the best interests of Australia.
Australia has adopted a distinctive approach to trade union training. It has three elements, the first of which is public funding of trade union training. I beUeve that the people of Australia who will pay for this funding have an important part to play. They realise that some of the things that occurred in 1977 should not occur and they are hopeful that the funding of the trade union training college will overcome some of those problems and bring the employers and the employees closer together. If 1 can just recall some of the things that occurred within the trade union movement in 1977 I think there will be a realisation that if the $3m is to be spent, it should be spent in the best interests of Australia and also in the hope that the trade union movement will understand that the people of Australia are concerned at some of the things that are occurring in that particular arena.
In this country we have an excellent constitutional framework for settling disputes impartially through the processes of conciliation and arbitration. Direct action need not and should not occur. Indeed the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission said in May 1977 that although the recent dispute picture was one of a large number of stoppages involving small numbers of persons and sometimes short-lived, it was nevertheless disturbed by the high incidence of stoppages.
The Commission expressed particular concern about two severely disruptive strikes, one affecting the delivery of petrol in Victoria -
– I take a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your guidance in this matter. It seems to me that this Bill is a narrow Bill deakng quite specifically with the question of trade union training. It does not deal with the problem of strikes. It does not involve directly the matters being referred to by the honourable member. If one looks at the Minister’s second reading speech, one will find that at no stage did he deal with this area. Given the importance of this legislation, I would have thought that the Chair ought to narrow the framework of the debate so that what is an important debate on the question of trade union training, about which I think there is some consensus in the House, does not become a broader debate on matters of general industrial relations.
-I should like to speak to the point of order. It seems to me that the whole question of the training of trade unionists, particularly trade union officials, can have a very material effect on the general industrial climate. Might I suggest that so long as the honourable member for Franklin deals with the role that trade union training can play in getting a better industrial climate- I am sure he is about to do that- that could be considered to be within the ambit of this legislation.
-My ruling is that the Bill deals with the Trade Union Training Authority. Honourable members should associate their remarks with the Bill. If the honourable member for Franklin, in developing his argument on the Bill, wishes to deal with some specific examples which he feels reflect the intention of the Bill, he will be in order. But if he wishes to use the Bill to embark on a general debate on industrial affairs, that will be out of order.
-Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you for your guidance. I am endeavouring to convey the fact that $3m will be spent on trade union training and the people of Australia expect some results from that training. I am sure that the honourable member for Hindmarsh originally hoped that some of the problems that we are encountering in Australia at the moment would be overcome by the sensible training of people involved in the trade union movement. I am reflecting the picture of 1 977 -
– But I always said that it would take some time before we could harvest enough recruits from the College for them to have an impact.
-Of course. I feel duty bound to bring to the notice of the House some of the problems that occurred in 1977, in the sincere hope that with the spending of $3m some of these problems will be overcome as TUTA progresses in the way that the honourable member for Hindmarsh indicated he would like to see it progress. I refer also to a dispute concerning the movement of aircraft which brought air travel virtually to a halt. The two disputes to which I have referred both had particularly damaging effects on Tasmania. They did much to affect the statistics but they caused serious dislocation in the community and brought hardship to many people. Of course, they hindered Australia’s economic recovery which is vitally important to all honourable members. Similarly, a number of other disputes have been characterised by the disregard of wage indexation guidelines, their impact on the level of production, their implications for business confidence -
– I rise to a point of order. It is quite clear that the honourable member has resumed a speech which he prepared before he came into this House and which currently bears no relationship to the legislation before the House. The honourable member quite clearly is out of order in speaking in the direction that he is currently taking.
-I have been listening to the honourable member very carefully. The honourable member for Franklin so far has not dealt with the actual content of the Bill. Whilst I do not want to rule that the debate on the Bill must be very narrow, I remind the honourable member for Frariklin that he must relate his remarks to the Bill. Since he resumed his speech after the previous point of order was taken, apart from the remarks he made to the honourable member for Hindmarsh, I do not think he has done that. I ask him to do so now.
-Thank you for your guidance, once again, Mr Deputy Speaker. I repeat: I am not speaking from a prepared speech. I am indicating to the people of Australia that if they are going to spend $3m on trade union training they need to see results. I was referring to some of the things that occurred in 1977 which have, of course influenced the Minister to change the direction of the Trade Union Training College at Wodonga- hopefully in the direction that the honourable member for Hindmarsh wanted.
I repeat that some of the things I am bringing to the notice of honourable members are important. They should not occur again. Hopefully with successful trade union training they will not occur again. Hopefully, if we can get rid of the guerillas involved in the trade union movement there will not occur the problems that are impeding growing confidence in Australia’s economic management and so on. I feel quite strongly about it and I will not be -
– But the Builders Labourers Federation has boycotted the Clyde Cameron College.
-That is only one section, with the greatest respect.
– But they are the guerillas you are talking about.
-Yes. I mentioned the guerillas and the honourable member knows, just as I do, that they are involved in the trade union movement. I will continue.
-I suggest that the honourable member does that.
-Similarly, a number of other disputes have been characterised by the disregard of wage indexation guidelines, their impact on the level of production, their implications for business confidence and overseas trade and their adverse effect on the economy as a whole. These disputes go on and they should not continue. I only hope that with the injection of $3m into the Trade Union Training College, along the lines outlined by the Minister, the situation will be changed. Hopefully, the people of Australia will regain confidence in the trade union movement. When I talk about the trade union movement to my constituents they turn their backs. They feel that the trade union movement is creating problems for the people in Tasmania whom I represent. I will continue with the Bill.
– Can’t you ever stop being parochial, even on an important national matter?
-No, of course I cannot because it is important, if the people of Tasmania are going to assist in paying $3m towards this college, that they should be hopeful that they will get the results which they desire. The people of Tasmania hope that they will regain confidence in the trade union movement. The Government consistently has expressed its support for the concept of trade union training. However, in 1976-77 it found itself faced with a number of important policy issues regarding its future development in Australia. These issues included: Firstly, should trade union training be part of a wider industrial relations training or continue to be separate? What was in the best interests of all concerned? Secondly, was the organisational structure of the Authority with an Australian Council, six State councils and directors of the national college and State centres, all with some executive authority, the most efficient and effective? Thirdly, what were the training needs of trade unionists? The Australian Council for Union Training had adopted an annual training objective of one per cent of trade unionists but this did not have any established basis. Fourthly, should trade union training provided by the Authority be solely publicly funded or should there be some commitment on the part of the trade union movement itself in line with the arrangements overseas?
The Government felt that it needed a fresh examination, and a more detailed examination was possible by the Australian Council for Union Training. As honourable members will be aware, in 1977 it established a tripartite Committee of
Inquiry into Trade Union Training. The Committee of Inquiry examined more than 400 submissions and had discussions with approximately 100 persons throughout Australia. The Committee completed its report in August last and the report was tabled in this Parliament. I should like to take this opportunity to express my public appreciation of the work of the Committee. I support the Minister’s remarks in which he expressed his appreciation of the assistance which the Committee has given to the Government. Detailed comments on the recommendations of the inquiry were invited by the Australian Council for Union Training from the employer and union peak councils represented on the National Labour Consultative Council. There were further discussions within the NLCC, and the Australian Council for Trade Union Training received top level deputations from the peak union councils. The additional views and comments have been considered carefully. They have helped considerably in determining the future development of the Authority. On the key issues the Committee recommended that trade union training should not be integrated into a general system of industrial relations training, that TUTA conduct a complete evaluation to determine the specific extent of training both as to course content and numbers required, that trade union training should continue to be funded by the Government, and that the funds to be provided for trade union training should be commensurate with the Authority’s training program. It recommended also that the Trade Union Training Authority should be retained as an independent statutory body, an independent training institution. However, the Technical and Further Education Commission has the potential to provide training and offers scope for the rationalisation of training resources. The Government has accepted the general thrust of those conclusions.
The report also proposes some changes in the composition of the Australian and State councils for union training, while at the same time retaining the basic structure which the Government considers necessary to go further and which the committee recommends, to provide for more effective and efficient management of the Authority. As I have indicated, currently there is an Australian council of 16 members and six State councils, each with specific powers, as well as a director responsible for the affairs of the national college and six State directors responsible for the State centres. In summary, the purpose of the Trade Union Training Authority Amendment
Bill 1978 is to ensure a more effective and responsible operation of TUTA. The Authority was established in 1975 by the Minister at that time, the Honourable Clyde Cameron, after whom the college at Wodonga was named. I repeat: I congratulate the honourable member. In its early years the Authority had been dominated by the trade unions. In August 1 977 the tripartite committee of inquiry under the chairmanship of Commissioner Paine of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Mr W. J. Menz of Arnott Motteram Menz Pty Limited, South Australia, and Mr H. Hauenschild, President of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, reported to the Government. Though it recommended changes in TUTA, including continuation of funding by the Commonwealth and the creation of a position of national director, the Committee’s recommendations did not go far enough to ensure that the revised TUTA had an effective structure. The Government provides in this Bill for an executive board of eight members to formulate policy of the Authority and for a national director to be fulltime chief executive. It provides also for an independent chairman and a representative of the employers, a representative of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and the appointment of four trade unionists. The national director will run the daytoday affairs of the Authority, subject to any directions on policy from the executive board. The Australian and State councils are restructured and strengthened with the inclusion of employer and TAFE representation. The councils will be advisory as management will be vested in the national director. These advisory councils will still have on them a majority of trade unionists.
The employment of the present director of the Clyde Cameron College and each of the directors of the State trade union training centres is provided by the Bill. All those people are guaranteed employment at a salary not less than what they are currently paid. Though trade unions may complain that they are losing control of TUTA, the view of the Government is taken in the light of the substantial funds being provided. Therefore, the Government must act responsibly and make absolutely certain that those funds are controlled, to a degree, by the Government of the day. The Government has agreed to continue public funding of trade union training and to provide sufficient funds to maintain an independent authority. That approach is unique for governments in the western world.
The various state branches of the Australian Council of Trade Unions will doubtless feel that they have lost some autonomy in the restructuring of TUTA. That is inevitable but it should not detract from the possibility of influences on the policies being adopted because they will remain a majority on each of the State advisory councils. I support the amendments. I know that every member of the Government supports them. Once again, I express my congratulations to the Minister and my thanks for all the assistance he gave his committee in the introduction of the Bill.
– It did not take long for the well known anti-union bias of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) to show through. He reminded the House of the various industrial disputations which have taken place. It was also quite clear to those honourable members who listened to him that, in his view, all industrial disputes are the fault of unionists and that employers never play a part in bringing about disputes. The honourable member for Franklin denies to every working person in Australia the right to take the strongest action he possibly can to defend his working conditions and pay rate. In a nice way he always wraps his comments up by saying what the effect on Tasmania will be. Industrial disputation has an effect on everybody, no less than it does on the people of Tasmania. I am sure that there are workers who are not happy when stoppages of work occur. But, not everyone is as narrow in the mind as is the honourable member for Franklin. Those of us who have a sincere intent to bring about peace and harmony in the industrial area seek to ascertain who is at fault in disputes.
The honourable member mentioned bringing matters before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for resolution. It is not always found there that the workers, the unionists, are at fault. As a colleague of mine said, his argument in that aspect was parochial, nothing to do with the Bill. Certainly it was with no sincere attempt on the part of the honourable member to bring about better industrial relations. But, we are not speaking about industrial relations when we speak of the Trade Union Training Authority. The purpose of the Authority is to train trade unionists as its name says. The Act also says it and that is not changed by this Bill. It is there to train trade unionists. Most people hope that this may have some effect in bringing about better industrial relations. It is not the prime function of the Authority to teach industrial relations, though it will be a part of it. Yet, that was the very reason given by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) to bring on to the executive board representatives of the employers. The report of the Committee of Inquiry into Trade Union Training that was chaired by Mr Paine in 1977 does not advocate that at all. It does not advocate that employers be involved at that level. It makes mention of the need for employers, presumably it means employer organisations, to be involved, but it is speaking there more in the sense of the sort of workshop situation with employers and employees. I understand that is happening now.
Nobody could doubt the wisdom of the words spoken by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) when he introduced the Bill in the House back in 1975. That is only two and a half years ago. On that occasion a number of honourable members spoke in favour of the Bill. The Minister spoke. The honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee), who is now a Minister spoke, as did the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) who, I understand, will speak in this debate. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) spoke in the debate. Those honourable members all spoke in favour of the proposals, as well as members of the Senate. It is well worth recalling the words of the man who is now the Prime Minister of Australia and, I sometimes suspect, the architect of the Bill. On 23 April 1975, at page 2066 of Hansard, he said:
There now seems to be a different atmosphere abroad. The Minister, and I trust that he was speaking of that day in 1975, said this in his second reading speech:
I trust that this bipartisan support is maintained as the present amendments progress through both Houses.
Let me assure the Minister that if he had put forward these outrageous proposals in 1975 as amendments to the original Bill there would have been no bipartisan approach in this House. If he did not do it then, why is he doing it now and why is he asking us to adopt a bipartisan attitude and agree with something that neither he nor any speaker in the debate so far has shown to be of any benefit to what has become, in the short space of two and a half years, a well co-ordinated, very efficient and very respected training or teaching institution, call it what you like. There is no evidence that the institution is in a state of disrepair at the moment. In fact all the evidence is to the contrary. The Minister knows it and this is why I am surprised that he has brought in this Bill in this form. He knows how efficient the institution is.
I agree that there are areas of the existing Act that need tightening and this was pointed out by the Committee of Inquiry. Certainly there is a conflict of interest in the Secretary of the Minister’s Department sitting as Chairman of the Australian Council. That conflict of interest became quite obvious in the middle part of last year when the Government was adopting an attitude which was in conflict with the attitude of the Australian Council. The Chairman of the Council, the Secretary of the Minister’s Department, found himself torn between two loyalties- his loyalty to the Minister because he was Secretary of the Minister’s Department and his loyalty to the Council because he was its Chairman. I agree that that situation needs to be straightened out. It was the Minister’s amendment in 1975 which caused a representative of the then Prime Minister, a representative of the then Leader of the Opposition and a person nominated by the then Minister for Education to sit on the Australian Council. On that occasion the Australian Labor Party was most conciliatory, as it always is, and the two amendments put forward by the Minister were accepted without demur. That situation needs tightening too. I was appointed as the then Prime Minister’s representative and I am still the Prime Minister’s representative but there has been a breakdown in communications and we are not talking to one another at the moment. That matter certainly needs correction.
– You should not boast about being a representative of the Prime Minister.
-The Prime Minister who appointed me was a good Prime Minister. There is no doubt that those matters need to be tightened. I turn now to the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry which was set up by the Minister without consultation with TUTA or anybody else. TUTA learnt of it through a Press release. The Committee of Inquiry made these recommendations on how the Act should be amended.
The Act should be amended as follows:
I have already explained that amendment.
That is fair enough.
I agree with what the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) said. It was always recognised by the Australian Council that the Director of the Clyde Cameron College, Mr Peter Matthews, would be the National Director. That was to be so by resolution of the Council. If the Act needs to be tightened up in that respect there is no objection to it. The recommendations continue:
I am most surprised at this turnabout in the Government’s new federalism policy- that is its expression- and its reversion to centralism whereby the States will be isolated from the central body, the Australian Council. The six State representatives are not to be on it any more. At the moment the Act provides for each of the six trades and labour councils to be represented on the Australian Council, but with one fell stroke of the Minister’s pen that is to be history. Under this Bill there is to be no State representation on the Australian Council. So much for the Government’s new federalism. The recommendations continue:
Nobody could quarrel with that.
They are the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry but the Minister has chosen to ignore every one of them and has, on his own bat, to use his words, ‘gone further than the Committee went’.
The honourable member for Franklin seemed to get some pleasure out of speaking about the $3m of taxpayers’ money being spent on trade union training. As part of our national education budget, $3m is not a substantial sum of money and in terms of the achievements of the trade unionists who have been through the college the Australian community has had good value for every dollar that has been spent. I invite the honourable member for Franklin to check the records to find out how much it costs a taxpayer to train professional people, the doctors and the lawyers. They do not meet the full cost of learning their profession. A very substantial part of the cost of their training and education comes directly out of taxpayers’ money. I have heard some unkind people say that the community puts in money to train these people and then gives them a licence so that they can go out and rob the workers. I would not say a thing like that.
So already we have deep community involvement in the training of people and apparently this is accepted by the honourable member for Franklin except for when it comes to training people in one particular profession or calling which happens to be related to trade unions. He described them as guerillas. I am not sure how he spelt that word but it was not a very nice way to talk about the trade union people of Australia. What does the honourable member want to do? Does he want to screen each student? Is that what he has in mind? That is a George Orwellian approach and this Government is quite good at that. Governments should not interfere in any type of education. There is something evil about that suggestion and my mind goes back to Germany in the early 1930s when books were burnt. If the Government sticks its little political fingers into this education pie one wonders what it will do next. Clearly the honourable member for Franklin has a distrust and a dislike, and a complete ignorance, of what is being taught at TUTA. Perhaps he imagines that students are being trained as urban guerillas. The honourable member should take the time to go to Albury. It would not take him very long and he has travel rights as a member of parliament. He would be welcomed there and it would do him the world of good to see the college in operation.
I return now to his oft stated reference to $3m of our national education budget being spent on this education. This is a very small amount of money. He seemed to be saying that with employer involvement in the Australian Council we would be introducing an industrial atmosphere. I suppose if we followed that to its logical conclusion we would have less crime if we provided on the law councils of Australia a position for criminals and on the medical boards a position for patients. The honourable member must realise how ludicrous and absurd that would be. This too is an absurd situation which will be thrust upon the Trade Union Training Authority. There has been no agreement to this proposal by any of the peak councils in Australia- the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Council of
Australian Government Employee Organisations or the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations.
I would not make so broad a statement as to say that the legislation is opposed by every trade union in Australia. There are a number of them and nobody could canvass all of them, but I suspect that some of them would probably support what the Minister is doing. However, I have no evidence of that, just as I have no evidence to suggest that they all support what he is doing. I do know, however, that there is a very strong feeling of support in the trade union movement for the existing situation and that there is great resistance to the proposed amendments which the Government, I repeat, is thrusting upon the trade union movement with very little consultation and certainly without consent. The Australian Council of Union Training is not in agreement with what is being done. As I stand here and speak tonight, I am wondering what is happening. When I first read the Bill almost a week ago I wondered, and I am still wondering why the Minister is proceeding in the way that he is.
– He does not really want to.
-What the honourable member for Cunningham says is correct. I think it is still part of this on-going attack on the trade union movement in Australia. The industral legislation which the Government has introduced in the last two years has been the most regressive and repressive industrial legislation in the whole of the industrialised world. I believe that this is just another shot in that longrange, continuing campaign of harassment of the trade union movement in Australia.
The Bill will be considered in the Committee of the Whole. It would probably be more appropriate to speak at that stage of matters such as the dictatorial powers of the National Director, the structure of the Executive Board and the fact that the Executive Board can be stacked, rigged and made to do exactly what the Minister wants it to do. It is a situation in which the Minister not only has the right to appoint people to the Australian Council but also, with the greatest of impertinence, to take unto himself the right to appoint the trade union representatives to it. Surely that situation will not be tolerated by those honourable members who sit behind him. Five members of the Australian Council of Trade Unions are to sit on the Australian Council, and the Minister must be given 10 names. If he does not like any of the names on that list he can call for more names. It is shades of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Albert Field.
– Not a bit. You did it to the Australian Wool Corporation. You did it first.
-That is what you are getting around to doing. You are getting worse than Bjelke-Petersen, if that is possible. You are trying to assume greater dictatorial powers than he has. You are certainly doing it on this occasion.
– You did it to the Wool Corporation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order!
-I would prefer to speak to you, anyhow, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am required to do so by the Standing Orders. Never has such impertinence been perpetrated upon the trade union movement than that which the Minister is trying to thrust upon it on this occasion. He is being a bit inconsistent, anyhow, because he demands a list of names for the Australian Council but he does not bother to do that in relation to the State council. That is not surprising, because the Bill does contain quite a number of drafting errors. What has happened is that it has been thrown together very quickly. The Bill has not been drafted following the consideration of a report so that it is lucid and fluid. It is just a hotch potch. Perhaps one night the Minister woke in the middle of the night screaming because he had had too much to eat the might before, got on the telephone and said: Look, draft me a Bill which will knock the TUTA right off’. If that is what he did, then whoever drafted the Bill has not done a bad sort of job. The Bill is full of holes; it has more holes than a fisherman’s net. I remind the Minister- I cannot warn him of anything; nobody can- that this Bill does not have the support of the progressive trade unions in Australia. It does not have the support of the peak councils of the trade union movement in Australia. Unlike the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), I have confidence in the people of Australia. He can go out and bark about $3m and get a reaction to that. I am convinced that, for that amount of money, which is not a large sum, that has been spent on trade union training in the short space of 2 te years, and to the advantage of 17,000 students, the Australian people have never had their money spent so well.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-The House is debating a Bill to amend the Trade Union Training Authority Act, and that Bill is designed to achieve a more integrated management structure and greater involvement by a broader crosssection of the trade union movement in the affairs of the Trade Union Training Authority. I wish to deal briefly with a point which was made by the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) shortly before he resumed his seat.
– Did he make a point?
-He did try to make a point. I heard him complain about the fact that the Bill contained a provision under which the Minister could require a list of names from the peak councils of the trade union movement- a list containing twice the number of names needed for appointment- so that he could select from that list submitted to him the people to be appointed. I point out to the honourable member, as the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) pointed out while the honourable member for Burke was speaking, that we got that idea from the Labor Government when it put a similar provision into the structure of the Australian Wool Corporation. We thought that it was a good idea, that it had some merit. We picked it up and we included that idea in the structure of the Trade Union Training Authority.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) led for the Opposition. He said that the Government was not in touch with the trade unions on this matter of trade union training and that in fact there had been no complaints about the efficiency of the administration of the Trade Union Training Authority. All I can say is that members of the Opposition obviously are people not in touch with the trade unions on this issue. Last year I took the opportunity of visiting the Clyde Cameron College in the course of its construction at Wodonga. I also visited the Melbourne centre of the Trade Union Training Authority. I spoke to a number of people such as the Director of the Clyde Cameron College, a number of members of the Australian Council for Union Training, and a number of trade union officials and employer representatives about their proposals for the Authority. Indeed, there were a number of complaints about the Trade Union Training Authority as it is presently structured. I do not want to say that the Trade Union Training Authority as it is presently structured is completely wrong.
– Who made the objections?
– I shall go on to list some of those objections. In fact, one of the mapx objections that we had from both employer representatives and from a number of trade union officials was that there was a fragmentation in the Trade Union Trading Authority between the States. In certain States a particular group in the trade union movement would take control of the Council in that State and, rightly or wrongly, other trade unions in that State would believe that the courses were being run by union groups hostile to their interests. So in Victoria a number of right wing union officials would say quite frankly that they would not send their members to any TUTA courses because to do so would be to hand those people into the arms of the left wing. On the other hand, in Tasmania, left wing union officials would say: ‘Look, the courses in this State are being run by dreadful people like Harradine and Tony Macken, that right wing lawyer who advises some right wing unions, and we wouldn’t send any of our people along to courses being run by people like that ‘.
I put it to the House that that is not in the best interests of trade union training. We want a broad involvement of all trade unionists in the courses so that there is a proper cross-fertilisation of ideas in each State. We do not want a fragmentation in the States in terms of particular ideological groupings. We want them all involved in the courses.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide complained about the employer representatives being on the Board and on the Council in this new structure provided for in the Bill. There are, of course, a number of industrial awards which contain provisions for paid leave to allow people to undertake trade union training. Indeed, as the honourable member for Port Adelaide himself pointed out, most people in attendance at TUTA courses are being paid by their employers while they are training at the TUTA courses. I think therefore that it is appropriate that there be some representation- and it is only ‘some’ representationfrom employer groups on the executive board and on the councils of the Trade Union Training Authority, at both Federal and State levels.
I mentioned previously that there was some fragmentation between the States. The honourable member for Port Adelaide spoke about the need for maximum involvement of trade unionists. In that I agree. He also said that all significant unions have been involved in the TUTA. As I have pointed out, it may be true that all significant unions in one State or another have been involved, but certainly within individual States there is a great deal of suspicion on the part of significant unions about the groups that they believe are in charge of the Authority in their State. The honourable member for Port Adelaide also invoked the views of employers who, he said, supported the present structure. I think he conveniently forgot that the theme of many employer submissions to the committee of inquiry was along the lines of including employer representatives on courses. I do not agree with those submissions; I agree that there is a need for an independent trade union training authority which gives training to trade unionists specifically in trade union matters. It is not correct, therefore, for the honourable member for Port Adelaide to invoke the views of employers in support of the present structure. If the honourable member for Port Adelaide is so confident of the views of employers in support of the Trade Union Training Authority, what objection could he possibly have to formal employer representation on the executive board and on the councils of the Authority.
I wish to deal with this suggestion that was put to me by a number of employers that there ought to be people nominated by the employers themselves taking pan in various courses run by the Trade Union Training Authority. A suggestion was put that young industrial officers, supervisors and so on could perhaps take part in these courses and benefit from them. Moreover, it was suggested that there would be an exchange of views within the context of those courses between union members and certain people from the management of various companies. Whilst there is some attraction in that view, I should like to put the view that there ought to be an independent trade union training authority offering courses and training basically for trade unionists because of the particular needs of the trade union movement. I think it would be unfortunate if, on many of the courses, there was a situation where people who were being given a basic grounding in trade union organisation and in industrial relations were thrown into the same tutorial room, say, as a young industrial officer who had his Bachelor of Commerce degree or his Bachelor of Law Degree and a couple of years experience in a company. I am talking about a fairly articulate fellow who has been educated in a different way and who perhaps is able to articulate his views to a greater extent than the person who is taken from the factory floor by his union and given a responsibility in the trade union of that factory. I think it is important for people at the grass roots level of trade unions to be able to develop their confidence, to be able to develop their knowledge of trade union operations and to develop a technique in conducting basic negotiations with management on things like the allocation of overtime-simple matters like that, that arise on a regular basis in many industrial concerns. In that context, it would be inappropriate, I believe, to have representatives of employers present on those courses. However, I believe that there is a separate need for representatives of employers to have a lot more traimng in trade union operations and in industrial relations than they presently have. It is my view that one of the most neglected areas in the industrial world in Australia is the training at the foreman/supervisor level of management. In fact many industrial relations probelms arise, I believe, because foremen and supervisors do not have a proper knowledge of the workings of trade unions. They often have not even been trained properly in man management before they are promoted from the factory floor to those first level management positions. Frankly, they are often badly treated by both employers and trade unions alike. That is one reason why one trade union is having a great deal of success in unionising foremen in many industrial concerns at present.
– But management also needs training.
– I agree; management certainly needs training. Whilst it can be pointed out that many business administration courses are available, such as those at the Administrative Staff College at Mt Eliza and at universities by way of master of business administration courses, those business administration courses usually do not include much in the way of real, practical industrial relations training. They are quite often involved with fairly esoteric concepts of management- management by objectives, financial control and so on. They do not deal very basically with the structure of trade unions in this country and the structure of our conciliation and arbitration system and how it works. So there are some very fundamental needs on the management or employer side as far as trade union training and industrial relations training are concerned. As I have said, I do not believe that that ought to be incorporated in toto with the sort of training offered by the Trade Union Training Authority. The Authority can play a role in taking part in co-operative courses, perhaps with technical and further education institutions, to involve employers in those sorts of courses.
– Do you mean joint courses?
– Yes, joint courses, with both trade unions and employer representatives involved. But I do not believe that the very basic need for more employer traimng in this area ought to be used as an excuse for breaking down TUTA courses and involving employer representatives in every conceivable kind of TUTA course. We must preserve the integrity of those TUTA courses.
I shall give a little bit of background to the way in which trade union training developed in this country as I see it. One of the problems before the Trade Union Training Authority was established was that there was a lack of any particular institution which gave a sufficiently high priority to trade union training. Indeed, some of the trade unionists who were themselves involved in the early attempts to get trade union training underway have told me of attempts to book facilities, for example, at various tertiary institutions. Both in that regard and just in attempts to lit into the timetable of other institutions which had other priorities, they were always treated like second-rate citizens. Of course the other courses which those institutions were set up to provide had the first priority and trade unions and trade union organisations wanting to offer training courses had to fit in with the requirements of those other institutions. Indeed, many trade unionists felt a little bit out of place if they went along to a university lecture theatre or to a university library to undertake their training there. There needed to be an environment in which they felt at home and in which they felt they could study in a relaxed way.
So I believe that the need for an institution such as the Clyde Cameron College is also very apparent. I was pleased to look through it and see the facilities which it was developing. Some would say- and indeed this has been said to me- that the cost of that institution is excessive, having in mind the number of places that it is able to offer. But one must take into account the fact that it is a residential college which has to provide facilities for the people who are away from home. It has to provide a wide range of courses for a large number of people coming to the college to attend short courses ranging from a few days to a few weeks. So it is not as though we have a facility which costs, I think, around $7m or $8m if we include the value of the land on which it is built, merely for the 100 or so people who can take part in courses at any one time. Many thousands of people will move through that College in the course of a year as various training courses are carried out. There is a need for the Clyde Cameron College, a separate institution which the trade union movement can regard as existing primarily to service its own training needs. Therefore, I welcome the
Government’s attempts to update the management structure and give it a greater degree of integration and better control and also to redefine the meaning of trade union training.
In line with what I said earlier, there was a great deal of suspicion on the part of some trade union officials and many employers that the broad definition of trade union training contained in the existing Act might allow a number of courses of a very broad ideological nature to be introduced into the trade union training syllabus. To overcome that possible undesirable development- some would say that it actually occurred in a number of courses but I cannot speak with first hand experience of that- the definition of trade union training has been somewhat restricted. I believe that is a valuable step which cannot really be decried by anyone in this House. It surely will not restrict any legitimate aspect of trade union training which anyone would openly wish to propound as being the responsibility of the trade union training authority. I believe that this Bill deserves the support of the House.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
-I understand that the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) may have acquired some of his indoctrination and biased views against the trade union movement when he worked as a junior executive for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Ltd some years ago.
– The honourable member for Bourke (Mr Keith Johnson) has already used that line.
– It may be not so much a matter of whether it was used before as whether it was correct or not. Since I have mentioned BHP, I might also mention one other fact that is relevant to what we are talking about in relation to this Bill, and to whether or not the Trade Union Training Authority has been successful in its operations. I am reliably informed that when TUTA conducted steel industry courses at the Wollongong University for workers in that industry, not only did BHP employees at Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd not attend that seminar but the company prevented them from attending even though they wanted to do so while on unpaid leave. So much for the attitude of some of the employers in this country to responsibility in trade union and management negotiations.
This Bill to amend the Trade Union Training Authority Act 1975 is the result of the Government’s nearly total lack of understanding of the nature and aims of the Australian trade union movement. Because of that lack of understanding the Government has been led into this misguided assault on the rights of the trade union movement to manage its own affairs.
Let us look at the original philosophy behind the 1975 Trade Union Training Authority legislation. On 6 March 1975, Mr Clyde Cameron, who was then Minister for Labour and Immigration, prefaced his remarks in his second reading speech on the Bill by saying that it meant that:
Trade unionists should have an opportunity to participate in training programs designed specifically for their needs.
In short, it was a call to the trade unionists of Australia to participate, on their own volition, in a scheme designed to increase their level of competence in organising the activities of their unions in a manner conducive to the improvement of working conditions and the more efficient working of industrial relations in Australia. As Clyde Cameron went on to say in that second reading speech:
It is crucial to better labour relations that those who do business on behalf of organised labour know and are able to aniculate the views of those whom they represent.
The autonomy of the trade union movement in the organisation and operation of the Trade Union Training Authority, as originally conceived, is vital to its proper and effective functioning in the interests of clearer and more coherent functioning of industrial relations.
The first annual report of the Trade Union Training Authority, that for 1975-76, reveals that 3,877 unionists participated in 211 courses conducted by that body throughout Australia. Those 3,877 unionists represented 125 unions, according to the report, or some 44 per cent of the total number of trade unions within Australia as at December 1976. The report considered this to be a major achievement. On page 6 it said:
Despite this year being an establishment period, a substantial course program was conducted throughout Australia.
Yet this Liberal-National Country Party Government seeks to destroy the control of the trade union movement over the operation of union training courses offered by the Authority. In short, the Government proposes to take the repressive step of relegating the majority of union representation on the Australian and State Councils for Union Training to a merely advisory capacity. By means of the device of ministerial appointment at all levels of TUTA, the Government seeks to emasculate the level of trade union responsibility and courses within the Authority.
Why the Government must take these measures will remain something of a mystery, for within TUTA the broad union movement sought an operation which expressed itself simply as a desire to gain the skills and competence to more effectively and efficiently represent their members. However, for idealogical reasons, the Government, in presenting this amending Bill, seems to assume the existence within the Australian labour movement of some form of original sin. In its view there must of necessity be great danger abroad if the movement is left to oversee its own affairs. This is a typical Government knee-jerk reaction. The present Government simply does not understand the nature or aims of the broad labour movement in Australia. Accordingly, through lack of intellectual effort and understanding, it feels that it is much safer to hamstring and attack innovations such as the Trade Union Training Authority. Why is this? What was the aim of TUTA as originally conceived in 1975, and how was this aim to be expressed in the practical organisation and operation of the Authority? As the then Minister for Labour and Immigration put is so succinctly in 1975:
The training provided will be aimed primarily at promoting trade union competence . . . This will undoubtedly diminish the tensions and frustrations between the two parties (unions and management) and contribute to the more efficient avoidance and resolution of industrial conflict.
The aims of the Australian Labor Party, as expressed in the TUTA legislation of 1975, were the fostering of competent and efficient trade union administration, and the development of greater levels of verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills amongst those officials and delegates involved in industrial contact with management; that is, the ability of union organisers to quickly and clearly perceive their own and also the employers’ position on any particular issue so as to act in the best interests of their members.
In his original speech on TUTA, Clyde Cameron spoke of ‘The development of trade unions as social institutions’. The original Act sought to enhance and promote the status of unions as integral and effective elements of an increasingly complex social and industrial society. To achieve these aims it was absolutely necessary that trade unions insist upon themselves organising trade union training in a manner compatible with the aspirations of the trade union movement. There is obviously a huge fear in the ranks of the Government that if unions run their own training programs they will produce militant unionists dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism. Obviously many trade union officials and trade unionists feel that this may be a desirable function, but it clearly has not been the function of the Trade Union Training Authority. In a leaflet entitled ‘Clyde Cameron College Courses for February, 1978’ we read at page 10 the following:
TUTA does not attempt to influence union policies- that is not its role. TUTA aims to provide a training and education service for the whole union movement in Australia.
The contents of the course book on shop steward training gives the following headings for the courses: Union structure and the role of the shop steward; duties of a shop steward; protection for the shop steward; What the shop steward needs to know; Recruiting; and handling of a grievance. Other topics include: Written Communications; Writing and Letter Writing; Verbal Communication- Speaking on your Feet. Another subject is Meeting Procedures. The courses I have described are hardly the stuff on which revolutions are constructed, and I think that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) ought to hear that point in mind.
In combating this mistaken notion of the type of union training propagated by TUTA it is necessary to remind such critics that it is insulting to treat unions and unionists as if they were appendages of the employers and the Government and must be supervised at every step. Honourable members opposite may like to know that according to the TUTA annual report for 1975-76, the first year of its operations, representatives of unions such as the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Sheet Metal Workers Union, the Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia, the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australia, the Ship Painters and Dockers Union, the Miners’ Federation, the Seamen’s Union and the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia attended TUTA courses throughout Australia. The willing participation of these and other unions will not be as much in evidence, I fear, in future years now that the Government is proceeding to attack the autonomy of the movement by deliberately weakening the power of the unions to control their own training programs through TUTA.
In accordance with the spirit of the original legislation, trade union interests predominated on the bodies which constituted TUTA. Of the 16 members of the Australian Council 1 1 are direct union representatives- three from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, one from the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, one from the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations and six from State Trades and Labour Councils. The Council was given autonomy in formulating policies and courses and in the distribution of funds. The various State councils enjoyed a similar composition and autonomy in regard to the conduct of courses.
Let me now deal with TUTA. The Authority as a whole was made responsible to the Minister though not in the manner in which it will be made responsible to the Minister if the present Bill is passed. Under this Bill the Minister will strangle the autonomy of TUTA by means of the device of rninisterial appointment at all levels of the Authority. We on the Opposition benches say shame’. Let me briefly digress to examine the implications of the Bill in regard to the future administration of TUTA. What does the Bill propose? Firstly, it proposes that the National Director be appointed by the Minister. Secondly, in regard to the Executive Board it is proposed to have eight members, four of whom will represent unions. Those persons are to be appointed from the Council by the Minister. I point out in regard to the Executive Board of eight persons that clause 8T (4) provides that the Chairman of the Board has a casting vote, which means in a tight situation with four unionists opposing four nonunionists the Chairman, who is appointed by the Minister- the bureaucrat- will have control. That is scarcely a proposal in which the trade unionists and the trade unions of Australia could have confidence.
Similarly, it is proposed to have 14 persons on the Australian Council, five from the ACTU, one from ACSPA and one from CAGEO-that is seven from the unions- all to be appointed by the Minister from short lists. What audacity! What hide! Is not the trade union movement entitled to say that its representatives will be elected or selected from the movement and will be directly responsible to that movement and will be replaced if they do not do the right thing, if they do not perform their job? Under this legislation there could be possible lackeys who will be appointed by the Minister, the implication being that if they do not support Government policy they can be replaced. Clearly the union members of the Council ought to be elected by the trade union movement and responsible only to that movement.
The result of this interference, Mr Minister- I suggest that you should listen to my predictions -is easy to portray. There will be a loss of interest in TUTA, at a time when the underlying hostility towards TUTA is lessening in many unions which traditionally had undertaken full responsibility for the training of their own delegates and shop stewards. The certain effect of this legislation will be to drive unions and unionists away from an organisation which is so obviously run by government bureaucrats. The unions will not have a bar of such a set-up, and who will blame them? Let me, as a trade unionist with some 23 years experience, stress that any dedicated unionist would see the purpose of trade union training as a means of improving his or her ability to fight for the rights of the people whom he or she represents, not as a means of creating a better or a smoother industrial relations situation for the benefit of the employers. Perhaps this may be a by-product of the present Authority. If it is a by-product, well so much the better; but it should not be seen as the primary purpose of trade union training.
Let it be said again that the main aim of trade union training should be to place the delegates and union officials representing workers in a better position so that they can be more competent representatives of the workers and trade unionists whom they represent. I can well understand that those who have hitherto relied on their own industrial experience and on the forms and machinery of their own unions, such as the shop stewards of the Australian Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union and the job delegates of the Waterside Workers Federation- an organisation with which I have had some little experiencewill be even more disposed than they were before not to participate in an organisation which so obviously is influenced by employers and by the coalition Government. A result of this stupid legislation will be to drive them further away from the auspices of TUTA.
Perhaps there are some overdue reforms in the trade union movement, but this legislation is certainly not on the agenda of desirable reforms. There is a need to amalgamate smaller craft unions and multiple industry unions into single industry organisations and a need to make all union officials completely responsible to their own rank and file, both by election and during their term of office. We can be assured that the people who are now attempting to assassinate TUTA by attempting to make it a creature of government policy, will oppose these reforms that I have enunciated and any other progressive forms that the unions may seek to implement if those reforms are thought likely to strengthen the ability of unions to battle for workers.
The Government is creating an issue where there is no issue. It wants to cause trouble in the trade union movement. The legislation is divisive. It is conservative and it is reactionary. The
Government is paranoic about the trade union movement. The Minister has succumbed to the ideological hysteria of his own reactionary conservative right wing supports who would not know a thing about proper industrial relations in this country. This hysteria has expressed itself as a cowardly attack on such a palliative institution as the TUTA. In conclusion, Mr Minister, let me say to you tonight that if you are genuinely driven by a desire to improve trade union training and management in industrial relations in this country then you will ignore the blandishments and exhortations of the people in the Ministry and those on the back bench who do not care one iota about the future of industrial relations or for the workers who turn the wheels of Industry.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-In his Press release of 8 June 1975, in his new capacity as Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs, the Hon. Clyde Cameron advised that the last item of official advise he received as the previous Minister for Labour and Immigration was notification to him from the then Treasurer, the Hon. W. Hayden, that construction of the National Trade Union Training College at Albury-Wodonga, which now bears his name, would commence on 1 July of that year. The Hon. Clyde Cameron in that Press release indicated that although the advice had come at a time of great personal anguish for him he regarded it as one of the most satisfying achievements of his political career, and time has proved that to be correct. Of course, he probably achieved more in real terms for the trade union movement in Australia during his occupancy of that most important portfolio than any previous Minister had achieved in the history of Australia since federation.
The college has become a fact. Quite obviously, from inquiries made by our Government, it has become apparent that there is a need for a change. We have as our aim a more effective and responsible operation of the Clyde Cameron College. Of course, the Australian Labor Party usually adopts the role of not accepting the status quo and of criticising the conservative elements who are satisfied with history and with tradition. It comes as a bit of a surprise, therefore, when the conservative parties, as we have been called, are criticised for seeking to change. How unfortunate it is that we are criticised for proposing a change. One could say that previous Opposition speakers in this debate have subscribed to a concept of change, wherein there is no change.
– We are a reforming government.
– As the honourable member for La Trobe said, when we find there is a need for a change we have the courage of our convictions and we are prepared to come to the Australian people via the Australian Parliament and indicate where that change should be made.
The amendments that the Government is proposing are designed to effect changes in policy which we believe are appropriate following the successful launching of the Clyde Cameron College. I believe it is appropriate that we should get our sense of perspective right and indicate that surely the person who pays the bill for a particular enterprise, be it privately or government sponsored, should have some control in its running. Obviously, as the Commonwealth Government and the Australian people pay the bill in this instance they should have some say in policy matters. It is wrong for the trade union movement to believe that it has in effect a divine right to control how public money shall be allocated. It is appropriate to bring to the notice of previous Opposition speakers that the word ‘accountability’ is a word of particular significance to supporters of the Fraser- Anthony coalition Government. We seek to bring accountability into the operations of the trade union training movement of this country, and well we should. In 1977-78 a total allocation of $3. 13m of Australian taxpayers’ money was allocated to the Clyde Cameron College. Therefore we believe that as the Commonwealth Government is paying the bill it should have some say, small as it might be, in directing the policy objectives and the operations of the college.
I was delighted to hear in speeches made by honourable members on both sides of the House an appreciation of the need for a college to train trade union leaders and rank and file members of the trade union movement. A typical example of the need for such a college is the recent utterance of Mr Norm Gallagher of the Builders Labourers Federation who, when asked on 30 May during an Australian Broadcasting Commission news program how he saw his reelection to leadership of the union, said:
As one member said to me, I suppose it’s best to vote for the villain that you know to the villain that you don ‘t know and I would say that everyone knew what my policy was, I believe in militant action. I do believe that members of the union, and building workers and workers generally have lost their purchasing power for indexation and as far as I am concerned is that we will be campaigning the purchasing power of our members.
Obviously, if we have trade union leaders in this country who believe that their prime aim and No. 1 priority is militant action we have a need for a trade union college to which unionists can go in order to get their sense of priority right. We do not want any more Gallaghers- mutilators of the Australian community and assassins of freedom. We do not want people whose greatest claim to fame is that they possess tons and tons of cunning and who achieve their aims and objectives through the ignorance of the rank and file. The National Country Party is delighted, therefore, to support the concept of the trade union college because the college will turn out better informed trade union leaders and rank and file members who will be better equipped to achieve the aims, aspirations and hopes of the people they represent.
It is appropriate to remark that employers have co-operated with the trade union college. Not only have they sent lecturers to the college, but also they have allowed workers who are union officials to go to the college and to participate in the various lectures that have been held. The workers do not suffer any loss of income while they are attending the college. The employers believe that participation by workers at the college has a two-way benefit. It benefits employers in the sense that the trade union member is more adequately equipped to advise his members. He becomes aware of the results of any hasty action that he may initiate. He also becomes aware of the hardships suffered by the family of the person who goes on strike for no reason whatsoever. It is true that there is less confrontation between employers and employees when the trade union official on the shop floor knows the rules, when he knows what the guidelines are and when he knows where his authority begins and ends. Of course, he has been able to obtain this extra expertise and knowledge by attending the college which is funded by the Commonwealth Government.
At the present time there are 26 training officers at the college at Wodonga who provide about 1,200 training days per annum. The college runs a variety of courses, some lasting for several days and others of the weekend seminar type lasting for two to three days. The Government believes that there is a necessity for better management not only of the trade union college at Wodonga but also of the associated State enterprises. We believe there should be a more effective use of resources because of what has been proved through the effluxion of time. There will be better management now because of the structure which was notified to the Parliament by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) in his second reading speech, and I believe the composition of the executive board of eight members is excellent. It does bring a sense of balance, a sense of compromise, a sense of expertise. We have the chairman with a casting vote, and with the employer’s representative, a department representative and the National Director plus four unionists, a blueprint for the successful operation of the college can readily be sustained after having been discussed at the round table conference.
The National Director will have the special responsibility, as it were, of bringing the threads together. He will be the lynchpin who will bring to the notice of the Director of Studies what the emphasis should be and what input at a particular time will give the most beneficial results for the money and resources expended.
The Director of Studies- Mr Peter Matthewscame to the college highly accredited as an educationist. He was previously education officer with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, having been appointed there in 1970. But the running of a college is more than being an education officer; one also has to be a supervisor. He will be able now to carry out his duties and his responsibilities with greater effect by virtue of the fact that he will have someone to oversee him, a person who came not as a supervisor but as an education officer having been appointed as education officer to the ACTU in 1970. The national college provides a complementary service to the services that are available in the State colleges. It has its emphasis on longer term residential type studies whereas the State colleges have their emphasis on the shorter term. It is absolutely necessary that not too much emphasis in the colleges and in the State authorities be placed on theory because, after all, these are practical people who go out into the work force to overcome some of the pressing problems that emerge in day to day operations.
It is interesting to note that the trade union movement itself tried out an approach based on theory. This is well itemised in the thesis which Mr M. Murnane presented for his Master of Arts degree at the University of Queensland. His thesis was entitled ‘Workers Education Association of Queensland, 1913-1939’. In that thesis he indicated quite clearly that if trade union training is to be based straight out on theory, it will eventually wither and die on the vine because, of necessity, it must have a practical application.
I am delighted to read in the second reading speech of the Minister’s intention to appoint a representative of technical and further education. This will avoid a great amount of confusion because the emphasis must not be on educational matters, as I have said previously; it rather should be of a practical nature. I cannot see that we should have a wastage of resources in providing at the college classes and lectures which are available at colleges of advanced education or technical colleges. We have some very good courses in industrial management, in industrial affairs and in industrial relations run at such places as the Queensland Institute of Technology in Brisbane and the Preston Institute in Melbourne. So it is very good to see that we have someone there who can act in an advisory capacity and draw to the attention of the executive the fact that a particular type of course is available elsewhere. There will be no duplication. This is the matter of accountability that we spoke about earlier.
Some objection has been presented by previous speakers and I am rather, shall we say, surprised at their confusion and the two hats that they wear. In 1974 it was regarded as wonderful debating skill when the then Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) suggestedbelieving it was appropriate- that members of the Australian Wool Corporation representing the Australian wool growers should be chosen from a panel of names submitted to him. Now when we seek to adopt the principle adopted by Labor and to follow Labor’s example, honourable members opposite rebel and reject that concept. This plurality of logic is the thing that amazes me. They establish it. They want to control the wool growers of Australia by electing people to the Australian Wool Corporation from a panel but when we adopt the same proposition they believe this is unjust and inappropriate. I find some difficulty in following that type of logic.
The Paine Committee of Inquiry, which was commissioned by our Government presented its report, and I believe it is appropriate to get the record straight as far as the Government’s commissioning a report is concerned. We do not tolerate a situation where we accept as gospel whatever is contained in a report. To do so would indicate that we are recreant to the trust that has been placed in us. We study a report and in light of the information, in light of the recommendations we as a responsible government decide what our policy shall be.
It is interesting to note that in chapter 7 of that Committee ‘s report is, in part, in these terms:
TUTA courses should provide for greater employer involvement in training activity. Courses should provide trade unionists with an understanding of the organisation and operation of commerce, industry and the various employer organisations and the manner in which they relate, not only to each other, but also to Governments and the community.
That is one of the recommendations contained in chapter 7 of the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Trade Union Training, indicating that the employers could have an input into the training of trade union leaders. I want also to make the point in this debate that as a supporter of the Government I would hope the Minister would give consideration to establishing a farm leaders training course. Surely the justice of public money being spent in the interests of farm leaders, as it is presently spent in the interests of capital, management, labour and trade unions, cannot be denied. I believe if we have the courage to establish a farm leaders training course much benefit, much good input, could be given to the training of our farm leaders of the future by having representatives of the trade union movement come along and give them lectures, be it on a weekend seminar arrangement or a week long arrangement.
It is absolutely essential that farm leaders of the future, just like the trade union leaders of the future, as indicated in that report, should have access to the other person’s point of view. Farm leaders training courses, of course, would need to be structured somewhat differently from the present idea of trade union training courses. Possibly we could have an arrangement with colleges of advanced education, like the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education in Toowoomba, to have a part external studies course, because unless farm leaders have specialised training we will reach a situation where they will be left behind in the race to represent their people. They need training in industrial matters; they need training in research; they need training in making representations. Unless we develop a reservoir of talent for our farm leaders of the future we will find that they will be lost, and they cannot afford to give any start away. We need authoritative spokesmen who will be able to don the mantle of representing primary producer organisations.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MartinOrder! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Tonight honourable members have seen the sobering effect of the guilt conscience that is strickening the voices of Government members who have participated in this debate. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) and the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) who has just spoken have delivered reasonable speeches for the first time that I can recall, except that the honourable member for Darling Downs on one occasion a fair while ago delivered a reasonable speech. Tonight we have heard them at their best. Because there is a sense of decency about some of the things they have said I compliment them on the sensible things they have said and I shall try to forget the silly things. They had to say something silly to support a Bill like this.
I thank the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) for the generous reference he made to me in his second reading speech. He paid tribute to my work in setting up the Trade Union Training Authority and he also said, and I thought it was generous of him to do so, that it was fitting that I should be remembered permanently in the name of the National Trade Union Training College- the Clyde Cameron college. It was the proudest achievement of my three years as a Minister. I shall always be grateful to the permanent head of the Department, Dr Ian Sharpe, as he then was, for proposing that the college be named after me and for the fact that it was Bob Hawke, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who, seconded the resolution. I am grateful for the support that I received from the Australian Council for Union Training, the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) and the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) in this place.
I am not going to let this opportunity pass without paying a tribute to the Minister. He is not behind this proposition; his heart is not in it. The thrust has not come from the Minister. The Minister has tried to support what the trade unions want. But, he is too loyal to his Government even to acknowledge that what I am saying is true. I thank the Minister for the amount of finance he made available in the first year of his ministry to enable the Clyde Cameron college to be completed, at a time when the Labor Government’s budget for TUTA had been much lower than the amount the Minister finally agreed to in the first year he was a Minister. I am not going to allow anyone to have any doubts about where I stand in relation to the Minister’s role.
The Committee of Inquiry was appointed for the purpose of advising the Government. Everyone was led to believe that the Government would act on the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee of Inquiry took evidence all around Australia from a lot of people. Then, right at the death knock, right at the end of the consideration by the Committee of Inquiry the bureaucrats in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations put in a last minute submission which roughly represents the very proposition that honourable members have now ultimately been asked to consider. No one else wanted what is now proposed.
The peak unions, the trades and labour councils did not ask for it, nor did the employers ask for it. The Minister did not ask for it. The Committee did not ask for it. In the debate so far no one has ever suggested, and no one can, that the amendments now proposed will improve the standard of tuition. No one has said that the amendments will increase the number of participants. No one has said that they will save money. Indeed, the standard of tuition and the level of involvement, which have so far exceeded the wildest expectations, will diminish, rather than increase, now that this is seen for what it is- an instrument for the National Civic Council.
I shall elaborate on that and show that the thrust for the proposition has come from Tony Macken and the National Civic Council and the secret agents of the National Civic Council who have been strategically placed within the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations for the last generation. I repeat that the cost will not be reduced, it will be increased, because it is now proposed to feather bed and bureaucratise the organisation at greatly increased cost and with greatly reduced efficiency.
When he was first appointed I told Peter Matthews that I thought his salary, which is fixed at level 2 of the second division of the Commonwealth Public Service, was far too much. We could have got Peter Matthews at class 10 salary of the Third Division. He would have been glad to take the job because his heart was in it. One never gets a successful director who takes the job only because of the money he will receive for it. I told the head of my Department that in no circumstances should the salary for the director be fixed at higher than class 10. Peter Matthews knows that I said that.
Though honourable members have not been told what the salaries will now be, it can be assumed that the salary for the director of studies will not be reduced as a result of this Bill. One can assume that he will keep his level 2 salary. And in order that the national director, that is the director of the supreme body, will be able to give orders- and because due to the bureaucratic structure of the public service one cannot give an ord n to someone else who is getting a zack more than he is getting; it can be assumed that the remuneration tribunal will fix the position of national director at level 3. It is time this matter was looked at especially by a government talking so much about cutting down the Public Service and saving the money of the taxpayers, bearing in mind the enormous payout in salaries to public servants. This is a payoff to Tony Macken and the NCC. I have already said that. Inside the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations there are key men who are directly tied to the NCC. Ted Dunphy ‘s son-in-law was advising the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) as he now is, when he was the Liberal Party spokesman on industrial relations. He was feeding NCC poison into the Prime Minister and into the Department, and is now trying to force the Minister to take it as well.
It is no use anybody saying that the peak unions and the trades and labour councils are seeking to politicise TUTA. Nothing at all can be produced to substantiate a charge like that. The people who are guilty of politicising TUTA are the National Civic Council and its stooges inside the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. I give this warning to the Government and to the National Civic Council which now controls the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations: It will be a pyrrhic victory for the National Civic Council, for the Department and for the Government because the bureaucrats in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations will now be seen for what they really are- bitterly anti-trade union, and fanatically pro-NCC. They have succeeded in winning this battle but the bureaucrats in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations have lost the war of being able to convince organised labour that it is has anything to offer the trade union movement. The very act of pushing the Minister into proposing something that the employers, the unions, the Minister and the Committee of Inquiry did not ask for, but which was contained in the last minute submission that the NCC put in to the Committee of Inquiry, is the last straw. The Government will never now be able to convince organised labour that it has anything at all to offer the trade union movement.
This legislation will be seen as the hallmark of anti-labour activities by a department that ought to be pro-labour. If it is all right for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to be pro-Aborigine, if it is all right for the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development to be pro-environmentalists, if it is all right for the Department of Industry and Commerce to be in favour of industry and commerce, if it is all right for the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs to be pro-business and consumer affairs and for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to be pro-veteran what is wrong with the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations being pro-labour? I saw nothing wrong with it when I was a Minister. I believe it was right for Ken Wriedt to go out and screech his head off on behalf of the cockies; and I had a right to go out and defend organised labour as the then Minister for Labour and Immigration. The officers of the Department have sown the wind and they and the Minister and the Government will reap the whirlwind.
The honourable member for Darling Downs made a good speech for a National Country Party member. He is emerging now as one of the most radical of the National Country Party members. He was one of the worst when he first came here. He has gradually learnt, by listening to people such as me, how wrong he was when he first came here. He said a lot of sensible things about employment and trade union training. Honourable members should not think that when I established the trade union Training Authority all the trade unionists went on their hands and knees and prayed for me or kissed my shoes or did whatever people do when they want to show their appreciation. Not at all. I once had a meeting with trade unionists at which Peter Matthews was present and when Harold Souter found out that Matthews had been here to talk to me about introducing a system of trade union training he telephoned me to tell me in no uncertain manner that Matthews had no authority to speak for the Australian Council of Trade Unions on trade union training. Ask Norm Gallagher what he thinks of trade union training. He will say that it is a foul capitalist plot thought up by Clyde Cameron to soften the future leadership of the trade union movement. That is Gallagher’s idea of my proposal.
I had no support from any substantial section of the trade union movement anywhere in Australia, from either right, left or centre, because the trade union movement saw it as being a foul capitalist plot to subvert its future leadership. It was only when I was prepared to offer the trade union movement complete control of the organisation and said ‘we will fund it and you can have complete control over the curricula and the syllabus and the election and appointment of the people who will do the job’ that the movement was finally prepared to come in and become part of it. If the Government intends taking that away from them it is the surest way of killing this scheme. But it is doing it and is doing it with a vengeance. Not only is it insisting on a stacked executive committee with the casting vote of its appointed chairman deciding every issue; it is adding insult to injury by demanding that the trade unions send it a panel of names of double the number required to be represented on the council or executive body, so that it can hand pick the trade unionists it would like to see on those bodies.
I know what the idea of the National Civic Council is. Its idea is to have this device so that if the trade union movement nominates anybody that it does not like it can put the cleaner through the list of nominations and end up with a purely pro-National Civic Council body in charge of everything. The National Civic Council will be able to do what it falsely accuses us of doing now. It will politicise the organisation to make it teach the philosophy of the National Civic Council.
The honourable member for Darling Downs said that employers have helped the college by giving paid study leave. That is true and I pay tribute to the employers who have done this. I pay special tribute to Gordon Jackson of C.S.R. Ltd, to Brian Loton of Broken Hill Pty Ltd, to Rod Carnegie and many other captains of industry who have been able to see what the Government cannot see and what the National Civic Council will not see; namely, that if we are ever to get trade union leaders who are efficient, sophisticated and able to give sensible leadership to the trade union movement we will have to start training them now. When I first introduced this proposal I said that it probably would take 10 years before the harvest of leaders from the Clyde Cameron College and from the State training centres would be wide enough to make the desired impact upon the thinking of the trade union movement. We will not get any immediate results. We will have to wait until there are enough graduate trade union leaders and future trade union leaders on the factory floor and on the floor at union meetings to make their presence felt. For too many years union meetings have been sparsely attended with all the talking coming from the table. That has been the trouble with union meetings.
– Are you critical of them?
– I am critical of the way in which union meetings are conducted because generally speaking the only people at union meetings now who are able to talk with any confidence are those at the table and an occasional sprinkling of graduates from the
Clyde Cameron College who are beginning to get enough confidence to stand up and speak. However, we will not get this result if we end up with the Clyde Cameron College appearing to be the sepulchre of the NCC. There is no way that we will get it then.
I have mentioned the captains of industry. I want now to pay tribute to Mr Justice Terry Ludeke who telephoned me from his sick bed in the Sydney Hospital on the day that the Clyde Cameron College was opened. He tendered an apology and indicated to me how wholeheartedly he was behind the concept of trade union training. He was not asking for what the NCC is now asking, in spite of the fact that in his balmier days he is alleged to have been an NCC supporter. Sir John Moore is not asking for it. I have not met anyone of any consequence who is asking that we destroy the union control of the Clyde Cameron College or the Trade Union Training Authority generally.
The honourable member for Darling Downs made a valid point, I am prepared guiltily to concede, when he said: ‘We are only doing the same as the Labor Government did with the Wool Corporation when it made us supply it with a list of names of wool growers so that it could pick the names of the people that it wanted’. I concede that the honourable member made a valid point. He criticised what we did then and he was right then; but he is wrong now for wanting to do what he then condemned. He also said that employers should be able to make some sort of input to trade union training. I think that is an absurd suggestion. To allow employer representatives to sit on the Australian Council for Union Training is like demanding that the Catholic Education Office in each state should accept the Grandmaster of the Freemasons Lodge on its board of control and demanding also that as catholic education is being given millions of dollars of Federal funds a government-dominated board ought to be appointed and made answerable directly to the Minister to decide what the syllabi, curricula and appointments shall be in all the catholic colleges and schools in Australia. In other words, because the catholic schools are getting Federal funds they should be controlled by bureaucrats that we should put Jack Mundey or the head of the Orange Lodge on the board just to keep them honest. This is setting a precedent but if it is the sort of precedent that the Government wants, let us do it thoroughly. If this precedent is to be accepted who could say that we are being inconsistent if we say that the Catholic church should be put under the control of a bunch of bureaucrats who would tell it how it should spend Federal funds?
– Why pick on the poor Catholic church?
-Because the Catholic church is getting more in the way of educational grants than any other church, but we could say that the Presbyterian church should be treated in the same way. I have mentioned the Catholic church because the National Civic Council prides itself on being the authentic voice of the Catholic church on Catholic social doctrine. It is not, of course.
– It is not.
– I am glad that the honourable member has repudiated it. The bishops, of course, have repudiated it, but that does not stop Mr Bob Santamaria from posing as spiritual adviser to Belloc House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-I begin by saying that it is a pity that the time of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) did expire. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) ought to take very closely to heart the statements that were made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I pay a tribute to that honourable gentleman for the courage and for the foresight that he has shown and for the role that he played in the establishment of the trade union training colleges. As he pointed out, they were not subject to immediate acceptance by the trade union movement. I have no doubt that on many occasions the Minister has not agreed with the honourable member for Hindmarsh, but, when the honourable member for Hindmarsh, with his knowledge and understanding of the trade union movement, sounds the warnings to the Minister that he has, I think the Minister and those members on the Government side who support him ought to pay some real regard to them.
I believe this is a sad and a silly Bill. It is sad because it involves an issue which until the introduction of this Bill virtually was dealt with in this Parliament on a bipartisan basis, with all parties agreeing on the need for trade union training and with all parties in broad agreement on the nature of the structure that ought to be established. It is a silly Bill because many of the amendments which are proposed, as has already been pointed out by the honourable member for
Hindmarsh and by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young), do not have the support of any significant group or any significant spokesman experienced in industrial relations. These amendments were not sought by the trade union movement. They were not sought by the experienced advisers or spokesmen for employer groups. I also accept the view which was put by the honourable member for Hindmarsh, namely, that they were not sought by the Minister. There is no man of any reputation in industrial affairs who could be cited by the Minister or any of the honourable gentlemen who support him who will come out or who will lend his name to these amendments.
I want, first of all, to pay a very real tribute to the work that is being done by those who have been responsible for the conduct and the management of the trade union training colleges because right from the inception of those colleges these people had the problem of selling this concept to the trade union movement. It was not a concept which was easily accepted. Secondly, they were caught with the problem of having a change of government- a government and a Minister which did not necessarily have all the perception and the sensitivity in this area of the former Minister. Then they were faced with very considerable Budget cuts. Let me just relate that aspect of the story. In the financial year 1977-78 the Government announced its intention that there would be no real growth in the activities of government departments and statutory authorities. Acting upon this, the Trade Union Training Authority prepared estimates for recurrent expenditure to enable full utilisation of the existing traimng staff and for capital expenditure to enable building works already commenced to be completed.
It is normal for the estimates of a statutory authority to be submitted by its Minister directly to the Minister for Finance for subsequent analysis by his Department. In the case of TUTA for 1977-78, however, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations took it upon itself to analyse TUTA’s estimates and subsequently made a series of arbitrary alterations to them prior to their submission to the Finance Department. Consequently the allocation which was made available to TUTA for 1978-79 reflected a 14.5 per cent reduction on the actual 1976-77 recurrent expenditure level. The capital works budget was slashed by a staggering 88 per cent. Details of this reduced budget were not made available to TUTA until October 1977. The consequences were that TUTA’s training activities had to be cut by about one-third, and its more expensive provincial and residential courses had to be cut to a point at which they almost ceased to exist.
As regards its capital works program, the building of Clyde Cameron College ceased, leaving incompleted landscaping and little furniture and equipment to be installed in the College. The Victorian Centre of TUTA was being established in an ideally located National Trust classified building in Drummond Street, Carlton South, just down the road from the Trades Hall. The result of the reduced capital allocation was that all renovation work in the building ceased, leaving it in a truncated condition with no air conditioning, with the external grounds a quagmire and with rendering removed and not replaced in many areas.
They were just some of the problems that confronted TUTA in its inception. My knowledge of the work which has been done is largely local and largely related to the State of Victoria. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave of the House- I have already discussed the matter with the Minister- to have incorporated in Hansard a document which has been prepared by Mr Geoff Fary. It is a report of the very real achievements of the Trade Union Training Authority in Victoria.
The document read as follows-
Notes supporting an Address by Victorian Director, Geoff Fary, to the V.T.H.C. on Thursday 10 November 1977.
Victorian Centre, P.O. Box 281, Carlton South 3053. 2 Drummond Street, Carlton South. Ph. 347 94 1 1 .
In addition unionists have attended short (half-day) seminars, details of which have not been recorded.
Common Course Types
The courses listed below are the five most common courses conducted by the Victorian Centre of TUTA. Combined they represent at least 70 per cent of all the course types conducted at the Centre.
The Victorian Council for Union Training is constantly reviewing the content of courses so the topics shown may be altered from time to time.
– I point out to the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) who had some individual blowing in his ear about how worried that person was about what was happening at the college that in fact the details in relation to the unions which have been in attendance indicate that some 89 unions have been involved, and that is more unions than are affiliated with the Labor Party in the State of Victoria. They are unions which go right across the political spectrum.
– Too many.
– That is another argument, but the point I am making is that it is completely spurious for the honourable gentleman- I commend him for at least going there and having a look- to say on the basis of a visit that he is supporting the Government ‘s amendments because some unnamed trade union official said to him: My word, you could not send your officers there because they might be subverted’. What nonsense! Why was not that a finding of the independent committee which examined all these matters? If some trade union official is prepared to tell the honourable member for Casey that all this subversion is going on surely that evidence would have been made available to the committee. It is nonsense. If the honourable gentleman knew anything about the way in which the trade union movement operates he would know it was nonsense.
– We know enough.
– I suggest to the honourable member for Franklin and to the honourable member for Casey that they would do much better to rely on the objective findings of the report of the Committee of Inquiry in August 1977 because there is no way, on the basis of their knowledge, that they can do much more than accept that sort of information. All honourable members at the present time are caught up in the situation in which a distinguished member of this House is saying that a Minister of this House affected the redistribution in Queensland. I do not know whether he did or whether he did not. Honourable members opposite do not know either. Assuming, after all the evidence has been weighed and carefully canvassed, that the independent commissioner says: I find none of these allegations proven’, will the Government say: ‘Of course, that might be the finding of the commission but we have another view and, acting on that other view, we will throw that finding out the door’? Of course it would not. There has been an open inquiry. Very specific recommendations have been made. Let us look at them. Let us look at this question of employer representation which was very carefully examined by the Committee of Inquiry. Its finding, as stated on page 19 of its report, was:
The confidence of trade unions in the authority’s activities could be weakened by employer representation on Councils for Union Training and for this reason we should not recommend such representation.
It could not be put stronger than that. It is an odd situation when the Minister comes into the House and says: ‘Well, yes, I pay a tribute to the work done by the Committee, but we are not going to accept all its recommendations. We will accept only those that agree with our arguments. But those that do not agree with our prejudices, we will throw to one side ‘. Let us look at the Minister’s second reading speech in which he said:
The Government has accepted the general thrust of these conclusions.
I suppose that in a fairly glib way, that is true. But the Minister went on to say:
The Government considers that it is necessary to go further than the Committee recommends to provide for more efficient and effective management of the Authority.
Well, with great respect, it seems incredible to me that there can be a report of this kind wherein all these issues have been examined and there are responsible employer groups, responsible union groups and experienced industrial judges, none of whom can be quoted by the Minister, none of whom can be used as an authority by the Minister. Yet the Minister says: ‘Well, do not ask me to quote my authority’. Perhaps he did not know about these incredible conversations that the honourable member for Casey had. The Minister says: ‘Do not ask me to justify our conclusion in any way at all. We give it to you as a bald, simplistic statement of fact. The Government considers that it is necessary’. Well, the Government may consider that it is necessary, but surely the House is entitled to know why the Government considers it is necessary. What was the evidence? Who gave it? Where did it come from? The honourable member for Hindmarsh has made some very damning statements, some very forthright allegations as to where that evidence came from. Those allegations need answering because what we have here is a situation whereby there has been an independent examination, with all the arguments that can be put, both privately and publicly, weighed and examined by a committee whose work was the subject of commendation by the Minister himself. It is true, then, as the honourable member for Hindmarsh says, that at the last minute forces operating within the Department- forces which were not necessarily serving the interests of the Government, the employers or the trade union movement- were then able to so influence the policy processes of the Government that we got a statement like this in the second reading speech:
The Government considers that it is necessary to go further than the Committee recommends to provide for more efficient and effective management of the Authority.
There is not one piece of evidence in the history of this organisation, in the tremendous problems that confront it, that the Minister can adduce to this House to show that that statement represents anything other than the jaundiced prejudices of those who are capable of formulating some of the propositions in this Bill. Some of these amendments are so petty as to be vindictive and trite. The Government says that it is necessary to alter the definition in the existing Act. Again there is no evidence to suggest that there was any subversion -
– The inquiry recommended that.
– Well, the inquiry did not recommend it in the narrow terms in which it is now.
– Very close to it.
– No, with great respect to the Minister, what the inquiry suggested was in fact that the definition was a bit general. Let us look at that definition in the existing Act. It states: trade union training’ means-
That definition is broad enough to encompass a history and a knowledge of the trade union movement, its traditions, the fact that it was born out of a period of class struggle, the historic role it played in Australian society and the fact that many of the problems that confronted it in the 1920s and the 1930s are not the sorts of problems that confront it today. It is not confronted with the complexity of current Australian society and the fact that we have now developed a new work force; to use a Marxist term, virtually a new Lumpen proletariat in terms of the number of ethnic arrivals in our country who have made up a new working force with an ethnic tradition, a culture and a background that is not the traditional Anglo-Saxon background. That will have a real effect on the trade union movement. It is narrow and almost spiteful to say that we have to amend the definition section so that the Trade Union Training Authority must now concentrate on educational, technical or practical training, capable of advancing and developing an understanding of the functions and objectives of trade unions or officials of trade unions. It is like saying: ‘Well, we are going to establish a college of theology. But all we are going to tell the priest who is a trainee is how to conduct a funeral service or how to conduct a wedding service. We will not tell him anything at all about philosophy or the tradition or the history which has made him the sort of person he is and which has given him a particular role in contemporary society’. It is that sort of spleen, that sort of nonsense, that permeates this legislation.
I say to the Minister that I genuinely believe that the best thing he could do with this legislation would be to take it away and have another look at it. The Trade Union Training Authority has only now got itself into the position where I think it can say to the Minister that it enjoys the confidence of the trade union movement. But the trade union movement in Australia will not accept the view that this Authority is going to be an extension of some arm of the Government, an extension of the Department which is designed to produce tame cat union officials. That, of course, was the very real fear. That was the problem with which the honourable member for Hindmarsh had to struggle in order to establish this whole structure. There are grave doubts and grave concerns running right throughout the trade union movement that the confidence won by those dedicated officers of this structure by hard work, by sacrifice, by skill and by diligence, as the record shows, as the tables which I have laid before the Parliament show, will be lost overnight. It has taken more than three years to build up that confidence. I suggest to the Minister that if he loses that confidence, the simple thing for him to do is not to worry about the future of the Trade Union Training Authority, but to save his money, wrap it up and not pretend that some exercise in public relations will pull the wool over the eyes of the trade union leadership of this country. It is not going to be told by some employer’s representative or by some departmental bureaucrat how it should develop training programs which are relevant to its future and the way in which it sees this society. I suppose that goes to the heart of the problem.
I genuinely hope that the Minister will take account of what has been said to him. There is real concern within the trade union movement. If he proceeds with this Bill in this form, he runs the very real risk of losing the entire confidence of the trade union movement in terms of the whole future operations of the Trade Union Training Authority. If these amendments are passed, it will take a considerable exercise in goodwill for the trade union movement to live with some of the concepts which are now being pushed. It is a delicate exercise. It is one that I think could encompass the destruction of an institution which has already proved its worth, not merely to the trade union movement, but to the Australian people, the Australian community.
– in reply- I thank honourable members on both sides of the House who have contributed to this debate. Without taking too much of the time of the House I shall try to make some comments on each of the speeches that have been made. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) who is the shadow spokesman in this matter led for the Opposition. He started by criticising the fact that the Government had created another body, the Executive Board, and made some comments on the cost involved. He questioned whether that cost could be justified. What he did not say was that there are also corresponding savings. As the councils will now be only advisory bodies the sittings of those councils will not carry remuneration fees although travelling allowances will be paid to those people who attend meetings. He also did not say that six statutory offices will be abolished. Those officers will become employees of the Authority.
The honourable member also referred to the claim that there had been some lack of effective management. I refer him to the points I made in my second reading speech. I shall make further comments on that particular aspect of his criticism of the Bill later in my reply to the second reading debate. The new structure will make the Authority a more effective body. It will enable it to be managed more efficiently. The honourable member also raised the question of whether a quorum would be possible on the Australian Council without any unionists being present. I suppose that is technically true. To get a quorum there would have to be a chairman plus six members. It would be necessary for all seven unionists and the member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition to be absent from the meeting. If a quorum could not be obtained in such a way and the members I have just mentioned absented themselves it would be a rather extraordinary reflection of their interest, or lack of it, in the body to which they had been appointed. Certainly if the unions felt strongly about these issues they would attend such meetings. If they were genuine in their concern they ought to attend them.
The honourable member commented on the revised definition of training in the new Bill as have other honourable members during the debate. I draw the attention of those honourable members who commented on this matter to the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into Trade Union Training. It felt that the definition should be changed. As has been mentioned previously, that Committee of Inquiry was tripartite in character. It included representation from the union movement. The Trade Union Training Authority has faced the same restraints as other bodies in the public arena with regard to staff ceilings and finance but in practice it has received very special consideration in both these respects for the proper reason that it is a new body which cannot be considered in the same context as those departments and other statutory authorities which have been in existence for a long time. If I heard him correctly the honourable member referred to the Draconian measures in this Bill. That is absolute nonsense. The amendments are the result of prolonged and extensive consultations with the National Labour Consultative Council, peak union councils and the Australian Council for Union Training.
The honourable member for Franldin (Mr Goodluck) made the very relevant point that trade union training has a major role to play in improving industrial relations generally. He is quite right in that view. The legislation is designed specifically to achieve that. As I remember, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) interjected along the lines that it is not possible to get results in that respect overnight. Of course, he too is right but that is certainly the common aim of both sides of the House and this legislation. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) asked why the amendments were put forward now rather than three years ago when we were in opposition and the original Bill came before the House. I again refer the honourable member to my second reading speech. Trade union training was then an entirely new concept in Australia. It was natural for experience to show that amendments to the original Bill were both necessary and desirable. The new Bill contains those amendments. I think the honourable member for Burke also referred to the position of National Director. He alleged that until this Bill was introduced the Director of the Clyde Cameron College would have been the National Director. If the honourable member believes that he has completely missed the point. The Director of the College will now be the Director of Studies responsible not only for the management of the courses at the Clyde Cameron College but also for all training throughout the Authority, including the State centres. It is impossible for such an onerous job to encompass the administration. That is not the way to run an organisation such as this. Clearly, the honourable member for Burke did not understand what is required. I do not know whether that comes as a great surprise to anybody.
The honourable member for Burke acknowledged that some amendments in the Bill were desirable. They are on the record. I do not think it is necessary to go through them. He has been in the invidious position of being the Prime Minister’s appointed representative because of the terminology of the former Bill. This legislation will, of course, correct that. He said that the six States will not be represented on the Australian Council. I remind him that each of the State advisory councils which will be appointed will have direct access to the Executive Board, that is to the board responsible for policy. The honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) picked up the reference of the honourable member for Burke to a list of names from whom the advisory councils are to be appointed. Various other honourable members have referred to it. It follows a precedent which has been well canvassed in this debate. The honourable member for Casey discussed at some length and very sensibly the rationale for trade union training. He made many constructive observations, particularly in relation to the need for training at supervisory level, with which I entirely agree.
The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) seemed very disappointed that the trade union courses to which he referred did not preach the degree of revolution and the overthrow of our society that he would have liked. He laid great stress on the need for the union content of the Trade Union Taining Authority. I remind him that the Australian Government funds trade union training in a way which, as far as I know, does not apply in any other country. The funding comes from the taxpayer. I would be more impressed by the arguments of the honourable member for Cunningham if the trade union movement indicated that it was prepared to make a substantial contribution to the capital and recurrent costs of trade union training, but so far I have not detected any great enthusiasm.
He too made reference to the list method of selection but went on to say that the lists could result in there being on the councils people whom the unions no longer wanted to represent them. I draw his attention to proposed new subclause (3A) of section 28, which provides that an organisation can notify the Minister that it no longer wants a certain person to represent it. The Minister may then terminate that person’s appointment. That applies equally to union and employer representatives.
The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) drew attention to the drastic results of irresponsible union leadership in strike action and the effect that had on job opportunities and the purchasing power of rank and file members. He also mentioned the need for informed and responsible union leadership. The honourable member also made some very valid comments on the difference between the educational side of trade union training and the administration side concerned with running a statutory authority. I have already made reference to the distinction there. The Bill clearly recognises this by the appointment of both the National Director and the Director of Studies. The honourable member for Darling Downs did make an interesting suggestion regarding the desirability of having greater understanding between the farming community and the trade union movement. I agree with him on that. He will note that under the legislation courses can be funded at institutions other than the Clyde Cameron College or the State training centres for precisely the purposes outlined by the honourable member.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who can truly be called the father of trade union training in Australia- I acknowledge his contribution to that field- did disappoint me when he spoke so disparagingly of the department of which he was once the Minister, and of which I now have the honour to be Minister. I regret that he made the comments that he did and I cannot allow them to pass without a reply. They were unfounded, unfair and untrue. I wish to make it clear that the legislation before the House is the Government’s legislation: it is not the legislation of the National Civic Council, of the Department or anybody else.
The honourable member referred to the longterm nature of the benefits of trade union training. Reference has already been made to that; it has been acknowledged that that is the case. The legislation is designed to ensure that long-term benefits do accrue from the training provided. Incidentally, he was strongly critical of there being an employer representative on the Australian Council and on the Executive Board, but I must say that his view is not shared by the union movement, which did not oppose it. The inquiry recommended a greater degree of employer involvement.
– Can we have that clear? Do you say that the unions agreed to that?
– I chose my words carefully. I said they did not oppose it.
– They did not oppose it? Can Hansard indicate that the Minister shook his head.
– You can have that in the record if you like. I merely say that the union movement did not oppose it.
– Participation, or membership of the board?
-Both. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) referred to the report of the inquiry and acknowledged that the Government had accepted most of its recommendations, but, as I emphasised in my second reading speech, had decided to go further. As I have explained, any government has the right to do so if it believes that it will result in better and more effective management of the Authority and, more effective use of the resources provided, both human resources and the physical buildings of the college and the various trade union training centres. That is what the legislation is designed to do.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided.
Mr Deputy Speaker(Mr G. O ‘H. Giles)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time-
Clauses 1 to 7- by leave- taken together.
-The changes included in clauses 1 to 7 of this Bill call into very serious question the sincerity of the Government’s claim of commitment to trade union training. The changes put in doubt, and very serious doubt, the continued effectiveness and indeed the very viability of the Trade Union Training Authority, and it is just possible that this is the Government’s real intent. Maybe the Government does not want TUTA to continue doing the excellent work it has accomplished in less than three years. Maybe the Government is pursuing a devious course of sabotage.
Unfortunately the Government has kept the Authority in a state of suspended animation for the last year, firstly by the establishment of an unnecessary inquiry and now by the introduction of these unnecessary changes. The consequence of this has been that a small band of highly dedicated, highly creative and extraordinarily hard working people, who over the last two and a half years have brought into being an institution which has been highly successful and is highly regarded, now find themselves discouraged and frustrated. For what purposes? What were the complaints that led to the inquiry? They were never stated at the time, and indeed the inquiry was able only to point to a number of trivial defects in its report. What are the new complaints which have brought forward these new proposals for change not recommended by the inquiry? Where is the evidence of the need for the so-called improved administration and improved effectiveness? If anything was more calculated to reduce the effectiveness of TUTA it was the harassment to which the Authority has been subjected by the Government over the last 12 months.
The justification put forward by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) for the changes is nowhere more paltry and dishonest than in relation to the reconstruction of the governing body of TUTA. The proposals contained in these clauses consist of the following elements: Firstly, reducing the role of the Australian Council to one merely of advice; secondly, the introduction of an all powerful Executive Board; thirdly, the creation of a politically appointed position of National Director; and, fourthly, the introduction of new interests into the membership of the controlling bodies including employer representatives. Who proposed these changes? What problems are these changes seeking to overcome? Where is the evidence, for instance, of financial irresponsibility or administrative irresponsibility which required these changes? Where is the justification for them? Search though I might through all the reports and all the evidence which has been placed before me I can find no evidence that sustains these proposed changes except in the isolated instance relating to the National Director and even then with qualifications. The Minister tries to obscure this lack of justification by claiming that comments were sought from and discussions were held with, firstly, the Australian Council, secondly, the National Labour Consultative Committee and, thirdly, the peak union councils.
I suggest that the Minister had better produce the evidence to substantiate the claim that these discussions and these consultations had taken place because I am reliably advised that the Australian Council of the Authority has never been directly consulted by the Minister and that in fact the Minister has refused repeated requests by the Council to meet with it and to discuss these proposals. The matter was raised with the NLCC, but only at very short notice. Bearing in mind that members of the NLCC are representatives of various organisations one cannot expect that body to have a reasoned discussion without sufficient notice being given to the bodies which its members represent so that they can consider the proposals. The discussions with the peak union councils were not initiated by the Minister, as could be construed from the Minister’s second reading speech. Rather, they were forced on him. In any event even if those discussions did take place, even if they were constructive, it is not clear whether any of those bodies supported this set of changes.
These changes strike at the very heart of TUTA, its role and its method of operation. The independence of TUTA, far from being preserved is now threatened. TUTA is now being thrown into the unloving embrace of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, which I suspect is where the Department has always wanted it. No longer will the preferred representatives of the unions even be assured of membership on the Board. Whilst there will be some union representation it is perfectly clear that the Government can avoid appointing the preferred representatives of the trade union movement. Even then no longer will those trade union representatives be in a position of control. This is one of the unnecessary changes which will threaten the continued existence of the Authority, because it is the control of TUTA which has led to the development of the excellent relationship between the trade union movement and the Authority.
The basis of the relationship between the trade union movement and the Authority is one of trust. The trade union movement recognises that TUTA is an organisation almost unique in that it understands the problems of the trade union movement, and its job is to do something about those problems. There may be some unions which prefer a docile membership. I suspect- in fact I know- that there are many more which despair at the lack of interest and participation by so many of their members. TUTA is able to do something about that problem, to mention just one. Practically all the unionists who I know who have attended trade union training courses have come back to their unions better equipped to participate, and to encourage others to participate in their unions ‘ activities. However, with the proposed change to the legislation I really wonder whether that sort of relationship will be able to be continued, and whether the sort of involvement that unions have encouraged in TUTA will be able to continue.
I want to mention specifically a question which points to a very clear case of misrepresentation by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations in both his second reading speech and his reply to the second reading debate. He claimed in his second reading speech, at least by implication if not specifically, that it was the report of the Committee of Inquiry on Trade Union Training which was the justification for including employers on the controlling body of TUTA. If we look carefully at the report of that inquiry we find that the only reference to employer participation is the recommendation that there should be closer and greater involvement by employers in the actual training process of the authority. But nowhere in the section of the report dealing with the role and membership of the Authority is any reference at all made to the question of employer representation. I believe that throughout this debate we have seen the Government pursuing a course in which it is trying to justify its position on the basis of arguments which cannot be substantiated. It pretends to rely on the support of the Committee of Inquiry for these changes. It pretends to rely on the support of the trade union movement. In fact, when one looks closely at this matter one can see no support for those claims.
– I am greatly disturbed by the failure of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) to justify the changes that are proposed in this Bill. When replying to the second reading debate he said nothing about the points that were made repeatedly about the lack of information or justification. The Minister had the opportunity, when replying to the points made about the clauses that we have been discussing, to justify the reasons why the Government proposes such massive changes, but he again failed completely. He cannot use the Committee of Inquiry into Trade Union Training as a springboard to justify these changes. He cannot use or rely upon the National Labour Consultative Council to justify the changes. I must say, with due deference to the trade union movement, that if the NLCC is to be used in the national Parliament in the way in which it is being used at the moment- the Minister coming in here and saying that he has had consultations with the NLCC, in an attempt, supposedly, to persuade the Opposition that it should go along with certain measures- the trade union movement itself should look seriously at the way in which the Minister uses the name of the NLCC.
It is quite frustrating for the Opposition not to have access to the decision-making processes of the NLCC. This is particularly so when decisions are made on the Conciliation and Arbitration Act or matters of that nature, or when discussions are held on such matters as Commonwealth Employment Service offices. We consider the Trade Union Training Authority to be of extreme importance to the community. However, reference is again made to the fact that there have been consultations on this matter with the NLCC. By virtue of the mechanisms of the NLCC we have to take for granted that the decisions or information regarding the tone of the discussions are not available to us. We reject the way in which the NLCC is being used by the Minister and by the Government to pursue their arguments because there is absolutely no reason in written or verbal form, why the Opposition ought to be persuaded to support this Bill. The Minister fails miserably to present an argument as to why the Parliament ought to support the legislation, why powers are being taken away from the trade union movement and on what grounds these major changes are being made.
I wish to refer to a couple of other very important areas. I take up the charge that the Minister makes against the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West). The Minister said that the Bill ought to be supported in the terms the Government has laid down. He also said that the only reason that the honourable member for Cunningham is opposed to the Bill is because the Trade Union Training Authority may not be as revolutionary as the honourable member for Cunningham would like it to be. The very case that we put forward today on the clauses now before the Committee is that the Trade Union Training Authority is not anyone’s bunny. The honourable member for Cunningham was not presenting an argument that he wants the Authority to pursue only those views which he holds.
Nor was any other member who holds different views from those held by the honourable member for Cunningham presenting the argument that the Authority ought to pursue views with less intensity. The very strength of the Authority, of the Australian Council for Union Training, of the Director, of the college and of the State councils is that they are not anybody’s bunny. No one in the two and a half years in which the Trade Union Training Authority has operated can lay that charge against it. All of us, especially those of us who serve in public office for our respective political parties, perhaps sometimes would like to influence the Authority in respect of what it should be teaching people. But the very strength of the Authority and the very reason that it should not be changed is that it has been such a major success and that it has ignored all the outside influences.
I want to take the Minister back to what I said in the second reading debate. I have looked through the report of the Committee of Inquiry but I cannot find any argument to support the change in the executive and the superimposing of the National Director on the present Director of Studies. As other honourable members have said, obviously someone who was not prepared to go to the Committee of Inquiry has been able to twist the arm of the Government and to impose his views. How else could the Government possibly justify an executive board which comes out of the blue, which it is not prepared to ask employer or employee about and which it wants to be put through the Parliament before there is any outside discussion? How can the Government justify the proposition that the majority voice on that executive board should be other than a trade union voice? Is the Government trying to present us with a view that people outside the work force know more about the labour force than the trade unions themselves? Not only does the Government go to the extent of putting outside people on the board, not only does the Minister retain the right to determine three of the eight appointments- a massive three political appointments out of eight positions- but he also discounts State influences. It is no good talking about the advisory capacity of States or their access to the executive. The Minister has relegated the States to a position of no responsibility. It is no good saying all of those things. The fact is that a majority of people on the board are non-trade union people.
Why has the definition of ‘education’ disappeared? There is no justification for that anywhere at all. The term ‘members of trade unions ‘ has disappeared. It is proposed that we will now refer only to officers and officials. Reference to the locations of where the trade union training will take place and the functions of the Authority has disappeared. There has been absolutely no attempt by the Minister to justify these deletions. I must say- I have felt this for the last two and a half years- that the speeches that come from this Department are woeful. The second reading speeches delivered here by the Minister in justification of what we consider to be extremely important legislation are the worst speeches, the most lacking in information or justification, coming from any department. We do not mind sitting here for half an hour listening to the reasons why the Government wants to change Acts. We are quite patient. We are quite tolerant. We will sit and listen to the reasons that are being put forward. But we are placed behind the eight ball in arguing measures like this when there is no justification flowing from the Government. If the Government said, ‘This is the view of the Government; we still hold the same views as we held when Tony Street was Opposition spokesman on employment and industrial relations and when Malcolm Fraser was Leader of the Opposition in 1 975; all the fears we held then about trade union training we still hold and we are using that as justification for changing the Act’, we would be prepared to argue with the Government.
But Government members know full well that since those statements were made two and a half years ago the trade union training authority, by its very influence, by its very attraction to working people in this country, has dispelled all the fears that were expressed. So the Government cannot use that device. But the Minister comes here with what I consider to be a second reading speech without substance. Views were put forward by spokesmen from this side in the second reading debate but the Minister threw them aside because he said the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) holds one view or perhaps the honourable member for Hindmarsh went too far. The Minister has not really told us why the Government wants to change this Act dealing with the Trade Union Training Authority. We can see no reason for it.
There is no suggestion why the Director should have someone superimposed upon him. The Minister said the Committee recommended we should have a National Director. What was wrong with the present Director? Why do we have to have a Director of Studies and a National Director over and above him? We look to the Minister for the answers.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I compliment the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) and the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) who have just completed their addresses. I agree with everything they have said. I rise to object to the fact that this is the second occasion that this Department has allowed Parliamentary Counsel to draw up a Bill in which in one single clauseclause 7- they have grouped together 24 subject headings consisting of 198 lines in the Bill, and in the next clause- clause 8- they have brought together 14 subject headings running into 224 lines. I warn Parliamentary Counsel that if they ever do this again while I am in this Parliament, I will use the forms of the House to demand a division by moving an amendment on each single item or subject heading within the clause, and I will expose Counsel for what they are- no longer the servants of the Parliament but now the servants of the executive arm. Parliamentary Counsel have treated this Parliament in the most cavalier, most impolite and, I believe, most discourteous manner. They are treating us with absolute contempt.
If it is the Government which suggested to Counsel that they ought to group together 24 subject headings and 198 lines into one clause, and then turn to the next clause and group 14 subject headings with 224 lines, they ought to tell the Government that they are the servants of the Parliament and not the lackeys of the executive arm.
– The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins) alleged that the Government did not want trade union training to continue. Of course that is ridiculous.
– That is not true.
– Well, I thought that was what the honourable member said.
– The Minister is talking nonsense.
– I am talking about the honourable member for Fremantle. As I understood him, he alleged that the Government did not want trade union training to continue, and I am saying that is ridiculous. We acknowledge the need for trade union training. We funded completion of the Clyde Cameron College, which the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) was kind enough to acknowledge. We have agreed to increases in staff and in current expenditure even in times of the very strictest restraints on Government expenditure. That allegation just does not stand up. He also made reference to employer participation in the Trade Union Training Authority and if there was any misunderstanding I am glad to clear it up now. This was raised at the National Labor Consultative Council. There was very strong representation from the employers to gain representation both on the Council and on the Executive Board, and if it makes him any happier I repeat what I said in winding up the second reading debatethat was not opposed by the union movement.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) also referred to these consultations in the NLCC and I remind him that his Party when in government never called together the predecessor of the NLCC- the old National Labor Advisory Council- in the three years that Labor was in government. That Government just ignored it. I have never claimed unanimous agreement arising out of discussions in the NLCC, but very extensive discussions have been held by that Council and subsequently further discussions with the peak union councils. The very nature of industrial legislation and the views taken by the two sides of the House on it, make it inevitable that there will be occasions on which it is not possible to reach unanimity. But I make the point that at least to those who have views to put we have made the genuine offer of an opportunity to put those views through the most extensive possible discussions. The Labor Government never did that.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide also raised again the question why a National Director was necessary over and above, if you like, the Director of the College. I reiterate the point I made earlier- the Director of the College is now the Director of Studies with responsibility not only for the management of the College but oversight of all training activities in the Authority, and the administration of this large, complex and diverse Authority needs somebody who is able to give his full time to it.
– We are now in the area of deciding what education is all about. I shall quote to the House some comments that were made in 1975 about this whole area of education which has been written out of the definitions. Sombody has been kind enough to bring to my attention words spoken by Senator Guilfoyle, now Minister for Social Security. At page 195 1 of Hansard for 28 May 1975 she is recorded as saying:
I welcome the way in which the Bill has been designed.
I cannot quarrel with the honourable senator in that sense because my good friend and colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) was the architect of this Bill and that is acknowledged by everybody. The honourable senator went on to say:
It recognises the need for different levels of function- the level of the State Councils for Union Training and the level of the Australian Council for Union Training. If we reflect on all the authorities, commissions and councils that have been established during the past 2 years or so, we find that we have been consistent in suggesting that at the State level there is need for activity to be recognised, and that at the Federal level aften there is need for recognition of State representation. It has taken the formation of the Trade Union Training Authority to put into practice the co-operative relationships that we have stressed should exist between State activities and the Federal co-ordinating activties. I welcome the fact that in relation to this Training Authority there is a recognition that there are different requirements in different States, and that co-ordination may be attempted at the Federal level by appointing people to represent the States. I think that this is the way in which any authority would function best.
It is important to understand that a significant change has been made in the definition. Earlier tonight the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) made the point that it is difficult to bring definitions to the point where they can be understood unequivocally. The Bill lacks in that it no longer mentions the word education. Proposed new clause 3 (d) reads:
By omitting the definition of ‘trade union training’ and substituting the following definition: “trade union training” means technical or practical training capable of advancing and developing knowledge and skills in fields connected with the powers and functions of trade unions or the powers, functions and duties of officers or officials of trade unions; ‘.
It leaves out the word education. Doubtless honourable members could have a long debate on what the word education means. For some reason or another the Government has deliberately excluded the word from the definition. There is much more to be said about the Bill because it goes into many other areas, but it seems to me that the thing we are arguing about here and now is the question of education. It seems that the Government, through the Minister, has decided that education is far too broad a term to be used in the definition of trade union training. I submit to the Committee that that is not the case, that perhaps education is a broad term but it has a real meaning in the general sense in the community. The definition contains the words ‘technical or practical training’. I ask the Minister to tell me in his reply what technical and practical training means. Without the inclusion of the word education the whole concept of TUTA falls to the ground. It seems to be that of necessity the
Trade Union Training Authority must carry with it a connotation of educational training. For reasons best known to himself, which the Minister has not made clear to me, to the peak councils, to the trade union movement generally, to TUTA or to the community, for some reason or other he has decided to exclude the word education.
If the Minister does not believe that trade union training authorities, or, to be specific, the Trade Union Training Authority by its nature is an educational institution, let him say so. I believe that it is. It is part and parcel of the function of that Authority to educate people. I might have my own views on what education means and, if the Minister disagrees, perhaps he will tell me. It seems to me that if one if to advance people from one position to the next that, of itself, is education. The way he has drafted the Bill the Minister has denied to people the right to do that. He had denied to educationists the right to move people from one place to the other. In the Bill the Minister talks about technical or practical training. What does that mean? Does practical training mean that employers or their representatives will sit with employees in what I described earlier as a classroom scene? Is that not part of their education? How can the Minister exclude the word education? Is the Minister afraid of it? Does he want to burn books? Is that what he is about? My principal complaint is that the word education has been deleted from the definition in clause 3 (b). There is no justification for that and no explanation has been given by the Minister.
I have read the Minister’s second reading speech. Frankly it is the most deplorable second reading speech I have read since I have been a member of this House for a short period of only 9 years. During that time I have never read a more misrepresentative speech by a Minister on the second reading of a Bill than the one he made to the House. From my reading of the text books I understand that the function of a second reading speech is to outline the purpose of a Bill. I would be delighted if the Minister can tell me and the House that the second reading speech he made was even reflective of the matters in the Bill.
The Committee is dealing only with clauses 1 to 7. Already we have determined that there is an area of inconsistency between the Bill and what the Minister told honourable members in his second reading speech. No House of Parliament, no House of Representatives of the people can tolerate that sort of situation. A need exists to have the word education restored to the Bill. There simply is no way one can take people from one position to another, and teach them to be something other than what they were, without educating them. Why is the Minister afraid of the word education? Why did he write it out of the Bill? I shall be delighted to hear his response to the most scathing comment made of him since he has been a Minister by one of the strongest membersme. He should respond to that and tell honourable members why he has written out the word education.
– He should resign.
-As the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) has suggested, the Minister should resign. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I was delighted to hear that the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) is looking forward to my reply. He had better listen carefully as it will be rather brief. He spoke principally about the definition of trade union training. I remind the honourable member that the title of the Authority is the Trade Union Training Authority. That is its job. That is what it is empowered to do and that is what it will do.
That clauses 1 to 7 be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman-Mr P. C. Millar)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-Order! It being past 10.30 p.m., I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I require that the question be put forthwith without debate.
Question resolved in the negative.
Remainder of Bill- by leave- taken as a whole.
– I do not want to take up the time of the Committee by making a long speech, but I want to say three things very briefly. Firstly, I want to underline what has been said by previous speakers about the nature of speeches made in second reading debates in this House and to say that the intelligence of members has been insulted repeatedly by speeches of the type we heard during the debate on this Bill. Secondly, I want to say that in this case, as in the case of successive pieces of government legislation, the evidence is that the basis on which the Government has made changes has been hidden from the House. Again and again we are presented with situations in which the Government is proposing a change in relation to which the only argument it can present is its own prejudices. The third point I want to make, which takes me more closely into the Bill, is to draw attention to the way in which the power has been shifted within the nature of the Trade Union Training Authority so that we now have elevated in place of a broadly representative board- other honourable members have referred to this- a National Director appointed by the Minister operating in the context of an executive which clearly can be controlled by management when the Chairman appointed by the Minister is prepared to go in that direction.
I want to make just one point in that regard. If one looks at education in this country- it has to be said, as I think the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) was attempting to suggest earlier, education is in a real sense power- one realises that what we have is a disequilibrium of power. We do not have a situation in which there are relatively equal partners; we have a situation in which a very large section of Austraiian society has been cut off from the massive funds which we have put into education in the past few years.
– Name them.
– Let us think for a moment about capital. There are possibly 30 business schools operating in this country at a tertiary level. The operating expenses of those 30 business schools would perhaps be $10m a year, and that is putting capital costs aside.
– Much more.
-Perhaps $20m. Let us put the figure at what it might be. The ethos of business schools and economic schools throughout this country is antithetical to the whole of the interests of Labor. The people who are enrolled in those courses will certainly not be operating in a trade union context. There is a real sense in which the disequilibrium of power, which I am suggesting exists in this society, is reflected in educational institutions.
The point I want to make is that one institution has been established to serve the trade union movement, to provide, as the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) has suggested quite properly, education for the trade union movement rather than some narrow notion of training. What has happened in that one institution? We have seen that institution guttered. We have seen power shifted in that institution so that management controls that one area. If this Government, which says that it intends to talk about consensus and that it is trying to achieve a situation in society in which all groups are somehow represented in some kind of corporate decision making, takes over the one institution which provides the basis for the trade union movement to develop a capacity for articulating its views on major questions, including questions that involve matters directly affecting people in the work force, then it seems to me quite clear that what this Government is on about is not consensus but conflict. Whilst the honourable member for Cunningham was accused of prosecuting a view of conflict, it is in fact the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) who is encouraging conflict within this society by bringing in this piece pf legislation, because he is ripping the guts out of the Trade Union Training Authority. He is creating a situation in which conflict is inevitable, because there is no basis for discussion and no basis for education.
I want to draw out that point finally by simply referring to a clause of this Bill which we considered earlier. It is clear from clause 7 that it is quite possible- indeed, it may even be inevitablethat the National Director of the Executive Board which can be controlled by management will be able to transfer resources outside of the Trade Union Training Authority altogether. The situation can develop where management courses run by businesses may receive funds so that token trade unionists can come along, and the paltry Sim a year recurrent funds, or whatever the amount is, will get diverted off to support management so that it can make a token gesture in regard to the odd trade unionist. It can say that it has involved them in an educational program. It seems that what has been said to the Committee tonight from our side ought to be heard by the Minister. It certainly ought to be heard by him when we hear him talking about consensus, when we hear him talking about consultation, and when we hear him talking about labour and management working together.
– The honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe) referred to the National Director and the Executive Board taking the place of what he said was a broadly representative council. I remind him that the Executive Board is a much more broadly based body under this legislation than the old council was. The honourable member for Batman then proceeded to put up his own straw man and knock it down. The fact is that under this legislation the Trade Union Training Authority will remain a statutory authority. It will remain as a body funded by the taxpayer. It will be more effectively managed and more effective in doing the job that honourable members on both sides of the chamber agree needs to be done.
– I rise because I cannot accept the words that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) has just spoken. It is all very well for the Minister to use platitudes to talk about the Trade Union Training Authority being better managed by an Executive Board, but he has not demonstrated that to us at all. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Howe) has just clearly indicated to the Minister in a very eloquent speech that that is not true. Let us understand this: In this chamber the Liberal Party, in its own right, has the numbers to buffalo legislation through. That is what it intends to do. All of the persuasive eloquence of the argument of the honourable member for Batman was lost on the Minister. He did not even hear it, or if he did he did not want to understand it. Did he tell us how the Austraiian Council does not work now? He did not. All he said was that this socalled Executive Board was going to do the job better. But did he tell us how? Did he tell us why? No, he did not. The reason is very simple- he cannot. What a nonsense it is for the Minister to stand here on behalf of the Government to tell us that we need an executive board to run the Trade Union Training Authority, which has been operating for 2 te years now under a body which the Minister now finds does not have any executive authority. So what a nonsense it is. The Australian Council has worked well -
– Talk to the clause.
-I am speaking to the clause, you dum dum.
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Burke to express himself in parliamentary terms.
-I did, Mr Chairman. I am sorry; I did not know that ‘dum dum’ was unparliamentary. I amend that to ‘you idiot’.
- Mr Chairman, I take a point of order.
– Order! The honourable member for Burke will resume his seat.
- Mr Chairman, that remark really should be withdrawn.
The CHATRMAN-The Minister anticipated my intentions. I must ask the honourable member for Burke to withdraw the expression.
Mr KEITH JOHNSON Yes, naturally I withdraw it, Mr Chairman. Why should I worry time over an oaf like that? The whole point is -
– Order! I think the honourable member for Burke is in a mischievous mood. I ask him to withdraw without qualification.
-Withdraw what, Mr Chairman; that he is an oaf, that he is an idiot or that he is a dum dum?
-I withdraw the whole lot, Mr Chairman.
– The honourable member may proceed.
-I return to how this Trade Union Training Authority will be managed. The Minister now tells us and his Bill tells us that the best way in which to manage it is to set up another grouping, which is the Executive Board, over and above the Australian Council. Yet for 2Vi years the Australian Council has operated, and operated well. The Minister has not told us- and I invite him to do so- how it has not operated well. It has operated well. It has done its job well. It has done all the things that the Bill intends the Executive Board to do, and it has done them well. The Minister cannot say otherwise, because if he does he calls into question the reputation of a very large number of reputable people. So he cannot tell us that the Australian Council has not done its job well. I submit to the Committee that whether or not under the existing Act it was charged with executive responsibilities is not relevant. What I submit to the Committee is that it has performed its task well. Whether or not it was charged with executive responsibilities is irrelevant because it has exercised executive authority. Why the Minister should now want to set up another bureaucracy over and above that, I do not know. I know what the Minister is going to say to that. He is going to say that the Australian Council shall consist of one person appointed by the Minister; the National Director, who is appointed by the Minister; and the Secretary or, if the Minister appoints another officer of the Department to be a member in place of the Secretary, the officer so appointed. So far we are a third of the way down the list and we have three people appointed by the Minister. The list continues: Five persons to represent the Australian Council of Trade
Unions, appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. That is a little bit of dishonesty.
– Who said that?
– I ask the honourable member for St George not to interject.
-Oh, yes; we shall not let the little corporal interrupt. The list continues: One person to represent the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, which the honourable member for St George says is garbage. There is also one person to represent the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Council of Australian Government Employee Organisations. Let us understand these words: One person to represent the Confederation of Australian Industry, appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Confederation of Australian Industry- a recently constituted body. There is also one person, being a Commissioner of the Tertiary Education Commission or a member of the staff of that Commission, appointed by the Minister; one member of the Parliament appointed by the Prime Minister and one member of the Parliament appointed by the Leader of the Opposition. In this case that will be the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) who was the architect of this whole thing. I give him great credit, and I pay homage to him here and in all the trades and labour councils in Australia. They must understand that it was the honourable member for Hindmarsh who was the architect of this whole thing.
So who have we got on this Australian Council? To find out we go a little bit further into the Bill. In his second reading speech the Minister said that he will ask for 10 nominations from the Australian Council of Trade Unions with five positions to be filled. He will ask for two nominations from CAGEO and two from ACSPA. So 10 plus 2 plus 2 equals 12 nominations to fill seven positions. That is where the Minister starts. The Minister can laugh and so can the honourable member for St George. I shall wait for the Committee to come to order and the Minister to compose himself, which is rather difficult at this hour of the night. So what it really comes down to is that the Minister is saying that if we hold the ACTU in isolation it will provide at least 10 names. The honourable member for Lalor (Mr
Barry Jones) reminds me that 10 plus 2 plus 2 equals 14, not 12. 1 accept that because he has had a tertiary education and I have not. So we will have at least 14 names submitted to fill seven positions.
This is the point I come to, disregarding, of course, the levity of the pudden-head from Henty: We will have 14 nominations to fill seven positions. Having filled those seven positions at the whim of the Minister, if we care to consider this clause, it provides that the Minister can then say that out of those seven positions which he has already chosen, he shall select four people to represent the Government on the Executive Board. I know that the Minister will get up and talk about some wool corporation or something- that tactic was learned from the Liberal Party in Victoria. But the Minister had better tell us loud and clear why he reserves the right to decide who will be the union representatives on the Executive Board. He does not even tell us what the authority of the Executive Board is. The whole Bill is hodge podge -
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-At the outset I shall take up the remark that was made about me in the reply to the second reading debate by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). He made what I consider to be a rather smart crack. He said that I said tonight that the Trade Union Training Authority was not revolutionary enough. What I said was that honourable members opposite think that the Trade Union Training Authority has been turning out militants and revolutionaries. While some trade unionists and even some trade union officials might think that this is desirable, in fact it is not so. The whole thrust of the training program was concentrated on important negotiating skills, teaching people to write letters, to administer trade unions and how to be better shop floor representatives. What I really said was that if this is the case- that is indisputable- I do not know what Government members are worried about
I shall now deal with the position of National Director. I draw the attention of the Committee to proposed new section 8d ( 1 ). I must mention the absolute audacity of the Government in appointing the National Director through the Minister. I draw the attention of honourable members also to proposed new section 8c. It states:
Without limiting the generality of section 7, the National Director may, on behalf of the Authority, arrange for the provision of courses of or related to trade union training at places in Australia other than the College or Trade Union Training Centres.
That seems to give the National Director authority to arrange for the provision of extra courses without referring to the Executive Board or the Australian Council. It gives him a duty and a responsibility which, if he cares to exercise it, will be completely outside the province of what his duties ought to be. This is a very sloppily drafted Bill. To refer to another duty of the National Director I have to turn to clause 2 1 . It states:
To me that simply means that the National Director has power to arrange for extra tutors on a part time basis. What sort of tutors might the National Director have in mind? Can we look forward to someone like David McNicol or Bob Santamaria suddenly appearing in the role of a trade union instructor at the Trade Union Training Authority? Why should any national director appointed by the Minister have the powers I have just outlined?
In conclusion, I submit that only a government that is completely out of touch with the realities of industrial relations and the trade union movement and how workers think could act this way and still expect that the broad labour movement would still support a trade union training authority under this sort of administration. I think the answer is that the Government knows that a lot of unions will not support the Authority under this sort of administration. I believe that is the whole purpose of the exercise, to help to destroy the Trade Union Training Authority and the Clyde Cameron College. That is the bitter heart of the matter. That is what the Government is all about.
– Order! During the course of this debate, the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) has persisted in making subdued comments of a highly provocative nature. He does not assist the smooth proceedings of this Committee by his behaviour. I insist that he refrain from such action.
-In the clauses we are now debating we are referring to the National Director. It seems that the National Director has been imposed above everybody in the whole Trade Union Training Authority. Clause 14 concerns the deletion of the Australian Council and the substitution of the National Director. I am at a loss to understand why the National Director who is an individual is being substituted for the Australian Council which is a group of people. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has not substituted the Executive Board. He has left the Authority in the hands of an individual, the National Director. Clause 14(b) states:
We do not even know who the National Director will be. We do not have a clue as to what his views on this matter may be.
– Bob Santamaria.
-Bob Santamaria. That is probably right. It could be Jack Manes. Clause 14 (2) states: . . (a) To provide such courses of trade union training as the National Director determines; and
As we go through the Bill we find that the National Director is a pretty important person. He is very powerful. He is omnipotent. Proposed new section 34(1) states:
The Director -
That is the Director of Studies- shall be appointed by the National Director after consultation with the Executive Board and shall hold office on such terms and conditions (if any) in respect of matters not provided for by this Act as are determined by the National Director.
The National Director will determine the studies. He will determine the courses. He will even determine the terms and conditions of the Director of Studies. Proposed new section 38(1) states:
The National Director may terminate the appointment of the Director for misbehaviour or physical or mental incapacity.
So the Bill goes on. I ask the Minister whether we are now moving away from the concept of a group of people administering the Authority. My own view is quite clear and unequivocal that that group of people should be the Australian Council. If the Minister persists with his view that it should be the Executive Board I am afraid that his ‘weight’ will be stronger than mine in this place. I should prefer to see the Australian Council administering the Authority. I do not want it to be changed. If the Minister wants the Australian Council to remain why is he placing so much weight on the National Director? Is he willing to tell us now who will be the National Director? He must have it in his mind. Will it be Jack Manes? Will it be Bob Santamaria? The Minister has a responsibility to give us an indication as to who the National Director will be. I do not care who he will be. I do not believe that such dictatorial powers should be given to anybody. A new position of Director of Studies has been created, for a particular reason. The Director of Studies is very limited in what he is able to do. He can do only what the National Director says he can do. That is not on. Surely the Director of Studies must be responsible for his position. In some sense the Bill provides that. But always overriding him is the National Director and, according to the Bill, he will even determine what the conditions of employment of the Director of Studies will be. He will determine what the education system throughout the College will be. He will determine all of these things. He is a very omnipotent person and it would seem very wrong that such power should reside in such a person.
If we turn to clause 2 1 we find that proposed sub-section (1) of proposed new section 51 provides:
The National Director may arrange for persons with knowledge or experience in trade union matters or in matters relevant to the functions of the College or of a Trade Union Training Centre or to the instruction and training of persons in trade union matters, to assist, otherwise than on the basis of full-time employment, in the performance of the functions of the College or a Trade Union Training Centre, as the case may be.
Goodness gracious, what does that all mean if we are unaware of the identity of the National Director? In whose opinion are persons to be said to have knowledge or experience in trade union matters and so forth? The Bill does not tell us that. As I said earlier, there are so many holes in this Bill that one could use it as a net for catching sprats. The holes are numerous and small. The Bill is designed to delude. It contains nothing that will give confidence in the Trade Union Training Authority. It is designed to destroy confidence. That is the Government’s intention and I am quite sure that the Minister cannot answer in any way at all the propositions that I have raised; nor will he, I believe, attempt to do so.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Street)- by leave- proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
-I want briefly to express the grave disappointment of the Labor Opposition in this measure being passed. We have been given absolutely no justification for that happening. There has been no explanation for the way in which this Act is being amended.
– I hope you appreciate the amount of time that has been allowed for debate.
– I realise the amount of time that we have had for debate; it was only what the measure was worth. I do not think we have had more time than was justified. When one considers that this legislation concerns the community, the industries of Australia and the economy of this country, it can be seen that the Opposition is playing a far more responsible role in regard to it than is the Government. Those of us that have come off the shop floor understand the problems of the shop stewards. The organisers that are not trained and have had no access to training previously understand the opportunities that the Trade Union Training Authority has provided them for the presentation of their cases and the administration of their branches of the unions. They have become delegates at the national level of their trade unions. The Bill attacks all the things that trade union training means to these people.
These amendments are, as I said earlier, grotesque. There is no justification for them apart from the political fears of the Liberal PartyNational Country Party Government. We condemn the Government for the way in which it has brought them in two and a half years after it expressed its views and after two and a half years of experience of the Trade Union Training Authority. The Authority has displayed an autonomy that has shown it not to be the captive of any of the political parties, of the pressure groups within the trade union movement or of the representatives of industry in this country. We are very concerned that these amendments are being passed. They will be opposed in the other place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– Today I wrote to my friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) in response to a letter he wrote to me. I ask leave of the House to incorporate my reply to him in Hansard.
Leave not granted.
– I table the letter.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Fife) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I am concerned by the alarming number of solicitors who are defrauding unsuspecting and trusting Australians by withholding money paid into trust accounts. The practice of these solicitors to whom I will refer tonight is simple, effective and lucrative. They ignore, and treat with contempt, all requests to return deposit moneys due when a contract has been rescinded. By taking advantage of their superior knowledge of the law, and the reluctance of a citizen to be involved in expensive court action, they simply keep the money.
It is apparent from the cases that I have before me that this is done when the funds held in trust are less than the cost of legal action for their return. I have a letter from one solicitor advising me that if my constituent wants his money back let him sue for it’. The money held in that case amounts to $1,000. The cost of a barrister to defend my constituent could be $500, and this is before stepping inside the courtroom door. Another of my constituents, fighting for the return of a $900 deposit, was advised by her solicitor that she was fighting a lost cause. Despite the fact that she was legally and morally entitled to the return of her money, she was advised that it would cost her more to go to court. Her solicitor advised her to give up and cut her losses. How many other trusting citizens are being duped by such dubious solicitors? I am aware that honourable solicitors are alarmed by the actions of their less than honourable colleagues.
I call on the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) to investigate this situation in which the rights and dignity, not to mention the cash, of citizens are being abused.
-Since the advent of the seat belt the number of motor fatalities in Australia has reduced by a percentage, but there are more surviving injured who are paraplegic or quadriplegic. The numbers attending special spinal and head injury units in the major capital cities have increased. For example, the numbers for the Austin Hospital in Melbourne are as follows: 1974-76; 1976-81; and 1977-90. Moveover, with advancing medical technology, treatment- and its cost- is increasing too. The average stay for paraplegics at the Austin Hospital has risen from 121.1 days in 1968 to 148.5 in 1977. For quadriplegics the figure rose from 138.8 in 1968 to 183.2 in 1977. They are placing a heavy additional burden upon the community, both in terms of cost of their hospitalisation and of their after care, and upon the social security system. We pay the price and will perhaps continue to do so, although the cost of the expanding medical establishment is now being viewed by government and public alike with less open hearts, let alone open purses. Are we getting the rights result? Is it the best solution to set aside and pay for the care of these victims of our lifestyle?
The prospects of a quadriplegic in our society are bleak and depressing. Those specialising in their care report that they suffer acutely from depression, which can be blotted out by drugs. Lack of mobility, a sense of social worthlessness, and severely restricted access to the facilities we take for granted, hardly represent a rosy prospect for life. Let us consider the question of social worth. In our society a person’s worth is most commonly related to his or her job. In Australia it is very difficult for an immobilised person or person in a wheel-chair to get a job, and probably such people are actively discriminated against in employment. Active assistance for getting jobs is limited too. Yet these people have the capacity to lead useful lives in productive enterprises. Manpower- their manpoweris going to waste. Not only are we not reaping the reward of their potential; we are paying for their maintenance in a state of suspension from useful activity. Things we take for granted, like going into town, shopping, going to see a film and so on are all either difficult or impossible for such people. Very little provision is made to accommodate wheel-chairs in theatres, concert halls or stores. Public transport is not adapted to moving the disabled. Many office buildings- a recent demonstration showed that the offices of Medibank in Melbourne are particularly deficient in this regard- have no or inadequate access for the disabled. Yet an Australian safety standard is set down for this, but it simply is not enforced.
How does Australia compare with other countries? Our treatment of the disabled is undoubtedly of world class. Our reincorporation of them into society is decidedly second class. In the United Kingdom, which economically is a poorer society than ours, the rights of the disabled are enshrined in the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. This Act details provision to be made -
– What do you expect? It has a Labour government.
-I think it is no coincidence that it has had a Labour government for a much longer period than any other country in the Commonwealth. This Act details provision to be made in welfare and housing, premises open to the public, university and school buildings, to ensure the representation of the disabled in a wide range of activities, and it covers special cases of deaf, blind and autistic persons.
In Britain discrimination against disabled people is actively discouraged. In Australia we have hardly begun to give these people a place in the working world. Action is needed on all fronts. The initial costs and continuing costs will be high. The rights of these people to fulfilling lives cannot be denied, and their contribution to our national life should not be thrown away. The Commonwealth Government can act to adopt the Australian standard for access by the disabled. It can ensure that it promote the rehabilitation and retraining of the disabled through its various agencies and departments. It should make Commonwealth grants provisional upon the adoption of a code similar to the United Kingdom Act, and exhort the States to make the appropriate provision.
- Mr Speaker -
Motion (by Mr Fife) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice, on 22 February 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
1 ) The first report was released on 8 May 1978.
there will be no impediment or penalty to any person involved in making available on a confidential basis health-related information for the purposes of the health survey at the AAEC Research Establishment.
Dr G. C. Smith, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Health, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, University of Sydney- Chairman.
Professor B. H. Gandevia, Department of Medicine, Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, N.S.W.
Associate Professor P. L. Ilbery, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, University of Sydney.
Dr M. R. Joseph, Consultant Chest Physician, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Medical Centre, Newtown, N.S.W.
Charter Aircraft: Use by Prime Minister (Question No. 200)
asked the Prime Mimster, upon notice, on 23 February 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice, on 28 February 1978:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
One respect in which circumstances have been unfolding is that there is now clearly in prospect in 1 977-78 a lower inflation rate than could have been confidently predicted at Budget time.
Particularly against that background, monetary growth to date during 1 977-78 has been broadly consistent with policy requirements and is expected to remain so.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 7 March 1 978:
-The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Proserpine and it is believed that the estimated cost of these works is of the order of $3m.
Expenditure by the Commonwealth Government on new capital works at Proserpine in each of the last three years is as follows: 1974- 75, nil. 1975- 76, nil.
1976- 77, $18,417.
These figures do not include any costs for maintaining or operating existing facilities at Proserpine.
asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 8 March 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Special Trade Representations, upon notice, on 8 March 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department of Special Trade Representative does not operate any staff canteens.
Use of Animals in Research (Question No. 626)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 14 March 1978:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
am asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 1 1 April 1978:
When he answers Question No. 903 placed on notice for him yesterday about the freight equalisation payments on Tasmanian beer, which, the question implies, is too expensive for patrons of the Parliamentary bar, will he also state the payments on Tasmanian cider, which has not been available in the members’ bar nor it is believed, in the non-members’ bar since the defeat of the Whitlam Government.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The current freight equalisation assistance payable for the interstate movement from Southern Tasmania of cider is $ 14 per cubic metre to Victoria, $15 per cubic metre to South Australia/ Western Australia and $17 per cubic metre to the rest of the mainland. For each 740 ml bottle of Tasmanian cider, these rates of assistance are approximately equivalent to 2.6c to Victoria, 2.8c to South Australia/Western Australia and 3. lc to the rest of the mainland.
asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 11 April 1978:
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question.
This is a matter of Government policy which will be kept in mind in the continuing review of the social security system.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice on 2 May 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Further particulars in comprehensive form are not readily available and in any event would not add usefully to the information already provided.
asked the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 4 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 May 1978:
Will he again confirm his answer in the House on 18 February 1976 that it is not intended that the conditions of the curfew at Sydney Airport, as laid down, will be changed at all.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There are no plans to change the conditions of the curfew at Sydney Airport.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 5 May 1978:
How many passenger movements were there from Sydney Airport, and how many of each were (a) internal and (b) international during 1976 and 1977.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following table sets out the number of passenger movements, i.e. passengers who embarked or disembarked, at Sydney Airport during 1976 and 1977:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 8 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 8 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Resources, upon notice, on 9 May 1 978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 9 May 1978:
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Special Trade Representations, upon notice, on 9 May 1978:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)One.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 9 May 1978:
How many officers of the Department of Social Security were employed as inquiry officers to examine the accuracy of information provided by social security applicants or recipients as at 1 May 1978.
– The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question.
The Department of Social Security employed 305 inquiry officers (also known as Field Officers) as at 1 May 1978.
The duties of Field Officers include: verification of entitlement to benefit, assisting claimants to complete applications, advising claimants as to an appropriate benefit, investigating cases of suspected fraud.
The honourable member would be aware that other categories of staff, for example those whose duties include determining entitlements to benefits, are also involved in examining the accuracy of information provided by pensioners and beneficiaries.
am asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 4 April 1978:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Buildings Committee- to furnish information and advice to the Commission on building standards and trends in building design and to prepare standard guidelines for publication.
School Libraries Committee- to advise the Commission on the establishment of priorities and standards in the school libraries field and the development of programs designed to improve learning resources in schools.
State /Territory Planning and Finance Committees-to assist the Commission in the on-going administration of all aspects of general recurrent and capital grants programs for non-government schools, including recommendations in respect of grants, and to advise on developments within states affecting the financing of nongovernment schools.
National Innovations Committee- to advise the Commission on the development of policy and strategies in relation to educational innovation, to recommend on large grants, and to promote stimulation, support, evaluation and dissemination activities associated with the Special Projects (Innovations) Program.
State/Territory Innovations Committees- to advise the Commission on the general development of the Special Projects (Innovations) Program at the State or Territory level, to make recommendations on the selection and funding of projects and to plan evaluation and communication activities.
All of these Committees provide on-going advice and information to the Commission which assists the Commission in the administration of its programs. They also have an input into the educational and technical content of the Commission ‘s major reports to the government.
In addition to these major reports of the Commission which have been tabled in parliament the Commission has produced the following publications resulting from the work of Committees:
Capital Works Planning Handbook- Guidelines for General School Buildings (September 1975), NonGovernment Schools- Statistics 1974 (December 1975), Girls, School and Society (November 1975), School Library Media Centre: an Annotated Bibliography (January 1976), The School and the Community- a Bibliography (February 1976), National Directory of Innovations Projects (March 1976), Capital Works Planning HandbookCost Planning ( December 1 976 ), Capital Works Planning Handbook- Managing a School Building (December 1976), Books and Beyond- Guidelines for Library Resource Facilities and Services (February 1977), National Directory of Innovations Projects (Revised Edition) (April 1977), School and Work- A Discussion Paper (September 1977), Education and the Arts (National, State and Territory Reports) (January 1978), School Based Decision Making: Report of the National Conference, June 1977 (February 1978).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 May 1978, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1978/19780531_reps_31_hor109/>.